Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Fan Zone

 This post has absolutely nothing to do with football stadiums or sports spectator seating.

Our new home has one flaw.   It can get hot.   Really hot.   Last winter, we rarely had to run the central heat, except for maybe a cycle or two first thing in the morning to take away the chill.   Yea for the winter utility bills!  Oh, wait a minute.   This is Texas, so that really only affects two--maybe three--utility bills?

We have no mature trees anywhere near our home, so our large roof just soaks in the heat.   Thermal curtains are on the front windows for the morning heat (when our door handle gets too hot to touch) and solar screens are on the kitchen windows, on the back of the house, where the evening sun comes bearing down.   I complained about our lack of trees to a friend from Louisiana.   She told me the new neighborhoods cleared all the trees and people had cut down trees because of all the damage done by trees during the past few years when hurricanes came ashore.    Hmm...so we're not alone!   Actually, I hear the same complaints about hot houses from most of my friends.   In our last home, we had lots of shade, so the sunlight was not as intense.   I was so spoiled.

So, as I wrote above, we have solar screens on our kitchen windows.   We added them a month ago and they made a HUGE improvement.   We can sit at the kitchen table between the hours of 5 and 7 now!    It's still a hot kitchen, though.   If I turn on the stove and/or the oven, the temperature rises even more.   In our last house, we had electric wall ovens and I think we felt less heat from them than we do from our gas range oven.

My next plan was to switch our existing light fixture over the kitchen table with a ceiling fan.   Then, I saw an ad for a pretty floor fan and decided that might be a cheaper route.   We could move it around where we needed it.   Plus, it wasn't going to be an easy or cheap job to replace the light fixture.   Every person who has looked at it--electrician, handyman, friends--just looked at the existing switches on the wall, made a face, and tried to explain what they would have to do.   That's when my eyes would glaze over and I would start thinking about what metal finish and blade color I wanted on my new fan.

Anyway...today I put together the new floor fan and it's wonderful!   Such a relief in my hot kitchen.   Plus, it's pretty and a little retro-looking:)    And the finish is oil rubbed bronze.



It makes me remember elementary school days.   The south Louisiana school I attended for kindergarten through sixth grade was not air conditioned.   Did I mention it was in SOUTH LOUISIANA?   And it was the 1980s, not the 1880s?!   Well, that's not entirely true.   I mean about the lack of air conditioning, not the Louisiana location or the century.   The office had a window air unit, as did the several temporary buildings (T-buildings, we called them) that served as classrooms for some second and fourth grade classes and special education, including Gifted and Talented.   Boy, did we miss second grade when we left for third.   And boy, did we enjoy going to G/T pullout classes on Wednesdays!

All the other classes in the main buildings made do with a wall of windows, which were great on breezy days and on stormy days.     I still remember stormy days.   There's nothing like a south Louisiana rainstorm as it builds.   The sky would get darker, changing from darker shades of blue to a deep violet-blue.   The temperature would drop, making it almost chilly right as the rain began to fall.   We would rush to find things to hold down our papers as the wind began to pick up ahead of the rain.   Then the mad dash of the strongest boys in the class as they raced to close the old windows before too much rain entered the classroom.   

In addition to the windows, some classes had FANS.   Fans were glorious things to me.   The only fan in our house was our large attic fan.   We ran it in March and April before the temperature required us to turn on the central A/C.   I used to love to sit in my bedroom in the evening and read under my window, tucked away in my private world, as the closed lace sheers and curtains, pulled by the attic fan, billowed around me, closing me off from everything else.

When it came to fans, some of our classrooms had none, while others might have multiple ones.   The teachers must have hated dealing with them.   Imagine trying to find just the right location so papers and people weren't too disturbed by them.   Then, there was the noise.   We didn't care, though.   It was exciting to be in a classroom with at least one fan.   Sometimes the teacher brought the fan.   Other times, students would bring one.   Now, those were some special people: the fan people.   See, if you brought the fan to school, it was always placed near you so you could benefit from it.   I remember one year, the teacher let the seating arrangement change so the fan people could choose friends to sit near them--in the Fan Zone.   I remember the first time I got to sit in a Fan Zone.   I don't think I could concentrate from the pleasure and excitement.   I mean, we had central air at home, but all that faded in the hot days of school, especially in those beginning months of August and September.   All that seemed to matter was the heat and humidity right then.   I felt a little guilty as I looked at my classmates outside the Fan Zone.   We had our own little sweaty hierarchy and it was all based on who brought the fans.

In seventh grade, we moved into a brand new school complex that housed K - 12 on one campus.   It was a beautiful modern, two-story building.   It was divided into three distinct wings for elementary, middle, and high, each with its own color scheme, reflected in the carpet that changed as you left one wing and entered another.   Now, we all had central air.   There were only one or two tall windows in each classroom.   It was actually a problem for some of the students without air conditioning at home because they were sick at first as they transitioned from the cool school back to their hot homes, day after day.

I never forgot those hot school days, though.   It made me feel a link with the children in historical novels I read.  Those old-fashioned classrooms, with their walls of windows are still the architectural ideal for me when it comes to schools.

And, maybe best of all, it gives me-- not even forty years of age and a child of the computer age--a chance to tell (nag at) my children, "Well, you should be happy.   When I was your age, we didn't even have air conditioning in school..."   And in the South, that's just as good as a story about walking ten miles to school, in snow up to your waist...with no shoes, yeah, no shoes...and I had to...

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