I thought I had the record after spending three hours assembling the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe for our granddaughter Nora's first birthday but it appears I have competition as well as company.

Cheri Hadley, my friend from Tehachapi, called to say that her husband, David, has me beat after taking four hours to put together a fire truck for Paige, their 4-year-old granddaughter. Better yet, David was formerly with the L.A. Fire Department.

•••

Kim, from Shafter, emailed in regards to the column on doing pull-ups at Redondo Beach with some younger guys who told me, “I am glad you did that. People tell us all the time that when you’re old, you won’t be able to do pull-ups anymore. Thank you for proving them wrong.”

Kim wrote: “Just read your column and had to write. I turned 60 this year and my 'moment' was when the 20/30 year olds were going white-water rafting at work.

“I wanted to join in. It would be my fifth trip and three of those were overnighters on the Kern, Tuolumne, and Merced. They thought it was 'great' that a person my age would want to go and hoped they would be going when they were 'my age.'"

What’s great about the compliment that includes the phrase “my age” is that “my age” is repeated several times, a kindness I suppose, because in our advanced age, we might have gone deaf or blind.

What is fitting here is that years ago, I remember giving people who were my senior the same compliment. This is merely a karmic touche.

“Nobody escapes turning 60,” Kim concludes. “Your wife, children, and grandchildren adore you and you are still the same person you always were — just much better.”

Better and better and better.

•••

Elton Kelly writes in regards to the column on the friend who asked if he should order soup while dining at a restaurant alone.

The idea was that soup invites slurping, which diners, alone or not alone, do well to avoid.

Elton suggests that in tackling soup, either at home or dining out, it might make sense to employ a Chinese soup spoon, or duck spoon. “This is a spoon with a short, thick handle extending directly from a deep, flat bowl — a regular implement in Chinese cuisine — used for liquids, especially soups, or loose solid food.” The spoons are also imminently stackable, making storage a joy.

***

The heat is the only thing anybody can talk about. Heat and vacations to get away from the heat.

“I read in the paper that this is the third heat wave of the summer,” said friend Hank Pfister. “The third heat wave? Somebody tell me when the breaks were between the other two.”

Summer is a season, our longest and most profound one, but heat waves almost constitute a fifth season. It’s like being at the beach when there is a swell producing big surf. There are always waves but sometimes the waves are massive.

Extreme heat builds, fills in every corner and eventually has people tapping out.

•••

I ran into a great cookie deal at Sequoia Sandwich Co. recently after ordering their California pastrami, as good a sandwich as any in town.

Sequoia sells bags of day-old cookies, $4 for a bag of four. That’s half priced and less than a $1 a cookie.

Cookies can be like fried chicken. They can get better the next day. They were still soft and delicious — I’ve bought the snickerdoodles and the oatmeal raisin — and are capable of delivering the joy cookie lovers seek.

It’s summer, we’re looking for small favors no matter how old we are.

Herb Benham is a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or 661-395-7279.

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