Family Adventures

Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River —

It had been 30 years since he’d last seen the place, but my husband Nico insisted on taking Baby and I on a family adventure to see Banana Bend on the San Jacinto River.  I was a bit skeptical; picturing a run down, or shut down, remnant of what once had been a fun party place on the bend of the river.  Boy…!  Was I ever surprised!  –In a very good way.

I had already found myself quite charmed by the tiny ferry boat that had carried our crew of three across the ship channel, quite a ways inland and up the waterway from Galveston Island.  Able to carry not even 20 cars at a time, The Lynchburg Ferry was like stepping back in time, in a way.  Unlike the Bolivar Ferry — which we’ve ridden often — The Lynchburg Ferry looked a bit unstable at times, and traveled much slower than its much larger neighboring ferry (Bolivar Ferry).

So I snapped one-after-another photos of our crossing, and we were on our way…yet-again, down the road, searching for that place Nico had left in his past…until this day.  Bumping down the two lane road in our old VW Camper Bus, we stayed on the look-out for a sign…any sign, to let us know we’re heading in the right direction.  Then…we spotted it!  — Banana Bend…Just Ahead.  The sign said, in a nutshell; though Nico was going too fast for me to read the small print.

A few miles down the road, we came to an overpass that Nico didn’t remember ever seeing decades ago when he last visited Banana Bend.  So…we turned around and went back to the sign he’d sped past in such a hurry at last pass.  Sure enough, in small print, it had listed the street where we should have turned before.

Making our turn onto a much smaller road — a Farm to Market road — we continued on our adventure, searching…searching.  Then…there we were: facing two yellow kayaks planted vertically in the ground, reaching up into the sky, with a sign in the middle telling us we had arrived.

A nice little man was working the entrance gate, and let us in to look around since they were soon to close down for the day.  I felt like we had entered an island hide-away…on the river!  Palm trees everywhere, along with tiki palapas style cabanas and picnic tables.  And it was all so secluded, you’d never know it was there…unless someone told you.  I was thankful to Nico, for bringing us to such a charming island escape as Banana Bend.

And even though we were only able to stay for a short time before dark was beginning to fall and we had to head back and try to catch the last ferry, we had already began to plan a day trip to our new island escape (or escape from the island).  Having recent bouts of island fever, I know Banana Bend is just the place I’ve been needing all along.

*Here’s to new adventures, inland…and beyond!*

**NOTE to Families**  Recommended Family Days – Saturday/Sunday Afternoons & Weekdays (off-season): After careful research, it seems that BB is quite the party place during summer months and on weekends.  We visited late on a Saturday during the off-season, and all was peaceful and quiet.  It’s best to do your homework before visiting, to know of which events are taking place on any particular day or weekend.  Visit Banana Bend on Facebook.    

Life After Forty — Breaking The Mold of Average

Starting Your Career After 40 —

I’ve been thinking a lot about our music today.  I guess, in all reality, I think a lot about it each and every day; even in my dreams.  Even though, by societies mold, I might be considered a bit past my prime to get my musical career off the ground, music is still inside…the songs keep coming.

In my dreams…when I’m awake, in the early morning hours, the rare quiet times throughout the day…even when I’m driving, a song is always on my horizon of thoughts.  So…in my heart, I know, He is giving me his Blessing to keep at it.  –As long as you still believe, the music is always there.

But I’m the kind of person–what most folks don’t realize–who doesn’t like to be restricted by labels or molds.  If-ever anyone says I can’t do something, or they come across as unbelievers of my dreams (i.e. our musical ambitions), then I make it a point to prove them wrong.  It may take a little time to situate myself, but I’ll eventually have my day in the sun.

Still, I feel I’ve learned a lesson by these types of occurrences, and certain people who I’ve come in contact with over the years, whether good or bad.  I’ve discovered that some folks feel uncomfortable with anyone who doesn’t blend in with the mold of normalcy.  –Something I’ve never been any good at!

For me, anything worth dreaming is certainly worth the rugged climb or a few hurdles of nay-sayers, trying to build themselves up…by bringing someone else down (I know we’ve all had these kinds of encounters).  Besides, anyone who’s anybody knows–if you allow your dreams to be corralled into the mold other’s deem fitting for you, you’ll never get anywhere but right where they wish for you to stay.  I for one, choose to break the mold of the norm, and prove these small thinkers wrong.  A life worth living is certainly worth jumping over a few hurdles to get there!

*Never let anyone keep you down*

 

Thoughts on Being a Gypsy

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It seems to me that there’s been a spike in popularity when it comes to folks wanting to mimic the Gipsy way of life. Well, let me just say; it looks pretty and all (the clothing styles, the caravans painted bright exotic colors) from the outside looking in, but in reality, it’s a very hard-fought way of life. I cannot claim to be a Gipsy by origin , though we’ve been referred to as-such many times (hence the name Gypsy Vin Rose).

I can however, resonate with the way of life: moving often, though not as often as one might like, for lack of money (no residual income or retirement to keep us going); doing anything…everything to make a living (which often includes salvaging items from curbsides to sell…or selling aluminum/metal, thus saving it from the landfills); playing music for measly tips and meager offerings of passersby…but performing or playing for the love of music; living in a trailer (though many frown-down their noses at such living arrangements); shying away from many situations where crowds or socializing is involved (most Gypsies like to keep to themselves); overcoming the pressures to conform to societal molds; persecution for not being, or living, like everyone else; homeschooling of children, to keep them from the influences of others; being seen as outcasts by many mainstreamers, though they all want to act like Gypsies.

