Hopefully this is a somewhat humorous and enlightening post regarding what I’ve learned firsthand this week living without air conditioning. We live in Texas, it is mid-July, and the daily temps, unfortunately, have reached 107+ every day this week. But first of all, I’d like to begin with some serious advice if this scenario currently applies to you:
- Go to a hotel (there are plenty of pet-friendly ones, btw.)
- If you’d rather not do that, invest in a portable A/C (about $300) to cool down to a tolerable level at least one room in your house. Three hundred dollars is not small change, but consider it an investment that you can use again, if necessary, or lend out to friends and relatives who may be in need in the future. Actually, I’ve since learned some folks use these units regularly to keep one room in their house, usually their bedroom, a little cooler at night than others.
- If you don’t have the funds for either above, find willing relatives, friends or neighbors to put you up. Extreme temps can be deadly!
My husband and I chose option #2 above, mainly because we were one day into roof, fence and gutter repairs when our A/C bit the dust and at least one of us needed to “be around”. (You’ll recall from my earlier post we experienced baseball-size hail last month, thus the multiple repairs.)
Let me take a side moment to bless those repairmen. In our neighborhood, they start at 6 a.m. and take many breaks, thank goodness, but I honestly don’t know how they continue on once 10 a.m. rolls by.
Back to our decision to opt for #2, we also have an escape-artist dog and a scared-y cat. Packing up and going to a hotel with our “special” pets would cause 10 times the stress than all four of us creatures staying home and living in a 11 X 11 room! And for those of you thinking we could go to a hotel and leave our pets at home, please read on to better gauge that thought . . .
Gosh, you’re probably wondering, “Where is the humor, Debbie Downer?!” Well, here we go –
When your A/C breaks down and it’s July in Texas:
- You will lose 5 lbs in one day. All water weight, but . . .
- Because of above, you learn to love Gatorade even if you previously hated it.
- Ice cold beer = big fat ankles.
- You don’t turn on lights in the house.
- An “open blinds” person must adapt to being a “closed blinds” person. This is why my pics look as though they are in black and white.
- Your cat will suddenly become claustrophobic when you close the door to the one cool room in the house.
- If you don’t let her out, your claustrophobic cat will threaten to disengage the portable A/C’s exhaust coil from the window after you and your husband spent 2 hours trying to puzzle it together.
- When tossed outside the cool room for a brief potty break, your cat will find the second coolest spot in the house – the bathroom tile. I admit, I tested the tile myself and it was indeed cool – just not at all comfortable.
- Speaking of bathrooms, there is no such thing as taking a quick, cold shower. Your tap water is lukewarm.
- Your face cream is hot. Your toothpaste is hot. Putting on make-up is an act of futility. Blow drying one’s hair is not going to happen. Thus, be prepared for being asked at fast food joints if you qualify for the senior discount – ugh!
- In addition to the blow dryer, you learn to live without using the dishwasher, oven, clothes dryer and iron. Unfortunately you sweat so much, you have to change clothes often – but you only wash the necessities – in cold water. (Correction: in lukewarm water as, again, there is no cold.)
- On the positive, underwear will dry in 5 minutes when placed outside. On the negative, underwire bras will literally brand you if you don’t let them cool down.
- All the ice in your refrigerator’s ice-maker will meld together if you leave the freezer open more than 30 seconds, rendering your ice-dispenser useless.
- Coffee grounds left in your coffeemaker will mold in less than one day, however you stop making coffee because it is unbearable to drink anyway.
- Fruit and salads are the only things appetizing. Even ice cream is unappealing because it is too rich. (This isn’t a bad thing for me, actually.)
- You entertain the thought of cooking dinner on the stove top at least one night because you are subscribed to a mail order meal plan and you don’t want it to go to waste. Luckily, over a month ago, you picked grilled chicken salad for this particular week. But, you see flies around the delivered box that is resting on your porch when you arrive home from work. The box is supposed to be safe for 24 – 48 hours upon delivery but then again, this is July – in Texas – and it is 109 degrees outside. The 4 ice packs are no longer frozen, the lettuce is wilted and the chicken has completely thawed. You realize there is no way you are eating anything that came inside that box. Don’t get me wrong, I love, love, love my meal plan! The circumstances just aren’t conducive to mail order perishables this week.
- Your concern about thieves lessens because opening your windows reduces the heat in your house by 10 degrees. Ours actually dropped to 101 after we opened windows once we knew for sure the A/C was not coming back on. BTW: We adjusted our alarm and activated our motion detectors. Thieves may get in, but they won’t get out with anything.
- Speaking of open windows, be prepared for the giant of all hornets – the cicada killer – to find that one torn spot in your window screen to squeeze through and enter your house. It may be harmless but it seriously looks like it could carry off a chihuahua.
- Open windows = herds of dust bunnies. However . . .
- Your concern about having a tidy house dissipates because it’s too hot to clean and no one in their right mind plans to visit you.
- Your swimming pool is a giant hot tub. If you dare attempt to use it, you must wear flip-flops from your doorway until you reach the deep end.
- You will find creatures at your bird bath that you’ve never seen before – including lizards and insects. Not necessarily a bad thing. Keep your bird baths full – wild things are suffering too.
- Your tolerance and patience will be short with EVERYONE about EVERYTHING. Keep this in mind and, just like when coming out from under anesthesia, don’t sign any legal documents or make any important decisions for a while – i.e., after the A/C is up and running again!
Well since this is predominately a gardening blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t tie in a few gardening tips regarding dealing with the extreme heat:
- First of all, be prepared to lose some plants. It’s Mother Nature. No matter how often I watered this week, my once tomato-bearing, raised garden bed is toast – literally! I was not even able to take a picture of it without evidence of the sun’s hot rays blazing through.
- Recognize, that although it seems very odd, some plants “bolt” or flower in the most extreme of conditions. Like several of my former posts have mentioned, it is a natural reaction they have to keep their gene pool going. See bolting and recovering.
- Unless you are in a water restricted area, add an extra day to your lawn sprinkler schedule.
- Water, water, water your outdoor potted plants. Water at the base of the plants EVERY morning. Do not mist the leaves as water droplets at this time of year become tiny magnifying glasses.
- If movable, move your potted plants to a shady or a part shade area.
- If not movable, erect a temporary shade cloth tent above those plants that are showing signs of sun scald. Do it in the very early morning so as to not scald yourself.
- Water your indoor plants generously once a week. More so if they are wilting and you are in an un-airconditioned home. Our peace lily wilts every day but perks up after a watering in the morning. I haven’t adequately researched it, but I suspect this particular plant must be more sensitive to hot ambient temperatures.
- Lastly, and I know you’ve heard this before, if you lose plants this year, replace them with native species or at least with species that are well adapted to your climate and soil. It can make the difference in the life or death of a plant when dealing with extremes. For example: My husband loves azaleas and we planted about 7 of them in our front bed. They are not well suited for our area but it is possible to grow them if they are “babied” and supplemented. However, the 4 that get the most sun are not going to make it through this current heat spell. No matter how well we supplemented the soil and abided by their minimum shade requirement, the extreme heat triumphed our attempts to provide an artificial environment for them. We will replace the dwarf azaleas this fall with a shrub variety that best fits our area – most likely Indian Hawthorne.
All joking aside, be sure to put yourself and loved ones first and keep cool, comfortable and hydrated in extremely hot weather. As with the hail storm we recently encountered, you can rebuild, repair, refresh and replace items when the storm (or in this case, heat wave) passes.
Until next time,