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!


Roads less traveled

June 16, 2018

In the past two months, the husband and I set out across multiple states and thousands of miles to visit family. We drove past the farm lands of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Iowa into rural Minnosta for a visit with daughter and family which included the youngest grandkids. A short trek on the way home was made across South Dakota and into Nebraska in respect to a friend’s company.

After a week or so of R&R, we headed towards the mountains of Colorado, traveling up through the western side of New Mexico to visit the son and his family–the older, but no less precious, grandkids. Then, across Colorado on surely the highest most winding roads in the US, and  into Northern New Mexico to great conversations with long-time friends.

In addition to the most treasured aspects of being around those we love, we experienced some events on the road that left significant impressions.

Most of the roads we took were quite devoid of other cars, except major highways with all the trucks and around big cities. This led to a bit of anxiousness because there was no cell phone coverage either.

We drove through a forest fire on the road from Silverton to Durango. We had to follow a police ‘pilot’ car in a convoy while the helicopter with a gigantic bucket of water flew over head to the douse the flames. And, then there was the dust storm right outside Big Spring, TX.

Durango forest fire area

Driving white knucked through a torrential rain storm in rural Minnesota with lakes on either side of the narrow road, we found out lightening can go right through your car.

Windfarms with amazing opticals of appearing never-ending by popping up on the horizons as you drive for miles and miles.

The gigantic rock formations in New Mexico–like reminents of a Martian city.

Our little Ford Fiesta got an estimated 40MPG and never waivered over any of the challeging roads or situations.

Shiprock, NM

Two old farts solving the world’s problems. Or, maybe talking fishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of right now, I vow never to road trip again. But I know the lure of family will take me again over roads less traveled.


Our time as an illusion

March 30, 2018

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.


Hallelujah for bringing in another new year

December 31, 2017

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.


Letter to my blog

November 2, 2017

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

 

 

 

 

 


Books, Books, and More Books

June 25, 2017

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.

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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.

 

 


Ah sweet, and not so sweet, mystery of life

April 7, 2017

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).


Thawing out

December 24, 2016

So here it is.  ‘tis the “season to be jolly” has come ‘round again. I’ve been stuck these past few weeks in the post-election blues and my brain felt frozen. But today I did my “Merry Christmas” phone calls to grandsons and a couple of old friends. It worked somewhat to elevate the spirits without actual spirits, but that will surely come later.

I decided to make a Christmas wish list/New Year’s resolutions:

I wish the next Congress will not slash and burn Medicare and Social Security.

I wish my grandkids won’t end up glowing in the dark.

I wish for the cream of humanity to rise to the top and leave the sour milk behind.

I wish for us to be kind to one another.

Next year:

I will try to experience something new at least once a week.

I will spend less on food and eat healthier.

I will not let social media freak me out and stoke fear.

I will hate the cat a little less, maybe…

This a beautiful Christmas picture I saw today on my daughter-in-law’s Facebook page. I think it came from Realm of the Faerie Garden

christmas-picture

So, Merry Christmas, dammit!

 

 


Senior City Dreaming

November 5, 2016

San Antonio is a great big city. Even though, we hold the dubious distinction of being the least equal city in the nation when it comes to the extreme differences between our more prosperous neighborhoods and our most distressed neighborhoods, I think we have a decent community oriented vision for city governance which includes trying to equalize opportuniies.

Over the past several years there have been district and city-wide calls for San Antonio citizens to come together to share their ideas and visions for the future. As we are imaging of the best way for all of us to enjoy life to the fullest, separate sections of the city, through their district leadership and neighborhood associations have become active in trying to determine their specific needs from budgets to services.

Through a community-wide visioning process in 2010the nonprofit SA2020, created and set goals for eleven different measurable areas from arts to family well-being to economic competitiveness. Now I see that some folks are looking for input for 2040—when I most assuredly will be dead.  But the 2020 goals I believe, God willing, are within my reach. As a senior citizen, I have not been aware that much of this planning or vision making has been aimed at seniors.

However, last Friday there was a good community conversation–Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio aka SALSA, organized by the SA2020, Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and the San Antonio Area Foundation. A decently diverse (maybe there could have been more African-Americans) group came together in a guided discussion about our experiences as a senior citizens in San Antonio. The discussion comprised of three parts: The best of what is, the best of what could be and imagining what might be the best world for successfully aging in our city.

Our table of four women and two men talked about access to health programs, continued educational opportunities, transportation and relationships. The following slide is a complication of all tables’ discussions. They are listed not necessarily in order of importance.

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We agreed that while there may be a good deal of senior resources already in place, communication of their availability is lacking. We think good medical services, including the VA, are abundant.

We dreamed of more home-based assistance for those who need help keeping on track with medications or transitioning from hospital or rehab to home. We envisioned a “Silver Service” bus system specifically for transportation to medical facilities. Or, what about a program to address the many issues that would help us stay in our own home as we and the house age.

Laura McKieran, DrPH, Director of Community Information Now (CINOW) said this on her Facebook page. “We just wrapped up a community event where over 100 people talked about their vision for their future in SA – about what’s good and right, about what a life well-lived looks like, about what we together can make true of our community. So much positive energy – hope, excitement, straight-up-legit *joy* – no election pall in the room at all.” That pretty much sums it up for me.

Here are a few resources I thought were good to share.

The City has nine senior centers.

San Antonio Oasis

Alamo Service Connections

Someone asked me about community gardens. Actually, NOWCastSA has a lot of good information geared toward seniors.

In May 2017, TPR is having a Silver Solutions event.

Call a Ride for Seniors

Successfully Aging and Living in San Antonio (SALSA) is the Area Foundation’s newest initiative to create a community where seniors thrive and are prized as vital citizens. They will use what they learned from our session, along with other information, to create a strategy for action and grant-making.

Everyone who contributed is an agent of change, which suits me just fine.


Serpentine Roads and Starry Skies

September 25, 2016

Our recent trip to Colorado and New Mexico was full of adventure–which I highly recommend, at any age, to stimulate your brain and keep your juices flowing.20160916_143101

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Driving up to Colorado through New Mexico, we were treated to a variety of big and beautiful landscapes. I saw parts of NM I’d never seen before.

Colorado proved to be breathtaking in many ways. Holy cow, the Colorado mountain roads are crazy twisted. Mountains on one side and bottomless valleys on the other, but if you are driving you can hardly take your eyes off the road to look. Highway 141 into Norwood had a 7% grade downhill for eight miles!

Farms and pastures, bright green Cedar and Pine trees, golden Aspens, running rivers and the Blue Mesa reservoir–just some of what Colorado is made of.20160919_093807

In Norwood, granddaughter Eve, her mom Jennifer and I had a wonderful time together at the farmer’s market and talking about our favorite TV shows like Buffy and Farscape. Eve told me all about her high school, total enrollment about 90.

Norwood’s few restaurants served excellent food and they all offered gluten free choices. We had lively family meals every evening. My son drove us down “Norwood Hill” and we all got out and took pictures.20160918_105536

In New Mexico we visited long-time friends Melissa and Henry and their neighbor who I also knew from college. We three ‘gals’ yakked up a storm leaving the guys without a chance to get a word in edge-wise.

Drinking in high places: Henry made delicious margaritas that included a splash of brandy. I had two. Spinning around looking up at the starry, starry sky, my head was buzzing like a beehive all night.

We brought home yummy tomatoes and squash from Melissa’s garden.
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