Today started as a feel good today but didn’t end up as one 🙁 I am bummed.
Andreea is still away doing helping the new parents into their new parenthood. She should be back tomorrow. I am very happy she is there … but facing the hardships here on my own not fun.
I managed to get a few hours sleep in the late morning hours. I awoke to a clear sky and frosted world. This time buckets of water outside were frozen solid. Though it was a very inviting day for woodworking … I decided to continue with the rocket stove because I really want to sleep in a warm room.
But … shortly after getting started I realized that there was no running water. The outside faucet was frozen solid and the inside faucet could move but a drizzle came out at first … then nothing. Oh boy … I knew I would have to add that to my list.
I started work with the rocket and it went great … I installed the insulation tube and then the insulation (ashes) then went on to build the “brick barrel” with the refractory cement I got yesterday. I was glad for the cement as the brick structure went higher it needed the stronger binding. I finished the brick work, placed the top metal plate and impro-cobbed it in place. That’s when friction started.
I couldn’t get the flexible stainless steel chimney pipe to fit either onto the stove exit pipe or into the chimney hole in the wall. I tinkered around with it, got frustrated but eventually got it to hold onto the stove exit pipe … the other end I let lay in the floor facing the exit of the house. Then I lit the stove … and what a mess of smoke. I was so disappointed. There was a good draft but apparently not good enough … smoke backed into the room and flames shot up the sticks in the feed chamber. Total failure (though the model worked really well!). I set that aside and will see what to do about it … maybe tomorrow, maybe not.
I did however light the wood burning water and it works … we have hot water. I did it to help the pipes defrost a bit … but doing the dishes with warm water was a delight. I though to wash up a bit but I’m too tired and don’t feel like it (there’s no shower yet … so it’s still somewhat of a production).
After ditching the rocket I went to insulate the main water supply pipe. I did a quickie on it … OK but not great … I’m curious to see what will happen tomorrow. I then stuck around the water supply pipe ditch and shoveled dirt back into it (we left it open thinking to take advantage of it being there to put in electric grounding rods). It was both difficult and meditative.
I then did the closing day ritual … collected the ducks and chickens into the barn, fed the dogs, locked everything up … and too tired and lazy to cook decent food so I’ve pulled out a backup frozen pasta … cooking now (in the smoking and wood guzzling old stove I so want to replace with another rocket … arghhh) … will grate cheese on it … and hope for a restful night and fresh new day tomorrow.
It’s 2:30 in the morning … and though there are frequently nights where I am at this time (recently) this time I think I am spiked by a coffee I had as I drove home late at night.
Started the day at the computer revisiting plans for our future bedroom cabinet. It has moved up on the priority list because mice are on the rise and we would like to get our things out of boxes and storage boxes in the mice-inviting storage space and into the house. I played around with the plans a bit … kind of developing my own approach to cabinet making as I move from one project to another. I finally settled on a design that has some elegance, that I can probably manufacture with reasonable effort and that should be comfortable to assemble when it all come together. I then got out the mitre saw (it was a mostly-sunny though still cold day) and worked at it for a few hours cutting everything to length. Next is some (a lot of) planing and some more cutting to width … and well .. on and on.
Packed up early, headed out to Cluj to get some refractory cement (for the top part of the rocket stove which in our case is a brick box … where I am not confident the sand-clay mortar is structurally strong enough), also picked up some more boiled linseed oil for finishing and then continued to a dinner with a dear friend from Israel who is passing through on an organized trip. It was odd being amongst an entire group of Israelis. I got home late when it was dark and very cold … crept into bed and just now crept back out of it. The stove is eating through wood, the room is warming up (and smoking up too 🙁 – I can’t wait to replace this stove with another rocket) and … well … we’ll see 🙂
Today started off as an unknown .. and now that is is over it is much clearer.
While the day was still trying to figure itself out in the morning I managed to place (no mortar) yet the first layer of bricks for the rocket stove in its designated location in our bedroom. Great stuff 🙂
Then they day decided where its going … mostly that Andreea needed to get to Oradea to support (as a Doula) her first home-birth here in Romania. Very exciting for her … as I am sure it is for the couple (our friends Ina & Sabin). So we decided to make a few arrangements in the city that would include dropping Andreea off at the train station.
Just before we left a small red car appeared in front of our house and honked … a rare and amusing appearance in our parts. It turned out to be a courier (working for a local subcontractor who delivers for UPS in our area) who had a package for us – a pair of quality axes we ordered from Germany (sadly we gave up trying to find them in Romania) – great surprise – super fast (and amusing) delivery.
We picked up a package (I will unpack soon after this short update is published) from my parents containing all sorts of practical goodies … most notably Tehina … which we can’t fin here in Romania. Also, we found a flexible steel chimney pipe that is needed for the rocket stove. The rest is uninteresting.
