Friday, July 8, 2011

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Bread Pan Ice Blocks

It's been so goddamned hot this week. Friends in other parts of the country regularly beset with summer scorchers have no sympathy.

"How hot?" they ask. "Seventy-seven degrees? Eighty? Poor you, living in paradise all year. You can't take a little heat."

Yeah, they're cloudy. Know what else they are? Cold.
To an extent, they're right. San Diego just doesn't get more than, say, nicely warm most of the year. But when the mercury spikes, we're not used to it. Even locals like me who've come from sultry — even swampy — places and know the soul-sucking power of truly hot days and nights have grown accustomed to the temperate year-round pleasantness of it all.

I only remind friends who expect unbearable heat in the summer and whose houses are built to deal with it: most San Diego homes seem not to have air conditioners. Us? We have a window unit that sits in storage 10 months out the year. The two months it's installed, we turn it on maybe a dozen times.

We're due to set a record this year. That contraption is on every night now. When I'm not sleeping directly under its cool airplane engine gusts, I'm keeping the heat at bay with uncharacteristic shorts, a nearly unheard-of and ungentlemanly bare chest, and ice. Big chunks of ice.

Rather than fuss with fancy silicone ice cube trays that still wouldn't yield enough ice, I simply filled two large bread loaf pans with filtered water and froze them. When I need a cube or three, I break the thick ice logs into rough blocks about 3" to a side with a stainless steel surgical hammer. In they go, into a sawed-off spring water bottle I now use as an iced tea glass. Top off with cold tea from the fridge and — for a while, anyway — stave off the worst of the San Diego sweats.

It's good practice for New Orleans.

Meanwhile, I leave you with a short, short clip based on H. P. Lovecraft's 1926 story Cool Air.  I'd even take on Dr. Muñoz's ailment if it meant I could have continuous, blessed cool air.

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