Friday, January 30, 2009

Adelaide heatwave: day 4

Last night I went out to dinner with my regular dinner-having crew. We ate at a Greek place in Glenelg (old beachside suburb), so after we left at about ten pm I took a detour down to the beach to see who was still out and about on a weeknight, cooling down. There were hundreds of people on Jetty Road and down towards the beach, including lots of kids, all in shorts and sarongs and thongs (the foot kind; I wouldn't know about the other), many of them queuing at the ice-cream shops, all of which were open. The pub was heaving. I had to drive at walking pace for about a kilometre to get out of there.

This morning I got groggily out of bed and staggered down to the baking back half of the house, and this was the sight that greeted my eyes:

She's waiting for me to get up, tip a bucket of water into it and turn it on, which I immediately did. (This should answer Skepticlawyer's question a few posts back about how the cats are coping.)

Early in the afternoon I went outside and flung a large, ultra-lightweight cream-coloured cat rug over the lemon tree to try to stop the leaves scorching and shrivelling any more than they already have. The minute I got into the sun I could feel the skin burning on my face and arms.

Mindful of the 14 old people who died suddenly at home over a twelve-hour stretch in Adelaide yesterday, I rang my dad this morning to see how he was and to discuss the arrangements for Sunday, which is his 82nd birthday. 'I'm fine,' he said. 'I'm getting quite used to this heat. In fact, I rather like it.' I had a sudden flashback to his 80th birthday dinner, at which he sat back expansively over a plate sparsely scattered with cake crumbs, drained the last of his champagne, and said 'Right. Now I'm striking out for 85.'


The Paradoxical Cat said...

That's a shocking photograph! Very evocative of the extreme heat you're experiencing. My Tabby couldn't even conceive of it. For the first time I'm almost glad I live in Dunedin (a city that often feels uncomfortably close to the sub-Antarctic).

Ann oDyne said...

the degree to which a person is CIVILISED is reflected directly in their approach to other living creatures.

At this moment I am hysterically homicidal toward 2 arsonists who have the outer gumtree suburbs of Melbourne ablaze, because I see bushland as the home of wombats and kookaburras and wallabies and aged cockatoos, lizards and possums and things which do not deserve barbecuing.
We can only rage, and take care of the comfort of a cat.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to your father on his birthday; may there be as many more as he is willing. He & I almost share a birthdate, so I have some inkling of the Aquarian torment that you must endure.

Funny, that generation. My mother (a youthful 76) complains as soon as Adelaide's temp reaches 28C. But when presented with these extremes she's like a Londoner in the Blitz. She adopts a near-gleeful stoicism: its little old lady vs the elements, where parsimony & determination ultimately trump the forces of nature....


genevieve said...

Glad to hear your dad is fine. I am grateful my olds have decent aircon, but if the power cuts out...Hope you will get at least a little relief soon.

Anonymous said...

Here north of Melbourne, at noon Saturday 37, expecting 44 (Top so far 46.1 yesterday at 5.30, but I was at work, where it reached only 38 in my office). My neighbour says the kangaroos are Lying IN her dam. On the upside CFA boy has only been out a few times, unless he gets called up to Gippsland, and I PROMISE your lemon tree will come back from this - don't prune, keep watering, once it cools down (you know - in a few months, citrus food and water, and it will grown new leaves and come back to life.
Tyaakian (but hey - predicting only 39 tomorrow)

lucy tartan said...

I've been brushing the cats with a hairbrush dunked in cold water and I've opened up the bottom of the wardrobe secret trapdoor to the under-house space so they can go down there and lie on the cool ground. I was really frightened about Pud who came in one evening gasping and squinting. He's been confined to the house since then as he's apparently too silly to stay indoors of his own accord.

Some of my trees are looking pretty damn sad, but the lemon tree is coping remarkably well

R.H. said...

I've got the same cooler, a Convair, someone gave it to me. I drag the hose indoors to fill it. Kinky RH.
Most of my shrubs are severely damaged: leaves turned to dust. It's a fright, a horror. Never happened before.
This is how the world will end.

skepticlawyer said...

Poor cats, I hope they cool down soon. Those lovely generous pelts are really unsuited to this weather. I take it you don't have the king-sized air-cons common in North Queensland; my brother used to call the one in the house in Rocky 'the Starship Enterprise'. It's a big sucker. I don't know if I can post links, but the Australian heatwave is all over the Beeb at the moment:

Pavlov's Cat said...

TFA, re Aquarian torment: oh yes. He is an Aquarian Tiger, too, which makes it worse.

Ms Tartan, yes, Pud has been in my thoughts ever since that gruesome story you told about trying to swallow fur that was still attached to him.

