Tag Archives: heat


humpty-dumptyWords – I love them. I even love the great huge portmanteau words (a la Alice in Wonderland) that carry loads of meanings between their consonants. I am gently mocked by friends and stared at by strangers when my three-syllable ones tumble out instead of shorter, clearer phrases.

It’s my sloppy brain filing system. I reach back for a word like orange and find titian, or ocean and find briny deep. I’m not happy, I’m exuberant. I have been known to galumph.

I blame Anne of Green Gables. I grew up like her – a little lonely, odd, wrapped in books and words like Aloysius. I read on my own, so my pronunciations are a bit dodgy. Poor Aloysius the fox lived for years as Alloy-si-us…

But there are some words that seem to be universally hated. Moist is one of them. It’s moisthard to find a pleasant use for the word, unless maybe in describing a cake or a towel, but otherwise, moist is tied to sweat, sweimages-35aty dark places, mouldering bread, dampness where none should be.

This is a moist summer. Offensively so. I honestly don’t think there is a spot on my body that is not moist at this very instant. Even my fingernails seem damp. The weather predictors use terms like humidex (ours uses the much more telling ‘frizz factor’), but really they are talking about moistness. How much there already is in the air, how much you shall personally generate, how much you will appreciate the drying effects of air conditioning.

I have never been so ready for the crispness of fall when I will feel my brain drying out again. I feel like I’ve been moist for far too long and the condensation and rising damp has seeped into my cerebrum.

I feel certain that, were someone to poke into my brain, it would feel like left-out-too-long zalivinoe, jellylike and fishy, with odd ideas floating around in it as the aspic melts in the heat.


borogoves_by_knot_a_typo-d7ot988At present, the old creativity-inducer seems positively mimsy.

“Well then, “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable” (there’s another portmanteau for you).” Humpty Dumpty, explaining the poem ‘Jabberwocky’ to Alice.

I’m going to have to thrash it out of somnolescence soon – this is the weekend of the famed #3DayNovel contest, and I have foolishly signed up again. Been told before this is a somewhat pointless exercise, not important, but for me, it is a reclaiming of the grey matter and white matter I’ve eaten holes through with my MS and the dang moistness…Some get tattoos, some walk across the Rockies, I throw myself at a computer and write. Hoping I can unmimsy my grey cells and leap in…twistedbrain_main-800x533


Now is the Summer of our Discontent

Made impossible torment by this fog of humidity

And all the clouds upon the horizon looming

Lessen not the damp through lightning or storming

Now our brows are laced with gobs of sweat

Our pale-white arms hidden from the sun as we search for coolth

And fierce horns presage the coming of ships

Shrouded in fog – moistness made solid…

Okay, is it just me or would all of you out there like to wrap the climate change skeptics images-33in their bespoke suits and dangle them over the bayou of Louisiana without access to a/c? Or worse still – place them in the scorching hot cities of Europe – Paris, wreathed by concrete; Edinburgh, utterly unprepared for heat; London, on the tube surrounded by anxiety-sweating people suffering in polyester; Rome, in tourist season…again without any access to ice or shade or air conditioning…Or even Toronto. You know the perfect place.



Ideal shape for humid weather

I am melting melting melting, except not really because in order to melt one would require the ability to liquefy of which I can only dream. My cozy fat wrap seems a teensy bit dysfunctional at present.


It has set my MS off, so I am tripping over dust particles and dancing like a drunken soccer fan, looking for a fight like the same. I have fallen, not wisely, but too well, spraining my hand and denting a rib and generally mashing myself up. It’s not getting better, the hand or the MS or anything, and likely won’t until the mind-clearing breezes of fall. FML, as the word-impaired sorts say.



My parents didn’t believe in orthodonture until child #3


Truth be told, I have no right to complain. Life is overall good, and I am blessed with a loving son who has kindly arranged for house cleaning so I can spare my hand for more important things, like making blueberry sorbet or embroidering ridiculously small things. Or brushing my hair and chaining it back so that I don’t frighten young children…



After not doing a THING in the heat…


Today is their first cleaning day, and I only know this because the coordinator called me at ten last night to check if I was going to let the workers in. At the time, I was laying gasping on my chaise courte (in truth a meridienne)  like a beached cod, waving a plastic bag at myself for the breeze (and to keep the cat from eating it).  I looked around myself.

