My Mom was concerned; the temperatures are approaching 90°F in Seattle, and most of Seattle does not bother with air conditioning. At night, the temperatures go down into the fifties, cooling everything off, but the day time highs can be more than a little uncomfortable.
“How do you manage?” she asks. “I see the temperatures in (nearby) Mobile are in the 90’s almost every day.”
“It’s not that hard; it’s like living in Alaska – or Kuwait,” I tell her. “When it gets cold in Alaska, you dress warmly, you turn on the heat, you stay inside, and when you need to go out, you get into your car in the heated garage, go in your heated car to a heated store, and you come back home. You don’t spend a lot of time outside.”
I do pretty much the same thing I did in Qatar and Kuwait. I get up and do my devotional readings, and on some days I go to my aqua-aerobics class. on other mornings I volunteer. If I need something, I stop at a store on the way home. Sometimes, I clean house, or do laundry. We often go out for lunch, from the air conditioned car to the air conditioned restaurant and back In the afternoons, I quilt or I read, or I quilt and I read.
AdventureMan grew up in the South, he is comfortable with the heat and the humidity. He works out in his gardens; once the temperatures go over 80° I rarely even visit the gardens, maybe when October comes and the temperatures drop. Yesterday morning I looked out as the sun was rising over the gardens and all I could see was swarms of insects rising. I don’t think they were mosquitoes, they looked like little no-see-up kind of things, all speeding around in the rising sun. I don’t do insects, the same way I really don’t do heat and humidity.
The Qatari Cat loves the heat. Part of his daily routine is to eat, then to go into the garage and sleep on one of the cars. It’s like an oven in the garage; it must remind him of living on the streets of Qatar when he was just a tiny thing. He is no longer a tiny thing. When we have international guests over for dinner, they always ask to take photos of him; he has grown to be a very long, tall cat, kingly but gracious.
Yesterday morning, as I headed out, there was a hint of – well, it was not coolness, but it was just not blasting me with heat. It was a respite from the relentless heat. I don’t begin to think it was a hint of winter to come; the summer torment has really just begun and is unlikely to end before late October, but I treasure even a hint of “not a blast of heat.”
AdventureMan asks me if I miss Seattle. Not so much, really, traffic has gotten so bad there, but I miss the climate. I feel energized by the cool mornings, even rain doesn’t bother me. I love the sound of the wind whistling around, I love taking a walk along the waterfront after lunch or dinner. I don’t find it at all surprising that diabetes is associated highly with countries with hot climates; heat makes you lethargic, inactive, all the things that encourage sloth.
Torrential rains are forecasted for this 4th of July weekend; in Pensacola there is a possibility they will diminish just in time for the fireworks. Hmmm. Heat. Humidity. Mosquitoes . . . I love fireworks . . . weighing my options
I’m not a person who feels a lot of pain. I hardly ever get a headache, rarely get even a paper cut. At one point in my life, when my biliary duct blocked, the doctor gave me pictures and looked at me sternly and said “You could have died, politely waiting out there in the waiting room. When this happens, come in immediately, show the ER people these photos and tell them you need this blockage cleared immediately.”
That one really did hurt, but I’m not much for groaning and writhing in pain, so I didn’t.
Today was a confluence of events. Yesterday, when the air conditioning people were at our house, all day, configuring and installing the new air conditioning system, the terrified and disoriented Qatari Cat spent the day in the large laundry room, with his cat bed and his food and water, and his litter box. It was a long day, and he was alone, and he could hear loud bumps and thuds, and he could smell strange smells, and hear strange voices. Therefore, when let out, he needed to snuggle, closely, to the one he thinks is his mother, i.e. me.
He curled into my arm and purred and cried about his long day and how scared he had been. He was still snuggling, closer and closer, during the night, as I was trying to sleep. He is a good sleeper, doesn’t move around a lot, but when he is snuggled up against me, it is hard to move. Now and then he will snore, or go into kitty-dream state, legs thrumming along and sub-vocal snarling, which can wake me.
