Reading Patti Smith

January 21, 2020

“Age changes you in ways you least expect” I heard this quote in a movie last week, but can’t remember which one. I thought about it off and on for a few days with the conclusion that this is most certainly a true statement.

Sitting outside a coffee shop, reading Patti Smith’s book “My Train,” I became filled with a thoughtfulness regarding my life. Feeling like a cheap imitation of Smith, I start writing on a scrap piece of paper thoughts for a post.

I’ve always been aware of Patti Smith because of her music. Often called the “punk poet laureate,” Smith has an impressive musical repertoire which still influences many.

After reading “Just Kids” a few years ago, I became a huge fan of her literary mind as well. I am at the same time appreciative and envious of her experiences and courage to travel her many creative paths—all while keeping in mind the difficulties of her life which arrived uninvited.

From my 2013 Twitter: I wonder what compels me to constantly try to do things out of my comfort zone?

Was I courageous in the paths I took in my life? Did I travel to places I always wanted to see? Did I follow a risky decision to some sort of personal transcendent conclusion? Can I still call myself a life-long learner? Am I still willing to explore new things out of my comfort zone? Yes and No.

Yes. In the summer of 2018 the hubby and I took a 5K mile road trip—in our Ford Fiesta–up to Minnesota, down to Nebraska over to Colorado and across to New Mexico—stopping on the way to see family and friends. No. I vow never to do this again.

Yes. I still read fiction and non-fiction. I recently discovered Wired magazine which I admit to some of it being over my head, but I’m learning. No. I don’t finish books that don’t grab me in the first chapter or two.

Mom and me. She had me reading at a very young age.

My mother used to say ‘only boring people get bored.’ Though I often say to others I have no regrets in this life, I occasionally lament some of my mistakes. But my life was not and is not boring. May your life be the same.

Yes, I out of my comfort zone riding the tram in Telluride.

A younger me with my son who I raised as a single mother.


Aging: forgetting to remember

December 10, 2019

I’ve noticed the older I get, the more I have forgotten. I also think I misremember a good deal. Merriam Webster defines misremembering as “to remember incorrectly.” I think you’ll agree this seems a ubiquitous trait for any of us who have the opportunity to live into ‘old age.’

Last week, my brother, sister and I went on a road trip to attend the funeral service of our last aunt, our mother’s only sibling. It closed the door on that entire generation of our family from both sides. People we loved and grew up with. None of us cousins from either side are particularly close. And, some of us have already reached, or are nearing, whatever our expiration dates are.

The many conversations we had unearthed precious memories of our childhood into adulthood when our grandparents and parents were still with us. We commiserated the loss of them and held dear the love and the amazing upbringing they gave us. Each of us had different perspectives, but common memory roots.

As I age, I am apprehensive of loosing all the parts of me. It’s important to be able to share with friends and/or families those significant memories which shaped us and now hold us together.

Now, if I can just remember why I came in the kitchen.


You can’t take it with you

October 6, 2019

Lately, I’ve been reading articles about why and how to simplify your life.  Simply Magazine is one of the sources I was introduced to by a friend. “Even better, removing the physical clutter from our home lays a foundation that makes significant life changes possible. It encourages us to question assumptions and invites thoughtful consideration of all aspects of our lives.”  There’s also Becoming a Minimalist which states “Becoming Minimalist is designed to inspire others to pursue their greatest passions by owning fewer possessions.”

Because y’all know you or your parents have so much stuff that nobody wants I once wrote this vignette.

I always knew my son and his family would have no use for my precious mementos after I am gone. Bric-a-brac, knick-knacks, stuff! The furniture I inherited from my grandparents–a phone table with a little seat for comfortable chatting, the antique mantle. The beautiful set of china on which my mother served holiday dinners that shaped generations of family gatherings. I cherished these and many other family pieces passed down to me. But, who wants a framed, handmade baby christening gown?

My books are all going for a dollar. People are rummaging through my clothes, handbags and jewelry. A bowl full of sea shells or a scorched set of kitchen pans–not treasures for sure. The estate sellers are doing their job of clearing the house for sale. But, there’s no one there to tell the stories.

