Posted by: Laura Carter | May 30, 2018

My Encyclopedic Beginning

Evidently, I was still a very young child when my mother introduced me to books, setting me on a life-long safari of endless reading adventures.

Lazing in the pool soaking up sun always sets my mind to wandering. Yesterday I was reminiscing about how when I was about seven years old my parents bought a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. It was a big dollar investment in those days (1954). I remember the salesman talking about an installment plan. It was also a big load of books for an ‘always on the move’ Army family.

I started with the first letter of the alphabet  and, over time, worked my way through XYZ. I finished up as I turned 11. It was glorious journey. My siblings were younger, but the books grew up with them as well.

Ben Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  I’m so glad my parents invested in our knowledge in this way.  

Of course, there is now a very different set of Encyclopedia Britannica online which is just one of the places I go for information. It’s worth checking out.

Posted by: Laura Carter | May 4, 2018

Going to Church in my Mind

One of my favorite and very early posts–slightly updated.

Last night I dreamed I went to church–an all African American church.  I was dressed in a red coat and sang with the choir.  Now, I have been to a church with a predominantly African American congregation, but it is only in Dreamville that I would be singing in the choir.

I don’t physically attend church anymore.  No excuses.  But, I do go to church in my mind as the spirit calls.

This is how it works for me.

I said a prayer of concern for the homeless person sleeping in a downtown doorway.

I prayed to keep a civil tongue and not complain at work this week. (This probably requires some human effort as well)

I expressed appreciation for my wonderful, little house as the sun streamed in the living room and the birds were singing in the courtyard.

I sat still in my car for a few minutes, my heart bursting with joy for the ministries of Sister Odilia and her staff at Blessed Sacrament Academy and Por Vida high school.

This week, I’m making preemptive prayers for a safe trip to Minnesota to visit our daughter and her family–which includes two precious grandsons.

In my opinion, going to church in your mind is no less church, or mosque, or synagogue, or…  I try to be more thankful than whining. And, I try to live my life like church is right there with me all the time.

Posted by: Laura Carter | April 23, 2018

Of Coffee and Jellies

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the annual San Antonio Public Library’s Book Festival. Out of a good many speakers, I chose to hear Juli Berwald the author of Spineless–the science of Jellyfish and the art of growing a backbone. She was very good–entertaining and well-versed in jellyfish. So now I am about half way through the book. The hubby is reading it as well. Who would have thunk it! Jellyfish are quite the animal! I’m looking up Jellyfish documentaries on Netflix asap.

I recently read The Monk of Mokha a tale of Yemen, coffee and a tenaciously motivated young man who resurrectes the coffee trade in Yemen. If you think this would be a bland read, guess again. It’s as rich as Yemeni coffee itself. And, there’s the volatile, multi-leg journey racing across Yemen–as it turns into a war zone–carrying his coffee samples to the conference that will make or break his multi-year efforts. Dave Eggers is the author and he never disappoints.

The newest book from Yan Martel, author of Life of Pi, is The High Mountains of Portugal. Three seemingly different tales weaving together with a slightly surreal tinge. Parts of it seems to go on a bit, but stick with it for a fine reading experience.

I dearly love British crime/mysteries whether they be books, TV shows or movies. Author Alex Marwood was recently recommended by Stephen King on Twitter. I figured her books were damn good if he recommended them. The Wicked Girls and The Darkest Secret are psychological thrillers hard to put down till you get to the end. And, as the Brits might say ‘bloody good characters’ as well.

Get a book or three this week and happy reading.

Posted by: Laura Carter | March 30, 2018

Our time as an illusion

Albert Einstein’s famous declaration “time is an illusion” is explained in his book Relativity. Einstein writes: Since there exists in this four dimensional structure [space-time] no longer any sections which represent “now” objectively, the concepts of happening and becoming are indeed not completely suspended, but yet complicated. It appears therefore more natural to think of physical reality as a four dimensional existence, instead of, as hitherto, the evolution of a three dimensional existence. ( read more) 

It’s hard to believe that my grandson Justin Carter was arrested for an alleged terroristic threat five years ago in Feb. 2013. To some of us, the years may seem to have gone fast. To Justin it was probably an eternity of waiting, his life on hold, unable to move in any direction–a stagnant place of worry and inaction. This week, a plea deal was made–thanks to his amazing lawyers–and Justin is a free man. He moved to Colorado with his dad where he ‘begins a new chapter’ of his life. (read for details of plea)

Justin also set up a GOFUNDME page to raise money to help him get started in his new life. He was unable to use the internet for five years, even to seek a job. He did work at a restaurant for minimum wage for the past few years.

In this week’s time that I spent reading, I immersed myself in New York’s Bohemian world of the late 60’s-early 70’s with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethrope in Smith’s amazing prose memoir “Just Kids.”  

