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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

New Fire Bricks, New Neighbors

"Self Reliance: Trust your instincts; form your own opinions; make good choices." ~Anonymous

     Along with all the other "issues" I have been dealing with over the past two weeks, last week the throat plate or baffle on the wood stove started slipping down into the fire.  I used an Ikea silicone oven glove to reach in and set it back in place, thinking I would eventually get around to figuring out what was causing the throat plate to drop at some other time. I just wanted some room to breathe and not have to face yet one more thing.
     Alas, yesterday evening just after I got the fire going nice and hot, the bloody throat plate suddenly dropped again and I had simply had enough. I kicked the stairs, screamed at the sky and went to bed sobbing "Enough is f*****g well enough already!"
     I remember the last time Les replaced the fire bricks. He didn't want to use cheap vermiculite bricks so he walked into a stove shop in Leighton Buzzard and bought a set of ceramic bricks. These were not fit for purpose to our Valar Willow solid fuel stove, so Les had to measure the inside of the firebox, cut the bricks with a hand saw, cobble them together with fire cement and fit them into the stove box. This is a prime example of Les' love of tinkering and figuring out cheap, cheerful solutions and doing the work on his own. This is not even a possibility for me. I don't have the upper body strength to cut fired bricks with a hand saw. I don't have the mathematical skills to measure the inside of the firebox and extrapolate what angles to cut the brick to begin with! Crap! Crap!! Crap!!!
     This morning I woke at 6:25 am to a cool boat. The fire was obviously out. I opened the stove door and with flashlight (torch) in hand I poked around to discover that the fire bricks Les installed about three years ago had crumbled on the top edge. A large triangular piece was missing on the left side and the throat plate--which rests on the top edge of each brick--could not possible stay in place.
     As Les was well aware and other boaters have commented, I am a very driven person; however I am learning that drive without thought and good directions will NOT take one where one wants and needs to go. So I decided to let things percolate over several cups of morning coffee. I went online and downloaded the instruction manual for our stove, reviewing the directions for changing out the fire bricks. I knew Les had ordered a replacement set of fire bricks for me last August. He wrapped them in bubble wrap, labeled them and they were tucked away under the seat on his side of the dinette.
     I moved the upholstered cushions, pulled the heavy, ungainly lid up on the dinette seat storage and extracted the package labeled "fire bricks" in Les' familiar handwriting. I pulled the taped bubble wrap apart and found a complete set of vermiculite fire bricks made specifically for our stove with the order receipt inside detailing what they were, where Les purchased them from, and how much they cost. Goddess bless his precious soul!
     I proceeded to clean out the fire box with a wire brush from Les' man drawers set the brick in place and replaced the throat plate. It took me all of twenty minutes and was not difficult. I did have to look at the pictures of the throat plate in the instruction manual to get it in the right way up. It all fit together like a glove. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. My Best beloved is still looking after me in his way; his love for me made him think far ahead to the time I would have to cope on my own; he ordered extra parts which he labeled and stored under the dinette seats for me. With Les' help I will become self-reliant. He believed in me so I must believe in myself. 
New fire bricks in place with the throat plate resting properly on top.
The old ceramic fire bricks on the left, and the receipt for the new ones with all the information I need to order another replacement set.

     Yesterday I was blessed with a short visit by Adam and Adrian on NB Briar Rose. They were on their way back northward and pulled in behind me for a cuppa and a natter. Thanks guys! It was as always lovely to see you and spend a bit of time chatting. Thank you for your hugs and kindness.
     This morning a boat moored up behind me with two young women on it. They are partners and I was chuffed to bits to meet them. It is wonderful to see young women living aboard and cruising the cut, reaching for this lovely life and making it theirs.


Unknown said...

You have got this Jaq.Heads up and keep going. You are loved by many on this funny place called earth and also by the lovely souls somewhere in the universe.
Love and hugs as always❤🤗😘
Ozlem xxxx

Unknown said...

So now order the next set of bricks so you won't be out.

Did you fire up the stove and get NBV warm?
Bloody cold and damp here,
interior temperature of the house is 25 C.