Many times I tried to tell the story behind the porcelain figurines. The ones in the glass cabinet that I stared at my whole life. My parents bought those beautiful little ballerinas, with their tutus of Dresden lace, in 1947 from a German family who had to sell their precious keepsakes to feed themselves.

But, how could that matter now? Surely someone will see their value and give them a good home, where they can be admired everyday as the beautiful works of art they are. After the good things go, it looks like the sad remnants of an inconsequential life. I hover over this scene, on my last pass through this world, the memories fade along with the disbursement of my possessions. And, now I surely know the truth of ‘you can’t take it with you.’


Advice in Four Words or Less

June 10, 2019

Today’s blog is a total Twitter rip-off. Thanks to Giles Paley-Phillips @eliistender10 for asking the question: Your best advice in four words or less.

This a fraction of the replies, but worthy of sharing.

Walter Shaub
@waltshaub
do the right thing
Art Thiel
@Art_Thiel

1. Don’t sweat petty things.
2. Don’t pet sweaty things. (h/t George Carlin)

Rogue EPA
@RogueEPAstaff
Don’t vote Republican 2020.

Patrick Leiser
@leiser_patrick
Even better: Don’t vote Republican ever

Rachel Wolfson
@wolfiecomedy
smoke weed every day

Cliff Jerrison
@pervocracy
Condoms, sunscreen, vaccines, seatbelts.

Tall girl tells shrinking tale

April 29, 2019

So, I measured my height the other day. I have to say it was a shocking and somewhat depressing revelation to find out I am now just 5’7” tall. Although most of us upon reaching the senior citizen stage of life, understand that we shrink in height as we age and our vertebrae compress, sometimes getting squeezed out altogether. But, in a way it made me feel somewhat diminished.

Why did I take it so hard, you ask? At the age of 14, I was a 5’10” gangly girl. Quite outstanding at that time, I was head and shoulders above, not only the other girls but most of the boys as well. Try finding a dance partner when the dudes would be staring right into your budding bosom. Skinny legs and all, I was mostly in angst over this tall development.

Some of the most frequent questions: “Do you play basketball?”  Well, no. You kind of have to be coordinated to do that. Did I wear high heel shoes ever? Uh, no! Did pantyhose ever fit me?  No again.

At 20years old attending college in San Marcos, TX

I managed to grow into being a tall woman and tallness became less an issue making way for many other issues. In fact, I am sorry to lose that youthful part of me. And, I’m sure those three damn inches went into my hips.


Memories–who you were, are and will be

March 2, 2019

What makes a memory anyway?  When people speak of ‘making memories’ I think they’re most likely alluding to a significant life event which will be remembered forever by the parties involved.  Sometimes I feel like my memory is a roll of the dice or maybe more like a pinball machine bouncing from bumper to bumper after each flip. It seems memories can be traumatic or trivial. My guess is it depends of the individual.

Scientifically speaking: One study at UCLA determined through research experimentsmemory-word-cloud “This link between reactivation of neurons in the hippocampus and conscious recall of past experience has been suspected and theorized for some time, but the study now provides direct evidence for such a link.  “In a way, then,” Dr. Fried said, “reliving past experience in our memory is the resurrection of neuronal activity from the past.” Seems rather unromantic, yes?

A How Stuff Works article says “Human memory is a complex, brain-wide process that is essential to who we are. Your “memory” is really made up of a group of systems that each play a different role in creating, storing, and recalling your memories.”

townes-and-me0001-2

Me and my brand new baby boy.

What have I forgotten? For many years I waxed nostalgic about my days during and after college when I lived in the great hippiedom of Austin, Texas.  Specific memories were apparent, but it was more a general recollection of a feeling of peace, freedom, music, and fun that carry these times around my brain.

Recently, I reconnected with two women friends from those years who lived in the same Austin neighborhood as I did on the outskirts of Clarksville. We were pregnant at the same time giving birth to babies, who through toddlerhood grew up as best friends.

In our reminiscing, I realized I had pushed a lot of memories from those days to the back of my mind. Because why? One explanation could be that I was no longer in touch with those folks with whom I could be remembering.  Also, because those were wild, unfettered times, it didn’t always seem like the best tales to tell.