As anyone who has had official house cleaners knows, it ain’t so much the dirt as the clutter that fells us, though I am eternally grateful to said son for the help in scrubbing detail (not possible for me at present) (and truth be told, the idea of tumbling into my tub head first like Father William lacks a certain charm anytime, least of all in my current wounded state) (But I parenth).

085cf2013facbb3c3e02a2bbc017e5f7--alarm-clock-app-storeSo this morning, before all my %^*%$ “get up in a positive mood” alarms went off, screaming at me to ‘drink water’, ‘stretch’, ‘be grateful’, I was dashing about in a polka-like rendition of the IKEA ad ‘The People are Coming” 

As a side comment, who on earth has a kitchen that organized? Well, I do know of one person, but she is a superhero and we can’t all be like her, can we?(CV, you know I mean you…)

Also, note to self: delete said programs and alarms. They are just depressing you in this heat. New goal: breathe without falling over.

So I spin about, trying not to use sprained hand and failing, throwing things in drawers, which, unlike in the IKEA ad, I have very few of so it is likely I shall find the things again. Possibly. I have ordered tracking devices.

images-32Meanwhile, Bendicks, my cat, decides this, yes this, is the time to show how truly gobshite-y he can be – eating all plastic items, thrusting his head into cupboards and extracting feminine supplies on which to chew, pushing things off counters, standing just in front of me so I can step on him and he can look wounded, vanishing who knows where….

Hmm. It’s quiet. Too quiet…just a mo…

<extracts long partially chewed piece of plastic from cat’s intestine>


Yep. Summer. Be kind to one another. Hide your plastic bags.

Reunite the separated immigrant families!!! Oh, and while you are out? Impeach Trump and jail all his cronies, will ya?


Just that kind of summer…

36fa0fcd251e8234e645b8f252fbf615I’m sitting here in the kind of heat that reduces me to tears anyway, but what IS is about this summer? It’s hot, even for the climate change deny-ers. It’s stormy. Animals are being fried in closed up cars again, and I have no doubt babies are as well. People are shooting people. People are yelling. The terrifying RNC. Soon to be followed by the DNC.

People are driving cranky, swerving in the heat, blasting music out of their windows to protest their lack of air conditioning. Motorcycle drivers are angrier in their leather suits. Can’t say I blame them. Horns. Sirens.

The only cheerful people are the road workers, who have adapted to the heat.

And in amongst this are the losses. My dear Aunt Colleen, one of the kindest women I know, passed away suddenly. A dear friend of mine watched her long time companion ease into death. So many are not doing well, so many are taking those final steps. Perhaps my younger brother is right and these are the end days and all the nice people are being checked out ahead of the disasters. All I can say is, “Hello? I’m still here!!!”

Mind you, so is he.

It’s the kind of summer where you want to sit with your feet in the water somewhere, listening to the waves and bird call, and sipping a series of tangy beers that are light on the tongue. Turn off your phone. Shut down Pokemon Go! Move occasionally to flap away an errant bug. Read. In the SHADE. Read light things like the crazy fun cozies by MaryJane MaffiniVictoria Abbot Melodie Campbell, and  Judy Penz Sheluk. Scary stories like those by the admirable Rick Mofina. Thrillers like those by my newly found fave Alex Marwood.

maxresdefaultNo romances. It’s too hot for romance. Even thinking about a hug is enough to set a sweat cycle off again and trust me, it ain’t pretty. If women glow, I am a firefly these days. And my hair….well, it’s best not spoken about. It’s broken.

No one smells nice.

Mind you, the pheromones are flying about…

Hang tough, world. It doesn’t have to be the end times. Just treat people nice, even if you are a sordid little puddle of malodorous sweat. Be kind. Stop shouting. Have a cool drink or a sip of soothing tea.And pray or dance or hop for all you are worth to whatever deity you may or may not believe in that this fall will turn out all right.

Special hugs to my cousins, who have lost another of the remarkable family we were all lucky enough to grow up in. Love to you all.

And thanks to Philip Hill, who sent me this perfect photo. (Photo by Patrick Joust)



humid-pic-300x230Ah, you’ve gotta love the Maritimes when they decide to get hot.

