Friday, November 14, 2008

what not to do

I have a confession to make. I have never had a fireplace before.

Okay, I take that back. When I was growing up we had this big, black monstrosity
that sat in the middle of the living room that was called a pot bellied stove....or at least thats what I remember calling it. I have no recollection if it actually burned wood or coal...all I know is that it did burn something and you had to know what to do and when to do it or else it really didnt work that well. Oh, and I seem to remember that the best place to be was right there next to it....all cozied up with a pillow, blanket, and a good book.

As an adult, the only thing close to a fireplace that I have had was a in a rental that we were just recently living in while we had our current house built. It was a little gas fireplace. So, all you had to do was flip a switch and then there was a burst of flames that magically appeared. Ohhhhh....Ahhhhhh....and they stayed there, all pretty and flickering. You never had to open the fireplace door or add any wood. You never had to get rid of any ashes. Cmon, tho....really...thats not a real fireplace. You cant get in there to make smores if you wanted to, you cant hear the popping and snapping of the wood, and you for sure dont get that great fireplace smell....the one that makes you think of snowy days and hot cocoa.

So, when we built this house we had them put in a "real" fireplace. The kind that you have to use wood in. The kind that you have to tend to every once in a while. The kind that can be a little finicky and doesnt always start up right away.

That part I mentioned about not having a fireplace? Well that also means that I had never had the opportunity to light one either....or keep one going or clean one out....nope....none of that. Good thing S knew what he was doing. Or this coulda spelled trubble.

Knowing all that, it shouldnt come as a surprise that we also did not have any of the appropriate tools or equipment necessary to maintain a fireplace. This is what we had.

Yep, thats it. This was our multi-purpose fireplace friend. It removed ashes, stoked the fire, helped to rotate name it....this little thing did it.

And even tho I really like the little guy, it seemed logical that the next step in fireplace 101 would be to go out and get a fireplace set.....right? That makes sense, doesnt it?

Im making progress....Im learning! And did I mention that it has been kinda cold here....little stretches of cold....perfect time to use the fireplace. So, we get it going...were enjoying it, its very the fire burns down....the next day comes around...hey! Lets start another fire.

S brings in a bucket to remove the ashes. Do you notice anything about the bucket? I mean, I do. I look at it, look at S....look at it...look at S. I sorta cock my head to the side and look at it some more. Hmm. In his defense, its not like we have anything else to put the ashes in. Nothing. So, this will have to do. Load the ashes up.....go set the bucket outside on the back step. Get the fire going again....go about our day. Its fantastic. This fireplace stuff aint half bad. Lots of people said we would hate a wood burning one. Not me, I said. I will love it.

A couple days later, I go out to retrieve the bucket. I have been taught how to make fire now. I know what Im doing. And even if I forget something, well, I can always reach back to the really dark and cobweb filled corner of my memory and pull out my Girl Scout lessons. I earned badges, you know.

I step out on the back steps and reach down to get the bucket.....lift it up and, what the hell? I have the bucket, yet ash is blowing all over, in my face, in my spitting ash outta my mouth and I look down to see the bucket.

Then I look at the step.

Thats part of my bucket on the step. That cant be good. In fact, I know thats not good. Because I am now officially covered in ash and I have a bucket that has a huge hole in the bottom. And I also have a step that now has bucket melted to it.
NO, not good at all. This for sure will not do. It just will not.

Back to the store I go! Excuse me, nice Mr. Home Improvement man....could you please show me where the metal pails are? Thank you so very much. I went home with this.

And now it has this in it.

And, Im pretty sure I dont have to worry about this one melting to my step. If it does, well, then I for sure have much bigger problems!


Farmer Jen said...

Your post made me smile.

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Ack, you're lucky you didn't set your house on fire. Our former next door neighbor once dumped the contents of his fireplace directly into his plastic garbage can in front of his house under the eaves. When Jim drove into our driveway that night, the garbage can was smoking and had small flames shooting out. Fortunately, our houses were close enough together that our hose reached. We laughed about it afterwards, but it was CRAZY at the time.

Country Girl said...

That sounds like something I'd funny!

Mim said...

Well, at least it waited to melt until it was outdoors. Lucky it just didin't melt right there on the way out the door. C is laughing hysterically about this. I told him to be nice!

Anonymous said...

Hey you're learning!! Always a good thing. Wanna compare badges? :)

sugarcreekstuff said...

I don't call these mistakes, just learning lessons.
Is it ok that I'm laughing?

J.J. said...

A friend of ours did something similar, except she vacuumed up the ashes and put the vacuum cleaner away in the closet. Sure enough, about a half hour later she smelled smoke and the vacuum was on fire! Thank goodness she caught it in time before the whole house burned down. She threw it out into a snow pile. Live and learn. said...

I got a good chuckle out of this post. I love reading about your adventures.

I hope you'll accept the "Premium Dardos Award" I'm giving you for your blog. I enjoy your blog and appreciate your contributions. If you accept, you can post the image of it by copying it from my blog at I think this is a great way for blogger to honor and promote each other.


frugalmom said...

farmer jen: Im glad that you smiled at the post. I was able to smile, too. After I cleaned myself up!

Danni: Dont you just love those neighborhoods where you can reach out and touch your neighbors house. Thats so where Im at right now. But, yes. I am extremely happy that my house didnt catch on fire.

country girl: Its good to know that I am not alone!

mim: It wasnt hot enuf to melt that quickly. Im sure it didnt help tho that those boards are not wood...they are that stuff that you had at the old house.

Angie: Dude, do you have badges, too? I am so gonna bring my sash when I see you.

sugarcreekstuff: Yeah, Im learning. But its okay, you can laugh....I did. In fact, I am right now. Laugh with me.

j.j.: She vacuumed it, really? Well, I didnt do that for petes sake.

Penny: Thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the award. Ill come over to see it!

inadvertentfarmer said... just made my morning! That is too funny! Sorry about your bucket!

Jean said...

I immediately saw that it was a plastic bucket. My brain went like this "NONONONOOOOO!!!" Always place metal container (we have had used large stainless steel bowl in a pitch) down on anything not meltable nor burnable... such as cement or ground itself. Wooden (or plastic) deck? I'd try putting 'big' cement blocks solely to rest ash bucket on for when you are feeling too lazy to a sprint to dump ashes in a safe place. Larger container filled with sand/dirt would work. Make sure ash bucket cannot be pushed over! No, my husband won't allow me to get not even a corn stove- stating that our furance is more than enough for this well-built little house. Yes, I grew up with wood heat... oh yes I miss it. Hummm, one surefire way to test if it is safe to use meltable/burnable containers/dumping spot is to stick your hand in ashes and fish around for any hot embers.

Egghead said...

The first thing that popped in my head as I saw that plastic bucket was "don't do it". We have always used metal but I grew up with wood stoves. However, farmer did not. He once vacuumed some stray ashes out of the bottom of the stove and in a few minutes the vacuum was blowing black smoke because a tiny ember caught the bag on fire. So off I went to buy a new vacuum. The bucket was a lot cheaper mistake. Glad you didn't catch anything of fire when that melted.