GILBERTINE & THE EXCHANGE (Volume One) == Chapter 3, 12 June 1964, “First Letter ‘Home'” (Part 2)

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Home now – 2126 North Leighton Causeway – or, as we jokingly refer to our portion up in Gas Hills, “Latent Causeway.”

You have to understand that Gas Hills is only a postal zone; it isn’t – and never was – a town on its own. It’s more like the northernmost district of a town (Valle Linda) that used to be an oasis of civilisation in the midst of agricultural nowhereland (back when it was called “New Danzig”)– but may be annexed soon by Los Angeles – time will tell (apparently LA’s done this a great deal). So, Gas Hills eventually may well be a district within a district of Los Angeles. Talk about feeling as big as the dot atop the “i” of “nit” (haha!).

Meanwhile, Leighton Causeway is the main drag that connects most of these local districts with the centre of town and with each other. It’s three lanes in each direction, with turning lanes, signal lights, the works. But, up here in Gas Hills – the “headwaters” of this grand thoroughfare – it’s one lane each way; it changes direction from north-south to east-west about half a mile past my house and then snakes its way through the hills for another mile and a half, coming to a rather ignominious end (or inauspicious beginning, depending on your point of view) in a very unassuming cul-de-sac. Still, even here it’s a main drag of sorts, since every other street in the Hills feeds into it, forced to defer to it by stop signs, while Leighton itself has few such impediments. Our house is about two blocks north and uphill from where the slope begins.

 Inside, it seems to go on forever – not a patch on Ian’s house in terms of size, but it’s just over 3,000 square feet, a tiny bit less than half again the size of my old semi-detached (or Stan’s). Not what you think – it’s entirely up to code, structurally sound, and everything works perfectly, but we got it at quite a reduced price – well below market value — and don’t know why.


It was originally 2,400 square feet, more or less in the shape of a “C” surrounding a substantial patio area, or a place to build a pool.  But instead, the former owners completely enclosed the area, except for a large picture window facing the narrow but beautifully landscaped remaining backyard, and huge skylight in the new roof and ceiling.


So now – except for modest expansion of the lounge/living room and moving the dining room – it’s an all-year, all-weather indoor-outdoor recreation room and leisure area complete with a glass-enclosed fireplace near the centre, and some gas jets that that we think may be for an indoor grill.


Wind, cold, rain, heat, smog – no problem! Entertain in the ersatz outdoors regardless of the weather.

We don’t know what to do with it and, except for a couch and a pole lamp, we haven’t furnished it, but it’ll be fun figuring it out. Who knows – maybe next summer you’ll all come over for an extended stay, and the guys (me included) will camp out here while the girls take over the guest room and maybe my bedroom.

You never know.

Same goes for this big, enclosed gazebo-like thing in the back yard, half concealed by a weeping willow. We think it was meant to be a pool house, before the owners decided not to build a pool – but we really don’t know. But, it’s 20 paces out the back door from my bedroom, at the end of the top of the former “C”; I’m claiming it if my parents don’t do anything.

Speaking of my new bedroom, it’s the same size as Stan’s (or the dining room in our old place, take your choice), and at the end of the hall, by the back door and across from the linen closet and laundry room. I think the previous occupant might have been a girl, because there’s this big built-in window seat right below the bedroom window – not exactly a guy kind of thing, though it’s a nice place to read in, where the sun can’t get me.

That and, sometimes a bit after midnight, I could swear I hear giggling in the room – probably just my imagination, though.

There’s an alder tree in the front yard – one of the biggest & best shade trees in the neighbourhood, but also one of the biggest fallen leaf generators, come autumn (thankfully, Mum & Dad kept on the gardening and cleaning services the prior owners used, so I won’t be the one raking the leaves). We have a “2½” car garage – meaning space for two cars plus some extra for storage, work space, a motorcycle, wotevs. The additional space is right next to the house – a half bath between it and the kitchen is a kind of “airlock.”






The kitchen’s huge, twice the size of our old one, with its own breakfast area, pantry






and electric “wine cellar” (adjustable wine temperature fridge). The lounge/living room is half again the size of our old lounge, and our new dining room is also half again as large. We have a separate library, study, and guest bedroom, each as big as my new bedroom.

We also have a music room the size of my old one, at the end of the hall, near the living room. The piano’s in there; it went woefully out of tune crossing the pond; I don’t play it much these days, but I play guitar in there regularly, and there’s a small desk where I jot down musical phrases as they come to me– someday I’ll weave them into songs. My parents’ bedroom is monstrous, ¾ again the size of my new one, with a full master bath, stereo-tv alcove (not currenty in use), vanity and changing area.

The house is detached (or “single family residence” as they say here) and a single story (I still find myself looking for stairways, wondering where they went). Quite spread out, and all the rooms except the kitchen, atrium. living room and dining room are connected by a hallway, shaped like a long, upside down “L.” It’s lit, at least during the day, by a long upside-down L-shaped skylight (and a fair few sconces at night).

My room’s at the end of the hall (short part of the upside-down “L”), where the skylight fizzles out. I have to dust, Hoover and maintain my own room and bath (yes, the room comes with its own ¾ bath) – but it’s worth it to keep cleaning staff out and maintain privacy (even Mum and Dad have to knock).

OK, time to wrap this up, copy it three times in ink (the original is in pencil, in case you were wondering) then leg it to the nearest post box – about three blocks into the flats, in the north entrance to Rutherford B. Hayes City Park (I know, who thought I’d ever be legging it anywhere again – life can have its positive surprises too). The area’s a tiny bit like Edgbaston, with 30-to-40-year-old buildings and a fair number of middling-sized trees – lovely, on the whole.


But, there’s something about that park – when you get a bit further in – some kind of shadowy things – that really tends to give me the creeps. Sometimes I think something followed me over from the UK (why couldn’t it have been Bethany (sigh)). Always glad to get away from there, so I’ll be getting away from that mailbox at top speed.

Write when you can – I miss you all more than I can say.


Friends & mates forever,


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