In the good old summertime

Summer in Texas has truly arrived. It’s hovered between 99 and 101 all week, and it never really cools off much at night. Right now, for example, it’s 2am and 81 degrees outside. Weather.com helpfully informs me that it “feels like” 85 degrees outside. I could have guessed. Our air conditioner is only running upstairs, thanks to a broken fan motor downstairs, so it’s 83 degrees inside the house. Mostly, I feel like I’m melting.

There’s no relief in sight, either.  It’s supposed to be 102 all next week and it won’t cool down until September. We haven’t had any rain since June 27, and that was barely anything. Didn’t even really water the garden. Everything’s starting to dry up and turn yellow and tan. Our wet spring is just a fond memory, and we’re now officially back to the Texas pattern of “hot and not a heck of a lot of rain” for the next three months. Yet it’s miserably humid, because all the trees and grass are being baked dry and their precious moisture gets cooked out and turned into a steamy miasma that makes one sweat like mad (since it’s too humid for it to evaporate.)

Oddly enough, I’m feeling a ungentle pull towards watching British mystery shows.

It’s one of my addictions. It’s probably better for me than caramel, by far. When it’s hot and miserable outside (and, alas, not much better inside), all one wants to do is escape to a fictional world where summer never really gets that hot and people can actually drink hot tea during the summer without turning into a puddle of melty goo.

Luckily, the BBC exists to feed these sorts of addictions.

I really enjoyed “Vera” with Brenda Blethyn. It goes without saying, one hopes, that “Prime Suspect” with Helen Mirren is great. Apparently, they tried to Americanize it with Maria Bello . . . not sure if it’s going to be worth watching, but I might give it a try. Wallander with the British cast (I mean, come on, Kenneth Branagh AND Tom Hiddleston?) is really good.

I hate to admit it, because it seems so trite, but I’m an Anglophile and a lover of Masterpiece on PBS and I drink hot tea. There, I said it. Think of me what you will, especially as I always forget to watch the current seasons and end up watching everything later on Amazon Prime (which has a good selection) or Netflix (which really doesn’t but sometimes will have a season of something). I mean, “Poldark” is on this month and I’ve missed it every week. Why? I dunno, maybe because I’m not paying for it every month as I do with HBO shows!

Anyway, the summer doesn’t give one much else to do around here. It’s simply too hot and muggy to be outside except very early in the morning (or after 3am and before 9am!) I’ve been trying to keep the garden alive by watering it, and also maybe soften up the soil so we can till it up for a fall planting. The boys and I cleaned out our old 10 gallon aquarium and bought 3 goldfish. We’re working on turning the cat’s shed into a playhouse. And I cleared out their room and made it nice for them, decorating the closet like a jungle so the Tank would have a private spot to decompress.

The Adorable Baby and the Tank both have a mysterious virus that our doctor swears isn’t the measles, but it seems pretty similar. The baby’s covered in a rash from head to toe and has an ear infection. The Tank just has a rash on his face, but he’s been feverish,complaining of headaches, and feeling cranky. (No, it’s not encephalitis! I’d take him to the E.R. in a heartbeat if I thought it was!!!) It’s hard to deal with two cranky kids at once, especially as the Viking is still halfway across the country, the Baking Bear is off decorating cakes half the time, and Miss Autism has only stepped up her destruction game as the summer has gone on.

Some of the things she’s been doing are actually ludicrous. I mean, in what way does it make sense that the kitchen floor MUST have a raw egg cracked on the tile next to the trash can. Did she see an egg fall there once and become permanently fixed on the idea? It makes me insane . . . I’ll mop and everything will be nice, I come back into the kitchen and there’s a raw egg just splattered on the floor next to the garbage can. Usually, it’s an egg from our chickens, too. Maybe because Miss Autism prefers brown eggs, who knows. (I’ve had to buy eggs for the past six months, since we lost too many hens to predators and the new ones are only just now starting to lay. The two old hens occasionally deign to lay an egg or two.)

Some of the things she does are actively dangerous– she shorted out the breaker in my bedroom this week by twisting an extension cord around until it frayed and then broke with a loud pop and the lights and computer suddenly going black. It’s just terrifying the things she gets up to. Her obsession with light switches and wall sockets is keeping us constantly trying to remove things she could use to get hurt with. We purposely chose goldfish for the boys just because we could keep them in a tank without lights or heaters or filters– all of which would need electric cords. Miss Autism likes to “play” with fish (usually fatally for the fish) and we didn’t want any chance for her to electrocute herself if she ever gets past security and messes with the fish.

We’ve removed almost everything we can possibly remove– but how are you supposed to live in a house without using a single electric cord? I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of a television or toaster or refrigerator or computer that runs purely on batteries. She’s cut the end off dozens of cords, even the cord to the small refrigerator that we use to store condiments and bottled waters. Usually, she unplugs them first. She just loathes cords having plugs attached to them–another of her weird obsessive beliefs. She’s ruined three surge protector power strips and more adapters, connectors, plugs, and chargers than I can even begin to replace. And we keep finding more wires to remove and hide and try to secure somehow.

Sometimes, though, something fails in the security precautions and she finds a way to get ahold of a forbidden item– we usually keep all scissors and knives and forks and spoons locked up in a toolchest. But sometimes we actually have to USE these items and they don’t immediately get put away. You know, because people have a hard time remembering that their fork or pair of kid scissors could be used for malign purposes. Anyway, she has her little ways of making us nuts– today, for example, I tied a very small key that opens a very small lock to an emergency whistle, using the yellow cord necklace for the whistle as a sort of bright keyring that I could hopefully find easily. I also tied a spare lock on it. I went to town to buy the fish, left the keys in the Bear’s keeping. Came back and found the key, the lock, the whistle, and the knotted end of the necklace in a small pile in the game room. The rest of the cord wasn’t with it.

After a search, we found the rest of the bright yellow nylon cord– she’d sat on the couch and patiently cut the cord into one inch segments. There was a neat little pile of them sitting right next to the scissors.

She’s really just messing with our heads at this point.

So I’ve been busy this summer. But I want to be languid and idle in a mellow garden in the English countryside. Since that’s never going to happen, I’ll make do with watching some romanticised movies that give me the illusion, for a moment, that I live in a place where it’s not 100 degrees in the shade and no one looks at you askance if you want your tea hot instead of over ice.

It’s summertime. In Texas, you do what you have to do to survive.

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