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.


And we all shine on

March 8, 2020

Last night I attended the 22nd annual Townes Van Zandt Memorial Tribute in Austin, Texas

I knew Townes back in the middle-hippie ages in Austin. He was one of the persons who gravitated repeatedly to Uncle Seymour Washington’s home in the Clarksville section of Austin in the 70’s. read more here.

Another legendary Austin musician Butch Hancock was the host of this intimate event of just over 100 folks.

I sat next to two fellas in their 30’s (?) from Alberta, Canada. They had come all the way to Austin, in spite of the scary Coronavirus, to hear more of Townes’ music in one of the cities he regularly played. My brother and I proceeded to give them anecdotes and sidebars regarding Townes and other shenanigans in the Vulcan Gas Company/Armadillo days. I swear those two beautiful Canadians said they were “pleased and honored to have met us.”

The rest of the story is another old love of mine was one of the story-telling singers. Wally Stopher aka Oat Willie surprised me. This post is dedicated to him:

Dear friend, I saw you last night, and you saw me. But it seems we didn’t recognize each other. I was there with my brother for Townes’ tribute. I heard you sing for the first time in 40+ years. God dang! We’re still alive and well. Much love to you and many memories.

Then on the way home I heard John Lennon with some apropos lyrics

Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do
It’s up to you, yeah you

 


Reading Patti Smith

January 21, 2020

“Age changes you in ways you least expect” I heard this quote in a movie last week, but can’t remember which one. I thought about it off and on for a few days with the conclusion that this is most certainly a true statement.

Sitting outside a coffee shop, reading Patti Smith’s book “My Train,” I became filled with a thoughtfulness regarding my life. Feeling like a cheap imitation of Smith, I start writing on a scrap piece of paper thoughts for a post.

I’ve always been aware of Patti Smith because of her music. Often called the “punk poet laureate,” Smith has an impressive musical repertoire which still influences many.

After reading “Just Kids” a few years ago, I became a huge fan of her literary mind as well. I am at the same time appreciative and envious of her experiences and courage to travel her many creative paths—all while keeping in mind the difficulties of her life which arrived uninvited.

From my 2013 Twitter: I wonder what compels me to constantly try to do things out of my comfort zone?

Was I courageous in the paths I took in my life? Did I travel to places I always wanted to see? Did I follow a risky decision to some sort of personal transcendent conclusion? Can I still call myself a life-long learner? Am I still willing to explore new things out of my comfort zone? Yes and No.

Yes. In the summer of 2018 the hubby and I took a 5K mile road trip—in our Ford Fiesta–up to Minnesota, down to Nebraska over to Colorado and across to New Mexico—stopping on the way to see family and friends. No. I vow never to do this again.

Yes. I still read fiction and non-fiction. I recently discovered Wired magazine which I admit to some of it being over my head, but I’m learning. No. I don’t finish books that don’t grab me in the first chapter or two.

Mom and me. She had me reading at a very young age.

My mother used to say ‘only boring people get bored.’ Though I often say to others I have no regrets in this life, I occasionally lament some of my mistakes. But my life was not and is not boring. May your life be the same.

Yes, I out of my comfort zone riding the tram in Telluride.

A younger me with my son who I raised as a single mother.


Aging: forgetting to remember

December 10, 2019

I’ve noticed the older I get, the more I have forgotten. I also think I misremember a good deal. Merriam Webster defines misremembering as “to remember incorrectly.” I think you’ll agree this seems a ubiquitous trait for any of us who have the opportunity to live into ‘old age.’

Last week, my brother, sister and I went on a road trip to attend the funeral service of our last aunt, our mother’s only sibling. It closed the door on that entire generation of our family from both sides. People we loved and grew up with. None of us cousins from either side are particularly close. And, some of us have already reached, or are nearing, whatever our expiration dates are.

The many conversations we had unearthed precious memories of our childhood into adulthood when our grandparents and parents were still with us. We commiserated the loss of them and held dear the love and the amazing upbringing they gave us. Each of us had different perspectives, but common memory roots.

