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?


Damn the Fireworks and Pass the Black-eyed Peas

January 2, 2021

New Year’s Eve in San Antonio sounds like a war zone. Sleep is disturbed, our pets run under the bed or cower in a closet. But this year, I didn’t curse the noise, or even what I’m sure was some gunfire as well. I was hearing it as a proclamation that 2020 was done and the possibilities of a better year are on the horizon.

Five suggestions for the New Year

Here in Texas, we eat our Black-eyed peas for good luck. I think it works, I forgot mine last year and look what happened!

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: means stop buying stuff from Amazon or anywhere except thrift or reuse stores; make interesting meals from left-overs; repurpose things around the house. Some great ideas for materials reuse are on the Spare Parts webpage.

2. Do some yoga. There are lots of resources online. I personally use the chair/standing classes available on the Silver Sneakers Facebook page. You don’t have to be a member to view the videos. Also take a walk everyday outside if you can.

3. Find activities that give you joy. Modify or quit doing those that don’t.

4. Appreciate what you have. Help others however you can. Pray for those in need.

5. Wear your mask when you go out.


Turkey Day Approaches

November 19, 2020

Entry for the Nineteenth Day of the Tenth Month Since COVID 19 Virus Came to America. (Assuming it was February 2020)

For those of you who’ve read the latest novel from Susanna Clarke, Piranesi you’ll know I ‘borrowed’ her format for a journal entry. Piranesi possibility alludes to Giovanni Battista 1720-1778. Italian artist whose etchings of Rome’s ruins contributed to the revival of neoclassicism. His depictions of cavernous imaginary prisons influenced later romantic and surrealist art.

So, Thanksgiving approaches, and from what I see at the grocery store, way too many of you are planning big dinners with lots of folks–indoors. I believe this is irresponsible and could even border on reprehensible. But I realize I’m either preaching to the choir or speaking upon deaf ears. There seems to be no in between. How about reassessing the possibilities of illness and maybe death to innocents in your sphere?

You could just go fly a kite or eat the whole dang pie yourself instead!


Still Waiting…

November 14, 2020

Lately we seem to be in a perpetual state of waiting. Kind of like living in a version the Samuel Beckett play “Waiting for Godot.” Unlike the play, there are millions of characters. Like the play, what we are waiting for ‘invites all kinds of social and political and religious interpretations.’

  • This week I’ve been waiting for: The election results to be confirmed.
  • For the current President (and I use that title loosely) to concede to the rightful winner.
    • Biden Harris
  • So many people to finally understand there is a deadly virus wrecking havoc and death on many people, institutions and healthcare facilities.
  • For my Social Security check to hit the bank
  • Things that did happen: I got all clear on two medical tests.
  • My sink got all new plumbing and the dishwasher works better than it ever did.
  • My friends and family all checked in well and safe.

Tip of the Day

Wear a Mask. The life you protect may be your own or a loved one.


Election Anxiety

October 30, 2020

With a mere 5 days until Election Day, I confess I’m feeling very anxious. And, I know I’m not the only one.

Check out this handy-dandy article on how to combat Election Anxiety.

and, VOTE

as if your life depended on it, because it does.


Count Down

October 9, 2020

I woke up this morning from a recurring nightmare of mine–not being able to remember a phone number I desperately need to dial. I’ve often had this dream even before it happened in real life when my mother died and I was unable to remember how to call my brother or sister.

The first telephone numbers were four numbers, then they had letters and numbers. Now, where I live, one has to type in the area code and a seven digit number. Therefore, I store all phone numbers in my phone ’cause there’s no chance at all that I can remember anyone’s number.

It’s going on seven months of isolation for the hubby and me due to COVID-19. Every day I try to spend one hour doing some kind of exercising. I usually watch about three hours streaming shows on my TV. Approximately four hours are frittered away on the computer (or phone), and or reading a book. I’ve lost five pounds (hooray).

You’d think I’d be bored, but time seems to fly, and pretty soon it’s drink:30 and I have a cocktail with dinner.

I passed my 73rd birthday and it’s been a year and a half since I’ve seen my family living in Colorado and two years since I’ve seen the family with young grand-kiddies in Minnesota. We spent $1K replacing a toilet. (boo)

It’s 25 days to November 3. It’s been only nine days since the faux president caught the very real COVID-19 virus. No amount of denying makes that any less true.

If you value your life and the lives of your fellow Americans vote for the Democrats on the ballot either early, absentee or in person.


The past is past except when it isn’t

August 15, 2020

I’ve been asking myself lately, why, oh why, do I keeping thinking about things from my past–specifically from the 1960s and 70s? Especially, when I can’t remember what I ate for lunch or my neighbor’s last name?

I questioned does this happen to others and why? I Googled: why do older folks dream of the past?

Dreaming of the past and the world beyond

An article by Katy Waldman calls it the ‘reminiscence bump’. “The basic finding is this: We remember more events from late adolescence and early adulthood than from any other stage of our lives. This phenomenon is called the reminiscence bump.” A robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. It plays an outsize role in how we structure our expectations, stories, and memories.”  Voile! That makes sense to me.

