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Five Things That Make Life Better on August 3rd 2018

By Lisa Birnbach

Love listening to the podcast? Subscribe on iTunes! And so August has begun.  It seems dramatic somehow, as if the summer accelerated even more than it usually does. Perhaps I'm thinking of the projects I had planned to tackle this summer -- some of which rolled over from last summer -- or maybe because we've had many dark and gloomy days.  No one's enjoying great weather this summer.  London has hit the high 90s this summer, which it never does, and California has had weeks and weeks in the hundreds.  I again retreat to my air conditioned living room, where Henry lies by my feet, and WQXR provides an occasional distraction.But I digress.  Here are this week's treats: 1.  It's CONVERSATION.  Not the art of it, just the having it.  It hurts every time I see people sitting across from one another staring down into their phones.  It reminds me of the term "parallel play", which I learned as the mother of a toddler -- it's people too undeveloped to have social skills who are content to play alongside another person.  It's perfect if you're 2 years old; not impressive if you're 12.  Or 42.  I adore talking to people; especially friends, especially if we both respect the art of listening.  (NOTE:  It is difficult to listen if you are studying your cellphone.  No matter what you think.) 2. Fresh Basil.  If you've been paying attention, you know I enjoy summer's fresh bounty.  I have confessed to my love of corn on the cob (especially prepared "Mexican Street Style"), half and half, salads of all kinds, fried chicken, and cherries.  Please know how much I appreciate fresh basil.  It tastes like summer.  It smells like summer.  It smells like something I would wear as fragrance.  (I know several perfumers use the essence of basil in their fragrances; it is that appealing.)  It is such a pretty leaf to add to a salad or a bowl of pasta or pizza, or even a bowl of cut up plums.  3.  Cotton Voile.     Cotton voile is hard to illustrate, but it's the sheerest, lightest woven cotton fabric I know.  It's the perfect material to wear in the muggy days of August.  It's often the thin material on the tunic-style tops that look like they were made in (and for) India.  I have a couple of cotton voile tops and dresses.  I buy cotton voile shirts for my fella, when I find them.  They are one's best defense in a muggy world. 4.  The Accidental Carnivore. I have a very close friend who was stuck in a small regional hospital for three weeks.  She was never sick a day in her life, and in fact ate only organic everything.  She had pledged "never to eat anything with a soul" (that included fish) in 1972.  She even used Dr. Bronner's Soap.  She was the picture of robust health as she entered her eighth decade on planet earth, and she frequently hiked the nearby Appalachian Trail.  Until July 4th, when she suddenly had a fever of 104.  By week 2, no one had any idea what caused these terrible fevers, but her systems were shutting down.  Somehow, my friend decided one day that she was not too tired or weak to fight, and she began to rally.  When her pneumonia cleared up and her hemoglobin dropped to a dangerously low level, my buddy managed to eat one roast beef sandwich... and then another.  Her hemoglobin went up. She ate a steak.  Then a turkey sandwich.  The accidental carnivore has been improving ever since.  And now, as of today, she's back home, even though no one ever figured out what caused her mystery illnesses.  I wish her a happy and relieved welcome!  And I can't wait to share a plate of fried chicken with her.5.  I find that as the heat and humidity increase, people act nuttier.  People pick fights at the ATM line, they scream out at the movies, they seem possessed.  (At least in this crowded, merciless city.)  One person I'm thinking of is a beacon of steadiness:  Robert S. Mueller.Until next week, stay cool, and act natural.xLisa   

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