And so do the winter electric bills, because we heat our (big, old) house with electricity. We used to heat it by means of a wood-burning forced-hot-air furnace in the basement, but gave that up after about a decade and a half – wood is cheap, compared to other locally available heating methods, but it’s a hassle from start to finish.
First you have to purchase the firewood, which means finding a reliable Firewood Guy – something that’s a lot harder than you’d think, because your typical reliable Firewood Guy is usually just one year away from selling his chainsaw and his skidder and retiring to Florida, so calling last year’s supplier almost never works. Once you’ve got the firewood, it has to be stacked, all eight or nine cords of it (a cord, if you’re interested, is a stack of logs measuring 4’x4’x8’, and if you’re ever in the business of purchasing cordwood for yourself, make certain you specify “full cord”, because unscrupulous dealers are not above selling you so-called “face cords” which are only half the width of a proper cord.)
Then the stacked wood has to be heaved down into basement where the furnace lives; this will have to be done repeatedly throughout the winter, usually in the dark on bitter cold nights, because that’s always the time when one or another of the house’s occupants comes into the office and says, plaintively, “There’s no more wood in the basement and the fire is getting low.” At which point somebody – probably you, because why else would they have come into the office to complain about it – has to suit up in full north country outdoor gear and go move some logs.
After that, you have to go down into the basement and heave yet more logs, this time from the basement into the furnace. And you’ll have to do it again before you retire for the night, and as soon as you get up in the morning (forget about sleeping in, if you heat with wood), and every four or five hours throughout the day.
So once I started having paranoid fantasies about chimney fires, and about the insidious threat of carbon monoxide, and about tripping and falling on the rickety basement steps – but especially about the basement steps, because I have the sort of ankles that can turn on a crack in the kitchen linoleum – I said the hell with this, and switched to the backup electric baseboard heat. I have dreams of converting the house to oil or propane, because all the ductwork is still in place, but a project of that expense and magnitude would require major money up front, and Hollywood hasn’t bought one of our novels yet.
Which is why one of the early posts on this blog, back when I was just getting started, was my Fire in Fantasy Rant, and why I’m taking this opportunity to point a discreet finger at the Editorial and Critique Services link up there above the header. If you’ve got a novel in need of editing, you have it in your power to help me make the electric company very happy.