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.


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.


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.


         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.



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.”


         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


  Thanksgiving 2010


2009 Holiday Letter from Flamenco Romántico

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.


Read more: 2009 Holiday Letter from Flamenco Romántico

Holiday letter 2007 from Flamenco Romántico

Holiday letter 2007 from Flamenco Romántico

 2007 has been an interesting year for us, a year of healing. So far this year, we have not experienced crisis and the only hospital experience was planned! Our children and our grandchildren are well and happy and our surviving parents are still surviving and healthy. Our siblings too are doing well.
Freddie came home from the hospital the day of Thanksgiving. He has a new ceramic hip with a bit of stainless steel and none of the hardware that was put in to hold his fractured pelvis in place in 2004. As we near the end of the year, we again have a lot to be thankful for.
January seems so long ago – Elun (my son), Donna, and Granddaughter Josephine visited us (from upstate New York) in early January. Of course it was great.
The day after they left, Cihtli visited us for nine days and taught Flamenco dance classes and workshops. This was inspiring and fun. Everyone loved her. Two sets of easy guests by the end of January.
Also in January, Freddie went to the sleep center and discovered he has severe central nervous system sleep apnea (possibly caused by his stroke) and now sleeps with a sophisticated breathing machine.
In the beginning of February, Juanaire, a wonderful Flamenco dancer from Spain who now lives in New Mexico, visited with his partner and taught a weekend workshop. Again their visit was delightful and the workshops were very successful.
 Two weeks later, in the middle of February of this year, on the spur of the moment, we went to the Big Island, Hawaii with Freddie’s speech therapist Linda to swim with the wild dolphins. It was our first trip since Freddie’s stroke in early 2006 and was a preview as to whether we could expect to go to Spain in the near future. We returned so tired that we decided that it was too soon for Freddie to go to Spain.  
 In March, just after returning from Hawaii, we had new wonderful Flamenco photographs taken and we made new Flamenco Romantico cards.
As Freddie recovered further from his massive stroke, he again began to feel the intense hip pain that had made him want a hip replacement just before the stroke had changed our plans. The pain continued to increase and to interfere with his walking, as well as with his life.
 In early March Juan del Gastor and his wife Lucy visited from Sevilla and gave Gypsy Flamenco singing and dance workshops and did shows here and in the Bay area. Juan worked patiently with Freddie on the guitar and with me on Gypsy Flamenco singing and dancing. Juan also cooked almost every night. We all felt comfortable and happy in a fully Flamenco world. Their visit was totally inspiring and uplifting and fun. Our old friend Nina, who organizes wonderful and traditional Flamenco productions (with all these artists), often stayed at our home during this time.
Luis Peña and Lakshmi, who were visiting California from Sevilla, came up and did some shows with Juan and Luci.  We had a full house for a while. Then they left and later returned at the end of March a few days after Juan and Luci left. They also gave Flamenco workshops here. We had a “feast” of Flamenco. They stayed with us through the middle of April. Luis tried to convince Freddie to return to Spain with them in mid April (and me too, of course). And one day Freddie woke up and said “I have to go to Spain right now.”
After waiting a day to see if he changed his mind, I called the airlines and made reservations for two weeks from then. My father kindly donated most of the air miles. Luis and Lakshmi left for Spain and I madly worked on putting together our medicines and vitamins, finding housing, house sitters, packing and trying to think of the details of what we might need. We left May 1.
Later Freddie told me what I had suspected, that he wanted to see Sevilla again before he died. But he didn’t die. He got stronger in Sevilla, even though we rented a wheel chair to give us mobility in a city where everyone walks. I studied dance and singing and Freddie studied guitar and Spanish. We loved it. We stayed for three months, instead of the planned two and only came home because we had more Spanish friends who planned to visit us in Santa Cruz, starting in August! Details and photos of our 2007 Spain trip are up on our website. We have updated our website and have a new web-master. It looks nice and is easy to navigate. I can now add things myself and so I keep it much more up-to-date. 
Three days after arriving home from Spain in late July, unpacking and re-packing, I left to see my son Elun and his wife Donna and my granddaughter Josephine. Freddie stayed home to recuperate from the trip back from Spain. I got over jet lag in Canton, New York (near Ottawa) and had a great time being “Grandma”. Josephine of course had changed a lot since last January. She was 13 months old in July and had just started walking.
The day after I returned home, (August 6), Concha Vargas, my Flamenco dance teacher from Spain, arrived at our house with her teenaged daughter Carmen and began to teach workshops. They also gave two shows. Carmen sang beautifully in them. Of course I also took private classes from Concha as well. And so Spain had come to us.
During Concha’s visit, my close friend (since we were 15 years old) Joey and her husband Marty visited. She had chronic illness for many years so her visit was special and a wonderful event. We had a beautiful time together.
After Concha left at the end of August, we went to a goodbye birthday party for our good friend David Jones (David Serva) who lives in Madrid. Freddie has known him since he was 17. When we returned home I received a telephone message that my friend Joey had suddenly died! How lucky I was that we had visited so recently. I will miss her. I have known her most of my life.
The following Monday, (September 10) Ethan and Cihtli came and 5 days later their Flamenco troupe Arte y Pureza arrived at our house. The star, festero Miguel Funi, had been to our home several times before and guitarist Antonio Moya and festero Javier Heredia had visited just after Freddie’s stroke. Javier’s girlfriend, singer Fabiola, we had met in Sevilla. It was her first trip here. And Gabriel, a wonderful young singer, we met for the first time here. We ate (they cooked) and danced and sang and (guitarists) played guitar. They left on September 25. We had a ball, but were totally exhausted afterwards. Freddie and I both got bad colds and had to rest for weeks. It was my first quiet since returning from Spain.
Once rested, we prepared for Freddie’s hip replacement scheduled at Stanford on November 8. He spent 5 hours in surgery and two weeks in hospitals. But his intense pain is already gone and he is home and healing quickly. Freddie’s son Mano and his wife Alta visited us when Freddie was in the hospital. Freddie’s brother Timmie and his wife Joanie also came down and held my hand. We stayed at my sister Elaine and my brother-in-law Ken’s who supported me the day of the surgery. Then Elaine and Ken left to baby sit grandchildren, and Timmie, Joanie and I stayed in their beautiful, restful and inviting home.
In June Freddie’s daughter Maggie and family happily moved from Texas to San Diego, so perhaps we will be able to see them again soon. Freddie’s stepdaughter Jessamy has been in communication and we look forward to meeting her new baby Julian.
We have a new land-mate in our Sunset room, Heather, who is also a Flamenco dance student and a wonderful gardener. She will be here about 3 months before she goes to Spain. Things are working out so well that she now plans to live here after returning from Spain.
James is still living in the trailer next to the big dance studio and Tami and Brent are still living in the guest cottage. Our paradise on the mountain feels peaceful and happy.
Yet, we are going to Spain again at the end of April and we will  stay up to 6 months. We would love to buy an apartment there, but housing is dreadfully expensive there too and the dollar is much lower than the Euro.
So we love two beautiful places, Sevilla and our Paraíso in Soquel. While here, in spite of all else, I continue to teach two group Flamenco classes a week and to see therapy clients and lead a Shamanic circle. I have started Yoga again. I did Pilates and Yoga before we left for Spain.
Freddie had been doing Pilates physical therapy and working on his speech and his guitar. In Spain he also studied Spanish with Lakshmi. Right now Freddie is working on walking again and is doing very well.
Our lives are blessed and good and there is much hope as Freddie heals. We have wonderful, supportive friends and family.
We wish you all peace and beauty and good health in your lives. We miss those who have died (more and more as we age) and we cherish those who are still with us. We love watching the cycle of the generations.
Marianna and Freddie, Flamenco Romántico

