Posts Tagged ‘humidity’

Rolled over on my pillow this morning and opened my eyes to find a wee mouse face staring back at me. Boo, apparently, was having a restless evening and decided to invite a friend to sleep over. Thankfully, this mouse was of the stuffed variety. Had it been our other cat, Mouse, named appropriately, this story would have ended far differently. Mouse was a hunter by nature. We inherited her from our neighbors, who moved neglecting to leave a forwarding address for their cat. Can’t tell you how much I dislike that kind of behavior. Mouse came blasting up our driveway one morning yowling in distress, and within three weeks had moved into our guest room on the second floor, much to Boo’s disdain. Mouse was a street cat, in comparison to Boo for whom the only street she identifies with might be Rodeo Drive. Boo, would never reduce herself to catching her own food, but rather has hers delivered by her minion, namely me, in her pretty china bowl with her name engraved on the front.

I believe Boo brought me the thoughtful gift by way of telling me it was cold in the house. Though temperatures have been high in the area for this time of year, a winter storm is pushing over us and the thermometer has dropped considerably. Tomorrow is predicted to be in the fifties, as compared to close to ninety last week. Weird, weird, weather of late to go along with weird, weird everything else. The house was cold, as it turned out, not because the heater was off, that would be too easy. The house was cold in spite of the heater being turned on. Oh-oh. The lovely bonus of renting rather than owning a home, is when something goes wrong it is someone else’s responsibility. I have to say, I embrace this part of being a tenant with great enthusiasm. Texting my landlord, who lives across the street from me, he came over almost immediately and confirmed what I had told him, the heater was not going on. Coinciding nicely with Murphy’s Law, this always seem to happen on a Friday, just before a weekend. Also, it has been warm enough outside not to need heat until, yes, you guessed it, this weekend. Sigh. The repairman was not available until today, and if parts are needed, then the repair will have to wait until they arrive. Meanwhile, two small space heaters were brought over last night in case my teeth took to chattering.

It is hardly brutally cold, like east coast cold, but fifty is not swimsuit weather either. I’ll cross my fingers it is the thermostat that needs to be replaced and not something more complicated. Last summer the A/C went out in the middle of a heat wave (Murphy again) and we nearly stewed in our own juices. Thankfully, my landlords had a portable air conditioning unit at their disposal because the part to get the unit up and running (due to the pandemic) didn’t show up for nearly a month. Without the portable when found, we would have been but two oily puddles with underwear floating in the middle, oh and one small puddle with an abundance of white cat fur.

I do like the freedom owning your own home affords you. You don’t have to ask if you want to get a dog, or paint a wall. If the mood strikes you to paint your spare room royal blue, you do just that. Also, you are accruing equity in something you own rather than depositing your money in someone else’s retirement account every month. As I’ve said before, I do not get an “A” for planning for my golden years. It’s like that old saying, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself”. I think when you’re young, you can’t conceive of ever not being young. I first noticed the change in status when my doctor, while explaining a minor health problem I was dealing with, said to me, “well, this is to be expected as we age”. We age? Who’s aging? Moi? No, can it be so. But I guess I can’t ignore the reality, it can be so, and it is. I always quantify, however, I would rather be getting older then not getting anything at all, so there you go.

Lately I have been looking at my finances. I do this with one eye closed, sometimes both, and using a pair of tongs. Living in the moment is where I try to remain, but sometimes for practical reasons I have to look a little further down the road. My road, though I hope spanning many miles in front of me, isn’t going to find me rolling in prosperity or living in the lap, or even the the shin of luxury at this point. Rick and I cashed in my 401K early to get the restaurant going so that avenue has been cordoned off, and Rick is no longer here so his income is gone. Apparently, I have to pull on my big girl bloomers and figure something out myself. I have looked over my shoulder and don’t see anyone jumping up and down, arm raised, saying “I’ll do it”, so I’m assuming I’m the only man (or woman as the case may be) in the raft. Drat the luck. I have skills and certainly could fall back on my graphic art background. The idea of polishing up my resume and stepping back into the working world is about as appealing to me as crawling across a field of yellow jackets, but sometimes we have to do what we have to do. I’m thinking freelancing might be the ticket. Whatever it is I decide to take a shot at most likely I want to work from home. Fortunately, now is the prime time to do just that, so I will begin exploring some options sooner than later.

For today, as Scarlett might say, “Fiddle-de-dee, I’ll think about it tomorrow.” It’s the weekend and there’s a chill in the air, food in the cupboard, and a roof over my head. Life is good.

