What a Year It’s Been

Suddenly, the sun is everywhere. I yank the pull-tab on the new carton of orange juice and it spits me in the eye.

Hello sunshine, my old friend…

You know, some people turn into their mother, some turn into their father. Me, I’m turning into my late wife.

Exhibit No. 1: I now have a shelf in the armoire where I store the seasonal dishware — Halloween bowls and reindeer butter knives. I’ve tired of packing it all away in the basement, when soon – but not too soon – I’ll be pulling it all out again.

Already, I miss fall, though I just threw out the last of the eggnog. So it’s not like I’m refusing to  move on.

Keep your eye on the prize, my friends. The Super Bowl beckons, then Mardi Gras, then the most-beloved holiday of them all: Rapunzel’s birthday. It’s in April, and this year there will be a flyover and a brassy-loud parade.

It’s Rapunzel’s year, after all. In August, she’ll be married, and in September, she’ll still be married, and so on and so forth for the rest of her entire life. I’ve met the guy. I predict a long, memorable run for Miss Rapunzel.

And in May, we have Cakes’ second birthday.

My recent E-mail to God:

“Dear sir. I do not care much for how quickly my granddaughter is growing up. Seems she was a baby for five minutes, then a toddler, now a muse, an inspiration, a rascal prodigy.  You should see her steer her little plastic Tesla bravely down the sidewalk. Can you slow her down a little?”

Meanwhile, word from the Palisades is that Suzanne’s tiny yet magnificent dog – looks a little like your hairbrush — is actually a vegan.  

That’s certainly no way to live – I mean really live – but  her dog (Stuart Little) apparently really adores lettuce and other assorted greenery. Guess that’s the Palisades for you. Lovely place … glows like a Lexus in the slanted mid-winter light. As do the pets.

Suzanne? She’s fine, thanks — hair like new nickels with really kind, caring eyes. Eats mostly lettuce too, though I fixed her a teriyaki salmon bowl on Sunday, and she swooped up every last bite. Smelled so good, one of my nostrils collapsed.

Oh, what a year it’s been. And it’s not even over yet!

In about a month, this whole region will blossom like Brigadoon, a storybook green like maybe we’ve never seen before, soft and supple.

I will stand on a hillside dressed as Francis of Assisi, birds fluttering about, my arms outstretched as I bless the cashmere canyons, the creeks, the long chewy grasses…and those super-long driveways off of Mulholland.

As I recall, Francis of Assisi was a bit of a nudist and one time actually kissed a leper. So I have that to look froward to. Francis once assured his followers, “If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.” 

We’ll see, right?

Look, life is fragile and sometimes very hard. The other day, I bought two condolence cards for friends who had just lost their fathers, then picked up a third one “just in case.”

That’s how fragile life is lately.

January is always full of bagpipes. There are already way too many graves in LA — though these days Dad often ends up in an urn on a bedroom shelf, up with that broken antique clock you just can’t bring yourself to throw away.

Hey, is that a Hookah back there by the clock…no, wait…

Honestly, I probably don’t have that long. My elbow hurts a little and my schnitzel continues to throb.

The other day, I was kicked off my favorite running track, so now I have to devise another rigorous workout, preferably something involving slot machines and frosty pitchers of beer.

My dream workout? You dart from one slot machine to the next, as if running an obstacle course. When you finish, Dolly Parton brings you a shrimp cocktail.

Already, I think we can sense this new year is going to be extra special.

2023: The Year in Review (it’s never too early).

–Jan. 1-6: Flooding, mudslides, mayhem.

–Jan. 7: The Dodgers agree to pay an injured pitcher $8 million next season, even though he is unlikely to pitch a single pitch.

Jan. 8: I make Suzanne a teriyaki salmon bowl.

Jan. 9: They kick me off the running track.

Jan. 14: Classified documents are found in my garage.

“He thought they were self-help books!” my lawyer (Billable Bob) tells the FBI.

A special prosecutor has yet to be named. Jeeez, just hope it’s not one of my kids.

