Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Surviving Summer with No Air Conditioning

Autumn is breathing cool air down my neck.  I'm ready to say good bye to summer.

My family lived largely without air conditioning this summer in our old, high-ceilinged city rowhouse.  Unfortunately, our neighbors have chopped down two big trees recently; I bet I will notice that missing shade next year.

  My survival tips For the Record so I can remember how to do this next year:

1.  Don't heat up the kitchen if possible:  use the grill, crockpot outside, or eat raw or cold stuff. 

2.  Set hot vats of water (canning, corn on the cob) outside to cool.  Set hot canned jars outside to cool.

3.  If I must use the oven, cram as many things in there as possible.
(left to right, potatoes, beets, hot fudge sundae cake)

4.  Get in cold water as much as possible:  shower, county pool, backyard baby pool, fountain. 

5.  Put on a caftan (nothing else) as soon as the children are in bed and hope nobody stops by.  Wear skirts, not capris or shorts.
 (my 1970s inspired caftan, made one night in a blurry desperation, using no pattern and an old sheet; unflattering, but it makes its own breeze!)

4.  Keep the blinds shut during the day.
(We originally wanted to replace the missing stained glass in our buffet window, but alas, we caved to the blinding sunshine this summer and got a wood blind to match the rest - 70% off at JCPenney!)

5.  Watch the weather station (Christmas present from my husband!) obsessively to know when to open and close windows.

6.   My body took one heat wave to adjust; after that, I was not so affected by the heat.  But I still allowed myself to be languorous in the heat - this is how our bodies cope. 

Hello, autumn, you beautiful girl.  So nice to see you again.


Unknown said...

Wow! I'm so impressed! We ran our air conditioning unit for two weeks this Summer. It was just enough to get us through the worst of it. Love your Caftan! My aunt in CA loves them too. I may have to make a couple next year! I think yours came out great - love the red bias binding with the blue!

Laura said...

Lucky you to have autumn come already! Yesterday the high here was 99. Today it's predicted to be 98. At least it's horribly dry. Dry heat is easier to live with than humid heat - and a few weeks ago we had humid heat with heat indexes of 105 to 110.

Your caftan is great! I remember those from the '70's!

Oh, well. I'm grateful that we're supposed to have a mild winter. So although we've had to use lots of AC this summer, we can probably use very little heat this winter.

Small mercies!

Anonymous said...

I purchased a GINORMOUS billowy nightgown from a granny store when I was 7 months pregnant, because everything else felt too binding. I still wear it often long before I actually go to bed because it's so breezy. Fashion bedammed.

Jacinta said...

What a great list! Love the caftan idea... Last summer here I was in my 3rd trimester. I had #2 in the hottest month. ICK. So i'm looking forward to this summer without my little inbuilt heater!
I make sure the blinds / curtains are closed during the day and close off doors to rooms which don't block out the light too well. If I am going to use the oven I do it first thing in the morning before the kitchen heats up as it gets the afternoon sun and I do NOT want to be in there then!

Q: how come some American's say 'fall' and others 'autumn' ? We say autumn in Australia.

Margo said...

Jacinta, it might be a regional thing, but I think most Americans use the names interchangeably. When I broke my leg in high school and was in the hospital, I had the loveliest nurse with auburn hair named "Autumn." I think it's such a pretty name.

A said...

When did you break your leg?! I had no idea. Must have been in early high school before I met you. I too love the name Autumn. I've known women with the names Autumn, Summer and Winter, but never Spring...

Margo said...

A, in the fall of my sophomore year. I thought we became friends that year? Maybe in the spring semester? I was on crutches for forever - went to Disney at Christmas in a wheelchair. Did we really not know each other yet? I have such a clear memory of writing notes in Algebra I and being in awe that I could be friends with a girl who had 100%.

Emily on the Southern Prairie said...

I am seriously impressed -- nice work. We've tried and we've failed. One because S.O.meone likes it colder than all the blinds in the world can make it. Other thing -- I take it you guys didn't get any mold? We started getting mold on the walls. Though I should note we live in a very humid climate.

Margo said...

Emily, we live north of the Mason-Dixon line. I'm not sure what I would do if we lived in the south. And honestly, husbands can be so hard to get on board (and then I hear him bragging about how thrifty I am to other people - sheesh).
We didn't get any mold (other than the normal stuff from water coming in our old brick house that needs to be [expensively] repointed). Funny thing, it is actually considered quite humid here, BUT as I watched my little weather station, I saw that either it wasn't very humid this summer or else that's a myth. So I tried to keep the sun out, but for the most part, kept the windows cracked because the humidity was lower outside.

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

You are stronger woman than me... but summer in the deep south is a different story, too.

Macky said...

thanks for the helpful tips...our 10-year old Airconditioning unit has just retired..we'll get a new one...but dont know when =(

Rebecca said...

When we lived in North Carolina our A.C., unbeknownst to us, had a small leak in the duct work. We were alerted to the problem with our book bindings started to MOLD. For Heaven's Sake!

Mark J. Harman said...

We need air, and it not enough for the air conditioned to sustain what our body needs. But I mean it, this is my ideal type of living, away from the community. Just me and my house.