Hello, 2022, or: A Sign of Life and It’s Cold AF

I didn’t expect to go almost 2 months without a post! I tried opening up my WordPress app a few times in that span, but for some reason, the words just weren’t coming.

Anyways, it’s the day before my best friend, The Lady Bryan’s, birthday and right now it is what we would call in Florida, “Cold AF”. It’s not supposed to get above 50°F today and where I’m at lows are going to dip into the 20s tonight. My readers in the Northeastern U.S. and Atlantic Canada (where, yes, I do have a few Twitter followers) are experiencing a heck of a Nor’easter complete with blizzard. I hope all of you are keeping safe and warm in these very cold conditions. Currently, I’m under a fleece lap blanket trying to keep my feet warm.

Before I get into 2022, let me share how we ended 2021. When I last posted, it was just a few days after Thanksgiving. My dad and I spent quite a bit of time last month getting ready for Christmas, which included trying to figure out what to get for two girls. I did get a gift for Nipote, but as he was only about 5 months old at the time, safe toys for a baby that age are a bit scarce. I ended up getting him a rattle and teether set, with the rattle in the shape of a donut and the teether was a chain of plastic macarons. I later saw a toy piano that would have worked nicely for him, but I haven’t gotten it for him at this time. For the girls, we ended up getting them dolls, dinosaurs, drawing toys, a toy makeup kit and a toy fish for R., a fire truck and Potato Heads (both Mr. and Mrs.) for The Bambina, and both of them got toy airplanes, too. I wrapped every single one of them and took them over on Christmas Eve.

While we were there, my brother and sister-in-law gave my dad a set of towels and washcloths, a blanket, and coffee thermos and matching keychain that both have the same “Scat Pack” logo as his Dodge Charger. I got a fleece blanket (which immediately went right onto my bed), a wall hanging, and a USB reading light. I don’t normally use reading lights, but it will be incredibly useful for when I do visit my brother’s house and the political discussions start to get so awkward that I need my “in case of emergency” book to mentally tune it out, especially after dark. We didn’t get them anything in return (totally our fault, we just got caught up in getting stuff for their kids), but my SIL’s birthday is coming up next month, so there’s an opportunity there.

My dad ended up taking the first week of 2022 off from work as a vacation/reset week. I don’t mind those weeks, but it’s always nice to get back to a normal routine.

What else? I had some spare cash on hand and I got myself a gift card for more ebooks because I hadn’t gotten one in a while. I still haven’t spent all the money from that one, but here’s what I’ve gotten so far:

  • Lovingly Abused by Heather Grace Heath. This is a memoir written by a woman who was raised in the same (for all intents and purposes) fundamentalist cult that the controversial Duggar family also belongs to, IBLP/ATI. I actually heard about this book from a podcast, Leaving Eden, whose co-host was a former member of a similar fundamentalist cult called the IFB. I read this book in about 11 days and Heather’s story is just incredible. She lived in a different state from the Duggars and she does not mention them by name in her book (but does reference them a few times), but she provides a great, first-person account about how the IBLP/ATI and similar groups cause more harm than good, and in her acknowledgments at the end, I found a few more podcasts to check out. (Side note: I kind of have a fascination with cults, from real ones like The People’s Temple and the FLDS to fictional ones like The Chosen from The Tribe.)
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. My third Murakami in my ebook collection, but I want to read Kafka on the Shore first before I take on this one, which is nearly 1000 pages long and was originally published in 3 volumes in Japan)
  • Me by Elton John. Yes, his own memoir…I’ve heard a lot of great reviews for this one, but as I have memoirs coming up in my physical TBR, I don’t know if I want to be reading two memoirs at once)
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This one has been on my Bookstagram radar for a while. From what I’ve gathered, this is a historical novel set in Ghana (where the author and her family are originally from) and traces the stories of two half-sisters, born in different villages and sent on two very different paths. One sister ends up being kidnapped and sold into the transatlantic slave trade, while the other marries an English man and lives a life of privilege on Africa’s Gold Coast.

