This is the fireplace.   Why is it the picture of the day?  Because when I burn a fire in it, it consumes my entire day.  (Pun intended.)

Here’s why: Fireplaces do NOT work like in the movies.  In the movies someone  negligently tosses a barely lit match onto a log of wood as big around as a Redwood tree and BAM! up blazes a cozy fire.


In real life you need 10 reams of paper, 800 cut up cardboard boxes, sticks that you gather from your yard, (seriously!  You have to actually go outside and gather wood, like a pioneer!) and little logs of wood that you have to get your husband to chop for you.  I tried to chop the wood.  Once.  It  must have been petrified wood, because the axe made no dent.

After you’ve gathered the paper, cardboard, sticks and petrified wood, you need to arrange it in a manner known only to ancient Egyptian architects, or it won’t get enough air.  And if it doesn’t get enough air, it won’t light.    You’d think: lit match + paper = blazing fire.  Yeah…you’d think that and you’d be wrong.  This whole Lighting Of The Fire routine can take me up to two hours.  On a good day.

Once the fire is going without sputtering out after burning up just the paper and cardboard, but leaving the wood cold, it needs to be checked every 20 minutes.  (See the timer in the picture?)  In my experience, a fire can go from roaring inferno to cold, black ash in exactly 25 minutes.  Which is why I’ve learned to outsmart the fire by checking it every 20 minutes.  All day long.  If I catch a dying fire before those crucial last 5 minutes, I can thunk on its chest a few times and breathe life back into it, provided I also toss in an entire phone directory—each paper lovingly hand crumpled—as kindling.

Note: if you don’t crumple each individual paper, the paper won’t burn.  If I knew why, I’d tell you.

As much as we love the fire (because it saves us money on gas heat), it has been a source of mild tension in our household.  We have differing opinions of how much wood should be used to keep the house moderately warm for an entire day.  Husband grossly underestimates the amount of wood needed and has delusions that 4 twigs will keep us toasty warm for a couple of months.  (That’s because he’s the one who has to chop all the wood.)  But I know that it takes the wood equivalent of 2 oak trees to keep the house above 60 degrees from breakfast until bedtime on a single day.  Every now and then in the evening he’ll look at the wood pile and  express alarm  at how much the wood has dwindled since he left the house earlier in the day.  He’s mostly concerned with how much time chopping wood will take him from his beloved ipad.  I tend to take his alarm personally since I like heat and can see that my resident Wood Cutter is about to rebel, and tersely respond with, “You underestimate the power of the fire.”  This scenario plays out innumerable times each winter.

Sooo…the picture of the day is the fireplace, since I spent a lot of time with it today.  My choices were to tend to the fire, pay for the gas heat or wear the Steelers hat all day again.   And I had a really good hair day today, so the hat was out.


5 thoughts on “Fireplace

  1. This morning…

    Crumpled first piece of paper – 7:20am
    Roaring blaze with lots of heat – 7:32am

    Time to add 1st log – 8:30am

  2. Have you considered purchasing a wood splitter? You put the big hunks of wood in it and it spits out perfectly cut firewood. It may be something you want to look into. You get the wood chopped in a fraction of the time and it saves hubby’s back. I think they sell them at Lowe’s.

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