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Frost Free: Keeping Cool and Saving BTUs

The extended forecast for winter: fear and shivering. The Governor of Maine worries that a “dangerous” winter is shaping up. Across the north country, the media echoes official predictions that it’s going to be a killer season because of high fuel costs and a crumbling economy. Fearful of cash strapped citizens forced to choose between starving or freezing, high latitude states are setting up emergency fuel funds and food banks. (Throw on some lobster shells with the fire wood, Jenny!) Steady now, folks. I know a lot of you weren’t paying attention in the Seventies, especially if you weren’t born yet. So here’s a chance to make up for lost btu’s and then celebrate by making your own energy free ice cream, as soon as it snows anyway. This is how my energy conserving, money saving plan works. When it starts to get cold outside, about the time  you begin worrying about slipping on those icy steps, give your refrigerator plug a yank. The quiet may take a little getting used to, but if you have trouble going cold turkey, crank up “The Sounds of Silence” for the first few days and  get used to it. Don’t worry, the Indians did it and if you’ve been to a casino lately you’ll see it didn’t hurt them a bit. You’re probably wondering, what about my Nature’s Spread? The free range eggs? Find yourself a nice big pot that fits on the bottom shelf. Fill it with water and put it outside overnight. In the morning you’ll have a big block of ice in a convenient container to bring inside and slide into your steampunk ice box. You’ve changed your electric powered freon dependent energy hog into a planet friendly nature powered cooler. A cool cooler. I suggest using a couple of pots so you can exchange them when the cooler needs a recharge. I find that one ice pot will usually last all day, and in the morning you’ll have a tub of slush to switch with your new ice. Forget the iceman cometh, the iceman is you! Now it is a fact that this system will not run a freezer, so don’t think twice about smoking that Thanksgiving gobbler. But I promise you that once winter really kicks in, an outdoor box on the north side of the house should keep frozen food frozen. Lock it if you’ve got bears. After a while you’ll wonder why you spent so many years running a refrigerator in a warm house all winter long, when the whole world’s an ice box. As for that ice cream, if you can crank an emergency radio, you can crank an ice cream making bucket. And by now you know where to get the ice.

All Haunted Houses Are Not Old

The condo sits on a hill in a clearing in the woods, one of those flatlander second homes with glass walls, zigzag angles, and a half dozen roof planes. I spent five months on the crew that built the place and I was lucky to get out alive. The house was bankrolled by a couple from Jersey and the pay was good. Too bad they never got to enjoy it. Read More..

Ponds for Viking Funerals!

Boston Globe columnist Mark Feeney declares his affection for “ridiculously tame” urban ponds in a wry “G” section essay, “Fond of the Pond.” Bypassing the grandeur of more distant monumental landscapes, he’s quite happy with the human scale of Boston’s Fresh Pond as a strolling destination and calming object of contemplation. In fact he likes this pond so much he contemplates the rewards of a Viking style funeral on its waters. Read More..

Zombie Jamboree

We were on the set of a movie being shot in Newbury, Vermont in 1986. It was about a small town full of zombies, and it was called Return to Salem’s Lot. It was a sequel to the film made from Stephen King’s second book Salem’s Lot. Sort of like Carrie visits Newbury. Newbury had a nice ring to it, horror wise. Anyway, it was directed by Larry Cohen, who was a kind of schlock auteur, which might explain how guys like Sam Fuller, the legendary Shock Corridor director, got in the cast. Shock meets schlock. Plus Tara Reid. Read More..

Reflections on the 2009 Pond Season

With the pond season winding down, it’s our traditional time to look back, take stock of the season, and suss out trends in pond construction and use. Read More..

Tap Your Pond for Fire Protection

There’s a saying in the countryside that the fire department is great at saving cellar holes, and insurance premiums covering backwoods homes reflect that pessimism. The combination of woodstoves, snow-covered roads, and widely scattered volunteer fire fighters make insurance underwriters edgy. And winter is not the only dangerous season. A few summers back, a squad […] Read More..