And finally, I did finish two shawls, but I have not yet woven in the ends and gotten them ready for pictures. What I’ve been primarily working on is a pullover sweater in some heather gray yarn, although I’m currently only on the body portion. I still need to work on the sleeves, too, so it’s not ready to wear yet. But it is coming along, and I promise to share some pictures when it’s finally ready!

So, anyway…that’s what I’ve been up to lately. There just hasn’t been a ton going on lately. But I am on the countdown to a milestone birthday now…less than two months to go until I turn…gasp 😱…thirty-five. What?! That also means my five-year blogiversary is coming up! I might have a lot of reflecting to do soon! Until next time, readers!

Better Later Than Never

I know I’ve been putting off getting my COVID vaccination for a while, but I’m finally getting my first dose. And so will my dad.

Yes, he’s in the demographic that would be vaccine hesitant (older, white, politically conservative)…but he’s also employed at a job that pays him well for what he does and it’s a job that he actually likes. His employer hasn’t begun requiring employees to get vaccinated yet, but they’ve been asking employees whether they have and are strongly encouraging employees to get vaccinated. He doesn’t want to risk getting fired later, so he has begrudgingly decided to get vaccinated. I offered to get vaccinated along with him, mostly for my own peace of mind, but also so he wouldn’t have to do it alone. Luckily, it’s still being offered for free regardless of insurance status, so even my uninsured self can get it.

So what we ended up doing was that we both set up appointments online to get it done at a local pharmacy. They would have taken walk-ins anyway, but things just flow much easier when you set up an appointment. Because we set our appointments up separately, we’re getting them done on different days. We’re getting ours on the same day of the week, but one week apart. He’s getting his first dose this week, while I’m getting mine next week.

I’ve been wanting to get vaccinated for a while now, but I didn’t quite know how to bring it up with my dad. So, in a way, his employer encouraging employees to get vaccinated was kind of a good thing. And hopefully us getting vaxxed will ease some of my sister-in-law’s concerns about us possibly bringing in COVID with three kids ages 5 and under (including a newborn). I don’t know if my brother and sister-in-law are getting or have gotten vaccinated (even though they both already had and recovered from COVID earlier this year; SIL may have to wait a little while anyway because she’s in the period where she’d be nursing, although her first two babies, I think, were formula fed). Given that none of their kids are currently old enough to get the COVID vaccine, it would be smart of them to get it and get that extra barrier of protection.

It’s still a Petri dish 🧫 down here, and the Delta variant has been rampaging its way through the South. My dad and I have been lucky to avoid contracting it thus far, mostly due to us being isolated for the most part (we don’t really go anywhere on weekends, when my dad is off from work), my dad’s job being at night and working with a small crew (and thus being away from large groups of people), and me masking up when I do go out to get groceries every couple of weeks. Even after being fully vaccinated, I still plan to mask up in those situations so I can do my part to avoid becoming a carrier of the virus. I can’t trust other people around me to be responsible human beings, but I can do everything I can to be responsible for myself.

The Delta variant has certainly put a damper on some activities, but I still keep wondering what we might be able to do once we’re fully vaxxed (which should be early October). TBH, I wouldn’t mind just the two of us going for a drive around the more rural areas (which is something he and my mom loved to do), maybe getting a bite to eat at a mom-and-pop restaurant or something. I haven’t left my home county in over a year, maybe a year and a half. It’s been ages since I’ve been to a restaurant…at least since before my mom’s condition worsened and left her increasingly homebound until her final decline early last year. I’d even be okay with eating outside and swatting flies if I have to.

I know there are some of you out there who may be hesitant to get vaccinated, and that’s okay. I’m not going to be judgmental to you about that. Trying to shame a person over their choices is just a bad idea all around.

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about the vaccines and how they work in recent months, and ultimately I think the benefits far outweigh the risks. I have had a dislike of needles for many years and still can’t bear the sight of seeing a needle going into skin, but for me the fear of contracting COVID while unvaccinated is even worse. The vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations consist of unvaccinated people. A small fraction of cases (“breakthrough infections”) have been in vaccinated people, and an even smaller fraction have been hospitalized or died. While no vaccine is 100% effective, it’s clearly like the infectious disease equivalent of a condom: some protection, when used or taken properly, is better than no protection at all.

