Yesterday evening, I left to run a few errands, and was gone approximately an hour and fifteen minutes. When I left, P was happily spackling the bathroom ceiling. (More on that another time....) And the dining room looked something like this:
(Except I painted the shelves a few months back, but you get the idea.)
I got back to find P in the driveway, looking like the cat who had eaten the canary. And the dining room looked like this:
P followed me into the house, asking, "Are you mad?" "Are you kidding?" I replied. "I've been begging you to take that stove out for months!"
Okay, the stove isn't quite out. It's now stalled in the kitchen, as P designs and builds a ramp to get it out the door, because it is cast iron and heavy. Sometimes I think he does jobs just so he can build all the associated equipment--rather than building the equipment to get the job done. He does love this sort of work.
But I digress. Back to that fireplace. P did take the cover off so we could take a look around in there for the first time. We do indeed have a fireplace back there! There's a stove pipe inserted into the chimney, which is every bit as full of ash and creosote as I had feared. It's truly amazing that the house didn't burn down the last time the stove was lit. It's technically a coal-burning stove, but the previous owners had been using it to burn wood--perhaps part of the problem. We won't be lighting any fires until the stovepipe is removed and we've called out a chimney sweep. He's the first person we'll be hiring to work on the house--quite a milestone!
That ugly cover will be staying over the fireplace for the foreseeable future. There's no damper in the chimney, so leaving the fireplace uncovered would be akin to leaving a window open day and night, year-round. We're going to look into installing a damper, but that's quite far down on the to-do list. But in the meantime, I'm quite glad that stove is gone--one more item off the list, and several square feet of space freed up.