Thursday, June 24, 2010

How Hot, Is Hot Enough?

Is 99°F - 37.2°C with a heat index of 107°F - 41.6°C hot enough? That's what it got up to today, according to the weather tracking station at a nearby airport!

Only Mad Dogs And Englishmen (and Americans, I'm afraid) Go Out In the Midday Sun

I had to go to the grocery store today, and since I didn't get up until almost 10:00 AM........yeah, I know, I'm a sloth..........I didn't depart until about 12:30 PM, long after a relaxing breakfast, and the obligatory cup of coffee. It wasn't too bad when I first got in my truck. It had been parked in the shade, and the digital thermometer on the overhead console read only 86°F - 30°C, but by the time I got out on I-64, it was reading 93°F - 33.8°C. The grocery store is about twenty three miles away, and of course there is absolutely no shade in the parking lot! My truck has dark tinted rear widows, so I parked with my backside to the sun, and left all four windows cracked open, to keep it from becoming a veritable oven, while I was inside shopping. Dressed as a male, but in short sleeves and shorts, and not giving a damn if anyone noticed my hairless arms and legs, I sauntered into the Food Lion. Instantly, I realized that I forgot they had announced, that they were in the middle of a remodeling project! My once orderly grocery store, was almost unrecognizable. The store was full of extra, temporary personnel, and the entire place was in a state of confusion. New displays had been brought in, and all of the aisles were being rearranged. Aisles that used to contain certain items were on the other side of the store now, and all of the aisles were littered with pallets full of items, that the temporary workers were busily stocking on the shelves.

Still, they were open for business, and I needed to get my shopping done, so I forged onward. It's a good thing that I made a shopping list of everything I needed, because not one single item in the store was in the same place it used to be, so I couldn't just go up and down the aisles and pick items out by memory. It took a bit longer, and I had to back track several times, but weaving my way through pallets of items, and workers stocking shelves, I was eventually able to fill my cart, and check every item off my list............well almost every item. I had a hankering for some barbecued pork ribs, but I didn't want to mess with the whole charcoal grilling operation, so I thought I would just cook them quickly in my convection oven. Thirty minutes and they would have come out lovely. But I didn't have a broiler pan, so I looked for some disposable aluminum broiler pans, but they didn't have any. They had aluminum baking sheets, stuffing pans, roasting pans, lasagna pans, and cake and cupcake pans, but not a single broiler pan. As you are all certainly aware, broiler pans have a deeply grooved bottom, so the drippings drain away from the meat; an absolute must when grilling fatty meat in the oven. I thought about substituting a roasting pan, but the thought of my ribs boiling in their own fat was not very appealing, so I gave up on the entire idea.

A girl has to stay regular you know, so I took a trip down the health care and pharmaceutical aisle, to find a jar of Metamucil (psyllium seed fiber) . Since I was diagnosed as a type II diabetic about six years ago, I try to avoid anything with added sugar, so I was looking for sugarless Metamucil, but all I could find was a small 30 teaspoon dose jar. I approached a young woman stocking shelves and asked her if they had a larger size in the sugar free variety. She casually looked on the shelf just as I had, and said no there was none. Then glancing down at my bare legs, and then looking up at my face with it's arched brows, she suddenly smiled and took a more lively and engaging interest in my request. Very sweetly she said, that there is probably some in one of stacks of items on the pallets scattered about, but she didn't know for sure where it might be. She apologized profusely, and gave me a very warm smile!

This particular store has three self-checkout aisles. I always use one of them, because I hate the way store clerks throw all of your goods into a dozen or more amorphously shaped plastic bags. That's way too many bags to have to deal with to begin with, and because they have no rigid structure, everything squeezes together when you pick them up. When you get home, you find bread, meat and fruit, crushed by cans and other hard objects.

When I was an Army brat in high school, and living in Frankfurt am/Mein, I used to work Saturdays at the US Army Commissary, bagging groceries and carrying them out to people's cars. It was there, that I learned the fine art of properly packing paper grocery bags. Cans, bottles and other hard and rigid stuff on the bottom, and bread, eggs, fruit and other soft stuff on the top! All frozen and refrigerated items were packed together in double bags, to insure they were kept at their lowest temperature on the way home! It was such a simple formula, but it seems to have been completely forgotten.

If you let the clerks in the stores pack your groceries today, you will get home to find your cold and frozen stuff scattered throughout your bags. Your cold stuff will be lukewarm, and your frozen stuff will be defrosting. Not to mention, that if you have a weeks worth of groceries, you will have 10 - 15 bags to carry into the house, instead of the two or three papers bags that I can easily pack all of that stuff into, far more efficiently.

