Let me count the ways:

The dog didn’t chase the cats.

The cats sat under the sprinklers and didn’t move.

The old truck overheated as soon as it started.

The water in the swimming pool was too warm for the first time ever.

The plants in the garden looked like they were melting like candles or the Wicked Witch of the East.

Tasting rooms were closing even though a busy weekend was about to hit.

Tomatoes were exploding.

The grapes were cooking on the vine.

It was hotter than a muffler on a tractor after tilling. It was hotter than a sauna with too much water being sprinkled on the rocks. Everyone in wine country has his or her story about the heat wave.

My story regarding the local heat surge begins in February. When the temperature reaches 111 degrees it’s hard to remember the time just a few months ago when we were dealing with cold and lots of rain. But there we were, to escape the rain we went away, not for too long, just long enough to leave the house to its own devices. That’s when the gremlins took over.

The gremlins focused on the heating system. As it was relayed to me later by the repairman, there was an electrical surge and the framistams, frim frams and the flux capacitors in the furnace went sideways and the result was that the auxiliary system clicked on and for a very cold week, never turned off. The house was a cozy 90 degrees for the week and the mice and other critters enjoyed it. The inconvenience of the repair was nothing compared to the shock when I received my electric bill from our good friends at the local utility. The usual monthly invoice for electricity was $300. For the month with an auxiliary furnace, the bill was an even $4,000.

After a few parlays back and forth regarding bill forgiveness, the obvious was clear: I had in fact used all that electricity and I was, in fact, on the hook for the amount. The lessons were clear:

1. Never leave the house.

2. If you do have to leave, make sure nothing will turn on in your absence.

3. The utility company always wins. (I already knew this one.)

And I vowed to keep the winter thermostat at 60 and, during the summer, never ever turn on the air conditioner. Until this week. Against all better judgment, the air conditioner was turned on. How hot was it? It was so hot I turned on the air conditioner. I like electricity; I just don’t like to pay for it. The alternatives were to sit in the car with the motor idling and the AC on full blast or to hang around in Steves Hardware in front of the fans.

The air conditioner in question is not a little window gizmo. It is more like a nuclear reactor that sits next to the house and, when turned on, buzzes and wheezes. Forget flying cars and artificial intelligence, it is a miracle that a box can sit in the over 100-degree heat and send cool air through a little pipe into the house. As the fan kicked in, the cool air started wafting into the house and we all raced around to close the windows. I could see the electric bill growing as the cool air flowed out of the windows.

Setting the thermostat doesn’t matter. Whether set for 70 or 90, the air conditioner is on all the time. I don’t know how much my electric bill will be for the month but I do know it’s hot. And I know I don’t want another $4,000 bill. In the meantime, I will stay cool.

Rich Moran spends his time in wine country trying to be cool.

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