Hot, Hot, Hot

Hot dog

34C (93F) here in the shade yesterday, an excellent day to try out my new solar dryer!

Cake cooler trays with wire food cloches

The thermometer tells me 50C/122F in the sun. Those apricots are really cooking!

Apart from a couple of phone calls, I spent the day in utter blissful silence. I walked the dog, then watered the garden in the morning, to prepare it for the difficult day ahead, and then went over and watered my neighbour's pot plants while they are away for a few days.

My neighbour, Lisa, is effortlessly stylish, and this is her succulent collection.

Then I did cool, indoor jobs. I crushed all the dried oregano from the garden, which has been drying on trays on the dining room sideboard, for, oh, about two months now!

I did all my bookwork and got my accounts up to date. Boring but necessary.

I sorted through a suitcase of Important Pieces of Paper, and recycled much of it. Chuckled over the cards my children have made for me over the years (didn't recycle them, of course!). Found some cards and photos that I liked, so arranged them in the kitchen.

 My Grandma Muriel in the early 1920s as an adorable fairy.

My Grandma Hazel, same era, as a flower girl. Oh, those sausage ringlets!

Rushed in and out picking more apricots all through the day, as they seemed to ripen between morning and evening yesterday, in the unaccustomed heat. I had to pick them, or they would just have dropped to the ground (or on the washing..). Many splattered to the pavement, even so, so there was another fun job.. But here is the pay off - glorious dried essence of apricot.

Morsels of dried goodness from the dehydrator.

This weather is so extreme for Launceston. We generally get two or three days over 32C (90F) per year, usually in February. Typical Launceston summer weather hovers around 25C (77F). We are all sweltering in the unaccustomed heat and our gardens are wilting in the dry.

Still, all of the insulation we packed into this house when we renovated is having its effect. Our upstairs indoor temperature hovered at around 27C (80F) in the hottest part of the day, with all the windows and blinds shut, which is quite bearable, but even then there is relief. Our house is built into a hill:

The inner room downstairs is a living room/guest room with a sofa bed. The children have sleepovers down there and play their rowdy computer games with the door shut, but it is a divine retreat in the summer. I shut the doors of the north east facing rooms in front of it, and the inner living room is a cool cave, with a constant summer temperature of about 20C (70F). So I lay on the couch with the dog snoring gently away next to me, and finished my library book. Then I sorted through all my bookmarked 'favourites'.. there are so many fascinating diversions on the web, and I have bookmarked them all. I have been diverting myself with with this collection of family photographs from the US in the 40s and 50s. Each photo is captioned with a reminiscence by the photographer. Absolutely fascinating. The recollections are so detailed, the photographs so beautiful, the couple so beguiling.. this is the first bookmark of the folder I have labelled 'Good Reads', and so far I have been reading it for two days. The sorting project may take some time...

How are you dealing thriftily with the heat or the cold at this extreme time of year (or the bush fires, or the floods, or the cyclones...)


Tanya Murray said…
Doing much the same as you dear Jo, closed all the blinds etc and doing gentle jobs. I was hoping for an old B&W matinee but I don't think they do those anymore. I felt in the mood for "The Ghost and Mr Chicken"
Jo said…
Dearest Tanya, I had no idea what movie you were talking about, so I looked it up on-line, and there it is, the whole movie, on You Tube. You shall go to the ball, my dear...
Bek said…
Excellent work Jo. We have been lucky in Melbs to have had a bit of a spell of relief from the heat, with nice temps in the late 20s and early 30s. But next week will bring more late 30/40+ days, where I might need to break the shade cloths out again. On those days I hide inside and (shamefully) rely on the air con. My house has reasonable insulation, but was built by people from another hemisphere where it was smart to have the greater length of the house facing the sun. It gets full afternoon sun and can heat up a lot. I'm building up deciduous shade plants on those sides, but as yet they are not big enough to help keep the house cool. One day....
On the dried apricots, well done with your solar dryer, but you may need to put the dried fruits in the freezer, as unless they are really well dried (too dry for my taste preferences when I've dried apricots and plums) they tend to go mouldy after a few months. Although this assumes they last that long, of course. :)
Jo said…
I hear you on house orientation. Somehow we lucked out, and the view and morning sun are on the same side of the house - it wasn't something we intentionally looked for when we bought 15 years ago. Luckily also our awkwardly placed apricot tree shades the western side of the house. It is twelve years old, and higher than the roof, so hang in there:)

