The January cold has set in. We’re lucky to have a layer of snow on the ground so it will protect our pipes and the roots of our plants. We have been getting a lot of nuisance snow, but it’s enough to make the world look new and clean. Unfortunately, with the snow comes the sand trucks. Time to start daily dusting as everything in the house is covered with a fine layer of silt. I guess if we want drivable roads, we have to put up with the dirt.

Heard Nana Gail’s is closed, no word on when it will reopen. The Jewett Nutrition Center has been open and then closed again. A crew is going in to disinfect and deep clean for our protection. Please call ahead if you want a meal. There has been no reopening date. I guess that’s the new normal. Always call ahead before you go to places as you never know when, or if, they are open.

There was a “rumor” going around that the Covid Vaccine was given out at local Senior Centers. The real story is that the senior housing facilities had “pop-up” vaccines given to residents. Please don’t call your Town Halls to complain that you weren’t notified. They know nothing about this, nor does the Department of Aging in Catskill.

Glad to hear that Bob Story made it, driving by himself, to Florida. He was going to drive straight through.

Not much has been happening as everyone is hunkered in because of the cold. We do have several people who have need of our prayers and maybe a phone call or card. Janice Maben fell, and although she is home, she is having difficulty getting around. Clarence Soule is still in rehab in Margaretville, and is going stir crazy. He really appreciates phone calls, when you can get through. He is doing very good in therapy, but with a broken wrist and hip, it is very painful trying to move around. Kathy Story Jergins is in St. Peter’s after surgery. Get well soon. Lorna Barlow Puleo is in Hudson hospital and needs healing prayers. Donnie Speenburgh has been in and out of the hospital. Please keep him, and Theresa in your thoughts and prayers. John Valenti is in rehab. Sympathy and Prayers to Louise Begley on the passing of her son, Patrick, 79, in New Jersey. Louise will be 99 in July. Sympathy to the family of Sidonia Palace who passed away this past week. She was 103, and always kept active, and driving, Many of us remember Sidonia from the Windham Journal.


Back in the day, the only heat for our houses was from wood stoves. During the spring and later in the fall, the men would go out to the woods and cut a variety of trees to produce the best heat. If you lived in a village, or on a small plot of land, you owned a wood lot somewhere in the mountains where you harvested your logs. The trees were cut before the leaves erupted, or after they fell, It was easier to fell a tree without leaves plus left easier cleanup. The trees were cut into lengths and pulled from the lot. The next step was to cut the lengths into stove sized logs. Now remember, there were no chainsaws, just manpower saws. Most often the men would work a two manned saw which needed the right combination of men to push and pull. The logs had to be seasoned for a year to dry them out as burning green wood causes chimney fires. It is also not economical to burn green (new) wood.

Now it’s time to split the wood. Using an axe, sledge and wedge or maul you reduce the logs to smaller sizes for the stove. Not easy work. Just ask Judy who has been splitting wood several days a week for her pot belly stove. Beware of knots! The wood looks like it’s going to split, but NO, it doesn’t go through. Use another hatchet, and widen the gap, nope, got that one stuck, too. Now I got the hatchet stuck in the chopping block, but that knot still wouldn’t split. Many curses later, the knot splits and it’s time to get a new piece to split. It is definitely true wood warms you twice — once when you split, and once when you burn.

Later, kerosene came into the area. Small heaters with a wick were used. I remember a heater about 2 feet high with a handle that we moved from room to room.

Judy’s son was complaining over Christmas that the room he was sleeping in in the big house, had no heat. He was FREEZING! He had to get an electric heater to keep warm. When Judy slept in that room when young, there was no insulation, and on really cold nights, had to use many feather comforters to keep warm. My house had the wood stove in the living room which warmed up that and the floor above it. The stove pipe went through and provided a little bit of heat as it passed through the wall. The kitchen stove, used for baking and cooking, and heating water. There were registers cut in the ceilings that allowed the heat to pass through the upper floors. Bill Mead tells of how they used heated soap stones, wrapped them in flannel or an old towel and took them to bed to warm the feet. Somedays you woke up with snow on the floor of your bedroom where the wind blew it through the (closed) windows. Don’t put a glass of water by the bed because it would be frozen before morning.

When we got kerosene, we were overjoyed but I remember the day when I was at work and the kerosene was delivered. Someone misjudged and it overflowed. My kitchen floor was covered with my delivery.

Now we have heat on demand, but many are going back to wood as fuel is expensive. You see many outdoor furnaces that heat entire houses from outside ductwork. Many still love the fireplace as it is so relaxing to watch the flames burn. On Christmas Day, Judy’s middle son brought his dog in front of Rose’s fireplace. Rocky stretched out and savored the heat. When it was time to go, Anthony had to carry him. A couple of days later, Anthony called and when Rocky heard Grandma’s voice he whined — we could translate, Please take me back to the fireplace.

I have gas heat, and it’s warm in my house, but on Fridays, I go to Rosie’s house and sit in front of her fireplace and watch the flames make pictures and colors, and forget my problems for a little while.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1


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