And A Happy 2009 To You

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 2:13 pm

Hope everybody had themselves a buoyant and salutary New Year’s celebration. We hosted a moderate dig of shins here at the Homestead, with about ten friends and family members, pizza, a truly frightening quantity of alcohol, and fire….an award-winning combo if ever there was one.

Margaret and I appropriated the stump of a long-dead apple tree from the back yard of her parents’ house, with the intention of burning it during the celebration as a sort of totem of good fortune for the coming year. To aid in the conflagration, and having no appreciable amount of firewood ourselves, we went to our local hardware store and purchased 40 Presto Logs, an amalgam of finely-chipped scrap lumber and paraffin. We figured that these ought to provide a significant and burny leg up to the stump which, while bone-dry, was so unbelievably dense that stray photons kept getting sucked into it when they ventured too close. Margaret prepared a superstructure of CMU blocks and braced the two largest pieces of the stump on top of it, with a rick of Presto Logs underneath it. Problem was, these things did not come with instructions, and it turns out that you are supposed to “penny” them, hacking them into shorter lengths of loglet, before attempting to set them ablaze. No matter what sort of accelerant we contributed to the endeavor—lamp oil, gasoline, road flares—the damn Presto Logs would simply not catch fire, let alone the giant depleted-uranium-dense slabs of fruitwood resting upon them.

It was then that I got the idea of busting out our shop vac and, setting it to “Blow”, using it to pump a steady torrent of air into the base of the fire. This did the trick nicely:

and soon we had a roaring blaze that kept going well into 2009. The video doesn’t really do it justice: those flames are easily seven feet tall. ‘Round three o’clock the next morning I finally gave up and put it out with a hose; it took fifteen minutes of continuous soaking and combing out of the ashes to extinguish it completely. The column of steam that rose up from our yard must have been visible from space.

This was by far the booziest event we have ever held at our place, and there was much slurring of speech and professions of love for one’s fellow attendees….along with an appreciable quantity of tossing of cookies. I mention this only so I can make the following observation: the difference between a party full of twenty-something-year-old boozehounds and thirty-something-year-old boozehounds is that the latter do a far better job of cleaning up after themselves than the former. And really, how much more could one ask for under the circumstances? All in all, given the swath of destruction left behind by the revelers—late at night, our living room carpet can still be heard sobbing quietly to itself—I came within a nose hair’s width of wishing we hadn’t hosted the thing. But in the end it was well worth it. Good food, fellowship, and flame. Doesn’t get much better than that. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I hope all of our readers had a similarly spectacular New Year’s Eve. Here’s to more of the same for the rest of ’09….though for the sake of your livers, perhaps a bit lighter on the booze. 😉

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