Spring has sprung in San Antonio. All the trees are leafing out, and making those dastardly pollen squiggles. Folks are planting their gardens and landscaping plants. Here’s a good article about eco-friendly gardening if you’re interested.
Are you still doom scrolling Twitter, Facebook and all the other platforms? Yeah, me too. But, I’ve tried to be more selective. Heather Cox Richardson has a daily news letter in which she dissects one or several current news topics and explains what’s it all means–especially as it related to history. She cites her sources as well.
Technology is great except when it isn’t. My husband and I were gifted Echo Dots and smart lightbulbs. I get it all set up with two lights in his bedroom, one in mine and two in the living room. These damn lights went off and on like a calliope, not just when you asked it to. All the lights would come on in the middle of the night when the hubs snores too loudly or coughs–also if he farts. I kid you not. So I playing light police and asking Alexa to turn the errant bulbs on or off many times a day.
Our daughter in Minnesota generously sends us all kinds of coffees from Ron’s Warehouse in Alexandria. When she sent this one I laughed out loud. I messaged her and said we weren’t going to try this. “Oh I drink it, it’s good” I explained about coffee enemas and she replied, “Oh my god, I’ve been drinking butt coffee.” Well, I thought that was funny.
Every February since 1976, Americans have been celebrating Black History Month. Black History Month is an extension of Negro History Week created in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Rev. Jesse E. Moorland to make all of us aware of the significant contributions of black people to our country and the world.
Way back in 1967, I took a sociology course entitled Black History. I was attending, what was then, Southwest Texas State College in San Marcos. It was a shit-kicker and future teachers school, so just the name of the class got the campus all lathered-up. The slightly-nutty professor–sometimes standing on his desk to make a point–opened our eyes, and minds, regarding black people in America. Included were black authors who brought forth their experiences as individuals and as a people. So to help celebrate Black History Month, I’d like to recommend a few books I was introduced to in that class.
Go Tell it on the Mountain A short, but powerful book, written by James Baldwin, a prominent voice in the civil rights movement. His partially auto-biographical novel echoes the struggles of the soul blended with the social struggles of being black in America. He expresses the role of the Christian church in the black community as both repressive and hypocritical.
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin So, Griffin, disguised as a ‘Negro’–he actually darkened his skin through medical treatment–traveled in the segregated South and journaled his observations. Even though I thought I knew the injustices perpetrated on racial minorities, this book took me to the depths of the crushing world of racism as Griffin aptly describes how he becomes filled with hopelessness and despair after only a few weeks of living as a black man.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Hailey). Malcolm X was big back then another rallying point in the civil right movement. His conversion to Nation of Islam, and association with leader Elijah Muhammad, directed his preaching the radical and controversial concepts of black pride and social justice.
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois Manning Marable says about this particularly intellectual book, yet moving book, “Few books make history and fewer still become foundational texts for the movements and struggles of an entire people. The Souls of Black Folk occupies this rare position. It helped to create the intellectual argument for the black freedom struggle in the twentieth century.”
And, most of all the poems of Langston Hughes. Sadly, this poem is still relevant today. We have not evolved much and even seem to be going backwards as a society and country.
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. –excerpt from Let America be America again.
So, why are these books important? Because they provide evidence to the racist attitudes and practices that are our history. In a recent study from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, it seems the Texas State Board of Education is trying to erase the reality about segregation from the standard history/social studies curriculum at public schools. “Incredibly, segregation is not even mentioned except in a passing reference to the 1948 integration of the armed forces,” the study states. Even though we think “we’ve come a long way, baby” there is still work to be done to ensure everyone is treated as belonging to the same race–the human race.
“Always look for another point of view, always learn from people not like you.” Hey, I said that!
When is it too late to say “Happy New Year”? My personal opinion is it’s appropriate all through January, then it becomes tiresome. Also, we forgot our black-eyed peas. I hope that does not forecast a calamitous year.
However… things aren’t looking too good in the USA right now. Most days, I open up Facebook, Twitter or news sites and go WTF!
At my age, it’s hard to face the reality of our possible demise. My generation spent so much time and energy trying to create a place of equal opportunity for all genders, ethnicities, ages et. al. and for education, housing, healthcare, civil rights…
And, the saddest thing to me was when I told a group of 30-40ish women that ‘I was just an old hippie’ and that’s where my values and attitudes were born and raised, they just gave me a blank, puzzled stare. Suddenly, I felt my age a bit more.
Our poor planet! Katharine Hayhoe’s TED Talk addresses the issue of climate change. Her message “the most important thing you can do is just talk about it,” makes this talk essential viewing.
