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.


Waiting on tables

June 27, 2021

Last evening, the hubby and I went out for sushi at our favorite restaurant. I don’t know if it was my imagination or not, but it just felt different. There was a sign in the window that said Please be patient as were are short-handed and hiring. Inquiry inside. As pandemic restrictions loosen, less folks were masked up. The food, while still good, just didn’t seem the same. Our waitress was really trying, so I left a big tip because I still remember what it was like.

When I graduated from college in 1969 with a degree in Sociology, I moved to Austin and began looking for a job. I couldn’t really type, wasn’t a teacher or nurse, so I was shit out of luck. I interviewed at the telephone company. One of the questions was ‘are you married?’ I was not. Seems they didn’t hire unmarried women because then they get married and quit. I gave her a piece of my mind, which, of course, didn’t help convince her of anything.

I finally interviewed for a job waiting tables at the Rainbow Inn. It became a gathering place for Texas politicians and some celebrities too. Our uniforms were skirts that hit about mid-thigh and a low cut lacy top. Truthfully, myself and my co-workers were hit on all the time. I made lots more money than minimum wage which, no kidding, at that time was $1.34 an hour. I did learn bartending which proved an interesting skill to have.

So, is it waiting tables or wait on tables? Either is described as: to serve food and drinks to patrons in a restaurant or similar establishment, as of a waiter or waitress. Sort of the antithesis of the definition of the word ‘wait’ which is stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens; also stand by, delay hold back or hang fire. A bit oxymoronic if you ask me. But, I always wondered what hang fire meant.

I stayed there a few years until I was hired at a Denny’s. I was mentored in the best practices of coffee shop waitressing by Tootsie, a veteran of waiting on tables for many years. I learned to top off coffee cups, call men ‘darling’ and always work on holidays when we got slammed. Oh, yeah, I joined the bowling team. I worked in a Denny’s in Austin, Santa Fe, Phoenix and San Antonio. Waitressing worked for about 13 years, then it didn’t anymore.

Someone told me on Twitter “All big tippers go to heaven.” Remember that next time you go into a restaurant.


Easter Basket Brain Candy

April 4, 2021

Patti Smith begins singing her amazing “Gloria” with “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” Quite a thought on Easter morning, I guess.

I do believe Jesus lived and died for forgiveness. This week is a testament to forgiveness as we celebrate a reunion of my husband and his daughter who had been ‘estranged’ for somebody’s sins, but not mine. Her husband and our beautiful granddaughter are met with a feeling of increasing love as our family grows. Between the hubs and I, we now have seven grandchildren–I did not see that coming.

The last time we saw Linda was about 20 years ago, though we have been very close with her sister. The total soap opera storyline of how this all came about was based on perceptions. Forgive me for not giving details.

A forgiveness for all of us for not doing better. A forgiveness for hurting each other.

Easter brings forgiveness and hope going forward. That’s the message.


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.”