In what seems like both a long time coming and a short time to get ready, we are in the real time of planning our big vacation trip to Minnesota during two weeks in May. Grandsons to see, one for the first time and their parents, we have been looking forward to this for months. 

As I approach my 71st birthday in June, time seems to have gone by rather quickly. I lie in bed some nights trying to remember events throughout my life, just for the sake of remembering.  As the implications of time swirl in a no particular order, I try to I keep in mind the biblical concept that “God’s time is the best time,” as I appreciate all the times past, present and future.

Posted by: Laura Carter | March 12, 2018

Spring has sprung in South Texas

Over the past two weeks Spring arrived in San Antonio. Green leaves are budding out on just about everything, and our back courtyard citrus trees are full of baby blossoms.

Last week:

I went to the movies, again!  “Annihilation”  is a very cool sci-fi flick with an all-woman team front and center of the action. After not attending movies in a theater for a long while, I’ve really enjoyed getting back into it.

I voted. Democrat. Lots of women. Beto O’Rourke not Ted Cruz.

I drove someone older than me to their doctor appointment for Northeast Senior Assistance (NESA). Fastest trip ever. Sometimes you have to wait and wait and wait.

The Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors, of which I am President, went to a Premier Escape Room “where  a group of friends or fellow coworkers are locked in a room, and you have 60 minutes to escape” by solving the clues–in this case, to determine the foreign agent. It was interesting and fun. You’ll have to guess if we succeeded.

 

 

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | March 1, 2018

Last week’s mind expanding info

A couple of things I learned last week:

Some veggies, like carrots and spinach, are healthier cooked than raw–from Prevention Magazine

I also found that frozen, cooked spinach is very inexpensive and great to add to soup, rice, casseroles…the opportunities to go green in your diet are endless.

The Black Panther movie was very good, determined by the fact that I thought about it quite a lot afterward–one of my ways of judging a movie or TV series. Also, the women characters in the movie kick-butt.

Emma Gonzalez kicks-butt and my hope for a new generation of smart leaders is renewed. For undoubtedly Emma and her fellow students activists are those leaders. She also has more Twitter followers than the NRA. Yay!

Donald Trump is still lying every time he opens his mouth and he still doesn’t understand how the government functions.

Posted by: Laura Carter | December 31, 2017

Hallelujah for bringing in another new year

As I approach my 71st new year I am eternally grateful for all my blessings. What with multiple national disasters this year–fire, wind and water–me and mine have managed to be unharmed. Of course, no one remains unscathed (unless you are already filthy rich) from the disasters of our fake president and his administration. This has been the year of more fervent prayer than usual.

A tradition which began about 4,000 years ago, marking the new year seems intrinsic to our human nature.  It is the time of year we appreciate and celebrate the cycle of renewal and rebirth. This practice probably made more sense when the new year began at Vernal Equinox or the first day of spring.  Even so, about 400 years ago, when January became the first month of the year in the Western world, we continued the old tradition–just at a different time.  It is an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, to start afresh, begin anew, and, maybe make those new year’s resolutions.

New Year's foods

A Texas tradition is eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s day for good luck.

During the past year and into the present, I will continue trying not to envision a horrible outcome of any particular situation; panic, worry, or obsess over things that are not in my control. I hope to do more attending of events, movies and such as well.

As you contemplate your own New Year’s resolutions, think about how you can: spend more time with your family and/or friends; go outside; broaden your horizons with a book club or class; exercise 30 minutes a day; bring joy into your life; bring joy to others.  Let me know.

Posted by: Laura Carter | November 19, 2017

Thanksgiving Remembrances


Lately, when I’m lying in bed waiting for sleep to come, I’ve try to remember pieces of my life–those memories I hold dear. Sometimes the unpleasant peeks around the corners of my mind trying to creep me out. But, all in all, it’s an exercise in remembering—about family, friends, great experiences, things I’ve done, places I’ve been…

Since it’s Thanksgiving, I dusted off the cobwebs surrounding holidays past and started thinking about the dinners I used to have with my family. It’s not possible to tell a lifetime of Thanksgiving stories in a small space. Even so, I can’t remember everything. And, on top of that, you just kind of had to be there to appreciate the traditions, the relationship with all their good and bad parts and the ubiquitous family jokes.

When I was a child, depending on where we were living, my family drove to Texas for Thanksgiving to eat dinner with my maternal grandparents. My aunt and her family would come as well. My Uncle John was the family comedian—albeit most of his jokes were somewhat abusive, racist or at someone else’s expense.  My favorite foods were (and still are) my grandmother’s and subsequently my mother’s Southern cornbread stuffing and pecan pie.

