“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

Mrs. Shayne’s Adventures in Geothermal, Part 3

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Dear Kay,
Yesterday it got so loud that I fell asleep. Between the (very nice) guy drilling holes in the foundation for the tankless water heater vents, to the final death throes of Hole Number Five, I was like one of those babies who falls asleep beside the vacuum cleaner.
New and fascinating equipment continues to show up. The guys operating it are uniformly cheerful and unconcerned about anything going wrong. Either they’re heavily medicated or they’ve done this before. I don’t actually care which reality they’re operating under.
Machine Number 1.

A Bobcat sloshed around for a while, redistributing the limestone dust that during the previous day’s soaking rains became what we’re going to call limestone pudding. It’s the consistency of a nice polenta and has the ability to coat surfaces with complete opacity. If it dried, I think we would have a new legislative plaza in our yard. I hope they keep moving it around until it’s, like, no longer here. I’m told that my grass is going to be really green once this is all done, because lime is so good for grass. The hope contained in this guy’s statement is sustaining me like a lone match on a cold night. Grass? There will be grass, ever?
Machine Number 2.
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The Slurry Injector, we’re going to call it. Slurrmaster 2000. The Grout King. I’ve never seen this apparatus before, but basically the goal is to fill in the gaps around the geothermal loop pipes so that the pipes can fully absorb the awesome and desirable 60-degree heat from the earth. The Goo Shooter runs 300 feet down, injecting a mix of confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and minced nuts down in there.
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This is as close a photo as I’ve gotten of one of the holes that is at the heart of this project. I feel like I just saw a Pileated Woodpecker. See where that hose is going? THAT’S THE 300′-DEEP HOLE! I had hoped to get an awesome photo of my Holes to Doom (like this creepy Russian hole), but it’s so incredibly slurried out there that you’re just going to have to imagine one.
Holy crap, I wonder if they ever actually drilled the holes. Could this entire project be like the NASA Moon Landing Hoax? They’re faking it?
Meanwhile, Upstairs
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The duct wrap they’re using on my beautiful new ducts is called (I am not making this up) Friendly Feel Duct Wrap. Sand, recycled bottle glass, and ECOSE technology, which I’ll guess is a combination of email and glucose. It looks like cinnamon toast on the inside, not pink the way God meant insulation to be. And no formaldehyde? [Runs off to buy a spray bottle of formaldehyde to remedy that.]
In Memoriam
A moment of silence, please, for these two dwarf boxwoods who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of geothermal home improvement:
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The Ingersoll-Rand W4F drilling rig sent them to the great landscape in the sky. May their sacrifice not be in vain.
Today’s Conclusion
Festive! It’s Friday! Either the Slurrmaster 2000 will finish, and the holes will have the weekend to settle. Or it won’t. I’m feeling optimistic, because the next step is one that the guys keep mentioning with great relish. “Yeah, the trenches are kind of incredible.” “It’s gonna get worse before it gets better.”
Great!
Love,
Ann

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32 Comments

32 Comments

  1. You are killing me. Making me feel guilty for not being all geothermal and such. Though, in our own defense, now that we live waterside, we didn’t use the AC more than 3 times this summer and all were for brides getting dressed for their big day, so I think that should be guilt-free, right?
    Good luck with the polenta, and the insulation, though I agree, pink is the way it was meant to be!
    Happy Friday, and Happy Thanksgiving from the land of the Pilgrims.

  2. Slurry, Slurpy, either way, good things will come of it. Can you knit with the new insulation?
    (BTW, on the creepy Russian holes link? Don’t scroll down too far.)

  3. My favorite part is how this is all happening right before the holidays, like those people who schedule a move for the day after they bring the new baby home. I say this with no judgment. In mid-December last year, I had a crew of men knocking out a wall in my house and digging up my yard for a new patio. It does make for great blogging.

  4. Idea for cool photo:
    1) make a sling that will hold your camera pointing lens-up, and add lots of line. Well-attached line.
    2) Set the timer (with the flash) on your camera and – quickly! carefully! – lower the camera, playing out the line while laying on the ground with just your face looking down into the hole.
    3) experiment with various lengths (and depths – ha! is that where that expression came from?) to see what produces the most interesting image.
    What do you think? Potential phot opp?? I think you should get as much as you can out of this experience. Besides, you sort of owe it to the boxwoods, don’t you?

  5. Thanks for the tutorial on goethermal systems. Through reading these posts, I’ve come to realize that I could, and would, read just about anything you write. I’ll bet your shopping lists are funny!

