Monday, November 30, 2009

It's A Dirty Job, But Somebody's Gotta Do It

I told Roy not to add any wood to the stove when we got up yesterday morning because I had to clean out the ashes. They had built up to the point where the Jotul burped some out every time we opened the door.

There is a certain amount of "dirt" involved in heating with wood . . . and cleaning out ashes (at least with the style stove we have) is not nice. Some wood stoves have an ash pan underneath the fire box which is like a drawer that can be pulled out and taken out-of-doors to be emptied. Not so with our good o' Jotul #4 Combifire.

As you can see by the above picture, the ashes build up on the floor of the stove and must be shoveled out periodically by hand. Note the tools of an ash cleaner's trade: gloves, spray bottle full of water, small shovel and ash can with lid.

I give the ashes a good spritzing of water to help hold down the ash dust which is the most hateful part of the operation.

Trying really hard not to disturb the ashes enough to send too much dust flying into the air, I scoop up a shovel full of ashes and dump it into the waiting ash can quickly closing the lid after each shovel full. No matter how careful I am, it's amazing the quantity of ash dust particles that spiral up into the air and lazily drift away to settle on every surface in the whole house. (Or at least it seems that way to me.)

At last, the stove is empty of its accumulated ash build-up . . .

. . . and the ash can is full.

I used to spread newspapers under the stove to catch some of this yuck, but that only caused more ash dust to fly into the air when I picked up the newspaper.

So now I just deal with a little more clean up. (Don't I look like Cinderella at the hearth? Where are the ugly step-sisters? Heck, where's my Fairy Godmother to take me away from all of this?)

By this time, it's usually getting a little cool in the house so I'm eager to get a fire started in the ash-free stove.

Ah, there we go. Now we're cookin' with gas again. Or rather, heatin' with wood.

Now I should go vac and wipe up all that rasty ash dust that filtered through the air. Or not. I know it will be there later when I get around to it. Nobody ever said heating with wood was perfect.

P.S. Well, phooey on all you readers out there who refused to join in on my "Pay It Forward" challenge. It would have been fun! Only two people chose to sign up . . . thank you, Kate and MaineCelt. (Won't they all be sorry when they realize I was planning to send everyone $1,000 stuffed in a pair of hand knit socks!)

P.P.S. I have a new seasonal blurb on my Home Page on my Mama Pea Quilts website. And have also posted my Monday morning Featured Quilt of the Week on my quilting blog. If you're interested, I'd love to have you take a peek. Thanks!


Chicken Mama said...

With this post, you have confirmed, my dearest mother, just how much of a perfectionist you are! ;)

(Although, I will admit that the 'spraying the ashes with water' trick is a good one.)

P.S. I would have joined your Pay It Forward, but I'm already tardy on others I've joined! (Plus, I think it's a bad time of the year - people are taxed with Christmas projects.)

Mama Pea said...

Perfectionist!? Duh! Like what am I supposed to do? Scrape the overflowing ashes out onto the floor and let the dog kick them around? (Well, that does sound a lot easier.)

Regarding the Pay It Foward thingie-bop, even though this is a busy time of year, anyone joining doesn't have to reciprocate until a whole year AFTER they receive something from me. And that could be 364 days from now!

Jordan said...

Isn't that funny! I did see your Pay It Forward post right after Kate commented, and seriously thought about it (I mean, I'd be stupid not to want some wonderful thing from the Mama Pea factory!). But I decided the price was too high (yes - call me lazy!)

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Jordan! Uh, lazy? No. Anyone who could handle your moving-forward little homestead and be getting so much done could NOT be called lazy.

P.S. I'm predicting you are going to quickly become one really good knitter. Most people are afraid to tackle cables until they've been knitting for a couple of years. Just look at the complicated scarf pattern you did right off the bat. Very impressive. And to think you figured it out all by yourself. Yup, very impressive. :o)

Mama JJ said...

It's Mr. H's job to empty the ashes, but we have a nice little tray that catches them all, so it's not too much of a mess.

Re the Pay It Forward: I really wanted to enter a comment, but I wasn't up for committing to pay anything forward right now. I hope that doesn't make me a bad person...

Mama Pea said...

Mama JJ - Nah, you're not a bad person. Everybody is (it seems) so over-loaded these days that I understand. Besides, better to not commit than to not be able to follow through. Who said that? Will Rogers? Mahatma Ghandi? Mae West? Charlie Brown?

Jenyfer Matthews said...

HA HA! I actually commented there and said I'd do it - I'm just a little late, that's all! And I read that post before this one if you check the time stamps :)

RuthieJ said...

I don't have as much trouble scooping ashes out of the fireplace as I do dumping them--no matter how hard I try, it seems the wind always switches just as I'm dumping the bucket and I get a face full of ash! Phooey!

Mama Pea said...

Hi, Ruthie - My dear husband takes care of the dumping of the ashes outside . . . lucky me! So at least I don't have to wrestle with that little job. But I know what you mean about the wind always blowing just the wrong way.