Hot flashes

Sometime next week, we’ll set a record here in Dallas: the longest consecutive streak of days over 100 degrees.

It’s been 35 days. In a row. Over 100 degrees. There’s no relief in sight predicted for the next 10 days, meaning we’ll almost certainly surpass the record of 42 straight days. And not just barely. We’re talking 106, 107.

I realize it’s been hot everywhere. Nashville saw 102 degrees  last week, and that’s quite toasty. And it’s Texas, it’s supposed to be hot. I get it.

But seriously, we’re taking the Hottest. Streak. EVER.

It’s the perfect new addition to our year and a half of “you’re kidding” moments since our move to Dallas.

This is something else. Day after day after day. You walk outside, and it’s like walking into a huge oven. In the shade, it’s merely oppressive. In the direct sun, it’s annihilating. Any little breeze only feels like someone’s blasting you with a giant blow dryer set on high.

On short trips — say, less than 150 miles — your car never cools off. It’s just a small mobile sauna.

Previous blogs have mentioned my splendid unhappiness with the state of our poor low-profile car tires, three of which we’d already shredded on the rough Dallas roads. Now they’ve simply given up. If they had little rubber hands, they’d toss them against their little rubber foreheads, swooning and crying out, “I simply can’t take it anymore,” just before they melted into small puddles of rubber gunk. We had to replace two more today, because they get so hot that when they hit these ridiculous bumps in the road, they just kind of fall apart.

If you’re keeping score, that’s five tires — on the same car — in 14 months.

The roads are exploding, too, because the concrete’s expanding too much. Over the course of a day, a large hole will appear in the highway, surrounded by piles of small concrete debris. This used to happen in Louisiana when I was a kid occasionally, but it’s pretty common here these days.

It would be cool to actually see one of those explosions, though. Boom! Concrete a’flyin.’

Our electric bill last month was $520. $520?? Holy crap. I’m beginning to regret paying that extra rate for wind power. Saving the earth’s kind of expensive. The state’s power grid is bordering on collapse again, with rolling blackouts possible. (That was SO much fun back in September, when it was so bloody cold that the Super Bowl almost got cancelled. I can only imagine what it’ll be like with no A/C.)

We’re doing our part. We’ve shut off the upstairs and turned the air up to 90 up there. We’re not doing laundry or using the dishwasher until late at night. (Good thing I can’t sleep.) We’ve cut back the hours our pool pump runs.

We’ve shut all of the blinds, closing them upward, which keeps the most heat out. It’s kind of like living in a giant clamshell. I try not to use any more lights than necessary, although I’m not as fond of that lately since I slammed my foot into the side of the couch the other day in our tomblike living room.

By my reckoning, utilizing my extensive math skills, I believe these measures will help our light bill plummet next month to approximately $519.

I burned my hand on our mailbox the other day. I put my right hand on the brick as I leaned over to check it. I quickly realized that sizzling sound wasn’t a good thing, so I jerked my hand off. Unfortunately, I did this at the same time that I reached with my left hand to pull open the little metal door. That door, facing kind of westerly, had attained the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

So I ended up yanking both hands off the mailbox. This would have been the best thing to do, if I hadn’t been leaning over to reach it in the first place.

I kind of tumbled right off the curb and into the street. Seems my brain has been fried a bit by the heat. I’m sure my neighbor would have rushed to my aid, if he hadn’t been left slack-jawed and red-faced in his yard by the massive exertion of looking at his watch. It’s just too hot to do crazy stuff like that.

The pool is so hot, it feels kind of like you’re in a soup pot, slowly being simmered to be served with some nice wheat crackers. Or maybe like you’re the marshmallow bobbing in a steaming cup of cocoa. I dropped one of those long, skinny, brightly colored frozen popsicle thingies in the pool tonight, where it promptly sank. In the 4 seconds it took me to dive down and get it, it melted. The whole thing! Completely vaporized the entire ice tube, leaving just a squishy bag of bright blue sugar water.

The spray nozzle on our hose melted. Its DNA is now completely merged with the metal end of the hose, forming a congealed mess that sprays only in 359-degree circle.

