April 7

Honey’s Potato Salad

When all else fails, make potato salad. This is one of those days when a little comfort food is welcome.

Honey just put her potato salad recipe on the website (in the list of pages at the right). We are going to the kitchen to start boiling the potatoes and chopping vegetables.

Honey grows the potatoes and vegetables in our garden. Fortunately we have potatoes stored from last year’s harvest. She can tell you more about the history of this recipe.

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March 28

Making a List

We have a lot to do before we can even consider going to Italy to meet with Count Lussuria’s lawyer. We need to uncover more of the history of this B&B we’ve inherited and we need to do it pretty fast. So Willow and I decided to sit down together to make a list.

Each item seems like years of work all by itself, but at least we are doing something. We came up with this daunting list–not in order of importance:

  1. Find our siblings. Mum hinted that there were at least ten of them but we don’t know who or where they are.
  2. Learn more about the history of our B&B. We only really know about the current “incarnation.” Maybe we can ask our older cafe customers  what they remember. We’ve also inherited a parrot who is quite old and seems to know a few of our customers better than we do.
  3. Ask the historian at the local Historical Society and the librarians at the Santa Barista Genealogical Library for help. Old newspaper articles and court records could contain references to the boarding house, our mother, and might explain some of the names that seem to keep coming up. A good lead could send us in the right direction (or at least some direction).
  4. Learn Italian. We can call in a friend who grew up in Italy and ask her to give us a crash course in some basic words and phrases.
  5. Learn about the history of our own town during those earlier days. How did our widowed grandmother make it through the Great Depression? How did she serve food without wine during Prohibition to the many Italians who came to Santa Barista?
  6. Make a plan for running the B&B while we do all this background work. Perhaps we should hire additional staff.

So, starting with number 1, we composed a letter to Count Lussuria’s lawyer, Signore Borseggiatore. We asked him if he would/could give us names of any other people the Count had asked him to contact. We told him that it will be at least a few months before we can visit him in person.

We’ve planned a visit to the genealogy library to check town histories and early U.S. Census records to find out who lived at our address during the census years. Anyone who is still living might have information that would help us. Also some of our siblings might be listed.

Exhausted, but feeling we’d come up with a plan, we sat down for a glass of wine and talked about the evening’s dinner menu.

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March 28

What Next?

Honey and I received the letters from Count Luigi Lussuria’s lawyer just as we were preparing for our annual Thanksgiving dinner. We’d only been home a short time from our yearly 2-month vacation. While we were gone, our handyman (Jack) had done some remodeling for us. This is always a bit problematic. We were just starting to get some of these problems resolved when the letters arrived.

As Honey mentioned in her last post, we were notified by a lawyer in Italy that a man named Count Lussuria died and we are listed as potential heirs. This has plunged us deeply into conversation with our writers Lucy and Nancy as to how we should proceed in explaining the history of our lovely B&B.

As you may know from reading the history section, our property was originally a short stay vacation ranch where visitors came for rest and fresh air. After our grandfather Harry died unexpectedly, our grandmother Edythe struggled to make ends meet. She was a talented cook and locals often came to the ranch dining room for dinner but she needed a steady income, so she offered the cottages and rooms in the ranch house to monthly boarding house lodgers.

As the country fell into the Great Depression, grandma Edythe found it difficult to turn away the many young women who had come to our area in search of work. Apparently she looked the other way when some of them found alternate ways to pay the rent.

By the time our mother, Absinthe, took over the boarding house, it had developed a reputation as an upscale and hospitable place for men to enjoy the companionship of young women.

Our writers Lucy and Nancy recognize this gradual evolution as a choice our grandmother and mother made based on the historical constraints of the times. However, they have expressed concerns that often, in such other establishments women have been forced into slavery and to work under degrading and deplorable conditions. Such women are frequently treated with disdain by the local communities where they work. Our authors feel this is a very complex topic and it needs to be handled with sensitivity and respect, while not condoning the abusive forms of such work.

When Honey and I were born, the Starlight Inn was a no longer a boarding house. Before her pregnancy, mum decided to convert her business into a legitimate B&B. By the time we were born there were no full-time residents–just visitors from around the world who had come to see our beautiful town.

Most of what Honey and I know about the history of the B&B (and of our mum), we’ve had to discover ourselves. In our younger years we were sent to boarding school and then off to college. We came home only for holidays and summer vacation. It looks like we have a lot to learn.

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December 2

The Letters

None of us expected the letters. In fact we didn’t even know who all of “us” were. The letters came from the lawyer for a former Italian Count – Count Luigi Lussuria. The lawyer has been instructed to search records and to find all of the living children of Abigail  “Absinthe” Johnson. The Count had apparently been a very close friend of our mum. She met him on one of her trips to Italy and invited him to visit her here in Santa Barista. Through the years, they had gotten together often, despite the geographical hurdles.

The lawyers’ instructions were to find Absinthe’s children and to gather them together to read his last will and testament. There might even be a DNA test involved, the letters said. What was going on, we wondered? Willow and I had gotten letters, but who else had gotten them, and why didn’t we know who they were. Once again we remembered mum saying that 12 pregnancies were enough for any woman, but we had never asked if any other offspring were alive. Why hadn’t she told us?

We’d never heard of Count Luigi Lussuria. When mum came back from her trips abroad, she always said she’d had a great time, but never mentioned anyone she’d met. Apparently, she’d known this Count and knew him quite well.

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September 26


My mother, or mum as we called her, named me Honeysuckle because she loved the fragrance of the flowers on that vine. Luckily, everyone has always called me Honey.

My twin sister, Willow, and I own and run the Starlight Inn and Cafe. Over the years, we’ve had many adventures in our Victorian B & B.  The more we learn about the history of our old house, we realize that there has always been a sense of adventure  and mystery about this place we’ve always called our home.

We love our organic garden and serve most of our  fruits and vegetables right in our own Café. We also love fixing up the house and finding antiques for decoration. It is a lot of work keeping up and older Victorian house, serving guests, and maintaining a  large organic garden.

To get  everything done, we have a handyman, a gardener, and a head housekeeper.  When we take our two month vacation in September and October every year, we turn the place over to them. It’s always interesting and occasionally scary to find out what they’ve been up to when we return in November.

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September 23

Good Morning!

My name is Willow, which is short for Pussywillow. Our Mum had a deep love for plants and flowers so she gave her children names like Honeysuckle and Pussywillow. People said the fragrance of the flowers in her garden drew them to our inn. Our garden has always been a gathering place for songbirds and foraging honey bees.

Honey and I are twins. We own the Starlight Inn, a B&B in Santa Barista, California (Latté Capitol of the World). We have six rooms upstairs and several cottages on the property for guests and a café downstairs which serves breakfast and lunch.

The café is open to the community as well as to our guests. Our inn has always been open to the local community. In fact we encourage our neighbors to come sit the garden whenever they feel the need of a little refreshment.

Mum has passed on but her presence is still strongly felt at the inn and in the history of our discrete little town.

Authors Lucy and Nancy have graciously given us this blog to journal about our daily life at The Starlight Inn. Our inn has an interesting history. You can read more about it under the History tab.