Kate Morton, a truly resplendent author, says this about memories in her book The Clockmaker’s Daughter. “Human beings are curators. Each polishes his or her own favored memories, arranging them in order to create a narrative that pleases. Some events are repaired and buffed for display; others are deemed unworthy and cast aside, shelved below ground in the overflowing storeroom of the mind. There, with any luck, they are promptly forgotten. The process is not dishonest: it is the only way that people can live with themselves and the weight of their experiences.”

I reached a moment of clarity when reading her comparison of sentimentality to nostalgia to “Sentimentality is mawkish and cloying, where nostalgia is acute and aching. It describes yearning of the most profound kind: an awareness that time’s passage could not be stopped and there was no going back to reclaim a moment or a person or to do things differently.” However, as I have previously stated, I have no deep regrets and I hardly ever say “if I had only…”

So out of my head and on to the stars for a moment as I embraced the cosmos with one of my favorite persons on twitter Sarafina Nance, who goes by the handle @starstrickenSF she is an Astrophysics PhD, a stargazer and an eternal optimist.  She greeted today with an out-of-this-world observation about the universe

…some stars explode, their light as bright as entire galaxies, while others collapse in on themselves, stuffing all their mass into a tiny yet supermassive blip in space-time. Some stars are so massive, and their photons so many, that the stellar surface simply floats away, forcing the star to disintegrate others are so small, barely larger than Jupiter, that they live on for trillions of years, bearing witness to the cosmos in a way nothing else can. 

She has also said all of us will be stardust someday, how cool is that?

 

 


A fade-to-gist

August 11, 2020

Maybe it’s retirement combined with #COVID-19 self semi-quarantine, but I find myself using some of my time to wander thru memories for whatever remains of my wild and crazy youth.

“Human memory is notoriously unreliable, especially when it comes to details. Scientists have found that prompting an eyewitness to remember more can generate details that are outright false but that feel just as correct to the witness as actual memories. In day-to-day life, this isn’t a bug; it’s a feature”

I like this psychedelic brain image.

“A key rule about memory change over time is what we call fade-to-gist,” so says Dr. Charles Brainerd, (real name) a professor of human development at Cornell University.

What set me down memory lane recently was Dirt Road to Psychedelia a documentary about the mid to late sixties music scene in Austin, TX including the Vulcan Gas Company

The Vulcan was the hippest, coolest place in Austin (maybe the world). The following are some things I dredged up in memories as a direct result of viewing the film. And, yes, I going to be name-dropping because…

I started going to the Vulcan when it opened in early ’68. Some of my college friends were musicians and we went often together, but not always.

I was introduced to marijuana by a musician friend who went on to play bass with the 13th Floor Elevators. So that got me thinking. During my junior year in college 67-68 I spent much time in the company of the previous drummer for the Elevators. John Ike had quit the band and his mother thought he ought to go to college. He was a fun person to be with.

In the summer of ’68 I spent a lot of time in the company of the band New Atlantis in their Austin rental house. New Atlantis played at the Vulcan often and there I was introduced to Johnny Winter. I was crazy about his blues guitar licks. We became friends. I went to all of his Austin shows and we’d hangout for hours afterward. He called me his ‘college girl’ as I was still attending at that time. He got famous from those Vulcan gigs, and the last time I visited with him was in the mid-70’s when he stopped by the Armadillo Beer Garden.

The Armadillo World Headquarters, an Austin Texas music venue, in September 1976 photo by SteveHopson

By the time the Vulcan closed, I had graduated and was living in Music Mecca aka Austin. The Armadillo opened in 1970 and I was a frequent visitor thru early 1980 when I moved to NM. It felt like I was there every time the doors opened, but that’s not true. I saw so many wonderful shows–Jerry Lee Lewis on New Year’s Eve. Taj Mahal, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa, Van Morrison, Ravi Shankar… I rented the downstairs room of my house to drummer Jerry Barnett who worked some at the ‘Dillo and played with Shiva’s Headband.  Jerry was kind enough to get me in the door for free many, many times.

A boyfriend once broke up with me while the Dylan song “Ramona’ played on the PA in between stage sets of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. He said, “Oh by the way, I’ve asked Ramona to move in with me, so this is our last date.” It was a rather apropos lead in, don’t you think?

Me and my brand new baby boy 1974

If you want to read more, try Race Relations, which I wrote about 10 years ago and recently updated.

As it all fades, the gist of it is–I had a really good time with little or no regrets. Because what would be the point of regrets?

Feel free to leave comment of your memories.

 


Slow dancing to COVID-19

August 6, 2020

Are we there yet?

This was a constant refrain on road trips when we were kids. Now in the 21st week of most folks’ isolation life we are asking “are we done, yet?” NO we are not done—not even close.

There are still lots of folks who deny there’s a very contagious disease out there. In a week or two, when some schools start up with in-school classes, we’ll see another wave of infections–this time in children, teens and adults. I can’t imagine the complexity of the question whether to attend school or not. That it is possibly a life threatening decision, makes it even more difficult.

I like this chart of suggestions, though some of these may be easier said than done. Alas, we are slow dancing this pandemic so we have time to work our way through.  Because it didn’t just disappear, it’s not going away, and, no, we are not there yet.