Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Cloudy Days

TracyDonkey.JPG, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
The photo accompanying this post was put there expressly to remind me that not everyday is like today..and yesterday...and the day before. The last few days would definitely not qualify for the high point in my life. The weather has turned cold again and the ambient temperature in my house and my refrigerator are pretty much the same. I must admit to being rather tired of wearing an old Eddie Bauer fleece jacket indoors to fend off the chill. Cold is one thing when you can go into a warm room and relax a bit, but when it is unrelenting, your whole body becomes tired with the effort of warming. At night I lay a heavy nightgown of cotton fleece on the oil radiator that pitifully works on the glaciers in the living room so that at least that is warm when I go to bed. A small battalion of rat terriers helps to warm up the snowfield that passes for my bed, but we aren't really comfy until nearly morning, when it's time to brave the chill again to get going for the new day. I keep tellling myself that I will look back longingly sometime in June, but that doesn't do much for feet that go numb on my tile floors.

An assortment of my mechanical friends have decided that this is the time to remind me that they have minds/mechanisms of their own. My laptop and iPod both seem to have some memory problems and may have to take a trip to Dubai for rehab. This is not happy news even though they both are under warranty. I'm supposed to go into the Apple doctors this morning to refine the diagnosis, but unfortunately my Jeep is at the mechanic. I noticed that it wasn't running smoothly and thought that there might be a problem with the fuel filter. We changed that (along with the pump since Jeep in its infinite wisdom decided that the two should be one, thereby increasing the sales value of the spare parts), but that wasn't the problem. Now they are changing the oil and filter in the transmission and hopefully that will fix it. If it doesn't, I'm looking at rather more hefty repairs. But that Jeep is my lifeline and I can't afford for it to fall apart. Right now I'm having to rely on the kindness of friends to get things done.

As if the electronics and the car weren't enough, I also had to go into the centre of town yesterday with Mona to buy myself a new stove. My previous cooker was an antique that had been in our villa when we bought the place and it finally announced its retirement the other night while I was baking bread for my parrots. I heard a loud pop and went into the kitch to find the floor covered in small chunks of the mirrored glass that had once been the outside of the oven door. So right now I'm sitting in my fleece jacket typing on my unhappy laptop and staring at a large carton in the middle of my living room floor. The carton contains my new stove and I'm waiting for the workmen who have to dismantle one of my kitchen cupboards to get the old one out and the new one in. Unfortunately, I had the fridge and stove in place before the cupboards were installed in the world's smallest kitchen. The workmen had best show up soon since I still have to go to the Apple guys downtown, be back in time for riding with clients, and bake more bird bread tonight. With this weather, the parrots are consuming food like elephants.

I know that I am one of those people whose mental outlook is strongly affected by light. A winter in San Francisco during the rainiest year in California's history was as close to hell as I ever wish to come. In four months we had about four sunny days and I thought that I was never going to have any energy again. Egypt's almost perpetual sunshine is just what my solar batteries need and I feel the drop sharply when the sun just isn't there. We had more rain in Alexandria but the storms would blow through dumping gallons on us interspersed with sunshine. It's the uniform grey that gets to me. But the weather icons on the bottom of my Firefox browser tell me that the temperature is supposed to go up 10 degrees tomorrow and the sun should come back, so life will look up again. Now if I can just get the machines working the way that they should....


Anonymous said...

Leila here from Dove's Eye View. Poor thing - I remember arriving in Egypt at the end of January, 1983... it really was cold. And as I made friends among the expatriates and native Cairenes, I was amused to meet a very rugged Wisconsin man who complained that he hadn't gotten out of bed for a month because he'd never been so cold in his life. The ambient temperatures outdoors were warmer than in NYC, where I'd been living, and anywhere else in the East and Midwest of the USA. But something about those underheated tile and stone indoor environments just chills the bones of us North Americans. You've been there so long, I would have thought you've adjusted. Maybe the problem is living alone, even with all those animal friends. If you were in a typical Cairene extended family, the body heat of all those kids, in-laws and cousins would bring up the temps inside.

My memory of my first day in Cairo, late January, includes a big water main break while I was walking around the Nile Hilton/Tahrir Square area; this was instructive because I got to see what men wear under their galabeyehs in the wintertime as they delicately lifted robes to negotiate foot high puddles. I've never seen such thick, layered, padded long underwear. It reminded me of old movie stereotypes of The Mummy. Amusing, yes, but very practical, given the weather.

I really do sympathize, and wish you could get a better heater. "Kul haggah i zay" - fondly, Leila

Anonymous said...

Leila again - I didn't intend my comment to sound one whit critical - I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with living alone! I've done a lot of that in my short life. And not saying "you ought to be used to it" - just sympathizing that after all these years, it's still too darned cold for you! Again, wish I could send you my radiant oil heater from Oakland, which does warm up a small room nicely - but of course it's impractical to ship and wouldn't work with your electricity anyway...