2008 Holiday Letter from Flamenco Romántico

2008 Holiday Letter from Flamenco Romántico

Hello dear Family and Friends,

We have had another vital and full year dedicated to healing and growth. I am writing this just after returning from a warm, tropical beach 2 week vacation in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, where we attended our good friends’, Cihtli and Ethan’s, wedding. I officiated at the wedding. The blue and turquoise ocean was the backdrop; the altar was on the white sand.

I almost missed writing our Holiday letter. We are too relaxed! But here it is, because we want to share our year and thoughts with you this holiday season.

In January our good friend Lakshmi, who lives in Sevilla, visited us for 3 weeks. She taught a Flamenco workshop here and I took private classes with her almost every day.

At the beginning of February, overlapping Lakshmi’s visit by a few days, our Spanish guests, Juan del Gastor and his wife Lucy, arrived at our home. Juan taught Flamenco classes at UC Santa Cruz that quarter. We all spent wonderful time together for a month and a half. Juan and Lucy gave Flamenco workshops here too and private classes. Again, I had classes in dance and/or singing almost every day!

Juan worked with Freddie almost daily on guitar rehabilitation. Freddie can sing his falsetas; he has all his music still in his head! At this point Freddie needed to learn to make sounds on the guitar again, strengthening and re-training his stroke-damaged fingers.

