We’re like jerky in August. Leathery, cooked all the way through and lightly salted on the outside.

You know it’s August when the temperature dips 10 degrees and settles into the 90s, as it did this past weekend, and it’s cause for celebration.

I talked to my cousin who lives in Redondo Beach and told him we were grateful for the 10-degree temperature dip and I could almost see him shaking his head through the phone as if to say, “You people are not right.”

We probably are but we are also grateful for the smallest of favors. It’s like having your neck hurt for weeks and one day you wake up and it still hurts but not as much. Less seems like a gift.


I was barbecuing a steak at lunch a couple days ago, which may not have been smart but that’s August. With the sun beating on the gas Weber, the barbecue reached 600 degrees, temperatures I’d never seen on this barbecue. It was like grilling a steak on a sunspot.


I’m working from home these days and rather than turn on the air conditioning upstairs, I put my polo shirt in the sink, run cold water over it and then turn the whole house fan on high. People used to talk about their personal savior, this is personal air conditioning. You have to be inside my shirt to reap the benefits.

It takes an hour for the shirt to dry completely and then I repeat the sink-and-cold water drill. By noon, nothing works but air conditioning.


In August, there is no graceful way to get into a car. Opening the windows doesn’t help. We step into the car, put our heads down and take our medicine, sweating being our shared destiny.


I was at McMurtrey for the early morning swim and a fellow swimmer, a respected businessman, showed up to the pool without his shirt on. You don’t see that often at 6 a.m. but it was hot, he was hot and he checked in shirtless. August.


Speaking of bringing the heat (and that’s the best I can do in August), retired teacher Joyce Victor emailed about her goings on which includes recent trips to Spain and Israel, and news about her son, Benjamin, a renowned sculptor.

“Ben's sculpture, 'The Angel,' recently won first place in an international competition and now sits in Barcelona!,” Victor wrote.

“Ben's sculpture of Chief Standing Bear will be unveiled for the state of Nebraska on Sept. 18 in U.S. Statuary Hall, Washington D.C. He is the only living artist to have three pieces in Statuary Hall, so I am excited and proud!”


Dr. Harold Baer, M.D. responded to the column on my father-in-law John’s recent ticket on his way to taking Bev, his wife, to Little Italy for her birthday:

“I read your column today. Sorry about your father-in-law's ticket, likely for $500 or so. However, you should know that one need not go to court to contest a ticket. One may respond by written declaration. It is written in the information that comes with the ticket.

“I did so, including a picture from their website as proof of my innocence, and had my ticket and fine rescinded; but apparently, in contrast to your father-in-law, I was not guilty!”


Nina Gillett responded to the column about not giving up on the things we love to do:

“I just bought my first new pair of inline skates in thirty years. My 1980s version skates had issues: a hard nub of a brake that was useless, worn wheels, shards of plastic breaking off the boots.

“I visited Matt at Intuition Skates, across the street from Mexicali. I glided around Lake Ming at sunrise this morning on silky smooth wheels, and gently braked when I gained too much speed downhill. The years rolled away and my arthritic back behaved; I was in the flow again.”


Musical recommendation to make your life better: “Time Stands Still,” by Chris Smither. Expressive voice and as good as songwriting gets.

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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