Thursday, June 27, 2013

Life's a Beach - Redux

In my continuing quest to appear industrious, when in fact I'm not...yet another oldie from

The Archive of Retort
Original post 7/1/11


It’s almost the first of July and the start of a loooooong holiday week. In fact, for a lot of people it began yesterday.

I took my first trip of the year out to Jones Beach…finally. And before July, to boot.

I buy that Empire Pass for $65 buckos each year so I have to make at least 6.5 trips out there to justify the expense. I usually do that in my sleep, which is not recommended for the 50 minutes or so that it takes to drive out there. But there is a bit of pressure involved to make my quota, and until I get into the 3 or 4 trip range, I’m a little on edge. Of course I can always use my pass for access to other state parks throughout the rest of the year, but to me, that’s cheating.

Which reminds me, did you know Z and I, are the official state models for the Rockefeller State Park Preserve ?

Click on the link, and… Yep that’s us, Z & me, right there, on the home page, under the lady in the funny hat painting by the lake. We’re the official park strollers. And we got that "stroll shot" down in only about 32 takes. I know…we don’t usually look that good, but that’s what 2 hours of hair and makeup can do.

Of course I should also mention that the Governor who approved the photo at the time was legally blind. But I'm pretty sure that’s just coincidental.

Anyway, back to the beach. Like I was saying, I usually would have been out to Jones 2 or 3 times already by now, you know, researching, but June has been up and down as far as beach weather and, well, there you go.

I know….

I love the beach. I always have. I couldn’t live anywhere where I couldn’t get to a beach when needed. And I need it a lot! And by “the beach” I mean more than just a stretch of sand. I mean the whole package; the combination of sand, sun and water, even the smell…be it the ocean or the sound…and I guess even a lake of some sort...but only as a last resort.

I include lake in this treatise, only to placate those landlocked folks in remote places such as Greenburgh, who are not fortunate enough to experience the subtle scent of sea air as they rise from their beds, each day, or the soft spray of seawater on their face as they sit on their back porch enjoying their morning cheerios. Of course sometime I mistake the splatter from my neighbor’s shower, which is about 3 feet above my deck, for actual sea spray—you know, the suburbs—but the effect is mostly as pleasant, except on Thursdays, when he loofahs.

But I digress….
I often make my trek to the beach alone, which sometimes has it's upside. I can just veg out and read, listen to my IPod, sleep…whatever.

Of course I’m not always alone. On the weekends Z will join me—she has to—but she’s usually not speaking to me, so the effect is the same.

The trick for a successful beach trip is to find a nice open spot, close to the water, where nobody is going to bother you. If I see a spot I like I usually mutter a lot as I walk down the beach, and I find that other folks will steer clear of that.

Small children don’t like it when I bare my bottom teeth, either. So that works, as well.

I don’t usually use sunscreen—oh, sit down—and when I do it’s not more than a .02 SPF.

But don’t worry, I’m a perfect mix of Irish and Italian so I don’t burn, plus I have a regulation sized nose.

And yes, I have been checked out by a dermatologist, about 10 years ago, but I couldn’t get the horrifying image of his humongous eyes under those giant magnifying glasses he was wearing, out of my head, so I haven’t been back.

Once settled in my tranquil little spot, the day unfolds like a perfect symphony of summer. I lay out my very big beach blanket, unpack my duffle, sort through my many towels, each assigned a very specific purpose—chair cover, auxiliary sand shield, lumbar support, headrest, foot rest (and you thought a towel was just for drying. Tsk tsk…amateurs)—then organize my various snacks into groups based on time of day and situational snacking—before swim snacks, after swim snacks, literary snacks, music snacks etc. etc.

And then, and only then, I might venture out into the water, where I bob and dob, jumping over and under a processions of gently rolling waves.

Until suddenly I look out past the breakers and see the unmistakable sight of the “BIG ONE” gathering steam, sucking the water out from the shore, building strength, mass, and power as it silently approaches.

Other people slowly start to notice it too and what starts as just a murmur turns into cries of panic as previously happy bathers begin to shout, “Turn around! Look Out…its coming! Go under! Go over!

Everywhere I look, swimmers submerge into the growing wall, or disappear head over heels, as the wall keeps on growing…keeps on advancing, until suddenly it’s on top of me, and now it’s too late. I freeze, do nothing…and now this mountain of water owns me.

