Sunday, May 29, 2016

Five Years In, Still a Lifetime of Work Ahead

This year marks a few milestones for Veglio.  It is the fifth year of active restoration and the main house is pretty much done. Just a little piece of roof replacement and two rooms that can be fixed up whenever we spend the time and money to complete them.

It also marks the first year we don’t have any kids with us on our visits.  Here in California as we start to think about packing for our annual pilgrimage, we also are celebrating our two youngest kids moving on to finish school.  Kurtis in Brooklyn, Lexi closer to home to get her teaching degree.  Alex continues to build a life in the Midwest with her roots sunk pretty deep in Chicago.

We have been so blessed to share our journey with many “kids”.   Our own and our nieces, nephews, friends and students.   As parents and in our decidedly middle age, we hope that what we have done and what we do makes for strong values and experiences rooted in our history and the lessons of the ancestors.

Growing up on the California North Coast, I love trees and feel no greater joy than when I walk through a forest or take a rest under the canopy of tree.  One of the hardest things to do when planting trees is to establish roots.  The shock of the planting and the fragility of the young plants make it a hit or miss whether a little apple or plum or cherry tree is going to survive the first few years.

Kurtis and Andrea 
For centuries, wise farmers have known that you can take a young shoot from one tree and graft it on to an older tree.  Properly cared for, this young sapling takes hold and grows using the base on the older tree and roots.

I guess that is ultimately what we are trying to do with our project.  Give our kids the strong roots that will keep them grounded through all the crazy shit that is happening in the world.   To take care of this planet and be kind and helpful to those that may need it.

Lots of people ask whether we are building an investment property.  Especially those here in Southern California, where real estate is seen as a temporary asset to be bought, built and sold.  Not a home or a set of roots. 

Hairy Harry Bryan--Nephew and Demo King
We are building an investment, but I am hoping one that will provide a different kind of return.  What happy memories of nephew Harry exhausted but smiling after taking out the centuries old plastered and decaying kitchen ceiling with a giant sledge hammer.  Or Sam Pontillo four stories up setting stone with Andrea.  Both working physically harder than they had ever worked, but seeing the beauty of working as a team and with their hands.

Our girls putting cross word puzzles together under the light of candles before we finished the electrical or brother Ken chiseling away at the repair of 500 year wall.  All decidedly much different experiences that somehow gave them a sense of  a different life than merely the pursuit of things and status.

Ken with Michaelangelo Technique
Now most of “kids” are busy starting lives of their own. I suspect we will have a little lull.  Careers to start, families to launch, their own homes to buy. 

So we have a new phase of work to create a place where we "older generation" can find beauty and comfort to restore our souls from the hectic urban life we live most months of the year.   We plan on working in the gardens, planting some new trees and building walkways.

And also to make our village relevant and accessible for our kids when they are once again ready to be part of this.   So they can easily come back to find themselves when things may not make sense.  Without financial or physical hardship to make the long trip.  To laugh and to listen to the voices that came before.