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.

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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?

 

 


There’s Something Happening Here

May 16, 2020

I think we can all agree there is definitely something happening here.

Today (May 16, 2020) the World Chart reads: United States

Coronavirus Cases: 1,484,579, Deaths: 88,523

Even so, there is a segment of stupids who still believe it is all a hoax, the numbers are inflated, precautions are a violation of their civil rights and on ad nauseam. When did so many people decide science was a hoax? Boggles the  mind.

Negative thoughts: Yep, I’ve got them. I bet you do too. Today a Facebook friend posted:

“I just heard about people who foolishly dismissed COVID 19 as a hoax and then died. Sad enough. But then I read about other people making comments like ” he got what was coming” and gloating. If someone disagrees with you or denies science, maybe quite stupid –it is unfortunate and tragic, but remember that they are human beings– flawed and foolish– but just as precious to those who love them as we are to our loved ones.

The people who denied COVID 19 as a hoax and died, may have been foolish and reckless, but they and more importantly, their families are human beings. If you believe as I do, that human beings–however distasteful– are as Martin Luther King reminded us are no less in the image of God than we are. Love your neighbor. Easy when you like your neighbor, but divine when you don’t.

Growing up an Army brat provided me with a flexible upbringing and open mind for which I am grateful.

But, probably nothing prepared me, or the rest of us, for what a global pandemic can mean for our health and well-being as a population.  Especially as we have a President (and I use that term loosely) who is out of his depth entirely, and quite clueless as to how to help us. Perhaps he really doesn’t care what happens to the hoi polloi–as the fewer of us there are, the more for him and his cronies.

One of the cool things happening are the virtual concerts, meetings, medical appointment etc. But again, we need to remember not everyone has good access to the internet or knows how to navigate a computer or smart phone. I hope I never outgrow my wonder of learning new stuff.

Sammy Hagar and others perform the title song

 


Serious questions and other stuff

May 7, 2020

What’s going on in your brain these days? Here are a few things that keep me up at night.

Cool tips for toilet paper roll art.

What was the deal with the run on toilet paper? Some of us have issues with tissues and were a bit concerned, and relieved when all the panic buying leveled out. I still count the squares and try to be conservative just in case.

Now meat production is in the COVID cross-hairs as workers are falling ill at an alarming rate.

Where has God been hiding thru all this–what’s the purpose–are we being punished? I get my free range faith from a number of sources including my parents and the nuns with whom I worked for 20+ years. It’s been 18 years since I set foot in a church. I’m ok with that. I go to church in my mind and I pray often. My daughter in law is a Pagan–which is a reverence for the natural world. She wrote this on her Facebook page and I concur. “I believe in the power of prayer no matter the faith. Prayer with good intentions to The Divine, by whatever name, is powerful and exponential.”

Why are there so many stupid people? A friend of mine asked me what makes some people so stupid? The question was a reference to the folks who still believe COVID-19 is a ‘fake news hoax’ and/or maybe having to wear a mask and practice social distancing is a violation of their rights. Welp! that’s a complicated question. Nature vs Nurture kind of question. Scientists and sociologists have studies and theories galore. It’s just life. Everyone is a unique mixture of their genetics, upbringing and culture.

“Life’s lessons can take many forms and present us with many challenges. There are scores of mundane lessons that help us learn to navigate with grace, poise, and tolerance in this world. And there are those once-in-a-lifetime lessons that touch us so deeply that they change the course of our lives. The latter can be heartrending, and we may wander through life as unwilling students for a time. But the quality of our lives is based almost entirely on what we derive from our experiences.” (Daily Om) “And to our ability to respond positively to change.” (me) as I ascribe  to this statement from Charles Darwin.

What would we have done without the internet and steaming entertainment? I’ve been streaming and binge watching thru several platforms for about 8 years now. We cut the cable early and never looked back. I read Netflix had 16 million new subscribers in March alone. There was marvelous and quick adaptation of online learning from school districts and teachers all over the country through technology. Too many businesses to count found out really quickly that it was either embrace the online presence or not survive.

I see on Facebook and other social media all the clever ways people have made do with alternate resources. Heck, most of the masks people are wearing come from enterprising individuals who answered a call. All of these things represent adaption to change in a good way.  Oh yeah, let’s add food and wine delivery services to the awesome adaptation list.

Adapting the cocktail hour–in the town-home alley with neighbors

Adapting well and staying healthy might just be my new motto.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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!

 


How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Covid-19 quarantine.

April 9, 2020

As hubby and I mark our fourth week of isolation and social distancing, here’s a quick list of what I’ve learned so far.

  • I actually count the squares of toilet paper.
  • It’s not necessary to put on makeup if you’re not going out anywhere.
  • I can still crochet.
  • I had my first live, via the internet, doctor appointment re the rash on my eyelid. His recommendation for treatment is working well. Hubby talked to his doctors via Zoom. Pretty damn cool if you ask me.

I thought I was being so good by going to the gym frequently. But, I have to say the Silver Sneakers’ exercise videos are great. The yoga, core and conditioning workouts make me use muscles I had forgotten about. The link is to their Facebook page where they have videos and other helpful information.

Other thoughts. “Most Christians welcome death” says the mega church pastor planning on holding Easter Services. Not this gal! I gotta lot of living to do yet.

Our current administration and it’s leader DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE F**K THEY ARE DOING. Nor do they care about the general populace in any way. So you’re on you own.

Be kind to others and take care of yourself.

Our kitty–who has not changed or learned one damn thing.


Doing the social distancing dance

March 27, 2020

As with most of my fellow Americans, I’ve spent the past two weeks perfecting the art of social distancing.

All across the country schools, retail stores and offices restaurants, theaters, gym… were mandated closed. A brand new sort of abnormal daily life is being created from one moment to the next as our lives changed seemingly overnight. It probably looks differently according to our respective jobs, family dynamics, our needs and wants. For some it’s learning how to home-school the kiddos, for others it’s figuring out how to work from home–where to put the laptop so the dogs or toddlers don’t run through your meeting with the boss on Zoom.

Some church pastors feel God can only be heard if one is sitting in their congregation. This is totally irresponsible as now several congregations have reported dozens of their members testing positive for COVID-19, which can be deadly. Some of these folks will get to meet their Maker sooner than expected.

Others are busy being the super heroes of these new, scary days by stocking the grocery shelves and cleaning everything twice so the customers are safe. Delivery drivers often save the day by allowing us to have food and other stuff (wine) brought to our doors.

Working with not enough vital equipment and resources in hospitals and clinics  our doctors, nurses and medical techs are putting their very lives on the line every day to save those infected with COVID-19.

We all know, but some won’t admit, that our current government administration not only dropped the ball on helping the American people survive this pandemic, but refuses to pick up the pieces in any helpful manner. Some in our government are fighting for us. Others have some kind of macabre desire to actually fight against our survival. I know you know what I mean.

For me, Netflix and Prime Video are my new best friends. Finding toilet paper and eggs was like a scavenger hunt–with the prize found at a small organic food store. I walk every day, passing by my neighbors with at least six feet leeway which usually means one of us is out in the street. I decided to re-learn to crochet, work a crossword puzzle daily, read books and magazines. Silver Sneakers yoga has also been a good exercise and has meditative value as well–focus on breathing in and out ignoring the absolute panic of uncertainly which looms right around the corner.

Social media is good and bad all at the same time. Good luck sorting thru the true vs false posting. But, it can also be a really good resource, lifeline, fun time kind of place. Ignore the gobbledygook and connect in a positive way is my humble advice.

Me in my new favorite shirt for no reason, just fun.

 


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.


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.