Suddenly the theme from Jaws plays in my head…but no…it’s not Jaws at all, which would be toally cool, but instead it’s that “Little Rabbit Foo Foo”, that Z was singing during our walk last night, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since.

“I’m going to die listening to “Little Rabbit Foo Foo!” is all I can think as the mountain of water crashes down on top of me. My legs are pulled out from beneath me. I'm flipped over like the soggy wet toy that I’ve become. Sand scrapes across my face. my bathing suit starts to slip to my knees. My shoulder crashes into a crab…until finally, mercifully, the water relents, and begins to recede.

I look up, sprawled in the mud and after wash of foam. I clear the sand from my stinging eyes and see nothing but a mass of human detritus slowly regaining their equilibrium.

Then...we all jump up and run straight back in, shouting, “Let’s do it again!”

And that’s why Life’s a Beach….

Monday, June 24, 2013

Suddenly Summer! - Redux

From the Archive of Retort
Original Post 6/2/11

Under the category of the more things change, the more they stay the same, here's one from a couple of Junes ago.

You might have noticed it over the weekend, but probably not.

It arrived when you weren’t looking.

Maybe, after a stroll through the park. Perhaps, after you had mowed the lawn, or planted your one thousandth and final flat of marigolds.

You didn’t see it coming. No one did; it’s sneaky that way. It doesn’t like to announce itself. It wants you to believe it’s always been here, and always will be here.

What am I taking about?

I’m talking about….


The scourge of summer, unofficial or not….


That invisible damp, clinging, sultry, blanket of…


The one clammy, sodden, thing… that unites us as one.

The one soggy, oppressive thing that everyone agrees on; singles out and blames.

“It’s not the heat…it’s the…


Dripping, drooping, draining….


You noticed it the morning when you found the bed sheet wrapped around and pasted to your body, which required several minutes of peeling and unraveling.

You noticed it while you were chatting with your neighbor and suddenly realized you had changed your shirt 3 times during the conversation….

You noticed it when you walked away and found a flock of robins frolicking in the puddle you left behind….

You noticed it when the de-humidifier kicked on every time you passed by.…

And then, as if additional proof was required, the unmistakable, foreboding sounds exploding from every household on the block. Sacroiliacs snapping…hamstrings popping …rotator cuffs unraveling, as throughout the land air conditioners and fans were dragged from attic, closet and garage, hoisted into windows, set, sealed and put to the task of delivering us from perspiration without end.

And…what’s that?

The humidity's gone?

Suddenly summer…

We thought it would never arrive.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Sneaky Summer Solstice

Summer snuck back in, early this morning, around 1:04 AM in these parts.

I would have missed it completely, except it dropped its keys in the front hall and then stumbled over the dog.

This was disturbing on many levels, mostly because I don’t own a dog, and two, I don’t remember giving Summer a set of keys, last fall, when it was in such a rush to get out of here.

But, maybe I did.

Who knows? 

It’s been a long, unsettling off season for everyone.

And when it comes right down to it, I suppose Summer’s no different than the rest of us. It just takes time to get acclimated, especially after being away for a while.

Maybe, now, things will start to calm down and begin to warm up in the weather department.

The beach will start to sell more day-glow wrist bands and the pleasant aroma of fired up BBQ’s will once again settle over the neighborhood.

Unless, of course, it’s my neighbor, from down the street, who thinks you can throw anything on a grill and call it a picnic.  None of us are brave enough to ask him exactly what he’s cooking, for fear of being invited to dinner, but all I can say is, those guys in the funny Hazmat  suits don’t just show up to evacuate a six block radius without good reason.

Speaking of guys in funny suits, it looks like I’m going to lose my deposit on the Druids and Cloaked Mystics, again, this year.

You might not recall, and why should you, but after about 10 years, we had to cancel the Summer Solstice party last year because of a lack of interest.  It had gotten to a point that people weren’t even watching the human degradation ritual anymore. I mean, sure, the whole thing is staged and perfectly harmless for the elected degrade-ee, but it was still pretty dramatic, especially when I was able to get the good Druids, from Connecticut, who really know what they’re doing.

Besides, if these people want a real human degradation they shouldn't have made such a stink about the selection process that time.