A local TV station went around with a digital thermometer gun the other day, shooting metal stuff to see how how it got. Playground equipment: 165 degrees. Now that’ll make for some loud little kiddie shrieks.

I met a really nice young teenager at the hospital this week. He was practicing football on Monday, no pads or helmet, just in a T-shirt and shorts. He collapsed with a heat stroke. When EMTs got to him, his body temp was over 108 degrees. He was in our ICU for four days, and is really lucky to be alive. It’s really dangerous out there. I worry about people with no A/C or money to run it, especially elderly folks or people with little babies.

We wait until late at night to walk Chase, and it’s still too damn hot to go more than a block. It was 100 degrees at 11:15 p.m. last night. I moved the hose around the side of the house, and almost passed out. Your head starts pounding and everything starts looking like a photo negative.

The heat’s been joined by the worst drought in Texas history, too. More than 90 percent of the state is in the two highest levels of drought warnings. Since May 24, we’ve only had rain once. I’ve only seen seven clouds since then.

I remember the May 24 date, because that’s the night I watched a tornado come roaring across the top of our house. I sat with Chase in the closet, wearing my wakeboard helmet and tweeting non-stop, warning my still-journalist friends that my last words had better make the wire. “Woman tweets as she’s blown away by tornado!”

That’s the same storm that brought the huge hailballs that apparently destroyed our roof. Yes, we’ll be getting a new one soon, after finding out from our insurance company that we are smack-dab in the middle of a “catastrophic damage zone.” That didn’t sound like somewhere good to be, so we had several roofers come by. I knew it wasn’t going to be good news when their eyes lit up like Augustus Gloop seeing the Fudge Room for the first time.

Sure enough, those rocket-like hailballs have riddled our roof, gutters and awning canopy with hole after hole after hole. I guess it’s a good thing we haven’t had any rain in nearly three months, come to think of it.

I thought that high power bills and hot soupy pools and staying alive by avoiding heat stroke were all we had to worry about with the blazing Texas sun. At least, I did until I had dinner recently with some old friends from my previous stint in Dallas, back in 1990. It was a lovely evening, until one of them mentioned that she was worried about her house foundation.

Say what?

Yes, it turns out that during extreme droughts in Texas, the clay in the ground contracts. This can cause your house foundation to crack, a very costly proposition to fix. And one thing I had never thought to worry about. Until now. Yay.

Sure enough, I came home and examined every inch of the house. We have lawn sprinklers and landscaping around the house, so we’re probably OK. But there are still gaps of 1-2 inches between the dirt and the edge of the house, and even along both sides of the bottom of our fence.

This, of course, has just given my tiny little OCD-addled brain something else upon which to fixate. This worry usually manifests itself about 1 a.m., when I can’t sleep and every tiny noise becomes the ominous creaking of the house fixing to fall down about my ears. This usually prompts me to get up, go outside and haul the hose around until I’ve watered the foundation of the house. I usually end up soaking wet, covered in mud and dusted with half-inch pieces of grass that cling to my legs like bright green knee socks.

One night I didn’t realize until I’d finished that I wasn’t wearing any shorts, just a T-shirt. I’m only hoping my neighbors don’t have insomnia.

Seriously… why do people live where you have to water your house??

Texas, you are indeed a state of extremes. Extreme storms, extreme cold, extreme heat, extreme drought. Not to mention extremely whiny blogs, too.

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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6 Responses to Hot flashes

  1. Beth says:

    Ahh, if only we were back in refreshing Sedona …

    At 9 a.m. it is 71 and raining on my lush, green Chicago lawn. The tomatoes are just about to blush, and I can’t keep up with the zucchini. I’m just saying.

  2. Jo says:

    A few months after I moved to Texas, I heard a newscaster reminding viewers that it was time to start watering the foundation. I thought it was a Texas tall tale — you have to water your house??? But then I grew up in Seattle, where you don’t have to water anything. However, it’s true, you do have to water your foundation if you live in the Lone Star state. Here’s a tip — get soaker houses and just lay them next to the foundation. Buy enough so you don’t have to move them. Just make sure you don’t shred the hoses with your trimmer/weed eater if you use one next to your house.

  3. Helene says:

    I think the heavens are telling you two to hightail it back to Nashville…

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