Writing Website

I now have a website dedicated to my writings that I am editing for publication. The website contains writings and excerpts not published here. 

The two books I am currently working on are, "Becoming the Oldest Generation" and "Turquoise Interlude." 

To find out more about them, 

Please visit www.MariannaMejia.com

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Spain Chronicles 2001

Spain Chronicles 2001

Spain Chronicles 1999

Spain Chronicles

Writings & Photos

April 27 - May 2, 1999

May 2, 1999

We arrived in Sevilla last Wednesday (April 28) and took a taxi directly to the Carboneria, a famous old night club owned by Paco Lira, a wonderful Flamenco aficionado who is a great supporter of Flamenco artists. Luis Agujeta (our friend) sings here almost nightly and lives here when in Sevilla (like now). (Freddie has known both Paco and Luis for fifteen years. Luis spent almost a month at our house last fall). And now we are the guests, an interesting change of roles which we are also enjoying. We are near the Murillo Gardens and the Barrio Santa Cruz on Calle Levies, a narrow street about 6 inches wider than a car. The streets here are cobblestone and brick and wind past tall, ancient houses with red and pink geraniums blooming on the balconies, as if for centuries. There are courtyards intricately tiled around fountains and flowers that we can see beyond the wrought irons gates as we pass by. Although many apartments are being remodeled, the buildings feel ancient and the feeling of Sevilla is much the same as Freddie and I remember it from the 80s. There are many outdoor cafes where we eat tapas and drink strong, dark coffee during the day. We also go to the bars for tapas and drinks, standing hours at the high counters, Spanish style, laughing and talking with our friends. Almost everyone here seems to drink non-stop throughout the day and the night. I dont know how they do it, but the fino and the manzanilla (less strong) are great. Freddie has been drinking Tonica and Cokes.

Read more: Spain Chronicles 1999

Holiday Letter 2011

             What an interesting time we live in! This year has been a difficult one.

This fall two friends passed away: Flamenco guitarist Miguel Ochoa (married to Carla Waldo Ochoa) and Cuban actress Adria Santana (married to Pablo Menendez).

Four friends have been diagnosed with cancer since the end of summer and have started treatment. Two others had strokes.

Our renter Teddy had a horrible motorcycle accident on October first, but luckily, in spite of the doctors’ prognoses, he lived and is recovering.

This summer, shortly after his 72nd birthday, Freddie badly scalded his body with boiling potato water while at the beach in Playa el Palmar, Cadiz, Spain. Fortunately, he healed without infection.

Also, this summer, my Flamenco teacher Angelita Vargas (who visited us in November of 2010) suffered a stroke and was discovered after over 5 hours on the floor, conscious, but unable to move or speak. I was one of the core group of people who worked on establishing her rehabilitation treatment. Trying to arrange state-of-the-art treatment in southern Spain, perhaps an oxymoron, was an extremely stressful process, but we managed to set it in place.

But the stress of these events during the summer had affected me. The morning after I returned home to the US, I went to the emergency room and discovered that the sharp pain in my back that I had assumed was an infected mosquito bite was actually shingles. The shingles are still reoccurring but have greatly improved.

When thinking about writing this letter, I awake remembering these traumas, more packed into a shorter time period than I can remember.

Of course, there have been wonderful things too. (Just look at these beautiful photos, most of which have been taken here at our home. Some are sunset from our porch. Some are dawn from our bedroom window. They have been taken throughout the year.)

While we were in Spain, my dance student Aymeth and her husband Jose helped to maintain things at the house and property, a godsend for us. We were and are still very grateful.

Last year we had a wonderful visit between Christmas and New Year’s with Freddie’s sister Dorothy and brother-in-law John, their daughter Elisabeth and her three growing children and of course Freddie’s mother Bea. We plan to repeat that this year, adding Freddie’s brother Timmie and wife Joanie. My son Elun, daughter-in-law Donna and granddaughter Josie plan to visit us during that time as well, so we will have a full house –full of gingerbread and people we love.

