Still Waiting…

November 14, 2020

Lately we seem to be in a perpetual state of waiting. Kind of like living in a version the Samuel Beckett play “Waiting for Godot.” Unlike the play, there are millions of characters. Like the play, what we are waiting for ‘invites all kinds of social and political and religious interpretations.’

  • This week I’ve been waiting for: The election results to be confirmed.
  • For the current President (and I use that title loosely) to concede to the rightful winner.
    • Biden Harris
  • So many people to finally understand there is a deadly virus wrecking havoc and death on many people, institutions and healthcare facilities.
  • For my Social Security check to hit the bank
  • Things that did happen: I got all clear on two medical tests.
  • My sink got all new plumbing and the dishwasher works better than it ever did.
  • My friends and family all checked in well and safe.

Tip of the Day

Wear a Mask. The life you protect may be your own or a loved one.

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The past is past except when it isn’t

August 15, 2020

I’ve been asking myself lately, why, oh why, do I keeping thinking about things from my past–specifically from the 1960s and 70s? Especially, when I can’t remember what I ate for lunch or my neighbor’s last name?

I questioned does this happen to others and why? I Googled: why do older folks dream of the past?

Dreaming of the past and the world beyond

An article by Katy Waldman calls it the ‘reminiscence bump’. “The basic finding is this: We remember more events from late adolescence and early adulthood than from any other stage of our lives. This phenomenon is called the reminiscence bump.” A robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. It plays an outsize role in how we structure our expectations, stories, and memories.”  Voile! That makes sense to me.

Kate Morton, a truly resplendent author, says this about memories in her book The Clockmaker’s Daughter. “Human beings are curators. Each polishes his or her own favored memories, arranging them in order to create a narrative that pleases. Some events are repaired and buffed for display; others are deemed unworthy and cast aside, shelved below ground in the overflowing storeroom of the mind. There, with any luck, they are promptly forgotten. The process is not dishonest: it is the only way that people can live with themselves and the weight of their experiences.”

I reached a moment of clarity when reading her comparison of sentimentality to nostalgia to “Sentimentality is mawkish and cloying, where nostalgia is acute and aching. It describes yearning of the most profound kind: an awareness that time’s passage could not be stopped and there was no going back to reclaim a moment or a person or to do things differently.” However, as I have previously stated, I have no deep regrets and I hardly ever say “if I had only…”

So out of my head and on to the stars for a moment as I embraced the cosmos with one of my favorite persons on twitter Sarafina Nance, who goes by the handle @starstrickenSF she is an Astrophysics PhD, a stargazer and an eternal optimist.  She greeted today with an out-of-this-world observation about the universe

…some stars explode, their light as bright as entire galaxies, while others collapse in on themselves, stuffing all their mass into a tiny yet supermassive blip in space-time. Some stars are so massive, and their photons so many, that the stellar surface simply floats away, forcing the star to disintegrate others are so small, barely larger than Jupiter, that they live on for trillions of years, bearing witness to the cosmos in a way nothing else can. 

She has also said all of us will be stardust someday, how cool is that?

 

 


Slow dancing to COVID-19

August 6, 2020

Are we there yet?

This was a constant refrain on road trips when we were kids. Now in the 21st week of most folks’ isolation life we are asking “are we done, yet?” NO we are not done—not even close.

There are still lots of folks who deny there’s a very contagious disease out there. In a week or two, when some schools start up with in-school classes, we’ll see another wave of infections–this time in children, teens and adults. I can’t imagine the complexity of the question whether to attend school or not. That it is possibly a life threatening decision, makes it even more difficult.

I like this chart of suggestions, though some of these may be easier said than done. Alas, we are slow dancing this pandemic so we have time to work our way through.  Because it didn’t just disappear, it’s not going away, and, no, we are not there yet.


Sunday Morning

April 21, 2019

Back when my husband Richard and I first got together, our respective children were very young. My son JB was 11, his daughters Maria was 6 going on 7 and Linda was 5. Every weekend we were challenged to find free or cheap activities to keep them occupied.