I left Andreea at the train station, made another stop on the way home and now I am home alone in Romania 🙂 food is ready … off to eat and unpack 🙂
today was a strange day … very shifty … sun, wind, warm, cold …
started the day with pear picking … great fun … got a nice load (and plenty more is still on the trees) … planning to make both compote and jam.
spent a few more hours figuring out final construction details for the stove … this time also taking into consideration some subtle aesthetic qualities. Everything except the 1st level of bricks is disassembled. I then carried the bricks over to the house porch (lots of work!) and sorted them into 3 piles depending on their condition (pristine, ok, dirty). I then played around with maxing a first mortar mix with sifted clay (available all around us) and sand (left over from the initial house renovations). It’s a strange mix … I think I’ll be adding a bit more clay to the mix when I actually build with it.
Our neighbor came by and gifted us with a huge (at least 20kg) sack of potatoes … just as we ran out and were contemplating getting a large sack to store as a winter supply 🙂
Amidst all this I also shortened the chimney for our existing wood stove … hoping that would improve the smoke situation (the house getting all smoked up from the stove … terribly unpleasant and unhealthy) … doesn’t look like it helped much.
Then rounding up and feeding the animals (dogs tried to kill each other again) … and dinner is almost ready too 🙂
Today was surprisingly sweet … started the day planning out the (hopefully) last things we need to finish the running water project. We then went to the village center to pick up the things we needed. Returned home and as Andreea prepared breakfast I connected the last pieces needed for running water in our sink and … there it was … woohoooo water running into and out of the sink. It’s now the end of the day and we find ourselves one of the overlooked luxuries of western life … a pile of dishes in the sink. I’ve never been so happy to see one.
The rest of the day was wood chopping day. We went at it together. We prepared a smaller pile of wood for the existing stove and a larger pile cut to size for the soon to be rocket stove. I pulled pieces out of the huge junk pile (because that’s where we have dry wood … the fresh logs we bought are not yet dry enough to use comfortable, reliably and efficiently). I cut them to size with the mitre saw and chopped up large pieces with an ax while Andreea worked on slicing up the products from the mitre saw into the thinner strips needed for the rocket. We are happy with our productivity today 🙂
I hope we are able to build, or at least start building, the rocket tomorrow. Our bedroom is getting to be very cold at night.
The wood stove is burning soon Mamaliga will start cooking and we can call it a day 🙂
Rumors said today would be sunny and warm … the day didn’t start like that at all … frost was covering everything … outside had a unique (to me) pale look to it and it stayed that way until the sun found its way through the haze and revived everything.
I started out with the rocket again and after more modifications we have reached what looks like a final model. The only thing we can’t test is how all that thermal mass we added to the rocket itself will warm up. We are ready to bring it home.
We then went out to get more parts we knew we needed for the indoor water project. When we got back we were in for a surprise. We spoke to the guys who fixed our house initially and asked if they could help us with the holes in the walls (really thick walls) that we needed to bring water in and let greywater out. They sent us another professional plumber who was really nice and friendly (the first one was less so and very expensive which is why we decided to do it on our own). As he was drilling the holes we asked how much he would charge to complete the job and he quoted a decent price … plus he was a really nice and friendly guy.
So … we now have running water in the house … we can’t do anything with it yet because a few small pieces are still missing. We’ll get those tomorrow and then we should have a wood/electric boiler working, a sink and hopefully in a few days I’ll be able to complete the shower stall … and that will be a huge leap forward (though Andreea in her optimistic spirit and feminine excitement believes we have already made the leap).
Feels like everything is coming together 🙂
the sun came out today … how pleasant 🙂
I started the day at the rocket stove model again … widened the burn tunnel and the heat riser … got a much better and consistent burn and draft. Another experiment planned for tomorrow morning. Again, as the rocket was burning I continued to move into the barn attic more of the wood.
After a breakfast break we made an excursion to the village to get some of the parts we will need for the water installation. On the way we stopped to say hello at neighbors we recently made acquaintance with … that turned out to be a long stop even though we tried to keep it short 🙂
At the hardware store we found most of what we needed … and we were surprised by a large pile of trash cardboard boxes waiting for us … so that visit turned out to also be longer then planned. Our fashionable car looked silly totally loaded with cardboard … we got quite a few glances.
We stopped next to the post office to check for mail (where Andreea found a surprising package … stay tuned for it’s story at iamronen). As I waited for Andreea by the car I was greeted by a man who’s house I parked next to. He tried to inquire about the cardboard but my Romanian was not enough to have a conversation. He gave up and invited me into his yard … there he was busy squeezing loads of freshly picked grapes from his property. He dipped a large cup into the freshly squeezed juice and handed it to me … delicious. Andreea then arrived and continued to down the generous cup while she struck up a conversation. Now we know where to get fresh home-brewed wine … he said it will be ready around by Christmas.
We came back home … I dropped Andreea off at our next
door farm neighbors continued home and unloaded the car. It was already late into the day but I decided to persist with my plans to cut to length the pieces for another kitchen cabinet (the one that will house our gas cooker). I setup the mitre saw and started pulling out lumber from my own stash … very comfortable and great fun 🙂 I worked almost passed the sunset … there was barely enough light but I got it done. Tomorrow I plan to bring out the planer 🙂
We lit the stove, fed it with wood and set food on it then went on a short walk to get some more fresh milk (its getting to be very cold at night!) … and now we are back, this daily update is written … time for food and a movie 🙂 Good night all 🙂