Practising Resilience

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Staying cool – me in the summer of 1966/67. It must be on my grandmothers verandah – the pot plant in the corner is a clue!

It was heavenly. To the extent it almost took my breath away. After weeks of heat, the cooling change that swept from the south has been a most welcome reprieve.

If only for a short time.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the demise of our home air conditioner. While I am happy to report (so far) I haven’t had the third white good failure I am still without an air conditioner. It has been brutal and humbling.

Today the temperature has plummeted to a cooling 24 degrees celsius (75 F) at 11am (instead of around 35C/95F). There is even snow being reported in the high country to the south. My head is clear, my energy uplifted and perspective on life has reset to a positive course.

It is astounding how being hot drains one’s vigour and sends your drive plummeting to a level of boiling sloth.

I have tried to remain positive and upbeat, though I think DH may disagree. I kept telling myself that there are hundreds of people who do not have the luxury of an air conditioner, or cannot afford the electricity to run it, I’m not alone. That helped for all of 5 minutes before my resolve took another negative hit.

I remember when I was for pregnant, nearly 27 years ago. We were young and broke and air conditioners were still considered a luxury. I survived without one then, I can do this now…surely?

It has been a learning time as I attempt to be more resilient in the summer furnace. I have learnt or re-learnt a few things about keeping cool over these last few weeks, that I can share with you.

The opening and closing of doors and curtains around the house has become a daily ritual. Open in the cooler times of days to allow any zephyr of breeze to flow through the house, close in the peak of the day to shut out the brutal heartbreaking heat that rides on the summer westerlies.

The routine of each day also changes. I have become a walking temperature forecast and can recite what the temperature is going be each hour, having studied 3 weather apps for the day and week ahead. I plan my day around the what needs to be done in the cooler (not cool, just cooler) parts of the day versus what does not need to be done until about March when this summer will come to an end, or my air-conditioner is fixed.

Between about 3 and 8 pm little is possible as the living area turns into Satan’s boudoir. The better options are reading a book or watching the tennis and cricket – but that is what summer is all about isn’t it?

I had to search for a different novel to read. While I was comfortable under an air conditioner a story about the struggles of country Victoria in the summer drought of the late 1800’s was an interesting read. It became a little to close to my own experience post mouse-in-airconditioner and a novel set in the Arctic circle has been a worthier escape.

Dining outside in the evening is a pleasant experience. It has been a necessity for us as the house is like a mini fire of hell from about 6 pm. I tried to make light of it by saying “we will dine alfresco tonight, by the fountain” where in actual fact we have dined on the shady back lawn with the garden sprinkler cooling our feet.

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Keeping cool outside – January 1963 style

In my search through family photos I even found a pic of my grandmother, father and aunt escaping the heat near a water tank – outside was always cooler than in. the look on their faces says it all!

 

 

Wet towels are currently a necessary part of the wardrobe. Some respite can be felt if you wet your hair and then sit in front of the fan with a wet towel across your shoulders and/or your feet. In the heat the towel is dry in about 10 minutes but the short respite welcoming. Wet and repeat.

Buying an expensive fan does not provide you with better cooling. When its hot, its hot and no fan on this planet will be better than another. The fan that offered an additional misting function along with “new technology” cooling effects for about $150 did not blow the hot air around the room any better than the $20 pedestal fan from the reject shop. This has been an expensive lesson to learn!

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I have discovered that its OK to break out your inner child and run through the sprinkler on the back lawn. I have many childhood memories of playing in the yard with a sprinkler, or a home-made slip and slide.

When we first moved to the farm at Curlewis we had an above ground pool. It was bit of makeshift pool, with no fencing or landscaping, it had no filter or cleaning mechanism so after about a week it was time to drain and refill.

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Our pool. It must have been hot as my dad is in this shot – he rarely ventured into the water.

Water was abundant and cheap in those times and the routine of emptying overnight and filling the next morning became part of summer fun. We whiled away many summer hours in that pool, plopped in the backyard for easy access. Others around us all seemed to have similar in the yard – one friend had an old iron water tank cut off at about a metre, another used her dad’s fishing tinnie as a useful ‘pool’ to lay during the summer afternoon. We were inventive and unrestricted by today’s safety regulations.

