I got a call in early November from the guy I call my brother--John's best friend, who the kids call Uncle Tex. "I know what I'm getting you for Christmas."
"Yes. I'm getting you a pellet stove." Now, usually we get each other the same thing every year. Tex comes over every Wednesday night for tea and chocolate. Consequently, he gets us tea and we get him chocolate; we drink the tea and eat the chocolate together, and that's our Christmas.
Lately we've been trying to figure out how to heat the house. We don't have the money to buy oil; it's gotten so expensive, and it's a huge lump sum all at once unless we want to pay exorbitant fees to have it spread out over months. We have an old house with little insulation, and we have neither the money nor the credit to upgrade.
Tex is studying alternative energy. We looked at a wood stove, but the house isn't situated for it. When it was built, the woodstove was in the kitchen (and there may have been one in the living room, too; we found a lot of buried bricks in the back yard that may have been from a second chimney that ran through the middle of what is now our upstairs bedroom. Tex suggested a pellet stove, but we weren't sure that's what we wanted.
Well, Tex made the decision for us. Despite my objections over the cost, the stove was already bought and installation scheduled--that's how Tex rolls. He showed up once at my door unannounced, with a couple of burly guys toting a portable dishwasher.
So now we have a pellet stove. And we love it! We had to make some budget adjustments to include heat every month instead of scrabbling for a lump sum, but it's about half what it would be for oil heat and our carbon footprint is lower. We have named it Calcifer, after the fire demon in Howl's Moving Castle.
"I just got tired of coming over and it being so cold in here," says Tex. And it was a good thing yesterday, as the pic to the left attests. A cozy night with tea, a fire, and that silence that comes only in a Portland snowfall.