Tag Archives: way too hot

Hazy daze

The heat wave in my part of the world continues. This is generally fine, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve had a few nights where it was difficult to sleep – but then, at my age, that’s pretty normal, so I can shrug that one off. A few times, the heat has been so oppressive that I just can’t be outside, even on my shady north-facing living room balcony – but my basement is a nice place to be at times like that.

But this Saturday, the air seemed to be absolutely still. The heat just hung there, and there was no breeze. From the north side of my house, I have a peek-a-boo view of the North Shore mountains, and I couldn’t see them for the haze. That’s unusual for the West Coast. PG and I were outside, sipping cool adult beverages (and I mean “cool” as in temperature, not as in trendiness. No, PG is the last person alive who even cares about that, so never trendiness around him!) till past midnight and we were really comfortable. Normally, being the ├╝ber-sensitive-to-even-the-slightest-dip-in-temperature person that I am, this would not be possible. But Saturday night, it was.

Sunday was about the same. We spent most of the day in the basement, taking turns to go upstairs for food, drinks, or to use the facilities. At one point when it was my turn, as soon as I entered my kitchen, there was the distinct smell of burning. I called PG up to sniff the air with me. Yes, something was burning. We did a quick check of the appliances. Nothing. We went outside and scanned the neighbours’ yards for barbecues. Nothing.

Then we recognized the smell: it was a wildfire. Both of us did a lot of camping with our families as kids, and we both know that woodsy, outdoorsy odor of a campfire, and this was what we were smelling.

There are a lot of wildfires burning across the province right now. BC is a heavily-forested place, after all. Some of those fires are human-caused, some are lightning-caused, but none of them are being helped any by the extreme temperatures we are currently experiencing. There have been a number of brush fires in the urban areas, too, keeping city fire departments busy. Was there a brush fire near my place?

Actually, no. It’s just that weather conditions are such that the smoke from fires that are many kilometres away is just hanging there. There is little air movement, so the smoke has no means of dissipating. There is currently an air advisory warning in Metro Vancouver (among other areas of the province), due to the smoke and high concentrations of fine particulate matter due to that smoke. People with heart or lung issues, young children, and the elderly are being advised to stay indoors. All are cautioned to take it easy and to avoid hard exercise outdoors. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that kind of warning here before.

So it’s weird outside. It’s like it’s cloudy, but the clouds are low and kind-of yellowy and glowy. The air doesn’t smell as smoky as it did yesterday, but it still doesn’t smell right. You can tell that the sun is there, and the temperature is already in the 20s, but I’m finding it kinda surreal outdoors.

DSCF0147The only comparison I can make is when DD and I were in Egypt, in Aswan to be exact, and we were on the edge of a desert sandstorm. The sky then was similar to what we’re currently experiencing, but more pinky-orangy, and the haze was thicker.

FullSizeRenderAnd here’s what I am seeing when I look to the north from my front porch. Normally, as I said earlier, I can clearly see the North Shore mountains from this vantage point, between the trees and above the houses. But right now, the sky is looking completely overcast instead, like it would if those were real clouds – but this is actually smoke from distant wildfires hundreds of kilometres away. Keep in mind too, that I live not too far from a beach, so it’s usually fairly breezy here with clearer skies than other parts of Metro Vancouver.

I never thought I would say this, but I think we need some rain around here!

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Keeping your cool

imagesAs my unofficial big brother Ian has already noted, we are in the midst of a heat wave here on the Left Coast of Canada. And we are SO not used to this! We prefer complaining about the rain in winter, not the heat in summer. This is quite the shift for us poor Westerners.

My house isn’t too hot, despite the fact that many of my windows face south. I try to remember to keep those shutters and blinds closed during the day, and when evening rolls around, I can get a pretty good crossbreeze going upstairs because I also have windows that face north, so I can open everything up and let ‘er rip. I have a large and shady north-facing balcony on which to sit and sip a cool beverage in the heat of the afternoon, and a lovely cool basement in which to hang out and watch TV – or nap – if I’m so inclined. Speaking of napping, I have a ceiling fan in my south-facing bedroom, so I’m generally able to sleep okay (other than the usual wee-hours-of-the-morning pee breaks or three-a.m.-menopausal insomnia).

Now, PG lives on the third floor of an apartment building that was constructed in the seventies. His single-paned windows face west. His place is HOT AS HELL (or thereabouts. I can only guess, having never actually experienced the temperatures in Hell. But maybe Egypt in July would be close. THAT I have experienced.)

PG has a ceiling fan in his bedroom, as well as blackout curtains, but up on the third floor of an older, west-facing apartment, that’s not really enough. So he bought himself an air conditioning unit and installed it in his bedroom window on Saturday. fg1tuchHa5hkgv-95KaZmWZl-mtO3Q7P7oiQ18UxPg7a31cSRWl6FUqCPcf_B4hwkcuvKQ=s151

On Saturday night, we had a social function to attend (wow, that sounds like a snooty black-tie charity cocktail party or something! Actually, it was a birthday bbq in a friend’s backyard. Much more to my taste.). The friend lives not too far from PG’s, so it made more sense for me to spend the weekend at his place rather than him to come to my place (my laundry facilities notwithstanding). And I thought this would be wonderful, with his new air con!