Tyaakian, lovely to see you and I have been thinking about you and yours a lot as well. Tx v much for valuable lemon tree advice as I would indeed have pruned it. I bought one of those shade igloo things on a whim in the supermarket yesterday and will prop it over the tree, which is now looking really, really bad, before I go out to the paternal birthday lunch.

SL, the two top rooms have R/C split system aircon, but in the back half of the house it's like a furnace. The little personal evaporative doodah works if one sits directly in front of it, something the other cat has taken eight years to figure out.

Tx all for lovely wishes for Papa Cat.

R.H. said...

Citrus around here seem to have survived; my mandarin tree isn't damaged at all. But my young plants especially have suffered and that's what's upsetting because they were doing so well. I've lost pittosporum, agapanthus, lilly pilly, and most things less than two years old.
But anyway you should keep any dead foliage around the top to help shield what's below in case this blast comes again, otherwise I'd prune it off straight away; it's got no other use and is probably harmful.
If you don't mind me saying, I think your cooler is too close to the wall; it draws air through the rear, and you'd have to pull it out anyway to fill it. I've found that after several hours running flat out they will eventually cool a room. They're really not bad, I point mine at my bed on low speed and laying there star-shaped actually get a good night's sleep.

Behemoth (ex-Nabakov) said...

Completely OT but I just had to share.,book-info/store,books/products_id,7847/title,Pride-and-Prejudice-and-Zombies/

Coming up next no doubt "War And Peace And Werewolves".

"Oh Pierre, just because you doubt the existence of a moral God, that's no reason to stop shaving."

Behemoth (still ex-Nabakov) said...

Back OT, I just spent thtee hours in a sweltering rehearsal studio where the atmosphere was not improved by a large marmalade cat joining us full shedding mode.

I am amazed by how much hair a cat can effortless lose while still retaining a full coat.

Pavlov's Cat said...

One of my mother's excellent lines regarding housework was that she'd vacuumed up enough cat hair to knit another cat.

I think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is just wrong. Excellent blood spatter on the diaphanous empire-line frock, but.

R.H. said...

You mean Darcy isn't a zombie?

Adele said...

As a fellow resident of Adelaide, I feel your (and your cat's) pain. I keep thinking there is no possible way I can sweat anymore or that it's not possible for my eyeballs to dry out of my head. I guess we'll see....

Elsewhere007 said...

You have the same portable evaporative as me -- different colour but same model. I don't think they work so well with to leave the bucket of water out.

Pavlov's Cat said...

No humidity down here at the moment, more your mummifying moisture-sucking dry-up-your-eyeballs vampire heat.

But yes it is indeed a disaster if I put water in it in humid heat. The 'swampie' is well named.

Helen said...

Tyaakian, does the same advice apply to a baby nectarine? Leaves have crisped :-(

The dogs have disapproving expressions as if to say "why aren't you doing anything about this you all omnipotent twolegs?"

R.H. said...

Plants that are stressed (due to lack of water for instance) are vulnerable to disease and insect attack. If they're in pots you can prune them and give them part shade until they recover (ie, until new shoots are well established). Otherwise I'd prune only the laterals in places death has occurred.
My cooler is the same colour as well as the same model, seeing it in such an unusual setting gave me one hell of a jolt. I no longer take it for granted.

Fignatz said...

Ah yes, Adelaide heat. I moved there (from Sydney) in 1972 with two kids under six, and we were almost immediately hit with four consecutive days and nights of heat so unwavering that the nights were virtually as hot as the days, and the kids had to be put to sleep on our Unley backyard lawn until we parents were ready to go inside and crash. Then, on the fifth day, it cooled down – to the extent that the weather report on that evening's news gave the day's maximum as occurring at "one minute past midnight". And yet I still miss Adelaide and Don Dunstan and all that seventies vibe. PS – a great blog. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think it's fair to say that many of us miss The Don, Fignatz. Those years in the early Seventies were times to be treasured, but few - if any - of us miss extended periods of very high temperatures.

PC - "He is an Aquarian Tiger, too, which makes it worse.

[sharply indrawn breath] - perhaps, but several Authorities insist that Aquarian Tigers are to be honoured for their informed & discerning appreciation of home-baked cakes.

Glad to hear (via LP) that the occasion of your father's birthday was properly celebrated.

Any progress on the reminiscences that you mentioned last year?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Fignatz, thank you! Glad you're enjoying it. God knows there's a lot more where that came from.

Anon -- I assume the mean the war reminscences. Thank you for that timely reminder. I'm the slack one there, not him -- he's written them; I'm still trying to get myself organised enough to spend an afternoon with him chez moi putting the posts up while I show him how it all works.