After the bags were all packed and loaded back into the cart, it was back into the sun to load them into the truck. The temperature had risen another four or five degrees while I was in the store, and walking out of the air conditioning into the heat radiating off the asphalt parking lot, was like stepping into an oven! A store manager came by, just as I had finished unloading my cart, and with a smile, he offered to take my cart back to the cart bay at the entrance of the store. No notice or mention at all, was made of my totally hairless arms and legs. In fact the only visible notice, other than the girl in the pharmacy aisle, was by another woman who worked in the store, who came by my self-checkout aisle to verify my age, because I was buying some wine. She smiled and jokingly asked me, "Are you old enough to buy that?", to which I smiled and replied, "I certainly hope so!" Although I'm nearly 62, she gave me the once over, looking me up and down, then ran her her card in front of the scanner to approve my purchase. Upon leaving she glanced down at my bare legs again, then gave me an endearing smile, and said thanks! I do love those endearing smiles! Women seem to be so much cooler with gender variance than men!

The thermometer in the overhead console of my truck read 97°F when I pulled away. My truck has an excellent air conditioning system, but even with the windows cracked while I shopped, it took about five minutes after starting the truck up, to get the cab cooled down, however once I made it a few miles west on I-64, I was chillin' once again! Once the groceries were home and unloaded, the rest of the day was spent in air conditioned comfort, venturing out only once again a few hours later, to drive up to the highway and get my mail out of the mailbox. This time, completely as Melissa.

My sister and her daughter (my niece of course), are the two people I love most in the whole world! They are both exceptionally sweet, funny, and intelligent women. When I came out to them, my sister cried for me, but they both instantly accepted me! That was such a contrast from the way my mother and father reacted, when they discovered I was trans, decades earlier. They treated me like I was diseased, and need to be cured. That treatment initiated an emotional isolation that lasted for decades. I think mom and dad eventually got over the idea that I was a pervert, but they remained in denial about my transsexualism, probably thinking that if I just persevered, I would eventually overcome it. God love them, but I'm afraid that concepts as revolutionary to their generation as gender reassignment, were just way too hard for them to comprehend. And me, being the dutiful loving son, who always felt guilty about disappointing them, even though it seems no matter what I always did, I was just pushed farther back into the closet by their reactions. That's why it's so nice to have such a loving and accepting sister and niece!

It was my niece's birthday this month. She Often comes to my mother's for Monday night supper, so I thought I'd take her a card with a check enclosed, as a birthday present. The trouble was, I didn't have any birthday cards, but I did have plenty of left over Christmas cards. No problem! I selected a lovely card, with picture of a beautiful snow covered cottage, adorned in Christmas lights. The inscription inside that said, "May the warmth of this holiday season fill your home with happiness.", was scratched out to say, "May the warmth of this Birthday fill your home with happiness." A cheap trick.......I know......but my niece loved it! Did I mention that she is a sweetheart? Well.......yes, I did, didn't I?

The week after next, my sister (who is also a sweetheart, by the way!) and her choir will be going to France, where they will sing in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, among other venues! Yes, they are that good! I'm so proud of her! And in spite of the help that has been offered by several kind readers, I still haven't gotten around to figuring out how to embed an I-tunes file of her choir, from my I-Mac to my blog. Maybe one of these days I will figure it out, and you will realize that I am not bullshitting you about how good my sister's choir is. When I heard them for the first time, I was truly amazed!

Here is a little something special from Billie Holiday, to close out this post.

Melissa XX


Halle said...

It might seem strange to envy such extreme heat, but after many days in a row of rain and cool (into the 70's F, low 20's C) here in Central Ontario, it would be nice to warm up some.

Up here the grocery bag situation has changed over the last couple of years. Stores sell cloth or heavy reusable bags, and encourage you to bring them by charging for the plastic disposable ones.

Because they are larger and sturdy, the net result is shorter travel time from the car to the house, even if the packing job is disorganized. You are right about the way the checkout people used to be so organized compared with the current situation. Maybe it was the brown paper bag and the way it would stand there on its own, inviting you to place things in 'properly'.

Thanks for today's chronicle Melissa. You have me envying your sister; singing in a cathedral, and Notre Dame!



Jenny said...

I'm somewhat of an obsessive on bag packing at the supermarket too. It's rare for British supermarkets to pack for you so I carefully marshal all the stuff on the belt in the order in which I want to pack it. I'm still usually slower than the checkout operator though.

Veronica said...

OK, that might be too hot even for me! But still, since it's one of the slow start on summer years here, I would love a heat wave.

I wonder what those people are actually thinking when they see your hairless skin and your eyebrows? At least it seems to be friendly! I do hate when supermarkets rearrange themselves. Really slows you down!

BTW, cloth bags are where it's at, hon. We have stores doing the same thing as Halle describes. You can get ahead of the curve! We must have a dozen cloth bags by now. And during the summer, even with temperatures much lower than you're having, I always go grocery shopping with a small cooler. As soon as I get back to the car, any frozen or cold perishable stuff, wherever it's packed (and I've usually done my own packing), goes into the cooler.

With the summer you're having, maybe it was refreshing to receive a wintery-looking kinda birthday card. :)

The thing about embedding anything in your blog is that it needs a sharable host, which usually leaves out your own computer. Photos are easy because Blogger automatically gives you Picasa space, but anything else needs its own host -- YouTube, Utterli, or something like the space you usually get from your ISP for a homepage.

Anonymous said...

23 miles to go to a grocery store! Wow you dont want to forget the milk do you!

99 degree F is to damn hot. 70 - n75 is perfect.