Thursday, July 30, 2009


No, not the kind Albert Einstein talked about (something I memorized but never really understood). I'm talking about the kind we regular folks experience when we stop to think about our reactions to things.

It's been horrifically hot here in Portland for the past week. We've broken records for high temperatures all over the state, including a high of ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN DEGREES in Portland yesterday. Portland was hotter than Phoenix, AZ and Las Vegas, NV yesterday. So I'm not being a wimp when I say it was brutal outside. My son referred to it as 'volcanic', and I think he hit the proverbial nail on the head with that description.

We installed a heat pump in our house before we moved in, one that both heats and cools the house. We knew it could only lower the temperature by 20 or 25 degrees in comparison to the outside temps, but since we keep the thermostat set at 74 degrees during the day, we figured that would be just fine. And, until this week, it was.

But the heat pump simply couldn't keep up with the kind of heat we were experiencing, and the thermostat showed an indoor temperature in the high 80s - inside the house - when I gave up and got ready to try and sleep last night.

That might not sound too bad, and probably wouldn't be too bad for most people, but hot weather is deadly for people with Multiple Sclerosis. My symptoms get a lot worse when it's hot; fatigue is unbearable, balance gets even more wobbly, and life is just miserable. So I've been a very unhappy camper for the past few days.

I've been waking very early, and going outside to water the planters on the front and back decks before it got too hot for me to bear being outside. This morning, the air felt cool (even though the thermometer showed a temp in the high 60s), and that's when I thought of relativity: in relation to morning temps in the high 70s, the high 60s actually felt good!

I took a cool shower last night, dragged another fan into the bedroom and pointed it directly on me (David does much better in the heat than I do), and put a spray bottle of water on the night table. Every few minutes, I grabbed the spray bottle and essentially hosed myself down, using the old process of evaporation to cool myself when I started feeling too warm again. So I may not understand E = MC2, but I sure do remember what I learned about evaporation back in high school, and that bit of knowledge saved me last night, for sure.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Summer rain

I used to love the smell of rain on hot sidewalks when I was a kid. I remember how it smelled when thunderstorms rolled through the neighborhood on hot summer days, sending me and my friends scurrying for shelter under the blue-and-white-striped canvas awning that covered our postage-stamp sized front porch. I remember how the temperature would drop precipitously, chilling our rain-wet skin, causing us to shiver moments after we'd been hot and sweaty in the midst of a game of hopscotch or jump rope. I remember how scary the lightening and thunder seemed, especially since we refused to go inside the house, choosing to stay outside, a bit closer to the swiftly passing storm. Then, just as quickly as it had arrived, the storm would move away, and the day would return to its normal, hot, sunny, summer self.

As we'd emerge from the safety of that awning, I would drink in the smell of the rain on the still-hot sidewalk, a smell I've always loved.

Uncharacteristically, it's rained here in Portland, OR for the past few days (yeah, I know, it rains all the time in Portland, except in summer, usually), and that much-loved smell of rain on hot sidewalks has returned to my life, albeit briefly. I thought about trying to find a set of jacks (another one of our traditional summer pastimes back in the day) but thought better of it, opting to enjoy the smells and memories instead.