I could explain how the mRNA vaccines (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines here in the U.S., the former of which has just gotten full approval from the FDA rather than just for emergency use) actually work, but this Twitter thread actually did a pretty effective job of it. Here is the first tweet in the thread.

(There is also a TED-Ed video on YouTube that explains the whole process in less than 5 minutes, which can be seen here.)

This whole pandemic has affected humanity in ways we haven’t seen since maybe the 1918 Flu pandemic or even the Black Death (bubonic plague) in the 1300s. I’m pretty sure each of us has known somebody who has either contracted the disease or even died from it, if we haven’t contracted it ourselves. I could go on and on about how the irresponsible behavior of people has made this even worse than it could have been, but it would be futile. The fact of the matter is that 38 million people in this country (a little over 10% of our population) have caught the virus, and 631,000 have died from it. My brother and sister-in-law were two of the 38 million, and my sister-in-law’s grandmother was one of the 631,000. My brother and sister-in-law both fall into the category of white and conservative, the same demographic that have typically been vaccine-hesitant. But my sister-in-law would probably also give anything to have just a little more time with her grandmother.

To try and convince everyone around me to get the vaccine would be an effort mostly in vain, but I can take action for myself. And I’m glad my dad’s taking action for himself, too, even if the motivations are different from emotional appeal.

Better later than never, I guess.

Dorian: The Aftermath

For all the uncertainty that was going on in the lead up to Dorian actually coming by Florida, the “Before” was definitely much more stressful than the “During” and “After”.

For several days before approaching Florida, Dorian stalled out over The Bahamas. Places like the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island were getting slammed by Category 5 winds sometimes reaching 185 miles per hour sustained and 200 mph gusts. Rain just kept falling and falling. Many people there ended up losing their homes, and as of this writing, the death toll there stands at around 30. Turns out The Bahamas got hit by the strongest landfalling named storm on record, in terms of sustained wind speed, but when central pressure is taken into account, it ties for the fifth strongest on record. (The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 had a central pressure of 892 millibars at landfall, while Dorian made landfall with a central pressure of 910 millibars.) Visually, the damage I’ve seen on the news and online reminds of similar scenes seen after hurricanes like Andrew, Katrina, Sandy, Irma, and so many others. It will take a long time for The Bahamas to rebuild, for sure.

As for Florida, we were luckily spared the worst of Dorian’s wrath. The Atlantic coast experienced rain, wind, and beach erosion. However, I was inland and the worst we got was several squall lines’ worth of rain and wind. Our power did flicker a couple of times from the wind, but thankfully we did not lose power this time. Some did lose their electricity over on the coast, but it was not the catastrophic power outage like we saw with Irma just two years ago. It took about a day for Dorian to finally move away from Florida, but I was so glad when it finally did. I posted this picture over on my Instagram, but I’m gonna post it here as well…this was a picture of the sunset as seen from my front door as Dorian finally left the Florida coast on Wednesday evening and took the last of its feeder bands with it.

As I write this post, Dorian is currently passing the outer banks of North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane and seems to be heading next for a date with Nova Scotia, Canada on Saturday. It is not expected to finally die out until early next week, when it crosses into the cooler waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The “Before”, when there are so many unknowns, always seems to be the most stressful part of waiting for storms like this. Some storms end up worse than others, but thankfully this was not one of them. Now that I’m in the “After”, I feel relaxed. At least for now. We’re in the most active part of the hurricane season right now, so until the end of November we’re gonna be on somewhat high alert in case another one of these storms pops up. But for right now we’re in the clear.

Until next time, readers!

A Picture of Dorian? Nay.

So, you all may have heard that Hurricane Dorian seemingly has its sights set on my home state of Florida. Thinking back to all of your comments and concerns that you all posted here on my blog a couple of years ago when Irma went up through Florida like a buzzsaw, I’ve decided to write a bit ahead of Dorian’s anticipated arrival in a few days.

