Let it snow, let it snow

The next storm is on the schedule and it’s to be another blizzard Saturday night. Old Probabilities is saying it may bring the twenty-day total snowfall at my house to…oh, I don’t know exactly, but somewhere around seven-and-a-half to eight feet – well more than an average year’s snowfall in just under three weeks. I’ll do some errands in the afternoon, return home, don my sheepskin slippers, turn down the lights, open the blinds, look out at the snow as I cook something piping hot and comforting for dinner, and feel a little better about winter now that my Multi-Fire XD electric fireplace is in its permanent home as of last night. It’s quite relaxing, indeed all the way to soothing.

A friend was going to help assemble the flat-packed Windham media console but his kid was sick, so I put the 140-pound behemoth together on my own. The instructions were perfectly clear, but the weight and size of the pieces made the job awkward for one and the somanabatch took two-and-a-half hours to build.

P1020122

Click for a larger view

I selected the Windham because, like my old media console, it has a raised glass platform for the telly that allows me to have the set perched on a turntable – the rectangular piece under the four legs at the top – so I can easily rotate the TV 75 degrees counterclockwise to watch while I work in the kitchen that’s off to the right, and have my soundbar – the 40″ wide black bar underneath the glass – in a position where it won’t get knocked off when I swing the set around.

I imagine a multi-watch/warning/advisory map like this morning’s is akin to foreplay for professional weather people. All of the items on the right are in effect for various parts of the state and shoreline; the colours on the map side reflect only the most important warnings for each area.

Oysters for meteorologists

“Oh, baby.”

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
1057 PM EST FRI FEB 13 2015

…WINTER STORM WILL BRING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS TO EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS THIS WEEKEND AND HEAVY SNOW FARTHER INLAND…

MAZ005-013-017-018-020-021-023-141200-
/O.EXT.KBOX.BZ.W.0002.150215T0000Z-150215T1800Z/
CENTRAL MIDDLESEX MA-WESTERN NORFOLK MA-NORTHERN BRISTOL MA-WESTERN PLYMOUTH MA-SOUTHERN BRISTOL MA-SOUTHERN PLYMOUTH MA-DUKES MA-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF…FRAMINGHAM…LOWELL…FOXBORO…NORWOOD…TAUNTON…
BROCKTON…FALL RIVER…NEW BEDFORD…MATTAPOISETT…VINEYARD HAVEN
1057 PM EST FRI FEB 13 2015

…BLIZZARD WARNING NOW IN EFFECT FROM 7 PM SATURDAY TO 1 PM EST SUNDAY…

* LOCATIONS…EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS INCLUDING MARTHAS VINEYARD.

* HAZARD TYPES…BLIZZARD CONDITIONS…INCLUDING HEAVY SNOW…POOR VISIBILITIES…AND STRONG TO DAMAGING WINDS.

* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS…8 TO 10 INCHES. SNOW DRIFTS UP TO A FEW FEET CAN ALSO BE EXPECTED.

* TIMING…SATURDAY EVENING INTO SUNDAY.

* IMPACTS…TRAVEL WILL BECOME NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE AND POTENTIALLY LIFE THREATENING DUE TO WHITEOUT CONDITIONS AND BITTERLY COLD WIND CHILLS….ESPECIALLY ALONG AND INSIDE ROUTE 128. CONDITIONS WILL REMAIN DANGEROUS FOR TRAVEL WELL INTO SUNDAY DUE TO BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW…REDUCED VISIBILITY AND DANGEROUSLY COLD WIND CHILLS.

* WINDS…NORTH 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 60 MPH.

* VISIBILITIES…ONE QUARTER MILE OR LESS AT TIMES.

* TEMPERATURES…AROUND 20.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A BLIZZARD WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS OR FREQUENT GUSTS OVER 35 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH CONSIDERABLE FALLING AND/OR BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW. TRAVEL MUST BE COMPLETED BY LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON. THOSE VENTURING OUTDOORS MAY BECOME LOST OR DISORIENTED. STAY INDOORS.

&&

$$

 

A toasty winter in store

For a long time, I’ve had the idea of finding a place to live that has a fireplace or a wood stove, because building, tending, and gazing at fires adds up to a soothing experience for me. However, I usually and conveniently forget the fact that I did once live in a place with a fireplace. I think I used it three times over the several years I was there. The whole place smelled slightly of damp soot permanently after the first time. When I do remember that, and realise the same thing would likely happen, I then change tack and think a wood stove would be nice, so long as it had a large glass door in the front and I could see what’s going on.

In any case, what with my spiffy kitchen not yet a year old, I plan to stay where I am for now, and there won’t be any wood stove in this place, but I still have those dreams of fire. Now, I’ve done something about it. I had seen fake fireplaces in the past, most often in media consoles, and was less than impressed, to put it kindly. “That has all the appeal of a steaming cow pat” was my average review. I decided to do some serious research to see if anyone made an electric fireplace/heater that would impress me. I was surprised to find that someone does: Dimplex of Ontario. (PDF)

Problem is, the firebox model I was interested in is nowhere to be seen in New England showrooms at the moment. Their trademark application for its name, Multi-Fire XD™, is dated March of this year, and their first brochure featuring it – the PDF above – was prepared in September, so I think the product’s only been on the street for several weeks at most. So problem one was that I couldn’t even get a look at it in person. I liked what I saw in this YouTube video posted by Dimplex, and was impressed not just by the look and features, but because no other electric fireplace manufacturer will show you their flame effect close up and at great length. Only Dimplex does. Remembering the other electric fireplaces I’ve seen, I believe the reason is pretty clear.

What I want in the end is a media console much like the one I already have, except with the inbuilt fireplace. However, the model I like weighs 180 pounds with the insert firebox and would cost me a mint to ship back if I didn’t like it. Problem two. And, I could not picture myself buying a fairly big ticket item like this sight unseen. Problem three.

I eventually talked to a helpful dealer about forty miles from me. He didn’t have one of the new boxes to show me (and they have to buy what they put in the showroom), but he did help me formulate a workable plan. He said if I found an online retailer with a decent return policy, I could buy the firebox alone – weighing just 40 pounds – and see if I liked it. If I didn’t, I would be out maybe forty or fifty bucks to ship it back, but at least I wouldn’t have wasted hundreds of dollars buying the whole shootin’ match sight unseen. And if I did like it, I could keep it and buy from him just the media console without the firebox insert.

He also said I had chosen well for someone who hasn’t been able to see any of this class of products in person. He goes to all the home & hearth shows, and said that Dimplex is the manufacturer with the best looking products, every year and by far. He said they’re a pain to deal with, “but they’re the best, so I deal.” Sounded good to me, so I ordered the insert from an online shop with a fourteen-day return policy and no restocking penalties. It arrived yesterday – bearing serial number 147 – and it’s currently just sitting on top of one of my end tables.

So after all that, what do I think? I loved it instantly. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the inbuilt heater is whisper-quiet. I think I’m going to have a pleasanter winter than usual this year. Here’s a photo I took last night – click to see a larger version:

P1010821

Sometime in the next several weeks, I’ll take the next step and order the console it will fit inside from that dealer near me. Dimplex’s promo photo of their Windham Mocha console has a boring golf picture on the television and a shockingly poor representation of their nifty firebox, so I fixed it up a bit with a screenshot from last week’s HIGNFY and a photo I took of my firebox from the correct angle to paste in here.

Windham700