Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I thought I was a Gypsy

My husband Pascual tells me I am probably descended from Gypsies.  My great grandmother's last name was Montoya,.  He tells me that is the most common name for Gypsies in Spain.  I have always loved traveling, and journeys, be they physical or spiritual.  I have always had a fascination with horse drawn vehicles, and love camping out under the stars.  I love oracles, like Rune stones and Tarot cards and palm reading.  My mom is a psychic, and I have learned to read people from her.  Something in my soul just lights up whenever I hear any strong rythmic music with heavy tribal beats and the soft yearning sound of a violin. The first time I heard Flamenco music and saw real Gypsies dancing in Madrid, I felt like I was at a family reunion.

But then I have the same affinity with Hawaii.  The feel of the tradewinds on my face, the smell of the damp earth and the Plumeria on the breeze.  The taste of a Mai Tai, the slice of pineapple all juicy as it runs over my hand.  The soothing sounds of the surf crashing as it lulls me into the soundest sleep ever.  The feel of waterfalls crashing over me, and the tang of salt on my lips after playing in the surf.  The sounds of the Conch horn and the tribal drums and listening to a ukulele while dancing  the lovely soft motions of the hula.  The sad inexplicable feeling I get when leaving the islands that I am leaving home forever. 

Then there is Italy.  Land of my grandfathers people...  Tuscany, the lovely stone villages with tiny winding streets and beautiful cathedrals.  The chatter of the Italian language that always sounds like an argument, even when they are just discussing the weather.  The gorgeous blue oceans, and the glorious foods, so wonderful each bite is like a miracle on your tongue.  The art, the sculptures, the timelessness of a place where people have lived for thousands of years. 

Our plan is to travel all over the world together starting in 3 years with small trips, and escalating to monthly residencies in other countries to really immerse ourselves in the culture and feel the experience of being there....  Traveling to new places, seeing new things, experiencing new wonders with the man I love.  what can be better than that?

 Then I talked with my Great-Auntie Anne...  This lovely woman in the photo with me is 95 1/2 years young.  She has LIVED all 95 years of her life.  4 children, numerous grand, great grand and even a few great-great grandchildren are the legacy she leaves behind.  But believe me, she ain't done yet...  She was the last guest at the wedding on Saturday.  One of the first ones there, and the last one out after all the tables were folded and the chairs put away and the presents loaded and the catering trucks were gone, she was there, chatting with everyone. Visiting and reconnecting with family she hadn't seen in a long time.  All the way to the car she chatted about the old days, when she was young, before all of us were born, when she and her 6 siblings lived on the farm, and dreamed of the lives they would have when they were grown. 

I was thinking that in another generation, the family won't even remember any of them.  The ones that do are getting older, and passing away.  She is our last stronghold on the past.  On our German heritage and the remaining member of the original 7 kids that started this now 600 plus extended family of cousins and aunts and uncles.  She outlived 2 husbands with a poise and dignity and grace that is unfathomable in these modern times.  She is devout, and raised her children to love God, but to enjoy life as well, and embrace all the beauty of life.  She has traveled all over the world with her husbands and family, experiencing and living through things most of us can only imagine.  But at the end of her days, in the sunset of her life, with all the experiences and life and love behind her, the one thing she wants is to be home...  In her home... surrounded by the memories of her family.  Living in the house her husband built with his own two hands, Their heir little family had grown too big for the small little dollhouse cottage he had built next door when she was his bride.  The cabinets and countertops custom made for her height.  Her lovely paintings hang on the walls, a home full of love and memories. 