Ha ha, I will be hiding the apricots until school starts, then doling them out for lunchbox snacks. If I didn't do that they would be gone in a fortnight! I predict they will last two months at the most. I store them in brown paper bags to keep them dry, but great idea on freezing - I hadn't thought of that..
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

You're very lucky to have Peter Cundall as the local radio gardening go to dude. He knows his stuff. As an interesting side note, it is such a small mountain range up this way that I bump into Stephen Ryan all of the time at the local cafe / general store which is next door to his Dicksonia rare plant nursery. He's a nice bloke and runs the local horticultural society which also as an interesting side note, I'm being badgered into joining that particular group by members of the local seed saving splinter group (local politics can be a nightmare for me). I'm a bit worried that the horticultural group might be a bit unwelcoming because most of my garden is fluff and edibles. Sorry, this is your blog and I'm busy rubbishing on...

That is one sensible dog that you have there. The apricot drying is an excellent idea and if you are not offended, I'm going to pinch that idea over the next year or so (but will credit you as the source). Yeah, it was hot today and Wednesday it should hit 38'C here. I worked on the bees this afternoon and the suit was like immersing oneself in a hot water bath, but hot days are the days to open the hives. Hey, there is Aloe Vera in that collection. A good and very useful plant but not very frost hardy at all. The oregano looks great, top work. The apricots look excellent too - I've been keeping my lot in the fridge, just because I've never dried fruit before, what do you do to keep them? Do they go mouldy?

You have a very pleasant maritime climate. Two or three days here over 40'C (104'F) are the usual amount but two years ago there were ten! So far there have been about four this spring / summer, so far anyway. The inside of the house gets to no more than about 24'C usually (maybe 26'C if the overnight low hasn't cooled down i.e. > 22'C), but after two days over 40'C this summer, it got to 29'C inside which is the hottest that I've ever seen it.


Jo said…
Hi Chris, I bet you would have lots of very useful information to share in any gardening company.. I always loved Stephen's garden on gardening Australia.

I keep dried fruit in paper bags in the cupboard to keep the air circulating. If anything, they only dry out a little more over time. I've never had any go mouldy. Above, Bek mentioned that she keeps hers in the freezer, which I haven't thought of, but I am also keen to find ways to store preserves that don't require electricity, hence the drying and the paper bags.

You must have an amazingly insulated house (oh, that's right, you do, I've seen the pictures!) to keep it that cool during such hot days. Well done you! The wonderful thing about hot days in Tassie is that it always cools down in the evenings. Once I lived in Broken Hill, and after a few days of heat wave even the two foot thick walls of our little miner's cottage were warm to the touch. No respite at night at all..

Hope your garden surviving this hot spell ok.
narf7 said…
I make sure that I head outside when it's still dark to water Sanctuary so that I can hunker down inside for the duration. It's been windy the last few days down at the other end of the river so our temperatures have been significantly less than yours and much more easy to bear. This is the first school holidays that we have not been racing around outside doing major things because it is simply too hot. I like Tanya and your "gentle jobs" and have been trawling the interweb languidly and getting highly excited about finding things like "how to make your own Thai rain jars" and this wonderful link that got me contemplating a series of "Dirt cheap gardening" prospective blog posts. Stevie-boy is off to collect a few boxes of apricots from a friend today. Hopefully there are still some left on the tree. Enjoy the rest of your 20C Benson rich alone time :)
Anonymous said…
Cradle Mountain and Strahan were delightful. I think Lonnie copped all the heat.

But if I was home, I'd be a hybernater too. In my bedroom - the coolest room in our poorly insulated house.
Thank you for including Fahrenheit in your temperature readings! We are dealing with cold here, and I'm sorry to say I've got a drafty house and feel like we waste a lot of energy. I try to keep the thermostat down and the long johns handy, but one of these days when there's a little bit more cash on hand, I want to get someone to come out and advise us what we could do to better conserve energy.

Stay cool, my dear!

Jo said…
Fran, I am so looking forward to your upcoming posts to discover what a Thai rain jar is. Keep cool:)

Lucinda, nothing better than lying on your bed with a book in the half-dark on a hot day (it's ok, I have x-ray vision for print, honed by a childhood of reading under the covers at night..).

Frances, I hear you on the draughty house. Ours has tightened up year by year as we have renovated, but every winter I find a new draught to suffer from. I love the idea of an energy audit. I need to work out the best way to heat ours in winter..

Stay warm, my dear!
Unknown said…
Keeping cool in here today too! temps are up and I spent the day potting about 25 different types of seeds, all under the shade of course, then watered and admired! love catching up on your days xx
Jo said…
Clarissa, planting seeds is what I should be doing. Tomorrow..

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