What a perfect morning for cocoa and hot cereal! The snowflakes that have sputtered around Portland for the past three days are the northwest kind: lazy, sloppy flakes that fall in big clusters and disperse as soon as they hit anything. Even so, they confound us. School is delayed two hours this morning. Many of the busses are sporting chains and running behind. They pile up and then leap frog past each other, alternating stops to pick up red-cheeked folks who have been standing in the flurries for twenty minutes. Passengers are not sure whether to be bemused that two buses arrive at once. They're not suddenly chatty because of the snow, but they are very conscientious about not dripping on their stranger seat mates. Rumor has it the light rail and street cars are still running on time. Another reason to consider rail, but not good justification in a region that gets spooked by the mere mention of snowfall.
Last fall I designed my tiny dream house in a workshop called Less is More, which was taught by Andreas Stavropoulos and Dave Cain at Yestermorrow Design-Build School. As I was deliberating about heating options, my classmate John joked, "Sheesh! That place is so small you don't need to install a heater - you, your cat, and an incandescent light bulb would heat the place right up!" John had lived on and built boats in Maine for decades so I took most of what he said very seriously. But I also knew I'm a wimp compared to him, so for the last year and a half I've been paying attention to different heating options for small spaces. Heating seems to be a dilemma for many tiny house dwellers. Some folks love wood heat so they install tiny wood stoves and stoke their fires and call it good. A friend of mine who is an arborist says wood is the way he'd heat a tiny house since he has a limitless supply of it. But crawling out of a warm bed to build a fire doesn't even sound fun to me when I'm camping! Besides, I'm a little pyrophobic. Even if I did like building fires I'd need to get good at it so that I could control temperatures so it was comfortable. And since my schedule often involves being gone for 12 hours at a stretch it I wouldn't be around to stoke a fire.
Last week my new heater arrived and, as promised by the website, installation took just a few minutes. The new heater is a wall mounted convection heater with a nice slim profile and some sort of special stack effect technology. (I understand the stack effect - I think! - but I don't see how it can be very effective in a heater that is only two feet tall, so I put it on the near the loft so that the height differential can give it a boost.) The heater is made by a company called Envi and after reading reviews for the three heaters on the market that are similar, I went with this one because there's a temperature control and the design has curved edges which I figured would help me be less likely to snag myself on it. The others also had some reviews that talked about worrisome defects and poor customer service, but it doesn't help that all three of them have very similar names. So I sprung for the one that cost $30 more.
When Brittany helped me settle into the tiny house a few weeks ago she left me a propane tank with a little bit of fuel. At the time my host had said "one of these days you'll be cooking dinner and - poof - your propane will be out." I knew she was right but felt like I had too much else on my mind to worry about it.