Lighting the corners of my mind

September 7, 2021

It seems the older I get the more I reminisce. Similar to the lyrics in The Way We Were by Barbra Streisand, my memories are lighting up the corners of my mind–a lot. Sometimes it’s with candle light and other times with strobes! Sometimes they come with the shadow of guilt, others with a great, big smile. According to some, ‘it is a healthy exercise to share thoughts and feelings of one’s experiences to recall and reflect upon important events within one’s life.’ 

A friend of mine on Facebook wrote a post today about her parents’ memories and how she realized the importance of capturing them before they were gone.

My mom passed away four years ago and every single day I regret not filming her when she was with us. I regret not asking her more questions and capturing her answers along with her voice, her smile, and her radiant love for our family. My dad is 79. He spent the year of the pandemic alone with his two dogs (Stewie and Jessica). He’s an amazing man… I wanted to be sure not to miss his stories about growing up, meeting my mom, becoming a dad and a grandpa.

There are many things I wish I had talked about with my parents including their own history. In my defense, they didn’t always make it easy. I recommend making conversation with one’s parents, the best you can, and learning their history. It’s your history as well.

This is a hard post to write. I loved and respected my dad, but I wasn’t particularly good at showing it. I was too busy being the rebel to appreciate my dad until much later in my life, when I began to see the interesting, kind and artistic man he was. The shame is on me. But I stick to saying no regrets, because I am who I am–kind of like Popeye.

My Dad in me in Germany right after WWII.

Albert Victor Kinslow grew up on a farm in a small, central Texas town. The story he told me one time was his father went to his job as postmaster, and when he came home that evening my dad had been born. He exclaimed ” Oh, what do you know, a little jackass” And, that’s why my dad was always called Jack.

He married our mother, Lula Bell McEntire, when in his mid thirties right before being deployed to fight in World War II where he was awarded the Silver Star. He consequently made the US Army his life’s career. My father was a trusted advisor to generals and had earned the rank of Colonel years before he retired in 1966. A man who never drank a drop of alcohol, he made it available at our home when it was his turn to host dinner for his circle of officers and neighbors.

Col. Jack was a gardener. When we lived in Hawaii he was mentored by our Hawaiian landlord/neighbor on growing orchids, plumerias an other tropical plants He had an eye for art and took craft classes. This is where he learned to make these beautiful glass lamps. He’d take long walks nightly to gather sanded glass on the beach. Much of this type of glass can no longer be found–the reds, greens and blues. He also made furniture, and jewelry out of the local seeds and nuts. Later in retirement, he was the neighborhood widows’ favorite person to call for small fix-it jobs.

I saw my father cry when a lot of men wouldn’t. I’ve heard him speak harshly when he lost his temper. Dad was deemed honest, fair and ethical by all his friends, family and colleagues. He loved our mother with a passion and almost always let her have her way. He loved all three of his children, though I’m pretty sure he never really understood us.

When he took the role of granddad/mentor to my the son he was different, but also still the same. My son to this day appreciates what he learned from his granddad. That is the heart of his life he passed on.

My parents’ 47th anniversary. In the corner a pre wedding photo. They were married at Travis Park Methodist, San Antonio.


Almost cut my hair

July 25, 2021

A small, Sunday history lesson: I lived the halcyon days of young adulthood in the sixties and seventies when letting your hair grow out provoked many a conflict–especially for the guys. This past year, I was reminded and inspired by this Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song and just let my hair grow. 

https://youtu

No longer under my mother’ thumb, I quit maintaining my shorter hair when I left home for college. But, I began wearing it short again in my mid-30’s. After retirement and during the past year and a half COVID pandemic, we have all have gone thru many changes–some good and some not so good. One thing I changed was to let go of regular hair cut appointments. I felt it was a freeing sort of decision. It certainly took a load off my limited income budget as well!

My dad, an Army Colonel, buzz cut my brother’s hair until he was in at least junior high. Four years younger than me, my brother was lured by the music and begun to follow his sister into the Hippie movement. By college, he was growing his hair out and never quit. Still, after a certain length, he cuts it for Locks of Love. An aside story… The night after our mother died I dreamed she said to me, “Tell Jack he doesn’t have to cut his hair for my funeral.”

A couple of pictures of us. One about middle age, and a more recent version. You can see his braid which ends past the middle of his back.


Dreaming of the Rolling Stones

May 16, 2021

Have a little dream on me!

Last night, I dreamed of my geriatric self. I was one of several older folks, lying in a row of hospital beds on one of those long screened-in porches you sometimes see at rest homes. We were all watching TV, waiting for Mick Jagger to come on and perform. Well, it could happen! After all, Keith Richards is still alive and kicking, and still smoking cigarettes.