Sure, everyone’s on board when it’s someone else up on that altar, but as soon as the wheel stops on their number….

So, after a year without, I was absolutely certain that everyone would be looking forward to this year’s party. I even went and told my new Druid/Mystic guy, way back in November, to just go ahead and book the date.

Of course, booking that far in advance requires more than the standard deposit of Dragon’s Blood, Mugwort, Cinquefoil and Clove I used to fork over to my old, local, individual Druid & Mystic agency guys—and if you know anything about Druids and Mystics, you know how old I’m talking.

Plus, I knew going with an out of state combo place, let alone booking early, could turn out bad, but if you want real authenticity you have no choice. 

So I booked them while I could.

Then it turns out Z and almost all the female guests had a High School Reunion gathering scheduled for tonight.

I know…right?

Hey, why not just have it on Christmas Eve?

I mean it’s not like they had nearly 40 years to plan ahead, did they?

I guess I could just invite the guys…but that would just make the naked fire dance all the more awkward…not to mention unbalanced.

And without Z’s Special Solstice Hamburger Sauce, what’s the point.

So I’m canceling…again…maybe forever.

Which is fine, because I wasn’t looking forward to building another elaborate labyrinth.

No one appreciates it.

They just think I let the bushes get away from me.

I was leaning more towards the portable Stonehenge, this year, anyway.

Which reminds me, I better cancel that delivery, because, let’s face it…a Stonehenge in your front yard just looks stupid once the Solstice is over.

At least my BBQ-ing neighbor agreed to take the goats….

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Trashing the Past - Redux

From the Archive of Retort
Original Post July 20, 2011
Sitting here on my big back porch, on a lazy summer, afternoon I can’t help but think that the smell of my neighbor’s BBQ’d chicken smoking on the grill is designed to make me feel pathologically insane. But then again, imagine how the chicken feels?
But I digress…already…and I just got started.
Is that even possible?

The neighbors are having a family party—birthday I think—or else they just LOVE that song. It must be for one of their kids, since aside from the pre-requisite grandparents, aunt’s uncles and family friends, there are about 800 kids ranging in age from 1-10 running around, about 20 feet from my big back porch.

I know it’s not much further than 20 feet because that’s just about the range limit that I can reach them with the hose. But that’s mostly ineffective since it only makes them scream louder, and their parents don’t seem to mind. So where’s the fun in that.

The reason I’m sitting here on my big back porch, right now, is because Z and I have just returned from lugging a couple of old twin mattresses and box springs up to my mom’s attic, which is about 240° this time of year. Do you know what a human being looks like after all of the fluids have been drained from his body? Not pretty…

Anyway, in order to make room for the heretofore mentioned large, awkward, heavy clumsy items, we discovered we had to remove about 40 years and 20 tons of accumulated attic “artifacts”. You know…the stuff you stick up there when you don’t know what to do with it, and its not actually too broken…too much….and it seems a waste to just toss it.

Some of our artifacts included a 20 inch RCA color TV that hasn’t worked in over 10 years but was kept just in case someone needed a TV and was handy with tubes. A 5,000 BTU air conditioner that once cooled off Thomas Edison’s lab while he was inventing the electricity he sorely needed to run the thing.

Edison finally got rid of the dinosaur when he realized he would never be able to keep up with the energy demands it was making. Plus it wanted meals as well.

There are about a thousand empty shoe boxes, leading one to wonder just what happened to the shoes. And why were the boxes retained in the first place…in case they needed to be returned?

There was my first, pre-internet, computer monitor, first laser printer, some old window fans that Columbus used on the trip over, some Christmas paraphernalia and even some cool Mets “decorative” items that once hung in my old apartment, but somehow mysteriously got forgotten in the move to our house. But don’t worry; they now reside in the basement, right next to the treadmill.

Yeah…I know.

But the toughest decision I had to make was what to do with my circa 1965 Motorific Torture Track, which I found tucked away in a dark, dingy attic corner.

Now I know how Howie Carter must have felt when he discovered King Tut’s tomb…or at least how parched he was.

I spent hours playing with this thing. It took up my entire bedroom floor, and was a permanent fixture, much to my mom’s delight. It used these little battery operated cars—which I still have in my old fold down desk, along with about 15 years of Fall Preview TV guides, which I’m certain will be worth about gazillion dollars apiece, one day soon…real soon.