It wasn’t too hard 35 years ago to rent videos from Blockbuster, go to a ‘free day’ museum visit or head across town to the $1 movies. In the summer we spent lots of time at the apartment pool. Somehow we got into the habit of every Sunday morning heading out to Friedrich Wilderness Park.

We’d pile into our little Ford Fiesta with a bag of snacks and take a hike. This was the days before IH10 had Fiesta Texas theme park, the Rim and a s**t-ton of other developments.  We’d usually take the medium level trail. JB and Maria ran around the course leaving Richard, Linda and I in the dust. But, that was OK. We’d meet at the bottom and have our picnic.

Sitting on top of the tallest part of the trail–in the shed which was home to hundreds of daddy-long-leg spiders–I’d proclaim “This is our Sunday church. We should contemplate the beauty and be thankful.”

This Spring, Richard and I have been taking Sunday strolls around the San Antonio Botanical Gardens 

These are some of the pictures from today’s nature church visit.

Read more about my ideas about what Church means to me.


Plastics–a small lesson about a humongous problem

August 6, 2018

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists somewhere.

“One word…Plastics” Anyone remember the 1967 movie “The Graduate?” I’ll never forget when Dustin Hoffman’s character Ben Braddock, cornered by a friend of his parents at his graduation party, was given that advice. Indeed at that time, plastics was a burgeoning industry.

Little did we know the pervasiveness of plastic would become a huge environmental concern–choking our oceans and landfills, even showing up in the seafood we eat.  “The miracle material has made modern life possible. But more than 40 percent of it is used just once…” states the recent articles “Planet or Plastic” in National Geographic.

Plastic waste takes from 10-1000 years to break down. Here’s a handy reference to how long it takes for all kinds of garbage to decompose–nothing short of generations for most everything we don’t reuse, repurpose or that actually gets recycled. When the planet dies it could very well be because it’s been buried in trash.

This year, when Plastic Free July rolled around, the hubby and I made a concerted effort to dramatically reduce our use of household plastic. Not that we hadn’t made efforts in the past several years, but sometimes plastic is unavoidable, even if it is not your choice.

In the picture are some of the good products that work for the ‘use less plastic’ efforts:

BeesWax Wraps covers bowls, wrap leftovers and is washable for reuse.  Wooden handled tooth brushes.  I think these reusable produce bags are terrific. All of these plastic alternatives are available on Amazon.com.

It took me a long time to find a refillable water bottle I liked. These from Target are great, sturdy and affordable.

Glass spray bottles (not plastic) are available from Grove Collective. Please visit their site for a growing list of natural cleaning, health, and personal care products. You can become a member and get free shipping. Their website is user friendly and you can ship gifts to other addresses.

Give it your best shot at using less plastic. Your Mother Earth will thank you!


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.


Moving Experiences

May 12, 2017

A recent conversation with a journalist friend and a couple of “moving” articles got me thinking. I have some mixed feelings about gentrification and the ‘forcing’ of people out of their homes and their comfort zones to make way for new development—whether it be private or government backed. I am not unsympathetic towards these persons’ situations. I am also not above being influenced by my own personal experiences of voluntary and involuntary home moves, both as a child and as an adult. Sometimes, these were good experiences, sometimes, not so much.

Having grown up an Army brat, I think I moved about 17 times before I even went to college. These moves were easy in a way as we always had housing options provided, moving companies to pack and ship all our belongings, and the places we went were good. Even if we were in the same town, we sometimes had to move from off-base to base housing. New schools, new friends, new environments. All these made me, and most likely all service brats, very resilient. Some I know even developed a wanderlust of sorts.

When I was in my twenties and living in Austin, I lived for almost 8 years in one of my favorite houses. That was my first experience of living more than about two years in the same place. I was so attached to that house I dream about it sometimes still. Though it has become distorted over the years.

When I was somewhat forced to come back to my parents’ home–from yet another city–due to an abusive situation,  I disliked San Antonio. It took some years to really feel like this is my home for good. I’ve been here almost half my life now, though I’ve moved domiciles about a dozen time.

Our House is a very fine house.

When my husband and I bought the house we are in now, he said, “It had better have a nice ceiling because that the last thing I want to see before I die.” Meaning he was sick and tired of packing, moving and the expenses it entailed. There still may be some moves in our future.  Probably not the ones either of us would like.

