Smoking Hot Summer

July 21, 2022

It’s hotter than blue blazes here in Texas. Every stinking day for at least a month it’s been over 100 degrees. Thank God for air-conditioning–I say before I see my smoking hot monthly electric bill.

What have y’all been up to?

I threw myself a 75th birthday party with two homemade cakes courtesy of hubby. Lots of family came in town and my eclectic group of friends came to wish me well. It was a super party. Everyone brought me wine or vodka. Hmm, what did that say?

I think the hubby was a bit overwhelmed with all the activity.

I’m getting out a little more. Living thru the pandemic which seems to have no end in site. Still wearing that mask, but going a few more places. Like the Van Gogh Immersive show. What a wonderful experience.

I’ve been reading a lot. My ability to read a long book is over. I mostly find murder mysteries or sci-fi novels. River of Gods by Candice Millard is a very good book about Sir Richard Francis Burton. He’s one of my favorite historical people. Olga Dies Dreaming: a novel by Xochitl Gonzalez is excellent as well.

So, when do you think ‘the former guy’ will finally get arrested for the umpty-million treason acts he’s committed? Can they please also take his whole family and his cohorts in Congress? It still amazes me how people can believe and adore him. I’ll say one thing, In the four years he was president, he and his administration managed to perpetrate a humongous amount of scandalous and down-right scary deeds.

Here’s a quote I really like: “To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”

― Oscar Wilde

I’m very appreciative of the life I have right now. I hope you all can find a balance, a peace, a joy in your life.

I leave you with this picture of the grandkids–because I’m sure they are the cutest ever!!!


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!


Where’s your church?

November 21, 2021

Early this Sunday morning, after I let the cat out, I went back to sleep for a while. I dreamed I was in a church. It was a large, crowded church and I couldn’t find a seat. The choir was singing, the preacher preaching and everyone was swaying and raising their hands. I went to the back of the church and visited with the others left out in the lobby.

I am a firm believer that church can be anywhere. It’s not a building, although most denominations seem to have buildings. Church doesn’t belong to one certain denomination. It’s more like that faith lives inside you. You can abide faith as well.

When our kids were elementary school age, we took them hiking every Sunday to a trail on what was then the outskirts of town. We’d stop at the very top, sit on bench in the small covered shelter with all the Daddy Longlegs spiders. Looking out at the trees, birds, and sky, we proclaimed to now be in church. This picture of Colorado looks like church to me as well.

As many, many peoples do, I have a ‘little altar’ in my room. It helps me focus and quiet my mind. I think, give thanks for my life and my parents. I pray for all those who are sick or having troubles. I pray for peace.

According to 1st Thessalonians 5, Jesus said to pray without ceasing. Questions: Do you believe prayer works? To whom do you pray? Is it just a universal plea or to God? What or who do you pray for? When do you pray? Let me know

Also read my previous post “Going to church in my mind


Questions you won’t see on Jeopardy

November 12, 2021

This morning, as I do every morning, I was cruising the internet and these questions popped into my mind.

How did people function in the morning before there was coffee?

At what age did time start moving so quickly? It’s almost Thanksgiving 2021 for crying out loud and we still have a global pandemic.

Who can choose their favorite movie? It’s not a fair question–we all have dozens. Same with books or music albums.

What did we do before streaming? With no commercials, The ability to rerun or fast forward, thousands of choices for our viewing pleasure, pausing for food or bathroom trips and no great big cable bills. I am so spoiled!

Why put a price on carbon? Because it’s the single most powerful tool available to reduce America’s carbon pollution. I answered that one for you.

What the hell happened to Eric Clapton? Besides becoming an antivaxxer dude? Brain damage? Remember, he was a heroin addict and alcoholic for many years.

thanks to Larry Busacca Getty Images

Who knew we would have so much fun at the Great Wolf Lodge in Minneapolis, MN? Well, the grandkids did.

Grandpa in the Water Park


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.


Top of my Best Book List

June 12, 2021

Every once in a while I run across a question on Twitter or Facebook that goes something like this, “what are some books you read and still think about? Or, what’s your favorite book or author?”