These little, pre super cell, battery operated cars, which ranged from a Black & White 57 Chevy Impala to James Bond’s Aston Martin, would run around this “Torture Track” crashing through brick walls, navigating zig zagging roadways, undulating highways, and even a jumping ramp…just like Rush Hour on the Cross Bronx Expressway. The batteries usually died after about 2 minutes of use, unless you juts parked the cars. Then they lasted about 3.

So there it was, sitting untouched, just where I had left it some 40 years earlier. How forgotten it must have felt, lo these many years. How…tortured.

You know, we always think our old junk is going to be valuable someday. That somewhere there's a “collector” out there willing to pay big buckos for such things. And there are, but they’re usually kept in rooms with soft padded wall paper, and don coats with sleeves that wrap around their torsos.

A quick check of E-Bay would show the going rate for such things is little more than 30 dollars. So a quick windfall and a trip to Barbados is out of the question.

In the end, I did the grown up thing and said, “Let’s just toss it.”

And Z, who is kind and thoughtful, said, “Are you sure?”

And I said, “Yeah, we don’t have room on the bedroom floor for it anyway.”

And I’m not sure but, I thought I might have heard a subtle “Yes!!!” from under Z’s breath.

So the space was cleared, then filled up again with the mattresses and box spring, and body fluids were rehydrated.

The door to the attic was again closed, to be opened another day…a much cooler day…to continue the purge of the past.

Satchel Paige once said, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

And he was right. The past is always hot on our heels.

But the Torture Track is now in my Mom’s garage, waiting with the TV, the air conditioner and the printer, et al. for next week’s trash day.

So I still have time to let it catch me….


Friday, June 14, 2013

Customer Dis-service

Not to sound like too much of a dinosaur, but it used to be when one had a problem with a product or service, one picked up the phone, called the company and spoke to an actual person to voice one’s complaint.

If two had a problem, you went right to the company’s front door and tried to look threatening, with or without a baseball bat…but that rarely worked out well, for either the two of you or the company, or the local authorities, who tended to frown on that kind of thing.

Nowadays, you pick up the phone and speak to someone who sounds like the same lady, no matter what company you’re calling.

This lady—I like to think of her as Gladys— is apparently very much in demand due to her cheerful, soothing tones.

Gladys always thanks you for calling, as if you were doing her a favor.

She also apologizes for any trouble you might be having, including the odd looking crustacean that’s formed at the end of your ear.

Then she enthusiastically announces, “Let’s get started!”  and prompts you to tell her how she can best direct your call.

Depending on the type of company you’re calling she’ll ask you to say in a word what you’re having a problem with.

·         Billing

·         Technical assistance

·         Goats

·         Crustaceous growths

·         Castle and Becket's complicated relationship

But she never mentions anything concerning a real live customer service representative.

At this point I usually start pushing zero about a thousand times, hoping this will put me through to an actual breathing person, possibly named Skip, and sometimes Todd, who may or may not have a foreign accent.

Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, I then mutter something lewd into the phone, which, for some reason, Gladys never recognizes as an authorized selection…

Instead, Gladys reluctantly tells me that she’s having trouble understanding me for some reason and asks me to repeat my selection.

I do, and it’s still not recognized, at least not in most of the more conservative southern states.

Finally, after about 3 or 4 rounds of this, Gladys, in a tone, dripping with judgment, tells me to hold on while she connects me to a customer service representative…but first she would like me to tell her my account number, in order to better serve me, which shouldn't be difficult since, up to now, I haven’t been served at all. 

I dutifully supply my account number, plus a few extra letters—just to mess with Gladys—for which I’m rewarded by the sound of papers shuffling or a keyboard clicking, presumably by Gladys, or even by something that sounds as if Curly from the 3 Stooges is popping his finger back and forth in his mouth.

After being assured by these comforting sounds that my business is indeed being attended to, Gladys comes back on and tells me in a subdued manner, reflective of one who is comforting a friend over the loss of their gerbil, that due to excessive call volume, all customer service representatives are busy serving other customers. However, Gladys immediately perks up and tells me to please stay on the line as my call will be handled in the order in which it was received, by the first available representative…which comforts me greatly.

