Saturday, June 23, 2012

Retirement Issues — Heat Wave Sleep Depraved

Like many other parts of the country, Rhode Island experienced an official heat wave this week. The older I get, the less I can tolerate the heat. Now that I’m retired, I’m at home most days, and we have no AC in our 100+ year-old house. Multiple box fans create cross breezes, but they give only slight relief.

The basement, where I have my office and computers, is relatively cool, but the upper floors are oppressive. That makes sleeping a challenge. Here’s what happened Wednesday night, mid heat wave.

Our king size bed was down to sheets only. Three box fans circulated the air around our bedroom and two open windows added some cross ventilation. My husband, Jagdish, and I were sprawled in our respective spaces, careful not to press sticky limbs one against another.

Around 5 am, I got up to use the bathroom (all that water I drank to keep hydrated…) When I came back, Jagdish was spread swastika-style across the middle of the bed. Luke (my male cat) had settled into the sphinx position on what was left of the spot I had vacated. Front paws bent at the elbows and parallel in front of him, body elongated but on his belly, tail stretched full length behind him.

For a minute or so, I weighed different strategies for reclaiming my space. I finally opted for picking up Luke and repositioning him. That left me to deal with Jagdish’s swastika foot. I gently pushed it aside with my own foot. In short order, back it came, so back I pushed it, and eventually, back it came again. Each time, his scratchy toenails woke me up.

I considered getting a nail clipper, putting on my glasses and giving him a pedicure while he slept. The chances of my getting back to sleep after that would have been slim to none.

Another option was to find one of those drawstring fabric bags that come with dress shoes and tie it over his foot. But I was clueless where those landed once the house was staged for market. A plastic grocery bag would have been easier to find, but in this heat, I’d have to be sadistic to do that to him—ragged toenails not withstanding.

I finally decided to angle myself toward my edge of the bed until I was out of spousal foot range. That left my own feet dangling in midair. Anyone who has ever owned a cat will know that toes dangling over the edge of a bed are like catnip to felines. As it turned out, Luke made a few half-hearted swipes and decided it was just too hot. Soon after, I was back asleep.

By Thursday night (still mid heat wave) I had figured out a better strategy. As soon as Jagdish’s foot wandered into my space I was ready for him. I took an old necktie and secured his ankle to the iron bed frame. I used a slip knot, so he could easily free himself if he needed to head to the bathroom. For any of you wondering if he’d think I had something hinky in mind, trust me. At 90 plus degrees and almost as humid as Delhi just before monsoon season, I wasn’t worried about that.

This heat wave has prompted me to revise the list of requirements for our condo in Vermont when we’re finally ready to buy one. Must-haves include: first floor master, basement suitable for offices (preferably walk out), and now—central air conditioning. Some things are just beyond compromise.

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