Serious questions and other stuff

May 7, 2020

What’s going on in your brain these days? Here are a few things that keep me up at night.

Cool tips for toilet paper roll art.

What was the deal with the run on toilet paper? Some of us have issues with tissues and were a bit concerned, and relieved when all the panic buying leveled out. I still count the squares and try to be conservative just in case.

Now meat production is in the COVID cross-hairs as workers are falling ill at an alarming rate.

Where has God been hiding thru all this–what’s the purpose–are we being punished? I get my free range faith from a number of sources including my parents and the nuns with whom I worked for 20+ years. It’s been 18 years since I set foot in a church. I’m ok with that. I go to church in my mind and I pray often. My daughter in law is a Pagan–which is a reverence for the natural world. She wrote this on her Facebook page and I concur. “I believe in the power of prayer no matter the faith. Prayer with good intentions to The Divine, by whatever name, is powerful and exponential.”

Why are there so many stupid people? A friend of mine asked me what makes some people so stupid? The question was a reference to the folks who still believe COVID-19 is a ‘fake news hoax’ and/or maybe having to wear a mask and practice social distancing is a violation of their rights. Welp! that’s a complicated question. Nature vs Nurture kind of question. Scientists and sociologists have studies and theories galore. It’s just life. Everyone is a unique mixture of their genetics, upbringing and culture.

“Life’s lessons can take many forms and present us with many challenges. There are scores of mundane lessons that help us learn to navigate with grace, poise, and tolerance in this world. And there are those once-in-a-lifetime lessons that touch us so deeply that they change the course of our lives. The latter can be heartrending, and we may wander through life as unwilling students for a time. But the quality of our lives is based almost entirely on what we derive from our experiences.” (Daily Om) “And to our ability to respond positively to change.” (me) as I ascribe  to this statement from Charles Darwin.

What would we have done without the internet and steaming entertainment? I’ve been streaming and binge watching thru several platforms for about 8 years now. We cut the cable early and never looked back. I read Netflix had 16 million new subscribers in March alone. There was marvelous and quick adaptation of online learning from school districts and teachers all over the country through technology. Too many businesses to count found out really quickly that it was either embrace the online presence or not survive.

I see on Facebook and other social media all the clever ways people have made do with alternate resources. Heck, most of the masks people are wearing come from enterprising individuals who answered a call. All of these things represent adaption to change in a good way.  Oh yeah, let’s add food and wine delivery services to the awesome adaptation list.

Adapting the cocktail hour–in the town-home alley with neighbors

Adapting well and staying healthy might just be my new motto.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Standing on Sinking Sand

May 3, 2020

Pandemic week seven, or maybe eight–but who’s counting.

Even though there is a push to reopen ‘Merica, we are still staying home and wearing masks when going on our weekly shopping trips. The San Antonio community has generally been complying and following the guidelines to continue social distancing.

This week I read “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope” a book from Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. (Both who I have seen in person!)

If you think we are still the greatest country, I’ve got news for you. We ain’t–not even close. One thing the pandemic has done is highlight “the state of our disunion.” (Tara Westover)

“For starters, America doesn’t adequately invest in children, whose potential so often goes unfulfilled. One reflection of the state of the American dream: 76 percent of adults expect their children’s lives to be worse than their own. The World Bank Human Capital Project estimates that American children reach only 76 percent of their potential because of inequality and shortcomings in our health and education systems. That gives the United States a ranking of 24 out of 157 countries, in line with its score on the Social Progress Index. Many other countries, even much poorer ones, do better.”

Another quote: “The United States has chosen policies over the last half century that have resulted in higher levels of homelessness, overdose deaths, crime and inequality—and now it’s time to make a different choice.”

My question is-but will we make different choices?  We’d better or you can kiss your red, white and blue ass goodbye.

On the other hand…

The hubby and I watched about six hours of “The Call to Unite” live stream. It was full of beautiful people from all over the globe with hopeful, helpful, interesting and entertaining messages. We both got so saturated with emotions we had to turn it off. Now they’re posting some of the pieces on their website and Facebook page

So two sides to reconcile. Do we despair and throw up our hands? Or do we work to make things better thru all this time?  What will it look like on the other side of Covid-19? I don’t think we can count on anything just yet. The only thing I know for sure is it’s going to be what ever we make it.

