The Coast News Group
Small Talk

Nothing says love like heat-resistant concrete

OK, I’ll say it. My husband was right.Of course, I hate to admit it — again. I am rather glad I didn’t burn the house down, though. I’ve heard that can be such an inconvenience.

Some might say I’m impetuous. Some, like my children, might possess no restraint or diplomacy, and miss no opportunity to tell me flat-out that I may not always think things through. I’m more the leap-now, feel-like-an-idiot-later type.

I will acknowledge that I get a little help keeping my train on its track from that fellow known as my other half. His favorite and most annoying trick is constantly proving that an ounce of caution is, as they say, worth that pound of cure.

“Call a chimney sweep,” he said one day last week when it was 85 degrees outside. “I think we might need it cleaned before we use it this year.”

So in spite of the Santa Ana winds that blew, I did. It turned out the chimney was truly the least of our problems. The astonished sweeper explained that our fireplace must be completely refurbished before it sees another flame.

Unless you are perched directly in front of it, blocking the flames of anyone else, the fireplace offers precious little heat, but I am loath to hit that thermostat button in the winter. I want that cute, little, wood-eating decoration to earn its keep. Giving full vent to my enthusiastic nature and tight budget, my fires during the past 15 years tended toward roaring. It appears I burned up my fireplace. I didn’t even know that was possible.

Not one easily chastened, I careened on toward what I saw as a perfect solution.

I used to have a nice little cast-iron stove. It would crank out so much heat, we could be walking around in our skivvies all winter. I enthusiastically made my case to the husband and, in spite of the promise of skivvy-wearing, I was met with those measured tones I know so well. My spouse quietly but systematically, using infuriatingly excellent logic, listed all the reasons why my latest creative but impractical idea must be discarded. Tsk.

He has, for years now, shown real tact in this arena. He listens, nods and maddeningly restates his facts. Eventually, I sputter out, process the painful truth and give in. When I’m truly lost in the throes of a far-fetched idea, I might debate with him, restate my artistic vision, embellish and exaggerate for emphasis. In spite of all that, he has never come right out and said, “Are you out of your mind? What on Earth gave you the idea that might actually be feasible?”

Instead, he is upstairs right now researching how to refurbish a fireplace.

Talk about a fun do-it-yourself project. Sometimes, nothing says love like heat-resistant concrete.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer and possible amateur unintentional arsonist. Contact her at [email protected]