Tag Archives: sisters

The Big Yellow House

Several years ago when visiting my sister in Los Angeles we spent a few weeks driving through California, stopping occasionally where and when something caught our eyes.

Big yellow house signWe drove hundreds of miles during those weeks and of course, I have many notes in my notebooks about this.

I particularly remember one place where we stopped for lunch was the Big Yellow House.  This was one of my sister’s favourite places to eat.

My memory is that the restaurant served straightforward American fare   Mashed potatoes and turkey, pot roast and corn on the cob, big bowls of salad; large bowls of soup notably minestrone or chowder with baskets of hot, freshly baked rolls just begging for butter.   Then generous slices of fresh-baked pie with a dollop of ice cream melting on top followed and completed the meal.  We were both full by the time we left.

Because I was intrigued by the building I decided to do some research into its history.  I learned that the historic structure was built as a private residence by Mr H.L. Williams, the founder of Summerland, in 1884.  And then I discovered that at some stage it had been used as the focal house for a spiritualist community that later became known as Summerland.  There are tales of hauntings; of sightings of a large dark-skinned man surrounded by several other ‘spirits’; of things being moved supernaturally, and other unexplained occurrences.

Dr John Griffin PhD who has written of his experiences at the Big Yellow House bemoans the fact that he with various  friends and colleagues didn’t mount ” a scientific study, complete with instrumentation, of what seemed to be a genuine, multi-spirit haunt.” He goes on to say “Over the years, however, there have been various investigations of reputed haunts where spirits have not only been observed, but anomalistic readings on instrumentation have also been recorded. ”  Read more of this at http://www.worldu.edu/library/big_yellow_house.htm.

Note – Of course I hadn’t heard the term anomalistic and so went to our trusty friend Wikipedia where I learned

“In psychology, anomalistic psychology is the study of human behaviour and experience connected with what is often called the paranormal, without the assumption that there is anything paranormal involved.

On the hypothesis that paranormal explanations do not exist, researchers try to provide plausible non-paranormal accounts, supported by empirical evidence, of how psychological and physical factors might combine to give the impression of paranormal activity when, in fact, there had been none. Such explanations might involve cognitive biases, anomalous psychological states, personality factors, developmental issues, the nature of memory, the psychology of deception and self-deception.”

The property was purchased in the early 1970s by John and June Young.   June Young was one of the founders of Santa Clause Lane and she promptly painted the large house bright yellow with a bright orange roof. The house could not be missed and The Big Yellow House was a landmark for many years.  I was intrigued to learn that for many years, children’s meals were priced ‘by the pound’ – not the food, but the children. Those under 10 years old would be weighed on a large scale and their meals priced accordingly.

Whatever the truth of hauntings and supernatural occurrences, I was very sad to hear that the building was the subject of a mortgagee sale in 2010 and so the restaurant had to close.  But now I am heartened to learn that it has been bought by a local Santa Barbara developer who is looking for tenants.  I hope that one of the tenants is a restaurateur who might continue at least some of the things that made The Big Yellow House famous.

He may live without books – what is knowledge but grieving?
He may live without hope – what is hope but deceiving?
He may live without love – what is passion but pining?
But where is the man who can live without dining?”
Edward Bulwer-Lytton, English statesman and poet. (1831-1891)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

..Note 2 – Still having trouble with posting comments on other people’s blogs.  Perhaps the ghost of The Big Yellow House is haunting me!

Gremlins in the air?


“An apology is a good way to have the last word.” Anon

After a few weeks of being so far behind in reading the blogs I follow, I eventually spent all day yesterday glued to the computer reading, reading, occasionally commenting and often clicking ‘like’.  So now I am caught up and today have only 32 items in the inbox.  Hoorah!

Applause

But now I think I must have offended WordPress in some way.  I have tried to respond to various bloggers today and after pressing ‘post comment’ the comment has disappeared into the ether.  So for the many bloggers I follow and particularly those who have mentioned my blogs in their posts – Elizabeth at Mirth and Motivation and Caterel at caterel.wordpress.com and therefore deserve a response from me, I offer my heartfelt apologies.  Hopefully, whatever the gremlin is it will disappear later today.

____________

I recently came across this quote from Stephen Levine, poet, author and teacher.  It’s in his book A Year To Live

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting? ”

Who would I callMy two sisters on a three-way call.  Why my sisters and not my family?  Because my sisters would not be able to be with me while my children and grandchildren are here in New Zealand and able to come to me.

