FEELING A BIT VISCERAL?

There are several meanings to the word “visceral,” but only one seems something that has anything to do with me. That would be when the word is relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect. Like when Gibbs says he “feels in his gut his crime has not yet been solved.” That’s visceral.

Personally, it’s more how I feel about people in my world as in, “The voters’ visceral fear of change” (probably referring to how on earth we elected Trump). Or “An instinctual survival response,” that is, how come we have armed militias hiding in the hills of Idaho and Montana convinced they are going to be attacked by the gubmint.

I’m not especially visceral. I’m a thinker. A meandering mental worrier and more than a bit obsessive. I only get visceral if someone make me feel physically threatened or creepy … or the dogs don’t like him or her. Or the fish is bad.

I trust the dogs. Normally, they like everyone. If the canines think someone is worrisome, I trust the dogs.

Today is going to be The Day of the Door. Owen and Dave will be here shortly to get the installation started. Garry and I are fueling up on coffee. It’s will be a long, sticky day. I don’t know if I’m going to get back to the computer until very late, maybe this evening after the work is done.

If you don’t hear from me until a lot later … you know where I am.

Viscerally replacing our front door. Finally.

NOT FOR US THE GYPSY LIFE

Once upon a time, there was romance to the Gypsy life. Your wagon, your people, on the road forever. A culture shared. A world with music, dancing, and the horizon as your world. These days, when people talk about “hitting the open road,” they are discussing a truck. A big truck, from approximately 20 feet (a very small one) to maybe 40 (more?) feet … which is about the size of big trucks you see hastening from city to city on the roads.

gypsy wagon with hohrse

©Gipsy-Caravan

I might have gotten my head wrapped around the horse and wagon, but I’m sure the truck wouldn’t do it for me. I know it has become quite trendy to sell everything and pack it all in a recreational vehicle, otherwise known as an “RV.” I’ve also noticed that the romance with the road tends to last a few months at most and the rest of the time is spent looking for somewhere to settle down.

America’s roads are, for the most part, not romantic and you can’t just park your RV anywhere you like. It isn’t self-sufficient. It needs pumping. Gasoline. Electricity. Water. There are places you can stay. They aren’t beautiful and they aren’t free.

When I think about giving up my roots and hitting the open road … selling it all and taking that big old gypsy wagon, er, RV … down the endless highway, my whole life stuffed in it … rolling place to place, sleeping wherever we find ourselves and waking to watch the sun rise somewhere, I start making charts, budgets, schedules. I calculate the price of gasoline. Do you know how much it costs to run an RV? It’s not how many miles to the gallon. More like how many gallons to the mile. Seriously — that’s a lot of money.

Much as I love them, I don’t see us hitching up the horses, either. As a start, I would have no idea how to hitch up the horses. I have a feeling it isn’t as easy as it looks in the movies. Actually, come to think about it, how often have you seen the star or starlet of a movie actually hitching the horses to a wagon?

Driving them? Maybe, but getting those big, heavy harnesses on? That’s what the crew does, I’m sure. Giddyup!

We have dogs. There we are, rolling down the long road, singing while watching the gas gauge drop, We realize one of more of the dogs is restless. Is he or she serious? Or just messing with our heads? Do we want to take a chance on guessing wrong? Our dogs are smart enough to think it’s a hoot to get us to stop the wagons so they can get outside and run around, day or night. Their cheerful barks will surely be the hit of the RV park.

roma-gypsy-wagon-caravan

With no doggy door, no fenced yard, it’s us, the dogs, the leashes, and the weather.

“Please, go, it’s late, I’m tired, I want to go to bed,” while Bonnie snickers at me as only a Scottie can. And then there is the matter of bathrooms. My husband has a thing about the bathroom. He loves them. Big, comfortable ones with a spacious shower and unlimited hot water. Room to spread out. That leaves me searching for a private spot in the bushes.

One more minor issue: someone — I’m guessing me — has got to pump out the head, fill the water tanks. Hook up to the electricity. Buy groceries. Dog food. Cook meals in a tiny kitchen galley. I don’t much want to cook even with in a fully equipped kitchen. Will I rediscover the joy of cooking in the galley of an RV? I doubt it. I don’t think Garry would last a week. I might wear out even sooner.