Its exact path as it concerns Florida is still a bit uncertain, and it will be until probably a day or two before it actually arrives. As it stands now, the forecast cone has moved a bit southward relative to my hometown (which is inland and north of Orlando), but the amount of uncertainty is still too great to put us in the clear when it comes to winds. We know it will make landfall somewhere on Florida’s Atlantic coast, and that hurricane force winds will be present in Central Florida through Labor Day and into the following morning. It is forecasted as making landfall as a Category 4 (although on the weaker end of the Category 4), but will drastically weaken to a Category 1 the following day as it interacts with land and loses its warm ocean water fuel source. Unlike Irma, it is forecast to make landfall from the southeast before turning northward (Irma was in the process of turning northward when it made its Florida landfall), so the “buzzsaw” effect may not last as long, but it’s still gonna be a bit dicey. This forecast could very well change over the next few days, but this is what we know at the moment.

Since Irma struck a couple of years ago, we have taken some steps at our house that should help to ease some of the risks and inconveniences that we came across last time.

    Although we live within a couple of miles of a river, flooding is not a major concern for us because our house sits on top of a hill and our neighborhood itself is rather hilly to begin with.
    We have plans in place to move any potential projectiles that cannot be taken inside (like trash cans, lawn mowers) to the southern end of the house, away from the winds which will likely come out of the north and east when the storm actually passes through.
    After dealing with the effects of losing our power for five days as a result of Irma, my dad decided to invest in something called a transfer switch. A transfer switch is a device that transfers an electrical current going into a building from the utility source (power lines) to a backup source (usually a generator). In the aftermath of the 2004 hurricanes (of which we had three strike within the span of a month), we got a portable generator, although we didn’t really have to use it until our power was knocked out by Hurricane Matthew a few years ago. We then had to use it again after Irma. But after Irma we were having to run extension cords and power strips all throughout the house to power various appliances, lights, and devices. We also had to leave our back door cracked open very slightly so that we could run an extension cord into the kitchen to power our refrigerator and microwave. That was a bit of a security issue. So my dad ended up ordering and installing a transfer switch that connects to the house’s load center so that in the event of an extended power outage, all my dad has to do is hook up our generator to the transfer switch, and he can bring power into the house in a safe manner: safe for us because we aren’t having to run all sorts of cords into the house (and he can also control which appliances and rooms run off of the generator power so that it doesn’t overload the generator’s capacity), but also safe for the utility workers as the switch takes the house off of the utility line and prevents what’s called “back feeding”, which can be dangerous and cause electrocution to workers working on a power line. Note: Never ever directly connect a generator to a house’s load center. This is what causes back feeding. That’s why you use a transfer switch. There are transfer switches that work automatically by being connected to a standby generator, and there are switches that work manually so one can connect a portable generator.
    The power thing, of course, is more or less for comfort. And given my mom’s condition, her comfort is a top priority for us.
    Last fall, we had some trees that were in our front yard (and could have posed as storm hazards) cut down and cleared out, and we had the branches of an oak tree next to our house trimmed. We sold the Chrysler last year, and my dad’s trailer (which can hold things like motorcycles) now occupies its spot in the driveway, while my dad’s Jeep is just a little further down. So, if anything from that oak tree comes in that direction, that trailer can take a hit or two…or a branch or two.

About the only thing we may be without for an extended period of time in the event of power outages will likely be internet. Which means I may be disconnected for a few days after Dorian has its way with us. But I do have my books and my knitting here to keep my mind busy in the event of an internet outage. Heck, it may let me read more of Ghost in the event I can’t access my ebook of Jane Eyre (although I believe it’s already downloaded to my Books app on my iPad, so I shouldn’t have issues as long as my iPad has a charge). Both books are going well for me. The first discussion for the buddy read of Jane Eyre I’m doing on Instagram is supposed to be on Wednesday, but we’ll see if we have internet at that point.

