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Mrs. Shayne’s Adventures in Geothermal, Part 4

Dear Kay,
As the sun set yesterday afternoon, and the yard was at low tide, I realized that I’ve had it all wrong. This geothermal project isn’t about HVAC; it’s art. It all becomes tolerable when you think of it as an expression of some primordial artistic impulse. I think Andy Goldsworthy got his start in HVAC.
In my attempt to capture the many maws of this experience–the holes, the vents, the ducts, my slack jaw as it is drops in dismay–I took some Ansel Adams-ish photos of the crap in our basement. I am calling this series “Hope/Despair: Same Thing.”
“Divergence 3.4”
“Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go”
“Geothermal Lost Glove”
“Ampersand with Tubes”
Lest Ye Despair
I’m starting to get pity emails from people, and I appreciate the concern, which is understandable. I want to assure you: this project is cranking along at the chipper pace that got us the Transcontinental Railroad. Why, just this morning I was down in the basement, where a massive effort is under way to reverse the direction of the ducts, now that the new geothermal furnace is located in Hickman County instead of Wilson County where the old unit resided. (Apparently ducts need to decrease in size as they get further away from the furnace. Who knew?)
During my photo safari, I had a stroke when a face appeared in a part of the house that I didn’t think was navigable by humans:
“Hey! Is this Promontory Point?”
Proof of Progress
Now that the five holes have been drilled, stuffed with plastic tubes, and slurried all to heck, it’s time to dig some trenches to connect the tubes into a beautiful continuous loop. Recent torrential rains led the Team to postpone the trenching out in the Field of Dreams until the muck has solidified back to its earlier polenta consistency. (Yes, Kay, I saw that movie trailer for War Horse and have a newfound terror of World War I trenches. Isn’t it just the most heartbreaking trailer in filmdom? If that horse doesn’t make it to the end of that movie, Steven Spielberg will be hearing from me.)
So the guys have been working inside, to excellent effect, namely:
1. New attic ducts. The energy evaluation inspector is going weep like a baby when he sees all those nonleaky seams. He’s going to write an operetta about them.
2. A big box full of fresh, warranty-rich geothermality.
3. The first and only thing out of this entire experience that I actually recognize.
Wall Whacking as Varsity Sport
This is how you get 4″ holes into a cement block wall.
You cannot fail to notice it when this drill is operating. It is the ultimate in cause and effect.
Ominous and/or Positive Developments
Along with the pity emails, several folks have joked about whether I’m expecting 30 or 40 people here for Thanksgiving. OH YOU JOKERS! It’s actually 24 coming tomorrow, all family, with a dozen of us staying here at the house. Let’s just say that every guest gets a free mini-seminar on geothermal loop theory.
Life is incredibly sweet when they are here, superior in every way to daily life. We just laid in a store of diapers for the youngest one. It is a group that really puts the thanks into Thanksgiving.
I’ll leave you with a peek at what showed up in the Field of Dreams this morning.
Did it hit the main water line into the house? Will we be making mashed potatoes with Coca-Cola instead of water? Would beer work? V-8 Juice? WD-40? Will we be a clean and tidy group, or will we be reenacting the first Thanksgiving in terms of water-based personal grooming?
Stay tuned.
Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving, with enough gravy and a good nap.




  1. “The Return of the Energy Evaluation Inspector.” Will he really come and do a post-mortem (post-vivum?)on the new system?

  2. Ampersand with Tubes. I think I need that giant sized on my living room wall. It speaks of the continual quest to better oneself through making a big mess.
    And your big shiny duct is delightful as well.

  3. Looking forward to part le fin avec chaud.
    I’m into the third week of a one week living room ceiling repair. What to do?

  4. 2 comments:
    Don’t be letting people spray the WD-40 on the circuit board! Gave me a start to see that can sitting so close to what is obviously at least part of the brain of the whole system.
    In spite of all the trouble and mess I think you can be very Thankful that you are able to afford to invest in the endeavor. This is what is known as a good sort of mess.

  5. Puts my own Thanksgiving plans in perspective! Enjoy your fambly time! πŸ™‚

  6. That row of miniature boxwoods is going to get the Boxwood Congressional Medal of Honor. Such bravery in the face of mortal danger.