Consequently, I became aware of meaningful parts of my life I had kept under my memory radar. I am grateful to those ‘historically significant’ friends who led me to recall and reembrace much of that part of my past.  I like to think all memories are intricately a part of your life-defining who you were, are and will be.

Of course, the Beatles said so many things the best.

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends, I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all


Holidays, Tangerines and Politics

November 25, 2018
I hope y’all had a swell Thanksgiving with your respective families. From what I’ve been seeing Christmas season began in October now, with decorations going up in the shopping centers and streets right before Halloween.

 

The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. I’m no fan of all the commercialization. However, I realize what I think matters not a whit.  More on Christmas economic facts if you are interested.

The hubby and I were on our own for Turkey Day but were in touch with all our relatives via the wonders of modern technology. We watched the Minnesota daughter and family put up their Christmas tree via live chat. I’m wondering if it will survive the two small boys and very large puppy until the 25th.

 

The kitchen was sticky for a week as Richard worked on juicing 6 gallons of tangerines from our two trees in our back courtyard. We also ate plenty and had multiple bags of gift fruit. (there were a few grapefruit and oranges as well)

 

Still busy with work both paid and unpaid. But, always make time for reading and live streaming on the telly.

 

I save quotes from books via my Kindle. Here’s one from Varina, by Charles Frazier. She was the wife of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States. V had a very adventurous and long life. This quote seems to explain not only our history but our present politics as well.

 

“Take a king or a president or anybody. Put a heavy sack of gold in one hand and a feather-light declaration about freedom in the other. And then an outlaw sticks a pistol in his face and says give me one or the other. Every time —ten out of ten—he’ll hug the sack and throw away the ideals. Because the sack’s what’s behind the ideals, like the foundation under a building. And that’s how freedom and chains and a whipping post can live alongside each other comfortably.”

 

I leave you with a quote from The Oregon Trail by Buck Rinker for whatever path you are on, whatever your passion is.

“Crazyass passion is the staple of life and persistence its nourishing force. Without them, you cannot cross the trail.”


Smokey vignettes from bygone days

October 12, 2018

Not sure what prompted me to dig into the old box of letters at the top of the closet. Yes, Virginia, people used to use pen and paper to write letters and mail them to their friends across the country, or the world for that matter.

Funny thing is–I found some of my short poems and musings which were written in the college and beyond–during the years of my life when I was still young and smokin’

As I read those fading penciled scribbles, I could still see quite clearly when and where, who and why I had taken the time to put pen to paper.

“My truly honest man-child. Your wild eyes read the dreams on my eyelids. Your lips take my breath away and your hand rent my soul from my body and caresses it.” That sounds sexy, doesn’t it? Yes, it was!

This one must have been a really intense trip. “I’m a grandmother trying to knit a bootie for my grandchild with knotted, tired fingers. The needles miss and stick the cat on the hearth and the blood seeps out of his body. It drips off his fur to stain the cement floor forever.” Interesting that I am now a grandmother of six and have never even attempted to knit a damn bootie.

I remember lying on the bed at my friend David’s house so stoned I couldn’t make it home.

“It was so hot, I gladly welcomed the small, cool breeze that tiptoed into the room. I softly asked it to stay, but it didn’t hear me, turned around and left to continue its journey down the street. Dogs were barking, calling to the dog in the yard. As he ran to meet them I could hear his paws click-clacking over the warm gravel in the driveway. The street light softly poured into the room like the moon. I feel the warmth from his body seeping from his pores and floating secretly to me. It meets with my bare skin in pulsating waves like breath.”

Sigh, I remember this like it was yesterday.

Have we lost that art of prose where we just take whatever piece of paper is handy and write down our observations or feelings? I say mostly. But if you are someone who has not lost that art, don’t throw those papers away.

Peace and love y’all.

 


Unpacking your prejudices for a life well lived

September 1, 2018

Just who do you think you are?  Whatever the answer to this question it will reflect a heady, imperfect mix of your genes, your family, your life experiences and your environment. Where we live, the people we live around and interact with have a great deal to do with shaping our ideas, thoughts and attitudes about each other as human beings.

