Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How To Survive No A/C

Did you ever wonder if you could survive without air conditioning? Last weekend I was put to the test. I had several errands to run on Friday and arrived home hot and tired late in the afternoon. Opening my house door I expected a rush of cold air and the welcoming eyes of my kitty. Neither happened. The blast of air was warm and kitty was mysteriously missing.

The worst possible thing had happened…air conditioning failure and worse...failure after office hours and before a weekend. As for kitty, she was sacked out in the rocker, enjoying the warmth. Cats are weird, aren’t they?

Rockin' Mopsy

I went straight to the thermostat and read the 84° with a sinking feeling. Wondering if what worked for my computer might work for my air conditioning, I flipped the switch to off, waited a minute, and flipped it back on. Nothing. And nothing left to do but call my a/c serviceman.

After listening to his pleasant-sounding voice message starting with “unless this is an emergency”, I left the required information after the beep. Upon hanging up, I wondered is this an emergency? Nah, I can tough it out.

I checked the thermometer on the back porch and to my surprise it read 83° so I left the porch door from the house wide open, raised the window next to my computer, and turned on the ceiling fan at full blast. I felt the humidity pouring in. This is Florida. But what else to do? I tried thinking myself cool. That worked about two minutes.

Well, I did manage to make it through the weekend with no a/c. On Saturday I continued reminding myself hourly that a hundred years ago people had no air conditioning, which did not help as much as I thought it should. I tried to keep busy but found a lot of napping took over. I already had plans for Sunday, a trip to Cedar Key for a seafood dinner. My vehicle’s air conditioning was one of the highlights of the outing. Sunday night was a killer.

Monday finally came along with my repairman. It took him about two minutes to determine the cause of my breakdown (a/c, that is). The little line outside where the water comes out was stopped up. He blew it out and voila…fixed. I forgot to ask what caused that, I was so relieved to be able to look forward to coldness again. And the very best part (almost)…he didn’t even charge me anything. Wow! I guess he thought I had suffered enough.

So, the answer to my question of how to survive with no a/c is take lots of showers (no hair dryers allowed), give in to all naps, stay underneath ceiling fans at all times possible, conserve energy (lazy is good), drink tons of iced tea…and go for lots of rides in an air conditioned vehicle. That’s all I know.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


I was thinking back this morning to what I was doing this time last year, and it occurred to me...kayaking. Yes, I had just finished a kayaking class (community ed) at Santa Fe College. It's a very vivid memory since it was my first (and so far, last) time doing the K thing.

I had my in-the-water kayaking lesson early on a Saturday morning in July of 2014 at Poe Springs Park on the Santa Fe River. What an experience, good and bad.

My first surprise was the seat. This was a sit-on kayak. I'm not sure what I expected but the seat was hard plastic (just like the kayak) with a little piece of detachable plastic-covered foam for a backrest. The instructor (Simon Legree) actually said he would detach the backrest if we used it too much. Posture is important, just like Mommy said.

After a few warm-up exercises and watching Simon demonstrate some paddling techniques with us standing in a circle, we (six of us including the instructor) were told to unload the kayaks (two per boat). I asked how much they weighed...Simon said 55 pounds. Okay, I can do half of that. We placed them two by two in a row down the side of the road leading to the boat ramp. It was early so all was deserted. Simon pointed out some poison ivy along the side of the ramp.

I looked out at the river and with all the rain we had been having, there was some flooding and a swift current. We put our two-piece aluminum paddles together...again...stored our water bottles and dry bags, and got a quick lesson on the anatomy of the kayak. All of them were 16' long and chartreuse except for Simon's. His was blue. And I noticed his paddle was offset while ours were not. He said you had to be more proficient for that kind.

What I was worried about, getting into the kayak, was the easiest part of the day. Not a problem at all, barely in the water at the edge of the boat ramp, easy-peasy. We were told to row upstream against the current while we were nice and fresh. We looked like Papa Duck and his ducklings...except Papa Duck could talk yell. "You're not rowing with your torso." Torso? WTH? This life jacket is so tight I can barely breathe let alone twist. Okay, calm down, Connie. Did I mention I had never been in a kayak before in my life? Hey, I was almost seventy (seventy-one now)...somebody feel sorry for me. Nope! Keep paddling.

Finally, Papa moves over to the shoreline and us ducklings follow. Simon gives us a quick demonstration of in-the-water rescue; that is, if you are dumped, how to get back into your kayak, by yourself. Okay, that all makes sense. He made it look so easy. And off we go again, underneath a huge oak tree limb, hanging across the river, beautiful. 