I could go on and on, when it comes to how actually living like…or being a Gipsy is different from just saying you are a Gypsy. Most folks are just full of a lot of hot air, though very few want to make the sacrifices or give up their luxury autos or 2 story brick monstrosities, nor do they want to scrounge for a living or live small in a trailer. They do, however, have no problem with saying they are Gipsy and dressing the part for their own image-appeal.

One thing that comes to my mind when I do see so many trying to play the part is: if you’re going to talk about it…try being about it. It’s not an easy way of life when you don’t have thousands to spend on travel, and you feel the need to keep on the move to avoid persecution. That is the Gipsy way of life.

I just wanted to share. Agree or disagree. It is….what it is.

Blessings & .V..

Singers…Songwriters…and Dreams

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No matter where I go, there’s always a song in my head.  Sometimes it’s one of the songs my husband and I have already written and composed for our Indie duo Gypsy Vin Rose, but more-often-than-not, it’s an entirely new tune that comes to me at any time of day, no matter what I’m doing.  Many times, I dream these new songs – just small tidbits for me to go on – and if I’m lucky enough to salvage a clip when I wake up, I will quickly make a recording (no matter how bad it sounds in the early morning hours), scribbling down any lyrics I can recall.  With time and effort, a lot of tweaking too, I will have a new song if I dedicate what is needed to my craft…for such an accomplishment to ever be heard by others.

Facing all the restrictions of a next-to-nothing recording budget, a toddler screaming her own verse in the background while we try to practice, the lack of equipment and zero time to dedicate to our craft (because we are still keeping afloat with a regular job). I often feel helpless as I see our dreams falling by the wayside.  Still, the songs in my head won’t let me give up – the dreams I dream won’t let me quit on Gypsy Vin Rose.  The fire is still there inside of me…on a low, but steady, flame.

Last night I dreamt of Bob Marley, he didn’t speak, but I could hear him anyway.  I knew his thoughts…I knew his feelings.  He wanted me to keep with it, he wanted to help.  I just wanted to be where ever he was, but he somehow just kept disappearing.  I searched, but he was gone…and I felt alone…desperate to find him once more.  I’m not sure what to make of that dream, but I enjoyed being where I was; lost somewhere in the dream realm.

I believe that dreams are symbolic; never meaning what most people might think they represent.  I know last night’s dream doesn’t mean I’m thirsting for the man himself, but…rather the music and the freedom of expression for which he sang, for which he stood.  He was a good man, I believe.  I wish I could’ve known him.

Still, there are dreams like this one…that keep me going, when it comes to the songs I write and compose.  I remember past performances, when I was flying solo as an artist, before I met Nico…my husband and the other half to Gypsy Vin Rose.  I always felt more alive…more like ‘me’, on the stage; even if I was mostly singing the songs of other artists.  But I was never prepared at the right time; and most artists know…timing is everything, talent is a must, but luck plays a very big role as well.  The time I had a radio interview, but no CD’s ready to offer, always comes to mind when I think of being prepared for anything…everything in music.

I also think back to the time I met a big-time Sony Record Producer backstage at one of my musician friend’s concerts.  The producer – his name was Rob – asked me for a demo, but like always…I wasn’t prepared.  But he was a very nice man…and he thought I had the look, the image, so he offered me his business card, scribbled some contact information on the back – confessing that he never does business when he’s drinking – and we parted ways.  I guess most folks might think I’d never hear from him again, but I did.  The sad thing was that we just kept playing phone tag, until…I guess he just gave up on me.  It just wasn’t meant to be at that time, is all I keep telling myself.

Deep within my very being, I know I should never give up, no matter if I am on-up-there in years now, no matter if all the odds seem to be stacked against me…and GVR.  I look to the bright side, forever the optimist, and cling to the fact that I have been able to pick up the mandolin at my age, and actually learn to play it; composing my own songs after barely a few months of playing.  That, to me, is reassuring!  Knowing, already, that when it comes to recording our songs…we have that down too, since Nico discovered when he recorded his instrumental composition of The Journey in our van, that Hippie Van Studios has great acoustical sound…and no toddler screaming in the background.

The dream keeps the music alive with us…within me, the songs just keep playing in my head, and my heart still races at the thought of being up on stage…performing once again.  But, I have to admit that the best part of that waking-dream is…I know the next time I am up on stage using the talent that He has given, I’ll finally be singing and playing…my very own tune.

A Visit With Santa On The Strand in Galveston

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Yesterday, we finally broke-away from the remodeling chaos, and took Baby down to the Strand District…here on Galveston Island.  It was her very first ‘Claus Encounter’, and it went really well.  But…I think Daddy might’ve embarrassed her just a little.  ;  )

It’s a rarity these days, for us to get out-and-about–I hate to admit–and just see the sites that our new hometown has to offer.  The cost of such an afternoon?  Nada!  Which is about all we have to spend after Christmas shopping.  Still, I have to say, our little tour of Downtown Galveston, and the Santa Claus photo shoot with Baby and Gypsy Vin Rose, was a huge success!

Next  year, Santa…we’ll see ya again!  Same time…same place!  And we promise, we’ll be good in 2014.

Blessings to All this Christmas…New Years…and Always!

.V..

Ringing in the New Year…on the Sands of Time

Memories of one New Year, spent on the Sands of Time.

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The Difference Between Conchs and Whelks

A Conch by any other name…is probably a Whelk!  Click the pic to discover the difference in the two!

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