Journal: November, 2016 — Beginning of December

The sun glows through the trees shining directly onto Michael’s Memorial Tomb that houses his ashes. Mine will be placed next to his when the day arrives. But for now I’m as busy as I’ve ever been with daily chores, writing and activities.

For years I’ve been having a daily conversation with an old literary friend. However his last message was “Oh shut up!” He’s always been rude… We both are. We laugh when speaking of others, but to shut me up pissed me off.

“You started it,” he wrote. Started what? That’s what I used to tell my mother when I was a six-year-old, tattle-tailing on my brother.

I can still feel the sting on my cheek from Noel’s slap, as I sat on top of the stove in our kitchen at 131 Patton Avenue, swinging my legs in a circles like a bicycle. “Fuck it!” I said. At thirteen, I was showing off for one of his rich Princeton Country Day School friends. Did it teach me a lesson?

“Not really” but, in away it did. I learned to always be careful who I say ‘fuck’ in front of. But the older I got the less important it is to me. It’s fun shocking people saying fuck out loud makes people pay attention.

I’ve never been careful about much of anything, just go my own way, singing a merry tune. Having Dad’s approval helped me believe in myself. His words gave me courage to do pretty much anything I wanted and have taken me on a long adventure.

But these days at my age, I realize, I’m almost irrelevant – but I like speaking the truth as I see it, it gives me power. When L told my nephew to read his book, not mine, because his book speaks the truth. Blue Melody true, hmmm? What he forgot to remember is that there are many truths within each episode in life, not just one, not just his. I ignore him. Years ago he bought me gifts to show me off, but never encouraged or appreciated, my talents. Men just don’t get it sometimes. They think it’s either their way or the highway. But happily the sun’s still shining; it’s another beautiful day.

I’m 82-years-old today, it’s hard to believe I got here. I’m waiting for Christmas, which is right around the corner. Where’s the snow? Do I miss it? No. I grew up in New Jersey. Ice and icicles can be beautiful, but not when one gets stuck driving home from the Pennsylvania Railroad Station after completing a day’s work in NYC. Walking home with snow reaching my knees, my feet turning into blocks of ice, I don’t miss that.

No Christmas tree this year. Instead, my friend Jose cuts a branch from my evergreen outside my front door. I decorate it with little white plastic dogs wearing red Santa outfits, I’ve kept in storage for years. Throwing a handful of sparkles, and hanging a couple of bright colored balls with lights, and “voila“, my Christmas tree. It’s pretty and cheerful and smells great.

Isai, Jose’s eight-year-old son, doesn’t seem interested in Christmas much anymore. He’s got his mom’s house reeling with a fiesta given by one of his seven older sisters. Being the first boy he’s spoiled, but he’s still a spark in my life. He enjoys visiting and sitting at my computer and clicking on Youtube. He dances and sings along with his favorite songs. He’s rhythmical….and with me being an old rhythm dancer, we connect. He shows me a new step, and I copy him as best I can. Yesterday, I tried to do the grapevine he was demonstrating, but he hooks his feet back further behind than I’m used to. I twisted my ankle, not bad…. He does somersaults and handstands, things I used to be good at.

Monday, November 28, 2016… almost Christmas. Thanksgiving’s over… I had so much food on my plate: cranberries with orange zest, brussel sprouts, turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes, plus a wonderful green salad with avocado and balsamic vinaigrette. It all got mixed up and I couldn’t finish. Jose and Isai helped create the dinner. In fact they did everything… the dishes, as well as cooking and stirring and clearing off the table. Jose even polished the silver. And Isai poured champagne for each of us.

My sobrina, niece Catherine and husband James drove from Phoenix for Thanksgiving to meet me. Catherine is the youngest daughter of my half-sister Cynthia, who I only met twice. She was 20 years older and had a different mother. My mom was Blanche Bianca Beven from Sri Lanka. Cynthia’s mom was Adelaide from England. She was my dad’s first wife, his landlady when he was studying theology at Trinity College Dublin. I met Cynthia a couple of times so spending Thanksgiving with her youngest daughter was a lark. I’d been looking for relatives on my dad’s side of the family for years. My brother, son, mom and dad are all in heaven.

I’m lucky to have a wonderful young man friend. He’s handsome too, reminds me of Marlon Brando, my favorite. Not only by looks, but by the way he mumbles and acts, kinda macho – dirty torn T-shirts and all. Actually he’s spiffed up these days. But he has that rough and tumble sex appeal you’d never notice unless you look real hard. What’s that saying about seeing life through rose colored glasses? I guess that’s me these days:-)

Six years ago I was invited to a book fair in Guadalupe Valley at Rancho Viejo. Not anxious to go alone, I invited Jose, who was working for me, clearing the yard. We drove to Oscar’s Store across the arroyo, and I turned my car keys over to him. He’s been chauffeuring me around ever since. He doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish, so we get along real well. We both spend time listening and learning from each other when we have the patience. It’s good living in the moment with what’s happening now… not what happened yesterday. I love looking out the window and dreaming about what is.

