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Things I like about summer…and other ramblings…

Posted Jul 09 2012 10:58am

I’m definitely not one of those people who complains both about the cold in winter and the heat in summer. I don’t complain for the sake of complaining. At least, I don’t I do! ;)

But one thing I cannot stand is extreme heat, extreme DAMP heat. It isn’t good for me (is it good for anyone?). It slows me down. It turns my brain into mush. It makes my asthma a million times worse. Just running the vacuum cleaner a bit this morning left me in a pool of sweat, gasping for breath (but I had to do it…CAT HAIR!!!).

Yeah, this new heat wave from Africa is a bad one…a really bad one. Today is particularly bad. Just to give you an idea: according to one of the Italian weather websites, at 2 PM today the heat index in Florence was supposed to have hit 44 degrees Celsius (that’s 111.2 Fahrenheit).

The nighttime temps have also risen, making it difficult to sleep unless you have air conditioning, which Stefano and I don’t, unfortunately…Ah, speaking of air conditioning. I do have something amusing for you. Most Italians will tell you that AC is verrrrry bad for you. Over and over again I am told that it can cause all sorts of maladies, from neck cramps to eye infections and earaches. Even electric fans should be used in moderation, if at all…

To be fair, I should add that this negative and rather silly attitude has changed quite a bit since I was a kid. In heat like this, Italians who have AC in their offices usually turn it on…Just to be on the safe side, though, a window is frequently left at least partly open to let in some “fresh” air…Yeah, I know, air conditioning AND open windows = such a wasteful combination. But it happens a lot here. Last week, for example, I went into town with a friend, and at least three windows on our air-conditioned bus were open, wide open. Eeek.

I always turn on the AC in my office at work and keep the windows shut. Bliss. That is, until one of my students comes in and complains that 24-25 degrees (= 75-77 degrees Fahrenheit) is too cold…mamma mia…

Sorry, I got a bit carried away there. I just wanted to give you ONE of the reasons why I haven’t been writing or doing research for the blog lately. There are a couple of other reasons, too. 

The most important one: last week my Dad had a biopsy of a nodule that was found behind his vocal cords. The procedure went smoothly, and we hope to get the results today. Even though I’m feeling very positive about it, living on the other side of the world is incredibly difficult right now…I mean, this is MY DAD…Anyway, nothing to do but wait…

The other thing that happened is that last week our cat no. 3, Priscilla, who is about seven years old, developed a case of gastroenteritis and a urinary tract infection. She’s been on an antibiotic since Friday afternoon.

Now, those of you who live with cats know how bloody HARD it is to give them an antibiotic (any sort of pill, really). There are all sorts of funny jokes circulating on this topic, such as this one:  http://goo.gl/kWAuB  Don’t miss the part about how to give a pill to a dog… :D

And Priscilla is our fierce little tiger. Even though she’s been with us since she was a baby, she still hisses and growls–and MIGHT even bite if given the opportunity–if we do something she doesn’t like, such as pick her up when she wants to be left alone. Yet she’s also the sweetest kitty imaginable. Seconds after hissing and growling at you for whatever reason, she will climb onto your chest or into your lap and purr madly, and if you stop petting and scratching her, she’ll stare intently into your eyes and emit a pitiful little “raaaaaaaaaa.” As I write this post, she’s lying between me and the keyboard, as happy as a bee in a field of flowers. Go figure. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that’s our Priscilla.

Premise: Stefano and I know how to give a pill to a cat. Been there, done that. Oh, that reminds me of the innumerable YouTube “how to give a pill to your cat” videos. I can only comment that those cats must be heavily sedated…I mean, I’d like to watch those vets give a pill to one of MY cats…hah! Fat chance…

“Don’t even THINK of touching me…”

And so I spend a lot of time trying to come up with new, cunning ways to get the blasted pill into her…

One of my incredibly clever plans was based on the fact that Priscilla would do anything for a bite of rocket salad or arugula (rucola, in Italian)…the bitterer, the better. She will sit next to me while I wash the arugula from our garden, begging like a dog. And she won’t budge until I’ve handed her an arugula leaf, which she devours within nanoseconds. No kidding. So yesterday I got some arugula from our garden, cut it into pieces and added it to the crushed-to-smithereens pill that I’d previously mixed with a bit of the hairball remedy that she normally (!) loves. I even put a few arugula leaves on top, in a foolish attempt to…fool her. Didn’t work. She turned away. And when arugula doesn’t work with the Queen of Arugula, you know it ain’t gonna be easy…

By now I’ve mixed the crushed pill with ALL of Priscilla’s favorite foods. She just looks at me. I’ve tried hand-feeding the food-pill mixture to her, because this kitty will lick ANYTHING off my finger. Last night, that approach worked splendidly. This morning, she sniffed my finger, turned on her heels and walked away. And I’m supposed to give her an antibiotic for another whole week??  8-O

We may have to resort to the “grab and pop” method in the end…If that happens, I’ll be posting from the emergency room…

But let’s get back to the heat wave for a second. This morning, sitting under my ceiling fan thinking cool thoughts, I began making a silly list of things I enjoy about summer. It wasn’t easy. But here goes:

  • When you hang out the laundry, it dries almost immediately, even with a 90% humidity index
  • Ice cream…for medicinal purposes only, of course!
  • Less traffic
  • You can park almost anywhere in Florence (this is linked to the “less traffic” item and to the end of the school year, yay)
  • Wearing sandals
  • Bees and butterflies on my lavender
  • Eating organic tomatoes, rucola, raspberries, figs and blackberries right from the garden
  • Trying to come up with creative salad ideas
  • Fresh tomato sauces
  • Tomatoes, period

Things I don’t like about summer:

  • Mosquitoes, especially the tiger ones; bothersome bugs in general
  • Loud, partying neighbors 
  • Watching my flowers wither and die in the heat
  • People who don’t use deodorant
  • Sweating
  • Being unable to think clearly…
  • No winter veggies! Where’s my broccoli??
  • Can’t use the oven…And cooking pasta makes the kitchen almost unbearably hot…but you can’t live without pasta…

So, what do YOU like (or hate) about summer? Just curious! :)

Finally, I’d like to ask you for a favor: please, pretty please!, go sign a petition that will be delivered soon to the U.S. Navy concerning  its use of active sonar in training and testing exercises off Hawaii and southern California as well as off the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico. According to this article (see:  http://goo.gl/xkHJJ ), the sonar testing might harm marine mammals a total of 33 million times over five years. These estimates come from the Navy itself, by the way. So who knows what the real impact is going to be…

To me, that’s simply and utterly UNACCEPTABLE. We might be able to stop this nonsense by signing the online petition (it takes less than 30 seconds…easy peasy…and just think: your signature could save the lives of a staggering number of sea creatures, not just whales and dolphins…):  http://goo.gl/Ocb6v  

And, while we’re at it, there is also another petition. This one is for a group of chimpanzees. Please check it out:  http://goo.gl/rHlu5

As a former member of Amnesty International, I know that signatures CAN make a difference. So…pleeeeeease sign! Thank you!

Written by Margaret

July 9th, 2012 at 4:58 pm

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