Our normal water aerobics instructor was out, and the substitute was wonderful, but we did more repetitions of high kicks, jacks-crunches, and more high kicks; it was a great workout, different from what we are used to.
We really needed to clean our floors after the air conditioning crew, so AdventureMan took all the carpets outside for a good vacuum front and back while I tackled the tile floors throughout the main level of the house. Some of the grime was ground in, this wasn’t one of those quick swish washes but a lot of stoop and scrape, or hands and knees and scrub kind of jobs. While down close, I also noticed the base boards needed a swab, more bending and stooping.
I still had one appointment to go before I could kick back, and while waiting, I noticed my back was a little uncomfortable. By a little uncomfortable, I mean it had my attention, I couldn’t get comfortable. By the time I got home, it had my undivided attention. I know what works for me, back when I had a reaction to a root canal, I discovered Aleve, so I had some on hand.
When I went to take one, I saw this great big capsule. I remembered tiny little blue tablets, sort of ovoid, but I guess I had just grabbed whatever I saw and it happened to be a capsule. Swallowed the capsule.
There is a reason I don’t like taking medicines, and that reason is that because I don’t take a lot of medications, when I do, I can tell. It takes the edge off. I feel slow. I feel a little loopy. I feel tired. And then, by the grace of God, in an hour or so, I feel no pain in my back.
It wasn’t a bad day, just a day with some unexpected conditions. Scrubbing floors is not my favorite thing. In Kuwait and in Doha I had wonderful women who kept my floors sand-free, and sparkling clean. As I clean my floors, I found myself remembering them fondly.
AdventureMan popped his head in the door to tell me how much he likes vacuuming the carpets outdoors, where he can see the intricacies of the patterns. He can see I am grumpy. “I don’t really like cleaning floors!” I grump.
“Let’s hire someone to do it for us!” he responds, and my day suddenly looks a lot brighter.
You’ve seen photos of Baby in the food dish, and Baby by the garage door. I opened the door into summer for the Qatari Cat, just the door, and propped the screen door tightly shut so QC could watch the birds and squirrels from the safety of the house.
In Qatar, when he was young and strong, he actually knocked a screen off and escaped. When we replaced the screen, he scratched a long rent in the screening and escaped again. He had a tree he would run for, and once on the wall – he was king of the roost. Only cheese or sardines would get him back again, and it could take hours just to find him before we could tempt and capture him.
Now, he is more content to be an indoor cat. At least, content most of the time. There are times he leaves a message telling us he still yearns to chase a squirrel or two . . .
While I was cleaning the kitchen and waiting for the last batch of cookies to bake, I whipped up a batch of corn bread for AdventureMan – no use in wasting a hot oven! It is a perfect, cold day in Pensacola. Perfect I say, because it really really is NOT fun baking Christmas cookies – or anything else – in a hot, humid kitchen. How did our grandmother’s and great great’s do it, especially in those voluminous dresses and no air conditioning??
The secret to truly great cornbread is to cook it in a cast iron skillet. You put the skillet in the oven until it is very hot, you take it out (using a pot holder, of course), melt a little butter in the pan, then pour the batter in. It will sizzle, and form a delicious crust. Pop the skillet back into the oven and in 22 minutes (at 425°F) your cornbread will be finished, with a toasty crust. If you want to guild the lily, you can swirl a pat of butter over the top, too.
AdventureMan dunks his corn bread in a glass of milk, which I find totally disgusting, but reminds him of when he was a little boy. It’s just a custom, I know, but I can’t look.
We have a pot of chili brewing, with the last of our home grown tomatoes:
The Qatari Cat is following AdventureMan around, telling him to lie down so they can take a snooze together . . . I think it worked. I can hear them both sleeping . . .
AdventureMan looked at the map. We had thought we would stop somewhere in Louisiana today, spend the night, but . . . you get this close, and with just a little effort, we could be home. We could pick up the Qatari Cat. We could have dinner with our son and his wife and our sweet little grandson . . .
