Sometimes the only point of a precaution is to make you feel better.

And that’s a perfectly good reason to do it, in my humble opinion.

Only a few months after I moved into the Secret Lair, for reasons having to do with thoroughly poor woodstove and pipe choice, I had myself a chimney fire. And while I dealt with it well enough at the time*, it added a layer of PTSD to the winter experience I could have much more happily lived without.

That was several years ago and I’m pretty much over it. Except once in a while.

Like this morning, for example. Sometimes Uncle Joel, getting on toward being an old man, wakes up in the middle of the night and has trouble getting back to sleep. I’ve been up and dressed, bunk neatly made, since around 3 ayem. And for the first time all this winter I was reluctant to light the woodstove, and having lit the woodstove anyway I found myself (a little) paranoid about fire in the stovepipe.

I have a remedy for that…

I knew intellectually that there was absolutely no danger of a chimney fire. I checked it only a little over a month ago. But at the same time, there was absolutely no reason not to take the stovepipe down and give it a quick scrub if the issue was going to bug me.

So I did.

When I installed this stove and pipe back in December 2012, remedying the problem that caused that fire a long time ago, I deliberately arranged the pipe such that removing it for cleaning or whatever would be very simple and easy. I anticipated that it was going to be an emotional issue – and for a couple of winters the pipe got cleaned with a frequency that could only be described as neurotic.

I gradually got over that. Very gradually. But it’s in no real danger of ever being neglected to the point of ever becoming a real danger ever again, ever.

Hey, it takes like 20 minutes. And it did no physical good – there was no creosote building up in the pipe. But afterward I always feel much better. So why not?

I’m not even bashful about it – after all, the very fact that I live in the boonies at all is a testament to the lengths I’m willing to go to remove fearful stress from my life. A quick stovepipe scrub is nothing.

*I’m happy to say without fear of contradiction that I’m generally not one of those people who freeze in a crisis. More often I immediately concoct a list of things to be done in order, do them in that order, deal with the situation and the cleanup and then fall to pieces at my leisure. Living here has given me a few more opportunities to prove that to myself.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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4 Responses to Sometimes the only point of a precaution is to make you feel better.

  1. Mike says:

    Joel, there’s nothing wrong with being overly cautious, you live alone in the middle of nowhere and help is hours or days away. Yes, you had a fire but you learned from it and as RAH once wrote: “You live and learn. Or you don’t live long.”

  2. Jean says:

    We live a bit north of you. We burn pallet wood, juniper and aspen. The juniper sure makes nice coals as compared to the aspen. The aspen seems to need lots of air to burn nicely. Have not had trouble with creosote buildup. We’ll see how it goes as real winter gets closer.

  3. Jeff Allen says:

    This sort of reflective commentary is why I would read hermit blogs. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. we love this blog its the best

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