Whenever I think of air conditioning units I think of the south. I lived in Muscle Shoals, Alabama for a year in the 1990’s. Sent there for a short-term job, we needed to find accommodations allowing us to move before the year was up without involving a lease. my ex-husband and I located a lovely three bedroom brick home in a nice bedroom community which rented month-to-month. Perfect. To say it got hot in Alabama during the summer would be like describing a Ferrrari as a nice little luxury car. Hot, hot, hot. Air conditioning wasn’t a luxury when living there, it was a life or death choice. Thankfully, our landlords were diligent about keeping up their rentals so when we moved in the A/C was happily pumping out chilled air and the house was comfortable and welcoming. Once my husband got settled in at his new job I began the process of finding temporary work for the short time we would be in the state. We had one car at the time, because it was practical for our lifestyle. Construction bums of a sort, he worked for one company who shopped out his skills to jobs all across the U.S. Two vehicles meant we had two vehicles to move each time we relocated, and that we couldn’t ride together when on the road. Though it suited our purposes in that way, once settled in it made things a little more dicey if both of us wanted to work. Signed up with a temp agency, I was quickly placed at the local hospital in their infectious disease department. My duties included urine tests on new employees and random tests on current employees making me about as popular as the plague. After doing this for several weeks I came to believe it wasn’t that I was chosen first out of a group of candidates but rather the only one willing to take the job.

My husband got a ride to work each day with another pipe fitter living just around the corner. That freed me up to take the car to work. It was old, even by classic standards, and a boat. The chassis seemed to extend for miles beyond the front window. When you rode over a pothole you glided rather than bumped over it. The front seat was a bench seat and the car so massive I had to use a makeshift adult booster seat to allow my feet to reach the pedals. Another distinct liability was the A/C came on and went off at whim, making it like driving in a tomb on extremely hot, and always unpleasantly humid summer days. Often by the time I reached home, a 40 minute commute, my face would be lit up like a ripe tomato. During one particularly hot spell, I actually had to pull over at the mall and get a cold drink and cool down half way through my trip each night to keep from ending up prostrate by the side of the road. People who hail from Canada are not meant for hot, sticky climates. We’re just not built for it.

Just before we were set to move on to our next assignment, the old beater finally decided to admit defeat and refused to go into any gear but reverse. Had we wished to back our way all the way to West Virginia, this would have been handy, but otherwise this put us in a situation. The neighborhood we lived in was friendly. We knew most of our neighbors by name and well enough to stop and carry on a conversation, and some we socialized with. One family, directly across the street from us, was more of the “hi, how are y’all doing today” variety than the let’s break bread together variety. Nevertheless, seeing the hood up on the car seemed to trigger a visceral response in the men in the area, and pretty soon there were four or five heads bent over the cars internals discussing the situation. Turns out the car needed a new transmission, among a long list of other things I’m sure. Had it been human, my doctor would have repeated his statement mentioned above. Transmissions were not a cheap fix I was given to understand. What I know about the workings of the combustion engine could be jammed into the head of a straight pin with plenty of room left over. As it turned out, our neighbor knew a guy, who knew a guy, who had a wrecking yard. Heads were scratched, calls were made, and pretty soon my husband and Bud, as I came to know him, were off to pick up a replacement transmission in the nearest big city, about a two hour drive. As we were to leave in two days, work began on the car as soon as they got back. Men came and went, the sound of beer cans being opened and electric drills filled the air, and the testosterone was so thick in the front yard I hesitated to step out and offer food lest the hair on my legs grow two inches before getting safely back in the house. Somehow, the old trannie (their word) got pulled (also their word) and the new one dropped in. Quite a feat in the time constraints and in a yard, the story would be told. All Bud would take for his efforts was a steak dinner with all the trimmings, which I made happen before we hit the road.

In my life there have always been angels who showed up just in the nick of time before despair ruled the day. I feel quite blessed to have them around and perhaps even more so in the strange times we currently find ourselves in. I’m sure you have a few of your own whether you’re aware they are there or not. Keep your eyes open next time you find yourself approaching the high water mark.

Have a great weekend!!

