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Monday, July 16, 2012

A Book in the Shade

Okay, it's hot and tomorrow is supposed to be hotter. My friend Cam called, worried that I'm going to melt or faint or something. But ya know, I grew up without AC. And Brooklyn in August is damn hot. High 90s wasn't unusual. and we never lived on a ground floor. Believe it or not, somehow we survived before AC. Whenever I start thinking about how hot it is, I think of my grandmother's house or those years in kitchens where Summer made things only a bit warmer than always and immediately I feel cooler.

There are lots of ways to be a bit cooler when it's a scorcher. A cool wet towel around the neck and drinking icy lemon water do wonders. The luxury of being able to take a shower in the worst heat of the day (here that's around 3-4 p.m.) is lovely. An exhaust fan on low pulls the humidity out and if you've an opposing window in the shade it'll draw a lovely breeze through when set on high. On the nights when it cools I open all the windows and then close them in the morning. Shades stay down. The small investment I made in light-blocking and thermo-insulated drapes for the bedroom help too (each pair was $12 USD on Amazon). Any physical work gets done in the cool morning hours and as the temp rises I slow down to a snail's pace. The heat does make my legs and feet swell to balloons. Which inevitably leads to a lying down with legs up and a good read. Fortunately there's no want of books right now.

Having finished Eric Clapton's autobiography and Beard's Latin for All Occasions I moved on to GRR Martin's latest ASOI&F installment, A Dance with Dragons. Martin's books are like cheesecake. Yummy and dense, but they aren't books I can take in in one sitting. He writes them in viewpoint chapters, and there are so many characters that it's easy to get lost in what is going on and even lost in general. This volume is running in tandem with the preceding book, too, and on starting it I thought I'd had a stroke or something because parts of the story had advanced in the prior book and here we were back in time. Half a dozen chapters in it's still a wondrous story but so far, not the best of them.

Then Strider sent me two books as a surprise. Atwood's The Tent, which is another fantastic collection of shorts. I duno about you, but to me, Atwood's writing is like a favorite pair of socks. You don't always need them, but there are times when nothing else will do. I've already read the collection through twice. And they bring interesting dreams if you read them before sleep. The second is Irving's Til I Find You. When reading Irving I need to give him my full attention. I tend to fall into his books for the duration, the same goes for Tom Robbins and Audrey Niffenegger. So he'll wait til after ADwD is done. Meanwhile, to supplement my Summer afternoons, I have a pile of incidental reads, like Harnessing Your Dark Side and a couple of unearthed Led Zep bios that I don't recall ever reading. My niece also sent me many books that are waiting in my computer... when it's not so painy I'll be able to sit and read all those too. Somehow I've been indulged with books and I'm not complaining!

It's 1:30 p now and it's getting "close" in here. The Beest has lain down on the desk shelf in front of the exhaust fan, heavy eyes glancing up through the spinning blades now and then. The Shire's maintenance crew is cutting the lawns, but why bother- it's all brown and hasn't grown at all. The tomato plants are hanging on but even the hostas are wilting and the marigolds have burned in the sun. There may be rain tomorrow night. We're all hoping. I worry that the crops are going to fail, making farmers even poorer and our food prices go skyhigh. As Diana Hamilton says, "We'll just wait and see what happens."


Geo. said...

Sounds like you've worked out an effective and enjoyable system for heat survival. We've always had hot summers here too, but lately it's as if this planet is training us to go live on another one, like Mercury.

Munir said...

We survived without AC in India too, but the good thing was that we had fresh air coming from Banjara Hills, but when it would rain, our front Varanda would be full of water.

Lisa said...

We've had 17 days in a row of 90+ temps. A one day break of 89 degrees and we're back up to the upper 90's and 100 for at least another week. We are 9" below normal for rainfall and 1/10 of an inch of rain since May 1st. The majority of the state has been under burn bans since the end of June. Marion county and most of the surrounding counties now have mandatory water bans. Our reservoirs are 2 feet down. All the crops are failing. I guess it was our turn for a severe drought????! Now.... you need a laptop computer that you can move around with you so you can read anywhere :D

Lisa said...

Make that....

We've HAD 1/10 of an inch of rainfall since May 1st.

Austan said...

Geo- I come from the lands of the ice and snow and I wasn't built for this.

Munir- We'd love some fresh air from the hills about now!

Niecely- More than half the country is in drought now
This is seriously scary shit here.

Lisa said...

I know... It is scary. The news keeps saying it hasn't been this bad here since '33. But since I stay in my cave and I refuse to watch the news (only the weather!) - I don't know how bad it is elsewhere. Then I can pretend that everything is going to be alright sooner rather than later, or never.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I remember my childhood with no air conditioning and everybody sitting outside on a porch or stoop in the evening. All the neighbors would stop by, us children would play, and even though the heat was bad, it was summer and all was right with the world.

Today, everybody stays inside their air conditioned homes, know few or none of their neighbors, the kids play on their computers or tablets by themselves, it's summer, and everybody has something to complain about.

Austan said...

Niecely- We may get rain here today. But I've heard that before.

Arleen- That's how our childhoods were, and Summer was enjoyed, not made into a fearful thing to be avoided. I sat outside for a little while late last night. There were no neighbors around, no children playing, but the air was cool and soft and all was right with the world. Why did we stop doing these simple things that are so pleasurable?