Total Eclipse of Normal

February 19, 2022

Yes, I writing about the pandemic again. Also, politics.

I posted this picture on Facebook yesterday. It’s the hubby two years ago when the pandemic first began in earnest. Since then, folks keep asking, “when will be get back to normal?” The answer is never, forget about it!

First of all, two years ago, the former guy was creating governmental chaos every damn day. Faux news, conspiracies and boldface lies…which the media happily wrote about for clicks’ sake. Do you want to return to that or embrace it as something that was normal? Hell no! At least now, good change is happening more often. There are still plenty of roadblocks, but there is hope.

As Jessica Wildfire said in a recent post, “The harder we try to get back to normal, the harder we make it on ourselves.”

And, anyway, maybe normal isn’t as good as it was cracked up to be. My experiences have taught me that working outside ‘normal’ leads to more fun, new ideas and learning, and is generally good for you.

One of my favorite movies is “Young Frankenstein” When Dr. Frankenstein, pronounced (Frankensteen) sends Igor (pronounced Eegor) to steal a brain it goes like this.


Celebrate Black History Month by reading

February 4, 2022

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!


2021–the year of the roller-coaster

December 29, 2021

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.

https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2021/01/01/watch-san-antonio-celebrates-the-end-of-2020-with-hundreds-of-illegal-fireworks/

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!

Great Wolf Lodge in Minnesota. We were all vaccinated and boosted in case you’re wondering.

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.


Counting on joy

December 12, 2021

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.

Rocinante is the name of the spaceship the heroes fly in all their missions

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.

Recommended: Find your joy and share it!


It’s the time of the season

October 31, 2021

In the past few months, I lost my sweet, lovely hairstylist–she was only 43 and I had been her client for 15+ years. Several friends and extended family have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and other illnesses. It’s still a hard time for so many of us. My Sunday sermon is short: Love your friends and family while you can, be kind to others–even if they are annoying–and take care of yourself.

A few years ago, I went to an Austin City Limits concert “The British Invasion.” One of the groups who performed, with all the original members, was the Zombies. This song Time of the Season struck such a chord with me, it became one of my favorites again.

Tomorrow is Dia de los Muertos This can be the season of being sad or rejoicing. Remember there is balance in the universe.

Photos from around San Antonio by B Kay Richter Dia de los Muertos

My frozen tangerine trees are coming back.
I got an EXPANSE hat and shirt.

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.


A Star Trek Future

August 1, 2021

Star Trek the series, first premiered on September 8, 1966. I was a college sophomore living in a dorm. Somehow I found Star Trek on the TV in the common room and it became a life-long favorite. I’ve seen everything, sometimes twice!

If you’re a fan of Star Trek, what the appeal for you? For me it was being science fiction–a glimpse into the possibilities of the universe. Also, the characters. But most of all, the message.

This is it, my Sunday Sermon. The way I always longed for life to be. I don’t trust humanity enough to see it happen, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Picture from CNET

Peace and Love and get vaccinated.


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.


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.


What do you remember from elementary school?

March 24, 2021

Just a quick post today before continuing to cut and remove dead trees and other plants damaged in the Great Texas Snowmageddon.

The title of this post, ‘what do you remember from elementary school’ comes from a question asked on #Twitter this morning. It got me thinking. I attended four different elementary schools up thru the 6th grade. That’s the way it is with Army brats.

I attended Kindergarten and 1st grade in Iowa. I don’t remember much except I walked down a big hill to get there. In Kindergarten, we took naps on floor mats after lunch. At the same school, I learned to read in 1st grade and fell in love with books.

Second and 3rd grade was in Texas. Our 3rd grade teacher read us the “Wizard of Oz.” which became a life long favorite. I was able to walk to and from school and even came home for lunch. I stopped by the candy store in the afternoons for 5¢ treats. Horribly sugary stuff! I think we received our polio shots at school as well. Oh! and there was a Duncan YoYo salesman who came by and did tricks and then sold us yoyos. I actually got fairly good with one–all forgotten now.

Next, we moved to South Carolina. Again, I was able to walk to school cutting across several peoples’ front and back yards. How I learned that particular route is a mystery to me. My mother thought I wasn’t learning enough. So when we moved on base, I took the bus to Catholic school.

Now, we weren’t Catholic. In fact my folks only sent me there because the school was much better. We went to Mass every morning–still in Latin at that point. I prayed to Jesus and the Saints, and fainted during a High Mass with the Bishop. The nuns wanted me to convert, but I wasn’t having it. However, as one of life’s little ironies, later on I enjoyed working for 20+ years total with two different Congregations of Sisters. I also still pray for whomever the ambulance is rushing to save.

Jesus and the Saints

I’m convinced the older I get, the more it’s good brain exercise to remember things about my life. I was fortunate to experience many different people and places, travel and cultures, and interesting adventures. I’m not done yet either!!