If we make it through all this in one piece, I will post here again once things are relatively back to normal. I’m not a religious or spiritual person, so I’m not gonna be praying, but any good mojo would be appreciated. This storm’s coming, whether we like it or not, so the best we can do is be prepared, right? I always get stressed out when things like this happen…I’m gonna try and do my best to manage it, but I probably won’t feel better until this is all over and done with. Knowing that there are people out there thinking of me does help me feel better.

Hope to see you all on the other side of this hurricane!

100 Posts: A Milestone, a Heat Wave, and a Finished Object

Not long after I published my most recent post, celebrating my 100th follow on this blog, I looked at my stats on my WordPress app and realized I had published 99 posts to date. Knowing that my 100th post was just around the corner, I knew I had to get going on the final stages of a project that has been in the works since late last year, so I’d have something to show off in my milestone 100th post.

Before I get to that, though, here’s what’s been going on lately around here.

The big story as of late around here has been the weather. While the central portion of the United States has been hounded by all sorts of storms and deadly tornadoes 🌪 (due to a collision of cold air from the northwest and warm air from the southeast, which has made the Plains and Midwest states a hotbed for severe weather in recent weeks), the Southeast (including Florida) has been bombarded by heat. And not the humid kind, either. (That usually comes in during the summer.) We have been bombarded by dry heat. It’s the kind of dry heat that blasts you in the face and keeps you wanting air conditioning for the entire day. We’ve had highs in the mid and upper 90s Fahrenheit for well over a week! Our grass has started to turn brown from the lack of rain, and the temperatures have been so hot and dry that in recent days it’s stayed in the 90s right until sunset 🌅. The pavement keeps its warmth well after sundown, and the heat has certainly sent my sweat glands into overdrive! Thank goodness our AC is currently functioning! We had an issue with a hum yesterday in the inside portion of our unit, which Dad checked out yesterday, but the hum disappeared after the unit was shut off briefly. He also cleaned off the coils in the outside part of the unit when he got home this morning in order to improve the cold air flow into the house. Our house isn’t ice cold (that would add extra to our energy bill), but it’s definitely much cooler inside than it is outside. Unfortunately, we don’t see any relief coming any time soon, rain chances are expected to be 30% or lower into next week.

One upside to all this heat: the sun has made for wonderful lighting conditions when it comes to showing off my finished projects! You saw that with my LoveWave shawl earlier this month, and now I have a new finished object…and it’s a major one.

I’ve finished the Bambina Baby Blanket! 🥳🎉🎀🧸👶🏻

It took me seven months to finish, and I missed my deadline by nearly three months, but I finally finished it! I have yet to meet The Bambina in person, but I’m glad that when I finally do (hopefully sooner rather than later), I will have a finished object to present to her parents!

Let me introduce you to The Bambina’s finished blanket.

Pattern: My own personal pattern, based on a 25-stitch small mitered square / Border uses elements of the Ten Stitch Blanket by Frankie Brown (pattern, which will be linked to, is available as a free download from Ravelry), adapted to work across 6 stitches to form the border.

Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver in Perfect Pink, Baby Pink, and Soft White. It took about a skein and a half of each of the pinks and less than a skein of the white.

Needles: US #6 (4.25 mm) needles. I started with straight needles, but switched to circular partway through to handle the weight of the blanket and also to speed things up.

I used my dad’s trailer to hold and pose the blanket in these pictures, and the pictures were taken around 7:00-7:30 pm, about an hour before sunset this time of year. Though the bed of it isn’t completely flat, it does allow me to spread out what I am trying to set up on it for pictures.

I plan on presenting this blanket to my brother and sister-in-law the next time we see them, which I hope is sooner rather than later. My oldest niece, R., will be turning 3 years old a week from today, on June 6th, while The Bambina will mark 3 months since her birth in just a few days, on June 1st. It will still be a few more months before The Bambina gets to the crawling stage, but I think this blanket should make for a nice crawling mat when the time comes. (This is especially since their house doesn’t have carpet; they opted for hardwood floors instead for most of the house.) I have a feeling they’re going to love it.