And it truly was! His bedroom was wonderfully cool, and he had a floor fan set up to waft some of that coolth (as opposed to “warmth”, get it?) into the living room. It was actually nice in his apartment, considering that it was just over 30 degrees outside.

So we went to the bbq, and got back to PG’s apartment around midnight. It was amazing in there! What a difference 150$ for the air con plus four hours of sweat and labour for the installation makes! I just KNEW I’d sleep well!

PG said he felt quite comfortable, temperature-wise, so he turned off the air con. I was dubious, but since the room was already fairly cool, I figured I’d fall asleep easily and then I wouldn’t notice whether it was on or off.

And that’s exactly what happened. Till I woke up, drenched in a pool of my own sweat, at three a.m. (Yep, the menopausal insomnia, right on time.) I got up, went to the bathroom, then realized that I could just switch the ceiling fan on and all would be well.

And it was. I drifted back to sleep, the gentle breeze of the ceiling fan drying the perspiration off my body.

Till I woke up again, two hours later, drenched in sweat again. Again, I got up and went to the bathroom. When I got back to the bedroom, I realized that the ceiling fan was now off. WTF?!? I turned it back on, and fell back asleep for a couple more hours.

This time the ceiling fan was still on, but I still glared at PG. “Seems to me,” I said slowly, “that if you bought yourself an air conditioner, that you would at least use it.”

He smiled and said something about not using it ALL the time because it’s a “little noisy to sleep with”.

I sat up and looked down at him. “Then,” I hissed, “you should use your ceiling fan. It’s quieter. If you use nothing, it gets VERY EFFING HOT in here. Also, if someone else – LIKE ME! – turns on the ceiling fan in the middle of the night because it’s VERY EFFING HOT in here, you should NOT turn it off!”

He actually laughed. He did. He LAUGHED.

Then I remembered. This turning-off-of-the-air-con has happened before, when we were in Philadelphia three summers ago. This is a pattern with him. This is what he DOES!

I should have taken him out then. I really should have.

I’m melting …

I’ve been back at work for almost two weeks now. You know how it’s so hard to go back to work after a two-week vacation? Try two months off, which is summer vacation for schools here in my part of the world. It’s SUPER hard! (And just for the record, we teachers don’t get paid during that two-month break. Also for the record, if you want to whine about teachers even getting that two-month summer break, why didn’t you go into teaching yourself? Oh – you couldn’t stand spending all day with a pack of kids? Well, do you see one reason why we might GET that two-month break now or are you going to begrudge us that too (because in my province, we already haven’t had a pay raise in at least five years. Not even cost of living. AND they keep cutting the operating budgets of every school district.)?

But that’s not my point.

My point is that the weather has been unseasonably hot for most of these two weeks. It’s been something like 26 degrees Celsius all week. Now, I teach in an older school. It has no true air conditioning system – and actually, most schools in the Vancouver area don’t. We just don’t have the extremes of temperature here that a lot of the country does. What we do have in each classroom of my school are ancient and noisy blowers that are supposed to blow either hot air or room temperature air. However, these were turned off sometime last spring. (That was likely a cost-saving measure.) But they don’t work very well at all, even when they’re turned on. The thermostat almost never works correctly, so it’s rarely blowing air the temperature you want anyway, so the classroom is either too hot or too cold. It’s often just noisy and breezy.

Some classrooms have windows that open enough to get a breath of fresh air. Mine does – but my windows also overlook the playground. If I open them, I cannot hear myself think for all the kidnoise out there – and with this balmy weather, most classes are doing their phys. ed. outside, so there are kids on that playground all day long. Also, my windows face west. So my classroom may be tolerable in the mornings, but as the sun moves around the building and starts to shine full force on the west side, it gets VERY hot. Open windows just let in more heat – and they are old, sticky windows too, and I have to raise old, persnickety blinds in order to access the opening part at the top of each window. So sometimes I would rather suffer the heat than mess with those blinds and windows.

The bottom line is, I’ve been sweating. A whole lot. I don’t mind so much sweating during summer vacation, because, hey, it’s vacation! But school is now back in session, so I’d really rather not. The warm weather is much appreciated, don’t get me wrong, and I know that the grey winter rains will be here before too long, but I really think I’ve had enough sweating for the year now.

Could we have some cooler weather now? Or, could we maybe get those classroom blowers turned on and their thermostats calibrated properly so we could at least have some air movement?

I mean, quid pro quo. I believe I’ve already done my part. I’ve changed to a more powerful anti-perspirant. Im-Melting