There has not been much of interest happening around here so the blog has just been languishing in the heat along with Chile. I am hesitant to complain about our hot summer given that much of the country has experienced temperatures akin to our usual summer ones this year but have the humidity added in for extra misery. It seems hotter and more humid here for us this year as well, and our electric bill has risen as a result.
Actually several factors are at work regarding the electric usage. The biggest impact comes from the removal of a covered porch that spanned the entire front of our home. It was not our idea to remove it, rather required by overly officious zoning code enforcement. By 3 pm, the hot afternoon sun is shining strongly on the front of the house, heating it up like a solar oven. Even the dogs abandon their window seats to get out of the heat, although they both get whiny if I try to close the blinds all the way to block more of the sun.
Last year, I also had put cardboard lined with Reflectix in the windows we didn't need to see out of during the day. This helped quite a bit, even though it looked a bit low-rent. Unfortunately, I discovered that it was responsible for warping and discoloring one of the blinds (which I had not yet replaced) so we determined this was not the best choice for dealing with the heat.
I have also not been using the solar ovens as much as I'd like this summer. One reason is that although we've received little rain - not even two inches yet - it's been frequently overcast and windy. In fact, the wind this spring was horrible, blowing right past March all the way into June. The frequent cloud cover is annoying when it doesn't produce the needed rain, especially since the humidity is also higher without the usual relief of an afternoon monsoon shower.
My hope over the winter months, after we've caught up on the huge list of projects put off until the cooler outside fall temperatures, is to sew up some insulated window shades of some sort. A local friend told me about her homemade Roman shades that are making a huge difference in keeping the heat out, but I simply haven't had time to travel to her home (an hour away) to study what she did and figure out how to replicate them with my remedial sewing skills.
Much of my current focus continues to remain on improving my health by eating right and exercising. It is so easy to slip into unhealthy eating habits and blow off the exercise when my schedule gets busy. I have to keep bringing my focus back to this as a priority in my life right now. The desire for good results from the follow-up cholesterol blood work at the end of this month is helping keep me on the straight and narrow, though. The desire to, once and for all, rid myself of all my excess weight is also a motivator, but not as strong because the journey will be long. I like shorter projects with a concrete deadline, so I can move on to the next project.
Well, weight loss and good health is not like that. It requires a constant commitment to buying, preparing, and eating the right foods as well as a regular exercise routine that isn't set aside as soon as other commitments appear. This past month included more non-health related commitments, as well as some stress, and the resulting lack of focus on my health is evident. Shifting my exercise routine from the gym to home has also been slower than anticipated, meaning less workouts.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I dusted off my bike and have been riding it about four to five times per week. I am still riding the kinds of distances that I hoped to be riding by now and it's not because I am lazy or lack the time. The problem is there are no flat stretches where I live. None. Every single road has either slight inclines (or declines), rolling hills, or big-ass hills that kick my butt. One knee is still not capable of climbing hills the way I could a few years ago so my rides are limited right now. My cardiovascular system is getting a workout on the hills, though, and I can feel the muscles in my legs and rear growing stronger, aided by strength-training workouts once or twice a week for them.
It's tempting to toss the bike in the back of the vehicle and drive it somewhere with flat roads or bike trails, but I just can't bring myself to burn the gas to do that. After all, part of the reason I want to get more fit is to be able to bike for more errands instead of driving. Driving to bike in this context then just seems, oh, I don't know, maybe stupid...
Surely I can report good news about the garden, though, right? Wrong. The aforementioned heat and lack of rain is taking its toll on our small garden. By mid-morning, the squash leaves are all hanging like limp flags, and the afternoon heat just cooks the female flowers.
The tomato plants all look stressed and production has dropped dramatically with the high temperatures. Again, the heat just cooks the flowers, specifically the pollen from what I've heard. I need to harvest the few eggplants and peppers that have been on the plants for far too long and still never grew to the size they should have. In other words, we don't have a particularly vigorous garden going this year. We are looking at ways to improve our success next year and thinking it may involve lots of shade cloth and a lot more mulch.
I hope that wherever you are, you are experiencing a cooler and more pleasant summer than I am, and that your garden is overwhelming you with its bounty.