The Heat Is On

Sep 28 2013

by Catherine Hamrick

The AARP is in hot pursuit—their red-and-white envelopes firing up my mailbox every other day.

Last week I bought a miniature vial of lavender essential oil for its calming effect. “Hormonal imbalance? Hot flashes?” asked the all-natural gal with the snowy-white mane.

This past Sunday—the first day of autumn—I fanned myself with the church bulletin. Then a tiny breeze whispered across the back of my neck. Three fifty-plus women in the next pew frantically waved their bulletins.

Yes, my personal weather pattern was going through a change.

Then the battle of the thermostat broke out. I punched in 67 ° at the midnight hour. Two hours later, John crept downstairs and punched in 76 °. By 4:00 am, I was living my nightmare version of the burning bed. I stomped downstairs and punched in 70 °—a temperature truce.

I finally got it. That’s why my mother cracked open every window—about 2 inches—on freezing January nights. That’s why my father slammed them shut at 2:00 am. That’s why my mother tiptoed down the hall and lowered the heat to 68 ° at 5:00 am.

My mother hit menopause about the time Jimmy Carter donned his fuzzy-wuzzy cardigan and drawled his famous energy-conservation speech. In our own 1970s good patriot act, we could all wear sweaters and keep the indoor temp hovering at 68 °.

“Fine by me,” announced my mother, though a staunch Republican.

Today I ponder my own revisionist history. Did President Carter and his wife’s public and personal policy intersect? After all, Rosalyn—one year older than my mother—was most influential, even sitting in Cabinet meetings. Jimmy loved her, fried or clammy. Maybe she sat nearby off-camera while he softly implored all citizens to do their sweater duty. Maybe she fanned herself, wearing a modest maillot bathing suit while Jimmy sweated it out under hot TV lights.

We will never know.



Catherine Hamrick View More Blog Posts from this Author

After a few years as a copywriter for the Southern Living Advertising Department, editor and writer Catherine Hamrick learned her craft in the magazine and book divisions of media giants Time Inc. and Meredith Corporation. She taught writing, literature, public speaking, and business communication at the university level. As a freelancer, Catherine has tackled "almost every topic but porn and physics" and has managed editorial projects or co-authored branded books for imprints such as Southern Living, Oxmoor House, Meredith Books, Better Homes and Gardens, Traditional Home, Country Home, Midwest Living, The Home Depot, Ortho, and Lark Publishing. Certified in social media marketing, she coaches students and professionals in writing resumes, cover letters, and online profiles. She is also a ghostwriter—that is, a professional keeper of secrets. Connect @ChamrickWriter or drop by her blogs: Random Storyteller ( and Catherine Hamrick: Writer, Editor, Social Media Human (

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