Thank you so much for sticking with me for these first 100 posts. It hasn’t been a quick journey to 100 (posts or followers), but I’ve gotten here, one post at a time. You’ve been with me through my very beginnings, my attempts to produce meaningful writing, my experiences and experiments in trying to grow as a blogger/writer, seeing my family expand to include a whole new cast of characters that I could have never imagined being in my life even five or six years ago, my various works of art that just happen to be made of yarn instead of paint and canvas, and my return to being a habitual reader. I hope the posts I make as I continue with this blog are interesting, engaging, and inspire you all, whatever it is that they spark.

Here’s to the future…whatever it may bring!

Like Standing in a Refrigerator

The Lower 48 (also known as the Continental United States) has been in the grip of a polar vortex as of late, and this pocket of polar air has dipped down so far that it’s even affected us here in Florida.

Now, I know people like to poke fun at us for piling on the layers as soon as the thermometer dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and that when it drops below 40 we end up looking like Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, but being that we don’t get so many cool or truly cold days here as the rest of the country does and also being that we tend to be so used to warm air and temperatures here, when the temperature does dip below 50 or so, we take our cool and cold weather pretty seriously.

This is about how heavily we dress when it gets below 50.

And we’ve had some pretty chilly days here since this polar vortex started diving down into the middle portion of the country. The temperatures have been subzero (Fahrenheit!) in many parts of the Midwest, especially in Chicago (which is, of course, exacerbated by all the wind). Up in northwest Indiana, where an uncle of mine and his wife (my aunt) and their kids (my cousins) live, it is just barely above zero Fahrenheit at the time of this post. Here it’s been much better compared to that part of the country, but it has still been pretty cold by Florida standards. The last few days have seen temperatures stay in the 40s and 50s, even in the daytime, when the average daytime high this time of year is normally around 70. Factor in the wind and it feels even colder. Our heater has been running, especially at night (when it’s dipped down into the 30s), although I’ve been wearing a long-sleeve shirt and workout pants to keep a bit warmer inside. I kid you not, going outside the last few days has been like standing in a refrigerator (which ours is typically kept to around 35-40 degrees or so to keep our food from spoiling). And I’ve pretty much only gone outside to let the dog out, take out the trash, and to go get groceries (which I did on Monday). My February Lady cardigan that I knit a few years ago has been getting a lot of game time lately, although I am wondering if I should knit a new one in a slightly smaller size as this “swingy lace cardigan made to fit a grown-ass woman” seems a little too big on this grown-ass woman. And I did screw up the button holes when I made this one, so it never stays buttoned because the button holes are too big.

This cold blast does seem to be coming to an end, though, at least here in Florida. The warmup will be taking place this weekend and by next week Florida will be back to its mild-ass weird and almost nonexistent winter self.

To those in much colder parts of the country, I do have this to say, in all sincerity: Stay warm, stay safe, and stay positive. It will eventually warm up where you are, too.

Even in a Hurricane of Frowns

In case you haven’t already heard, Hurricane Michael struck the Florida Panhandle yesterday at a very strong Category 4, and the damage up there is looking catastrophic, especially where it made landfall at the coastal town of Mexico Beach.

Some have (rightfully) expressed concern for me in the wake of Hurricane Michael, so I figured I’d write a quick post to let you all know that I’m fine. I’m lucky that we live quite far away from where the hurricane struck. Michael hit the Panhandle region (Northwest Florida), while I live in Central Florida. We weren’t spared effects from Michael’s wrath, as we did experience some squall line storms from Michael’s feeder bands, but thankfully my part of Florida was spared the worst of the storm.

The one casualty on my street related to the storm was a pine tree in a neighbors’s backyard (which was already dead) that was snapped in half by the wind. The top half of the tree landed on a neighbor’s roof, but since the branches of our pine trees are spread out wide instead of conical like a Christmas tree, the falling branches seem to have caused minimal damage to our neighbor’s roof. The bottom half is still standing, and I can see it sticking out over my other neighbor’s roof.

It is going to take a long time for our fellow Floridians in the Panhandle to clean and rebuild, but if anything we are a resilient and tenacious bunch and I send them all the good mojo (I guess you could say it’s a way of sending positive energy) I can.

