Wednesday, December 27, 2006

First Christmas in the House

Christmas 2006 - the first in the new house - is already over. We feel lucky to have had our children all here this year with all the chaos. It is too bad that neither of the "Grandmas" could come, but neither does very well on the floor. It was a quiet Christmas with a traditional tree from the lot and few decorations.
We had pizza in the Tulikivi and a walk in the woods on a warm Christmas morning. Overall a success.
There are a few pictures in the Gallery.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Maine Metal-roof torture.

An interesting effect of a metal roof and the passive solar design in an ice storm.

About 1:30 am this morning, we heard a crash that brought both of us and all three dogs out of a nice winter sleep with a vengeance. What? could be some wood checking in the new house? A couple of shakes from the dogs, a roll over from us and everyone back to sleep. For 10 minutes - another crreech - crash!
Back up - Sophie at the bedside to let me know something just isn't right (she is my nervous Nelly about any loud noises - thunder, gunshots etc.) Then the third - brrrrrrr-crash! Aha - ice sliding off the metal roof in sheets and landing against the aluminum at the top of the foundation - due to the southern breeze.
And on it went - rain coming down - freezing on the roof - sliding down the slope and crashing on the aluminum. A fantastic method of natural sleep deprivation. At 2:00 am, I gave up and took the whimpering Sophie to the living room. Banjo and Milos managed to groan at each disturbance, but go back to sleep. Every new bang, Sophie would look up at me and I would reassure her and back to dozing in my chair. At 4:15, I finally went back to bed as it seemed to have slowed down - or I just got so tired it didn't matter. So, build a steep metal roof at your peril.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Tulikivi Burns

Before you can use a masonry stove there are several items you need to plan for. Once the stove was assembled we had to wait several days for the mortar to dry before we could start breaking it in. Break-in consisted of a series of fires starting with just kindling and working up to a normal fire.

Normally the stove gets fed twice per day. You can also double fire the stove where once the first fire has burned down you put wood in for the second fire, otherwise you wait about 8-12 hours before the next fire. A Tulikivi masonry stove is different in concept than a cast iron stove. You feed them based on the weight of the wood. To calculate the weight of the wood you should burn you have to know how much your stove weighs. Since our stove is 6,700 pounds you divide by 100 and get 67 pounds and then multiple that by 1.5 to get the maximum amount of wood per day. Ideally the company says you should burn 1-1.2 pounds per 100 pounds of stove per day. For two firings this comes out to about 40-50 pounds of wood at a time. The weather hasn't been cold enough to really do that yet. Like any wood stove you open the air controls and dampers before you start the wood but unlike a metal stove you never slow the fire down. You want to burn the stove wide open and then when the fire is out close the dampers to keep heat from going up the chimney.

The bake oven in our stove will warm food from a fire burned in the main chamber but if you want to bake in the oven you build the fire in the oven itself. When you burn in the oven the same rule about the weight of the wood applies plus you should only burn in one of the chambers at a time. Tonight we burned in the bake oven for the first time.

It takes quite awhile for the stove to warm all that soapstone - but when it starts to purr, it is a fantastic heat and it extends for hours and hours. With the sun and a burn this am, the radiant did not run at all today and the temps were in the high 20s. Great!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Holidays

Holidays are upon us quickly in 2006. There aren't many cards leaving the Betts house this year - every year it seems to be less and less. I changed jobs last December (same type of technology work K-12 just further north in Maine). I am enjoying this new district, but the job is more than busy as my colleague is undergoing back surgery to repair the results of a previous surgery last July. (no comment on the medical system). Happily, the family is all well. If you are reading this, you know David and I have moved to Industry, Maine - nearer the middle of the state. We have been building our dream energy efficient home since summer and documenting it in this blog. The Betts Berm became livable just in time to escape the Maine winters - although it will be a while until it is complete (if you can ever say your house is complete).
The boys are fine and involved with their lives. Ryan and his wife, Robyn, are presently in Portugal for a short vacation with some friends. They plan on stopping in Germany to visit our old haunts and to see some of Robyn's family (her mother is German) on their way home. During their trip, we are dog-sitting Banjo, their labradoodle. She and our youngest leonberger, Milos, are close buddies and tend to get into a bit of mischief daily. Micah is getting ready to experience his internship before finishing up in Medical Technology. All three plan to visit us at Christmas. The lack of flooring and finished bedrooms make it a little difficult for extended stays. They don't seem to mind a few nights in the sleeping bags.
David is deep into finishing - he has tiled the laundry, kitchen and bathroom floors. I never know what to expect when I come home - Yesterday, he was doing some wallboard work. Most of our wallboard is eventually going to be covered with tongue and groove - but there are a few places that we will just prepare and paint.
Changing jobs, moving and building made 2006 an intense year with little time for breaks. I did take a few jaunts with Milos to show him at Leonberger Specialties. I enjoy the people and the dogs even if I'm not really a dogshow type gal. In August, we visited Ohio for David's mothers 80th birthday. My mom also turns 80 on December 28th - they are both doing very well. We just wish it wasn't quite such a long trip between Maine and Ohio.
We hope that life is good to all of you and wish everyone a happy and peaceful 2007. You will find pictures in our Gallery - if you have a website, please send your URL (or put it in a comment here). We would love to visit it. Ho Ho Ho, Sharon and David

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tale of a Tulikivi

It took 5 days and 3 men, but the Tulikivi is now finished and sitting proudly in the center of the living area. It was quite a process assembling those 6,700 pounds of soapstone into the fabulous monolith. I took lots of pictures trying to get the idea of how it went up. I have them in the Gallery. You will find them HERE!
Remember, you can click the little 2 and 3 at the bottom of each page to see the next page. Or use the arrows on the bigger pictures (double click on the first one to enlarge it).

Day 1 - worked all day to get the base course level. Our concrete slab is anything but even and this turned out to be quite a challenge.

Day 2 - mortared in the first course and layed up the next level

Day 3 - another course and the puzzle that is the trail for flame and smoke.

The heat goes up through the openings and down around the sides before exiting at the bottom back under the bench and up the chimney - quite the serpentine path.

Day 4 - more courses - both firebox and oven door openings are now evident. I am looking forward to that first "stone oven" pizza.

Day 5 - finishing with the final course, the insulating and capping. They were very meticulous at the finishing - every joint was inspected. It is marvelous.

Enjoy the pictures - we will enjoy the warmth. First small fire is due to be tested in 3 days.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tulikivi delivered

The Tulikivi was delivered today - 6,700+ pounds of soapstone in a million pieces. The ultimate jigsaw puzzle - I saw the plans and am glad that I'm not putting it together. Starting on Wednesday morning and for the week following that, 3 men will be working to build this gem in our living room. We purchased this beauty from Maine Masonry Stove Company. I am quite excited about the end result and will document it nightly here.

Today it was sunny although temps stayed in the 20s. The sun and our passive solar southern exposure counteracted the temperature and we were able to leave the door open while they hauled stone without freezing or using the furnace either. Gotta love it!

Stay tuned for the process... a few more pictures in the Gallery. (remember to click on any picture to make it larger)