In the beginning of January, Stephanie (now Estefanía) spent time with us before moving to southern Spain, and our Flamenco friends Evan, Victor and Cathy visited. We all enjoyed a lot of music and fun together.

In February, Freddie’s son Mano, daughter-in-law Alta and sister Dorothy and husband John visited us again, to celebrate Freddie’s mother Bea’s 92nd birthday and Dorothy’s 73rd birthday, which are on the same day.

Sunset from our porch

Later that month, Lakshmi arrived from Spain, taught a Flamenco dance workshop and put on an extraordinary Flamenco show. Some wonderful Spanish Gypsy and also American Flamenco artists stayed with us, which meant lots of music, dance and singing. It was also good to practice my Spanish. With the group was Miguel Angel Vargas, a friend from Lebrija, Spain, who made his first visit to our home.

He gave me the name of Marianna La Pañi, which means water in Caló, the Spanish Gypsy language. He said, It goes with the pureness of your heart."

Sunrise from our bedIn March, Freddie decided that his new guitar repair studio was not big enough, so he pushed out a wall and created an even more beautiful space to work in. Freddie has such an incredible vision.

Martin, our “angel” who has worked for us for years, started to speak to me primarily in Spanish and I have been able to maintain my Spanish language skills better than ever.

I bought an older iphone, which I had unlocked, to take to Spain, and we went off to Spain in May, for 3 months.

Because we are low on money, I decided to have roommates in Sevilla, especially since Freddie wanted to rent a place at the beach (which he did). For the first month, I lived with Yuko, a Japanese Flamenco dancer who teaches Japanese at a University in North Carolina. I had first met her through Juan and Lucy but it was my friend Rina  (also Yuko’s friend) who had suggested that we room together.

For the last two months Rina, (also Japanese but married to an American), and her 16-year old daughter Akahne (who both live in Atlanta) shared the apartment with me. Rina’s non-stop energy and passion for Flamenco reminds me of my own when I was her age. She is my son Elun’s age! She nicknamed Freddie the “Flamenco drill sergeant” because he helped her with some steps and wouldn’t let her stop until she got it right. I first met Rina in a dance class in Spain in 2007, and we have been friends ever since, but we only know each other from Spain! All three of my roommates were a delight to live with.

For more details about our trip to Spain, please see my writings and photos, mainly on Facebook. If you are not on Facebook and didn’t receive my mailings from Spain, please ask for them if you want them! (They didn’t quite make it to my webpage this year).

Freddie’s daughter Maggie and her husband Jason and their three children are now living in Florida. We had hoped to see them in Miami on our stopover returning from Spain, but our plane was delayed and rerouted so we missed our visit with them. We had also planned to visit Carla and Miguel there, but, of course, that couldn’t happen either.

Within the first week of our return from Spain, I flew to Canton, New York to visit my 5-year-old Granddaughter Josie, my son Elun and daughter-in-law Donna. Both Elun and Donna, history professors at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, now have tenure. This is quite an accomplishment and we are proud of them both. Josie is a very vibrant, beautiful and tall 5-year old and we love to walk, dance and sing together. We are also good at speaking gibberish to each other. I now call her every Sunday.

The morning I left for New York, Freddie flew with his mother Bea to Las Vegas Nevada to visit his son Mano, daughter-in-law Alta and grandchildren. I wished I could have been in both places at once.

Freddie’s stepdaughter Jessamy and family returned to Nashville, after a brief time in Arizona.

On the property, we acquired some new renters in addition to Tami and Brent and James. Andy and his small dog Radix lived in the small trailer until November, and Leia, daughter of our old friends Marcellus and Laura, moved into the Lavender room with her big white dog, Mucuchies. Leia has been to Spain to visit us and we visited her and her parents in Puerto Rico last year on the way home from Spain. Her family visited us here in November, after Thanksgiving.

Teddy moved into our barn loft in May, but he had the motorcycle accident and is now living in the Dominican rehab unit in Santa Cruz.