That’s a really hard question to answer for anyone who is a life-long reader such as I am. And, anyway, I always go especially blank when I see those questions. So, I started making a list that, over time, probably includes some of the books that answer those inquiring minds.

This is a quote from a reviewer on Amazon who tells it better than I could. Sir Richard Francis Burton was a mid 1800’s British explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer and diplomat. (and I’m going to add ‘lover’) Known for entering Mecca as a non-believer disguised as a Muslim, a act that would have brought him death had he been discovered, is also credited with translating the entire original sixteen volumes of “The Arabian Night” and Kama Sutra. Furthermore he is known for his public debate with Captain John Hanning Speke over the discovery of the source of the Nile. After I read this book I thought, If they ask me what deceased person I would like to meet, I will always say Sir Richard Francis Burton first. He could teach me some Kama Sutra poses. Also, check out the excellent movie “Mountains of the Moon” about the trip to find the source of the Nile.

The Scar by China Miéville This book won many awards in the Sci-Fi genre. I have a hard time imaging the brain this book came from. What a long strange trip it was reading. And, I’ve never forgotten the wonderful uniqueness of this book. Shucks, I might read it again!

Gertrude Bell Queen of the Desert If you saw the movie about this book with Nicole Kidman–forget it!. Read the book! Seven facts about Ms. Bell from Wendy Mead

Bell was the first woman to earn first-degree honors in modern history at Oxford; Bell was unlucky in love; A skilled mountaineer, Bell almost met her end on a slope; Bell’s fascination with the Middle East began with a visit to Iran in 1892; Bell was passionate about archaeology; Bell was the only woman working for the British government in the Middle East; Bell helped establish what is now the Iraq Museum.

Read the book especially if you are a woman. You’ll say, “Why haven’t I heard of her before?” Yeah! good question.

Whatever your reading pleasure–just do it.


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?

 

 


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.


Summer Solstice 2020

June 21, 2020

Week 14 of COVID-19 self-quarantine

Greetings of peace and renewal on Summer Solstice 2020. And what a year it’s been so far!

Six months of constant changes and challenges. Most of us are learning how to adjust to life in the pandemic era. And, it’s not over yet folks, so stay cautious.

‘Summer solstice occurs on the longest day of the year, usually on June 21. Although, the sun’s position remains in pretty much the same place for a few days either side. For Neolithic people, sunlight would have been crucial – for warmth for them and their animals and for helping their crops to grow!’

Last night, I watched a live video of the sun setting over Stonehenge. There’s also a live video of the sun rise. Both videos are posted on the English Heritage Facebook page.

I toasted to the sun with a glass of wine and a few tears as I tried to wrap my head around the immense history of the human race represented here. Sometimes I wonder what will become of us. We take three steps forward and two steps back. We destroy the natural world which was created to sustain us. Let’s do better!

 

June is the month of five birthdays in my family. I celebrated mine at my dog-sitting job. There was a pool and a lovely view—along with sweet, cuddly dogs. I call my overnights ‘sleeping with the dogs.’

 

So here’s to however many more weeks it takes for us to figure out how to ‘lower the curve’ of COVID-19 infections. We miss seeing the grandkids!


Uncertainty is the new normal

April 20, 2020

It’s week six for us doing the ‘COVID-19 isolation rag’

I seem to be less anxious than I thought I might get. But, in all honesty, we are not in any of the tenuous–even scary–situations that many in our community or others around the country may be experiencing.

Fully retired, we have our Social Security money and small savings. We have a very affordable Medicare Advantage plan, and are so far in good health. We have our little house, transportation and other things that might have all been taken for granted until the pandemic got a hold of our country.

I read a very good article from Jon Pavlovitz which I think you (whoever you are) need to read.

      

Because uncertainty is the new normal. This all could have gone a much better way, but it did not. What we are left with has changed us individually and as a country and will continue to change us for years ahead.  Hopefully in many ways  we’ll grow, learn and be better to each other. I’m seeing it already, are you?

Let me know how you’re doing!