Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Heat Goes On

The Dog Days of Summer are definitely here in Florida, where we broke one heat record on Monday and tied others on Tuesday and today. I suspect we might have broken another one today. When I was out picking up a late lunch, the radio announcer said that the temperature was 100 degrees. Whew! I know this is the tropics, but I associate triple-digit temps more closely with the desert.

Still, it hasn't been too bothersome, since I've been inside most of the the time. When you're in air conditioned comfort, you quickly forget how vicious and relentless the sun can be. Even my cat Stitch, who loves to go outside on supervised jaunts, has his energy quickly sapped. His black coat soaks in the heat, so he moves a few steps, then collapses and rolls. I'm not sure what that's supposed to accomplish, except for getting his coat filthy so he can spend hours washing it.

I haven't ventured onto Disney property lately, but I suspect that the water parks are reaching capacity every day. Right outside of Celebration, Water Mania (a rather small and shabby park, at least compared to Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) has been doing a booming business. Every time I visit the Water Tower Place shopping center, I can hear screams of delight as kids rocket down the water slides just across the street. I can even see their bodies plummeting on the tallest slides, which tower up into the skyline. I swear you must need an oxygen mask to get to the top, and I can't even imagine the super wedgie that you have by the time you reach the bottom.

Today, I decided to treat myself to Coldstone Creamery. That place can be downright dangerous from a healthy eating standpoint, but it's so delicious. For the uninitiated, at Coldstone you select an ice cream flavor and various items to be folded into it. Then the workers plop the ice cream onto a frozen slab and mix in the candy, nuts, crushed cookies, or whatever. My personal favorite is a variation on their Black Forest concoction. I like the chocolate ice cream, fudge sauce, and cherry pie filling, but I substitute yellow cake or graham cracker pie crust for the usual brownies. Otherwise, it's just too chocolately (it grieves me to say that anything is too chocolately, but sometimes too much of a good thing is not so good).

My first attempt at a Coldstone treat was in the early afternoon. The line stretched all the way down the counter, and there was only one person working! Considering how long it takes to mix each order by hand, I knew it would be dinner time by the time I reached the cash register. Reluctantly, I headed home with my taste buds unfulfilled.

I briefly debated stopping at Herman's, the ice cream shop in downtown Celebration, but my hankering was for chocolate ice cream with mix-ins. Even if I got a cone in one of my favorite flavors, like Bubble Gum or Mississippi Mud Pie, I knew that my craving for Coldstone would resurface like that annoying tooth in the Wendy's commercial that keeps bleating, "Ranch! Ranch!"

Instead, I headed home to work, promising myself that I'd re-emerge in the evening, when the crowd would most likely have thinned. Sure enough, I returned a bit after dinner time, and I was the only person in the story. Ironically, there were three workers to wait on the lone customer, whereas one poor guy had been stuck taking care of the enormous afternoon stampede.

Even though the sun was on its way to setting, the oppressive heat was still hanging around. My ice cream turned into mush the moment I walked out the door. No problem; I have a unique way to minimize Coldstone's impact on my diet. I simply pick out all the mix-ins, and when I'm done, I pitch the remaining ice cream. It was easier to pick out the cherries and pie crush from among the melty goop.

When I returned home, it was like stepping from the Sahara into the Arctic. The air conditioning was cranked way down to help the paint dry faster. Today was the big day on which the Great Duloc Manor Painting Project was completed. The master bedroom and bath were the last two rooms to get their make-over; now, they are both a soft, soothing shade of blue. It's quite a counterpoint to my husband's office at the other end of the hall, which was the first room painted. It's a bright shade of Dreamsicle, since my hubby's favorite color is orange.

Eventually the heat wave will give way to fall. If I were in Chicago, I'd be feeling a sense of depression, knowing that the cooling air would mean that winter is not far behind. But in Florida, I'm happy that fall is approaching. I'm looking forward to being able to open the windows again and get some fresh air into the house. Spring was so beautiful this year; if autumn is half as nice, we'll be lucky.

We'll see if the heat continues could be another record-breaker.

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