I was fortunate to be living in Austin during the heydays of the Vulcan Gas Company and Armadillo Word Headquarters. I personally knew some really great musicians during that time. But, I never saw the Rolling Stones live. I finally saw Joan Baez in person last year right before Covid-19 shut us all down. Some people got up and left when she got political on stage. I’m not sure what they were thinking if they didn’t expect that. She did sing my favorite song!

I watched this horribly cheesy movie last night about an alternate universe. When one of the heroes was asked ‘did he sign on to go thru the portal and fight?’ He said “Sure, I live my life half-assed and random.” My motto is ‘everything we’ve gone thru brings us to this point’. I also say I have no regrets, though I do own up to my mistakes.

What worries me now is what is going on with all the irrationally skewed, nonsensical information which seems to have originated thru the ‘looking glass.’ Like Alice we are trying to make sense of how about 40% of our population can be that stupid to believe all the unreliable news and down-right lying. This misinformation curdles the brain and makes it a mushy rancid organ. How can we get past it? Suggestions are welcome.

This post is all over the place, kind of like my rambling mind today. But that’s OK, at least I’m still here to write about it.


The Other Grandmother

March 7, 2021

Creating a human being takes two sets of genes–male and female (unless you’re a clone) and each child created is unique. Those genes go back many generations–all the way to Adam and Eve if you like. I’m not a stickler for traditional family structures. A family when I grew up typically had two grandmothers. But there can be step-grandmothers or other women of varying influences in your life. I used to think it was having been born a Gemini that I ended up with traits including adaptability, gregariousness, intelligence, impulsiveness and being interested in almost everything. But after writing a post on my Granny from my mother’s side, I realized that my Dad’s mother influenced me in very different, but significant ways as well. So nature vs nurture vs horoscope?

We called my father’s mother ‘Grandmother’. She became an invalid after the birth of her last child. We kids were never given any information how that happened medically speaking. They lived in big house in Oglesby, Texas and were farmers in addition to my grandfather being a Justice of the Peace. By the time I came along, they had leased out the land, but still had a barn and chickens. She had a four poster bed set in the fairly large living room with big windows where everyone gathered for visits. Bertie was from a family of very tall Texans. With satin slippers on her feet she took up the length of the bed. My grandfather sat at the end of the couch and played solitaire on a well-worn ivory board thru all the hubbub of family visits. He was not a talkative fellow. Below is a photo of my grandparents and all five children and the Reid family of tall Texans.

Every visit with her was precious. She would ask the grandchildren, one by one, to lie next to her on the bed and talk about us, our interests, our lives since we last visited. I value to this day that she gave me the feeling of unconditional love. We played Chinese checkers and sometimes watched TV on small black and white set at the foot of the bed. She taught me how to crochet and I can still manage a small afghan on occasion. She also made quilts of which I still have two. I figure they are at least 100 years old.

Grandmother was a Christian like Jesus intended. She had many pen-pals from all over the world with whom she corresponded in letters or postcards sharing news and giving blessing. She wrote poems. I’ve felt many times I learned the value of correspondence from her–of course with a decidedly modern look.

She lived to be in her nineties, though I did not see her the last few years. Several years ago I made an impulsive decision to buy a plot for myself and my husband in the same cemetery in which most of the Kinslow family is buried. I guess I’ll never know if we ever really get there.


What’s in a name?

January 30, 2021

I have two names–Mary and Laura. I was named Laura after my grandmother Laura Bell. My family called me ‘Laura’ from the beginning. But, my official first name is Mary. So every time I went to a new school, doctor’s office, anywhere they didn’t know me, I was called ‘Mary’. I used to hate it, and always corrected the perceived error. Now I just figure I have two first names and go with the flow. Laura Bell McEntire with me at about four years old.

Yesterday, I virtually attended a speaker series hosted by SA2020. Folks from right here in my San Antonio community spoke on a range of topics–pulling from their own passions and projects. Deborah Omowale Jarmon, Director and CEO of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, was an enthusiastic advocate for making sure we all tell our own stories. Her encouragement comes from the place of knowing how much the African American population’s stories has been ignored, lost or destroyed. Her task is to reclaim as much as possible of that history as it pertains to the San Antonio community. People with attitudes like this are who make me love my City.

Who are your parents, your grandparents? How did you come to be where you are? How did you become who you are? Who are the people or events in your life that influenced you? I thought, well I have a blog and I do tell my story, just maybe not enough. I always say to my family and friends, “If you want to know me, read my blog.” I’m fairly certain not so many actually do that. Oh well. It helps me record my past–something that seems important to me at my age.

Granny with my Aunt Marlene–still living in McGregor.

