Too Darned Hot

Ever since the Big Storm of last Wednesday, things have been a bit too warm at Chez Migliaccio.

I was at home when the storm hit, with such violence that I actually thought about going down to the basement for my safety (the only other time I’ve felt that way was when we got sideswiped by Hurricane Isabel). I had just gotten back from shopping and was unloading groceries when I noticed the sky had gone very, very dark. I’d just turned on the Weather Channel when the storm hit, and I do mean HIT. The wind was howling in the trees and branches were crashing down all over the neighborhood. The power came off and on several times as the front passed through; then, after the worst was over, the power went off for good. There was no visible damage to the area power lines that I could see. John came home early because his office was also without power, and when I left to do my evening show, the power was still off. Oddly, when I got back about 11:30 Wednesday night, the houses at the top and the bottom of our cul-de-sac had power, but about eight houses in the middle of the street (including ours) were still dark.

Fortunately, post-storm it was relatively cool and we had a reasonable night’s sleep. The next day was a different story. We were still without power and things were heating up fast. John’s office was also without power so he trekked down to Fredericksburg for some errands and blew a tire on the way. By the time he got home, I’d had several confabs with the neighbors and was relieved when a Dominion Virginia Power advance team came by to diagnose (but not fix) the problem. They assured us that a work crew wouldn’t be too far behind. Our neighbors Dennis and Priscil produced a gas generator and generously offered to run an extension cord from it to our yard. We hooked up extension cords of our own and were at least able to power the refrigerator, an oscillating fan and a lamp (the welter of extension cords is featured in the picture). With the threat of spoiled food out of the way, we spent the evening reading and sweating gently.

Friday dawned hot and bright and we were still without power. The gas generator was still chugging valiantly and John’s office was still closed. We went out for breakfast and then decided to see a movie in air-conditioned comfort (Kung Fu Panda – just the ticket to take our minds off our troubles). We got home from the movie and eureka! the power was on all over the neighborhood. We closed all the windows and cranked up the A/C, and all was well – for two days.

Sunday evening I arrived home after a two-show day to be informed by John that something was wrong with the air conditioning. The evaporator was leaking water so we assumed the coils had somehow frozen. We spent a reasonable night cooled by the trusty oscillating fan and Monday morning I made calls to various A/C service companies. The earliest we could get a service call was Tuesday “between 12 and 5.” John went off to work (his office got power over the weekend) and I hooked up all the available fans to cool the house. By afternoon the outdoor temps were around 95 degrees; inside it was not much better at 85 degrees. I was miserably hot after making dinner and it took a cool bath at around 1 AM to get me comfortable enough to sleep – this time with TWO fans blowing over us.

So now it’s Tuesday morning, with another scorching day forecast and the house temp still holding in the mid-eighties. John and I will be tag-teaming today so that someone will be home during the 12-5 service call window. We are trying to be philosophical about the whole thing and think about how people survived in the days before electricity and air conditioning, but I expect those folks were probably cross and miserable, too.


  1. Joan L.

    Bleh! I sympathize. It’s been in the 90’s here, and my car air conditioning is out. It’s like driving in a suffocation mobile. Hope your repairman shows up soon

  2. Anonymous

    Honest to goodness, when I am reading this Linda Ronstadt is on the stereo belting out…you guessed it, “Heat Wave.”If you need a cool place to sleep, we are here with plenty of room.JML

  3. Donna Migliaccio

    Thanks, John – you and Barb were going to be our fallback position. Fortunately our basement stays relatively cool regardless of the weather so we have that refuge, and also fortunately the a/c guys showed up around 6 PM and had everything up and running in half an hour. Apparently we were extremely low on freon. They also think we should replace our entire a/c system because it’s so old. They probably have a point.

  4. Anonymous

    It’s funny, but during this recent heat wave I’ve been trying to remember how we survived as kids growing up in the Southeast without air conditioning. I remember that tan/brown box fan running like a mofo at night when it was really hot, but I don’t remember taking any special steps to deal with heat waves. I guess if you live in it all the time (and attend un-air-conditioned schools) your body adjusts. We’re so spoiled now…perg

  5. Donna Migliaccio

    It’s funny – I was just telling John about that little square box fan and the fact that you could put ice or ice water into the receptacle on top to make the air it blew cooler. He wanted to know more about it so I asked Mom. She said it was an early form of air conditioning known as “air cooling” – that behind the front grid of the fan was a woven material that the ice water dripped into, and the fan part was behind that material (and the motor behind that). As the ice water dripped into the material, the air that blew through it was thus cooled. I remember that it did, indeed, blow much cooler air than your average fan.Mom says that some movie houses back in the days before a/c had this same kind of setup and advertised themselves as “air cooled.”

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