  7. I’m sure this will be a wonderful improvement to the quality of life inside your house but I’m just wondering….did any other bushes (I remember seeing the sacrificial box woods or perennials die in this project? I’m worried about the yard!)

  8. I recognized The Big Box of Geothermality! It looks remarkably like ours, right down to the circuit board. I must say I am enjoying your renovation project much more than our own πŸ˜‰

  9. I love Andy Goldsworthy’s stuff…… the slate houses at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh were my favorites, but now I love the wandering wall at Storm King Sculpture center best. Next time you go to Rhinebeck, detour to the other side of the Hudson….. you can see the wall from the NY Thruway, but it is best up close, so you can enjoy seeing it disappear into a lake.
    Your project looks like it has fabulous potential. Enjoy the family!
    Barbara M.

  10. Enjoy! We are toughing it out with only 15 sleeping in this week. Just hung up with the lost brother (“the garmin made us go over the bridge”), so we will all be here!
    Hoping you are warm enough to enjoy the turkey!

  11. Years from now, you’ll be referring to this Thanksgiving as the one with the suspicious-looking stuffing. “What’s that pink stuff?”

  12. Your adventures are awesome. Your yard may not be the prettiest, but most of Thanksgiving is inside.
    I only have 6 over, but it is still a ton of food!

  13. Spoiler Alert: “War Horse” – the Horse lives.
    If you get to NYC, see the play — amazing puppetry. Based on a children’s book, actually. Horses, and horror of the trenches. Shades of Vera Brittan and Downton Abbey.

  14. It has been so fun reading your trials and tribulations in geothermal land. I just had to read the installments to my husband. He never knew these knitting blogs could be so interesting. Happy Thanksgiving.

  15. At least you’ll have something to talk about with the guests. πŸ˜‰

  16. “It is a group that really puts the thanks into Thanksgiving.” Thank you for that. Long story/not my blog but thanks!

  17. Hope the geothermal thing works out. They are starting to do that around here too. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  18. But, do your Thanksgiving guests know what they are getting themselves into??? I was already wondering how your immediate family is coping around all of the construction/mess, but that many guests also???? You’re a braver soul than I, Ann Shayne.
    Mary G. in Texas

  19. Your new attic ducts are a thing of beauty. Happy Thanksgiving!

  20. Thanks for the laughs!

  21. Thanks for the laughs!

  22. Can’t thank you enough for the photojournalistic approach to this astonishing foray into home improvement. Your good humor in the midst of the mess is truly inspiring. It’s all very educational as well as funny. Perhaps you can be some sort of poster child for geothermal companies and get a big discount on the installation.

  23. You are BRILLIANT with the art photos. I thought gallery art as soon as I saw the first image. Way to make it work for you, girl πŸ™‚
    Agree with previous post – you should be their promotional story, “making geothermal approachable and friendly” – and get a big discount or royalties on their use of your media…..

  24. Sugar, I think I could smell your turnip greens through the ducts over here in Hickman County. Don’t you need just a bit more bacon grease? Hmmm? That pie smelled good, though. πŸ™‚

  25. I would totally pay for a limited edition print of “ampersand with tubes”, signed by the crew of the project.
    Thanks for another photo-heavy piece of the documentary.

  26. It is chastening to read about your good humor in the face of renovation. I spent the days of my (minor) renovation) in uncontrollable weeping. Good for you!

  27. I just love your sense of humor & how you’re making us enjoy the whole thing right along with you! I truly hope your holiday was fantastically wonderful, and that soon peace will reign & you can think & knit again.

  28. Hahaha, I’m also a fan of “Ampersand with Tubes.” This looks like quite an undertaking – best of luck, and hang in there! Happy Thanksgiving!

  29. I first heard of Andy Goldsworthy on this past Thanksgiving. On our way to our Thanksgiving dinner, we hunted down the two AG installations in the Presidio in SF. One of them we nearly missed. It was a serpentine line of logs. That’s it. The other one, according to my husband, resembled the former Texas A&M bonfire.


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