It felt wonderful for us that Spain has continued to come to us. But of course we wanted to return to Spain too, for 6 months this time.

Before we left for Spain, at the end of March we went to San Diego to visit Freddie’s daughter Maggie, and our grandchildren Kyle, Katie and Kerra. They recently returned from living in Texas for too long. Unfortunately our son-in-law Jason was out at sea as part of his military duty, so we missed him.

In San Diego we also attended a Flamenco show with them produced and danced in by our close friend Lakshmi. We also visited with other friends who live in San Diego, at a party at Lakshmi’s parents’ house after the performance.

On April 29th we left for our 6 months in Sevilla, Spain. There we both took intensive classes. Freddie, thanks to Paco Fernandez and Juan del Gastor, is now able to make clear and controlled sounds on the guitar and to play slow falsetas. I have learned a lot of singing and have been polishing my dancing.

We also had fun, as in celebrating both our birthdays in Spain, going to the beach, going out to eat with friends, and visiting more friends in beautiful places. I also got to go shopping in Sevilla with Cihtli for a wedding dress. She and Ethan set a date and a Mexico location for their wedding and Freddie and I bought our tickets and made hotel reservations from Spain.

In June, my son Elun and our two-year-old granddaughter Josie visited us in Spain. We had a ball showing them Sevilla. Josie loved Spain! Unfortunately Elun’s wife Donna was unable to join us.

Freddie got an adult tricycle a month before we returned home and so gained independence and good exercise in Sevilla. From then on Freddie rode this bike all the time there.

The 2008 Spain writings and photos are on our website (I will print them for you on request!)

On the home front, our assistant Rama did a wonderful job of handling things at home while we were away and keeping us in touch by email. It was so nice to have her reliable support.

A few days after we returned home at the end of October, we voted in the elections and Obama won the presidency! Ah, celebration.

The day after the elections, about a week after we returned home, Cihtli and Ethan spent a week with us and taught a wonderful Flamenco workshop at our studio. Again I was lucky to have classes from both Cihtli and Ethan almost every day. We would see them again soon at their wedding in Isla Mujeres, Mexico in early December.

Just before Freddie and I left for Mexico, my 89-year old father Jack had a knee replacement. He is still recovering and says that the physical therapy is much worse than the operation.

Then it was off to Isla Mujeres, a quiet, idyllic island near Cancun, in the Mexican Caribbean, for Cihtli and Ethan’s wedding. There were 83 of us there. The second week, when all the wedding guests had left, Freddie and I just vacationed and truly relaxed and continued to enjoy ourselves.

Freddie has made great improvements this year. His English speech is much better than before and he now feels confident enough to talk on the telephone. His Spanish is starting to return too. In Spain, Freddie’s guitar playing went from almost no sound, to slow, simple falsetas with good sound. He is gaining back techniques with his stroke affected right hand.

Freddie has recently started to walk without his cane. He rode the three-wheeled bike during our last month in Spain. In Mexico he drove a golf cart. People have been amazed at his continual progress. There is certainly hope in the air. He has also started to teach guitar again, although reluctantly at first.

And me? Aside from traveling and taking care of things here, I have a very small psychotherapy practice still going. I am teaching Flamenco dance when in Soquel and studying dance and song when I am in Spain. I still facilitate a monthly Shamanic circle when I am here. I have been enjoying writing more, including my 6-month journal of this year’s Spain adventure.

Freddie’s mother Bea will turn 90 next February and almost all her siblings and spouses are planning a big party for her here.

My father Jack will turn 90 next September and we will return from Spain early to be here for the festivities, which his wife, Peggy, is organizing.

Freddie’s son Mano (Monolo) and his wife Alta are still in Henderson Nevada with our great-grandchildren Inez and Salina and our granddaughter Annette. We look forward to seeing them and a lot more family when they come here in February for Bea’s birthday party.

We are also hoping to see granddaughters Christina and Rosie (Mano’s daughters) and great-grandchildren Naomi, Mariana and Raylene at Bea’s birthday party.

Our stepdaughter Jessamy is still in Nashville with her son Julian.

Our paradise on the mountain feels peaceful and happy. James is still living in the trailer next to the big dance studio and Tami and Brent are still living in the guest cottage.

This has been a year of continued healing for us.

In spite of the grim economic crisis both here and in the world, for us hope is in the air this year, with Obama’s election and Freddie’s on-going recovery. We are filled with awe and gratefulness at the beauty around us and for our good fortune. Our families are healthy and happy.

Freddie and I walk hand in hand, grateful to be together and for all our wonderful friends and relatives.


Marianna and Freddie, Flamenco Romántico

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