O.K., Annie. This one’s for you.

My editor finally got on my case and said, essentially, if you’re gonna do this, do it. I said I would.

First, as I look out at the backyard I can report that this year’s tomato crop is not. Between what our gardener claims is a lousy growing summer and unknown, toothy poachers, what remains of our hopes back in June is a row of stunted, stringy plants. Not an encouraging sight, an ambitious effort many weeks ago, notwithstanding.

And ironically, while the rest of the nation baked, here in the eternal summer that traditionally is southern California the prevailing conditions have been cool, delighting most people, but disappointing to me.

Then again, L.A. has thankfully been off the headlines. No fires, no earthquakes, no spectacular crimes, and Michael Jackson’s demise has been reduced to slight annual notice. In short, it’s been pretty quiet out there, and I rather like that.

Unless, of course, you get focused on the local economy, which by any measure, stinks. I saw a sign somewhere that offers a running count of the deepening California debt which increases each day in the millions, setting the hands of dozens of state officials wringing in exasperation, not so much in the search for remedies, but rather that the laser beam of public scrutiny is being directed toward them. It’s hard to recall when government has been so bad that it can’t come up with meaningful suggestions to resolve the problem, combined with an electorate that is so flat out stupid — and I’m thinking about the 41 percent of the Republican party who actually believe the president was born outside the country — that it wouldn’t recognize a decent idea or two if it hit them. Bad times ahead.

But we move ahead. A number of months ago, Kris and I read a book entitled “Younger next year” and have embraced its message completely. The approach, according to a New York internist and his talkative patient, is to accept aging but not the decay that goes with it. Six-day workouts, better diet and dedicated involvement with people in the issues and interests of the day. Nothing new, to be sure, to be sure, but the target of their urgings is folks like Kris and me, especially me. The patient-author of the team aims directly at recent retirees — like yours truly — and speaks to the loss and value of daily interaction with the gang at the office. Good stuff.  

Aging, of course, includes my ’98 Solara, he of more than 185,000 miles. The time of departure is drawing closer, even as practicality is beginning to dwindle — that is, we’re looking at a snappy red (or perhaps blue) Mini Cooper sitting in the driveway one day soon. We’ll see. A few months ago we went down to a Cooper dealership at my insistence and took a test drive, with the sales guy jammed in the back seat. Mercy. Somewhat reluctantly, Kris got behind the wheel on the way back to the lot. She punched it a few times and fell in love…which hardly helped.

 Meanwhile, with a working flight attendant in the family, we think one of the coolest moves of the summer has to be that of the former employee of JetBlue who left the office the other day in most unique fashion. It’s one thing to battle back against boorishness, quite another to do so with style and originality. Then again, while Mr. Slater exited the premises with a beer, D.B. Cooper jumped ship with bag of cash.

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