So let’s say we bought a small truck, in this case, a 26-footer. This is what our new home would look like — or at least, sort of.

The gypsy life is a great idea. You should definitely try it.

Please send me postcards!

THE IDYLLIC ISLAND FROM MY CHILDHOOD – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I had a chance recently to go back to a place I had loved in my childhood, more than 55 years ago.

Wendy was my best friend from fifth grade through seventh grade. Best friends at that age understand the true meaning and importance of a best friend. I always remembered that intense friendship as a high point in my long life of friendships. Wendy and I spent a lot of time at each other’s homes with each other’s parents (we were both only children). Also, both of our fathers were psychologists and knew each other.

Wendy and me on the motorboat at the island in 1959

Wendy’s family had a summer-house on a three acre island on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. We spent glorious days there playing in the woods and on the water. I rode in her motorboat and her motorized rowboat, both of which we named. The motorboat was Wendy Bird and the rowboat was Tinkerbell, from Peter Pan. I learned to water ski behind the Wendy Bird.

Wendy and me in the rowboat at the island with the house in background

We cleared a path into the woods, complete with signs. The path led to a wonderful tree, right next to the water. That tree was easy to climb and wonderful to sit in and we often played Mad Libs sitting on its branches.

I renewed my friendship with Wendy, through Facebook, this past year. We now speak on the phone almost every week and have become close once again. I always believed we had a strong connection. I guess it must have been to have survived for 55 years!

So Tom and I drove the six hours from Connecticut to the northern end of Lake Winnipesaukee. I was excited to revisit a childhood happy place. Wendy picked us up on the mainland with her brand new motorboat. I saw the island and had an immediate sense of familiarity. When the house came into view, it was just as I had remembered it – except that it seemed much smaller. I’m not that much bigger now than I was at the age of twelve. But I think my memories had enlarged both the dimensions and the magic of this idyllic spot.

My memories of the living room, the master bedroom and the room that Wendy and I had slept in, were totally accurate. In fact, I noticed that the beds in both bedrooms had been moved. Wendy was amazed that I remembered exactly where they had been in 1960!

I ran around looking at all the old photos of Wendy and her parents that decorated the house. My memories were again confirmed as accurate. After dropping my bags, the first thing I wanted to see was what little was left of our path into the woods.

The main remnant of that labor of love was, coincidentally, named “Curley.” “Curley” was a tree at the beginning of the path, where the beach meets the woods. The tree has a huge branch, shaped like a giant ‘j’, which we ‘rode’ like a horse. We had taken strings and created a set of ‘stirrups’ we could slip our feet into to mimic riding a real horse. The stirrups were still there! Wendy’s children growing up, and her grandchildren now, all rode “Curley” using our old stirrups. What a wonderful surprise!

This is our tree horse, “Curley”. If you look closely, you can see the stirrups on the right, below the branch

We talked the whole time we were together. We reminisced and shared stories about ourselves and our families through the years. I brought Wendy some old photos of us that she had never seen. I also brought my old diary from when I was ten to twelve years old, the Wendy era. I read Wendy what I had written about her and our mutual friends and teachers from school. LOL!

View from the porch, where we spent most of our time

Wendy shared a memory with me that I had forgotten. She said that at around age eleven, I had admonished her that she should stand up for herself and not let people walk all over her. “Don’t let yourself be a dishrag” I had told her. The funny thing is that while I don’t remember saying any of that to Wendy, I do remember my mother saying those exact words to me! I was apparently passing on to Wendy, my mother’s good advice to me. Neither of us took the advice for much of our younger lives. But I think we’re getting there now.

We also spent time riding on the lake in both boats. Everything was as beautiful as my glorified memories. Tom was impressed. We sat on the porch, looking out at the lake, talking about the games we used to play on the table there so long ago. Games like Scrabble, Sorry, Risk and Mad Libs (a favorite). Wendy showed me the online Scrabble game she plays now. I showed her Shanghai, my favorite computer game. We bonded all over again, on the site of our shared past.

I’ve talked about Wendy’s island paradise for years to my kids and to Tom. It was great to go back again, this time-sharing it with Tom. Also through photos, I got to share it with my children.

I wonder what my kids will want to revisit when they’re in their sixties.