And, then I think of the millions of families in the Middle East and so many other places who are forced to leave their homes with practically nothing. They face starvation, disease, displacement camps, death. The girls and women are often beaten and raped. My heart goes out to them. And, I’m sorry the US is trying so hard to close its doors to refugees. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Perhaps, there is a better way to transition people who are being displaced in our city. I understand not everyone has the experience, knowledge or again, resilience, to handle being told, out of the blue, they have to move. Being more thoughtful about the process before and during, instead of just afterwards, might be a way to proceed.

Peace and Love Y’all


An elephant never forgets

August 24, 2016

According to Mental _Floss website, there is a great truth to the old adage “an elephant never forgets.” However, I seem to be more and more forgetful as time marches on, and my brain cells flicker and die a little at a time.

I missed World Elephant Day which fell on August 12 this year. I had a little story about this hand-carved elephant my dad brought me when he returned home in 1956 from a two year tour in Pakistan.

elephant carving

It came with two beautiful real ivory tusks. They fell out somewhere along our many family moves. I had over the years tried different types of materials to replacement the tusks. But nothing really looked or felt right. Ivory was not a option for ethical reasons. Also for a long time it’s been illegal to import elephant ivory into the US. And, on July 6, 2016, a new rule extended the ban to cover the sale of ivory that’s already in the US.

Then it dawned on me to leave them off as a reminder of the destruction of  thousands of elephants still being slaughtered for their ivory tusks.

Elephant numbers have dropped by 62% over the last decade, and they could be mostly extinct by the end of the next decade. An estimated 100 African elephants are killed each day by poachers seeking ivory, meat and body parts, leaving only 400,000 remaining.As of 2016, there are still more African elephants being killed for ivory than are being born. . . elephant populations continue to decline. World Elephant Day.

From Mother Nature Network:

1. Elephants around the world are disappearing. African elephants are classified as vulnerable to extinction, and Asian elephants are classified as endangered. There are only about 40,000-50,000 Asian elephants left in the world today.

2. Since 1950, African elephants have lost over 50 percent of their range. They once roamed the continent, but they are now relegated to a few small areas. Less than 20 percent of this remaining habitat is under formal protection, according to World Wildlife Fund.

3. Poachers killed 100,000 African elephants for their ivory from just 2010 to 2012, National Geographic reported last year. According to a study, roughly one of every 12 African elephants was killed by a poacher in 2011 alone. There were around 1.3 million African elephants alive in 1980. In 2012, there were only an estimated 420,000 to 690,000 elephants left.

4. Most poaching today is not done by poor farmers needing an income for their family. Instead, poaching is done by well-organized and well-funded criminal traffickers. The money gained from poaching and selling ivory funds wars and criminal organizations.

5. Elephants play an important ecological role, including creating trails that work as fire breaks during brush fires, fertilizing the soil with manure, digging holes that create access to water for other animals, and much more. Without elephants, ecosystems are thrown out of balance.

A 2014 article in National Geographic stated:

Ivory-seeking poachers have killed 100,000 African elephants in just three years, according to a new study that provides the first reliable continent-wide estimates of illegal kills. During 2011 alone, roughly one of every twelve African elephants was killed by a poacher.

In central Africa, the hardest-hit part of the continent, the regional elephant population has declined by 64 percent in a decade, a finding of the new study that supports another recent estimate developed from field surveys.  The demand for ivory, most notably in China and elsewhere in Asia, and the confusion caused by a one-time sale of confiscated ivory have helped keep black market prices high in Africa.

The morale of this story is to never forget the elephant and support legislation and those efforts to save these beautiful animals for our planet.