As I age, I am apprehensive of loosing all the parts of me. It’s important to be able to share with friends and/or families those significant memories which shaped us and now hold us together.

Now, if I can just remember why I came in the kitchen.


You can’t take it with you

October 6, 2019

Lately, I’ve been reading articles about why and how to simplify your life.  Simply Magazine is one of the sources I was introduced to by a friend. “Even better, removing the physical clutter from our home lays a foundation that makes significant life changes possible. It encourages us to question assumptions and invites thoughtful consideration of all aspects of our lives.”  There’s also Becoming a Minimalist which states “Becoming Minimalist is designed to inspire others to pursue their greatest passions by owning fewer possessions.”

Because y’all know you or your parents have so much stuff that nobody wants I once wrote this vignette.

I always knew my son and his family would have no use for my precious mementos after I am gone. Bric-a-brac, knick-knacks, stuff! The furniture I inherited from my grandparents–a phone table with a little seat for comfortable chatting, the antique mantle. The beautiful set of china on which my mother served holiday dinners that shaped generations of family gatherings. I cherished these and many other family pieces passed down to me. But, who wants a framed, handmade baby christening gown?

My books are all going for a dollar. People are rummaging through my clothes, handbags and jewelry. A bowl full of sea shells or a scorched set of kitchen pans–not treasures for sure. The estate sellers are doing their job of clearing the house for sale. But, there’s no one there to tell the stories.

Many times I tried to tell the story behind the porcelain figurines. The ones in the glass cabinet that I stared at my whole life. My parents bought those beautiful little ballerinas, with their tutus of Dresden lace, in 1947 from a German family who had to sell their precious keepsakes to feed themselves.

But, how could that matter now? Surely someone will see their value and give them a good home, where they can be admired everyday as the beautiful works of art they are. After the good things go, it looks like the sad remnants of an inconsequential life. I hover over this scene, on my last pass through this world, the memories fade along with the disbursement of my possessions. And, now I surely know the truth of ‘you can’t take it with you.’


Waiting with Strangers

July 23, 2019

The older you get the more time you spend in doctors’ offices. Plus, because I volunteer for an organization that facilitates rides to medical appointments for seniors who cannot drive, I am sometimes left sitting in doctors’ offices for long periods of time.

Most waiting rooms are solemn places with ailing strangers crowded together at a sort of sad party that no one wanted to get invited to, but here we are.

There used to be loud television news or game shows to keep everyone occupied or annoyed. In the past several years, I noticed there were more of the ‘made for the doctor office’ healthy living themed programs. Still…

Today I took a client to a busy orthopedic physician’s office. No TV at all—yay! The room seemed the very ideal of diversity with patients, and those accompanying them, spanning a variety of ages and ethnicities. I wasn’t checking genders.

Instead of the usual stoic silence of strangers, everyone in the office was engaging with their neighbors. “What surgery did you have and how did it go?” “I like your fancy walker.” “Where did you get your hair done?” “What are you reading, is that an e-book?” I swear I’ve never heard such friendly conversations before in a waiting room.  And, the whole room turned over at least once while I was waiting, but the conversation mode stayed lit.

I found this delightful in lieu of all the divisive and unfriendly banter in the news and on social media. No one was telling anyone to go back to from whence they came, arguing politics or evangelizing—my own personal pet peeve.

While I was waiting for the client to finish her appointment, I had a good conversation with a gentleman, with painful knees, talking about the new opioid rules and regs that have put some folks at a disadvantage.  I shared with him the phone number of a nonprofit that could maybe hook him up with a ride instead of the usual city van service that took so long to pick him up when he is ready to go home.

It was all reaffirming somehow—that humans can really still be nice to each other. It gave me hope.

I still hate waiting though, nothing can cure that.

In San Antonio, you can volunteer with Northeast Senior Assistance (NESA) 


Tall girl tells shrinking tale

April 29, 2019

So, I measured my height the other day. I have to say it was a shocking and somewhat depressing revelation to find out I am now just 5’7” tall. Although most of us upon reaching the senior citizen stage of life, understand that we shrink in height as we age and our vertebrae compress, sometimes getting squeezed out altogether. But, in a way it made me feel somewhat diminished.