As for the title? It comes from the Capital Cities song “Safe and Sound”: “You could be my luck / Even in a hurricane of frowns / I know that we’ll be safe and sound.”

Hotter Than Satan’s Jock Strap

You may remember from my post “Florida is a Cruel Mistress” that our air conditioner broke down in June. Well, guess what?

It broke again!!!1!!1! 😖

This time, the problem is a blown fan motor on the outdoor unit. But, I do have some good news and some bad news. The good news? My dad should be able to fix it himself. The bad news? After three different tries, he was finally able to order a replacement part…and it won’t be here until tomorrow morning. The first vendor he tried didn’t have it, the second vendor he tried had it and he ordered it a couple of days ago and then got an email saying they were out of stock. He didn’t want to wait until the part was back in stock, so he ended up checking with a third vendor to see if the part was in stock before ordering it online. Once he got that vendor to confirm it was in stock, he ordered it and told them to overnight it so that it should be here by tomorrow morning.

It seems like it’s a proven law of the Universe that air conditioners will always break down or go on the fritz when you need them the most. This is no different. You may have heard about Hurricane Florence striking the Carolinas (North and South) over the weekend. This storm has dumped tons of rain on the Carolinas…but has gone nowhere near Florida. In fact, it is responsible for the dry air that is being pumped into our state right now. And that dry air, being heated by our late summer sun…is hot. And our house has insulation, so the room temperature inside has been hitting 90 on a regular basis for the last few days. Now, I don’t believe in gods or afterlives or underworlds or anything like that…but I think the phrase, “It is hotter than Satan’s jock strap!”, would be appropriate for our situation, eh? Hot, sweaty, and gross.

Luckily, we have the window unit running in the master bedroom and we can go in and cool off at any time, although right now my dad is sleeping in there so he’ll be ready for work tonight. We’re also staying hydrated with ice water, fruit punch (really just flavored water so my mom will drink it. I have the ice water in a Yeti-style metal tumbler (it’s my dad’s, but he lets us use it) that can keep ice cold and solid for up to 24 hours and without a drop of condensation on the outside. It is awesome. And it does keep my ice water ice cold.

What else? I’m three chapters into Lord of the Flies, and on Series 1, episode 52 of my Great Tribe Re-Watch.

I’ve also put Rock Me on the Bias on hold for a little while until I can get some more yarn to finish it. In the meantime, I’m undertaking an effort to learn two-color brioche knitting: flat for now, but I’d like to learn how to knit it in the round eventually. It took me a YouTube tutorial to learn how to knit it properly (apparently my yarn overs on the “burp”/brioche purl rows were being wrapped incorrectly). If all works out, I may work it into a “Foldini” bag (a big rectangle folded and sewn into a bag shape).

I found some green and beige yarn from the since-abandoned “Forestry” and have been working with that. I posted these on Instagram, but here’s what the two sides look like.

The top one is the green bark side (where the brioche knit/”bark” stitches are done in the green yarn), and the bottom one is the beige bark side (where the brioche knit stitches are done in the beige yarn).

Here’s to hoping that we get our air conditioning back sooner rather than later!

And in case you’re wondering, here’s the video I used to help myself learn the two color brioche, from The Nervous Knitter.

Cool as Ice*

So, the repairman finally came over to fix our air conditioner yesterday. He arrived around 10:00 yesterday morning. It took him about 20 minutes for him to set up his equipment, and then he was able to get to work.

So, rather than writing a whole essay about what happened, I’m gonna sum it up with some bullet points.