I realized in that moment... I am NOT a gypsy.  I may love to travel, and to experience new things... but in the end, after a few weeks, I want what she wants... to go HOME.  To be in that place where I create the energy, where my memories reside.  In the end, after you have outlived your life partner twice, all you have left are your memories.  But she is never bitter.  She faces each new day with a smile.  She says if she wakes up, it is always a good day, and cause to celebrate for the simple fact that she DID wake up.  She lives each day now as if it is her last.  Thankful for what she has, and grounded in the knowledge that she is exactly where she wants to be.  Her kids worry about her.  But she is the most stubborn person you ever met.  I think the stubbornness is what keeps her going.  Her inability to give up on living her life.  Her insistance on walking to the hairdressers across the street every friday to get her hair done.  Her simple acceptance to stop dying her hair at 95 because she is old enough to have white hair now instead of blonde.  Her decision to live out the rest of her life on her own terms, the way she wants, and against her kids wishes.  Still sharp as a tack,. with a memory like an elephant, she reminds me of things I told her years ago that I no longer remember saying.

I hope that one day way in the future, I grow up to be like her.  So strongly grounded in who I am, that I KNOW without question where it is I need to be.  That I have experienced all the things in life there is for me to do, and yet I still find joy in a visit from a family member or a walk to the beauty parlor.  The sight of my garden coming in fills me with hope and joy mixed with a feeling of renewal as I watch another spring being born.   I hope with all my heart, that this gypsy girl learns what Auntie Anne has learned, that home is where your heart resides, inside of yourself...  and that the greatest art in life is the fine art of being human.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

10 things I learned today at the flea market

1.  Wear 50 SPF sunscreen when your lilly white body has not seen the sun for 10 months
2.  Start in the back where the cheap stuff is and work your way forward.
3.  Don't buy from the first vendor that has something you like. 
4.  Make friends with the vendors.  If you shop there every month they will hold things with you in mind.
5.  Bring lots of water and a lunch.
6.  Wear a hat and sunglasses.
7.  wear comfortable shoes.
8.  bring your husband or a friend to help carry purchases.
9.  There are a lot of other people in the world with the same taste as me
10. There are no original ideas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What happened to the whistlers of this world?

I was getting gas recently and a man was walking in front of me whistling an old tune.  I remember my grandpa always whistled.  My father in law used to whistle too.  I wondered, "Is it a thing from the depression era?"  Do only old men whistle anymore?  Even the old wolf whistle when a guy saw a cute girl has been replaced with texting and IM chats.  I miss the whistling.  We need more whistlers in the world.  I started thinking about how maybe they did it during the depression as a way to shake the blues... Thus the reason for the song Whistle While You Work, which was written in 1937 during the depression era.  Maybe whistling was our grandparents and great grandparents form of old time Prozac.  My Auntie Anne (who is 95 and still kicking) says they never noticed what they didn't have, because everyone was poor.  But you took care of what you did have.  You made it last through many hands.  An old dress that was too small became a new dress to a younger sibling.  People were creative and decorated their homes with simple things made from dumpster finds and scrap wood and chicken wire, and called it a pie safe or a cupboard.  All this LONG before the Shabby Chic and Flea Market Style or Country Home trends became popular.

 I like simple things.  I got rid of most of my furniture when I moved, and now I am having fun scrounging flea markets and antique stores and thrift stores and garage sales for the perfect pieces that will make my new house feel like a home.  I have looked at the furniture stores which are a dime a dozen down here, but I never get the thrill in those commercial showrooms like I do in a junk or antique store.  I found a cool place, Old Town Orange in the city of Orange has a BUNCH of antique stores, and they have flea markets in many of the cities around here every weekend.  I am in Junkers Heaven right now...  I found these items at some local thrift stores and I am going back for some of them today.  I love the patina and rusty peeling paint, I love the old hand carved wood, and the craftsmanship of old things.  I think, like all old soul people, I tend to gravitate toward things with a history, that had meaning for some depression era lady or gentleman.  It survived with them through hard times.  It was used, and loved, and taken care of until some future generation decided they no longer wanted that old thing.  Then I come along, and it is there, for sale in a place that I would find it, in the exact moment that I was looking for exactly that thing.... and I am in love with it as much as the person who owned it before.  I take it home, feeling the thrill of another fabulous find... and as I load it in my car.... I hear whistling in my mind...