My grandmother Laura Bell Walton was from a small town in Texas near Gatesville called The Grove. She graduated from High School in McGregor, Texas in 1917. She lived there with her husband Ralph McEntire until he passed I think in 1961. She then moved to Abilene a few years later with her grown daughter, my Aunt Marlene, and family. Granny had book cases in the living room full of Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twin books. Also, the somewhat bawdy Decameron by Boccaccio and Shakespeare’s play and many others. Throughout the years I read most of them. Granny and Papa also smoked, drank whisky and played cards with their friends. I used to like to listen to them talk and laugh. There was an outdoor shed always stocked with cases of 7Up, Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper and Ginger Ale bottles.

There’s a lot more but that can wait. This is a small blog after all. What’s your story?


A fade-to-gist

August 11, 2020

Maybe it’s retirement combined with #COVID-19 self semi-quarantine, but I find myself using some of my time to wander thru memories for whatever remains of my wild and crazy youth.

“Human memory is notoriously unreliable, especially when it comes to details. Scientists have found that prompting an eyewitness to remember more can generate details that are outright false but that feel just as correct to the witness as actual memories. In day-to-day life, this isn’t a bug; it’s a feature”

I like this psychedelic brain image.

“A key rule about memory change over time is what we call fade-to-gist,” so says Dr. Charles Brainerd, (real name) a professor of human development at Cornell University.

What set me down memory lane recently was Dirt Road to Psychedelia a documentary about the mid to late sixties music scene in Austin, TX including the Vulcan Gas Company

The Vulcan was the hippest, coolest place in Austin (maybe the world). The following are some things I dredged up in memories as a direct result of viewing the film. And, yes, I going to be name-dropping because…

I started going to the Vulcan when it opened in early ’68. Some of my college friends were musicians and we went often together, but not always.

I was introduced to marijuana by a musician friend who went on to play bass with the 13th Floor Elevators. So that got me thinking. During my junior year in college 67-68 I spent much time in the company of the previous drummer for the Elevators. John Ike had quit the band and his mother thought he ought to go to college. He was a fun person to be with.

In the summer of ’68 I spent a lot of time in the company of the band New Atlantis in their Austin rental house. New Atlantis played at the Vulcan often and there I was introduced to Johnny Winter. I was crazy about his blues guitar licks. We became friends. I went to all of his Austin shows and we’d hangout for hours afterward. He called me his ‘college girl’ as I was still attending at that time. He got famous from those Vulcan gigs, and the last time I visited with him was in the mid-70’s when he stopped by the Armadillo Beer Garden.

The Armadillo World Headquarters, an Austin Texas music venue, in September 1976 photo by SteveHopson

By the time the Vulcan closed, I had graduated and was living in Music Mecca aka Austin. The Armadillo opened in 1970 and I was a frequent visitor thru early 1980 when I moved to NM. It felt like I was there every time the doors opened, but that’s not true. I saw so many wonderful shows–Jerry Lee Lewis on New Year’s Eve. Taj Mahal, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa, Van Morrison, Ravi Shankar… I rented the downstairs room of my house to drummer Jerry Barnett who worked some at the ‘Dillo and played with Shiva’s Headband.  Jerry was kind enough to get me in the door for free many, many times.

A boyfriend once broke up with me while the Dylan song “Ramona’ played on the PA in between stage sets of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. He said, “Oh by the way, I’ve asked Ramona to move in with me, so this is our last date.” It was a rather apropos lead in, don’t you think?

Me and my brand new baby boy 1974

If you want to read more, try Race Relations, which I wrote about 10 years ago and recently updated.

As it all fades, the gist of it is–I had a really good time with little or no regrets. Because what would be the point of regrets?

Feel free to leave comment of your memories.

 


July 2020–What already!

July 6, 2020

Time flies when you’re having fun. Or, evidently, even if you are NOT.

Week 17 of COVID-19 self-quarantine

Mind you, I’m not complaining, as the alternative to staying home and being healthy would be no fun at all.

In most of our states, positive cases of Covid-19 continue to increase, and there are still many fun-loving, don’t f**k with my personal liberty to have fun, wearing a mask isn’t fun, citizens out there helping ‘Rona’ spread her evil disease.

At least our complex pool is now open so I can do water exercises in the morning. My knees, which never bothered me when I regularly walked via treadmill, do not like walking on the pavement.

TIPS FOR SENIORS

Here are some tips for seniors-who like myself-are staying home for what might seem an eternity.

Complete at least three tasks a day that will feel like an accomplishment.