What would I say? I would tell them how very special they both are to me.  What important parts they have played in my life.  How I have missed being and sharing with them over the years.   And if it was at all possible, I would wish to be all together again. It is now 12 years since we were all together (and that was for Mother’s funeral).

Why am I waiting?  I am not.

So think about it.  Who would you phone, what would you say and why are you waiting?

A stiff apology is a second insult…. The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.  G.K. Chesterton, English author, poet and playwright.  1874 – 14 June

Recent posts on sisters

My Lot is Cast

Those of you have read some of my earlier blogs will know that I have two very dear sisters.  One lives in London, UK and one in Los Angeles, California.  We keep in touch by phone and of course, emails.  Emails are always addressed to both sisters on the other side of the world.

Phone calls are rather more rare but it is great to hear their voices.  Recently after several many futile phone attempts I connected with my American sister.

We of course, discussed many things but we always without fail, discuss books we have read and those we hope to read.  Because at that time, I had just finished reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 I was full of this book.  Others have written great reviews of it so I wont do so here.  Maybe an idea for another blog?

My sister is a prolific reader and she shared several of her favourite authors and  books she had read with me.

She is apparently very fond of Nicola Upson’s series about detective Jacqueline Tey.  She quoted one of her favourite poem’s which came from the book “To Love and Be Wise.

“My lot is cast in inland places,
Far from sounding beach
and crying gull,
And I
who knew the sea’s voice from my babyhood
Must listen to a river purling
Through green fields
And small birds gossiping
Among the leaves”.

I don’t live in inland places – the ocean is about 10 minutes drive away, but I miss the sights and sounds of the ocean that I used to see from all the windows of my home.  It seemed that we were surrounded by the sea and it’s activities. For 15 years we lived in that house.  The children spent their teenage years there and we became almost immune to the fantastic views from most windows.  We could see not only the ocean with all its comings and goings (cruise ships, ferries, barges and tugs for the port)  but the planes landing at the airport, and the trains bringing people and goods into our capital city. So maybe this post should be headed “Trains and Boats and Planes”.

And as in this poem, now I don’t hear the crying gull when I awaken in the morning but I do hear the small birds gossiping among the leaves.  I love the thought of the birds gossiping.

I hear the sounds of busy families getting ready for their day – households waking up, newspapers being brought in, children going to school and parents to work.  The road outside my house is alive with activity for a short time each morning and then, as if a switch has been pulled, the peace descends and only those of us who are no longer living the busy years are left behind.

We have time for another leisurely cup of coffee; time to exchange pleasantries with our neighbours as we retrieve the newspaper from the drive; time to read the newspaper, complete the crossword and as I am getting older, I peruse the death notices just in case there is somebody I know mentioned there.

And so –

My lot is cast
In different places
Not beside the river or the ocean
But in the city with its life and vitality.
Not in the distant years of my youth
Nor the busy years of family life
But the peaceful years of time for me
To enjoy friends and family.
Time to investigate new things
New activities and new friends
Time to be me.

,old lady smoking cigar

Many and Varied Thoughts

 

In a phone conversation with my sister in Los Angeles yesterday she mentioned that she had begun to follow Dor at Technicolor Daydreams after reading some of her comments on my blog.

Sisters

Oh so very long ago.

My sister brought my attention to a post that Dor had written in November and that somehow I had missed.  The post describes heating in those days when we didn’t all have central heating and used other means of heating the house.  See the post here.

For both of us, this brought back so many memories.  When we were growing up we had not only an open fire in the living room but also a heater in the kitchen that heated water and the one and only radiator in the house.  The open fire used coal and the kitchen heater used coke. For those of you not familiar to this material (and how many are as old as me?) coke comes from coal is grey, hard, and porous and is produced in much the same way as charcoal.

Coal and coke were delivered each week and we had two large bins outside the kitchen door for the coalman to dump them into.  The coalman has now disappeared and open fires are no longer allowed in London.  I wrote about the fog, soot and smoke (smog) caused by open fires in an earlier blog.

Oil heater

From memory this looks like our heater

In memory, the house was always warm but this was achieved with not only the two fires and one water reticulated radiator, but with a variety of other sources.  We had various electric heaters around the house and we also had a kerosene heater in the bedroom I shared with my older sister.  It had a distinctive smell and it too left pretty pictures on the ceiling.  I do remember that if one or other of us had the dreaded bronchitis so prevalent in London at the time, mother would put a kettle of water with Friar’s Balsam in it on top of the heater.  The resulting steam which we inhaled, helped to clear the bronchial tubes in those far off days before inhalers were readily available.

