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bring marshmallows, for now

The Pony Fire was one of four fires burning in southwest Montana this past week. Photo by Mike Greener/Bozeman Daily Chronicle

It’s hot here in southwest Montana — smokin’ hot. I feel sheepish complaining about our string of 95 degree days here, feeling your eyeballs roll in Texas, Utah, Florida, the East Coast and points in between. But in my defense, most of us don’t have air conditioning in southwest Montana (because our “hot” season is comparatively short, Thank Gawd), so when it’s hot outside, it’s hot inside, too.

The boys have taken to hiding in the basement where it’s cooler, occasionally emerging into the oven-like daylight of the upstairs for food, squinting like naked mole rats.

As of this past Monday, four fires were raging in our region, and as I write it’s warm, gusty and the air is hazy with smoke. Yesterday, a 95-degree day with 6 percent humidity and winds gusting around 25 miles per hour, I swear I could see our front lawn morph into straw. Also, there’s a foreboding sense that with fire season starting early, this could be a “bad fire year” in the West. And while there are actually benefits to fire, a bad fire year usually means no campfires in the backcountry; then when things worsen they flat-out close the surrounding playground of wild lands and you stay home grumbling in your desert-house where you occasionally microwave food for naked mole rats.

We’ve also had a huge, gaping hole in the front of our house this past 10 days, which wasn’t a big deal until the weather turned toasty, but don’t register this as complaining. I’m pleased silly with the Before and After look of our still-evolving house in general, and the front door/entryway that Shawn is now remodeling in specific.

The old front door and entry was built in the late 1960s and hadn't been updated when we bought the house several years ago...

New front door awaiting trim and finishwork, but already much better, no? We found the door at a lumberyard garage sale for $25 because of a scratch in the wood.


Old exterior...

New exterior

Stay cool and have a happy 4th of July!

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Reader Comments (14)

I can understand 95 degrees being considered "hot". But 6% humidity? 6%? Did you drop a zero, or what? Here in FL the temp number = the humidity number more often than not. 95 degrees & 95% humidity. (And it finally stopped raining...bye, bye Debbie!)

There, I've done my Florida bitchin for the day. Been here 30 years now and still can't stand it.

Speaking of bitchin, that's what your new front door is! Love how you guys turn other folks cast offs into HGTV Gold. Give that family a reality show! DIY Naked Mole Rats!

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrotherJohn

Forest Fire, few words can make me panic and want to hide in the basement. I lived thru fires in Yellowstone in the smoke and fire . I do not like the smell of smoke. I am praying that the fires are short lived and do not do any damage. Poor Naked Mole Rats sounds like they need a pool. It has been hot here too and our window airconditoners are getting a workout. Love the before and after pics looks like a brand new house. The front door looks awesome and the price is even more awesome. Never underestimate the frugalness of you and the Dutchboy.

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSDA

In 1988 , the Year of the Inferno Fires, I lived in Gardiner where my dad and I managed the airport. We fueled firefighting aircraft night and day, thousands and thousands of gallons of 100-130 and Jet A, around the clock. I did my best to study every detail of that horrifying season so I would never forget what fire can be. Hanging clothes in the smoke, barely being able to see the chimney of our house from the clothesline. Taking my own naked mole rats to the river to cool off, and through the smoky light the river was blood red like an Egyptian plague. Seeing the mountains at night lit up with tiny lights like Heidi's Alps, but they weren't quaint villages; they were more and more fresh fires. Stomping cinders in the back yard, and sweeping the front porch free of the night's collection of smoking pine needles blown from five miles away. Thank God conditions aren't the same, but it's a sobering season.

If you're stuck behind doors all summer, at least you're stuck behind a handsome and impressive one! You guys... lookit that house! You sure know how to counter entropy!

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterniceladywithdog

... and ... how the heck did you find naked mole rats? I hit the link and marveled that you found THE appropriate critter. Do you hire out as a researcher sometimes?

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterniceladywithdog

House looks great. I have a wooden front door too. Right now I can't open it, because the wind and rain from Debby apparently caused it to swell shut.

I have to agree with my brother -- 6% humidity?!! Enjoyed a walk this morning because the humidity is only 65%.

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrother John's Sis

Love the redo progress! Lovely.

Fire season is so scary in this dry West. Here in Colorado it seems as if every corner is in flames except our small corridor. We are all on egg shells and hoping it will remain so.

Good luck with the moles. Mine are wearing on my last nerves. :)

You all are smoking and we're floating. I wish we could send some of this rain out your way.

Love that front door. It looks really great. Now can Shawn come and re-do ours?