I’m then transferred into some sort of Twilight Zone where over modulated, distorted music, oddly reminiscent of the soundtrack to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, numbs me into a state of catatonia.

An unknown number of minutes, or possibly hours, pass, until the music suddenly stops, followed by a series of clicks, a hiss, and then finally the sound of a thousand voices talking at once in the background.

I've either been transferred straight into heaven…or, even better, the customer service call center, where beings more ephemeral than angels reside.

A distant, single voice, sounding as if it actually is beaming down from the stars breaks through the cacophony and says, “Hello, my name is Skip, sometimes Todd…how may I help you today?”

Your heart begins to race and your senses begin to stir as you desperately try to relocate the mechanism that allows you to speak.

Which you do discover, only to find that you've totally forgotten the reason you needed help today, in the first place.

And as you begin to speak to Skip, sometimes Todd, imbuing him with the respect and awe that is befitting an actual living, breathing customer service representative…you suddenly hear another series of clicks…followed by a hiss…and then nothing, but the deep, muted void of silence.

Finally, you manage to say, “Skip…Todd…are you there?”

But you know…deep inside, you know…they’re gone…you’ve lost them.

And there’s nothing left to do but push re-dial until you hear….

“Thanks for calling…I’m sorry you’re having trouble…Let’s get started….”


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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Leave My Lawn Alone! - Redux

From the Archive of Retort
Original Post June 12, 2011

Yeah, I know...another re-run.  Sorry about that, but things are a little hectic, so originals are going to be a little tough to whip up...just for awhile.   Believe me, I'm just as annoyed as you are, but what can you do...good help is hard to come by.

You know.....

I have squirrels. Lots and lots of squirrels…

I’m sure you have squirrels too.

I mean, they don’t actually have their own room or anything, but they do seem to have the run of my property.

One of them lives in the tree in my front yard, in a small, yet convenient knot hole that faces my office. A much sought after squirrel condominium, I would imagine. It’s close to the park, and I think basic cable is included.

Sometimes, he or she (how can you tell?) sits outside my office window and looks in at me while I’m sitting here at the computer. Maybe they’re annoyed that I have internet and also get HBO.


Or perhaps he or she thinks I’m sitting here looking at him (or her) and they’re telling their squirrel friends about me.

I’m not really sure what a squirrel thinks or how they interact with each other. After all, as Z reminds me, they only have a brain the size of a walnut.

But I‘ve dealt with people, through the years, who have even less, and, they don’t dig holes in my lawn….usually.

Which brings us to the matter at hand.

It seems these particular squirrels are somewhat pushy and aggressive. My neighbor said he thought they were originally from Harrison. But don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Harrison or their squirrels…even West Harrison. In fact, I’m all in favor of sharing my humble little plot of land with these fuzzy little fellows (or gals)…as long as they don’t dig holes in my lawn!

That’s all I ask. Dig behind the garage or in the garden, or better yet, in my neighbor's garden, but only around the flowers. Just...


You can sit on my lawn, play bocce on my lawn, cool off in my bird bath, eat my bird seed (which really should be re-named squirrel seed), even borrow my power washer. Just...


Z says, again,"What do you expect from a walnut brained squirrel…they’re only looking for food”.

I say I expect them to just…


My friend, who I’ll call Frank (because that’s his name, and it would be ridiculous to call him Fred), tells me he can "help me out" if I’d like. That he knows how to “reason” with them and can "guarantee" that they won’t be a problem anymore. His wife, who I’ll call Rosie (which is sort of her name, although I’m the only one who's allowed to call her that, apparently because I have great legs) rolls her eyes and smiles in her devilish way that usually gives me pause.

Yeah, Frank’s a regular “Squirrel Whisperer” (though I’ve never heard Frank whisper in any manner, whatsoever) he really has a way with them.”

The fact that she says this in her best vestigial Bronx, left over from her days of hustling pool on Williamsbridge Rd when she was 10 years old, sends a shiver to areas of my body best left unmentioned.

I look around at all the little holes decorating my front yard, and I must admit that I considered the offer for a second. But then I thought of the knothole, the basic cable and the little visits to my office. So I declined.

I thought maybe I could persuade the squirrels with premium cable, as long as they just….



