- Category: Holiday letters from Flamenco Romántico
- Written by Marianna
2009 Holiday Letter from Flamenco Romántico
It is December already. Freddie and I are sitting in bed with a view of the foggy ocean on this overcast and cold Sunday. One orange and yellow rose is starting to bloom on our front porch arch and we can see it from here. I have finished the coffee that Freddie made earlier and brought to me in bed. What a treat. Coffee in bed is becoming a wonderful habit, a morning ritual.
Freddie continues healing and his speech improves almost daily, with new words and phrases delightfully surprising us. Almost 4 years have passed since Freddie’s stroke and he is still making steady progress.
We have had another full year.
In February we gave Freddie’s mother Bea a big family party for her 90th birthday, her first birthday party ever. Relatives came from all over California, Washington, Texas and Las Vegas.
At Bea’s special request, I belly danced at her party (as well as danced Flamenco). Freddie played cajon (box-shaped drum) and James (who still lives in the trailer next to our dance studio) played guitar. Our friend Stephanie, who was living in the Sunset room at the time (before going on to Spain), sang for my dancing. Some of our grandchildren played music and danced with us too. Then I gave the girls a dance class and we all danced some more.
This time was very full. We enjoyed visiting with Freddie’s son Manolo, his wife Alta, and granddaughter Inez, Freddie’s daughter Maggie and our grandchildren Kyle, Katie and Kerra, Freddie’s brother and sister, Timmy and Dorothy and their families, and many other close family members.
In March Freddie underwent an intensive 5-day Ayurvedic (medicine from India) treatment called Pancha Karma.
Afterwards he felt so good that he bought an electric Ford Think car, which he saw for sale on the street. It goes about 30 miles per hour and is legal for the street, but not the freeway. Freddie started to drive it and to gain independence.
This was major. After that Freddie drove himself to his follow-up Ayurvedic treatments. When it rained, he took the BMW and discovered that he could drive that too. He still stays off the freeways, just in case. Freddie also stopped all use of his cane until we traveled through Greece. The Pancha Karma treatment helped him incredibly.
Freddie was so impressed with this treatment that he suggested I do it too, which I did. Later, in Greece, I discovered that some of my food allergies had disappeared. I can now eat eggs and milk products again!
Before we left on vacation, we added more solar panels to our roof and hopefully that will now generate all of our electricity. We had to re-roof the entire house; it was in much worse shape than we had suspected and there was a lot of repair work involved. But now it is done and the roof no longer leaks. We also installed a backup automatic propane generator so that when we lose electricity we can still get water, which comes from our well. Now we feel “prepared”.
In early May we vacationed for a month in Greece and then flew on, via an afternoon in Istanbul, to Sevilla, Spain, where we spent two months in the hot summer. As usual, I studied Flamenco intensively, both dance and singing. Again, I rented bikes and Freddie rode his adult tricycle with me throughout Sevilla.
After a short trip to the Playa el Palmar beach in Cadiz province with some friends, Freddie decided that he had to live at the beach because Sevilla was too hot. Two weeks later we rented an old three-bedroom house on the street that bordered the beach, which is as close as you can get to the beach in el Palmar!
Stephanie, who had joined us in Sevilla, came down to the beach with us. She helped with Freddie, with the cooking and the cleaning. Every day before coffee Stephanie took Freddie to the beach to exercise. I usually went with them.
Our Spanish friends came to visit us from Sevilla. Lakshmi visited us first, but just for the day. Then Paco Ferndandez, his wife Pilar and their 9-year old daughter Soleá came for almost a week. I left for several days to go to Sevilla to take some classes and to see a special show of Lakshmi’s. I had thought that I would be bored at the beach but I wasn’t at all. We swam and walked and exercised on the beach every day. With Paco there we did lots of Flamenco. (See Facebook Photos of Playa el Palmar).
When I returned to the beach I brought our friends Juan del Gastor and Luis Peña. Of course we did more Flamenco and ran into some friends of theirs who also did Flamenco. They both stayed for three days.
A day or two later it was time to leave. We took the bus to Jerez, which was on the way home, and we spent a few days with our good friends David Jones Serva, his wife Clara and their daughter Nandi. They live in Madrid but have a summer home in Jerez.
During the 3 months that we were away this year, our assistant Rama took care of things for us and kept all under control. We were in email contact consistently, which was helpful. Rama has become extended family. We so appreciate her reliability and her personality.
Martin, our saint of a gardener and handyman, came to our house almost every day while we were gone to check up on things and of course to work. It is so gratifying to have such wonderful and consistent people helping us.
We returned from Sevilla in August, just in time for my father Jack’s pre-90th birthday party for the children and grandchildren. It was wonderful to connect with that part of our family and to see all the kids’ kids.
My son Elun, his wife Donna, and our granddaughter Josie (Josephine) stayed with us. Josie is now 3 years old and is growing and talking and changing. We wish we could see her more often.