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaveAuntie

Your house is coming along quite nicely!!! I like it! Makes me want to put in a new front door and I don't really even need one! =) We're sweatin in the heat over here on the other side of town as well. Kid #2 put on her sarong and announced that she was going "commando" and that it was "nice!" I think she's on to something. Kinda wishing we had a basement as well. I'd totally go live the naked mole rat life for a while!

Hang in there and stay cool!

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

First time in 2 years I've put the a/c in the window - and never EVER in June. Getting things lined up to be able to leave quickly if needed and I hate that. But....last year this time we were complaining (okay not me) because of the cold, rain and flooding. What a difference. Marshmallow - did you know you can roast them on your stove? Even an electric one? Serious it works and in a pinch Parrot chocolate covered marshmallows nuked in the microwave on a graham cracker will work. No campfire smell on them but then no chance of burning down the neighborhood either.

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSherry in Helena

I'll take your FL weather anytime. And 95 degrees in Montana is a cold front in AZ. We are looking at 113 tomorrow. Yeah, yeah, heard about the low humidity makes it feel cooler. Blah blah blah. Let me tell you, at 113 it's HOT regardless!

Love your new door. Don't you just love it when you're able to find a great deal! And I swear your house looks just like the one we had in NJ...eons ago. That's before you were a glimmer.

Stay cool everyone!

June 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDad's Cousin

At soccer last night people were "remarking" (not complaining) about the humidity, and that the plume of smoke so prominent on Tuesday was not visible.
We pumped up the air mattress so the kids could sleep in the basement last night. The one nice thing about hanging out in the basement is that the house stays kind of clean. My upstairs actually looks like grownups are in charge.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPooknelle

Brother John: See Dad's Cousins comment below....I guess Florida and Montana are two opposite ends of the spectrum, but when it's this dry your skin resembles a raisin and constantly flakes and itches, you stock up on products like lotion and "artificial tears" at the drugstore, and you're able to set things on fire just by LOOKING at them. Glad Debbie didn't give you too much trouble! Too bad we can't swap some percentage points in the humidity dept.

SDA: Yeah, your brother makes pretty good stuff out of not much to work with :) Glad you have a window air conditioner. If it gets too bad here, we'll be over. Just 10 hours or so, right?

NLwD: Oh my gosh, that reads like a scene out of a movie! Stomping cinders in your back yard?! That's crazy. Sounds like Gardiner is lucky it didn't go up in flames in '88 as well. Can't remember where I first heard of naked mole rats, but they are something, aren't they? If you scroll down on that Wiki link of naked mole rats in my post, you'll see a photo with the caption "a captive naked mole rat eating." Disconcerting the resemblance to my sons on hot, dry days.

Brother John's Sis: But just think how kind that humidity must be to your skin! (OK, if I lived in humidity I would complain just as much as I am now :) Our equivalent to your door swelling happens in winter when our car doors ice shut. Always a fun discovery when you're late for work.

Heather: I thought of all of you in Colorado while writing this post, remembering that it's even worse there so far this season. I'm not super hopeful about this trend, but I hope things quiet down for you guys and the air clears.

FaveAuntie: Shawn is fully for hire. He's re-roofing a friend's place right now with Middle Son helping. They work four hours in the morning before it gets too unbearably hot. (Middle Son is saving for a new computer to better work on his sound/editing projects.)

Laurie: That's hilarious! If I had a daughter I would love for her to inform me that due to the heat she was "going commando." Go girl!

Sherry: That's funny you should mention that about marshmallows. My sons actually thought up and convinced me to try the stove trick with them when they were quite young. We've also saved Peeps from Easter and roasted them over the fire. That's pretty fun. They work in the microwave as well. Sayin.' (Haven't tried chocolate covered marshmallows before! Ohmygosh.)

Dad's Cousin: You tell them! 113?! Wow. I feel like a sissy. Come on up to Montana and stay for a spell; it's (comparatively) cooler here.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterminor catastrophes

You live in a split? I thought those were a New England thing. Now I know exactly what your house looks like inside (unless you've moved walls).

We don't have central air conditioning because 1) it's too expensive to put into an 80-year-old house; 2) it makes people (me) less likely to go outside unless the temperature is perfect. it makes me feel claustrophobic; and 3) I like having to slow down because I'm boiling hot. We do, however, have loud, ugly window units in the bedrooms so we can sleep.

July 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersuekush

Sue: A loud, ugly window unit so that we can sleep is not a bad option...And splits? They're everywhere, I guess. Remodeling it is sort of like trying to sew a pig's ear into a silk purse, but it's improving anyway.

July 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterminor catastrophes

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