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?


Count Down

October 9, 2020

I woke up this morning from a recurring nightmare of mine–not being able to remember a phone number I desperately need to dial. I’ve often had this dream even before it happened in real life when my mother died and I was unable to remember how to call my brother or sister.

The first telephone numbers were four numbers, then they had letters and numbers. Now, where I live, one has to type in the area code and a seven digit number. Therefore, I store all phone numbers in my phone ’cause there’s no chance at all that I can remember anyone’s number.

It’s going on seven months of isolation for the hubby and me due to COVID-19. Every day I try to spend one hour doing some kind of exercising. I usually watch about three hours streaming shows on my TV. Approximately four hours are frittered away on the computer (or phone), and or reading a book. I’ve lost five pounds (hooray).

You’d think I’d be bored, but time seems to fly, and pretty soon it’s drink:30 and I have a cocktail with dinner.

I passed my 73rd birthday and it’s been a year and a half since I’ve seen my family living in Colorado and two years since I’ve seen the family with young grand-kiddies in Minnesota. We spent $1K replacing a toilet. (boo)

It’s 25 days to November 3. It’s been only nine days since the faux president caught the very real COVID-19 virus. No amount of denying makes that any less true.

If you value your life and the lives of your fellow Americans vote for the Democrats on the ballot either early, absentee or in person.


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.


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.


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.


Holidays, Tangerines and Politics

November 25, 2018
I hope y’all had a swell Thanksgiving with your respective families. From what I’ve been seeing Christmas season began in October now, with decorations going up in the shopping centers and streets right before Halloween.

 

The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. I’m no fan of all the commercialization. However, I realize what I think matters not a whit.  More on Christmas economic facts if you are interested.

The hubby and I were on our own for Turkey Day but were in touch with all our relatives via the wonders of modern technology. We watched the Minnesota daughter and family put up their Christmas tree via live chat. I’m wondering if it will survive the two small boys and very large puppy until the 25th.

 

The kitchen was sticky for a week as Richard worked on juicing 6 gallons of tangerines from our two trees in our back courtyard. We also ate plenty and had multiple bags of gift fruit. (there were a few grapefruit and oranges as well)

 

Still busy with work both paid and unpaid. But, always make time for reading and live streaming on the telly.

 

I save quotes from books via my Kindle. Here’s one from Varina, by Charles Frazier. She was the wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States. V had a very adventurous and long life. This quote seems to explain not only our history but our present politics as well.

 

“Take a king or a president or anybody. Put a heavy sack of gold in one hand and a feather-light declaration about freedom in the other. And then an outlaw sticks a pistol in his face and says give me one or the other. Every time —ten out of ten—he’ll hug the sack and throw away the ideals. Because the sack’s what’s behind the ideals, like the foundation under a building. And that’s how freedom and chains and a whipping post can live alongside each other comfortably.”

 

I leave you with a quote from The Oregon Trail by Buck Rinker for whatever path you are on, whatever your passion is.

“Crazyass passion is the staple of life and persistence its nourishing force. Without them, you cannot cross the trail.”


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.

 

 

 

 


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


Serpentine Roads and Starry Skies

September 25, 2016

Our recent trip to Colorado and New Mexico was full of adventure–which I highly recommend, at any age, to stimulate your brain and keep your juices flowing.20160916_143101

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Driving up to Colorado through New Mexico, we were treated to a variety of big and beautiful landscapes. I saw parts of NM I’d never seen before.

Colorado proved to be breathtaking in many ways. Holy cow, the Colorado mountain roads are crazy twisted. Mountains on one side and bottomless valleys on the other, but if you are driving you can hardly take your eyes off the road to look. Highway 141 into Norwood had a 7% grade downhill for eight miles!

Farms and pastures, bright green Cedar and Pine trees, golden Aspens, running rivers and the Blue Mesa reservoir–just some of what Colorado is made of.20160919_093807

In Norwood, granddaughter Eve, her mom Jennifer and I had a wonderful time together at the farmer’s market and talking about our favorite TV shows like Buffy and Farscape. Eve told me all about her high school, total enrollment about 90.

Norwood’s few restaurants served excellent food and they all offered gluten free choices. We had lively family meals every evening. My son drove us down “Norwood Hill” and we all got out and took pictures.20160918_105536

In New Mexico we visited long-time friends Melissa and Henry and their neighbor who I also knew from college. We three ‘gals’ yakked up a storm leaving the guys without a chance to get a word in edge-wise.

Drinking in high places: Henry made delicious margaritas that included a splash of brandy. I had two. Spinning around looking up at the starry, starry sky, my head was buzzing like a beehive all night.

We brought home yummy tomatoes and squash from Melissa’s garden.
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