I lived in a smart house once.
It was the year after we sold our house in Minnesota, and before we moved to Ireland. We rented a house 'in town' to live in while we sorted out our life before the big move.
It had a computer-controlled environment.
It was the most marvelous thing.
We moved in late fall. I programmed it to start warming the house 30 minutes before we got up. It stayed at that temperature for an hour, then cooled down to a daytime temperature which it maintained until late afternoon. It warmed up again for evening then cooled down significantly for sleeping.
It had a separate program for weekends.
Truly, it was a most marvelous thing.
We managed to do something similar with our boilers in both Andorra and the Vendée by attaching a timer to the on/off switch. Not as sophisticated, but effective.
A wood stove cannot be controlled by either a computer or a timer.
A wood stove heats exactly the opposite of how I like my house.
I get up in the morning, when I want warmth, and it's cold; the fire having burned down or gone out several hours earlier.
We light the fire.
It's still cold whilst we have breakfast and morning coffee.
It's starts getting warm about the same time we get active with the chores of the day.
By mid-afternoon we don't need it, but if we let it go out the house will be cold for the evening.
We open the doors and windows to let in some fresh air…
Be evening we have a lovely fire and it's toasty warm, just in time to go to bed when I like it to be cool.
As morning draws nearer the house gets colder, just in time to start the whole backward cycle over again.
I'm sure (she says, hopefully) we'll get it sorted out next winter. But, now it's spring and we have a warm day followed by a cold rainy day. Some days we have a fire, others not. The walls are thick and never got properly warmed this winter so they don't have any residual heat. Our friend in Spain hasn't had a fire in 3 weeks but his walls are still warm.
We open the doors to the sunshine, to let in heat, when we can; close them and light a fire when we can't.
It's not nearly as convenient as the computer house….
But I'm definitely more in tune with nature.
Speaking of nature, I had an unpleasant surprise the other afternoon: Processonàrias!
Processional caterpillars were common in Andorra and Spain, and now we have them in our very own garden.
They're pretty little things, yellow and gray stripes. They crawl, nose to tail, in lines. In the mountains I've seen lines several meters long.
They make web-like nests in pine trees, which will, eventually, kill the tree. Their only known enemy is the hoopoe, which is no longer very common in Europe.
They can kill small pets.
They have toxic hairs that can get in your curious pet's, or child's, nose, mouth or eyes causing serious injury and/or death. If your pet or small child comes in contact with them, get them (child or pet) to a doctor.
I accidentally touched one once, very briefly, and my hand was itchy and swollen for several weeks. I finally had to go to the pharmacist for treatment.
Fortunately, I was able to make some lovely pastries to make me feel better….
Here I am again, with exceptionally, easy food.
Chevre and Pimiento Pastries
Cut 2 squares of puff pastry and score a line around the edges with a table knife.
Lay some drained pimiento (pimento) with the scored lines. If they are whole pimientos, cut them in half, first
Slice some chevre (aged goat cheese) and lay on the pimiento,
Sprinkle a bit of oregano on top.
Bake, 400F (200C) until the edges have puffed up a bit and are a lovely golden brown.
Serve with a bit of tomato sauce.
Wasn't that easy?