Yesterday I had a chance to actually cook something on our new stove. We got it on Wednesday, moved it into the house on Thursday, converted it to propane and hooked it up on Friday, but we’ve been so busy with moving and taking care of Ivan that we hadn’t had a chance to do anything except boil water on it. I made pancakes and bacon. The stove has a large oval shaped central burner with a griddle that fits over the top of it, but I used our cast-iron griddle on the left two burners instead. Like the electric range we bought six months ago, the new stove is able to heat my biggest cast-iron pan from edge to edge and cooked a full pan of bacon evenly with a minimum of rotating.
The pancakes weren’t as good because I need to learn the correct burner settings again. I'd just gotten used to the electric, but I'm already enjoying the gas stove. It's nice even heat, it's really easy to manipulate the burner settings because you can actually see the flame. This particular stove has a simmer burner in addition to the central griddle. I tried the simmer burner last night, but I think it’s set a bit to high at the moment.
We debated getting a dual-fuel range but Consumer Reports tested electric and gas ranges in July and didn't find any differences in evenness or temperature control between the two, and the dual-fuel models we saw were all more than twice as expensive as a single fuel range. I bake a lot of bread, so I think the moisture produced during propane combustion might actually be a good thing for the crust. I'm hoping to have a bit of time during the week to try out a recipe from my new bread book.
Soon we should also receive the firebox parts for our wood-burning cook stove. Last weekend I managed to get all the melted, warped, and cracked pieces (!) of cast-iron out of the firebox, and called Lehman's. They sell the stove we have, and also sell parts for it. Shipping all that cast iron from Ohio to Alaska is going to cost more than $100. But it'll be worth it. It's been cold and rainy all weekend and I wished I could have fired up the wood stove. Gotta move some firewood from the old house.
On the subject of temperatures, we’ve already noticed that it’s much colder at our place than in the rest of town, and certainly by comparison to our old house in the hills. I’ve got a little plot on the sidebar (labelled ‘Temperature anomaly’) that shows the difference between the morning temperature at our house, and an average of the temperature readings from the Fairbanks area. Each blue bar represents a single day’s observation going back two weeks and the orange lines show the average anomaly for each week. Thus far, it appears that we’re about 10 degrees below the Fairbanks average when it’s clear, and pretty close to average when it’s cloudy.
We're still moving stuff from the old house to the new one, but are nearing the end of that process. Unpacking has now overtaken packing so the house is starting to look more like a place that people live, rather than an empty storage unit. We’ve got the first floor set up much the way the previous owners had it set up with a little entry way / pantry next to the door, a “dining room” in front of the big south window, the entertainment center next to the sliding glass doors, and a couch on the opposite wall (formerly known as the “red wall”.) Right now we’re using a bookshelf as shelves for the pantry, and we haven’t figured out what to do with the area to the right of the couch (where there was a little office), but at least it’s functional. I think some sort of storage bench next to the door, a storage unit under the window, and a better pantry unit will help organize things quite a bit before the complexities (coats, boots, snow, extreme cold, etc.) of winter arrive.
Most of the stuff that had been in the library / junk room in our old house, as well as the stuff from the office (we had a lot of rooms in the old house…) have been shoved into the third room on the second floor of our new house. This is supposed to become an office in the near future, but at the moment it’s looking a lot more like a new take on the “junk room” concept. The red cabin, which is absorbing everything from the garage also has this appearance. Until we can get a handle on unpacking some of the boxes, both areas are going to be pretty hard to navigate.
Still, it’s all progress. I’m sure it’ll be awhile before it really feels like home, but having a bunch of our normal stuff close by and out in similar places certainly helps.
The move has finally started. Although the closing won’t officially “record” until tomorrow, we’ve been moving some things from our old house to the new one. It’s very exciting, but after living here for almost eight years, we’ve collected a lot of stuff. Planning and installing a dog yard at the new house is the other big task. I’ve set up a wiki so that we can keep track of all the things we need to do, and our best guess of when they’ll get done. It’s turning out to be a really good way of planning it all out, and for forcing us to get particular tasks done when we need them done. I wish I’d started it a month ago when we first knew we were likely to be moving.
The photo on the right shows the second load we took over. We’re borrowing a trailer from a friend and it’s turning out to be really helpful. It’s amazing how much stuff it can hold.
I doubt if I’ll be finishing any more books this month, and I haven’t really had much time to seriously consider the Bach Violin Concertos CD. Hopefully we will have settled down in our new house in a couple weeks and things will start returning to normal.
P.S., Anybody want to buy a house?
I got it for $300 in 1992 when I lived in Portland, Oregon and trusted it enough to drive up to Fairbanks in it. It had 175,000 miles on it when I got it, and the brakes and cooling system needed a lot of work before it was even safe to drive. Over the years I drove it, I replaced almost every part in the engine and power train, finally giving up in 2000 when the transmission died. It has 227,574.9 miles on it and made it through seven Fairbanks winters.
I’ve gotten rid of vehicles before and I never minded seeing them go, but I feel some regret giving up on the Volaré. It was easy to work on, inexpensive to repair, very simple to figure out what was wrong with it, and it was surprisingly fun to drive. Driving down the road looking out over that giant hood felt safe, and the little turn signal indicator lights at the corners of the hood were great. But it got terrible gas mileage, the heater barely worked, the windows iced up in the winter, it required a replacement carburetor every couple years, and I had to put tire chains on to get up and down the hills in winter.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but it got me a long way for very little money, and even though I’m glad it’s not in my yard anymore, I can’t help wishing I could drive it one more time.
The oil tank that feeds our furnace sits under the deck on a wooden sled. Over the years the tank has slid downhill to the point that the tubing was starting to bend and kink and I was worried it might actually slide all the way off it’s supports. So it needed to be pulled back up the slope and secured.
The tricky part is that there’s nothing solid enough under the deck to attach a jack or winch to, and the tank is heavy: it’s a 300 gallon tank about two-thirds full. What’s the saying about moving the moon with a long enough lever and a place to stand?
I used a tow rope around the tank, some chain to join the rope to my two-ton winch, and attached the winch to the trailer hitch on the back of the pickup truck. Worked like a charm. I’d fully tension the chain with the winch until the truck just started to move, go under the deck and rock the tank back and forth, causing it to move forward an inch or so. Re-tension the winch and repeat.
I moved the tank about a foot uphill in less than an hour, and blocked the end of the sled so it can’t slide down any more. (Those are our basil plants on the deck in the bottom photo.)