Friday, June 7, 2013

AARP - Fix the Glitch! - Redux

From the Archive of Retort
Original Post 6/27/11

AARP Has a Glitch.

They've mistaken me for some kind of an "old" person and keep sending me information on how to go quietly into my goodnight...
on water skis.

Granted, I'm  not as young a "pup" as I used to be, but I still have a few stops to make before I get to 60; even though its close enough to bump my head on it every time I sneeze…that is unless I throw my back out.

We told ourselves, 40 was the new 50. 50 the new 40…and now, well, even the thought of 60…is just damn depressing.

Unless you're 65 or 70, let alone 80-90-100…I think you get the point.

People live a lot longer these days. Getting to 100 isn’t the big thing it used to be. The Centurion softball league is having trouble finding fields for all its teams to play on this year. And forget about umpires. Who wants to argue with a 105 year old over balls and strikes, let alone tell him that touching second base with his walker doesn’t count…not until you get into the over 110 league.

My plan has always been to live until 120.  Then I decided I wanted to be around for the tri-centennial, so I upped it to 123. I figured it would be cool to have Willard Scott interview me on the today show. And I’m looking forward to the fireworks.

Sure, 60 is looming, but for the most part I feel great! Just like I did in my 20s and 30s.

It’s always been normal for me to jump out of bed in the morning and walk around the house like Groucho Marx for half an hour, give or take.  And that excess patch of hair in my ears, that I have to comb every day, is just a reserve to replace the ones missing from my head…when the time is right. And yeah, I do have to pee again…what’s your point?

To be honest, I even had a tough time turning 20. 

“My growth plates are frozen!”

30-  “I can’t be trusted anymore!”

40-  “What do you mean my knee bends the wrong way?”

50-  “AARP can get me a great deal on Depends!”

At least we don’t look as old as our parents and grandparents did at our age…right?

I mean remember how grey and wrinkled they looked to us back then with our sharp 25 year old eyes.

We look in the mirror and we look nothing like they did; even in their 40s.

But do you think that has something to do with the fact that our eyes are pretty much shot to shinola now and have a way of airbrushing our view?

            We think we look this…. 


But to a teenager we look like this….

And the hardest thing—the hardest lesson— about getting old, is seeing those before us, whom we once knew only as “young", turn "old".  
"So that's where old people come from...."

When you’re a kid, the roles are clear.

There’s you – young.

There’s your parents- old.

There’s your grandparents- really old.

And sometimes your great grandparents – really really old.

Those were the actors in place when you walked on stage and their roles were ever so.

But as you get older those roles change.

Everyone gets pushed up by the eager generation behind.  Suddenly the babies are 30 and the kids are 40, claiming that 40s the new 20.

But that’s the beauty of where I am now. The beauty of 50 and beyond. 

At 50 and beyond, I’ve covered enough distance that I can stand on a bit of a high hanging ledge and look back at where I was, and see how far I've come.

And the view ain’t half bad.

I’m actually wiser and healthier…but definitely not wealthier. 

Being wiser, I look back and see the changes that took place behind me, and the changes taking place in front of me.  I appreciate that change is the only constant to be counted.  And I'm sage enough to understand that while dreams are just dreams, they are the food that fuel our youth.

And I also see that where we are is where were supposed to be, and what we look like today, is what we were always supposed to look like, and the fact that were actually here to do that…today and hopefully tomorrow, is every dream come true. 

The young have energy and dreams. Hard bodies and a sense of invulnerability…not to mention a sense that their parents will continue to pay their cell phone and credit card bills on into perpetuity.

We have caffeine and contentment. Creping skin and life insurance. Name tags so we don't forget our friends names at parties. Mortgages, one two and three...and don't forget...AARP!

But most of all we have wisdom…to see the trail behind with a sizable measure of “youth” to tackle the trail ahead.

And that’s a pretty cool thing. 

And if my knee would stop barking....

And if AARP would fix the glitch in their mailing list....

But that really is a good deal on the Depends…and it never hurts to plan ahead….


Monday, June 3, 2013

The Heat's Hare

Well, May said things were gonna heat up around here, and May was right….it has.

Not that any of us would have thought that possible a week ago Saturday, when we all broke out the sweaters, again.

But here we are, in June, fending off our first heat wave of the year…all thanks to May.

Never doubt a man with a plan…even if he is just a month.

