Heatwave Strategies

We’re used to 70 or 80. degrees. Not this.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, whining about the weather is like a sport. But this week it is hot. Record-breakingly, cook-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot.

A house with so-so insulation and older windows — what’s a girl to do? Cope, that’s what!

I’m a native Californian, raised in a corner of the San Fernando Valley that sizzles in summertime. When heat comes to call here in Beaverton, I employ my heatwave strategies.

  • Windows on the second floor open all night, box fans on high. Although Portland is 110 miles from the Pacific Ocean, we cool significantly once the sun is down. Unlike, say, Hawaii or the Midwest.
  • Lockdown by 8:00 a.m. All windows shut and draperies closed. No exceptions.
  • Once the sun is up, forget errands or shopping. You want it, you go and buy it yourself.
  • A rusty sunrise, thanks to distant wildfires. But the smoke kept us from reaching the forecasted 108.

    Housework / laundry finished (or ignored) by 10:00 a.m. Because the power might go out, right? Once it’s hot, why bother with chores?

  • Microwave those meals. If you run out of options, use the grill or follow grandma’s lead and set up an Outdoor Kitchen.
  • Quit thinking about an air conditioner. Our windows are too large for one of those clunky window units. And besides, it isn’t worth buying one for one or two weeks of use.

My “redneck” Outdoor Kitchen. Why sweat the heat?

Tell you what, though, this summer we cried “Uncle,” big time. With temperatures predicted to soar to an astonishing 107 degrees, we finally pulled the trigger. Yesterday the cheerful UPS guy delivered to our door a portable air conditioner. We hurried to haul it upstairs and get it running.

Bam! It promptly blew a circuit. What can I say? In the late 1970s, no one guessed that families would use so much power.

The blessed Sleep Enabler.

It’s always a comedy routine around here, right? My son has a similar AC unit — and it turns out that our bedrooms share a circuit. So now he has a contractor-grade extension cord that snakes under his bedroom door and into the bathroom. Which shares a circuit with the outside power outlet I’m using for the Outdoor Kitchen. (Turn up the roasting pan and Bam! The circuit will blow. But that’s another story.)

So during this scorcher, we’re rejoicing. Because now two of our bedrooms are blessedly cool.

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4 thoughts on “Heatwave Strategies

  1. Susan Kay Litton Blackwell

    Preach it, sister. We have one of the large units downstairs and a window unit in the window of our bedroom upstairs. We’ve blown no fuses–yes, fuses children. If you don’t know what they are, get thee to a wiki–so are somewhat sane. Too bad this goes on for several more days.

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  2. Michelle Hemsath

    I love reading your weather rants Laura. My son just recently moved to Beaverton and is living with his girlfriend now after a long 3 year, long distance relationship. So, I read your blog entries with a knowing smile. Oregon has indeed had some wild weather extremes this past year. And I do not handle the heat well, nor the humidity. So my heart goes out to you, temp-wise and power shortage-wise. Wooo. You express your frustrations in a humorous and entertaining way. More power to ya! Hang in there!

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  3. Robin Helm

    Meanwhile, in South Carolina, temperatures are in our normal summer range of 85 – 90, though it feels hotter, and while the weather forecast calls for rain nearly every day, it hasn’t rained more than half an inch since June 20. Our yard is mostly brown now, and our central AC runs a good bit of the time. I have lived in AC since my teen years. I can’t imagine leaving windows open with fans. The humidity would kill us.

    Even so, it’s not as hot as it was 2 years ago when my daughter had an outdoor wedding reception on June 27. Temperatures were well over a hundred the week before. We fortunate that it rained in the days before the wedding and the temperature dropped 10 degrees – to 88.

    Good for you, Laura, that you bit the bullet and bought the AC units. People can actually die in such heat. If you don’t die, you wish you were dead.

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Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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