Now, Simon turns right toward a very, make that very, narrow opening into a little pond-like area on the side of the river. The opening is wide enough for one kayak and riddled with cypress nubs and a water depth of about 6". Simon backs up some, paddles like hell, and speeds through the opening. I sit and watch as my cohorts all take a turn, some two or three times, before making it through. Everyone is through but me. I try my best but end up having to be helped, not pretty. In the little pond, we learn to do 360 degree turns, clockwise and counterclockwise, with paddle strokes called forward and backward sweeps, not nearly as hard as it sounds. I sip some water from my bottle.

Rested, we are ready to head back out into the river. I go last, again, but make it through this time on the first try, as did everyone else. Whew! We paddle a little farther upstream. Blue dragonflies light on my bow for a free ride. The river is beautiful, the breeze cool, but the sun is getting hot. Several other paddlers, canoes and kayaks, are in the water now, all heading downstream. We all say "hi" and smile as we pass and wonder when we will get our "free ride."

The river is getting too crowded so Simon turns and heads us back downstream. We gather at the side first, and he says we will go a little distance past our boat ramp to an eddy he knows at the side of the river. There, we will practice our self-rescue part of the course. We follow him out in a line, staying to the right of the river. Paddling is a breeze now. Before I know it, we are passing our boat ramp. It is packed with people. Soon, we are at Simon's eddy - too soon.

Simon demonstrates, falling over the side of his kayak and flipping the boat. Little handles are on each side of the cockpit, not for carrying, but for turning upright when flipped. He demonstrates the maneuver. Reach under the boat with one hand, grab the handle, and push up the closest side with the other hand...voila, upright. Everyone takes a turn and, of course, chicken little (me) is last again. The water is only about waist high, and I have no fear of water. It's the getting back into the boat part that is making my heart pound. I am pretty tired and my legs are feeling a little leady. But I am game, the water is cold and should be refreshing even though it is muddy from the storms.

Contrary to what I thought, my kayak is extremely difficult to turn over. I actually dumped myself, and my kayak stayed upright. So, I had to turn it over manually and then upright it. That was the easy part. Getting back into it was hard, especially with my feet getting stuck in the mud. I need to work on upper body strength, obviously. But I finally wriggled back in and took a breather and a few more drinks of water.

We headed back upstream to our boat ramp. I was last getting in and very tired, but I made it...yay! Is kayaking as much fun as I thought? Um, uh-uh. But the ride downstream is beautiful.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Rescue

The three-year mark of my husband's passing is coming up and I feel like just maybe I am reaching a turning point. I am beginning to remember more happy times than sad ones. Family and friends will help make the 19th a lot more bearable.

A friend invited me to lunch yesterday and we visited a nearby restaurant, one Jim and I went to hundreds of times. At first I thought it might be difficult but it wasn't. At times, I could almost hear his words enter our conversation, the surroundings were so familiar and we were so at ease. I know he is not here physically, but he will always be with me. I hope this doesn't sound crazy but I feel like somehow he is guiding me along. Jim was always the strength in our marriage. I seemed to flip out over every little thing. But now I sort of feel a calmness settling around me.


A few days ago I rehung my hummingbird feeder outside my computer window with my other birdie things. I've seen the little hummingbird drinking many times already. He (or she) must have been standing by waiting for it. He is here now drinking and making tiny little "humming" sounds almost like a bumblebee. Sorry, I was too slow to capture Mr. Hummingbird.

And yesterday morning I was drinking my coffee in the swing on the back porch and all of a sudden a squirrel's nest crashed to the ground from one of the pine trees. One little baby squirrel, which didn't even look like a squirrel but like a teeny naked mouse, rolled out onto the open grass and let out the loudest squeaks imaginable. It sounded exactly like Mopsy's squeaky mouse toy. Something to the right of the porch caught my eye and there was this cat I had never seen before. Well, of course, I shooed him away, way out of the yard. I came back to the swing to watch, hoping the mom or dad would come down to get the little squealer. He must have dropped three or four stories. I have thirteen huge pines in my back yard.

I was about to give up when, yep, here she comes, cagey at first, going up and down another tree, sniffing in the birdbath, dashing back toward the fence, each time getting a little nearer on the forward onslaught. Finally, she got to the nesting material, nosed through it, then made a mad dash to the little one, nosed him around some (I saw his legs kicking), picked him up in her mouth just like a cat picks up her young, and sprinted out of my yard with him. I watched and saw her go up one of my neighbor's trees. She said my yard was too dangerous *Rolleyes*.

Then I started wondering whether that was really one of his parents. Maybe a neighbor squirrel family witnessed the event and called the Squirrel Department of Social Services, and that is who the rescuer was. It does seem like the squirrelly parents should be charged with negligence or something, after all, four stories is nothing to sneeze at. They built inadequate housing.

Okay, enough of this nonsense. The little baby was rescued and I am happy.