Yes, Les is keeping an eye on you!

Ian and Karen said...

Well done Jaq, Les knew you could manage, that you are very capable! But isn't it wonderful to keep finding the ways he so lovingly thought to set things ready to be a help for you still. What a blessing. Lots of love Karen and Ian 🤗

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Ozlem. I love you too. xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Yes Bryce I have a lovely fire going now. I have also ordered another set of fire bricks. It was the next thing I did after replacing the broken set. It isn't cold here, just cool enough to be uncomfortable without a small fire. xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi you two! It is so touching. I found a box labeled "stern gland," with a note from him on how to change the seals!

I hope you both are well. Take god care of each other,

Love Jaq xxx

Fun60 said...

You are coping so well. Must be that dogged determination you have.

Antinady said...

A baptism of fire doesn't quite cover it - you are doing grate (excuse the play on words!!).

Andy has just about stopped laughing from the picture in his head of you 'wearing' a porthole.

So looking forward to seeing you soon - until then we are at the end of a phone if you need us xxxx

Love n hugs always xxx

nb Tentatrice said...

Hi Jaq - we have been without internet for over a week (long story for another time!), so I am just catching up with the great big world out there! What a time you have had and well done you for coping with one big issue after another. Les would be proud of you and how wonderful that he thought about so many things and did so much preparation to help you cope on your own. I do hope RCR have arrived by now and that you are back up and running. Take care and keep on on keeping on. Love Jennie x

Mike & Phill Muir, nb GARNET. said...

Different stoves, different fixes, Our throat plate sites on a couple of right angled steel pieces and not on the firebricks (which I will have to replace this summer), however the stove itself is get a bit past it's worst after date, and we may replace the whole thing. Probably been in place since GARNET was built! Well done for sorting that out, being cold is a nasty experience, often endured riding to work in Southern Ontario winters!

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

You're a star, girl!! And a good cry and primal scream of rage are both therapeutic actions, so keep them coming at the right times ... Mxxoo

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Fun60,

Do I know you? I wish I knew your name but thank you for leaving a comment. Yes I am doggedly determined! It has kept me alive in spite of myself so far (and kept Les alive for three years longer than he would have had without me. Ben Franklin said persistence and determination will win out. Let's hope he was correct about that!



Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Tina,

Well you two both know if Les had been here he would have split a gut laughing and made me laugh too. It is so overwhelmingly absurd one really has to laugh right?!!

Thanks for checking in with the blog and me, and for always being at the end of the phone. I love you both more than chocolate! At the pace I am moving I will not make it to Napton until after you return from your hols.

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Jennie!

I didn't call you as I said I would because I knew you were incredibly busy and so was I. Thanks for checking with me. True life is stranger than fiction and no one could make this stuff up and do it justice. I just hope the bad fortune streak is over for awhile.

RCR came late this afternoon and repaired everything. I am too knackered to move today and with the weekend coming on I think I will stay put right where I am and cruise off on Monday morning.

Thanks for reminding me that Les would be proud of me. While chastising myself for making beginner's mistakes and berating myself for all the things I haven't got a handle on yet, I forget that he would indeed be proud of me.

Biggs big hugs and lots of love to you and Chris,

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mike,

Coming form Alaska I have suffered my share of relentlessly biter cold winters as have you and Phill. I had a VW Bug when my girls were very small children. There was a small hole in the floorboard and the gas heater cold not keep us warm in in below zero Fahrenheit temperatures. I used to bundle them up in all their cold weather gear, et them settled in the back seat of the car, cover them with a heavy quilt and tuck a hot water bottle in with them!

The place Les ordered the stove bricks from is and they are brilliant. Stay warm and take good care of each other.

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Pal (Marilyn),

Thanks for the confirmation I am not coming unglued at the seams although there are times when it feels like it. I was in concert choir for seven years and my high notes was an E above high C--that is the note that breaks glass stemware. My primal scream is not a roar--it is a high pitched keen that breaks ear drums!

Thank you for the sustained love and encouragement from 17,000 miles away!

Love Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs