Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Begin with November, and hope Spring really arrives

Spring weather in this part of Patagonia has surprised me and confounded me. Just when DO you plant a garden here. People have gardens, I've seen them. But October and up through this week has been alternatively warm, sunny and breezy, then cold, relentlessly rainy and snow. Despite the weather, some things have sprouted though I suppose it will be hard to figure out how to survive on radishes and basil. Hmmm.

I am sitting on a walnut-brown rug in front of the wood stove (brown being my final choice for rugs and other home decoration for pioneer living) and wonder just how I can't remember this Spring weather, or why it still seems a bit "trying" to make a go here. I guess I still need to shed my "call a repairman" thinking. It started with the hydro-electric intake debacle which cannot be fixed, repairman or not, until the river recedes. So, out of electric, we purchased a generator and agonized through the whole wiring a 220V plug to the house and figuring out the Chinese-made generator with the Spanish manual. But we did it. Then, having had no electric for almost a month, the laundry had piled up a bit...but now we had the generator and it worked fabulously! It was a glorious day when we turned on the electric and started up the washer with the first of many filthy loads of laundry. What would you wash if you knew you could only wash one more load to last the next TWO weeks? Well, I didn't know, and I washed stupid stuff...dish towels and socks, a small load. The washer quit agitating, and that was that.

We pulled off the back, looked. Looked some more. Lots of little gadgets encased in nifty plastic boxes, stuff, doo-dads and whatchamacallits. We made a few trips to town and inquiries for washing machine repair and got blank stares, wry looks and out-right laughter. In Futa? Jajajajajaja (Spanish for Hahahaha).

In the meantime, we are enjoying a few hours each night of electric. Greg watches Deadwood on DVD, I make dinner and read or crochet. I bake bread. Then, I notice that there is a sooty film creeping up the wall behind the propane stove, and it finds it's way onto my lovely loaves of bread. Thinking that something has fallen down under the bottom plate, I finally decide to take it apart and investigate. The entire inside of the stove is layered in soot and under the bottom plate I find a quarter inch of caked on hard, black powder. But there are no food particles or spilled grease so it is a puzzle to me how all this black soot got in my stove. I spend four hours cleaning, scrubbing rinsing and drying out the stove and put it back together (not to mention cleaning the wall. Just as I am done, I decide to shake out and clean off the mat beneath the stove. I pull it back and find a partially burned portion of the wood floor. Thankfully, we had a large sheet of sheet rock under the house and we cut it to size and install it under the stove. But what caused this??

See, I have no clue. We went to town to get on the internet to look for answers (also no gas stove repairman in the area). My first ten hits on Google are alarming! If your gas oven produces soot, the most likely (and this is the alarming part) that your oven is producing potentially deadly carbon monoxide gas. Stop! the first site says, "and call a certified repairman". Another site graciously goes on to tell me the three most common causes and solutions but also urges me to call a "certified repairman". So, it is by the grace of the internet that I am still here, writing this. We will take the stove outside, try the most likely solution, and knowing that bright yellow flames are the warning sign, not move the stove back in to use until we have fixed it, or gotten a new one.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of recent snows in my neck of the woods.

(Snowed all day November 6)