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Cooling Off

Right up front, I confess that I am mainly writing this post because I am procrastinating work. I can’t really run the household and associated projects and write a novel and do freelance work, so I have not been actively pursuing any proofreading gigs this year. But when an offer falls in my lap the way it did a few days ago, taking it seems like the financially responsible thing to do.

Unfortunately this particular novel is a fine example of my absolute least-favorite genre, supernatural horror. It’s too bad, too, because this one is by an author whose non-horror work I have admired, but I am very much the opposite of enjoying this book. So I do a chunk and then reward myself with something (anything!) else.

As the next stage in my ongoing effort to wean myself away from the evil that is Facebook, I’m going to start posting photos here — first in addition to, and ultimately instead of, there. (One of these days I’ll get around to customizing a WordPress theme, but for now I’m just going to work with whatever this one gives me out of the box.) If you are reading this and feel moved to reply, please consider helping me out by doing so here rather than to the notification on Facebook.

crumply chiaroscuro mountains covered in green trees above a brick wall under a cerulean sky with a few puffy clouds
not shown: the unattractive cobblestone parking lot below that brick wall

So: above is our view of the north mountains from the large new window above our kitchen sink. Prior to the (Still-Not-Quite-Finished) Kitchen Remodel, this view did not exist, unless you were standing outside at the edge of the former front porch (which has now been incorporated into the kitchen, more than doubling the total space). (Sometimes I try to calm my distress about cost overruns by imagining that the vastly improved kitchen and new mountain view have dramatically increased the market value of our house … although since we fully expect to be here for somewhere between twelve more years and the rest of our lives, that’s not genuinely relevant.)

Jak and I and our feline companions live in one of a string of towns beaded along a skinny strip of flat land between these modest mountains and the largest lake in Mexico, an area which has always been popular for its mild microclimate. The oppressively hot subtropical summer temperatures that one gets in, say, Puerto Vallarta (which is almost directly west of us) are moderated here by elevation and lake breezes, and historically — including even when we first moved to the area, nine years ago — there was not much need for either heating or cooling. Yes, there would be some mild discomfort for a few weeks when the temperature bottomed out in January, and again for a few weeks when it topped out in May, but it was well within bearable.

Two things have changed since then. One, global warming has begun having an increasingly obvious effect on the temperatures with each successive year, and two, I reached the ‘temperature dysregulation’ stage of menopause. Even after the sharp up and down of perimenopausal hot flashes smoothed out, my resting internal temperature seems to have permanently climbed almost two Fahrenheit degrees, and now my torso easily overheats and — at least in part because I’m hypohidrotic aka ‘bad at sweating’ — cannot cool itself down. (Meanwhile my hands and feet have been icy — sometimes to the point of pain — all my life, because Raynaud’s syndrome, and that hasn’t changed at all. Worst of both worlds!) My body simply cannot cope any longer with anything beyond a very narrow temperature range.

Last — I’m going to call the hot season ‘summer’ even though it runs basically April through the first third of June — last summer was the hottest yet and utterly miserable. I don’t have an ambient thermometer in our house (need to get one), but I feel confident that the indoor temperature regularly hit 30°C/86°F and likely sometimes broke 32°C/90°F. Jak was a walking swamp of sweat who required two shirts a day and I developed a heat rash over half my torso and both inner arms from armpits to wrists. Most nights it didn’t get cool enough for me to sleep (even lying under wet towels with an evaporative cooler going) until around three in the morning, which meant I had to operate daily on less than four hours’ sleep. (And to make it worse, half of our house was blocked off, impeding the cross-breeze, and under loud construction all day.)

Jak and I easily agreed that another season of this would not be livable, and we needed to rearrange our spending priorities to cover at least some amount of air conditioning before next spring. Which we have done! There is now a machine on our bedroom wall that spits out cold air! It is a miracle.

That’s right — a project was actually completed! On schedule! We also have a unit in the kitchen/dining/living great room … and 2.2kW of solar panels installed to help power all this new electrical stuff, though in order to bring those online we have to navigate the bureaucracy of the Mexican electric company. Wish us luck, because Mexican bureaucracy has not been kind to us lately. (Some other post I’ll recount the ridiculous and enraging tale of our new-to-us car, which has been inaccessible to us for 27 months and counting. <sad trombone>)

Last night I used the new induction cooktop for the first time (I made shrimp bisque), and the whole time I was kept cool by a lovely breeze blowing down off the mountains through our large new window. It was very, very nice.

Published inMexicoRemodel

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