Examples are:

  • exercise– outside or in a pool if you can, at least 30 minutes a day #SilverSneakers Facebook page has some great exercise videos you can do in your living room.
  • minimize your possessions–give away, throw away enough stuff so you have at least one empty closet in your home. I know–what a concept!!
  • try a new recipe–something vegan or vegetarian if you don’t normally cook that way.
  • Eat some dark chocolate every day. Grab a handful and enjoy.

    My favorite chips

  • If you still keep paper (which I do some) clean out your file boxes. Reuse the blank backs as a note pad.
  • read a book in a different genre than usual–lots of free ebooks from your public library and other places
  •  deep clean your refrigerator–seriously, how often do you do this? It probably needs it
  • Keep a prayer list-meditate-or otherwise have a quiet moment
  • last, but not least–talk with someone every day–kids, grandkids,  friend, shout at a neighbor from the appropriate distance, or the mail person

Peace be with with you all. Stay healthy wear your masks.


Summer Solstice 2020

June 21, 2020

Week 14 of COVID-19 self-quarantine

Greetings of peace and renewal on Summer Solstice 2020. And what a year it’s been so far!

Six months of constant changes and challenges. Most of us are learning how to adjust to life in the pandemic era. And, it’s not over yet folks, so stay cautious.

‘Summer solstice occurs on the longest day of the year, usually on June 21. Although, the sun’s position remains in pretty much the same place for a few days either side. For Neolithic people, sunlight would have been crucial – for warmth for them and their animals and for helping their crops to grow!’

Last night, I watched a live video of the sun setting over Stonehenge. There’s also a live video of the sun rise. Both videos are posted on the English Heritage Facebook page.

I toasted to the sun with a glass of wine and a few tears as I tried to wrap my head around the immense history of the human race represented here. Sometimes I wonder what will become of us. We take three steps forward and two steps back. We destroy the natural world which was created to sustain us. Let’s do better!

 

June is the month of five birthdays in my family. I celebrated mine at my dog-sitting job. There was a pool and a lovely view—along with sweet, cuddly dogs. I call my overnights ‘sleeping with the dogs.’

 

So here’s to however many more weeks it takes for us to figure out how to ‘lower the curve’ of COVID-19 infections. We miss seeing the grandkids!


Race Relations 2020

May 30, 2020

Ten years ago, I wrote Race Relations about a piece of my life that is now 45 years in the past. This is the sequel.

I’m not black or brown. I’m pretty much a privileged white person. I was exposed to racism in my youth via the small Texas town where my grandparents lived. I never understood it. I was also privileged to live in Hawaii and be a part of a community rich with many different cultures. I’ve lived in mixed race communities most of my adult life. Not bragging, just saying.

Even though my parents traveled extensively, they never quite shook the racial prejudice they were brought up surrounded by. My mother was quite the  snob. Perhaps I am a bit of a snob myself, since I admittedly judge people by ‘stupid or not stupid’. I’m thankful my son and daughter also understand the worth of a human being is in their soul, not their skin color.

Right now I am feeling like I want to say ‘I’m sorry” every time I see one of my African-American neighbors walking their dogs or just out for exercise. How do I explain I’ve always been an inclusive person without seeming lame? How do they know I’ve been active in efforts to confront racism, inequality and social justice all my life? How do they know when I say hello and smile, I really mean it?

When people of color look at me what do they see? Are they judging me as a whitey, la huera or gringa or whatever other derogatory word for blond (now gray) privileged white woman there is going around?

I’m angry, I’m scared—not for me, but for anyone who is being discriminated against. Or, judged by their appearance. Or mistreated because it’s assume they deserve it for some stereotypical knee-jerk reasoning. Believe it, we are in a national crisis.

And, I’m sorry we all can’t act like decent, intelligent human beings.


How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Covid-19 quarantine.

April 9, 2020

As hubby and I mark our fourth week of isolation and social distancing, here’s a quick list of what I’ve learned so far.

  • I actually count the squares of toilet paper.
  • It’s not necessary to put on makeup if you’re not going out anywhere.
  • I can still crochet.
  • I had my first live, via the internet, doctor appointment re the rash on my eyelid. His recommendation for treatment is working well. Hubby talked to his doctors via Zoom. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.

I thought I was being so good by going to the gym frequently. But, I have to say the Silver Sneakers’ exercise videos are great. The yoga, core and conditioning workouts make me use muscles I had forgotten about. The link is to their Facebook page where they have videos and other helpful information.

Other thoughts. “Most Christians welcome death” says the mega church pastor planning on holding Easter Services. Not this gal! I gotta lot of living to do yet.

Our current administration and it’s leader DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE F**K THEY ARE DOING. Nor do they care about the general populace in any way. So you’re on you own.

Be kind to others and take care of yourself.

Our kitty–who has not changed or learned one damn thing.