This is, after all the a ‘small blog’, so this won’t be a detailed discourse of the subject, just some thoughts I’ve had lately.

In consideration of my upbringing in a stable, white Southern family, I probably would have been more affected by negative prejudice toward other ‘races’ had I not had the privilege of being an Army brat. A previous small blog post tells how my attitudes were born again by living in Hawaii and taking advantage of multi-cultural experience.

In American cities, citizens are much more likely to interact with any number of folks from different cultures, countries, family situations etc. But, there are areas in our country where this is not the case and there is a prevalence of homogeneous Anglo populations. When this kind of, what I would call, isolation occurs, people aren’t given as much of an opportunity to broaden their intellectual or existential horizons.

This is the future. Make it good for everyone.

It’s been proven that living around people with different backgrounds and cultures gives us a larger life experience and usually modifies prejudices we might have previously held.

Despite the decidedly ‘white supremacist’ policies coming out of our current administration, the Pew Research Center determined there is  “Shifting Public Views on Legal Immigration Into the U.S.”

  • The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 5-12 among 2,002 adults, finds that 38% say legal immigration into the United States should be kept at its present level, while 32% say it should be increased and 24% say it should be decreased.
  • Most Americans do not think undocumented immigrants take jobs U.S. citizens want or are more likely to commit serious crimes.

It’s not just about ‘race’ or immigrants either. There is a prejudice against poor people—’they’re lazy, don’t want to learn, rather take welfare etc.’ My city San Antonio, though a great city in many ways, is one of the most economic segregated cities in the nation.  Which opens up a Pandora’s box of side-effects both for the affected population and on the community as a whole.

Oh, my goodness, this is a depressing post! So, what can you do about it? A few suggestions:

  • Make a difference where you can. Don’t condone bad behavior from others even if they are your family members. You know, like at Thanksgiving dinner and Uncle George is telling a racist or anti-gay joke.
  • Practice being inclusive and non-judgmental. Everyone has worth and a human story to tell.
  • Make new friends.
  • Try a new cuisine at an ethnic restaurant. (no, not just a new taco place)
  • Read National Geographic Magazine—there’s a whole world out there
  • Take a trip to somewhere you’ve never been.

Peace y’all!


Plastics–a small lesson about a humongous problem

August 6, 2018

Every bit of plastic ever made still exists somewhere.

“One word…Plastics” Anyone remember the 1967 movie “The Graduate?” I’ll never forget when Dustin Hoffman’s character Ben Braddock, cornered by a friend of his parents at his graduation party, was given that advice. Indeed at that time, plastics was a burgeoning industry.

Little did we know the pervasiveness of plastic would become a huge environmental concern–choking our oceans and landfills, even showing up in the seafood we eat.  “The miracle material has made modern life possible. But more than 40 percent of it is used just once…” states the recent articles “Planet or Plastic” in National Geographic.

Plastic waste takes from 10-1000 years to break down. Here’s a handy reference to how long it takes for all kinds of garbage to decompose–nothing short of generations for most everything we don’t reuse, repurpose or that actually gets recycled. When the planet dies it could very well be because it’s been buried in trash.

This year, when Plastic Free July rolled around, the hubby and I made a concerted effort to dramatically reduce our use of household plastic. Not that we hadn’t made efforts in the past several years, but sometimes plastic is unavoidable, even if it is not your choice.

In the picture are some of the good products that work for the ‘use less plastic’ efforts:

BeesWax Wraps covers bowls, wrap leftovers and is washable for reuse.  Wooden handled tooth brushes.  I think these reusable produce bags are terrific. All of these plastic alternatives are available on Amazon.com.

It took me a long time to find a refillable water bottle I liked. These from Target are great, sturdy and affordable.

Glass spray bottles (not plastic) are available from Grove Collective. Please visit their site for a growing list of natural cleaning, health, and personal care products. You can become a member and get free shipping. Their website is user friendly and you can ship gifts to other addresses.

Give it your best shot at using less plastic. Your Mother Earth will thank you!