In October, I bought myself the new iphone for my 67th birthday! Many of these photos are taken with it. We went to some wonderful Flamenco shows in the Bay area and then we had more Flamenco artists stay with us: Jose Maya, a dancer from Madrid and his lovely girlfriend Alejandra, who is originally from Mexico. Jose taught a wonderful workshop and performed in some dynamite Flamenco shows in Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

There was a bad cold/flu going around and when our guests left, Freddie and I both caught it. As I started to write this, my nose was dripping like a faucet.

Our good friends Cihtli and Ethan visited in November, and put on a wonderful Flamenco show in Santa Cruz. In December, they return to teach a Flamenco dance workshop.

            Since we have been home from Spain, I have spent a lot of time just trying to cure my shingles and gain some energy back! (Not my usual MO). In addition, I have been fighting the cold-that-didn’t-want-to-leave. Finally, 

after a round of antibiotics, it left, but it left me extremely fatigued. I have been sick basically since our return home from Spain. Now in December, I think I am finally healing.

Throughout the year, as well as in many previous years, our assistant Rama has kept things running smoothly here, whether we are at home or in Spain. This year one of my dance students Ananda, joined her to help take some of the load off. A delightful gardener, Patty worked for us until November when she sent Amber (also delightful) to fill in for her while she takes a 3 month trip. They are supplemental to Martin’s essential services of basic garden and maintenance.

Freddie's guitar at dawn in his studio            Freddie has been hard at work in his guitar repair shop and I love seeing him fixing things. He is also taking an exercise class that our renter/friend Brent introduced him to. He loves it and feels that his coordination is improving significantly. His speech is better too.

            Our friend, Spanish Gypsy singer Rubio, who first visited us here in February with Lakshmi’s show, commented when he was here this October with Jose Maya’s show, that he sees Freddie much improved since his first visit, –and that is less than a year ago!       

Marianna in the yurt

   Before I left for Spain I finally created my psychotherapy website www.santacruzrelationshiptherapist.com. I have been reestablishing my psychotherapy practice and seeing clients again since returning from Spain. I still teach three Flamenco classes a week and facilitate my Shamanic drumming circle.

            My father Jack, now 92, had a hip replacement in April, at 91 years old. He has recovered well, although it took longer than he expected. His wife Peggy continues to 

suffer from back problems, but remains her vital self with her infectious and wonderful sense of humor.

My cousin Rosanne continues her struggle with Alzheimer’s and is well taken care of by her husband Charles. My sister Elaine and her husband Ken keep traveling and doing well, as are their families.

            This year we have witnessed the Occupy Wall Street movement in our country. It inspired us to move our money from Bank of American and Chase to our local credit union. I think it will be an effective statement.

            We are grateful for the wonderful neighborhood gathering we hosted in our dance studio in early December, after experiencing our road closure for over 2 days and lots of good internet communication. We met many of our neighbors and reconnected with some we already know. We have a wonderful community here on Hidden Valley Road. We are lucky. Our community has just expanded. Out of crisis comes growth.

We wish you all a wonderful holiday in spite of the growing traumas most of us seem to be facing. We wish peace and prosperity for the world and an end to suffering. And we remain grateful for the beauty, love and depth of experiences in our lives.

 

 

Love,

Marianna and Freddie, Flamenco Romantico

 

             

  

Holiday Letter 2010

 

Flamenco Romántico Holiday Letter 2010

 

–Another year of good things to be grateful for. Freddie’s speech and health are still improving. He has turned our library into a guitar repair studio and has started to modify a guitar he built years ago.

FinWorkshopGoodsmall.gif        In September, we started to eat Healthy Chocolate, an antioxidant-rich super food. During that month, Freddie started to exercise and added the Healthy Chocolate protein meal replacement to his diet. Two months later Freddie had lost more than 20 pounds and dropped 3 pant sizes. He does sit-ups with a non-mechanical machine, he rides the stationary bicycle while he watches TV, and he binges with the bowflex.

         He cut out almost all his junk food and we have both reduced our food quantities. My weight loss has not been so impressive, but I have a lot less to lose, and I am losing weight too.