I don’t remember that there were any problems with the one at home.  Only father was ever allowed to fill the thing but we three girls had to take ourselves off to the hardware shop to buy the kerosene and carry it home in a can.  The can was quite heavy and it seems that there was always discussion as to whose turn it was to carry it.

Then when my dashing-young-Scotsman and I moved into our first “garden” apartment (here read semi-basement apartment), we had a really stylish oil heater.  In the cold winter months following our wedding, we would leave this thing on in the hall so that the apartment was warm on our return from work.  One day, when my (very new) husband was away on business I arrived home to find great stalactites of oily grease hanging from the ceiling.  The heater had blown something during the day – how lucky that we didn’t cause a fire. But what was a very young bride to do?  A quick call to the family home, some ten minutes walk away, resulted in both mother and father arriving and taking charge.  They cleaned, scrubbed and dusted while I looked on providing copious cups of tea and encouraging words!

Of course, the ceiling had to be repainted and my very adaptable clever father did this over the next few days.

What memories are revived when reading other people’s blogs.  Thank you Dor and thank you, Christine, for bringing the post to my attention and thus reviving these memories.

In Accepting This Award…

Katherine Hepburn

Katherine Hepburn via Wikipedia

Katharine Hepburn won Best Actress a record four times. She never once showed up at the Oscars to accept the award. But her multiple wins prove that, back then, if they thought you deserved it you won.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post that meandered through my thoughts.  Among the things I wrote about were Awards, and accepting or declining them.

One of the comments I received on the post made me think that perhaps my ramblings could have been misconstrued and might have been considered rude.  Of course, this was not my intention and if anybody took the ramblings in this way, I sincerely apologise.

As I said in that post my concern was for the question of having to nominate several other bloggers for this award.  I find this difficult to do as I follow so many great bloggers and read some others to whom I haven’t yet subscribed. How do you pick and choose from the list?  In the past I have got around over my concern about this by nominating all those on my blogroll.  Cheating I guess!

Sometimes a few days pass before I read all the posts waiting in my in box.  A few days after I published the post I read that I had been awarded the Leibster Award by fellow blogger the island traveler.

Liebster blog award

So as I am a woman, and it is well known that we change our minds (I’m also blonde so make of that what you will) I will accept both these awards with grace but in doing so will cheat again and instead of nominating five (or is it fifteen?) bloggers to receive the award, I nominate all those on my blog roll.  You have all entertained me, made me think, taught me many new things and kept me on my toes in the nine months since I started on this blogging journey.  We have connected in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible before this time.  So thank you all and please accept this award as an early Christmas present.

Versatile blogger award

Also please accept the versatile blogger award.  This was graciously awarded to me a couple of weeks ago by Janet at thoughts to mull.   I hope that Janet was not offended by  the remarks in my earlier blog.

Again I nominate all of you on my blog roll to receive this award.

This award calls for me to tell you seven things about myself  If you have been following me in the past months you will have seen these things (or some of them) before.  If so, please take it as written/read/said.

  1. I consider myself blessed in that I  had a great upbringing in a loving and secure family environment.   I know from reading some of the blogs and talking with friends that this was not afforded to everybody.
  2. I was blessed in my relationship with my husband aka the dashing (not so) young Scotsman, that lasted 41 years until his untimely death in 1998.  I say that I grew up with him and have him to thank for the woman I am today.
  3. I am blessed in my two grown children who now each have two children of their own.  I like and respect the people they chose to be their spouses and of course, I love my four sturdy, bright grandsons.
  4. I am blessed in that I have two sisters, one in London in the UK and one in Los Angeles , California with whom I am very close.  I say that the best friends of all are sisters.  We don’t see each other very often now but we are in regular contact via the phone and more particularly emails.
  5. I am an English woman who chooses to make her life in Godzone otherwise known as New Zealand/Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud).
  6. I am a trained life coach and in recent years have spent time helping people come to terms with grief and loss.
  7. I am “retired” and now spend my time helping a Real Estate agent friend in her business, running courses mostly on Self Confidence building, writing, blogging and I volunteer at the local hospice each week.

So there you have it.  Thank you once again for reading my posts and thanks to those who consider them worthy of awards.  I hope that my making my own rules for acceptance doesn’t step on anybody’s toes.  And as Peter Ustinov said :

“To refuse awards is another way of accepting them with more noise than is normal”.

Note – just re-read the post and see that the word ‘more’ was left out of the quote by Peter Ustinov. 