Over the weekend, Z and I even made our way out to the local beach, for the first time, this year, where we mostly stayed put, sitting under an umbrella speared in the 110 degree sand, because the water was still only a crackly 59 degrees.

If I jumped in 59 degree water most of my body parts would break off and float away…and no one want’s to see that.

So the heat is on…as they say.

Gotta love June!

I’m also out on the back porch, for the first time—again, under the umbrella—and there’s a lot going on.

The squirrels are having some sort of fluffy Rodent Olympics, jumping from tree to tree, chasing each other down fences and over rooftops, for some reason or another.

My guess it has something to do with women squirrels.

Doesn’t that kind of craziness always have something to do with women…squirrels or otherwise?

Just like my cousin back in the 70’s.

But that’s between the squirrels and my cousin; I don’t really want to know what it’s about.

I’m just happy they’re too busy to dig those annoying little holes on my lawn.

Especially my cousin.

Also nice to see after a long, cold off season, the spider is back, and he’s obviously been pretty busy, re-wrapping my entire house up in his web of mystery.

Actually, there’s not much mystery to it…it’s just a spider web.  I thought adding the element of “mystery” would make this sound more interesting than it is.

Yeah…I know.

We actually did have a bit of a mystery, though.  For some reason, all the tops to our marigolds were disappearing.

Not the whole marigold, just the fluffy tops, which, not to be rude to the rest of the marigold, everyone knows is the best part of the marigold.

However, most of the pepper plant also disappeared, top middle and some of the bottom.

Not to mention my sunflowers that had barely sprouted.

Of course we were quick to blame the squirrels, who get blamed for most things, mostly because of their lack of stealthiness, which is due to their peanut sized brains.

But it wasn’t the squirrels, at all.

Which only goes to show: never be too quick to judge…although with squirrels they’re probably guilty of something else, anyway, so go ahead.

In this case (see, there is a mystery) Z peeked out the back window, early one morning, and there stood, or squatted actually, the cutest little bunny rabbit, noshing on an orange marigold top.

Next thing I know, Z—who is actually a big bunny supporter—is hollering out the kitchen window, “Get out of there…shoosh…go away!” which one would think to be effective in the discouragement of most intruders, if only for its harshness of tone, which Z has perfected to an art form.

I hear all of this ruckus from the third layer of my dream state, which has suddenly been invaded by images of Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, for reasons that were unbeknownst to me at that time, but soon to be knownst.

I yell down the stairs, half in my dream and half in my bed, “What’s the matter?” which I deemed to be a reasonable question.

Z shouts back, “Get your knees—I’m pretty sure she said knees—out of bed and get down here.  There’s a rabbit in the garden eating all the vegetables!”

To which, I reply, “Are you sure it’s not Todd?”—our next door neighbor, who has a pronounced over bite and is often mistaken for a large rabbit.

“No, it’s not Todd!  Get down here, now, and deal with it…please!”

Which was the last thing I wanted to hear, because, one, if it was Todd, I would be out there half the morning listening to all of his back ailment stories, and two, Elmer and Bugs were just starting to get interesting.

Luckily, as it turned out, we were dealing with an actual bunny rabbit situation and not an accountant from Queens, so I was already ahead of the game, and there was still a chance I could catch the end of “Morning Joe.”

Of course there was no sign of the little fella by the time I got out there, but the first thing I discovered was that this was an extremely cheap bunny, as he not only ate and ran, but didn’t leave a tip.

To make a long story a little longer—which I can never say enough—and not wanting to use some of Elmer’s more loonier methods of bunny control, I remembered a wise, old garden sage passing on to me a safe, humane method of preventing animals from having their way with your garden, by simply sprinkling some moth balls around the perimeter.

Critters are apparently repelled by the pungent odor.

Except, of course, this particular bunny who took the opportunity to store his winter wardrobe, right next to the rhubarb.

Who would have guessed a rabbit would have so much cashmere….

So June has arrived; left to deal with May’s parting heat wave and all the accompanying joys of June, critters and all.

Summer Solstice is in the air, as well as Todd’s barbequed breakfast burritos.

I better call my Druid guy and get on the waiting list for the 21st.

I might pass on the Cloaked Mystics, though.

I hear their charging time and half this year and who needs that?