In September we attended a family wedding in San Diego. Freddie flew without using a wheelchair for the first time in many years! It was strange and was a triumph too, of course.
We spent the first part of the week staying with Lakshmi’s parents, Jeff and “Peoho” Beatriz who are also our good friends. We partied at a two-day Labor Day Flamenco Fiesta and connected with many old friends there.
We also got to spend time in San Diego with Freddie’s daughter Maggie and our grandchildren Kyle, Katie and Kerra, who are getting bigger every day! During the end of our stay we moved, as planned, to Cihtli and Ethan’s house in La Jolla. They were getting ready for their upcoming 9-show tour with some wonderful Spanish artists. I was fortunate enough to get to take three of Cihtli’s group Flamenco classes there.
On the 20th of September, back in Santa Cruz, we attended my Dad’s adult 90th birthday party on his actual birthday. Freddie and I are so lucky to each have 90-year old parents in such good health. My Dad’s wife Peggy did a wonderful job giving the party. We always appreciate her heartfelt laughter and her enthusiasm.
In October, Cihtli and Ethan brought their Flamenco company, Arte y Pureza, to perform in 3 shows in our area. The artists, all from Spain and most of them Gypsies, stayed at our house for almost a week. Every room everywhere on our property was filled. Cihtli and Ethan slept in the Sunset room. Jose “Oruco” and Javier Heredia, both young and talented dancers, slept in the barn loft, which we had fixed up nicely for the occasion.
Ines Bacan, the star singer, slept in our guest room. Her brother Juan slept in Freddie’s office on the fold out double bed. Concha Vargas slept in the library, which we had converted to a temporary bedroom for her.
When Nina Menendez, our close friend who produced their Bay Area shows, came, she slept as usual on the couch in the living room. Roberto Zamora (singer/dancer and old friend from the Bay Area) spent some nights too, when Nina wasn’t there, also sleeping on the couch in the living room.
In addition, Miranda, who is now living here in the Lavender room, helped us with the cooking and cleaning. She lived in Spain for many years and has stayed here since April.
The Spaniards whom Cihtli and Ethan brought were wonderful and warm people. We had known them in Spain, but we got even closer to them while they stayed here.
All of us except Miranda spent 3 nights in the Bay Area where we stayed for all the shows. After the weekend everyone except for Juan, Ines and Jose (who left for Spain) came back to our house. We celebrated my 65th birthday 2 days early so that Ethan, Javier and Concha could be there. The next day Ethan and Javier left to teach a workshop in Texas and 2 days later Concha left to teach in Berkeley and San Francisco. We celebrated again on the evening of my real birthday, spontaneously inviting people at the penultimate moment.
Cihtli stayed to teach a dance workshop here and to visit with us through early November. We always enjoy her so much. I took private classes from her almost every day. I had taken two with Concha as well when she was here and I also had taken two classes with Javier and some group classes with Ines.
Cihtli’s workshop, 2-3 hours a day, was packed with students. Each day I took 1 or 2 hours of class with her privately and taught my classes that did not conflict with her schedule. Sometimes I danced 5 or 6 hours in one day.
The morning after Cihtli left, Miranda left to visit family for 9 days. That night Freddie’s mother Bea came to stay with us. The day she left, Freddie’s old friend Roberto visited and stayed to watch a class. He ended up spending the night and leaving about an hour before my sister Elaine, her husband Ken, and our cousin Walt arrived here for lunch; we all had a wonderful time discussing old family memories. The next day I taught my Flamenco class and then went to bed! Freddie and I were both exhausted.
Before the end of November I had to finish my continuing education credits for my MFT license, which I had left until the last moment. I had two years to do them and did them all in September and in November, just before they were due. But I did them so I could renew my therapy license. My practice has been very small and I have been concentrating more on teaching my 3 group Flamenco classes every week plus private classes. But of course I still want to keep my hard-earned MFT license current.
My cousin Rosanne, who is my age, has Alzheimer’s and we see a lot of Rosanne and her husband Charles. Charles is taking incredible care of her and she seems to be improving in some ways. She now laughs and makes jokes again.
Brent and Tami are still living in the cottage here and James is still in the trailer. I still lead my shamanic groups when I am here.
Freddie can now easily walk to do our garbage ritual with me. We still sit out by Mama’s tree and look at the ocean. Freddie just got himself his own computer and is making friends with it. Freddie is still a Sudoku fanatic. It improves his mind.
Right now I am in hibernating mode and have been taking time to stay in bed and read. I am only writing this because I really want to send it to all of you and to chronicle our year!
The economic crisis has certainly affected us and we are watching our budgets and tightening our belts. We lost some major income this year. But we have our health and our families and we are grateful for all the joy and beauty and richness in our lives.
Our Holiday Greetings to you all, may your lives be blessed with peace, health and beauty.
Freddie and Marianna Mejia, Flamenco Romántico