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!

MORE FRIENDS – A SATURDAY SWITCH – PHOTOGRAPHY GARRY ARMSTRONG

PHOTO CHALLENGE: FRIEND

Photographs by Garry Armstrong

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Garry and I used to ride. Horseback. We rode horses. I started riding pretty young and before I got good at it, got pretty broken trying to find my way. I dragged Garry to take riding lessons with me when we were both in our fifties and it was great. He took to it like a duck to water. After watching westerns his whole life, he could now ride the high country with the best of them.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

At some point in the mid 1990s, I had one nasty accident that completely unglued my spine. Riding, I was told, was out. Not just sort of out. Really, truly completely absolutely O-U-T. I’d heard this before, but I’d cheated because I really love horses. But this doctor was serious. He said one little fall and that would be “it” for walking.

That hurt. I have always loved horses. The smell of barns, the feel of a horse under me, the way they gather their muscles to make the next move. How you can feel their intentions in your feet and legs. I love the velvet of their noses and how they take food off your palm with those big soft lips.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Last night, more or less out of the blue, the granddaughter emailed me to say they were having an event at The Barn and would we like to come. Barn? What barn?

It turns out she is volunteering at a horse barn down the road, just over the Rhode Island line. “She’s learning to ride,” I told Garry. “It’s genetic. My mother rode. I rode. She can’t help herself. She needs a horse.”

He looked a little puzzled. “You show me a young woman volunteering at a barn and I will show you a young woman trying to work off riding lessons.” It’s a thing, young women and horses.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Lad with local “unicorn”

It also turned out she also needs a portrait lens for her camera. I can’t give her one because I don’t own a camera that size or style. In fact, the camera she has was my last full-size camera. I did tell her there’s a lot of Canon camera and lenses on sale these days — new and used — since so many people are changing to smaller cameras.I thought we might just be able to snag a lens for her. If she has time to drop by.

Garry took pictures. I took a few too. I got a delicious scent of horse barn while Garry’s thinking taking riding lessons again. He deserves it. Go Garry! It was a better than usual Saturday out here in the country.

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

BRING BACK BUGGIES

Not the news, June 2017

In an unexpected  bow to America’s need for clean air, President Trump announced he is banning automobiles accompanied by a massive return to manufacturing buggies.

“All the out-of-work wheelwrights, carpenters, horse breeders, and horseshoe makers,” he announced, “will be back on the job! We will also need millions of guys to clean up the horseshit.” As a note for non horse owners, a horse produces about eight piles of manure a day totaling 50 pounds, more or less. Every day. All year. In all seasons.

That means each horse creates about nine tons of manure per year which can be used as fertilizer,  to make bricks, and especially as fuel — with a higher heating value than seasoned hardwood. Plus, the resultant ash is an excellent soil additive.

Auto manufacturers ignored the announcement as General Motors kept rolling out the hybrids. Simultaneously, forty of Trump’s favorite Republican cronies cheered, promising this proposal would produce a massive job surge as well as a perfect, renewable source for heating homes.

Sean Spicer assured reporters that this administration has always been about horseshit, something with which many commentators could (finally) agree.

SHARING MY WORLD – THE HOLIDAYS PT. 1

Share Your World – 2016 Week 50


What is your favorite smell? What memory does it remind you of?

Vanilla. It reminds me of vanilla cookies and ice cream. Mmm.

What type of pet do you have or want to have?

We have dogs. We used to have even more dogs and cats, too. Before that, we had cats and ferrets. And the occasional bird and tropical fish — though the fish were really my son’s.

Two dogs and a computer. The computer is also a pet, of sorts.

Two dogs and a computer. The computer is also a pet, of sorts.

When I was younger and my back less arthritic, I really, really, really, really, really wanted a horse or two. By the time I lived where I could actually have a horse, I could no longer ride.

m-horseback

Or, as we used to say in that other country in which I lived, “God gives nuts to those who have no teeth.” Think about it.

Are you usually late, early, or right on time?

These days, more or less on time. I used to be early, but Garry slowed me down. He used to be late, but I speeded him up.

Photo: Bette Stevens

Photo: Bette Stevens

Balance. Marriage is all about balance.

For recharging, would you rather meditate, swim, walk, listen to music, write, read, yoga, qigong other?

I write. I take pictures. I read and watch movies. Best of all is laughing. A good laugh is worth eight hours of sleep.

A NOSTALGIC RERUN: LAST OF THE SILVER SCREEN COWBOYS

A Collaboration of Garry and Marilyn Armstrong

We watched “Rustler’s Rhapsody” again last night. I love this movie. It’s an affectionate spoof of the B-Westerns of the 1940s starring Tom Berenger, Patrick Wayne, G.W. Baily (currently with “Major Crimes” on which Berenger has a recurring guest role), Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey.

The women include Sela Ward, a solid dramatic actress perhaps best remembered as Dr. Richard Kimble’s slain wife in the movie version of “The Fugitive”. There’s also Marilu Henner who riffs on the Miss Kitty/Miss Lily saloon ladies of our favorite TV westerns.

Andy Griffith and Fernando Rey both play power-mad cattle barons. Fernando usually plays an international drug czar and you probably remember him in “The French Connection”. He is slimy sinister personified. Rey and Griffith make a very odd couple. Check out the scene where they argue about who gets to do the countdown for killing the hero. They are hilarious, but Andy Griffith steals the show.

We love the movie so much we own two identical copies of it on DVD. It wasn’t going to be available for long, so Marilyn bought a copy for us, another for our best friends … and an extra. Just in case.


rustler's rhapsody dvd cover

NOTE: As it turns out, “Rustler’s Rhapsody” is available. Again. Who know for how long? If you are interested, Amazon has the DVD and the download.


Tom Berenger is The Hero who shoots the bad guys in the hand. Pat Wayne is the other good guy, but he used to be a lawyer, so be warned. Casting Pat Wayne was an inspiration. “Rustler’s Rhapsody” could easily be homage to his Dad’s ‘poverty row’ westerns of the 1930s. Pat even nails Duke’s acting range of that period.

My heroes have always been cowboys, even the stalwarts of those budget-challenged B movies. I had the good fortune to spend time with two legends of the genre. Buster Crabbe and Jack “Jock” Mahoney.

Crabbe, most famous for his “Flash Gordon” days, contends he had more fun playing the lead in the oaters where the line between good and bad is always clear and you get to wear nice costumes. He considers his westerns as “small classics” not B movies. (Crabbe continued his career into the late 60’s when producer A.C. Lyles revived the B cowboy movie with over the hill actors including Johnny Mack Brown, Rod Cameron, Bob Steele, Hoot Gibson and Richard Arlen among others).

Jack “Jock” Mahoney, known to many as TV’s “Range Rider”, is a former stuntman who graduated to supporting roles as nimble villains and finally established a following at Universal-International, playing literate good guys in lean, well written westerns. Mahoney clearly is proud of his work in the B movies. I remember the smile on his face as he recalled the fun of being recognized as a cowboy hero.

I think all the cowboy actors I’ve met (Including John Wayne) would heartily approve of “Rustler’s Rhapsody”. It’s an affectionate tribute to their work.

This is the song they play at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. I love the song and the memories it brings because I’m of the generation that went to the movies and watched those B movies as part of the afternoon double-header at the Carlton or Laurelton, the second (third?) run movies houses where you could see two movies and a cartoon for a dime.

Warner Brothers, 1982. “Last Of The Silver Screen Cowboys” by Rex Allen Jr. and Rex Allen Sr. Be sure to listen for Roy Rogers in the final commentary and chorus!