On the one hand, my hair looks fabulous. Curly hair + product + humidity = delectable curls.

On the other, I want to cut it all off and let the air cross my fevered skull. I pin it up maliciously and tear it out when the bobby pins have clung too strongly.

Worst thing is my brain goes into park in heat and humidity. I gaze about myself, mouth-breathing, slack-jawed, not a creative cell in my entire little grey collection.

It’s a good job I only really have one deadline to think about – a writing one that I want to do. And one that I’ve already begun, so the words I have to write can be pulled out of the already connected synapses up in my grey fog.

But I know if this humidity doesn’t break soon, I’m going to snap, like the French do during le vent d’autan

Although for my part, a good wind would be appreciated. Right now it’s like living in a dirty damp dishrag. My sheets are wet, my carpet is almost squishy, my cat is morbidly depressed. There’s a persistent feeling of mould.

And even though my delectable curls will become a Phyllis-Dillerish mass, I can’t wait for the rain to collect the humidity and bring it to the ground.

Maybe then my brain will wake up and I’ll be able to think…


excellent drawing by Kate Elizabeth Queram



Fried connection

It’s hot here. 37 degrees plus humidity. Sun finally beating down and I should be appropriately grateful after months and months of rain, but I’m not.
Because I have MS, and the heat means I turn into a close approximation of a three toed sloth.
I move slowly, deliberately, as if wading through jello or like I’m being created in slow motion.
My brain slows, too. I lose words and thoughts and struggle with spatial situations, get disorganized, sleep a lot.
It’s a bizarre thing to watch happen in myself, as I usually move swiftly and think fast and multitask. But I can feel it all sliding over me, caul-like, filtering the world out.
MS docs explain it in that the heat causes my itching swelling brain to become more inflamed, that as the inflammation occurs, the nerve connections start misfiring and there’s so much neural noise that conduction is slowed or misdirected. So my arm muscles twitch (ha! Effortless exercise!) and my legs kick and yet when I want them to move, there’s nothing but a quiet snickering along the lines.
It’s all good. I’ll be back to normal once it cools down a bit. But for now I exist like a car on a construction laden road – moving slowly forward, subject to frequent stops.

Nature’s Vuvuzelas

Just in time for the end of the World Cup and the endless droning of men (and women, but I suspect more men) on loud plastic horns, we have the start of our natural loudmouths – the cicadas. Actually, calling them loudmouths isn’t really right – they have specially  created membranes (at least the guy cicadas do) that allow them to make that horrendous buzzing noise.

And loud it is. According to Wikipedia, source of all knowledge good and fine, they can be as loud as 120 dB, which is as loud as that rock concert your kids want to go to and only a mere 20 dB below a jet airliner.  It seems needlessly loud. I know, I know, they are trying to get dates.  But what really annoys me is that the male cicadas are just like those annoying motorcyclists with the damaged mufflers who blast along the road making macho noises to attract females.

Both cicadas and motorcyclists can dampen down their own hearing – the cyclists with earplugs – so they don’t deafen themselves – just everyone else around them. Nice.

Honestly, it takes all my strength not to pull the earplugs out of one of those noisy driver’s ears and scream into them. Fear of retaliation is my only excuse. I’m afraid they’ll drop their motorcycle on me. Ouch.

If I could sneak up on a cicada, I probably would blow an air raid siren at it. I know, 13 years of living as a nymph, having absolutely no sex and grubbing about underground might make me want to scream it to the rooftops, too, but hey, boys, could you lighten it up a bit?  Or at least take turns, like Cicada Idol or something? The constant choral competition is wearing, especially when the temperatures climb to 40 and the humidity to 100%. Breathing steaming hot water does not a tolerant DA make.

Unlike me, though, cicadas like the heat, singing loudest when it is warm – they can even sweat, some of them, an unusual talent for an insect.

And they live absolutely everywhere.  Everywhere.  There are hundreds of types of them. They’ll probably outlive us all in 13 year segments, big ugly things that they are. And while we all perish in the eternal summer of global warming, they’ll be there to blow their personal vuvuzelas until we can’t take it no’ mo’.

I can’t bear it.  And it’s not even the end of summer. They’re early.

