Words & Banter

RED & BLACK … Summer Hours Are Ours

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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I know that ribs are one of your favorite foods, and I made, as always, way too many of them, so would you like me to run some in to you? It’s not a problem.


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Sure. Especially after you teased me with the photo you sent last night. But, you should save that photo in case we ever do a cookbook.


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WE do a cookbook? You never cook, so what recipes could you possibly include?


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I have recipes. Two of them. Noodle pudding and wild rice soup. But, I could include recipes from my favorite restaurants. Or, cooking tips from their chefs. Regardless, I am curious how your barbecued ribs look so evenly browned. Was it the lighting or Photoshop?

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Neither. It’s because they were baked in the oven. However, I barbecue the fresh corn. I used to microwave it, but years ago, I decided to try something different. Now, it’s one of my favorite things – whether eating it on the cob or using the kernels in one of my “concoction” salads.

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Ribs cooked inside and corn outside. That seems backward. Especially since many people barbecue during the summer to keep the house cooler by using the kitchen less. Although standing over a hot barbecue during the unbearable summer heat in Houston is not appealing.

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We barbecue year-round but do it more over the summer because the days are longer. When it’s dark by 6 p.m., you don’t think to “fire up the barbie,” to quote Mick “Crocodile” Dundee.

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Did you know Paul Hogan first used the phrase “on the barbie” in a commercial for the Australian Tourism Commission? It was before he made the Crocodile Dundeemovies and promoted their culture and love of the outdoors.

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I never knew that! But it makes perfect sense. There’s something special about cooking outside. Besides being casual and relaxed, it can make a simple meal more delicious, as the barbeque flavor makes everything taste so much better. It’s part of what makes summer so wonderful.

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Yes, there is a summer “mindset”. Without doing research, it might be related to summer breaks and vacations, or even the extra sunlight and Vitamin D. But, it is real.

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I don’t need research to know that as a parent, I equate summer breaks with the need to find ways to “entertain” children. Regardless, for us “mere mortals”, summer means longer days with more sunlight, so more time for leisure activities. And the heat always slows me down, so life feels a little less hectic and more laid back. But for you, I’m guessing summer’s no different from any other time of year.

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Well, I do appreciate summer fruit, especially watermelon. And, it impacts my workouts on the balcony as I wait until dusk. It also means scheduling errands or any in-person meetings in the morning before it gets too hot. But, since that is usually my most productive time to work, and those are things I would normally do later in the day when I am “brain-dead”, summer can wreak havoc on my productivity.

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Years ago, I used to get up early on Saturdays to do all my grocery shopping and errands before the stores got crowded. Then, for some reason, I stopped doing that. But maybe I should start doing it the “old way” again.

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As someone who has always been an early riser, I love how much I can get done before others, like you, have even started the day.


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Which is why I cringe when I check emails in the morning, regardless of the season. But I’m only talking about starting my Saturdays early. Especially since the extra daylight already makes the days feel longer, so I feel pressured to squeeze more into my day.


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Days are 24 hours long. Full stop. But, if you do certain things during daylight hours – you now have more hours. Whether to do more or do things more leisurely. Simple math.


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Well, given a choice between tackling my overflowing daily “to do” lists or relaxing and enjoying the long days of summer, it seems like a no-brainer.


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It is not either-or … if you have more daylight hours, you have time to do both.

Want to read other columns? Here's a list.

Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock

Are you taking the Dry January challenge and not having any alcohol for the month? Or, maybe you plan to drink less (but not nothing), which makes it Damp January. Or, maybe this is the first you’ve heard of it. (If so, there’s still time to start!)

Well, nothing much has changed from our approach to Dry January last year, except the one who had started drinking more last year is continuing the trend …



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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK , started Dry January , where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
Keep Reading ...Show less

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It’s January, and everyone’s probably tired of reading about New Year’s resolutions.

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Not me. Since I never make them, I never feel the need to read about them.

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Of course, you don’t. So, what should we write about?

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How about that we celebrate some of our favorite things in January?

So many “National Days” in January are fun (we’ve written about them over the years) and remind us of some of our favorite things. (Can you pick which are Red’s favorite holidays and which are Black’s?) And whether or not you make resolutions, it’s always important to have a sense of humor and enjoy the simpler things in life …

Answer: Red’s favorites are Bagels, Popcorn, and Hugging. Black’s are Clean Desk, Bagels, and Backward.

Wishing you Happy 2024 – with new beginnings and much more!