Hello, greenies! I'm glad to be back after a busy couple of weeks with work. Returning home, I've been smacked in the face with Texas summertime reality:
And not just because of Eric's blue cashmere sweater on this season's True Blood.
I was able to ignore the meteorological facts for the first two-thirds of the summer because we've had a very stormy year -- and those thunderheads have kept the heat at bay. However, over the past week, the clouds parted and the ozone blazed. For the first time this summer, the A/C just couldn't keep up with the heat.
As even indoor temperatures rise, the question becomes, how does one keep cool without kicking Mama Earth's butt?
Sit Still. Read a Book.
To avoid using too much energy during the day, do your most challenging (i.e. hot 'n' sweaty) tasks in the early morning and evening. Like folks in hot climes all over the world, rest during the hottest hours of the day. I'm not someone who ever takes a siesta, so I've used this summer's heat to rediscover reading for enjoyment.
Like most of America, I've spent many an hour with Lisbeth and Mikael in Stieg Larsson's Sweden. Branching off from there, I've delved into one of my favorite mystery landscapes: Inspector Lynley's England, in Elizabeth George's new book This Body of Death.
Set, fittingly enough, during a summer heatwave, this story begins with an ominous tale of little boys on the verge of a terrifying crime, and progresses through the investigation of a young woman's murder. The book can stand alone, for those who aren't familiar with the posh Inspector Lynley, but deepens the story for those who've read George's other books or become familiar with Lynley through PBS's Masterpiece: Mystery.
I'm most excited to read Faithful Place, by Tana French. I've loved, loved, LOVED French's previous Dublin-set mysteries (In the Woods and The Likeness) and tomorrow I'm going to embark on the journey to Faithful Place.
To make your reading the greenest, head to your local library to get your books. I admit, I'm a failure in this regard -- I like to own my books. However, my books cycle through a circle of friends who share their reading material. If you're not someone who takes advantage of your local library, think about how you can share your books and then donate them to be reused or resold.
Drink something cold.
During the summer, a cold drink is a must. Recently, I wrote about my love of iced tea. Even more, however, I love iced coffee. And frequently, I'm asked: "How do you make iced coffee?"
And I say, smartassedly: "Take some coffee and put it over ice."
OK. It's not quite that simple.
If you take fresh, hot coffee and pour it over ice, science dictates that the ice will melt and your coffee will turn watery. Blech.
I like to have an iced coffee in the afternoon, so I plan ahead. When I make my morning coffee, I make a few extra cups, then put that into the fridge. Around two o'clock, I pour this over ice and add a good deal of milk. Voila! Iced coffee. If you like your coffee sweetened, add sugar when it's still hot, and then put it in the fridge.
Later on, when cocktail hour approaches, nothing says cool like a gin and tonic. But tonic water, sadly, is filled with that enemy of green: high-fructose-corn-syrup. Luckily, organic and natural cocktails are all the rage, and a few companies are offering tonics with pure cane sugar instead of HFCS.
Fever Tree tonic is my favorite. In fact, I've been known to drink it straight out of the bottle. I like the bitter-tasting tonics. For those of you who like their tonic a bit sweeter, Q Tonic is producing a light, sweet tonic.
Share Air Conditioning. Go to the Movies.
Air conditioning uses lots of energy. If you want to stay cool, go to the movies and share air conditioning with a bunch of other folks. This summer hasn't been a great one for movies, but August is often the time in which studios release their late-summer, "adult" fare. If you haven't yet seen Inception, you should -- if for no other reason than to be able to argue intelligently about the film's merits with your friends.
I'm also excited to see Cairo Time, starring one of my high school star-crushes (have you yet inferred that I'm a nerd?) Alexander Siddig, from Star Trek:Deep Space Nine, in a role that has nothing to do with space stations. And I know I will probably end up seeing Eat Pray Love with my gal pals. Sometimes, you just gotta hang with your gal pals, even if a movie isn't your cup o' tea.
What are you doing to stay cool?