What Lurks in Your Garden?

Coffee.  Garden.  Coffee.
Does a good morning need anything else?
~Betsy Cañas Garmon, www.wildthymecreative.com

The rain had stopped and the sun was trying really hard to shine.  So I put on my gumboots and went out to look at what damage the hail and rain had done to my patio  garden.

Garden

I was amazed to see just what lurks in my tiny patio garden.

Fly on ranunculas

The fly was just having a rest in the sunshine. 

LotteLotte was checking things out

Statue sistersThis statue always reminds me of the closeness of my sisters
and has moved with me many times over the years

Mexican thingIt’s sad that this thing has lost it’s tail and has to rely
on the pot to hold it up

GnomeThis was the most hideous thing you have ever seen
given to me as part of a joke by 2 grandsons last Christmas.
Fortunately Unfortunately, it has lost all its colours

DuckThe duck lurks in amongst the planting

MexicanThe Mexican sleeps among the plants and weeds

StatueMy daughter bought this at a charity auction and it has
now been in four different gardens

Most of these things that lurk in my garden have been bought for me by the family.  Some as jokes such as the gnome and the Mexican but all have special memories attached.

So what lurks in your garden today?

Flat Packs

One of the bloggers that I follow is Hallysan at Photographic Memories.  In a recent blog acknowledging an award, she had to give us seven things about herself.  One was that she was good with her hands and that caused me to comment that I was not and flat packs send me into a spin.

I remember one particular time when a flat pack was in order.  I had arrived in London in time for Christmas and was staying with my sister.  A few days before Christmas Day a flat-pack arrived by courier.  My sister had ordered a toy kitchen for one of her grand-daughters.

We opened the package and saw how many pieces needed to be put together, so in the hope that her son would turn up in the next few days, we closed the box and put it aside.

The days passed and Christmas Eve arrived but her son didn’t, so we were faced with putting this toy together.  The first warning read “Not to be assembled by anyone under 10 years” (or words to that effect).  Then there were the usual warnings about small items and small children but hey – we were two adult, grown-up Grandmothers.  We could do this!

My sister is much better with her hands than am I – in fact both sisters are and it would be hard to find anyone who wasn’t.  So she would put the pieces together ie build the kitchen and I would read the instructions and pass the requisite screws, screwdriver, stickers, parts etc.  We were doing very well until I turned over two pages in the instruction book.  Yes, there was a book and it had been translated into English from Chinese, we think by Goofy and his pals.  It made hilarious reading.  I wish I had known the Good Greatsby then and his command of Chinglish it would have been very useful.

Imagine this.  Two adult women surrounded by pieces of a toy kitchen, screws, stickers etc and having no idea how to put it all together.  Hours passed in discussion on how to do this, interspersed with shrieks of laughter when first one thing and then another either didn’t fit or hallelujah it did fit!

Then telephone calls to nieces and nephews in London, to family and friends in New Zealand and to elder sister in Los Angeles.  They all shared in the hilarity and passed comment and advice while we tried to put this danged thing together.

My mobile phone bill reached an all-time high and we did too.  Eventually, a rather wobbly kitchen was put together but my nephew commented the next day that one of the panels was in upside down or round the wrong way, but the four-year-old for whom it was intended loved it anyway.

So no more flat packs for me.  I enjoyed the exercise of putting it together but oh dear me, at the end of it we were left with about thirty extra screws.  I wonder where they were meant to go?  And I never enquired as to how long the kitchen stayed upright.  I left shortly after Christmas and it never came up in conversation again.

 

As I have said before sisters are the best friends and they are also the best people with whom to share such an experience.


“A hug is a great gift – one size fits all, and it’s easy to exchange.”
Author Unknown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my sisters

Plaque

Anonymous quote

I have written about my sisters before, but in case you don’t know, the three of us live in different parts of the world.  If we tried we couldn’t be further away from each other.  Christine, my elder sister is in Los Angeles, USA; Marianne my younger sister is in London, UK and I am in Wellington, NZ.

We were born and brought up in the East End of London.  Some of you may have seen the TV program “The East Enders” but real life was not like that.  We lived in a comfortable, loving environment surrounded by parents and relatives.  In this we were particularly fortunate as since growing up and moving on I have heard horrendous stories of how people were treated during their formative years.  When I read this post on Fatherhood from Misty it made me realize once again just how lucky we were.

As I have said before there was little money around and certainly no luxuries.  But we were well fed, clothed and warm and in this loving environment, what more could we ask for?