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Several times during my relationships it has been suggested by a partner a move to Florida might be a great idea. For me, that would be a negatory. There are a number of reasons why I won’t live in Florida. Not that it isn’t beautiful or doesn’t have a lot to offer. Warm weather, long strands of sun bleached beaches, gorgeous waterfront homes, endless golf courses. What’s not to like? Hmmm let’s see, alligators, bugs the size of migs, energy sapping humidity, hurricanes, and Zika. Need I go on? My only visit there was in early spring. The man I was dating at the time had parents who retired in the Miami area. The plan was to stay with them in Ft. Lauderdale for a few days before boarding our cruise ship on to Key West and then to Cozumel. Our days were spent on whatever beach struck our fancy, taking time out to mill through the myriad of tourist luring shops along the boardwalks. Nights we ate at local restaurants and sat outside in the cooler evening air enjoying a cocktail or just looking at the stars.

On our second day there I noticed something crawling along the wall I first mistook for an animal. Upon closer inspection I realized it had wings and a plethora of legs. My fascination with the insect turned to horror when I realized it was no longer on the wall, but now seated on the rim of my glasses. I’m not a bug person. Never would I have signed up for any science course involving catching insects and pinning them on boards to study them. The very thought has goose bumps parading up and down my limbs.

When I lived in Arkansas, unused to the heavy humidity prevalent there in the summer months, I spent the first few weeks concentrating on getting oxygen to my body. For those of you who saw the movie “The Abyss” picture the scene where they have to breathe in oxygenated liquid. Though Ed Harris didn’t actually breathe in the pink liquid, live rats were actually subjected to such an ordeal during filming and lived to gnaw through another hole in the wall afterwards. I know just how they felt.

High humidity along with encouraging lush foliage and steamy weather, also promotes a healthy insect population. While in Arkansas I became familiar with tics and chiggers for the first time, and welcomed a flea population in my back yard so resistant to spraying it necessitated wearing cowboy boots to mow the lawn.

Wasps and alike, as I’ve mentioned before are number one on my list of insects I could do without. As a child I recall going to Mill Village, Nova Scotia to visit my grandmother’s relatives. Mill Village is a quaint little town originally sustained by logging and lumber. Aunt Olive, as I called her, though in truth she was my grandmother’s cousin, lived in a beautiful old family home overlooking the Medway River. Aside from running a small ice cream parlor towards the front of the property, Olive manned the switchboard for the local residents. Often when we enjoyed a meal at her enormous mahogany dining table she would leave to connect neighbor to neighbor and catch on the local gossip.

Olive, a widow of some years, was a magnificent cook. Pastries came out her kitchen as delicate as angel’s wings, and her breads and biscuits were without fault. Standing in her brightly lit country kitchen you were surrounded by wire baskets of fresh eggs, lines of canisters, and brimming bowls of fruit and vegetables picked from the massive garden lying beyond the gate leading to the pasture. Twice while visiting she asked me to accompany her to get honey for the biscuits. The first time I accepted. Being a kid and not the sharpest pencil in the box, I didn’t connect the dots, honey…..bees. Aha. Hand in hand we stepped through the tall grass in the pasture. Olive, a woman rarely short on words, kept the conversation flowing as we moved closer to a line of stacked white boxes. As we approached the boxes Olive stretched her arm across my chest and instructed me to remain where we stood. Reaching in her apron she pulled out a white hood and pulled it over her head.  Securing the hood and draping it over her shoulder she approached the boxes. In one hand she had a sprayer of some sort. Holding it up she depressed a nozzle dispensing steam around the boxes as she stepped forward. “Bees are quieted by the steam”, she told me while reaching inside the nearest box to bring out a long board dripping with sweet honey. Wow. I saw the bee before it stung me but there was little time to react. The steam may have calmed the majority of the hive but I’m here to say there were a few deserters that were absolutely pissed off. A second sting quickly followed the first and my fat little legs were on the move. As delicious as that honey tasted on Olive’s flakey biscuits I never accompanied her again to gather more and would happily have done without the first batch and the two itchy welts I paid for the privilege of eating it.

It would be an odd world without insects so I have found a way to coexist with them enjoying them from a distance. Our yard is a haven for butterflies, an insect I have made total peace with along with the ladybug. However, I could do without all the aphids who insist on attacking my plants. There you go, balance in all things.

If made as written this soup will make you sweat. For the faint of heart substitute regular diced tomatoes for the tomatoes with chiles.

Spicy Mexican Zucchini and Sausage Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 1/2 oz. can of kernel corn, drained
1 15 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 large zucchini, sliced thin and quartered
1/2 cup smoked sausage sliced thin and halved
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix
2 Tbsp. salsa verde
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coriander
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese
Lime slices for garnish

Heat oil in stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and yellow and cook 6 mins. until soft. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 min. Add remaining ingredients through chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Cook partially covered for 50 mins. Serve topped with cheese and sliced limes.

Serves 6

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