Meanwhile.


Uncertainty is the new normal

April 20, 2020

It’s week six for us doing the ‘COVID-19 isolation rag’

I seem to be less anxious than I thought I might get. But, in all honesty, we are not in any of the tenuous–even scary–situations that many in our community or others around the country may be experiencing.

Fully retired, we have our Social Security money and small savings. We have a very affordable Medicare Advantage plan, and are so far in good health. We have our little house, transportation and other things that might have all been taken for granted until the pandemic got a hold of our country.

I read a very good article from Jon Pavlovitz which I think you (whoever you are) need to read.

      

Because uncertainty is the new normal. This all could have gone a much better way, but it did not. What we are left with has changed us individually and as a country and will continue to change us for years ahead.  Hopefully in many ways  we’ll grow, learn and be better to each other. I’m seeing it already, are you?

Let me know how you’re doing!

 


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.


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.


First Love

August 20, 2019

Let me tell you about George Smith. This innocuously named young man was my first true love.  We had beginning that could have been in a romance movie screenplay. I was a freshman at Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos in 1965, living in a dorm directly across from the student union. Many of the 500 students were from rural or smaller towns all over the State. The girls came to earn a teaching or nursing degree. Most of the dudes were ‘shit-kickers’ studying agriculture. There were some theater people and a few others, like me, studying sociology, the sciences or liberal arts.

During the first week of class, I was sitting in the student union with a group of girls when someone handed me a folded note. It read “Can you meet me tomorrow at 4pm by Old Main?” I looked up to see who might have passed that note to me. I locked eyes with a most appealing young man. He had shaggy brown hair, a mustache and goatee, and was dressed beatnik-like with a tan corduroy jacket and ‘desert boots’. Love at first sight! He was out of character with 99% of the student body at good ole SWTSU and that intrigued me.

We met the next afternoon and for many afternoons and evenings after that. George told me I was intelligent and set about giving me ‘lessons’ on the world’s best books to read, science and political theories, music, movies… We drank coffee in the evenings at the truck stop where we talked until I had to be back in the dorm at 9pm. He took me to Austin to meet his SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) friends and for a weekend at his grandparents abandoned farm house. I was mesmerized and in love.

I spent the summer break reading Kafka, Camus, Dostoevsky, and letters of love and devotion from George. When the next college year finally began, George met me to say he was not returning. He had met someone in Austin. He asked me to marry him and have children hinting that if I didn’t, he would with this girl.  I never regretted saying ‘no.’ After all, hadn’t he told me I should learn and experience everything I could?

I believe your first true love is your best love. I’ll never forget him though we lost touch, or the way he encouraged me to think and explore my capabilities. That was not a thing women got from men back then. I’m sure my life has been much richer because of his influence.


A letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 21, 2019

Dear Dr. King,

The day you were assassinated I was on the campus of Prairie View A&M, which in 1968 was still an all-black college located just west of Houston, Texas. I was in a group of white students participating in an ‘exchange program’ in collaboration with the college I was attending.

In those days, Southwest Texas State College students mostly came from small Texas towns. The guys were shit-kickers i.e. studying agriculture; the women aspiring to become teachers, nurses and wives. There were no African Americans on campus. There was one beatnik who became my boyfriend–but that’s another story.

Dr. Clyde Bullion, our very liberal and a tad kooky sociology professor, spent several years opening minds and hearts, encouraging everyone to embrace racial and social justice. He held the first class on Black History and introduced us to African American writers and poets.  Bullion would stand on his desk and holler out readings from Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Dubois. Quite impressive–even though Bullion was white. We thought the visit to Prairie View made perfect sense for us.

During our two day visit, we were treated respectfully by the students and staff of the college. We attended classes, plays and social events. I remember sitting with a group of black students in an off-campus bar and asking, rather naively, the question surely stolen from me by Rodney King (whose beating and related consequences are attributed to the 1992 Los Angeles race riots) “I don’t know why we all can’t just get along?” Later, stunned and disheartened to the core to hear you were assassinated, we visitors were immediately sent home to “avoid any problems.”

I think you would agree, it seemed to have gotten much better. We even elected our first black president! Then, sadly, we are reminded of how deeply racism runs in our country with shootings of unarmed black children and men. #blacklivesmatter, the statistics regarding racial profiling by the police, voter repression tactics in some states, and the appalling racist behaviors of some citizens toward our very own President Obama. These incidences have us facing realities we may not wish to admit.

