I did something I seldom do this morning.
I wore an apron.
Like many other locations in the Northern Hemisphere, this week we are having a heat wave. It was already 90 F (32 C) by 11:00 AM, so two hours before solar noon, given Daylight Saving Time. Not quite as bad as daughter E in London which set an all-time record at 40 C (104 F) earlier this week, but hot enough that I wanted to get kitchen work that involved heat out of the way this morning.
When I was at the farmstand earlier this week, they were selling beets for only a dollar a quart, so I bought some to roast. I decided to peel and cut them in chunks before roasting. Because I didn’t want to risk splattering my cream and blue print sundress with red beet juice, I donned the apron that B wears sometimes when he is baking.
While the beets were roasting, I made cooked butterscotch pudding for a pie. When I was growing up, my mom used to make pudding pies or sometimes fruited jello pies in the summer. I think that it isn’t a very common practice anymore because there were no pie directions on the pudding package. I remembered the modifications well enough, I hope, that the pie should set. Bonus: I had a graham crust in the cupboard so I didn’t have to bake one.
Admittedly, I don’t have to worry about our kitchen getting unbearably hot because of our air conditioning, provided very efficiently by our geothermal heat pump system. (Geothermal heat pumps use much less energy than conventional central air systems but I wanted to get my electric cooktop and oven work done early so as not to add to the electricity burden which rises in the late afternoon/evening.)
As I keep hearing about people in Europe and the US suffering from extreme heat, my mind goes to heat pumps which will keep them warm in the winter without burning methane and safely comfortable in the increasingly hot summer heat waves, all while helping to combat the greenhouse gas emissions that worsen climate change. Bonus: Heat pumps can break the stranglehold that Russia and other oligarchies have over fossil fuels, promoting peace and economic stability. So much conflict has fossil fuels as an underlying cause. We would do well to stop using them as quickly as possible, so, for peace and the planet, let’s transition to heat pumps NOW.
After a few hours in Piran, we boarded our bus for a late lunch in Koper and then went to the cathedral to rehearse for our concert that evening.
The cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary. Our Slovenian guide told us that about half of the churches in Slovenia are dedicated to Mary under one or another of her many titles. Originally built in the 12th century, the cathedral evolved over the centuries to incorporate elements of later styles. Interestingly, the bell tower was originally a Roman watchtower, which explains why the stonework is so different from the rest of the cathedral. You can see some beautiful photos of the cathedral, including its impressive artwork, here.
As we saw often in Slovenia, locations tend to be a mix of styles over its long history, most of it spent dominated by other entities. The square where the cathedral is located is named Tito Square, after the president-for-life of Yugoslavia. The City Hall, which is on another side of the square, is a 15th century Venetian palace.
After rehearsal, we had a bit of time to get something to eat before we had to dress for the concert. Given that our lunch had been both late and large, B and I decided to visit a gelato shop down near the port. We ate quite a lot of gelato in Slovenia, as there were shops or stands selling it wherever we had free time, perhaps a nod to the Italian influence in at least the southern part of Slovenia. Fortunately for B, who is lactose intolerant, most of the shops had a nice selection of sorbets and vegan gelato. On this evening, I chose a yummy vegan peach gelato.
After we dressed in our black concert attire, we waited outdoors until it was time to file into the cathedral. Here, my roommate at Smith and my first Smith friend are sitting and waiting, utilizing the fans that she brought for us. The sitting was important because we would be spending a lot of time standing on stone floors. The fans were important because it was July and quite warm. We were lucky, however, to have been in Slovenia in the time between two major European heat waves that set many all-time high temperature records. (I’m the one on the right with the silver hair and blue fan.)
The concert was well-attended and well-received. It was so much fun to sing in that acoustical environment. You can read more about the music and concerts here.
Being here in Honolulu for a few weeks has highlighted some differences from being at home in upstate New York, other than driving:
* Today, there was the monthly test of the tsunami warning system. E’s neighborhood is higher in elevation, so she lives above the evacuation zone. When we were staying in the hotel in Waikiki, the first several floors of the hotels were mostly dedicated to parking. This allows them to keep people safely on the upper floors in case of tsunami.
* A heat wave here is not as hot as in most of the rest of the US. We have been having a heat wave with some records tied or broken, but it is only 88-91 degrees F. (31-33 degrees C.)
* There are microclimates everywhere, but they are much more noticeable here. For instance, in E’s neighborhood, you can be walking in what seems to be a rain shower – while there are no clouds overhead and the sun is shining. The rain is falling in the Palolo valley and being blown into Kaimuki.
* At home, I’ve never had a tiny chameleon show up in the bathroom, matching its color to the bathmat.
* There is much more coverage in the news on climate change and renewable energy. Despite Hawai’i being the most remote islands in the world, the effects and the threat of more effects are real.
* Because the angle of the sun is higher here, solar panels can often be placed on more than just the south-facing slope of a roof.
* Unlike home, there is almost never a basement here. It ‘s strange to me to see water heaters just sitting outside under the eaves.
* There is a lot more discussion and coverage of homelessness and affordable housing. Rents and real estate prices here are very high and there are many people who can’t afford them, even when they are employed. While there are single people who are homeless, there are also many homeless families.
* The tension between the indigenous Hawaiians and the state is obvious. There are demonstrations almost daily against development of certain areas. While these problems are also present in New York, they are much more hidden.