Why did I take it so hard, you ask? At the age of 14, I was a 5’10” gangly girl. Quite outstanding at that time, I was head and shoulders above, not only the other girls but most of the boys as well. Try finding a dance partner when the dudes would be staring right into your budding bosom. Skinny legs and all, I was mostly in angst over this tall development.

Some of the most frequent questions: “Do you play basketball?”  Well, no. You kind of have to be coordinated to do that. Did I wear high heel shoes ever? Uh, no! Did pantyhose ever fit me?  No again.

At 20years old attending college in San Marcos, TX

I managed to grow into being a tall woman and tallness became less an issue making way for many other issues. In fact, I am sorry to lose that youthful part of me. And, I’m sure those three damn inches went into my hips.


Our time as an illusion

March 30, 2018

Albert Einstein’s famous declaration “time is an illusion” is explained in his book Relativity. Einstein writes: Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent “now” objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence. ( read more) 

It’s hard to believe that my grandson Justin Carter was arrested for an alleged terroristic threat five years ago in Feb. 2013. To some of us, the years may seem to have gone fast. To Justin it was probably an eternity of waiting, his life on hold, unable to move in any direction–a stagnant place of worry and inaction. This week, a plea deal was made–thanks to his amazing lawyers–and Justin is a free man. He moved to Colorado with his dad where he ‘begins a new chapter’ of his life. (read for details of plea)

Justin also set up a GOFUNDME page to raise money to help him get started in his new life. He was unable to use the internet for five years, even to seek a job. He did work at a restaurant for minimum wage for the past few years.

In this week’s time that I spent reading, I immersed myself in New York’s Bohemian world of the late 60’s-early 70’s with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethrope in Smith’s amazing prose memoir “Just Kids.”  

In what seems like both a long time coming and a short time to get ready, we are in the real time of planning our big vacation trip to Minnesota during two weeks in May. Grandsons to see, one for the first time and their parents, we have been looking forward to this for months. 

As I approach my 71st birthday in June, time seems to have gone by rather quickly. I lie in bed some nights trying to remember events throughout my life, just for the sake of remembering.  As the implications of time swirl in a no particular order, I try to I keep in mind the biblical concept that “God’s time is the best time,” as I appreciate all the times past, present and future.


Thanksgiving Remembrances

November 19, 2017

Lately, when I’m lying in bed waiting for sleep to come, I’ve try to remember pieces of my life–those memories I hold dear. Sometimes the unpleasant peeks around the corners of my mind trying to creep me out. But, all in all, it’s an exercise in remembering—about family, friends, great experiences, things I’ve done, places I’ve been…

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I dusted off the cobwebs surrounding holidays past and started thinking about the dinners I used to have with my family. It’s not possible to tell a lifetime of Thanksgiving stories in a small space. Even so, I can’t remember everything. And, on top of that, you just kind of had to be there to appreciate the traditions, the relationship with all their good and bad parts and the ubiquitous family jokes.

When I was a child, depending on where we were living, my family drove to Texas for Thanksgiving to eat dinner with my maternal grandparents. My aunt and her family would come as well. My Uncle John was the family comedian—albeit most of his jokes were somewhat abusive, racist or at someone else’s expense.  My favorite foods were (and still are) my grandmother’s and subsequently my mother’s Southern cornbread stuffing and pecan pie.

A succession of family dinners continued throughout the years. Participants and places varied, but the tone stayed relatively (pun) the same throughout the years. That is up until my parents were no longer in the picture. It never felt the same after that. My aunt and uncle and their kids were pretty much happy to get rid of the obligation of our company. My siblings and I had families of our own. Many variations of Thanksgiving happened.

