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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

We have lift off!

One of the many delights of living in California, is the weather. The seasonal changes are detectable for those paying attention, but the subject of weather is not a daily topic of conversation as it is in other countries.

Some while back, before the boys had been diagnosed, our family was expanding but the house was not. On one particularly blissful day I advised my spouse that if he did not make the spare room cum office habitable, I would make his existence less blissful. He in turn advised me, that nothing on this earth or the next, would ever make the room livable. At this impasse, we made a rash decision, we would find a bigger house to fit our bigger family.

We spent many weeks looking at mansions and not at our bank balance.

We subsequently decided that we would stay put and extend the building capacity with an extension.

Of all the many properties that we viewed, one had an outstanding feature called a ‘whole house extractor fan.’ It is a deceptive term, so if you are not familiar with it, I will attempt a non technical description for you. Firstly you need to visualize a Boeing 747. Take off one of the propellers and stick it [along with some hardware of some kind or another] in your roof space. Attach securely to something that isn’t going to fall off or down. Cut a couple of little holes at either end of your roof, the gable ends. Cut another hole in the centre of your ceiling in the middle of the house. Connect string, sorry, wire, from the propeller to a switch below, somewhere well out of the way, such as a closet. The idea is, that when you turn it on, the propeller whirs away and sucks all the hot air out of your house and swooshes it outside to help heat up everybody else’s houses in the nearby vicinity. This means that with luck you won’t have to turn your air conditioning on at all, or at least for less time.

There are however, a few minor details that may not be immediately apparent. Californian houses, in earthquake land, are made of plaster and bits of wood. The theory is, that when the house falls down around your ears you’ll be buried in matchsticks rather than bricks. The down side to this feat of engineering is that if you drop a pin, the sound echoes throughout the property. Hence, when you flick the switch on your WHEF you definitely have the impression that the whole house is about to take off and surge into space like an escaping balloon. Everything rattles and shakes and the noise is death defying.

Generally speaking you would turn the device on at bed time, to cool it down ready for sleep.

We are currently in the month of April and I know that you are wondering why this seasonal topic is on my mind? It is on my mind because it takes a great deal of time for my little chaps to adjust to the experience of the WHEF.

When the thermometer hit's the 90's, tempers are frayed, we are bathed in sweat and that would be the time to flick the switch to earthquake mode. Far better to start early, daily. It's yet another desensitization campaign. If we start now, by the time the mercury is rising we should be well on the way to cooling off.

We start off with a new social story which immediately puts them on notice that something is afoot. We examine the switch in the cupboard. We peer up at the grill in the ceiling. They both criticise the builder for installing the grill skew whiff, something that I had previously overlooked. We spend far too much time bogged down in definitions and better alternatives which range from 'vacuum' to 'blower.'

The boys decide that the best place to be during the trial run, is outside the house. This is a quite remarkable decision bearing in mind that they have been "allergic" to outside for as long as I can remember. This is probably the very last thing that I could possibly have anticipated. I open the door to watch them leave the safe place and walk willingly into what was previously the 'unsafe place.' They scamper over to the perimeter fence, the furthest possible distance from the house. This wasn't quite what I had in mind, not really a long term solution although an excellent coping strategy. They cover their ears with the palms of their hands, resigned to the inevitable, "O.k. mom!" he bellows, "go turn on the rattleshake!"

A stride in an entirely new direction.

I better go and count how many steps there are from the fence to the house and calculate the number of days to reach a less safe harbour.

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