  • We went with a locally-run independent company to have our AC assessed and repaired. The founders of this particular company have also worked as firefighters, which is pretty cool, and it turns out our repairman was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He and my dad were exchanging stories about their service; I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but my dad served in the United States Marine Corps in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Our repairman looked much younger, though…he looked a bit closer to my age, if maybe just a little older.
  • I also have to get this out of the way: our repairman was quite cute, too. I decided to keep this to myself.
  • The first thing our repairman did was work on the outdoor unit, where the compressor needed to be replaced, as the original one was shorted to the ground. It looked like he needed to roll it on a small cart due to its heavy mass. This part of the job took the longest amount of time to perform, maybe a couple of hours.
  • Then he had to come inside and remove and clean the coil in the indoor unit. It turns out it wasn’t quite as dirty as originally thought, but a cleaning was still a good idea.
  • The next thing he had to do was reinstall the cleaned coil. And while he was at it, he also patched up what seemed to be insulation on pipe in the indoor unit.
  • After conducting a few tests between the indoor unit and the outdoor unit, he was finally able to get the whole thing running.
  • Most of this whole time, my mom was sleeping, while I managed to read some more of A Farewell to Arms. I’ve read about 100 pages so far.
  • The room temperature was nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit when the air conditioner was finally turned back on.
  • It wasn’t until about 10:00 last night that the room temperature finally came down to its normal 74-76 degrees, and I can finally stand in the kitchen again without feeling like I’m in a hellfire.

And that’s how the story ends! Hopefully we won’t need it repaired again for a very long time!

* = previous working titles for this post were “A Peon for Freon” and “A Paean to Freon”. Neither title quite worked for me after I thought about it for a bit.

Florida is a Cruel Mistress

Why is that air conditioners in Florida always seem to choose to break down in the summer? Or in this case, very close to it?

In Florida, as well as in the rest of the South, many of us rely on central air conditioning to keep cool during the summer. Here in Florida, we normally only use the heater during the coldest months of the year, usually from late December through February; and in our house only when the outside temperature is going to dip down into the 30s Fahrenheit or lower, as without heating it brings the room temperature down into the low 60s…a bit too cold for us to handle in the winter. Right now it is June, and we are in the very last days of spring here in the Northern Hemisphere approaching the Summer Solstice. Although it will start to feel like summer in the more temperate latitudes, here in Florida, where we are is part of the subtropical region of the Northern Hemisphere. Summer for us began about a month or so ago. Daytime temperatures this time of year are typically in the low 90s Fahrenheit during dry days and the upper 80s when there is rain involved and it gets even hotter as the summer goes on. Floridians typically enjoy their air conditioning or the occasional breeze, though the breezes here in the summer are more for the moving air than any sort of cooling effect.

Well, guess what? The compressor on our air conditioner broke! It broke this morning and tripped the circuit breaker going to the air conditioning unit. My dad spent all morning today trying to diagnose the problem. First, we thought it might have had something to do with the circuit breaker and that we were gonna have to replace the whole panel (because the one we have is old and obsolete). Then we thought it might have had something to do with the central unit itself (which is stored in a closet space in our kitchen, and the thermostat is on the other side of that wall, over in the living room). Turned out that looked okay. Then finally, my dad checked out the outside unit, and it seems that the compressor on the outside unit has blown. (The compressor helps make the air going inside cold.)

Now, my dad is pretty adept with tools, but even he had to admit defeat on this one, as he’s not trained in air conditioner repair. He said he’s likely gonna have to call for a technician to come over and change out the compressor for a new one. It’s not gonna be cheap. I have no clue how long it will be before our AC is fixed. In the meantime, we have fans running in most of the rooms, the fan of the AC unit running (thankfully, that one still works, so we get a bit of air moving from the vents, even though it’s not cold air), and the window unit in the master bedroom is on (which is how we dealt with some of the unbearable heat that ravaged our house during the post-Irma power outage last year), so that anyone who wants to sleep in there (thankfully, tonight is Saturday, which is when my dad normally stays up all night to prepare his internal clock for his work week that begins on Sunday nights, so he likely won’t sleep in there until tomorrow morning at the earliest) or just get into a cool room for a few minutes can do so.

However long it takes before our AC is fixed, it’s gonna seem like a long time whether it’s a few days or a week or two from now. Until then, my family and I will have to keep living the reality of this meme:

To those of you with a working air conditioner as the summer approaches, consider yourselves lucky! Hopefully ours shall be fixed sooner rather than later.