Kicking backTOSS OFF the crazy quilt of...


Kicking back

TOSS OFF the crazy quilt of modern life and wiggle your toes in the sun. Last week's solstice makes it official: Summer time, and the living's easy.

Singing cicadas, rich-red tomatoes, lush lilies, sticky-sweet breezes: They all conspire to help us busy folk slow down.

This is especially good for children, who, experts say, are becoming less able to entertain themselves by doing "nothing" (something, by the way, most adults swear was an art when they were kids). Computers, television, camps, lessons, activities so compete for youngsters' time that fun stuff like bike riding and cloud watching get lost in the crowd.

But unstructured time is refueling time, for kids and grownups alike. In the scherzo tempo of our lives, it's a precious commodity.

From now on, the minutes that joined the day since winter solstice will slowly begin to melt into the night. We won't have time to notice, though.

With any luck, we will be browsing farmers' markets or reading under a shady tree, sewing up summer memories.

Travel tape

DON'T LEAVE home without it. No, not your American Express card -- a roll of duct tape.

That's the advice, anyway, of State Fire Marshal Rocco Gabriele.

Why? To slap on the mouth of a nonstop talker who's getting on your nerves? To repair your luggage if it falls apart?

No, Mr. Gabriele says duct tape can seal cracks around hotel room doors in case of a fire.

And pack a flashlight, too, he notes. All the better to make your way out of a smoke-filled hotel.

He also suggests "after entering your room, try to exit the room with your eyes closed."

All the better to enjoy a safe vacation. Or as the Boy Scouts put it: "Be prepared."

Besides, that duct tape could come in handy while at the beach or in the mountains. Its versatility never ceases to amaze.

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