At Rancho Viejo that afternoon Jose walked me here and there holding my hand, brought me a sausage roll, cake, chocolates and a glass of wine. He was a fine companion. Since then he’s become my loyal caretaker, a warm, kind, generous and loving friend. He feeds the animals: the chickens and el Nino, my horse. Isai collects eggs and fills the water bucket. I feed and care for my four dogs: two strays, Pansy and Chica. Jack, a terrier, and my fifteen-year-old Border Collie, I’ve had Tootsie since birth.

I’m alone except for my animals and Jose. He hangs out taking care of me and my ranch. We watch TV together, listening to the news in Spanish and English. It’s also fun when he goes home. I love being alone. I like getting up running around getting a little exercise before going to bed. That’s the reason I got animals, first out of love for four legged creatures, and then so lazy me wouldn’t sit on the couch and read The New Yorker, all day. By the way that’s how I learned to write my book, The Philosopher’s Daughter, a memoir, from reading The New Yorker. There’s never been a better teacher. To this day I wait eagerly each week for my copy to arrive. There’s a lot of reading to keep me entranced.

Jose arrived moments ago, and is bringing me a cup of coffee. He’s ready to clean the water buckets and since it’s Monday we’ll drive to Santa Anita to the swap meet and pick up a pizza for breakfast…

Tomorrow is the second week of December… time goes by quickly these days… It’s almost 2017… Wow!

Send me a note dear reader, and tell me how you’re feeling about the coming of Christmas, the New Year… Are you ready? Tree up and all?

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20 comments

  • I agree with you. But I need my grandchildren around me. I see my children in them I see the future in them aaand all of a sudden. I feel that life is not too bad. Good luck Jenny!!

    • Erica… so nice to be in touch with you. Your photo on Facebook is marvelous. Do you remember me when I visited Ceylon/Sri Lanka with my mom? I enjoyed your mom so much and enjoyed my stay at her house… I do remember you and your children. Thanks for reading and posting. lots of love, jennifer… The rest of my story is in my book, The Philosopher’s Daughter, a memoir on Amazon… pick it up one day – it’s a good read, I’m told:-)

  • Marissa Crosthwaite

    I miss Snoopy and Zack & Rosita I miss the warmth of ur cozy home. When I would make you sandwiches for lunch sweep around the house & those nice hot baths since we didn’t have running water up the hill. Loving the view from your house where we could see the whole town. Those beautiful sunny days when I would clean Michael’s little house making sure it always had little flowers. I miss you

    • My darling Marissa…. I was so in love with your life on the banks of the river that flowed through the arroyo when I first moved here. You, your sister and brother were an inspiration and a challenge to me. I worried that you were not in school, but I sure appreciated your kindness and your love for Michael that touched my heart forever. Now you’re a beautiful young women with many children of your own. Take care of yourself and know that I am your other mom and that I love you and your family very much! love, jennie

    • Marissa my love, thank you for posting. You will always be close to my heart. And thank you for considering me your second mom, when you needed a new one– I was there…. suffering through the loss of my only son and you and Christopher were so sweet and kind, leaving flowers and building a cross on Michaels Memorial. Love to you, I wish you luck and happiness. Keep your chin up! It’s a tough world out there:-)xoxo

  • Lovely blog, Jenny. Thank you. It’s always great to read your polished prose narrating your everyday activities with your heart in your sleeve. Hope to see you on the dance floor soon!

  • So Good to hear your doing well and happy 82nd B-day Aunty Jennifer. We both wish we were down there right now. This cold really sucks. We don’t have a tree either. no room for it and they’re too much work unless there are kids around. Still playing lots of music and recording. I’m heading out right now to move a bunch of snow with our newly aquired tractor. Still working through your book. Will finish soon if this lousy weather keeps up.
    Have a great X-mas and enjoy the nice weather. xo Tim and Hil

    • Hey Tim and Hil… it would be great to meet up with you and your wife, one day. Thanks for posting a message to me, don’t miss the snow that’s for sure, but would love to have a couple of parrots:-) Apparently Jose is bringing me two baby turkeys today — don’t like them much, but a friend needs to find them a home. Maybe I’ll get used to them. They are not beautiful like your MaCaws. Hope I spelt that right. Love to you both. PS one day send me some of your music, I’ve never heard it, and maybe I could send you some of Michael’s…

  • Great writing! I love it. So full of life and unabashed! I’m glad to be a small part of your life at last. Keep up the good work….what a great way to record your life. Have a blessed Christmas! Hugs, Your Sobrina XXXOOO

    • Dearest Catherine, So good to have gotten to know you and James. He’s definitely a plus in my book. He was so nice to Jose and Isai. One day we’ll all meet up again. Give Penny my love… kisses to you…

  • I can see that you have gotten some clever help setting up your SITE.
    Looks great and must be joy to receive responses from friends & family.

