About three weeks ago, the air conditioning unit that cooled our home’s bedrooms went out. Using trusty Google and YouTube as guides, my husband checked it out and decided it was probably the condenser and we could be looking at a four-figure repair job. Or five figures for a replacement.
So, we got a few fans, opened the windows at night, turned the fans on and tried to get through the hottest part of summer.
It led me to a few observations.
I just don’t do well in heat. It gives me massive headaches and then it’s all downhill from there. For my friends from Arizona, Las Vegas and St. George who are still wearing sweaters when it’s 90 degrees, much respect to you. I don’t know how you do it.
Summer in Utah — at least this summer — has reasonable nighttime temperatures, so if the rooms were too hot, outside was always an option. Camping is fun. Even when it’s forced upon you. (At least that’s what I tell my kids.)
Meal preparation does not require an oven or a stove. Crockpots and Insta-Pots do quite nicely for summer meals, as does the outdoor grill. Plus, there are always salads. And popsicles.
Willis Carrier is an absolute genius. When I meet him in the afterlife, I will join the queue of people waiting to shake his hand — or kiss him — for inventing indoor air conditioning. Brilliant, brilliant man.
Since we just celebrated Pioneer Day, I was contemplating the trek across the plains and my LDS pioneer ancestors (through my dad’s family.) My third great-grandmother, Ane Caroline Sørensen, gave birth to my great-great grandfather on the plains of Nebraska in the middle of July, six weeks into their trek. It’s not the giving birth on the plains that scares me, but the walking in the heat of July across the middle of the country. Ugh. (First World problems, I know).
In spite of the heat, we did “Grandma Week” here last week with seven of our eight grandchildren, ages 2 to 10 (the 5-month old was excused this year.) We tie-dyed shirts, went to museums, went to the pool, went up the canyon, made blanket forts (not my idea), picked currants off the currant bush, had a water balloon fight and took naps (that was my idea).
I also don’t worry if the grandkids (or my kids) feel bored. I’m not their one-stop-entertainment machine and neither are their parents. A little boredom is good for people — at the very least, it can breed creativity away from digital devices. It also fosters problem-solving and makes kids more independent, which is the goal of parenting anyway.
"If parents spend all their time filling up their child's spare time, then the child's never going to learn to do this for themselves," Lyn Fry, a child psychologist, told Quartz in 2016. "Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant."
(Bored is not the same as unsupervised, of course.)
I have reflected with much gratitude that I live in a day and place when indoor air conditioning is a thing. I truly am so grateful. I am also grateful that I am not pregnant this summer. I’ve been there, done that, which adds extra depth to my gratitude. I gave birth in August 1994, when temps were over 100 most of the month and 106 on the day my son was born. (And that house did not have air conditioning.) Hats off to all you expecting mamas with the internal heater(s). Hang in there. Fall is coming.
Finally, after two weeks of sleeping in a sweltering room, we finally called an HVAC company to get the official “bad news” so we could know how much we needed to save for a new air conditioner.
Turns out it was a $60 part and an hour of work.
Holly Richardson, a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune, is giddy to be in a cool home.