Ar’dic Blast

Winter's best dress!If I hear one more broadcast anchor or shivering reporter in the field say, “The Ar’dic Blast continues…” I may shriek. Honest.

But, boy howdy, it’s been cold.

Things would have been cheerier here in The Shambles but for a catastrophe of discomforts that came all at once.

We adjusted to the inside F64 degrees, OK. Not too hard. But then, the other night, the newly installed woodstove started belching smoke into the room each time a wind gust hurled itself against the building and down the pipe. This was uncomfortable to be sure, and the smoke alarm blared every time, before easing off to continued low-urgency bleats for 10 minutes. All night long. The stove was putting on only a feeble effort to warm us. We stirred the ashes and embers to help matters. Smoke issued in columns through the front of the stove. The alarm alarmed. In the middle of the dark night we shoveled out the ashes altogether and built a new fire, checked the room thermometer (F52), and settled again under the covers. We placed a space heater next to the bird cage. Poor Gyro the little Conure was fluffing his feathers and burying his beak in his breast. The wind hit the building. Smoke filled the room again. The alarm went off.

Then the power went out.

The smoke alarm has a back-up battery, so it faithfully kept reminding us of the problem. We moved Gyro closer to the stupid stove.

By 3 AM, it was 38 degrees inside. The windows were open to allow the smoke to make its way into the atmosphere. It was 18 degrees outside.

OK. That was quite enough, I thought.

In the morning I called a friend and begged foster care for Gyro.

I brought home a flue cleaning apparatus. Nothing would have gotten a stove installer out here in the middle of a December snow, so we thought we’d scrape out the chimney pipe. That would surely help things. We looked up and saw actual ice hanging from the top of the stack.

Not a good sign

“Isn’t that supposed to be the hottest part of the chimney?” I asked. We assembled the handle sections (tight, mind you, with 2 pair of pliers), and pushed the brush up the flue, scrubbing out clinkers and soot.

And then we withdrew it, 4 handle sections…

…and no brush.

By then the smoke alarm was singing merrily because we had the bottom of the flue pipe open and indoors was a veritable smokehouse. Too bad we didn’t have a fresh ham on hand.

We stared at one another (maybe; it was dark) and said, “Let’s go sleep with Gyro.” Our dear, hospitable friends Barbara and Peter had already made up the guest room in anticipation of our arrival. Gyro was pleased to see us.

You expect me to forgive you for this

We slept like dead people. Dead people who smelled like a campfire.

When we arrived home again the next morning, the electricity was on again.

The water was off.

We won’t roll in the details any more. We’re here at home, the fire is burning, the water is running, and the lights are on.  The cold snap isn’t finished,

William in the snow

and we almost know we’ll lose power again, so Gyro is still visiting friends.

I’d better bring him home soon. I’m told he spent part of the afternoon petting Barbara’s cheek. It’s one of his best affectionate gestures.

False heart

How quickly they take up with someone else.

Published in: on December 20, 2008 at 4:22 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. When the electricity is cut to our house in Chapel Hill, our neighbor puts her parrot into its travel cage and rushes him over here, where we make a temporary shelf above the fireplace insert. We kept him alive for a week after an ice storm serveral years ago. So I’m extra glad Gyro is ok.

    Hope you get that stove to work soon!

    What’s almost best about this story is, Gyro has a travel cage, too! It took a bit of doing to find it in the storage arrangement, but there it was, waiting to host another parrot travel adventure. Every parrot should have a motorhome.


  2. Brrr! cold.

    You had an adventure! How many people can tell that story, huh? And the pic with the brush on top of the chimney – priceless!

    Have a warm Christmas, and may Gyro find a cozy spot to be parrotish in.

    Gyro is doing just fine! He’s down in luxury land getting loads of parrot treats (phone call: Is it OK if Gyro has Christmas cookies?) and enjoying a window view of llamas in the field. We miss him here (it’s so quiet!), but it’s better for him to stay on vacation right now and skip the adventure. This is definitely a winter we will talk about later!


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