I realize that sleep deprivation and nearly endless pain have made my usually sharp memory a bit more dull, but I seem to remember writing a while back about trying to get our fireplace fixed so we can use it for winter heat.
Well, I FINALLY got an explicit explanation of what made the fireplace “unsafe to use” – it seems some of the bricks in the enclosure are cracked, and the mortar is crumbling, in addition to the chimney liner being cracked. There is no easy repair. To make the fireplace able to burn wood again, we’d have to get a mason to tear out the fireplace and rebuild it.
Well, we looked around at other options, and selected a fireplace insert that runs on the same gas that already came into our home for the hot water heater and the furnace. Except that, being brand new (as opposed to being installed in 1973) it will be FAR more energy efficient. It cost us about $300 (I think) for the gas line to be run to the fireplace, and the insert itself cost us $3500.
As of Wednesday morning, it is installed and fully operational.
On other updates: I continue to be amazed at how the Dawn Redwood tree I planted in our yard is doing. Less than two years ago, it was only 2″ tall when I planted it. It is now over 3 feet tall, and the bottom branches have a diameter nearly equal the height. It is looking GOOD. Also, because of all the rain we’ve had this year, the trees the city planted along the new sidewalk grew so tall and so fast that I had to cut some off the tops to keep them from getting top-heavy. Both are already starting to provide some (albeit small amounts at this stage) shade to the sidewalk, exactly as planned.