The statistics also prove inequality still exists.  Here are a few stats from Black Demographics website.

Blacks make up 14.1% of the population in the US.

Percentage in poverty: Blacks 24.2%           All races 11.8%

Percentage in poverty under 18: Blacks 39.6%      All races 22.6% (Appalling so many children of any ‘color’ are living in poverty.)

Graduation rate: Blacks 63.6%              All races 80.6% (Which seems rather low as a whole.)

According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African Americans constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population, and have nearly six times the rate of whites.

Black Median Household income: $33,460

(all races $50,502)

All Black Workers 2012 weekly earnings:$606

(all races $765)

Black Men weekly earnings: $633

(White men $854)

Black Women weekly earnings: $590

(White women $712)

MLK-2014-2

So, Dr. King, there seems still much work to be done. Annually, on a federally instituted day to celebrate you, people in cities around the US march to keep your spirit and desire for social justice alive.  I still hope someday we can all get along.

Peace and love y’all,

Laura

Right here in San Antonio, we have one of the largest marches of any city. For more information on this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day San Antonio March, click here, or find one in your city.


My Encyclopedic Beginning

May 30, 2018

Evidently, I was still a very young child when my mother introduced me to books, setting me on a life-long safari of endless reading adventures.

Lazing in the pool soaking up sun always sets my mind to wandering. Yesterday I was reminiscing about how when I was about seven years old my parents bought a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. It was a big dollar investment in those days (1954). I remember the salesman talking about an installment plan. It was also a big load of books for an ‘always on the move’ Army family.

I started with the first letter of the alphabet  and, over time, worked my way through XYZ. I finished up as I turned 11. It was glorious journey. My siblings were younger, but the books grew up with them as well.

Ben Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  I’m so glad my parents invested in our knowledge in this way.  

Of course, there is now a very different set of Encyclopedia Britannica online which is just one of the places I go for information. It’s worth checking out.


Of Coffee and Jellies

April 23, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the annual San Antonio Public Library’s Book Festival. Out of a good many speakers, I chose to hear Juli Berwald the author of Spineless–the science of Jellyfish and the art of growing a backbone. She was very good–entertaining and well-versed in jellyfish. So now I am about half way through the book. The hubby is reading it as well. Who would have thunk it! Jellyfish are quite the animal! I’m looking up Jellyfish documentaries on Netflix asap.

I recently read The Monk of Mokha a tale of Yemen, coffee and a tenaciously motivated young man who resurrectes the coffee trade in Yemen. If you think this would be a bland read, guess again. It’s as rich as Yemeni coffee itself. And, there’s the volatile, multi-leg journey racing across Yemen–as it turns into a war zone–carrying his coffee samples to the conference that will make or break his multi-year efforts. Dave Eggers is the author and he never disappoints.

The newest book from Yan Martel, author of Life of Pi, is The High Mountains of Portugal. Three seemingly different tales weaving together with a slightly surreal tinge. Parts of it seems to go on a bit, but stick with it for a fine reading experience.

I dearly love British crime/mysteries whether they be books, TV shows or movies. Author Alex Marwood was recently recommended by Stephen King on Twitter. I figured her books were damn good if he recommended them. The Wicked Girls and The Darkest Secret are psychological thrillers hard to put down till you get to the end. And, as the Brits might say ‘bloody good characters’ as well.

Get a book or three this week and happy reading.


Last week’s mind expanding info

March 1, 2018

A couple of things I learned last week:

Some veggies, like carrots and spinach, are healthier cooked than raw–from Prevention Magazine

I also found that frozen, cooked spinach is very inexpensive and great to add to soup, rice, casseroles…the opportunities to go green in your diet are endless.

The Black Panther movie was very good, determined by the fact that I thought about it quite a lot afterward–one of my ways of judging a movie or TV series. Also, the women characters in the movie kick-butt.

Emma Gonzalez kicks-butt and my hope for a new generation of smart leaders is renewed. For undoubtedly Emma and her fellow students activists are those leaders. She also has more Twitter followers than the NRA. Yay!

Donald Trump is still lying every time he opens his mouth and he still doesn’t understand how the government functions.