Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Sixteen Tons and Whaddaya Get?

We got a ton of pellets yesterday. A ton isn’t that much. It’s fifty bags that weigh forty pounds each. I wrote out the math for you to prove I went to Catholic school. We had it delivered, because the place that delivers keeps their pellets indoors, so they’re the only supplier that doesn’t sell you wet pellets. Wet pellets are next to useless. Walmart is only twenty-five dollars a ton cheaper, and they leave the pallets out in the weather. In case you’re some form of criminal, I’m giving you a heads up that you can go to Walmart at 1 AM and find $25,000 worth of pellets in the parking lot that you can steal if you’re feeling really frisky and have a pickup truck that can handle a hundred tons. My advice is that it’s a lot less work to simply siphon gas from your neighbors’ cars and use the fuel to drive until you reach the Mason-Dixon line. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.

People never steal anything useful like pellets. That’s why they’re left out in the parking lot under the hinky streetlight. People who want to steal things go inside the Walmart and try to steal televisions and iPhones, which are not useful, and go to jail for their trouble. There’s 25 grand in pellets outside, but they want to steal a phone the company will give to you for free if you sign up for cellphone service. I think that proves that tattoo ink interferes with normal brain function, because everyone in the police blotter has a visible tattoo on their neck. I’m just doing the math again. However, it doesn’t explain how you ended up with a tattoo in the first place, so I need a new theorem.

We burn pellets instead of firewood these days. Firewood is cheaper than pellets, which are cheaper than oil, which is cheaper than propane, which is cheaper than electricity. Wood, pellets, oil, and propane dumped together and burned in a rusty barrel out in the yard to heat the house indirectly through an open window is cheaper than electricity, now that I think of it. That’s because electricity is 100-percent efficient. Nothing goes to waste. Every electron you use is converted directly into a zero on your bill. You could get an electric bill for $900 where I live. For one month. That’s if it’s a warmish January. The electric company doesn’t leave any electricity outside on pallets in their parking lot, or I would steal it, and feel saintly while doing it. There are laws greater than those made by men.

We bought the largest pellet stove we could find. It’s a Vogelzang VG5790, which translates roughly from German as, “The goddamn electric bill for January was $900.” If that translation sounds a bit off for you, that’s because I learnt classical German, not that strange dialect you seem to have picked up. Anyway, according to the manufacturer, our pellet stove produces 60,000 BTUs per hour. According to me, pellet stove manufacturers produce one extravagant lie every minute. At any rate, our stove has 5 settings:

  1. Why do you keep it so hot in here? (October)
  2. Why do you keep it so cold in here? (November)
  3. Why is there ice on the inside of the windows? (December)
  4. Why am I brushing my teeth with slush from the faucet? (January)
  5. Why didn’t I buy damp pellets from Walmart when I had the chance? (February)

Whenever we turn the pellet stove on Setting 5, we all adopt a Montgomery Scott accent and say things like, ” She canna take much more captain, she’s gonna blow.” On the humor scale, that’s right up there with saying, “Come along, Artoo,” when you’re pulling a shop vac over to clean out the pellet stove and start a fire in the shop vac. Normal people fear a fire in their shop-vac. In Maine, we shrug and say, “Woohoo! Free BTUs!”

The stove glows like an Iranian underground bunker, vibrates and hums a lot, and the side panels pop open from expansion when it’s on the Number 5 setting. It’s still only 40 percent as terrifying as the electric bill, so we take our chances.

11 Responses

  1. I remember, oh sooooooooo fondly, splitting a couple of cords for the winters in the near tropical town of Litchfield Ct. many years ago. I remember the fun fun fun of getting logs down into the size of chopsticks so they could fit into the potbellied stove in the kitchen/dining room of a rambling farmhouse. I lovingly recall the seasonal wonder of shrink-wrapping plastic to the windows and jamming tubes of rags into the gaps at the bottom of the door. I remember those wonderful February nights when we'd give up on the upstairs bedrooms because you'd have to sprint from the kitchen up two flights of stairs into the bedroom with a pan of hot coals…… when we gave up we'd have to pull out the mattress and plunk it down on the floor in the kitchen / dining area….. and then try to sleep warm.

    The only upside to this? Two or three times I was able to lure my girlfriend's girlfriends up for a "winter weekend in the country" without letting them know they would be sleeping with both of us on the floor of the kitchen living room….. Well, they really didn't have to. They could, if they wanted, chip the ice off the beds upstairs and nestle in. Every single one of them refused this option.

    Ahhh, those two girlfriend nights. Good times. But then I'm just a nostalgic kind of guy.

  2. good to see you writing sir. i assume you must have gotten some sort of work that's slowing down this time of year. i hope you don't starve or freeze.
    i've missed the snark with a heave dusting of humor

  3. It was 86 with a chance of thunderstorms here today. I couldn't live where you do. Couldn't do it. You're a stronger man than I. In two months the overnight low temperature may dip as far as 40 degrees, or even 35. Who knows? It's been said that the warmth encourages indolence. Maybe so. Hauling all those pellets inside is certainly work. At least the cat seems happy.

  4. Back when I could still do landscaping, the owner of the company told me not to worry about leaving rakes, shovels and other such tools in the truck overnight. "They won't steal stuff they can't sell to a pawn shop or drug dealer. They will steal any kind of power tool, because those can be sold."

  5. Not to worry, Sipp! The Global Warming boffins assure us that by the end of the century, it will be 2~5 degrees warmer. That should save you, like, a quarter bag of pellets a month. (Assuming the next Ice Age hasn't started by then)

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