A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire
for the mind as well as the body.
~Benjamin Franklin

Restoration continued in the sleeping quarters (“The Bunkhouse”) this past Saturday as Handi-man applied mud to the ceiling and recent sheetrock repairs, and sanded areas that had been previously mudded.  Before we knew it, the sanding left a thin layer of dust over the entire house – all the way into the dining room and kitchen, on the other end of the house. What a mess!

Window restoration also continued as I stripped, sanded and repaired an upper sash salvaged from a window in the dining room that will replace a dilapidated one in the window seen in the above picture. After applying wood glue to broken, weak areas and setting the sash aside with clamps to hold the repairs in place, I moved on to sanding and caulking the interior parts of the window (after Handi-man and his dust storm had vacated the room). I thought I was moving along rather quickly on this set of windows until I realized, after going to bed that night, that I still lacked stripping, sanding and repairing the two bottom sashes. Will window restoration never cease?! Often, my wakeful moments during slumber are filled with rebuilding windows – the deconstruction, reconstruction and my progress in that process.

Handi-man also removed ash and debris from the back-to-back fireplaces in the den / bedroom.

The twin hearths were the main heat source for these two rooms for many years and many a fire were built within them. I remember my grandfather (Gramps) kneeling down on one knee as he tore strips of newspaper to put under the wood to start a fire. The memory and scent of it linger in the house today.

In the past, the middle room and kitchen/dining area were heated by wood burning stoves/heaters that vented through the ceiling via a metal flue and then out through the roof by way of smaller brick chimneys. I do not remember the wood burning stoves, but evidence of their existence remain. I do recall the small ceramic gas heaters before they were replaced with the more modern (ugly) wall units of today.

My mother feeding me as we sit in the farmhouse dining room, circa 1960-61. (notice the ceramic gas heater)

The buildup of creosote on the bricks and mortar of the common flue of the twin fireplaces has long rendered it unsafe for wood burning.

In recent years, wall gas units were mounted on plywood and placed over the hearth openings – not very aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but it got the job done. It is our plan to close off the flue and install unvented gas log units into the two hearths in order to provide warmth to these rooms in winter and to return the ambiance that only a “wood burning fire” can lend to a room.