Mark your calendars for a Feb. 4 hike, somewhere in the verdant hills of Los Angeles. Details to come. Meanwhile, please buy a gin glass, please buy a book, at ChrisErskineLA.com. Thanks!

18 thoughts on “What a Year It’s Been

  1. Suzanne’s pup does look like an adorable little hairbrush! Thanks for reminding us all that we have to look forward to this year. I like your new workout routine. I think I will adopt it too.

  2. Omg, are those pine nuts in your salmon bowl? What else is hiding under the dill? Please post recipe🙏💚

    1. Salmon bowl recipe: So simple. I used a bed of fresh uncooked spinach. Over that, I put grilled (or pan fried) salmon that I sprinkled with salt and teriyaki. Add a big scoop of farro or brown rice to the bowl. I pickle some chopped green onions or red onion in apple vinegar and sugar for about 30 minutes, rinse it and add that. I top it all with a dab of sour cream and hot sauce. Those black flecks are roasted sesame seeds (not sure you can taste them but they add a nice texture). Takes about 40 minutes to put together. I love the flavor, and it’s pretty healthy too! After I made it for Suzanne, I made it for Smartacus the next day.

  3. Your workout routine reminded me of a story I read years ago (in the NY Post probably) about how when Leona Helmsley did laps in her pool her butler would be waiting for her at the end of the pool with boiled shrimp! (I just googled it, it was widely reported!)
    Loved this post by the way, Happy New Year!

  4. I cannot believe Cakes is going to be two. Our precious grandchildren just grow too fast. Enjoy her while you can, there is nothing like a grandchild.❤️

  5. Dude, thank you. I’m an ER travel nurse, been on the road for just about 5 years now and your twice weekly writings have so picked me up. I’ve loved reading about you and your family and friends and dogs. And the Dodgers! I’m from SoCal (Burbank) and now live in Tucson, AZ. It’s so much fun to tease the Snake fans about the time we jumped in their pool. The very best wishes to you and your lovely family!

    1. Hi Dee, what a life that must be. But you are doing God’s work. How do you like Tucson? I’m not much of a fan of Phoenix, but always thought I might like Tucson. Cheers

  6. Hi Chris – when you’re planning hikes, keep in mind the beautiful hills of Calabasas which are so green now. I think we did that about 6 years ago. Love your writing, as always.

  7. Gee. And unabashed gosh. Your new numerator is “The Wizard Of Whimsy”. That other, “Don Of Domestica” implies dark richness, complex wine, a heady family stew; but you become buoyant when sunlight explodes after rain, the sky now half full, not half empty. How blue sky becomes you, makes 2023 seem like a run for the roses, champagne cavort. Just swell, that; like willowy, shiny Suzanne…

    Love Affair

    Rain has been coming on in waves
    Of sheets and gusts, fits and starts
    Spritzes, swirls, and sprays of lust
    For soil and pavement, water falling
    Here, now there, gathering in pools
    Surfaces glistening with the sheen
    Of mercury, wet teeth, smiling
    As only the ground’s mouth—inundated
    By water’s salivary love of dark earth—
    Can, in a no-holds-barred relentless
    Steady flooding release of passion;

    As a water fall, this one gets raves—
    Because it has dispensed its arts
    With varying whimsy, it must
    Be more in tune with love, walling
    Off moments of ecstasy, molecules
    Of mist like steam a boiling smoke screen
    For another gathering storm riling
    Horizon’s desire with uncompensated
    Energy, its drouth-stained gray girth
    Shimmering with longing for intense
    Liquidity in those parched dreams—the fashion
    Of many a cold sere moonlit night, rusty day
    Before love came, and washed the dust away…


  8. hi chris…. i wish i had one of those bowls right now…. delish.
    is it too late for me to sign up for the hike if you do it out my way in the west valley? i’d love to join in the fun . what do i need to do to make it happen?
    let me know. with thanks and always with gratitude for your words and musings.
    hugs from west hills…
    shari sack

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