Well, we’re onto our next project already. Unlike the ceiling, this one has an end in sight and is guided by a deadline, which is the arrival of our new woodstove. Our original plan was to move our existing stove from the center of the room, where it precariously shares a chimney with our oil-burning furnace, to the corner of the room, where chimney pipe would be able to exit out the roof, thereby alleviating our fire code hazard and freeing up more space in the small room. But once we started looking at new woodstoves, there was no turning back. “Look at how efficient they are,” we would say jealously, looking at the EPA ratings of this new beauties. “And look at how open the door is, so we could actually watch the fire burn,” we lamented. The final straw was of course, aesthetic; the new stoves were so much more…modern. Our new Jotul Castine in Blue-Black Enamel has been ordered and will arrive in the next few weeks. Which brings me to the project – a hearth. And knowing us, of course it’s not just any old slab of stone; it’s a huge, 5” tall platform, covered in bluestone with slate tiles on the surrounding walls. It’s serious.
The first steps went so fast and uneventful, it was almost an ominous precursor of what was to come. Since the area around the woodstove is obviously going to get very hot, we needed to ensure that the materials were non-combustible. This lead us to the exciting world of Durock, a truly awful product that was devised only to have the most dangerous labels placed on it. Did I mention it has to be handled extremely carefully, since it is incredibly fragile, and only with gloves? The label says something like, “Do not touch or breathe anywhere near this stuff or it will cause you to die painfully. Wear long sleeve shirts, pants, a dust mask, goggles, and alkali-resistant gloves.” And it really says, “Panels are heavy and could fall over, causing serious injury or death.” This was after we cheerfully moved the stuff at least five times in shorts and tee shirts. To make a long Durock story short, after cutting it and screwing it into the wall, we realized that we did it wrong…and had to cut it while on the wall. Durock does not go quietly. It still remains, a painful reminder of our mistakes, as faded white drips of an angry pack of seagulls on our deck.
The good news is that my bleeding heart is blooming. I have always been fascinated by these flowers since I was little and performed “heart surgeries” to figure out how they were made. They still amaze me.