Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our House, Part 2

Sunrise over the Organ Mountains
I told you the story of how we found our New Mexican adobe house in Our House, Part 1, leaving off at the point where we bought a house without any working heating system right at the beginning of the winter. Were you worried about us? With a view like the one above from the big patio, who cared that there was no heat? This was the desert, so who needs heat anyway?

Well, anyone who has ever lived at 4000 feet in the high desert knows that heat is pretty important--keeping the outside heat out during the summer, and keeping the inside heat in during the winter. Since Beez had stayed behind in Clovis to finish up a job before retirement, my sister and I moved into the unheated house in early November. Although it was warmish during the day, the nights were pretty nippy and it wasn't long before we started burning packing paper in the fireplaces, then torn-up cardboard boxes, and then fallen tree twigs and branches from the yard. As soon as we found a good source, we got some real firewood delivered and learned a lot about making fires in the two kiva fireplaces. 

The big kiva in the living room, with a batch of bread dough rising on the hearth.
There is a smaller kiva in the next room. The front part of the house had an ancient gas-fired wall heater that the heating man disconnected as soon as he saw it, saying it was a fire hazard.

Kivas are wonderful. If you get a good steady fire going during the day, the adobe mass radiates stored heat into the room during the night. Of course, we eventually got a shiny new wall heater installed in the front part of the house and a heat exchanger in the back part of the house. However, my sister and I both have some fond memories of our times huddled around the adobe hearth. 

You will notice that even with our new heating systems installed, we still do not have central heating. Silly me, I grew up in a brand new [mid-century] suburban house and thought that all American houses had central heating. Apparently not in New Mexico, where the traditional adobe houses have no duct work. Because the adobe brick walls are thick and solid, even our electrical outlets are not set into them, and the electricity between the outlet boxes is sent along some kind of external wiring conduit that I'd rather not think about. 

The dining room, complete with cat on table. Say hello to Gracie!

But you can't beat our house for that cozy cottage feeling. Our wood floors (found under the carpeting that we couldn't wait to rip out) are properly creaky, the windows are set into thick adobe walls, the rooms just glow with lamplight, and the place smells deliciously of the fragrant juniper wood burning in the kiva.

My heart is very happy here.

Adobe sunrise


Sylvia K said...

I LOVE your house, Clair!!! And what incredible skies!! Awesome captures and I have to admit I'm just a tad envious of your new home!! So happy for you!!! Enjoy!!

Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

Wow! This is great; I am, of course, learning a lot. What I know about New Mexico...well, if it isn't on your blog, I don't know it! {sad, pitiful sigh}!

Joyful said...

It's funny, I never liked the desert until much later in life but I've always loved the adobe homes. I think it is because of the kiva fireplaces, the wood and the rusticity of the homes. It all adds up to cosy and I can understand why you are so content in your home.

Val said...

So beautiful and cozy!

clairz said...

Val, I hope you are checking these comments. Could you please give me the link to your blog? I'm having trouble finding it, and Blogger tells me that the link isn't enabled on your profile. Thanks.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I read both your house posts at once -- what a treat to read the story and see the beautiful "illustrations." No wonder your heart is happy! It is a beautiful warm home...perfect for where it's located and perfect for you. L

Beth said...

I love your house, Clair, and really enjoyed reading the story of how you got it. Clearly, it was meant for you, and I'm so glad that you found it. It is indeed a very cozy and comfy-looking place.

Linda said...

The fireplace really looks like the heart of the home.
I noticed in your photos one thing that always surprises me in American houses - the door to the outside often seems to open straight out of the living room rather than off a hallway or porch with an inner door. Does that make the room more difficult to heat in winter?

clairz said...

Sallie and Beth, thank you for appreciating our little desert outpost.

Linda, we had double doors with spaces in between (one called a mudroom) in our house back in New Hampshire, where the winters were long and cold. Here in the southern desert, houses are constructed more to keep out direct sun - so instead of double doors we have thick walls, deep overhangs over windows and doors, and a shady entrance porch to the south.

becky said...

I loved the story of you turning your house into a home. Your place is adorable & I see why you love it so. The sunrise is exquisite! I am a little nervous of winter in my new place. I have a very old gas heater that I am afraid of- the pipes are probably 70 + years old. I've gotta get it checked out. I do have a fireplace... but I hear wood is quite expensive here. (in my first place here, the kiva was so small, it was more decorative than functional!)
Thanks for the kind comment you left on my blog, Clair, I really appreciate it. My mom & gram are visiting, so I have a few days off of clay (though I dreamt of pots & bears last night!) & work... I am letting them sleep in (they are on cali time) while I have coffee & catch up on blogs. Have a wonderful weekend!