Some Like it Hot, Me Not

Yesterday it was June, today it’s August. For the life of me I don’t know why it always takes me by surprise, but every summer it arrives on my doorstep like a family of out-of-town visitors that I insisted drop in for a visit at a long-forgotten cocktail party. Shock quickly fades to resolution: please come in, would you mind removing your 98-degree days and hanging your high humidity in the closet? Thanks so much. Cocktails?
It’s not like I dislike August, but I approach it like a catwalk connecting July and September, it’s a month I have to navigate. It’s not that bad outside of the heat, the temperature, the humidity, and the sweltering, unforgiving wave of unseen lava searing your skin and melting your soul from your body, ok it’s the heat.
I like to view myself as an outdoor kind of girl, but truth be told this month I’m going to be cranking the AC and breaking out the Popsicles. If you find yourself in the same situation, you may want to spend some time working on your You’ll Thank Me Later list. (To clarify, the you from you’ll is you doing things for you that the future you will appreciate, but the current you finds pretty mundane, but is stuck inside the house due to the heatwave of death, so you don’t have much of a choice in the matter, do you?) Stay with me here.
Mind-numbing, but important chore #1. Reach under your sinks and toilets and turn the shutoff valves off, then back on again. Extra points for doing it twice. If the valves aren’t used occasionally, over the years mineral deposits in the water will collect and cause them to leak or be inoperable. If the valves stop working, that quick repair you were expecting now requires the water main to be turned off, or you may need a visit from your friendly neighborhood plumber. So once a year, give them a turn. If you find that you do have a stuck valve, here’s a quick video on how to get it working again.
Mind-numbing, but important chore #2. Locate your water main shut off and make sure it turns off (see chore #1). An active leak is not the time to play hide and seek, so finding it now can save you a headache later. Main valves are generally located in the basement or crawl space where the supply pipe comes through the foundation. When you find it, label it for the next guy. If you can’t find one, and you are on a town or city water system, there should be a water meter set in the ground in front of your house near the street. Lift the cover and there should be a valve inside which can be turned off with a pair of channel grips or a $4.50 specialty tool.
Chore #3. Make sure you have access to fire extinguishers, and that they are fully charged. We usually buy a fire extinguisher and then forget about it. Make sure yours have not lost their charge over the years by checking the gauge near the top. Also make sure you have multiple fire extinguishers in accessible locations, including the kitchen, near heat sources like your furnace, the garage, and one in your master bedroom closet since the majority of fires happen at night.
Chore #4. Your vacuum cleaner has one or two filters that need to be changed or cleaned every 4-6 months. Someone pointed out this little factoid to me when I was complaining about my vacuum’s performance, and it was a game-changer. It keeps the cleaning level at its highest and reduces the amount of dust that gets recirculated back into the air. Have that “I just vacuumed!” smell after you use it? That’s a sure sign you need a change.
Chore #5. If your locks are more than a few years old, give them a shot of graphite to keep them lubricated and working properly. It can make a huge difference for locks that give you a hard time, or picky locks that have to have the key just so for them to work. A tube runs $3-$5 and can be found online or in the lock section of any hardware store. As much as I love WD-40, never use it in a lock as it will remove the proper lubricants and cause the lock to stick worse than before.
Mind-numbing, in a good way, chore #6. It’s hot, you’ve done your chores, time to make an Aviation. This cocktail dates back to the early days of flying, is a beautiful purple thanks to the creme de violette, and tastes like you’ve left August miles below.
  • 2 ounces gin

  • 1⁄2 ounce maraschino liqueur

  • 3⁄4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1⁄4 ounce of creme de violette Shake over ice, and strain into a cocktail glass Garnish with a brandied cherry

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