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97° and rising

July 27, 2009

It’s 97° in the shade in beautiful Central Tacoma, and I, for one, am heat-activated, as is my neighbor and fellow arthritic, Eileen. She is outside doing yard work, or at least standing around looking at her tree with some sort of tool in her hand. I’ll check on her later to make sure she hasn’t turned into a blonde pillar of salt. The streets are very quiet. I don’t make it generally known to my neighbors that we have air conditioning.

Meanwhile, up in Seattle, it is also very hot. My husband’s office is there, situated on the sixth floor of a nondescript skyscraper. The only interesting thing about this building is that its air-conditioning is out. My husband says it is like Houston. I say nonsense: air conditioning does not go out in Houston, and if it did, someone would call NASA, or at least the president, if not the Governor, and get it fixed; otherwise, a state of emergency would be declared and everyone would go home, if they had a home, and if not, they would be bused, along with their dogs, to New Orleans. It would be only fair. An air-conditioning technician is on the scene distributing ice water.

My husband reminisces that it was 102° in the shade when we were painting our house five years ago. Yes, I add, and that paint was baked on and it hasn’t gone anywhere.

Between cooking, air-conditioning, laundry, and running the dishwasher, I figure I am competing with Las Vegas for power hogging. I don’t care. Let them eat steak.

Yesterday, we were walking along the Foss waterway, and it was 97° in the shade 50 yards from the water. Resilient Tacomans were sitting on benches along the Esplanade, reading in the shade of a largely unsold six-story condominium complex.

Conventional wisdom has it that tempers rise with urban air temperature, but I see the opposite here. People are quiet, whether indoors or outside; dogs are indoors or asleep and not barking. In any case it’s uncommonly calm. People were in good humor in air-conditioned Trader Joe’s. I mentioned to the cashier that we are having a garage sale next weekend, and I figured my driveway would hit about 117°. Another customer said she hoped I’d be selling lemonade. “Actually,” I said, “We’ll be selling coffee. But it will be free with purchase!” Lemonade would never have occurred to me. It doesn’t get hot enough here for lemonade.

One Comment
  1. July 28, 2009 2:36 pm

    Exactly 24 hours after launching this post, I note that the temperature in the shade of our grape arbor is 102.2°.

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