Monthly Archives: April 2014

That’s Better

Ah, the sound of rain peppering the tin roofs of Coldhome! The bitter dry grey relaxes, the air grows mild and southwestern, everything starts to open up, the little white rootlets expand… And baths – oh, remember baths? We can throw the nose-plugs away and tonight, tonight (to paraphrase CharlieR) we shall bathe like kings and queens of old, oh yes.
So that was a sort of prologue. This is the actual logue:

Angus and Ainslie said they’d seen it on Youtube (not the rain, I’ll say what “it” is in a moment), and Rachel said there were dozens of blogs and forums and articles about it – but me, I’d just be flapping about in my usual way online and find little more than a brief Wikipedia article and I don’t deny I’m not a lot of use online and while I did also make a New Year Resolution to be a better Facebook person, as soon as I’d made the resolution they went and changed the format or the look or something-or-other, so that was me gone back to ground for another year (I hereby resolve to make another New Year Resolution for 2015); but anyway, last night, by using slightly different key words – suddenly there it all was!….

What I’m talking about is Rocket-Stove Mass-Heating designs, and why should that mean I woke up this morning for the first time with a little hope in my heart…..? I suppose that’s a longish story, and it’s all connected up with this blog-space, and especially its attached literary and “technical” pages, and how everything got snarled up and bogged down for many months over the issue of recording a few audio-stories whose final quality isn’t really much to write home about and anyway the Sound Cloud space is now used up and I think what the hell, maybe I should just stick to the written word anyway… So anyway, that general sense of snarled-up-and-bogged-downness permeated virus-like into everything else and I became convinced nothing had happened, no progress had occurred with the Coldhome project for two years and when we had a visit from Simon and Ella (plus their delightful Small Addition) last week and they were exclaiming how oh it brings back memories! I was growling to myself, yeah right and no wonder, it’s all exactly the same, that’s why it brings back memories and now I’ve contracted to have “something ready” in our long-byre-livingroom-to-be for Eileen’s bash in June (that’s Annie’s-mum-Eileen, not Eileen-the-forager) and how in God’s name am I going to manage that when even negotiating the space is like picking your way through the bog (metaphor: it’s perfectly dry) of Endless Despair… And then the windcharger needs a bearing replaced so we wait for some sunny still weather when we can take the thing down off its pole, and then the charge controller for the solar panel plays up and goes away on a six-week vacation only so’s we can be told there’s ‘nothing wrong with it’, and then the silencer falls off the back-up generator and knocks out the solenoid and it has to go for a two-month rest cure to Philip’s garage (thank Christ for Philip – try putting a 2.5cwt generator in the post, even supposing it is still under guarantee, which I don’t actually think it is)…. Ah yes, and underlying all that, the thought I wake up with nagging away at the remains of my brain every morning, how are we to finance, let alone justify, our 18-tons-of-firewood-a-year lifestyle (and that’s per family, not gross). By lifestyle of course I mean, keeping a living-room warm, a warmish bathroom, the chill off the bedrooms, a good bit of (slow) cooking and plenty of hot water – it’s not totally bad, but 18 tons? Even when the Coldhome forest grows up that’s going to be unsustainable – and what about my little writing-hole? Freezing for one’s art is all very well, but if your fingers won’t even move then there’s going to be no Art to freeze for.

A Dream of asparagus, little more....

A Dream of asparagus, little more….

Of course, I know it’s all a matter of perception, and I don’t even know if I even mention here the things that do happen: the growing-plots continue to take shape (we got an asparagus-bed, though as it looks like just another dreary little patch of earth you can see why I don’t rush to take a photo of it, plus whenever I do rush to take a photo of anything I find the kids have been using the camera again and the battery’s completely flat (Christ, we talk about home education and we can’t even organise a battery-charging at a battery-charging point…); Maddy got a bedroom up aloft (did I mention that?) and now Gwyn’s getting one next door, books have been written and have had a little sniffy interest from publishers (though I always say, never believe anything until the contract’s signed, and even then expect no more than your advance, because the publication might never see the light of day) and I know I should set these MSs up on this site before I even send them to publishers, but it all sometimes seems too much effort (especially with those audio-stories stagnating away in the swamp of my soul). Anyway, and –

A corner of Maddy's room

A corner of Maddy’s room

I got onto these forums about rocket-stove thermal mass heaters and somehow, it’s not just realising that the claims for them may actually be true (halving, or even quartering, the fuel consumption and not even having to rack one’s brains over a roof-mounted flue), but just hearing about the groups of people exchanging ideas about this – it looks like – revolutionary way of using “biomass” (can’t we just call it twigs?). Just the fact that the technology isn’t set in stone, that different people are trying out different things, commenting on each other’s efforts, etc etc. I also realise ashamedly how instinctively prejudiced I am against anything American (even American at its fuzzy-voiced brilliant-idea’d best), and how my whole idea of solid-fuel heating has been based around the perception that you can have any kind of burner you like as long as it’s a massive iron thing that you can put on a slow-burn for hours….

So. Glad I got that out of my system, and I’ll undertake not to talk about politics any more, and I really don’t care which way the Referendum goes because either way Scotland’s going to be a haven for the most undesirable aspects of Globalism and land’s going to go on getting ever more outrageously pricey and the poor are going to continue on their slippery slope while the affluent become ever affluenter. And I don’t care (oh, I already said that). I would like still to see the little forest of Coldhome growing a bit bigger and looking a bit more viable, and even if I haven’t contributed anything else that’ll be something we have contributed.
“We”, as Rachel frequently points out, are not a monoglot Coldhome Entity, but indeed agree on so little we may well be characterised dysfunctional. Perhaps this perception was what I found most excitingly challenged by the forum discussions I looked at last night (I’m a bit of a forum virgin, in case you hadn’t realised). Dysfunctional is a pseudo-scientific term anyway, brought in to denote the lack of something that’s been artificially established as a Function: a flock of sheep, birds – whatever goes around in flocks – is probably quite dysfunctional in its individuals, but it conforms to a larger pattern which ensures that “it gets there in the end”. So anyway it isn’t what people say to each other, at the end of the day, that’s most important, but the fact that disparate people are brought together at all, by binding ties – not just of family or shared experience in the past, of friendship, but of common interest in one area if not necessarily another; not to mention the friendships forged by their children in which the adults are dragged along. These thoughts, I hope, will continue to help me wake up with a bit of hope rather than despair.

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