Every time the wind blows, our lights flicker. In LA, it’s as if everyone shares the same extension cord.

Brrrrrrrrrrrr, this place. Winds in the passes, a polar vortex down your pants. Seriously, this is not the Los Angeles I signed up for.

On everybody’s mind: “Will this be worse than when James Franco hosted the Oscars?”

Stay tuned.

Suddenly, it’s like we’re made of chill winter winds…and Thin Mints…and your lusty secret notions about eternal love…plus your mother’s best soup, the kind she used to make when she sensed you needed something warm and wonderful right after school.

Mothers are the best shrinks. Mothers are just everything.

It’s no secret that America produces the world’s most-magnificent moms.

Can we export a few? Just a thought. I mean, we import everything else. Finally, a chance to win the trade war!

Meanwhile, I made Smartacus a batch of his late mother’s famous porridge the other day, to fend off the post-football blues. Soon, we will pivot to March Madness, but for now, we retreat into old sitcoms and vats of incredible steaming chowders, using bread as a sponge.

When ice falls from the sky, our prevent defense is moms and their soup.

To be honest, nothing bonds us like bad weather. I mean, we can rally around a lot of stuff – sports teams and the latest good restaurant to go under … the need for more dog parks, the need for funnier movies, better songs, how relentless bad news just sucks the life right out of you sometimes.

But there’s nothing like a little snow and slop to rally us.

The lousy weather comes this year just as the kids’ baseball season begins. Locally, they canceled opening ceremonies, a relief to most, yet a disappointment to the Adults Who Do Everything, an important and undervalued subset.

As we speak, some super-tired mom or dad is opening a spreadsheet to re-schedule the rained-out games.

“My candle burns at both ends,

It will not last the night,

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends,

It gives a lovely light…”

Every community has a set of Adults Who Do Everything. They stage the parades and run the sports leagues and burn the candle at both ends.

We mock them sometimes, for they can be bossy busy-bodies. No one will forgive the one year they banned margaritas from tee-ball. But they get things done, damn it.

Can you imagine a world without youth baseball? Or pancake breakfasts? Not me. Honestly, they are the only social events I actually enjoy…the syrup spilling into the link sausages, super crisp…the pancakes black as a Bible on at least one side.

Sending a word hug to those who pitch in, beyond all expectations.

Ever heard the term “word hug?” No? That’s because I just made it up.

A word hug can be a nice quip, an amusing limerick, a heartfelt thanks when someone waits a few extra seconds to hold the door.

Meanwhile I’m looking for a volunteer to wear my favorite shoes first thing in the morning, walk around to warm them, so that I can slip them on all toasty and soft.

Anyone? Smartacus? Suzanne? White Fang?

Welcome to the perk-filled world of kings and columnists, both overindulged, both happy to let others do the hard work of life.

Thing is, kings or columnists, we can’t escape the chill right now. For once, LA is having a real winter. The other day, I even bought Kleenex. Word is that Ariana Grande, who usually wears fewer clothes than a poodle, actually put on socks.

Me, I like it all — the fireplaces… the flannel…the way, as writer Jane Hirshfield once noted, “A sweater takes on the shape of its wearer.”

Obviously, I’m drawn to simple pleasures – rain on the roof, Gordon Lightfoot on the hi-fi…distant train whistles and Nina Simone.

And thick, chewy soups.  

By the way, here’s the chili my late wife made. It’s been known to cure depression, backaches, batting slumps, tax troubles, naughty thoughts, and poor judgment when it comes to men and money.

Individual results may vary.

1 rotisserie chicken (or the equivalent)

1 onion

Cooking oil

3 jars mild green salsa

2 cans white beans



2 cups chicken stock

Sour cream

In a big pot, in a splash of oil, sauté 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic and a medium chopped onion. Add the peeled meat from the chicken and three jars of Trader Joe’s salsa verde  (other markets’ green salsa works fine as well).

