Monday, October 26, 2009

Doing it ourselves

Say bye-bye to this ugly old wood stove, because it's the last time you'll ever see it. It was a beautifully functioning unit that heated all three levels of our house. It started well, drew great, and served its past and current owners for 15 years. But it's (shut your ears, stove) ugly.

We thought long and hard about what to do with this stove. We shopped long and hard for its replacement. Finally Kim just got tired of looking at the ugly old stove and got on the phone and found us our dream stove - with a twist. It's a sleek, stainless steel version that would have cost us about $3600 to buy and install. We did it for less than $1900, thanks to Kim. She found a used one (1 year old) we could buy from Morris in Crofton (that's Morris on the left). Morris buys used wood stoves (even ugly ones), reconditions them and sells them again, creating happy customers who pay less and keeping stoves out of the landfill. He does such a good job reconditioning stoves that the folks at the local fireplace store said, when you buy a used stove from Morris, it's like buying it new. Morris would even take away our old stove, pay us $200 for it, recondition it and sell it to someone who will love it better than we could. What's not to like about that?

Not only did Morris sell us a great new stove, he convinced us we could install it ourselves by just replacing some of the stovepipe. Which we did. We did it ourselves. We are chuffed, can you tell?

It finally stopped raining enough for me to start chopping down the masses of perennials I spent all spring and summer growing. That's what fall is about: chopping things down. I have overused my clippers to such an extent my right hand has turned into a frozen claw that can't open or shut without the help of my other hand. The sheer volume of decaying vegetable matter has overwhelmed our recently rebuilt composting bins,and I have no idea where we're going to put it all. Today Frankie kept me company, and at the risk of having too many cute dog photos, here's another one. I was taking a picture of this amazing shrub that had green, yellow and red leaves all on the same shrub, when Frankie wandered into the photo for a dignified pose - complete with leaf on head.

We noticed yesterday that the big bed of potatoes we had left in the ground had begun to sprout. Actually, it probably began to sprout about three weeks ago, and we only noticed yesterday. We read somewhere that you could cut back the plants once they began to die in about August, and leave the potatoes underground where they would keep well through the winter. Our plan was to make an occasional foray out to the garden for a digging session, to replenish our potato supply in the house. Well, whoever wrote that handy tip must live in a different climate than we do, because the potatoes underground apparently thought it was spring and started to sprout.

Digging up potatoes is kind of fun - it's sort of like digging for treasure. You gently put a pitchfork in the soil and hopefully turn over a batch of potatoes. Sometimes you do, sometimes all you get is a forkful of dirt. It's like a treasure hunt. Actually, what it reminds me of is a kids' show I watched when we lived in Edmonton in the 70s, where birthday parties would go to the TV studio and the birthday boys and girls would get to dig up a shovel full of dirt which the host would then sift in a sieve, revealing pseudo gold coins. Same thing every weekday, and for some reason I thought it was fascinating every day. Maybe that's why I like digging potatoes, too.

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