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…

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | June 25, 2017

Books, Books, and More Books

How time flies! It’s been almost a year since I’ve shared the good books I’ve been reading. After I found the San Antonio Public Library now has many of the best selling or most critically acclaimed books available (albeit sometimes on a long waiting list) I’ve been reading about a book a week. I do read all by books on a Kindle. Easier on my hands and I can take it anywhere.

Image result for kindle

Here is a list of some of my favorites:

News of the World Especially if you are a Texan, but even if you are not, you will love this beautifully written story set in Texas after the Civil War. I sent it to my 16 year old granddaughter in hopes she will read it.

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favorite authors. Aurora is chocked full of realistically based sci-fi scenarios, appealing characters and a lovely ending. His Mars Trilogy is superb! especially if you’re interested in a possible future of the human race.

Half Girlfriend by Chetan Bhagat takes place in India. A great story that proves love is a culturally universal, human thang! As an acclaimed writer, he has other books which I have on my list.

I’m on a jag of reading, in order, all the Eve Dallas books by J.D. Robb. Interesting crime solving mysteries set in the future ‘starring’ a kick-ass female police lieutenant–with a sexy, rich hubby. Fluff?-maybe but entertaining.

Lab Girl a biography by research scientist Hope Jahren, PhD. She’s a bit quirky, as is her long-time lab assistant/best friend, so her projects usually include interesting and sometimes strange adventures.

I also like author Robert Masello. His books are a fascinating combination of history and fiction with people/characters you know (but not really). Some of the titles. are The Medusa Amulet, The Einstein Prophecy, and The Jekyll Revelation.

 

 

Posted by: Laura Carter | June 5, 2017

Sgt. Pepper’s Album changed my life

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

The first time I heard it was just a few days after its release. My best friend Melissa and I were in summer school at SWTSU, living in the dorm. My previous roomie asked us over to listen to a new Beatles album. Because we wanted to enjoy it fully and faithfully, we stuffed a towel under the door and smoked a great big joint.

Over in JoAnn’s room, we sat mesmerized through the entire, what turned out to be, breakthrough musical recording.  I’m not sure I ever heard it that exact same way again even though I’ve listen to it hundreds of times now.

It was a life changer for sure!

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/531039734/531099121

Posted by: Laura Carter | May 20, 2017

the boundlessness of divine love

I’m just guessing, but I think I came to embrace the joys of living in a multi-ethnic society during the three years my family and I lived in Hawaii.

Each year the school I attended, Radford High School, celebrated Aloha Week by electing Kings and Queens representing their various “racial backgrounds” gathered in their “racial costumes” Hawaiians, Samoan, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Samoans, Negro, Portuguese, Korean Caucasian, and Cosmopolitan. Despite the dated terminology, it was a respectful celebration of the many peoples who made up the Hawaiian population–the very definition of a melting pot.I wonder if they still do this.

Pew Research Center’s recent article gives credence to ‘Mainland’ America’s march towards its own modern diversity “…one-in-ten married people in 2015 – not just those who recently married – had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. This translates into 11 million people who were intermarried.”

Right after I read the above article I saw a reference to an article by Paul Salopek, The Case for Xenophilia. Salopek explains, “For the past four years I have been walking across the earth. As I retrace the paths of our species’ first Stone Age migration out of Africa, I’m writing about my encounters along the modern global trail. ” His walk takes him through many different countries in Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Turkey, to name a few, on his march towards Tierra del Fuego.

He includes this lovely thought.“The tender soul has fixed his love on one spot in the world,” wrote the 12th-century French theologian Hugh of St. Victor. “The strong person has extended his love to all places; the perfect man extinguished his.”

Posted by: Laura Carter | May 12, 2017

Moving Experiences

A recent conversation with a journalist friend and a couple of “moving” articles got me thinking. I have some mixed feelings about gentrification and the ‘forcing’ of people out of their homes and their comfort zones to make way for new development—whether it be private or government backed. I am not unsympathetic towards these persons’ situations. I am also not above being influenced by my own personal experiences of voluntary and involuntary home moves, both as a child and as an adult. Sometimes, these were good experiences, sometimes, not so much.