Slosh it around a while, maybe an hour, add a can or two of white cannellini beans and a tablespoon of cumin, a spice that tastes lousy till you add it to food. Oh, and a cup or two of chicken stock. Then slosh it around some more. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a scoop of sour cream, a dash of hot sauce and a snowy-cold beer. Feeds six adults. Or 25 Chardonnay Moms.

I’m fundraising for a parent-ed program that assists struggling families. Donations honor my late wife and son. To contribute, please go to Scroll down to Ticket Information. The first item is “Give to Support the Cathy & Christopher Erskine Compassion Memorial.” Every 10 bucks helps. On behalf of all the families this helps, thank you in advance.

12 thoughts on “Brrrrrrrrr…

  1. Best takeaways from this post – mothers are just everything, word hug, Gordon Lightfoot, poodle, this chili recipe. I haven’t picked up a bat in years but my back is a little sore. Looking forward to sloshing this around later today. Might substitute the snowy-cold beer.

  2. What Bonnie said! Plus something worse than James Franco hosting the Oscar’s. I’ve been trying to come up with that answer for years. Thank you! We have made Posh’s chili before. Great reminder. This weather provides the perfect excuse to whip up another batch. PS Minnesotans think we’re wusses but what are we paying the high cost of living in California for, if not to escape winter? I want my money back.

  3. A family favorite! I’ve made Posh’s green chili Verde chicken soup at least once a year every year since you first published it, always with a twinge in my heart.

  4. A hike last week took me through a local park filled with young baseball players. The group that caught my attention and put a permanent smile on my face? T-ballers. They must have been about five or six and were working hard on their batting and fielding. Doesn’t get much better than that on a winter evening. Cheers to kid’s sports and the Adults Who Do Everything who make it possible!

  5. You posted this recipe some time ago. I’ve made it at least five times and it has become a family favorite. I highly recommend it during these unseasonably cold SoCal days.

  6. Brrrrrrr, indeed. But lest we let these moments of contrast turn us inside—inward, consider the eastward impact of these cold waves of storm. Narcissism may be a business in Hollywood (If no one looks at you, can you be a star? If no one thinks of you, what then?); but we here in Southern California are so inwardly tuned to the sameness of weather. Dissonance hurts, but tomorrow will be fresh and sharp and glistening, and as disciples of the angels we must be out in it, for in bright chill there is a certain exhilaration, is there not?. The smoke in the air could be distant rain, or from a chimney or signature chili. What counts is its contrast. There is such beauty in difference.

    Trial By Ice

    These are the days we seem to fall
    Out of orbit, night diffusing
    Into the days in a blurry
    Rainy way, as if confusion
    Were a rote condition of light
    And clarity was a dim dream
    We had when Summer seared ite edge
    With breathtaking waves of white fire
    Unimaginable in cold
    Whose numb nullity dims even
    The blaze of sunlight on the snow
    With its gray lens and blurry smear
    Of devotion to Winter’s void
    That answers motion with silence;

    Why is it that Winters long stall
    Takes so much for granted, time losing
    Its crisp aftertaste and flurry
    Of reflection in a fusion—
    Perception and slowing insight
    Wherein mortal prose loses steam
    And dreams dull like lost stars and wedge
    In the corners, no longer higher
    Than the snowflakes now growing old
    In drifts of similar unseen
    Lassitude, everything you know
    Letting rime dictate what is near
    Ideas like some strange prismoid—
    Hard crystal version of romance
    Night frozen in the dawn’s gray ash
    An eerie light in sunset’s splash
    Of smudge, its ambiguity
    Winter in perpetuity
    Whose melancholy songs we sing
    As Winter lies, just before Spring
    Like no other slumbering thing
    In cold of its remembering…

  7. Love the “black as a bible”, pancakes, toast, waffles and tortillas! That’s my fame!!
    Don’t forget albóndiga soup, best winter soup to add to your list

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