Archive for October, 2011

Hot water bottle, thermals, layered clothing, wool socks, boots, wool scarf, heavy jacket, and a brolly or two. These are all signs of winter approaching.

Autumn is moving into winter and the holiday season is almost here. We can feel the weather changing as the temperatures drop and become colder. We can see it in the changing of the colours of the landscape – the leaves turning colour on the trees as they fall to the ground. We can hear it as many more raindrops fall. The days are shorter and the nights are longer – for many of us that love the sunshine, this is a sign that winter is on its way and we need to begin to prepare for and to adjust to these changes. There doesn’t seem to be a transition period from one season to the other, they just seem to arrive. Well, that is what it seems like. But in reality, nature has a wonderful way of moving from summer to fall to winter and then back to spring, and nature’s timing is just right.


My Hot Water Bottle

Winter is almost here and it is time to take out the hot water bottle. Now being from California where the weather doesn’t really get cold enough to need or use one, I do not think that I have ever owned a hot water bottle or knew what it was for. However that all changed when we moved to England. When the winter arrived, it brought with it the coldest temperatures that I had ever experienced or lived in. When I mentioned to my friends that the cold just goes through you even with thermals, a blanket and the heat on, my dear friend Katherine introduced this wonderful source of warmth to me. She bought me my very own hot water bottle as a Chanukah present last year. She explained how to use it – boil some water in the kettle, pour it into the opening of the hot water bottle being careful not to over fill it, close the cap, put it into the cover and place it close to you to warm you up and keep you warm for hours. It took me a week or two to get around to actually using it but once I did, I thanked her and used it for the rest of the winter. I wouldn’t be without one now. In fact I would like to buy another decorative cover, one made of a different fabric and colours. It is my friend during the cold days and freezing nights of the English winter.

I have also learned about thermals. I did have a pair when we lived in California but I only wore them when we went on visits to Europe in the fall, and they were silk ones that the skiers wear, not like the heavier ones that I have bought here in England. I learned how to layer my clothing, and during the winter months I always have a coat, scarf and brolly (umbrella) with me.

I am enjoying experiencing each of the seasons since we’ve moved to England, let’s just hope that this winter isn’t as cold or snowy as last year.

Having Fun in Autumn

Enjoy the colder temperatures, the rain, and the snow as this season brings its own magical moments.

Happy Winter

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Sunday was family day in Sheffield, UK.

Shortly after her stroke in May, my cousin Doreen had reconnected with our Aunt Jackie and her son Warren and his family through a phone conversation. Warren then invited her to visit when she was near Sheffield. As she lives in Brighton, four hours away, it seemed the visit would likely be far in the future. However, just a few months later, Doreen planned a trip up to visit and stay with Steve and I in Lincoln, just a bit more than an hour from Sheffield. She called Warren and he invited all three of us over to see his new home and to meet his daughter and son. His wife was away visiting her mom. Funny thing is that I reconnected with Warren last October at our cousin Brad’s 50th birthday party. We traded phone numbers and email addresses and were trying to find a date that we could all get together for a visit.

One of my favourite television series is “Who Do You Think You Are?” Each episode traces the family history of a well-known personality, with very interesting twists and turns, often going back hundreds of years. We were about to embark on our very own exploration.

The three of us drove west out of Lincoln on the A57. It was a beautiful Sunday morning – a great day for driving through the countryside. Our first stop was my cousin Warren’s home. Warren and his son Ben were waiting to greet us, and his daughter Sarah, returning from a hockey game, joined us shortly after. Their new house is big and beautiful with a fabulous view of the countryside.

Warren, Ben, Aunt Jackie, Maxine and Doreen

Warren’s mom, Jackie came over to visit us. As Warren showed us around the house he pointed out a silver trophy that he had won at a golf tournament. The inscription was what made it extra-special – it is in memory of Lionel Picker, our uncle.

Warren and the Lionel Picker Trophy

After much conversation, I brought out the picture album of our son Jonathan and Elizabeth’s wedding that took place in California on February 26, 2011. It had pictures of my mom and dad, Jonathan and Elizabeth, our younger son Joshua, and my sister and her family, so I was able to bring my family to them through these pictures and tell them all about what they are doing now.

My cousin Warren and I spent time reminiscing about when we were young. We first met at a family gathering in the summer of 1969, on my first trip to England. I was thirteen years old and Warren was nine. It was my mom’s first trip back to visit her family (her dad’s side of the family) in sixteen years, since she had emigrated to America. My mom came from a big family as most did in those days. You can imagine all of the parties and family dinners they had to introduce us to the whole family. It was during that trip that I became very close to all of my English aunts, uncles, and cousins.

After that trip I spent many summers in England visiting and getting to know them and sharing many happy times and creating special memories that I will always treasure. I introduced my husband Steve and our sons Jonathan and Joshua to our English relatives over twenty years ago on our first family trip to England when the boys were only four and seven. They have been back to visit everyone a number of times throughout the years and have a close connection to their aunts and cousins. Technology has evolved through the years as well. When I was young I can remember what a big deal it was to make an international call to talk to the relatives. Now everyone can connect on Facebook and see and talk to each other on Skype, for free.