 Since discovering these delicious chocolates, Freddie and I had enough energy and motivation to almost completely rearrange the rugs and tables and a couch in our living room. We are clearing out piles that have built up for years. I have given away more than 60 books. We are preparing to transfer our camera and VHS tapes to DVD and our audiotapes to digital. We are evaluating old negatives, copying what we want and getting rid of the rest. It feels really good.

         Livingroom-reorgGoodsmall.gif

And Freddie and I love living alone together again, the first time since his stroke. We are doing our own housecleaning and find we are much more relaxed and involved with the house. That makes us redecorate.

 

         Our long time assistant, Rama, quit and Renee replaced her in September. We have a new gardener, Patti, who is making the compost finally work beautifully. Martin, our “everything” angel maintenance, gardener creative fixer is still working for us. He has decided that we will speak in Spanish, and so we have. I am so glad that I won’t be getting out of practice.

         James still lives in the trailer next to the pool and big dance studio and he still does our grocery shopping and plays for my Flamenco classes. He has put up a lattice in front of the trailer and it supports a number of vines and flowers. It looks like a home now. Tami and Brent still rent the little cottage from us. Everything is peaceful here on the mountain.

         In January, Margalit and Shlomo visited us from Israel. Then Cihtli and Ethan taught Flamenco workshops here. In February, Freddie’s mother Bea turned 91. In the early Spring Lakshmi visited with Flamenco artists from Jerez. They performed and taught classes here. We had a great time.

F&MLebrijaGoodsmall.gif

In May, Freddie and I returned to Spain. Freddie spent most of his time at the beach in Cadiz province, Playa el Palmar. I stayed in Sevilla to study Flamenco dance and singing and I visited Freddie on the weekends. That was the first time he was able to stay by himself since his stroke, –a milestone, which we celebrated

.Ang&MGoodsmall.gif In Sevilla, I studied dancing intensively with Angelita Vargas and polishing with Lakshmi. (Writings on Facebook and our website). I fell in love with Angelita and her beautiful dance material. And with Lakshmi’s help, my dancing improved.

         On our way home, we stopped off in Puerto Rico and visited with old friends.

 

Shortly after we returned to Santa Cruz, I flew to New York to visit granddaughter Josie and son Elun and daughter-in-law Donna. Josie is four now, very talkative and full of energy and curiosity. Of course, we had a wonderful time.

JosieGoodsmall.gif

         The day after I returned, Freddie’s brother Timmie, his wife Joanie, Freddie’s sister Dorothy and husband John, and their three grandchildren came to visit. We always have a wonderful time together.

         Then came the changing of the guard of the assistants and the healthy chocolate discovery, which has given us both the extra support we needed. Freddie and I relaxed and slept without a lot of pressure and we finally recovered from our trips and guests. In September, my father Jack turned 91. He is still strong and vital.

Cihtli and Ethan returned in October and taught another Flamenco workshop. It was wonderful and stimulating. I also started doing some very effect daily ankle exercises that Cihtli taught me.

         Sadly, our friend Dorien died unexpectedly in October, right before the spectacular 2-day Flamenco festival, which included her old friends Juan and Lucy.

Stephanie returned to visit for Thanksgiving and to see the phenomenal Flamenco shows and take the workshops. We had an incredible, Flamenco filled, Thanksgiving.

M&FThanksgivingGoodsmall.gif

 

Thanksgiving weekend Angelita Vargas and Juan del Gastor with his wife Lucy, here on tour from Spain and part of the shows, taught Flamenco workshops in our big studio. Juan and Lucy have stayed with us many times here, but this was Angelita’s first visit. We were honored. She is a lovely and gracious person as well as a Flamenco legend and a “living treasure of Spain.”

M,Ang,FGoodsmall.gif

         Freddie and I are continuously thankful for another good year in spite of the world disasters and this awful recession. Economically we are challenged, but our hearts are full and our energy returning. We live in a beautiful place and do what we love. And, we love each other. We wish you all peace and happiness in your hearts and that the things we believe in happen.

 

Freddie and Marianna Mejia, Flamenco Romántico

M&FThanksGood.gif

  Thanksgiving 2010


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