A sign of the sol­stice? Hear­ing Ra­pun­zel’s trills

Los Angeles Times - - HOME & DESIGN - CHRIS ERSK­INE chris.ersk­ine@la­times.com Twit­ter: @er­sk­ine­times

I found a stray sun­flower seed in my dress shoe the other day. I took that as an­other sign sum­mer is near. Just in case, I fired up the grill and hit some ke­babs with a reck­less and sat­is­fy­ing char.

Fire. Meat. Sum­mer. Let the party be­gin.

June is brass bands and peel­ing fences. It is mourn­ing doves and the clat­ter­ing of song­birds at sun­rise. I get up early these days; I seem to have noth­ing left to dream about. Be­sides, get­ting up early al­lows me to ap­pre­ci­ate the first wink of dawn, the lovely thwaaaaaack of a morn­ing paper slam­ming the drive­way. Box scores.

On my morn­ing run, I pass a se­ries of $5-mil­lion homes.

In the way I never much liked Mal­ibu, I never as­pired to a $5-mil­lion home. Too many win­dows to wash, too many quiet and empty rooms. Imag­ine the cob­webs, the mice in the at­tic, the somber tick­ing of clocks?

To my mind, a house should be noisy, a lit­tle crowded and al­ways smell of scram­bled eggs and ver­mouth.

While run­ning, though, I hear a rooster wail in the back of one of these over­size homes, over and over. Like a soror­ity cackle, it is charm­ing at first, then sud­denly not.

I can just imag­ine the poor duke and duchess who just bought their dream home next-door, only to dis­cover a rooster will awaken them at 5 a.m. for the rest of their lives. I laugh a lit­tle at that, though it’s cer­tainly noth­ing to joke about.

As a real es­tate friend once noted: “The only thing worse than liv­ing next door to the Bev­erly Hill­bil­lies? Liv­ing next door to you.”

By the way, just a lit­tle note to my neigh­bors: If any of you id­iots brings home a noisy rooster, I prom­ise you we’ll be hav­ing fried chicken for din­ner that same night. I’ll send the husky over to re­trieve it, and we’ll dip it in sherry, but­ter­milk and corn­meal. As they say, re­venge is best served deep-fried.

Or, worse, I’ll send one of the kids over to fetch your noisy bird. The risk in that is that the kid might take to your place and de­cide to never ever leave.

That hap­pens, you know. Chances are your place is nicer than ours any­way, that there’s no layer of dust on all the sills or rusty wrought iron all over the back­yard. (As you know, Posh loves to weld.)

Our kids moved in with us when they were a few days old, and most of them are still around. I tried to talk the hos­pi­tal into keep­ing them for that en­tire first year, or maybe till they could legally drive. Turns out our in­surance didn’t cover that … an­other sad sign of a bro­ken Amer­i­can health­care sys­tem. So, like sum­mer, the kids have set­tled in. The other day one of the in­mates, our younger daugh­ter, Ra­pun­zel, the one who sheds like a sheep, con­fessed to hav­ing ab­sconded with a bit of my beloved grape and vowed to re­place it as soon as she is fi­nan­cially se­cure, some­where in the vicin­ity of 2030 or 2035, like around there.

“Dad, I’ve been steal­ing your wine — not by the glass, en­tire bot­tles,” Ra­pun­zel con­fessed one morn­ing while pack­ing for a week­end away.

This sur­faced af­ter she took a bot­tle to a friend’s house, and the friend’s mom noted: “Hey, Ra­pun­zel, that’s a re­ally nice Chardon­nay you brought over. This stuff is, like, 30 bucks a bot­tle!”

The mother, one of the no­to­ri­ously thirsty Chardon­nay Moms who roam our lit­tle town — like pi­rates — ap­par­ently trig­gered a round of guilt in our daugh­ter, so Ra­pun­zel is now con­fess­ing to tak­ing “one of the bet­ter bot­tles in the wine cel­lar,” which is re­ally just a too-hot garage.

In truth, like Mal­ibu, like over­size homes, I don’t re­ally care for Chardon­nay.

I mean, I pre­fer it to tap wa­ter, if that’s all you’ve got. And it’s great for wash­ing the dogs.

Posh also uses Chardon­nay in the ra­di­a­tor of her SUV. “It scents the en­tire cul-de-sac,” she claims. But I didn’t tell our daugh­ter that. I just sug­gested that as long as she was re­plac­ing the things she’s taken, she might con­sider the 4,000 loaves of bread she’s con­sumed over the years, or the pop­corn, the pick­les, the piz­zas and the thou­sands of dol­lars in Trader Joe’s brie.

“Sure, Dad, I’ll think about that,” Ra­pun­zel trilled, then threw her long hair out the bed­room win­dow and — like sum­mer it­self — flew away in a flash.

‘Dad, I’ve been steal­ing your wine — not by the glass, en­tire bot­tles.’ —Ra­pun­zel con­fess­ing while pack­ing for a week­end away

Chris Ersk­ine Los An­ge­les Times

A FIERY GRILL loaded with ke­babs is a sure sign that sum­mer is just around the cor­ner.

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