If you want to escape reality for a while, my suggestion, if you like science fiction, is to watch all five seasons of “The Expanse” on Amazon Prime. The sixth and last season is airing now. Best stuff out there! I confess to watching it three times–’cause I’m old and my mind wanders.
2021 should have been better. Instead, it propelled our lives thru loop de loops, ups and downs.
January began in fine San Antonio tradition, with a plethora of fireworks in every neighborhood. Though illegal within city limits, that never stops anyone from lighting up the sky with bottle rockets and gunfire.
In the same skyward excitement in December 2021, the James Wolf Space Telescope went into space and beyond. Not science fiction, but real-life science. One of my twitter friends @starstrickenSF tweeted “Lift off. Let’s go! 13 billion years back in time to the edge of the universe.”
This so much better than the “let’s go Brandon” brouhaha which is some kind of lame attempt to say ‘F**K Joe Biden. This comes from the same type of idiots who refuse to get vaccinated (non-scientific); participated as traitors and insurrectionists in an assault on the Capitol on January 2021. Oh, yes and let’s not forget the book culling and rioting at school board meetings throughout the year.
Speaking of the outer space… keeping us entertained is the best sci-fi show, maybe ever. In anticipation of the last and best season. the hubby and I watched all episodes and are now waiting eagerly for the last three episodes of season six.
All I have to say to the Evangelicals at this point is “Jesus ain’t say that”. In case you have any doubts here is a Christmas card from Republican Congressman Thomas Massie and his family.
The CDC offered a whiplashing amount of guidelines for every new variant i.e. Delta and Omicron The world became hopeful with every positive statistic on new vaccines and downward infection trends, we went crashing down with mega-growth of spreads. Congress had its ups and downs as well. P.S. Democrats are the ups and Republicans are the downs.
‘A few weeks into the pandemic, some people even began to use the word “apocalyptic” to describe what was taking place. Often, this word is used to scare people into some kind of fearful, exclusive, or reactionary behavior, all in expectation of the “end times.” But the word “apocalyptic,” from the Greek apokálupsis, really just means “unveiling.” ‘ said Father Richard Rohr
Such glorious words which meant for us an unveiling of sorts. A reuniting with a daughter and her family in April was probably the year’s highlight! A misunderstanding had kept us apart for way too long. I did write about it. Between outbreaks, we actually got a group vacation!
To add to that Susie Dent, a lexicographer and etymologist shared this. ‘ “Respair” has just one record next to it in the Oxford English Dictionary, from 1525, but its definition is sublime. Respair is fresh hope; a recovery from despair. May 2022 finally be its moment. to add to that. Her latest book is Word Perfect: Etymological Entertainment for Every Day of the Year.”
“Do your little bit of good where you are; Its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu, recently deceased.
Sometimes in social media there are posts on finding joy in your life. Often we are asked to list every day what constitutes a joyful experience for us. I never lasted more than a day or two of keeping track. Today, I did think about it because… it’s Sunday.
Recommended watching: This past Thursday, the last season of The Expanse(on Prime) premiered. It’s based on James S A Corey’s novels The Expanse. In all my considerable years, this is the most amazing and thoughtful sci-fi show ever.
Humanity is out in space. Unfortunately, we still haven’t learned to get along. There are the inners (Earthers), Mars (who want to be free from Earth), and the Belters (Beltalowdas) those who live on the outer moons and asteroids. Before the premier, fans from all over the globe did get along thru a ZOOM meeting to discuss aspects of the show. It brought me much joy to see and hear the ‘expanse’ of the show’s fandom.
Recommended reading: Amor Towles’ Lincoln Highway. A tale of travel, discovery, heartfelt characters and a quite emotional ending. At first, I didn’t think he could outdo his A Gentleman in Moscow. And, while this book is different, it is that same irresistible unfolding of a good story.
Recommended human contact: Man, these past almost two years have been rough as far as in person contact. As more folks are vaccinated, lately I had the total joy of visiting with several friends in person. A few of these folks are long-time friends and catching up was glorious. Thru the Messenger App we saw our grandchildren look for candy canes and an elf in their Christmas tree. Also, a group of volunteers I work with met for a small party and White Elephant gift giving. I got this!
Recommended outdoor exercise: I try to walk everyday along the city trails near my home. I see the season changing finally to Fall. And, there are deer! All sizes from little guys to big bucks. They are so domesticated they will amble right in front of you–expecting you to wait till mom and her kids cross the trail. Yesterday, the squirrels were fussing at me as they seemed to be chasing each other perhaps in some squirrelly mating ritual.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 rulesread more and tell me it’s not frightening .
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!