Aunt Jackie, Sarah, Maxine and Ben

Warren invited us to the Norfolk Arms for lunch where we continued our conversations and stories. After a delicious and authentic English pub lunch, Jackie invited us back to her house for tea and dessert. Warren had to leave to attend a friend’s graduation party with his children. We hugged each other and said that we are looking forward to our next visit with them.

When we arrived at Jackie’s house she rang her daughter Helena, who just happens to live next door to her, to come over and see us. I had not seen my cousin Helena in years and yet when I saw her, we hugged and seemed to pick up where we left off so long ago. I introduced my husband Steve to her and she introduced her husband Andre to me. We all sat down in the lounge sipping our tea and telling stories of when we used to hang out together as teenagers on my visits to England. We showed them pictures of our sons Jonathan and Joshua and our new daughter-in-law Elizabeth and she showed us pictures of her two daughters Rachel and Hannah. You could feel the energy level rise as we talked about our grown kids to each other.

Aunt Jackie, Doreen, Maxine and Helena

We were surprised to find out that her husband is from Lincoln and that they come out to the Lincoln area on occasion to visit his family, making it easy for them to drop in for tea and more conversations and stories.

Doreen, Helena, Maxine and Aunt Jackie

As we were leaving Jackie’s house, we took a few minutes to drop by the neighbours two doors down. These neighbours are our friends Ian and Carole, whom we just spent a week with in Antibes, France. Some people think that I know everyone in England, but it just seems that way. Ian answered the door and invited us in for a quick story. Carole was in France visiting her mom. Ian told us that my other cousins Chelle and Ady were there just a half an hour ago – sorry we missed them. Ian was on his way out to visit a friend and we were off to visit my Aunt Lorrie in Dronfield.

We arrived at my Aunt Lorrie’s house in about 15 minutes. I wanted to reconnect her and Doreen. Steve and I visit Aunt Lorrie regularly but Doreen had not seen her in years. Doreen referred to her as Aunt Lottie, and we came to find out that Lottie is her real name, but she prefers Lorrie.

(Left to Right) Auntie Betty. Uncle Harry, Uncle Morris (hidden), My Mom Pam, Auntie Lorrie, My Dad Zig, Auntie Barbara, Uncle Lionel, Auntie Sadie

They did not stop talking about the relatives. Steve and I listened in amazement to the things that both of them remembered once they got talking. The stories of wartime, family births and deaths, and who was and wasn’t speaking to whom made for fascinating conversation. Life was far from easy in those days. We were saddened to hear how many relatives died in or shortly after childbirth, leaving their newborns to be raised by other family members.

Uncle Harry

We all left knowing a little bit more about our relatives living in Sheffield and the surrounding areas in this part of England.

Aunt Betty's Wedding - Doreen is a Bridesmaid, 4th from the Left

During our drive home, we reminisced about the whole day and all of the relatives that we had visited with. It reminded us of how important it is to capture the memories. Technology has given us so many ways of preserving the highlights of our lives, however the memories that belonged to the last few generations are slipping away. I am so glad that we had this day together to keep the stories alive.

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My cousin Doreen arrived Thursday on the train from Brighton – thru London – then up to Lincoln to visit us for a few days.

She and her husband Malcolm had visited us once before about two years ago. They had stayed in a nearby hotel.  This time Doreen came up on her own and stayed with us in our flat, in her own guest room.  We made it feel like a B&B with little extras in the room, such as special hand soap and lotion, shower gel and matching towels, magazines and a variety of books on the night stand to read as well as a bottle of water by the side of the bed. Unfortunately the television is not working at this time so we watched our favorite shows at night together in the lounge. No Michelin star for us this year, I suppose.

The first day of her stay I threw my back out. The next morning I made an appointment at the chiropractor for a treatment to get my back into shape. Since I was in no condition to go traipsing around town, I showed her the way to walk to the shopping area in the city centre – straight down Steep Hill and onto the High Street. She is very happy when she is shopping and after a few hours she met me back at our flat for a coffee and conversation about her adventures in town and her shopping bargains. I came home from the chiropractor and rested during that time so that I would be ready for a full weekend with her and my husband Steve.

At Lincoln's Stonebow

That evening Steve and I took Doreen to a friend’s house where we joined a group of our friends to celebrate the Sabbath and Sukkot, a festival celebrating the harvest. We had a lovely dinner together. We introduced her to everyone there and the conversations began. I was able to rest my back as we sat around the table and join the many conversations and telling of stories that were shared. It was a wonderful evening and we all had a really good time.

Under the Succah

On Saturday we took our time getting ready and then went down Steep Hill into city centre to finish the shopping that Doreen started yesterday. We introduced her to the Brayford Wharf, a scenic area with lots of swans and unique boats in the marina. The weather was picture-perfect-beautiful the whole weekend with warm temperatures and the sun shining all day, very unusual for mid-October! She said that it was as if had I ordered the weather for her visit.

Enjoying Lincoln's Charm

We sat outside along the Brayford drinking our coffees and enjoying the day.  Doreen had a stroke just five months ago, another reminder of how fragile life is, and that the time we spend together is very special. She has made an incredible recovery, and makes it a point to live each day to the fullest. The three of us enjoyed sharing stories about the family, and we learned something new about the different sides of the family, both about the relatives in England and in America. We both agreed to visit several of the relatives in Sheffield on Sunday.  Stay tuned to find out about our very own Who Do You Think You Are.

Enjoying the Sunshine

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