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.


Almost cut my hair

July 25, 2021

A small, Sunday history lesson: I lived the halcyon days of young adulthood in the sixties and seventies when letting your hair grow out provoked many a conflict–especially for the guys. This past year, I was reminded and inspired by this Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song and just let my hair grow. 

https://youtu

No longer under my mother’ thumb, I quit maintaining my shorter hair when I left home for college. But, I began wearing it short again in my mid-30’s. After retirement and during the past year and a half COVID pandemic, we have all have gone thru many changes–some good and some not so good. One thing I changed was to let go of regular hair cut appointments. I felt it was a freeing sort of decision. It certainly took a load off my limited income budget as well!

My dad, an Army Colonel, buzz cut my brother’s hair until he was in at least junior high. Four years younger than me, my brother was lured by the music and begun to follow his sister into the Hippie movement. By college, he was growing his hair out and never quit. Still, after a certain length, he cuts it for Locks of Love. An aside story… The night after our mother died I dreamed she said to me, “Tell Jack he doesn’t have to cut his hair for my funeral.”

A couple of pictures of us. One about middle age, and a more recent version. You can see his braid which ends past the middle of his back.


Freedom and Fireworks

July 4, 2021

On this particular July 4th 2021, I get a feeling that America is on shaky ground. Voting rights are being hobbled in many states. White supremist are becoming bolder. ‘Freedom fighters’ and faux patriots are ramping up their militia to do harm in many ways. Democracy is being challenged even in the halls of Congress where insurrectionists smeared feces on the walls during the January 6th invasion.

Meanwhile one-third of the population refuse to get inoculated against the COVID virus. Climate change is here to stay with extreme heat, cold and wet. Power grids are failing, buildings are collapsing and the ocean is on fire.

This is not negative b***s***, it’s the truth!

A friend of mine posted this Langston Hughes poem today. I read Langston Hughes way back in college in 1967. It’s hard hitting and poignant. Fits my mood today perfectly. Yes, it’s long. Just give yourself a minute of enlightenment and read it.

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

When the fireworks in your neighborhood wake you in the middle of the night tonight, say a prayer for our nation. Then decide what you can do to help make America be a place for the good of all it’s citizens.


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.


Facebook is not real life-or is it?

May 30, 2021

Have you ever seen a Facebook post where none of the little emoticons fit how it makes you feel? Or expresses the comments rolling around in your head? Of course you have!

A friend of mine posted this graphic today, and because it’s Sunday, my usual blog post writing day, I decided to comment.

Let’s see… not funny; angry doesn’t fit exactly. Not loving it for sure or even liking. Sad and caring, maybe. But it’s more like a fearful, disgusted and demoralized. Why aren’t there choices for ‘immediately sick to my soul’, ‘anxious and unsettled’?

What about this one? Texas lawmakers poised to pass sweeping voting bill to restrict voting hours and change election rules read more and tell me it’s not frightening .

Seriously, this poll… I tend to believe it could be true: 23 Percent of Republicans Agree ‘Satan-Worshipping Pedophiles’ Run Government only they are the Republicans.

Or this: I get rather tired of all the “investigations” “impeachments” that result in nothing except money wasted,,, Specifically, “attack on the capital on Jan 6”. what is the purpose of a “special commission investigation?” It was illegal trespassing with intent to destroy property and possibly harm individuals. AND then Pres Trump encouraged this….just like his still complaining that the election was “stolen” from him…..Reasonably intelligent people already know what was going on and is continuing to go on. To me it is just an excuse for political individuals and others to pontificate. Yup, I’m getting older and crankier. Look to the future and do things that actually can accomplish something. I.E. Situations of homeless peoples, care of homeless veterans and medical care of all veterans, attacks on specific groups, Jews Asians etc My personal opinion. You may state yours. I will not engage in arguing with anyone.

I don’t know this person IRL but I tend to agree with her and someone needed to say it.

All we can do is hope to live long enough to see these anti-democratic/racist movements (cults) cease and desist, and democracy–real equality for all–thrive. This has been my dream since I was about 12 years old and started understanding what was really going on.

In defense of Facebook, it has been helpful and sometimes entertaining to connect with friends and family, especially over the past year and a half. I’ve been fairly good at unfollowing or blocking the anti-anything folks. Plus, exercises you can do in bed from Silver Sneakers!

Have a good week!


Dreaming of the Rolling Stones

May 16, 2021

Have a little dream on me!

Last night, I dreamed of my geriatric self. I was one of several older folks, lying in a row of hospital beds on one of those long screened-in porches you sometimes see at rest homes. We were all watching TV, waiting for Mick Jagger to come on and perform. Well, it could happen! After all, Keith Richards is still alive and kicking, and still smoking cigarettes.

I was fortunate to be living in Austin during the heydays of the Vulcan Gas Company and Armadillo Word Headquarters. I personally knew some really great musicians during that time. But, I never saw the Rolling Stones live. I finally saw Joan Baez in person last year right before Covid-19 shut us all down. Some people got up and left when she got political on stage. I’m not sure what they were thinking if they didn’t expect that. She did sing my favorite song!

I watched this horribly cheesy movie last night about an alternate universe. When one of the heroes was asked ‘did he sign on to go thru the portal and fight?’ He said “Sure, I live my life half-assed and random.” My motto is ‘everything we’ve gone thru brings us to this point’. I also say I have no regrets, though I do own up to my mistakes.

What worries me now is what is going on with all the irrationally skewed, nonsensical information which seems to have originated thru the ‘looking glass.’ Like Alice we are trying to make sense of how about 40% of our population can be that stupid to believe all the unreliable news and down-right lying. This misinformation curdles the brain and makes it a mushy rancid organ. How can we get past it? Suggestions are welcome.

This post is all over the place, kind of like my rambling mind today. But that’s OK, at least I’m still here to write about it.


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.


Texas weather and other weird shit

February 17, 2021

Since Monday, weather in Texas has been really weird. It got really, really cold and snowy and wet and frozen. Then, it got worse. The electricity went out over most of the State. Not because of frozen windmills and the Green New Deal–which isn’t even really a thing, but because the State energy manager failed Management in a Crisis 101. Blame the State leaders who decided that our power management company should be separate and unregulated–which really means make money for the board, politicians and management and fuck the citizens.

In San Antonio where I live the power went off and on and off and on ad infinitum for several days. Then the water system, who must have felt left out, began losing pressure because of all the burst pipes and stopped or barely trickled. Now we’re boiling our drinking water–this is pretty much state-wide as well.

All this in the middle of a pandemic.

Oh, and did I mention the previous assault on the Capitol? Insurrectionists, anyone?

In my 73 years, I lived through a lot, but 2021 so far has taken the prize for weird shit happening.

On a good note, Rush Limbaugh died.

Also, plumbers and other tradespersons will make tons of money. Which, you know, is a good thing.

More weird shit: February 18. It’s actually snowing again!! Three inches and counting. We’ll be closed up for another two days.


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?