For the third or fourth day in a row, the temperature is in the mid to high 30s Celsius (100+ F). It cools down very little at night. The dogs are bored, I am cranky, and the few flowers in my garden are parched.
I spent last night sleeping on the couch – well, for the first couple of hours – as the living room is much cooler than my west-south-west facing bedroom. Around 1:00 a.m., just as I was finally drifting off to sleep, the sirens began. Fire trucks racing down the road in front and the lane behind, police cars, ambulances, and looky-loos following close behind. A couple of blocks over, a house on fire – the smoke and flames reaching high into the night. Each time I drifted back to sleep, more sirens as trucks from other jurisdictions arrived. By 2:30, I had given up all hopes of sleep and decided to take Sadie for a walk in the finally-cool-enough night air. Apparently half the town had the same idea, as I bumped into new friends and neighbours on every block, some unable to sleep and wanting fresh air, some checking the location and status of the fire. Word spread quickly – a couple, their son and their dog escaped without harm, but the house was completely gutted by the blaze. Nothing remains this morning but a few charred uprights and a pile of burnt rubble.
By the time I returned to my house some time around 3:30, it seemed pointless to try to sleep, and so I took advantage of the cooler air to make jello, fresh fruit salad, and two kinds of homemade iced tea (one mint, the other chai) to keep me refueled without cooking for the next couple of days. I have still not given in to buying an air conditioner – it seems like such an extravagance for the couple of weeks each year that we really need it. And in this heat, who wants to lug it home and set it all up??? And so I spend my days sitting strategically in front of high-powered fans, reading a book or watching tv, and working my way through boxes of old photos and other memorabilia. It’s not a bad way to while away the day.
This evening I took the overheated dogs into the back yard for a quick piss-and-dump. They do little more than run out, do their business, and head back inside to plonk their furry bodies in front of the nearest fan. Before I could head back to the house, however, a neighbour’s head popped up over the fence that separates our yards and our dogs. In her hand, three large, just-picked-that-moment red tomatoes, warm from the sun and smelling sweetly with the scent that only fresh-picked tomatoes have. “Would you like these?” she asked. Would I! Tomatoes, good ones, are one of my favourite veggies – er, fruits. And it had been a long time since I had eaten a truly fresh-from-the-vine tomato. Not one of them made it as far as the kitchen counter. It was the Best Dinner Ever on a hot, hot day. Next year, I’m growing a garden!
As for the computer, I’m writing this blog on my old one. Why? Because I can’t get the new one to work. It may have all the bells and whistles, including wireless technology, built in web cam, lots of memory, but it is not user friendly. And the one thing I very much dislike about my new geographic location is that SERVICE SUCKS! I don’t know where local businesses learned their rules for customer service, but they all need refresher courses. So far, I have had run-ins or at least annoying encounters with the garage who outright cheated me by filling my radiator with water and charging me for antifreeze (something I found out at another garage a couple of weeks later), a wellknown chain store that uses "rollback" as their slogan but doesn't tell you they rolled back service, a furniture store that delivered the totally wrong sofa rather than telling me the one I ordered was discontinued, and now the computer store.
I was assured the computer would be ready for me to just “plug in and go”. I was assured my files would all be “transferred over, and show up just as they do on your present computer”. I was assured that they would come out next week to set up the wireless modem and walk me through the new technology. Of course, that was before they got my money. Now they tell me they can’t transfer some stuff because the software has to be loaded in first (but they didn’t have time to do it there even though I had taken the disks in), and they won’t be able to get out to the house until mid to late August. But still, says they, just plug it in and you can start using it for most things.
Right. Plug it in. Done. A thousand messages I don’t understand start popping up. A thousand icons I don’t recognize appear on the desktop. A thousand questions that I have no idea how to answer. And my attempt to get onto the internet tells me that the computer cannot connect with the server.
Don’t know why. Of course, the user manual and the “help” site are both available only online. And I can’t get online. And the computer store is closed and I now find out they won’t be open tomorrow or, in fact, all next week. So the cool computer is back in the box, the old computer is hooked back up, and I am steaming mad on an already hot enough day.
Thank goodness for neighbours with warm ripe tomatoes, and for dogs who like walking with me in the wee small hours. Such gifts can make up for a multitude of aggravations.
If any computer gurus want to visit the island, there’s a comfortable spare room, five critters to entertain you, and lots of icy cold beer in the fridge.