We smile at each other, and head home.
We stop for gas in Jackson, Mississippi, and find a family run BBQ nearby, where lunch is quick, and delicious, and we are back on the road in no time. Traffic runs our way, we zip through Mobile before rush traffic clogs the tunnel, and head straight to the cat hotel to pick up the Qatari cat. He is So glad to see us.
And so is the Happy Toddler.
Winter in Pensacola is mercurial, one minute the temperatures are in the seventies, and the next minute we are covering our more fragile plantings and hoping they make it through the freeze. This year we had hibiscus blooming that has suffered from the winter two winters ago, a very cold winter, and we weren’t sure they would survive – for two years!
When the temperatures go down, the Qatari Cat begs to go out into the garage (he remembers it is a very warm place) but two minutes later he is saying “I made a big mistake! Let me in!”
Last year we bought an electric bed for him. It doesn’t get really warm, not as warm as a heating pad, but it gets warm enough that he thinks it is heaven. He could stay in the bed just about all day, rolling around so that every part of him gets some of the warmth some of the time. He doesn’t leave it much except to eat.
I keep it in my office, at my feet. He dreams, snorts, shudders, moans and growls, and nothing I do bothers him in the least. He has found his happy place.
“What a dumb cat!” AdventureMan says. “Every morning, he goes to the door and says ‘MEOW! Let me out!’ I NEVER let him out, but he goes to the door every morning and does the same thing!”
The Qatari cat sighs.
“I know he’s not stupid . . . ” he thinks, “I patiently go to the door every morning to let him know I want to go out. One of these days he is going to get it! I know it! One of these days he will understand, and let me out! All I have to do is to get him to understand just once, and then I will be OUTSIDE!”
Who knows what a cat is thinking? This morning, I found the Qatari Cat’s baby by my side of the bed. Sometimes I find him at the foot of the stairs. Never in the Qatari Cat’s chair. But when we came home, I saw this:
Before I left, my bible study group promised to pray for me, for safe travel, and for travel mercies.
What are travel mercies? Travel mercies are blessings you don’t even know you need, small interventions that make a big difference. So many times on this trip to Kuwait, I smiled, thinking “I know my friends are praying for me,” I could feel the travel mercies.
The trip down to the Mubarakiyya for dinner – a serious travel mercy. It wasn’t a life or death thing, and I didn’t even dare to bring it up, AdventureMan was so busy. And yet, we got there, we had a wonderful dinner with friends, we got to see the lights of the Seif Palace. Oh Wow, and thank you, Lord, for these blessings, these unexpected mercies.
Our trip home was flawless. Flights on time, and although we were on a flight I don’t usually like, it was fine. Sometimes on this late-night flight you’ll get a blow-hard or two, guys that want to drink and share all their insights and knowledge in a loud voice, long into the flight, when everyone else wants to sleep. Not this time. This flight was quiet, even the babies were quiet. Everyone slept. And slept. And slept. Perfect travel mercy.
Schlepping through immigration and customs was about as painless as it can be, given that it is a pain-in-the-neck. More travel mercies, the kind you can fail to even notice – unless these little things go wrong, so terribly wrong.
“Welcome home,” our immigrations guy said cheerfully. We grinned. It is good to be back.
We got into Pensacola with enough time to run out to We Tuck ‘Em Inn to pick up the Qatteri Cat, who let us know how annoyed he was to be left behind. We knew – from experience – that dealing with his annoyance was waaaaayyyy better than dealing with a traumatized cat at the end of those brutal flights. He is in great condition, maybe a little bored, but happy, and his fur is clean. Mercy. Merci.
Home again, home again. Our son and his wife had left AdventureMan’s car at the airport for us, and had left a delicious chile, vegetables and dip, and apples in our refrigerator for us, such a loving welcome home. We were able to drop by and hug the Happy Baby before he shut down for the night. All is well. Infinite mercies.
By the Grace of God, and in his mercy. I thank God for my believer-sisters, whatever their faiths, that keep me wealthy in travel mercies.