Postcards From L.A.: That’s not a flower vase. That’s my margarita glass

Sign of the season: fresh sweet corn. Grab with both fists and yank.
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

Shucked some sweet corn the other day, first of the season. Grabbed the silky end with both fists and yanked south. In my book, corn needs to get naked fast. I don’t have all day, you know.

Summer’s here, get outta my way. Time to give your id a workout … wipe down the big coolers, rinse that fish tank pitcher you use for party punch.

In warm weather, I like to drink from old Mason jars and flower vases my late wife kept under the sink.

“That’s the biggest glass I’ve ever seen,” Posh’s friends would marvel.


“It’s a flower vase,” she’d say. “Meet my husband: Peter Pan.”

Spiritually, I’m still in college, not a trait you’re necessarily looking for in a husband. In friends, it’s fine. In a date, or a father, or a colleague, a youthful spirit can be occasionally entertaining. But not in a lifelong mate.

“I’m youthful,” I’d say in my defense.

“You’re a dolt,” she’d answer.


It was a difference of opinion that spanned four decades.

Last week would’ve been our 37th wedding anniversary. Not that long when you’re having fun, which I did. I don’t know if Posh had much fun. She was always rinsing flower vases. Does that sound like fun to you?

The only silver lining is that my late wife will never have to see me grow old: wear compression socks with Bermuda shorts, rattle across the desert in an RV, take a bus tour through Sweden with 100 grouchy Germans.

Guess she was right after all: I am a dolt.


Her friends like to console us: “She’s in a better place.”

“Anyplace would be a better place,” I tell them.

Painted the kitchen door the other day, the one that’d been peeling so badly for three years, then had no one to show it off to, except for the little guy and his sisters, who seemed remarkably underwhelmed by the sight of a freshly painted kitchen door. Go figure.

“Rushed the prep work a little,” I said, though the door turned out fine. If you slather 11 coats of expensive latex on a door, you don’t really need to sand it at all.


I’ve got a few projects, the stuff I put off while taking Posh to a dozen doctors.

There’s the flower bed out front that White Fang dug out as some sort of potential birthing room. The wolf-dog has never been in a serious relationship, and can’t have puppies anyway (the vet took care of that). Yet, White Fang is very maternal and scraped out all the geraniums and irrigation tubing to create her nice birthing room in hopes of decorating it with fur-ball Siberian huskies.

Just what this house needs: more mouths.

Then there’s the staircase out back that I should have built with brick, not lumber. Ten years later, it is falling down dead.


As you might guess, I go to bed each night on a pillow stuffed with regrets.

Regret No. 1: Shortcuts to save a buck or two (such as wood porches that fall down).

Regret No. 2: Never been to Fenway.

The radical frugality I’ve embraced my entire life has turned out to be shortsighted and a little corrupt. Starting this summer, I’m going to do things the right way. I’m going to fill the season with family and friends, dollars and sense be damned.


“Hey, let’s make some memories,” I told the little guy over burgers the other evening.

“Sure, Dad,” he muttered, staring at his phone.

There’s a lot of that type of smugness going around — my least favorite human trait. My goal is to confront that head on, to grab summer with both fists and yank.

Next week, we’re taking a little boat ride on the ocean with his cousins and a pile of friends. In July, he and I are going far away on a train. It’ll be a summer where we make some memories, while honoring the past — missing his brother and his mother with all our hearts, but living each day as they would want it lived.


Life isn’t all duty and obligation, is it? Well, actually, it often is.

All the more reason to make the most of our summer — the dewy mornings, the balmy nights, the sunsets that drip like mango margaritas.

Crack the kitchen window, sizzle a beautiful steak.

Within our reach, we have alluring beaches and twinkly backyards. Invite some friends, set up a few chairs, uncork the honeysuckle wine and dig out some oversize vases.


Life is short. Pour it on.

Editor’s note: Give your id a workout with Erskine’s new series “Postcards From L.A.,” a funny exploration of our region’s extensive summer pleasures. It begins with a charter boat ride next week, in the Saturday section.