    Have a great holiday and keep friends close to you on those days.

    I wanted to ask you a question, do you recall the name of the aircraft carrier
    that Noel was flying from when he had his accident, and the date???.

    A friend of mine was on the WASP in the Sea of China 1951-1953.

    • hey Len… He flew off the carrier the USS Midway… it’s parked here in San Diego… he was flying a Jet Fury when he crashed off the side of the ship…. he or his plane were never recovered…. he was flying off the coast of Okinawa… in the Sea of China….

  • Always so much fun to jump into your perspective of daily life and travel with you as the past springs forth into the present. I love you Jennifer…Merry Christmas to you and your adopted family. So happy to know that you are well cared for and so content with your life. We will come see you this spring and you and I can do the “old lady grapevine” !

  • I can’t wait, we can follow Isai along and learn some new tricks… hope to see you one day soon again… I love you my DeeDee girl friend now and forever more… thanks.. xoxo

  • This was wonderful to read, Jen, and for a moment, I was right there at your cozy little artsy cottage on the hill. Sigh… it seems at once like decades ago and just yesterday that I lived closed enough in La Mision to walk to your place.

    I’m still undecided about a Christmas tree. On the one hand, it might be inviting during this short days and long, bitter nights. But on the other hand, Christmas in Mexico can sometimes make me sad. After six years here, it still doesn’t feel right singing “Jingle Bells” by the palm trees, and the holidays here can be a little too quiet, as so many friends are off traveling elsewhere.

    So, I think it will be just me and the dogs muscling through until January 2, but who knows? After six years, I finally have heat, from an old-fashioned cast iron wood stove in my living room, so maybe I’m ready to finally think of Baja as home and make the place a little more Santa friendly.

    Love to you and the rest of your crew, two legged and four legged, and Happy Holidays!

    P.S. I have found that the older I get, the more I can say what I like with impunity. Freeing, isn’t it? Maybe irrelevance has its benefits. 😉

    • Your comment made me Laugh Out Loud. I think it was the singing of jingle bells under the palm trees, what a picture. A laugh is always a great sign. I must say your little casa looks cozy, cute and inviting. It looks wonderful and maybe a place to call home for your sake for awhile. Next time shoot it with a couple or three perros snuggled somewhere. Really looks charming! much love to you, hope we can get together in the spring this coming year – good God 2017:-) love and many many kisses, Thank you for posting… xoxo

  • Hi Sis……I just reread your blog. Reading it today as opposed to reading it during the blur of the holiday rush in Princeton gave it a whole new meaning……..and I heard you Jen. Loud and clear. I was always envious of your freedom, your independence, your willingness to follow your heart and your desires, while I was constrained by family expectations, cultural background……and other more complicated concerns. You told me once that you saw me as the strong, independent woman……funny, that’s how I saw you……but perhaps you grew stronger as you grew older. I was propelled by a need to prove myself……Coming from your privileged background, that was not an issue for you…..Looking back at my early life, I’m kind of glad I had something to prove because it did cause me to become the person I am which brought me much pleasure. And now I’m a totally liberated woman…….who loves being called “girlie” by her country boy, Bobbie Ray!
    Crazy Jen….your sensible, hard working, studious, upright wife, daughter, mother……finally a free agent at 85!
    I love, love love your blog…….You are definitely aging like a great wine and I look forward to being with you and in your heart through your writing. Love you sis! dede

    • I’ve been waiting until after the holidays to hear from you and what a passionate approving e-mail you sent me… I’m all aglow… excited and challenged anew… who is your country boy? Bobbie Ray… is that your man? how nice that he’s a country boy… if I have the right picture… thank you dear DeDe from my heart of hearts… love you so so much… you have always been there for me. and I am grateful for this.. the other day Lenny sent me a great photo of your wedding day… and where was I? – I should have been in the picture… how sad… that I missed it… I studied it for a long time and thought about loosing him and all of you.. I dream about you all, Lenny, etc. lots.. and wonder — but don’t think I could have handled Princeton for too long… love you so much, thanks always for being there for me…. xoxox with love, jennie

  • Jennifer,

    Just sent you an email by another route, serendipitously a propos of Princeton.

    Bill

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