My childhood memories are good.  I had my two best friends always close by and if any one of us was ever in trouble, we ganged together and put up a united front. As Pam Brown says “When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? “

And so it has always been with the three of us.  We live far apart but yet are always there in thoughts for each other.  I wrote a poem to my younger sister to tell her (and you) how much I appreciated her.  I wrote a blog about both sisters early in my blog writing career.  I love and honour them both and wish that we could spend more time together.  But it is not to be unfortunately.

I wish that we could share our daily lives with each other.  I wish that they could accompany Lotte and me on our walks around this city.  I wish that I could introduce them to my friends.  I wish, I wish …

But we rely on emails and phone calls to keep our relationship with each other strong.  Commiserations to those of you who don’t know the special bond that exists between sisters.

Mother and girls

Mother with her three daughters

“We each hear different drummers,
but still find music to dance together.”
Judith Baxter
, Sister, friend and confidante
1938 –

Favourite things

Today I had no idea what to base my blog on and then it came to me – Here are a few of my favourite things.

Julie Andrews (and many artists since) sang of

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

But really none of these make my list of favourite things except perhaps doorbells that ring heralding the arrival of family and friends.

My list is made up of (among other things):

  • Bright spring mornings after a long, dreary winter – Spring starts here officially on September 1
  • And as it’s spring, the first daffodils pushing up through the earth and soon will be showing their yellow heads along with the crocuses and soon the roses will flower and we will know the winter is past.
  • My faithful companion Lotte, the Tibetan Spaniel
  • My four ever-growing, sturdy grandsons.  All with one exception are now taller than their Granma
  • My son and daughter and their spouses
  • The smell of home baking in my daughter-in-law’s or friends houses
  • My two sisters though on other continents and far apart we share an ongoing love and commitment to each other
  • The early morning birdsong heard here even in the middle of a busy city
  • The happy sound of children walking past on their way to school
  • My first cup of tea in the morning
  • My warm shower to start the day
  • My friends both in real life and in the blogosphere
  •  My coffee with friends each day
  • My time spent at the Hospice each week among people doing what they do best, helping the sick and dying, and doing it with charm, grace and cheerfulness
  • One piece of particularly good chocolate to savour
  • Fresh flowers around my house at any time of the year
  • cup of latte

    Latte from my favourite coffee shop

Daffoldils

Photo - Anthony Hall, Dreamstime

Lotte at the window

Watching the world go by

My list can go on and on but what about your favourite things?

 “The only difference between an extraordinary life and an ordinary one is the extraordinary pleasures you find in ordinary things.”
Veronique Vienne, American Editor, writer, commentator

Ode to a Sister

“Regrets I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption”
From My Way sung by Frank Sinatra.

I think as we look back on our lives there are always some regrets.  The road not taken; the decision not made; the opportunity missed.  For me one of my regrets is time not having been spent with family.  Because I moved to the other side of the world I know that I missed out on lots of celebrations but also missed out on shouldering some responsibilities.

Thinking about this today I came up with this “Ode to a Sister”

I am not there when you call out my name
I am not there when you need a sister’s help
I am not there when things go wrong
And you need a shoulder to cry on.
I am not there

I am not there to celebrate the births of grandchildren
Or the marriage of your daughter
I am not there to see your children thriving and
I am not there to see their children growing

I am not there when decisions on mother’s care must be made
I am not there to assure you that the decisions are right
I am not there when mother dies and you have to deal with it
Alone until we came from far away

I am not there to help you cope with father’s aging
I am not there to help make  decisions on his care
I am not there when he dies and again you deal with it
I am not there.

I am not there when more decisions must be made
Dealing with the trappings of our parents lives
Unknown things about them surface
And I am not there.

I am not there to celebrate 21st birthdays
Or special birthdays of your own
I am not there when a special friend dies
I am not there.

I am not there when riots flare around you
And scared you sit alone in your flat
I am not there to hug you and say you will be safe
I am not there.

But I am there always with you
In thoughts and memories that we share
I will always be your loving sister
I am there.

I wrote this as stream of consciousness and it is published just as I wrote it.  so it’s from the heart.

Sisters are very special  and I have said this so many times before.  But before I get mawkish about my sisters, one in London and one in Los Angeles, I shall end this post.

Mother and girls

Mother with her three daughters

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters – never had to have a chaperone, “No sir” – I’m here to keep my eye on her.”  Irving Berlin 1988-1989.
Composer and lyricist