8.19.2008

What a long, strange, HOT Austin it's been




It's the hottest summer in years, and the electrical wiring in my place burned up. No A/C for ten days. "Couch surfing," as my sister puts it, trying to find someplace cool to sleep, and plug in the C-PAP.

Place really needed re-wiring anyway. Probably the original string, ca. early 1930's. Second floor, no insulation except for limestone exterior walls, leaky windows, so it gets really hot if the A/C isn't on. Like in the vicinity of 110 or thereabouts.

Now, in that kind of heat, my body shuts down. I want to hollow out a hole under a house next to some cold water pipes, and stay there, all day long. From the time the sun comes up til around 11-midnight, it's an oven. Fruits and vegetables dry in a day and a half. I've seen this. Regularly.

It's a strange relationship we have with our domiciles. At least mine have always been. Maybe it's that parsonage habitual moving, but always at least a small home base. That's pretty remarkable, considering I moved halfway round the earth and back, to find that the U.S. had gone ballistic, and the cost of living jumped dramatically those two years.

Especially in Austin, my treehouse in the safest place for me in Texas. If the weather doesn't get you, the freakin' cowboys and, yes, frat boys drown the town in alcohol and slaughter folks all over town, especially on I-35, the busiest interstate in the country. An over/under right next to the capitol and university, with trucks from Mexico blowing soot and smoke in the air, it can get a might difficult to breathe.

From the sleepy 1968 town with a radical student population, to a small '80s city, just developing Hwy. 183, to the dip at Dell and all of a sudden at least five skyscrapers nearly finished downtown. And there are more going up. It looks like a 33% growth in the last 10 years to me. I have no idea where all these people are going to come from, or what they'll be doing, but it appears to be booming in commercial real estate. McMansions are popping up like mushrooms in the older neighborhoods.

I realize that people want their property to have value. I know from a lifetime of living in parsonages in one sense or another, that houses need upkeep. It still amazes me that I live less than 10 blocks from where my dad lived in the '70s. Blows my mind even more to flash when I'm driving in the 45th St./Letter Streets and see a neighborhood of brick bungalows my dad built in the 30's for the CCC. Good stuff, gorgeous and very organic stuff, but getting old and wanting repair.

I am back in my treehouse now, all of the above happening during the busiest time of the year at work for me. I sorta coasted on the top of the wave, and had a fully WNL blood report a couple of weeks ago, so life is good.

The photo is at Riverside Drive and South 1st St. just before the bridge and onto Lavaca. The Austin skyline is totally unrecognizable and has effectively hidden the capitol in a little bowl.

6 comments:

Kay Dennison said...

Now that's HOT!!!!!

And home is home. I knows where home is and it isn't in this part of Ohio but I also know that you can't go home again. It isn't the same.

joared said...

I can certainly emphathize with the unpleasantness of living without AC in miserably hot weather. I experienced two or three days of it which was more than enough for me, thank you. But, your ten days is truly excessive.

I've yet to visit cities and towns I've known previously that haven't had pronounced changes. Only a few of the smaller ones have appeared dirtier, more drab and worn down.

In both large and small communities various streets, areas and housing that were once desirably prominent have ceased to be so as others assume that position.

kokopelliwoman said...

Hi, Kay, yeah, home is where I am, wherever that may be. I have no real ties to any particular place, but I sure prefer cooler climes. I guess you could say my home is near my loved ones, both my sisters live in Texas now, but my daughter is in Boston, and that's a looooong and expensive ways away. BTW, I love that book, he's one of my favorite and most aggravating novelists.

Keep the faith,
Claudia

kokopelliwoman said...

Joared, to add insult to injury, my property mgr. at first agreed to prorate my rent, then only offered HALF of that rate. I stood my ground, remained pleasant, and he finally gave in :) Unfortunately, he's offering the same lame deal to my neighbor who put me up, and I'm letting the P.M. know that it's just WRONG. My neighbor was put out as much as I was, and she took me in out of the goodness of her heart.

You're right, living in America will never be the same. Isn't it odd to have lived long enough to see the population explode like it has, and urban and rural areas change characteristics so drastically? There's a whole genre of sci-fi novels about the "near" future, some of them actually reasonable. None of them are hopeful...

Naomi said...

My primary memory of hot Texas is an airport in 1944. Screen doors, huge bugs clinging to them. But Albuquerque in 1960 was a cooker too.

Cannot say "I feel your pain," because you're in it and mine is warm memory. Hope the worst is past.

kokopelliwoman said...

Naomi, thank you so much for your good wishes. Yes, I now have electricity, but still have the 2 older, energy-sucking A/C window units. As much as I love my historical abode, it may be time to think about moving on to a home that better fits my means these days.

An airport--always the hottest place around--all that concrete. Screen doors, bugs, snakes, dust storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, swamp coolers...how did we survive without A/C? Well, we didn't. I've written earlier about how rural Texas women's life span was about 45 years. Died of heat exhaustion and frostbite. And what's in store for us with global warming? I tell you, the last 4 nights watching the DNC has given me more hope than I've felt in decades. I hope it's not too late...

Thanks for writing.