  6. I’m no expert on Duct Wrap but I think Friendly Feel is an awesome brand name.
    Mason-Dixon Knitting Friendly Feel Fingering Weight MerinoTM. See what I mean?
    I cannot BUHLEEVE you signed up for this mess. This is epic. You sound kind of high. Don’t inhale ANYTHING.
    With friendly feeling,
    Kay

  7. I’m really enjoying these posts, and not just because of this: “ECOSE technology, which I’ll guess is a combination of email and glucose” which is hilarious. It’s sort of appealing to the part of me that loves This Old House, I guess. Thanks for sharing the whole process with us!

  8. This is so much fun! For us, anyway…Thanks so much for sharing the process with such wit and humour. Looking forward to the trenches, I think?
    ( Green grass, keep those thoughts of luscious green grass!)

  9. I’m worried about the trenches. Have you seen Warhorse, woman? Trenches=not good.
    Also wondering where the limestone came from. Is that part of the package, or was it already on the premises?
    Wishing you a mineral-rich weekend,
    Kay

  10. You are something!
    Trenches-well have them leave some room for stash in at least one.
    I wish I had a male toddler around to share these BIG TRUCK videos with! Package them up to sell as Christmas gifts.
    Hoping for a happy Friday ending!

  11. Email and Glucose. BWAAAHHH HAAAHHH HAAAHHHHH

  12. This story is alternately fascinating and horrifying. I can’t even write a snarky comment about Thanksgiving being in 6 days. I’m just going to back away, smiling pityingly.

  13. Your adventure is awesome. Thank you for sharing it with us. The fear and anticipation is keeping me on my toes.

  14. I love these posts!

  15. Slurrmaster 2000! The Goo Shooter! Love ‘em. They should also be trademarked.

  16. Please tell us that you are not hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 30!

  17. This is just remarkable, and you are providing quite a service to personkind by not only going geothermal, but sharing it with all of us.
    I think some stash enhancement is in order – you are being very brave!

  18. Isn’t Ecosse Scotland en Francais?
    I worry for you. How many coffee cakes are you going to have to distribute to make this up to your neighbors?
    Soyez Brave!

  19. We made our own slog to geothermal and our electric bill is now 75% lower!! Hang in there…it’s worth it! (Our ground mount solar install starts Monday.) More money for filbert and yarn!!

  20. We made our own slog to geothermal and our electric bill is now 75% lower!! Hang in there…it’s worth it! (Our ground mount solar install starts Monday.) More money for filbert and yarn!!

  21. We made our own slog to geothermal and our electrifnd mount solar install starts Monday.) More money for filber and yarn!!

  22. We made our own slog to geothermal and our electrifnd mount solar install starts Monday.) More money for filber and yarn!!

  23. We made our own slog to geothermal and our electric bill dropped 75%…The ground mount solar install starts Monday.) More money for fiber and yarn!!

  24. We made our own slog to geothermal and our electric bill dropped 75%…The ground mount solar install starts Monday.) More money for fiber and yarn!!

  25. This is just amazing, Ann. Can’t believe how much crazy stuff is going on at your house. I’ve never seen anything like this so it’s all really interesting (and much more interesting at YOUR house, not mine!). Hope no animals or young children get in the way of the SlurrMaster. Sounds dangerous (in spite of its name)!

  26. Thanks for sharing. It’s a great adventure.

  27. Oh my! You are sacrificing your yard! As a die hard gardener, I told my husband that if we did geothermal – it would have to go in the street. It would be cheaper to repave the city street than rip up my trees! Good luck!

  28. Top three reasons I now love Nashville:
    3. Ann Patchett just opened an independent bookstore there.
    2. The Singoff! Enough said.
    1. Adventures in Geothermal Living–thank you!

  29. I think they’re perky neither because of medication nor great experience – I think they’re delirious with joy at operating such big machines and making so much noise and mud. My three-year-old keeps changing his mind about what he wants to be when he grows up, but I think this might fulfill all his fantasies. Tunnels, machines, noise, and he’ll be in Nashville, so he can still play the double-bass on the side.

  30. I know you Southern gals can handle anything that comes your way, but I’m just curious if you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner for 30 or 40 people.

  31. Okay, I just watched a Nova episode on quantum mechanics, in which they tried to convince me that because of the expansion of the universe everything tends to move from order to messiness and chaos. Your post and photos made the perfect argument for their theory, and I am now convinced that quantum mechanics has been proven once and for all. Thank you. (And good luck, and I mourn the little dwarf boxwoods who have morphed off to a different part of the universe, no doubt).

  32. Friendly feel… is it spinnable?