Over the years my children discovered the joy of a hose during the summer months. Being held hostage by the air conditioner inside is not an enjoyable experience for a band of energetic children or the parent – a simple hose, sprinkler and large container can provide hours of fun.

I have survived, so far. It has given me time to search through old family photos to find past glimpses of fun under the sprinkler, but maybe that was just an excuse to sit longer under my mother’s functioning air conditioner!

I try not to call Air Conditioner guy Dave every day but I search for hope that the beast that taunts me from my living room wall will be functioning soon.

I wish that ‘soon’ will be this week, cross your fingers for me

Happens in threes…

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I love front loader washing machines. I know others that don’t – DH even prefers twin tubs.

Yes you can still buy the twin tub washing machine. On a recent trip to the local electrical store with Miss22 we spotted one – she had to ask what it was. When I explained that you wash in one side then manually take the clothes out, put them in the spin side, spin, rinse, spin, repeat she was a little gobsmacked at the idea of it! Really? People still do that?

It is quite manual work but less things break, though I do remember overflowing my first twin tub a few times as I chased the sock pairs around the house.

After years of top loader machines, I find front loaders are easier on the clothes, create less pill and use less water. Sure, you need to change your washing habits as once that door is locked you cannot open to throw that last minute find into the mix.

Or as I recently experienced once that door is locked it may not open again.

It is a terrible sinking feeling when the machine beeps its completion, you nonchalantly bend to open the door…and it doesn’t budge.

I check the lock light has gone off and try again

I turn it off at the wall, count to 60 and try again

I turn it back on, jiggle the controls and try again

I run a short rinse and spin cycle thinking it just got itself confused – I know how that feels – and try again

I rock the whole machine and try again

I pull on the handle and realise how plasticky and fragile it is and try again

I walk away, have a coffee and try again

I start to list all the pieces of clothing now a prisoner in the machine and try again

Nothing, nadda, zip. No offer of bail, no small sign the damp prisoners will be released anytime soon, they are locked up tight and starting to sweat.

A phone call to the local washing machine repairer puts me at ease

“Oh it happens a lot, Paul knows how to unlock it, I will get him to call round. Wait for him, don’t be like the guy last week that had his children’s school clothes in there and took to it with a crowbar. Just wait for Paul”

I was beginning to know how that poor guy felt! At least I have other clothing that I can use.

Washing machine repairer Paul bailed out the clothes with a bit of packing tape – yes highly technical stuff. A replaced part, a week of waiting and we are back on track.

Washing wise.

I froze as I glanced at the bill stuck to the fridge this morning. Things happen in threes – especially with household white goods.

Number 2 struck last night.

I had enjoyed a slow relaxing summer day in the cool of the air-conditioned lounge. It was a Netflix day as the summer January sun makes anything outdoor unbearable.

At about 7 last night, when it was still high 30 degrees outside I could smell something burning – crispy, electrical, smouldering burning. I smelt the stove, nothing. Turned off all the power points, nothing. Checked the roof outside to see if there was any smoke coming out, nothing.

Then there was a loud bang and a flash of red and orange from the air conditioner.

Oh crap

If you think having your clothes held captive in the washing machine is heart stopping imagine what the thought of no air conditioner at the peak of our inland summer feels like.

It is dead…and so is the mouse that thought camping on one of the internal power boards was a good idea.

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Thank heavens air conditioner guy Dave came to the rescue first thing this morning. I only hope the factory that sells the parts has returned from their Christmas break, though it might be a long, hot week ahead.

 

I now look at the weather forecast with different eyes, scanning for how hot it really will be rather than an inquisitive view to see if we will break more records this week.

A funny weather app that I discovered isn’t so funny when you need a wet towel around your neck while sitting directly under the fan.

I usually shop in the morning – I am now planning for the hottest part of the day and I will take my time.

I am starting to plan car trips – at least the car is cool.

I am scanning movie times – a second rate flick in an air conditioned cinema is worth the few hours of comfort, mid-afternoon.

I am listing friends and family to visit, in the afternoons.

I am hoping air conditioner guy brings the parts by the end of the week.

I am dreading number 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credits:

© Can Stock Photo / dumayne;

© Can Stock Photo/godruma;

© Can Stock Photo/stuartmiles

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