…as in the weather has been hot. Damn hot. And surprisingly humid, for a part of the world that normally sees around 16 inches of precipitation…annually. While it is not as hot as, say, Cairo (37), or Seville (38), or even Atlanta (34) or Houston (33), the temperatures have been up there, lately. Today, our thermometer read 30 degrees for most of the day, and Environment Canada indicated that our humidity was around 50%, adding at least five degrees to the “feels like” temperature.
Our house, being of late-50’s vintage, and having never even had the kitchen linoleum updated, let alone the climate control system, has no air conditioning. I actually don’t mind this too much, since a/c always makes me feel sick, with a scratchy sore throat and a headache. Even though Hubby’s car has air, we normally just roll down the windows. We’re such Luddites…
Since the heat effectively grounds the mosquitoes, Hubby says he does not mind it at all, and he has been out working in the garden the last couple of days. This afternoon, I took him out a big ole bottle of homemade iced tea, to help stave off heat exhaustion. I stayed to supervise the weeding for awhile, and got myself a bit of a sunburn…unusual, considering the tan I have acquired this year – one of the better ones I have had since I came back from North Africa. Turns out, one of the latest meds has photosensitivity as a side effect, I (somewhat belatedly) discovered.
While I was in North Africa, I made a bunch of discoveries about coping with heat. I got so good at it that even the locals in Aswan in southern Egypt shook their heads and called me crazy when I set out on a ten kilometer uphill walk on a 45 degree day. I was fine, I might add, though I drank over 5 liters of water in just under 6 hours. What I discovered is that salt, sugar, and caffeine are your friends. The salt replaces what you sweat out…it may sound counter-intuitive, but you need salt in your system to keep your cells hydrated. The caffeine helps with that droopy feeling you get when you are too warm – it constricts your blood vessels, which tend to relax in the heat and slow your circulation, making you feel sluggish. The sugar is a quick energy boost when your body is too hot to put much effort into real digestion. Then, you need water. Lots and lots of pure water. Liters of it, consumed a sip here and a swallow there, before you actually feel thirsty, because in real heat, by the time you feel really thirsty, you will have a hard time getting enough water in you to compensate for what you are losing in sweat.
Another trick is to hold your hands in cold water up to the wrists, or soak your feet.
Having never lived in a house with air conditioning, I have also learned tricks to stay cool enough to sleep. First and foremost, don’t add to your misery by running the dryer, or cooking on the stove. Those ones are obvious, but I have also found that running a computer can heat up a room in an awful hurry. Though we don’t have a TV or video game system or big stereo, I would guess that they would also throw off a significant amount of heat. Pay attention to what is heating up the room, as this can add five or ten degrees, maybe more, and ten degrees can be the difference between a sweaty night of tossing and turning, and an acceptable snooze.
Mom always closed all of the windows and blinds first thing in the morning, then opened everything back up in the evening to catch the cool breezes and cool the house. We don’t have blinds on most of the windows here, yet, and the sheer curtains in the living room don’t do much to keep out the light or heat, so we take a different tactic. We keep windows on the cool sides of the house (west and north in the morning, east in the evening) open to catch whatever breeze we can, but cover the windows as best we can (even using blankets) when the sun hits them. In the hottest part of the day today, the house was substantially cooler inside than out, and not muggy at all.
We feed the dogs ice cubes and keep their water dish as cool as possible, as our poor husky is really not built for summer temperatures. The cats, on the other hand, get all offended that I have blocked off all of their sunbeams. Go figure.
Someday I will build myself a summer kitchen, or at least acquire a barbeque, but in the meantime, meals have been along the lines of ricotta and crackers, or milk-and-frozen-fruit smoothies, or veggies and dip. Ice cream with canned fruit has been a lunchtime favorite lately, and I have been known to snack on frozen strawberries. I suppose we could do sandwiches, if we had any luncheon meat, but neither of us has really been interested in sitting down for a ‘proper’ meal. Tomorrow, when it is cooler (the weatherman is calling for rain), I will make up more ricotta, and do any other cooking that might be necessary, like pasteurizing milk and canning up all of the saskatoon berries Hubby picked for me earlier this week. You have to plan ahead for this stuff.
Come bedtime, if it is still too warm inside, and there is no breeze (like tonight) even with all the windows open and the ceiling fan in the living room going full blast, I make a point of going to bed with wet hair. Even a brief duck through the shower (or, in my case, a bucket of cool water poured over my head) can cool you down substantially. I also wipe my arms and face with a damp cloth just before laying down. If it is really hot, I wet a dish towel, then wring it out until it is just damp, and use that instead of a sheet. Of course, this only works if the humidity is low (which is usually in in Saskatchewan), but as the water evaporates, it cools the towel (and me), which is sometimes the last little bit of cooling I need to get to sleep…