A succession of family dinners continued throughout the years. Participants and places varied, but the tone stayed relatively (pun) the same throughout the years. That is up until my parents were no longer in the picture. It never felt the same after that. My aunt and uncle and their kids were pretty much happy to get rid of the obligation of our company. My siblings and I had families of our own. Many variations of Thanksgiving happened.

My family in the mid-80’s L-R Dad, Mom brother Jack, me, sister Louise, her (then) hubby Steve and my son Jack Berry

Several years when I lived in Austin, and was eschewing my parents’ traditions, my young son and I had Thanksgiving at Uncle Seymour’s with the neighborhood hippies and others. I previously wrote a little story about those times.

One trip I did remember makes me laugh every time I think about it: My brother drove me, my adult son and teenage daughter to have dinner with our sister and her family of much younger children. All the way down to Houston from San Antonio, we talked in an exaggerated Southern drawl. I don’t know why, but it was hilarious. When we got down to my sister’s house, they all looked at us like we had gone crazy. Ah, but what fun we had.

Or the time we drove to my sister’s and I got horrible diarrhea on the way back and had to stop at every gas station, and even construction portable potty, on the way home. Yeah, sorry, but that was an unforgettable trip and the last one down there, I think.

And more recently, the year hubby had a major seizure the day before Thanksgiving and was in a coma. I had to hand off the turkey to my son for cooking and I scrambled to fix everything else. I was very moved when my totally unreligious grandchildren prayed for their G-pa before the meal.

This year, it’s just the two of us. We have family in Colorado, Austin, and the frozen north of Minnesota. My brother and wife are going to Wimberly. The sis is still in Houston. It’s all good!

So, whatever your Thanksgiving looks like, I hope it is pleasant, tasty and memorable.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | November 2, 2017

Letter to my blog

Dear ‘A Small Blog’,

I’m sorry I have neglected you lately. We’ve been together for so long, and I miss our little conversations. I have been reading, watching Netflix, working, going to the gym, sometimes to a museum. I have a lot of work to do as President of Friends of Spare Parts Board of Directors–a job I am so proud of.

I know you think I have abandoned you for Facebook and Twitter. I promise to think some pithy thoughts to share very soon.

Much love and affection,

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | September 8, 2017

Cataract Surgery for Dummies

Disclaimer: Personal experience, certified patient only.

Getting older has its foibles and its perks. Part of the aging process that affects most of us is development of cataracts-a clouding of the eye’s natural lens which becomes progressively opaque. Science and technology have advanced the removal and replacement of the lens to a great degree over the past several decades.

Cataracts typically develop over a couple of years’ time. When mine became thick enough to remove, I was definitely having difficulty seeing. When it got to the point where I couldn’t read road signs, I finally admitted I needed to have surgery. Even then, I obsessed over the “surgery” part and put it off for a few more months.

My eye physician Dr. Pittard and all his staff are excellent, efficient and helpful. By their ages I would guess none of them has undergone the procedure themselves. But they do have feedback of the experience from probably thousands of patients who have gotten their cataracts removed at their facilities.

When you have cataract surgery, they replace the thickened, cloudy lens in your eyes (first one and then the other a few weeks later). It puts your eyes on auto-correct. Near sighted to far sighted. Which means if you have been wearing glasses to see far, but can see up close, the opposite is now the case.  And, you may or not need reading glasses—which can be prescription or over-the-counter. In my case, I also have astigmatism, which is not auto-corrected. I chose to pay the extra money (because most insurances will not cover the expense) for a toric lens which will correct most degrees of–but not all– astigmatism.

Finally, after the lenses on both eyes are done, I tell family and friends I feel like I have bionic vision. Not the real bionic kind of course, but from a person who has been wearing glasses since the age of six and has always had fuzzy vision (even up close) it seemed pretty amazing to me.

20180610_083417

Me and hubby in New Mexico

Couple of things:No one can tell you exactly how you will experience the operation or afterwards. Each eye may react in different ways. i.e. my right eye seemed less scratchy feeling after surgery than the left.

It was relatively painless. I didn’t even have to take off my clothes except for my shirt and shoes. There was a gown, a quick IV, some med history taken and instructions for after surgery. Weird visual effects during the 10-minute procedure reminded me of the old light shows at the Vulcan Gas Company back the sixties.

The time in between surgeries can be a bit weird. Wearing your old glasses with the fixed eye lens popped out is strange. In my case, I was unable to do even that and went for three weeks with great vision in one eye and fuzzy in the other—annoyed, disconcerting, but doable.

I almost forgot to say, be prepared to now see all the dirt, dust and stains you missed when cleaning with cataracts.

Also, people have say I look younger in my new glasses, an unexpected but welcome side-effect. I do wear glasses (much less thick lenses) some of the time, especially if I am driving because the toric lenses didn’t correct all the astigmatism–not uncommon if your astigmatism was severe.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I can only tell you my experience, but if it helps…

 

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