Healthy Eating Redux

May 29, 2016

First let me say, my mother was a superior cook. Every night she cooked a family meal and we all gathered around the kitchen table eating and talking. Many of our family favorites were from the Southern cooking repertoire she learned from her mother. Cornbread dressing, black eyed peas, pecan pie, tomato aspic, etc. She made the best fried chicken ever. So good that when she included a leftover piece in my lunch box the next day, it still tasted awesome. I remember she had a special container on the stove to strain the drippings from the breakfast bacon with which she used to flavor many of her dishes. What horror that sounds now, right? Her Red Velvet cake recipe is what the hubby uses to great raves.

chinese cook book

Lula Belle’s original Chinese cook book

Mom also made it a point to learn how to cook cultural food dishes from wherever we lived with Dad on his Army assignments. In Hawaii, she learned to cook Asian food including wontons and spring rolls and delicious rice dishes. When my dad was stationed in Pakistan, and we couldn’t go, she still learned how to create Pakistani dishes to serve my father when he got home so we could share the food culture.

Another component of my foodie upbringing was through my dad. Everywhere we lived, he had a garden. He loved tilling the dirt and learning the plants that would grow well in whatever climate we were in.

I specifically remember the garden in Hawaii. It was a rather large garden on a hill on one side of the house in which we lived while waiting for base housing. Much to his chagrin, there were many types of tiny beasties that will infect and eat your produce in that climate. While our native Hawaiian landlord gave him some advice, Dad managed to invent a tomato saver using my mom’s old stockings. The result of all this gardening is that we were privy to fresh seasonal veggies on the table most of our growing-up lives. He continued to garden until his last year on this earth.

When I began my life in Austin as a hippie babe, I too became a darn good gardener. In both homes I had there, I maintained a large, prolific garden. I grew squash, potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, beans (scarlet runner were my favorites) melons and more. Our resident neighborhood food guru, Clay, was already a vegan and among other dietary examples, fed his twin baby daughters almond milk after they got too big for nursing. We ate a lot of good fresh produce, turkey eggs, raw milk and other healthy foods. We shopped at Good Foods, the store which was actually the precursor to Whole Foods, and then at Whole Foods original store on Lamar Blvd. I made healthful cookies and other baked goods and stayed away from white sugar.

Somewhere along the way of life, I deterred from this path. Smallish incomes and three kids led the family to make the unhealthy mistakes many people in the same financial situation make—beans, potatoes, bread, pasta are cheap, fresh or organic produce not so much. If your teenager works at Church’s Chicken, you love the free leftovers every night.

Oh and did I mention I married a pastry chef? Most the weight I gained from this era is still with me.

Little by little I got back on the right path. I just started saying “no” to the pastry, cookie, cake stuff. I began eating gluten-free for my intestines’ sake and there went the pasta, crackers etc. The hubby and I shopped at Central Market for the great assortment of fresh and tasty produce.

Delivery produce box

For a year or so we had a weekly box of local, seasonal produce delivered to our door. It stretched our ideas of what exactly is eatable Yes! to beet greens and strange sprouts and big black radishes. We finally cancelled, feeling it was not economically in our favor to continue.

On our back patio, we created a small, but productive, container garden. We’ve had good luck with tomatoes, Japanese eggplant, peppers, chard, herbs and even okra. Plus, the house came with two tangerine trees that keep us in fresh tangerines for about 6 weeks every fall.

tomatoes

Container garden tomatoes

We tried shopping at some of the latest wave in ‘new’ farmer’s market offerings. I confess we slipped some.

What got me back on track is reading a non-fiction book by Barbara Kingsolver, a terrific fiction writer–Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The author and her family enter a life-changing adventure by moving full time to their farm in Virginia. They committed to eating only local, seasonal, organic, homegrown, homespun…well you get the idea. Albeit, they have a large growing area, already producing fruit and nut trees and a farming communityavm icon that grows, raises or makes all products which fit in the parameters of this foodie life. It’s an interesting and inspiring tale.

Granted, our budget is limited, but we are trying to eat better and cook with more healthy ingredients. So, it’s back to the farmers markets for us for fresh, local, seasonal produce, eggs and other products. Last week, I got some wonderful beets and blackberries. This week a sweet, sweet watermelon and a jar of honey. Semi-retirement is a boon for time to search for healthy, economical food options and hubby is excellent at cooking them into delicious, interesting dishes.

Garden eggplant, pepper, herbs stew/sauce

Garden eggplant, pepper, herbs stew/sauce

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A chard frittata with pear from CM