Just bitchin'

Summer-Savvy

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Each season has a signature.

But it’s not reliable. The handwriting changes with the times.

Summer used to be bikinis, suntan oil, and long days at the beach. But over the years summer has taken on a whole new look.

The bikini…gone. We are advised that the exposure of so much skin to the brutal rays of the sun can have catastrophic consequences. So we cover up and take vitamin D to replace what we are told we should no longer absorb from nature.

The suntan oil…gone…replaced with sunblock designed to filter out all those aforementioned angry, vengeful rays. But the drawback with this savior of a cream is that it can migrate from wherever you have applied it on your face, assaulting your eyes with a burning, stinging vengeance. The solution to this particular problem is to use a concoction whose primary active ingredient is titanium dioxide.

You know…the stuff that provides whiteness and opacity to a huge array of products. The stuff that makes white paint WHITE. It is highly reflective. But don’t be concerned: the sunblock that contains titanium dioxide vows it will not alter your skin’s natural hue. Really. It won’t.

So, being a child of the times I followed all these summer precepts with the trusting soul of a lamb safe in the proximity of its sheepy-flock who are all taking the same steps. Or so I thought.

The result: I sally forth from my home feeling responsibly summer-ized; well-covered in fabric and formula.

It isn’t until the day is nearly over that I pass a mirror.

I do not resemble a savvy denizen of the summer. Leering back at me is the reflection of a white-faced creature in something long-sleeved and ankle-length.

Summer has a whole new look, and now…so do I.

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I look like a damn Kabuki ghost.

 

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Just bitchin'

A Hazy Shade of Hell

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You know how it is with the news.

What’s happening is usually so far away that, although your inner sympathy-chip is engaged, you aren’t really affected in your insulated, little, day-to-day life. You kick back in the evening to watch the latest events of local or national interest and thank your lucky stars it’s all happening far, far away.

But sometimes what’s occurring reaches out with vaporous fingers and reminds you in a more visceral way that you, too, are part of this world where nothing stays the same.

My state is on fire.

Hundreds of thousands of acres are blazing. There is loss of homes and loss of lives, both human and non-.

In my comfy, little, beach cottage, hundreds of miles and a mountain range away, the sky is yellow. The sun is bloody.

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When you step outside, the discomfort is noticeable. Your eyes sting. You smell something acrid in the air. The color yellow now has a scent.

The birds have gone still, venturing forth for food and water, but not engaging in the usual aerial acrobatics and song.

At the end of your normal, unaffected day, a throbbing headache reminds you that smoke is a formidable opponent. And your neck hairs rise when you look to the east and wonder how your fellow Washingtonians will sleep tonight. Or where.

For the first time, we’ve sent out a call for help, for volunteers to stand at the front lines and engage the enemy.

Australia answered. So did New Zealand.

A thrill of thankfulness runs through us for these brave souls so generous with their courage.

It’s a hazy, yellow shade of Hell.

But we’re not alone…

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Sweating in Seattle

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It has been the hottest July on record for my neck of the woods.

Those records have been kept since the late 1800s, so we in the Pacific Northwest find this newsworthy to the extent that it’s all we can discuss.

The heat.

The heat.

The heat.

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Seems only appropriate that I should join the steady stream of sweat-soaked Seattleites who populate our newscasts throughout our sweltering days and torpid nights. The newscasters whose smiles at the beginning, when they announced sunshine in the forecast, are now frozen in a rictus of confused denial.

You see, we can’t admit we don’t want all this heat and light. We like the rain. We adore clouds. We bow down to fog. This unprecedented string of solar showmanship is…is…unnatural. Yet we feel we should be appreciative and brave, telling each other how beee-oooo-tiful the weather is.

We’re afraid the rest of the world will realize our unofficial state flower is mildew. Or that most of us have never found the need to have air conditioning installed. Or that we’ve never had to water our lawns to keep them green. Or that we’re in danger of crisping ourselves like bacon during the short journey across a parking lot to our cars.

This weather is untoward.

It’s not us.

And it’s never clearer than when I drive into the city and it looks deserted.

We are all clustering around the few air conditioned venues we can find. The spacious walk-in beer and wine cooler at the QFC atop Queen Anne’s Hill…packed with teetotalers and imbibers alike. The downtown library swamped with first-time patrons who didn’t realize books still exist in the sea of tablets and Kindles. The few air-conditioned buses plying their routes over melting asphalt, their drivers wondering why no one is getting off.

This is my home.

And it’s hot.

And it’s all anyone can talk about anymore.

And there’s only one way out…

 

…ice cream.

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