My family in the mid-80’s L-R Dad, Mom brother Jack, me, sister Louise, her (then) hubby Steve and my son Jack Berry

Several years when I lived in Austin, and was eschewing my parents’ traditions, my young son and I had Thanksgiving at Uncle Seymour’s with the neighborhood hippies and others. I previously wrote a little story about those times.

One trip I did remember makes me laugh every time I think about it: My brother drove me, my adult son and teenage daughter to have dinner with our sister and her family of much younger children. All the way down to Houston from San Antonio, we talked in an exaggerated Southern drawl. I don’t know why, but it was hilarious. When we got down to my sister’s house, they all looked at us like we had gone crazy. Ah, but what fun we had.

Or the time we drove to my sister’s and I got horrible diarrhea on the way back and had to stop at every gas station, and even construction portable potty, on the way home. Yeah, sorry, but that was an unforgettable trip and the last one down there, I think.

And more recently, the year hubby had a major seizure the day before Thanksgiving and was in a coma. I had to hand off the turkey to my son for cooking and I scrambled to fix everything else. I was very moved when my totally unreligious grandchildren prayed for their G-pa before the meal.

This year, it’s just the two of us. We have family in Colorado, Austin, and the frozen north of Minnesota. My brother and wife are going to Wimberly. The sis is still in Houston. It’s all good!

So, whatever your Thanksgiving looks like, I hope it is pleasant, tasty and memorable.

 

 

 

 


Cataract Surgery for Dummies

September 8, 2017

Disclaimer: Personal experience, certified patient only.

Getting older has its foibles and its perks. Part of the aging process that affects most of us is development of cataracts-a clouding of the eye’s natural lens which becomes progressively opaque. Science and technology have advanced the removal and replacement of the lens to a great degree over the past several decades.

Cataracts typically develop over a couple of years’ time. When mine became thick enough to remove, I was definitely having difficulty seeing. When it got to the point where I couldn’t read road signs, I finally admitted I needed to have surgery. Even then, I obsessed over the “surgery” part and put it off for a few more months.

My eye physician Dr. Pittard and all his staff are excellent, efficient and helpful. By their ages I would guess none of them has undergone the procedure themselves. But they do have feedback of the experience from probably thousands of patients who have gotten their cataracts removed at their facilities.

When you have cataract surgery, they replace the thickened, cloudy lens in your eyes (first one and then the other a few weeks later). It puts your eyes on auto-correct. Near sighted to far sighted. Which means if you have been wearing glasses to see far, but can see up close, the opposite is now the case.  And, you may or not need reading glasses—which can be prescription or over-the-counter. In my case, I also have astigmatism, which is not auto-corrected. I chose to pay the extra money (because most insurances will not cover the expense) for a toric lens which will correct most degrees of–but not all– astigmatism.

Finally, after the lenses on both eyes are done, I tell family and friends I feel like I have bionic vision. Not the real bionic kind of course, but from a person who has been wearing glasses since the age of six and has always had fuzzy vision (even up close) it seemed pretty amazing to me.

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Me and hubby in New Mexico

Couple of things:No one can tell you exactly how you will experience the operation or afterwards. Each eye may react in different ways. i.e. my right eye seemed less scratchy feeling after surgery than the left.

It was relatively painless. I didn’t even have to take off my clothes except for my shirt and shoes. There was a gown, a quick IV, some med history taken and instructions for after surgery. Weird visual effects during the 10-minute procedure reminded me of the old light shows at the Vulcan Gas Company back the sixties.

The time in between surgeries can be a bit weird. Wearing your old glasses with the fixed eye lens popped out is strange. In my case, I was unable to do even that and went for three weeks with great vision in one eye and fuzzy in the other—annoyed, disconcerting, but doable.

I almost forgot to say, be prepared to now see all the dirt, dust and stains you missed when cleaning with cataracts.

Also, people have say I look younger in my new glasses, an unexpected but welcome side-effect. I do wear glasses (much less thick lenses) some of the time, especially if I am driving because the toric lenses didn’t correct all the astigmatism–not uncommon if your astigmatism was severe.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I can only tell you my experience, but if it helps…