Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Reading

Since I work part-time, I have some days off in the middle of the week when everyone else seems to be working. Today was one of those days. And for once, the weather was ideal, hot but not too hot. I'm always longing for perfect summer days when I can lounge around in my bathing suit and read books, and today's conditions are the best I've seen yet this year. 

You may think that laying out in the sun all day is a pretty low-maintenance pastime, but over the years I've learned a few very basic techniques which increase enjoyment and effectiveness. 

1. Good conditions. The best weather is mostly cloudless and breezy, with temperatures in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties, depending on your tolerance. Any cooler, it's not summery feeling enough. Hotter, I can't lay out comfortably.

2. Speaking of comfort: a good spot to lounge. Since I don't currently own lawn chairs, and my back yard is only a deck and gravel, I have to lay down on a hard surface. My other option is the front yard, but I'm not too keen to exhibit myself to random passers and drivers-by, since I am usually just wearing a bathing suit. Just laying on a beach towel is an okay (though not ideal) option on grass, but with a wooden deck I face a minor conundrum. Solution: get out my sleeping bag and use it as padding. Guess what? It works great! And I always have pillow issues, not wanting to dirty the ones I sleep on, and constantly fighting with and folding them to get a good shape. This year I have a few hand-me-down throw pillows we never use on the couches, and stacking two of them works better than anything else I've tried. If I'm on my stomach, it props me up enough to get a good view of what I'm reading, and if I'm on my back I can get in a semi-upright position and hold my book on my stomach.

3. Sunscreen. I have most of the indicators of someone with a very high risk of skin cancer, so I cover myself in SPF 30 at least. Fifteen is the minimum anyone should use, ever, and don't even get me started on lecturing you. At the very least, you should avoid a future of leathery, wrinkled, spotty skin. And you could end up saving your own life.  My mom works for a ophthalmologist, and I've heard enough about weird cancerous growths her office has removed from someone's face to take a minute and sunscreen it up. I prefer the spray kind, since it not only saves me time, it covers me much more thoroughly than hand application. Some sprays are better than others, I've had great luck with Coppertone Continuous Spray No-Rub. It's clear, non-greasy, and you really don't have to rub it in at all. It even gets the back of my ears, my part, and any other weird spots I might forget to cover normally. Another bonus is that I'm more diligent about wearing it times I never did before, since it only takes a few seconds to spray down my legs and arms. In years past, if I was just heading out for a quick walk, or going out and about to run errands, I would never take the time and trouble to get out sunscreen and coat myself, but now I can do it quick as I'm running out the door.

4. Enough lecturing, here's a tip. If you bring flip-flops outside to slip on for trips back and forth from the house, make sure to keep them upside-down or in the shade. Otherwise, you end up having to stick your foot into a hot piece of plastic approximately the temperature of a frying pan.

5. Okay, a little bit more lecturing. Bring something to drink out with you and drink often. It's easy to get dehydrated.

6. A good book! Today I finished The Imperfectionists, read through Sh*t My Dad Says in about two hours, and started on The Things They Carried.

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