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SUMMER RULES is a series where we ask people to share with us how they’re staying safe and sane during this very different summer season; from mask suggestions to soundtrack selections, we’ll take a peek into how others are making these challenging times work.

We’re kicking off the week with actor, comedian, writer, producer, podcaster (and all around v. talented human) Janet Varney! She’s staying in good spirits this summer with audiobooks, daily guac and more:

How do you usually feel about summer, as a season overall, and how do you feel about THIS summer, by comparison?

Honestly, not a big summer fan. As a kid, I lived in Tucson, AZ, and came to equate summer with that classically cruel joke of not having to be in school, but it being too hot to do much of anything. Of course L.A. isn’t egg-fryingly hot the way Tucson is, but I definitely prefer cooler and ideally foggier days. This summer… I mean. This. Summer. Is it summer? What day is it? Amirighteverybody?

What is your summer shaping up to look like?

Probably a lot of staying inside and going for lots of hikes and walks in the morning and evening, at least while LA County tries to get a handle on coronavirus. This also means a lot of audio books and music in my earbuds this summer. But our dogs are loving all the company!

Is there anything in particular you’re actually looking forward to this summer?

Well, we just wrapped up what we call in LA “June Gloom,” which is actually one of my favorite times of year, because for whatever meteorological reason, many June mornings are really misty and foggy, and that reminds me of San Francisco (where I lived for almost 10 years). Once in awhile June Gloom persists in the later summer months, so I’m always crossing my fingers for a little fog.

What are some of your tips for staying safe and sane right now?

Nature, nature, and nature. I’ve actually been really busy work-wise even during the lockdown, so I’m mitigating both work anxiety and pandemic anxiety, and it’s amazing how much seeing baby owlets can do for a person’s spirits.

Go-to summer wellness practice advice? Any spots in particular that have been helping you on that front?

The LA Times has a new newsletter called The Wild, about how to and where to be outdoors in CA this summer (and onward), and it’s been a fun resource. I’m also a Headspace app user.

Where did you get your mask from? And what, aside from that, has been your more or less go-to summer uniform?

I usually rotate masks from California Cowboy (local to San Francisco) and the ones I’ve made myself which, yes, involve me sewing fabric over old sports bra inserts I’ve never used. Crafts!

What (if anything) are you reading right now, and why do you recommend it? (Alternatively, just share a favorite book.)

I would love to recommend Anna Cox’s new novel “I Keep My Worries in my Teeth.” It’s wonderful, strange, funny, and poignant. I came to know the book very, very well, because I was honored to read one of the narrative characters for the audiobook!

Do you have a go-to summer hang-out recipe that still works for a socially distanced gathering? And/or just a favorite general summer recipe that’s still a go-to, even now?

My partner and I are daily guacamole eaters. It’s come to this: we’re addicted to avocados, plain and simple. We make a really simple guac with avos, fresh squeezed lime juice, cilantro (but skip it if you don’t have the cilantro gene!), a little chipotle hot sauce, smoked salt and lemon pepper.

What about great summer cocktail or mocktail recipe?

This is probably so hippy-dippy, but there’s this apple cider vinegar drink from Bragg’s called Ginger Spice, and we’ve discovered that it’s the perfect foundation for an easy margarita. And it’s a no-calorie drink! I mean, until you add the booze…

What’s on your summer playlist this year, or are there three songs that are permanent summer favorites for you?

Been listening to the new I Break Horses album. Also a lot of Volcano Choir/Bon Iver, Mark Kozelek’s various iterations, and the delightful pixie-from-another-planet, Aurora.

Where do you wish you COULD GO this summer, if there were no restrictions or safety risks?

I usually travel a ton through the year for work stuff, and I really miss that. This summer? Would definitely go to Iceland.

And is there anywhere you’ve been safely going that you could recommend for people who live nearby? Any day trips or local spots worth mentioning, for example?

I’ve been digging kinda deep into Hollywood history since there are so many great neighborhoods near me I can walk to/around in that have these cool 1920’s Hollywood stories attached to them. It feels a bit like time travel, which is definitely appreciated when you feel like you’re kinda stuck somewhere.