I didn’t hate them when I was younger.  I used to sit out in a sling chair in my backyard and listen to their accompaniment of my reading of the burning of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind. I knew when they sang it was going to be fall soon, the start of cooler weather, the start of school, which, nerd that I am, I looked forward to after the formless days of summer. I’d be tired of cleaning my room, of trying not to fight with my sister, of runs to the grocery store with my mother, of deadly swimming lessons where horrible girls would make fun of me. The buzzing made me sleepy, lazy, wishing for watermelon. When I was older, the buzzing meant I got to quit my nasty summer jobs, like green bean picking, or nurse’s aiding, or whatever soul-destroying endeavour I was eking an existence out of.

This year, I don’t know whether it was the prodromal vuvuzela blowing that used up my tolerance, or the heat of this past week that has me whimpering for more effective air conditioning, but I’m just fed up.  Add the buzzing to the dog downstairs “bark…bark…bark….bark…bark…” interspersed with the child, “daddy?….daddy?….daddy?….daddy?….daddy?” andI have a ghastly chorus of unpleasant noise.

And lets not get into the motorcyclists, who have earned a spot in a murderous short story I’m writing.

Peace, tranquility.  The other night I was out walking and I heard it.  Silence, blessed silence. Even the cicadas were sleeping. Then the light changed and the motors started up again.

Maybe I need to borrow some earplugs.

The fevered frenzied joy of air conditioning

I remember when air conditioning was an unexpected luxury. When it felt wrong to be cooled artificially in the hot summer – how foolish it felt, as a child of the Arctic New England and Canada areas, to shun the bone-warming heat that came, ever so briefly. I wallowed in heat, experimented with sunstroke, burnt my skin.

One day in Rockport, my friend Bob and I stood outside a fish shack, waiting for lunch, while my legs crisped so much in the heat and sun that they cracked and oozed the entire next day at work – me grateful, too late, for the air conditioning as I stuck to my desk chair. But it was rare, still, and we all complained of how it made us feel – dry and unnatural, as if furnace heating didn’t do the same thing for 9 months of the year.

Even as an adult, heavily pregnant, I lay, hoping for a brief breeze to move the humidity about, while my neighbours’ air conditioning air lock front door sucked open, then shut, and the machine whirred endlessly through the sleepless night. I was being noble, and cheap. “Fans work,” I argued. “And they’re so much better for the environment!”

Well, not in Ottawa, fans don’t work – our strange northern capital, where winters loom large and excessively cold, and summers, strangely, are excessively hot – 40 degrees and more, humidity 100%, like breathing through a sponge.  And still still air, which sticks the humidity all over you like a rash. I’ve always told everyone I meet that Ottawa does the seasons in an overachiever’s style.  Winter freezes you senseless, but provides skating on a frozen canal, Spring is expansively beautiful and sped through like there was someplace we’d rather be (which there isn’t), Fall is glorious with leaves of astonishing hues and bright sunshine, and Summer is gaspingly hot, relieved somewhat by the glory of the beaches and parks that somehow survive the bleaching sun.

I’ve given in to the lure of A/C, though. I curl up next to my air conditioner and stroke its shuddering sides, praise its noisy fan, encourage it with love and affection and my company. I leap into my car and crank the “maximum air” button on, blasting ice through the airvents as if I hadn’t just been wallowing in the heated seats two weeks before. I seek out movie theatres and malls and places of excessive cooling and wander, guiltless, as the hydrocarbons burn baby burn.

Part of it all is the MS I deal with, which responds poorly to heat and lays me low if I let myself indulge in a daytime heat seeking. The other day, my legs tapdanced for hours just because I sat in a park for the afternoon. Don’t like that. Want to be well.  So I suck up the cold.

Part of it, though, is just selfish joy that such a glory is available.  I lived for so many years, sleepless through the summers, desperate for coolness and less humidity.  I figure dealing with humidity, like canoe camping, is one of the things best reserved for the young, to toughen them up. I’m already tough enough.

There’s a tiny little voice that tells me about how the environment is dying, that I’m contributing to the warming trend I’m experiencing.

But today, when even the fire hydrants are melting in the heat and unable to evaporate because of the humidity, I just don’t care.