Today In Rockmine, December 6th

It’s a bit weird, starting to blog again. After all, what have I really got to talk about?

There is stuff. How relevant it is to other people’s lives is debatable but it gives vent to my thoughts. Most of you know that the building I’m currently residing in, is on the market but so far it hasn’t sold. There may be signs of movement in house sales but they seem to be related to reducing the price and overly blandising the place. Magnolia really doesn’t do it for me, so for now I’ll stick with what colours are on the walls. There’s an obvious stress there but it’s one that’s echoed by millions of others who want to move up or down (or even sideways) on the property ladder.

My biggest problem has been one of decluttering. Really, it’s been a nightmare. There were times in the last decade that the sitting room and the family room as it’s listed on the sales schedule have been inaccessible. Here for example is what the latter looked like at one point:

Now, it looks like this:

To declutter to the extent seen above took ages and it meant that the garage, which was stacked with newspapers and rock magazines and looked like this:

got much, much worse. This picture was taken after I had taken more than 3,500 old music papers to the skip! Don’t worry, they were triplicates at least. The two piles at the apex of the roof are 10 foot tall. By the time the whole wall was fully stacked and then a second row of piles started, the list to the right of the picture became so pronounced, the whole garage started to lean that way!

Some years back, a ton of old newspaper was worth more than £ 200 but such is the economic situation that it’s fallen to £ 25. To get that, it has to be graded and bailed. If you can’t sell it the obvious thing was to find an alternative use. It would have been fun to turn the papers into bricks and build another house but I never found how to do that. I did find the “paper Brick House” which was China’s pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. It’s worth a look. If you didn’t know about it, click on this link.

What I did, of course, discover is that you can make paper bricks or briquettes to burn as an alternative to logs or coal. Thanks to the dire economic climate we find ourselves in, adverts for these can be found in Sunday colour supplements and the catalogues that come free with them. They look wonderful and sound like a perfect solution but very few of them point out that you have to soak the paper in a bin prior to squeezing it into the brick-maker and expelling as much water as possible. Then it’s a simple job of leaving them in a warm dry place to lose all their moisture content before burning. With a Scottish summer being wet enough, even considering something like that in winter was tantamount to lunacy.

Thankfully, it seemed I wasn’t the only one with this problem and I found some mention of dry paper brick making. This amounted to just rolling newspaper as tightly as possible and then binding it with metal rings to stop the “log” falling apart in the fire. Needless to say, the sites selling wet paper brick makers also sell metal rings but that seemed a ludicrous expense. I decided to butcher a number of wire coat hangers and literally roll the straight wire around the paper log. The first time you do this is the worst but after the wire has been a fire once, it’s far easier to bend. For those of you wanting to try this at home, I’ll post some pics later today.

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