Droopy Petunias, Thread Breaks & Steam

I am so sad for my wilting petunias!  When the temps hit 100°F last week it wasn’t so unusual for Minnesota in mid-July, but when the humidity factor hit a sticky 86% I cowered inside my protective energy-insulated walls that imprison the AC.  All it took was the foggy condensation dribbling on the office window next to the woods and I canceled outdoor plans.  It’s been a jungle out there!

Fortunately, working from a home office, I only need to worry about the air conditioner dying, and of course, avoiding brownouts and keeping the electric bill down.  So, I immediately went into “energy mode” and shut off unnecessary lights and closed vents and doors to various rooms where air need not be conditioned.  Then I headed out to the attached garage to retrieve supper from the freezer where I was smacked in the face with a wet towel of heavy air that stole my breath.  Steam formed on my glasses as I made my way blindly to the chest freezer, so I removed them for fear that the lenses would break when I opened the freezer door.  The big white box was chugging out a tired, whirring sound, while generating even more heat, turning the garage into an oven.  “Hang in there, girl,” I said with an affectionate pat on its top, and then opened the garage door, attempting to disperse the heat.  I actually pondered the idea of setting a pot of uncooked rice and vegetables out there to be steamed for supper!

For the next couple of days, I especially felt terribly sorry for outdoor workers, like my roofer husband, who has no choice other than to brave the elements and accomplish whatever possible before the snow, rain or scalding sun brings him home.  Even if he could stay hydrated while trying to work on a roof top, the humidity causes equipment trouble, besides the difficulty of handling melting shingles and hot tools.  He’s just relieved he makes it home okay, considering all of the stalled vehicles littered along the roadsides. High heat is definitely a machine killer!

By mid-week, I continued working as I would if it were 10 below in December — I  hate the cold so I hibernate.  I didn’t give much thought about the weeds shooting up in the garden.  I knew the watermelon was probably flourishing, so why chance battling the skeeters that were surely hatching in all the hidden rain puddles.  My drained, tired husband came home around noon and I began testing a custom design that had to be finished before I could continue judging design entries for the Stitches Golden Needle Awards ™ (great stuff this year, folks!).  All seemed to be going well until suddenly, thread began breaking and the water soluble stabilizer became somewhat sticky.  When the machine started stalling and beeping mysterious error messages, I noticed the trickle of sweat that was running down the side of my face.  A quick check of the thermostat revealed someone had turned the setting up from 76°F to 85°F and it certainly wasn’t me!  My machine had to run its best for the judging!

There are so many things that can go wrong in the embroidery room when you ignore the condition of air. I’ve even seen things like thread looping and birdnesting, as well as a machine that refused to power up.  Mr. Logo USA briefs it up nicely online at How to Succeed with Your Own Home-Based Embroidery Business, “…. you may be wondering about the issue of temperature and humidity. Embroidery thread typically sews more efficiently when the humidity is in a normal range. When the humidity levels are too high, the thread takes on moisture and changes consistency, and tends not to travel through the eye of the needle and along the thread path smoothly. This can result in thread breaks and frays on every head and every needle of the machine. When are the humidity levels too high? If you are sweating and the machine is breaking thread, turn on the air conditioner or dehumidifier and you will quickly feel and see the difference.”

So, I stomped down to the basement to chat with the man in his cave where it was a peachy 70°F and where the extra space humidifier was rattling, straining to carry the load alone. “What have you done?!” I demanded. His apologetic expression was accompanied by a mumbled excuse of being a little chilled. “Put on a sweater! You do not change the setting on the thermostat at this time of day when Moonlight Design is in operation!”

My tone may have seemed a little harsh, but his nod revealed he understood all too well how important it is to keep the temp and humidity under control.  During a previous heat wave, he came home from work early and decided to help me out with the laundry, which led to a power-surge while I was working at my computer and he was at his computer holding a Royal Flush during a game of online poker.  Our screams in unison when the monitors went black were so frightening that our three cats scattered and hid for hours.  Shortly after, a rule was created: energy and climate control to maintain machinery is priority!

This steamy weather doesn’t look like it will come to an end any time soon, so I’m planning to get a lot of work done inside by starting each day with a prayer of thanks for the hum of the air conditioner.  And while I’m at it, I’ll be tossing in a little prayer for keeping everything else happy in this heat like those things forced to fry in the sun or drown in the humidity.  It must be tough some days to be a petunia.  I’ve been avoiding the view out my kitchen window of my potted friends, fearing their once perky little heads will be hanging low.  I had moved them under the deck bench for a little more shelter without relinquishing the sun necessary to dry up their muddy pots, and today a few buds stood tall along side newly opened blossoms.  Small treasures, big lessons.  Keep reaching for that sun, folks — but stand in the shade!

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