Having grown up an Army brat, I think I moved about 17 times before I even went to college. These moves were easy in a way as we always had housing options provided, moving companies to pack and ship all our belongings, and the places we went were good. Even if we were in the same town, we sometimes had to move from off-base to base housing. New schools, new friends, new environments. All these made me, and most likely all service brats, very resilient. Some I know even developed a wanderlust of sorts.

When I was in my twenties and living in Austin, I lived for almost 8 years in one of my favorite houses. That was my first experience of living more than about two years in the same place. I was so attached to that house I dream about it sometimes still. Though it has become distorted over the years.

When I was somewhat forced to come back to my parents’ home–from yet another city–due to an abusive situation,  I disliked San Antonio. It took some years to really feel like this is my home for good. I’ve been here almost half my life now, though I’ve moved domiciles about a dozen time.

Our House is a very fine house.

When my husband and I bought the house we are in now, he said, “It had better have a nice ceiling because that the last thing I want to see before I die.” Meaning he was sick and tired of packing, moving and the expenses it entailed. There still may be some moves in our future.  Probably not the ones either of us would like.

And, then I think of the millions of families in the Middle East and so many other places who are forced to leave their homes with practically nothing. They face starvation, disease, displacement camps, death. The girls and women are often beaten and raped. My heart goes out to them. And, I’m sorry the US is trying so hard to close its doors to refugees. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Perhaps, there is a better way to transition people who are being displaced in our city. I understand not everyone has the experience, knowledge or again, resilience, to handle being told, out of the blue, they have to move. Being more thoughtful about the process before and during, instead of just afterwards, might be a way to proceed.

Peace and Love Y’all

Posted by: Laura Carter | April 7, 2017

Ah sweet, and not so sweet, mystery of life

What exactly is life anyway?

“We don’t have a very good definition of life,” said researcher Christopher Voigt of the University of California, San Francisco, who works on synthetic biology. “It’s a very abstract thing, what we call life, and at what point we say something doesn’t have the necessary components versus it does, it just becomes way too murky.”

The other day a friend and I were talking about life, including a dear friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. “But, she’s only 33, and a beautiful, generous person, an elementary school teacher, and breast cancer doesn’t even run in her family,” my friend exclaimed. I’m sitting there shaking my head. What do we say? Shit happens? What is God thinking when he lets bad things happen–like to our young friend with cancer; to the children gassed to death two days ago in Syria; to the 13 people from New Braunfels church killed in a bus crash, 12 of them older women, grandmas like me?

I think life is one big fat mystery. We hate the bad stuff, but love the synergy when good things happen. Like another friend who found the right alternative school for her son, recently expelled for what we all think is a bum rap. Perhaps, this is opening another door. Or the wonderfulness of all the new babies showing up in my Facebook feed. One new parent asked if she was posting too many baby pics, and I said “never.” Of course, someone else might have thought differently. Good things happen every day, even amid the chaos of our current government.

Trying really hard, Lord, to remember that in this mysterious life you have given us, we are all your children and you love us unconditionally. We don’t have to earn your love and you don’t reward our devotion to you with ‘prosperity’ like some faux pastors preach. Do all Christians act like Christians? Another pithy question (don’t get me started on that).

Posted by: Laura Carter | February 5, 2017

Just the Facts, Ma’am

I confess, I love data. Not fake date or #altfacts but real, factual data. I also love @Twitter where I follow @ConradHackett Senior Demographer and Associate Director of the Pew Research Center–a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

I am of the mind most political polls generated from news organizations or other paid entities are flawed. For one thing, these polls don’t often acknowledge their methodology. And, for another, not once have I ever been asked my opinion for a poll! To understand why the Pew Research Center differs from most other polling  read their article on key flashpoints with links to references and research

For example, this timely report might help you understand Key Facts about refugees to the US.

They have a great page of Key Indicators about many of the things that influence our every day lives.

Charts are another reason I love this org.

pi_2015-10-22_religion-and-science_homepage-2black-change-chart-2

America’s Shrinking Middle Class might give you insight into the why the middle class is looking for help–which they thought they would get but will not, with the new administration.

On the on TV show “Dragnet” Detective Joe Webb used to say to the crime witness, “Just the facts Ma’am. just the facts” My advice is get some from the Pew Research Center before taking everything you read verbatim.

 

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories