Posted by: Laura Carter | December 6, 2014

You can’t take it with you

estate saleI stopped in at an estate sale this morning in one of the larger homes in the neighborhood. Even though I had cleaned out my parents’ four bedroom home and been to many an estate sale, I can truly say I’ve never seen so much stuff in my life!

I was fascinated and appalled all at the same time at the many, many things this family had collected over the years–antique furniture, toys, crystal, a dozen sets of dishes, an entire room of Christmas decorations, jewelry, books, clothes… An over abundance of ‘things’ in every sense of the word. Especially, when I try very hard to minimize and repurpose our belongings on a regular basis.

It also reminded of this little story I wrote a few years ago for the Current’s Flash Fiction feature.


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 and linens–all which are permeated with the odor of stale perfume. Handbags and jewelry, luggage, kitchen appliances… A bowl full of sea shells or a scorched set of cooking 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.

dresden ladiesMany times I tried to tell the story behind the Dresden 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 delicate porcelain 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 a beautiful works of art. The finely etched beaten copper table top my father brought back from Pakistan when he served there in the ’50’s. The painting of the two devilish monks my first true love, George, gave me when I was 18 years old.

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.’

Posted by: Laura Carter | November 23, 2014

Retirement–what I’m reading

Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

I am a book hoarder. I always like to have many books stashed away–either on my shelves or in my Kindle–to read at some future time. The last few months, I made it a goal to read all the hardback books I’d been saving for retirement, plus a couple of library books.

All of the following books are very good to excellent, except for the last one which was so-so–my opinions only. I’ve linked them to their page in Amazon for your convenience. Also, they are all over the map as far as genre is concerned.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbuagh

Oral History by Lee Smith (highly recommend though you may talk like a hillbilly in your head for a week afterward)

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi

The Wayfinders by Wade Davis (I wrote about this one already)

Shoot an Iraqi by Wafaa Bilal and Kim Lydersen (not what you might think and very interesting)

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Bayne (sad indicator at 10)

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. by Luis Rodriguez (read for banned book week)
 The Dog Stars by Peter Heller (library book, five star rating for post-apocalyptic genre)

Purple Cane Road (Dave Robicheaux Book 11) by James Lee Burke (library book. I’m kinda hooked on James Lee Burke at the moment)

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen

Let me know if you read any, how you like them.

Posted by: Laura Carter | November 1, 2014

Ebola is the new black

Originally posted on Deconstructing Myths:

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie extoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” Like the nameless speaker in Ralph Ellison’s contemporary masterpiece “Invisible Man”, there are those of us who know this feeling of inconspicuousness. The corporate media outlets have unwittingly reminded us all that there exists an entire continent of people who, for all intents and purposes, have disappeared off the face of the Earth. Despite frantic reports of airports blocking flights from West Africa or highly publicized outings of infected health care workers, the outbreak barely registers on the scale of public health concerns in…

View original 730 more words

Posted by: Laura Carter | October 20, 2014

TEDxSanAntonio # 5

Ideas-In-Action-TEDxSanAntonio-280wThis year’s TEDxSanAntonio event had a decidedly different tone from the four previous events. I think that’s as it should be. Constantly evolving with fresh speakers and topics, each event–a mind opening, idea sharing experience–then becomes a unique memory for its audience.

Hosted again by Rackspace, the auditorium filled with a record crowd of close to 700 attendees and volunteers. With the theme “ideas in action,” speakers often left the audience with a call to action–to become advocates for change–to fight for immigration reform; to provide better access to quality heath care; to challenge the soda companies and their sugary ways; to learn how to share ourselves more and to tell our own stories. One speaker gave us tools to determine what might be a problem, or maybe a dilemma; and another stated it was a problem we aren’t encouraging girls enough to learn STEM.

We learned “life is improv,” and ‘hacker’ is not a bad word but creativity. Because the “old ways can’t get us to the new place,” we should improve support for urban impact entrepreneurs and develop urban agriculture. On the other hand, ‘colonias’ can become engaged communities. We nodded our heads in agreement that our schools are often “educating with broken tools” and project- based learning is so much more effective.  We stood on our feet and put our hands together with acceptance for a journey of self discovery as a young man came out of the closet and onto the stage as a drag queen. We heard a poet and a river speak the distinctive language of San Antonio.

Kori Aston hand-painted this picture while she told a story of strength and love.  It’s a good word for TEDxSanAntonio, one that I find each year. All the speakers’ names and topics are posted on the TEDxSanAntonio website  All the previous speakers’ videos are there as well. This year’s will be there after processing.

Kori Aston painting

Kori Aston painting

An experience better enjoyed live, plan to attend next year’s event–no doubt already being planned. Better yet, take heed to the issues presented, choose to make a difference in your community with your time and talents. Join the TEDxSanAntonio community by engaging in a Salon, a smaller, usually more ‘hands-on’ event, scheduled throughout the year.

Posted by: Laura Carter | October 10, 2014

Enjoying retirement with a nap

Some time ago, both my husband and I made the decision to retire in the summer of 2014. In preparation for beginning this new phase in our lives, I did some reading on the subject. I came across some articles by Dudley Tower, PhD on his website Dynamic Aging Institute. According to Tower, “dynamic aging is a unique, systemic, more fully engaged, and proactive approach to one’s own aging process.” He states the retirement isn’t meant to be a “leisurely declining into oblivion.” And, the retiree should “…engage completely with life, develop fresh skills and qualities, and find creative new areas of your life…” I find this approach both validating and exhilarating.

Among all the other changes and new adventures, it may seem a minor point, but one of my first challenges has been learning how to ‘sleep-in’. I put away my wristwatch the day I retired and no longer set the alarm at what I now perceive as a God-awful early hour. But, I still wake up about the same time as I always did when I was working and am unable to get back to sleep. The cat doesn’t help as he obviously has not changed his schedule for breakfast and going on his morning inspection of the yard.

asleep with a bookMy solution? I treat myself with naps. I cherish this new freedom to incorporate a nap into the day’s activities. I lie down in the quiet and close my eyes for as little as 20 minutes, or sometimes longer. My favorite way to nap is to bring a book and drift off reading.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, napping offers these benefits for healthy adults, including:
Reduced fatigue
Increased alertness
Improved mood
Improved performance, including quicker reaction time, better memory, less confusion, and fewer accidents and mistakes

That works for me!

And, now, that this post is done, excuse me while I go take a little nap.

Posted by: Laura Carter | October 8, 2014

TEDxSanAntonio-attend or watch

Ideas-In-Action-TEDxSanAntonio-280wThe fifth annual TEDxSanAntonio: “Ideas in Action” is set for Saturday, October 18 at Rackspace Global Headquarters.

I’m sure it will prove to be another assembly of world-changing conversations about the most innovative, creative, intriguing, and sometimes disruptive, ideas alive in our city on the rise. Speaker topics range from art, science, education and health, to technology, social justice, and the environment.

If you are wavering as whether to attend or not, check out the full list of speakers and topics. This impressive line-up should entice you to join our TEDxSanAntonio community as we once again gather for the all-day experience of feeding our heads.

Register and attend in person- it’s not too late!

Watch the livestream at

Join the Watch party at Geekdom

There’s a seat waiting for you!tedx empty chairs

Posted by: Laura Carter | September 23, 2014

British Invasion Redux

Last night I went to a great music concert/fundraiser in Austin courtesy of my sister-in-law who works for Health Alliance for Austin Musicians or HAAM.

The British Invasion of the 60’s was revisited by an eclectic procession of Austin/Texas/British musicians. It was a very entertaining musical history lesson and a whole bunch of fun!

allatx playbill

Click for full list of performers

The Zombies (in the flesh!) sang this old Kinks tune. It really it made an impression on me, so I decided to share.

Posted by: Laura Carter | September 14, 2014

Cultural Extinction

At any given time, I have about a dozen books on my shelf waiting for the right time to be read. So it was with “The Wayfinders-Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World,” by Wade Davis, which had been waiting patiently for about three years. Once I’d read the first few pages, I gulped this book like it was a life-giving elixir.

way finder book coverDavis begins by sharing his view of the world. And believe me, from his life experiences as a National Geographic explorer, writer and anthropologist, he is well versed in world. “Together the myriad of cultures makes up an intellectual and spiritual web of life that envelopes the planet and is every bit as important to the well being of the planet as is the biological web of life we know as the biosphere.” Davis calls this social web of life an ethnosphere — the “sum total of our thoughts and intuitions, myths and beliefs.” This ethnosphere is the core of our adaptive nature and our legacy.  And, the truth is we are facing the loss of half of humanity’s social, cultural and intellectual legacy, as the extinction of human cultures is picking up pace.

Excellently written and thought provoking, this book is essentially a compilation of Davis’ series of Massey Lectures. Davis shares his extensive knowledge of a good many diverse populations with whom he developed relationships. First, the Polynesians, spreading their cultural realm to hundreds of islands throughout the Pacific with their amazing art of navigation. Who knew Thor Hyderdahl’s “Kon Tiki” was full of bunk! Peoples of the Anaconda is a perfect example of a large and diverse civilization whose existence is woven into the very fabric of its physical location–along the Amazon River. The Aborigines of Australia, with their ritual ‘dreaming,’ evolved a deep, timeless relationship with their world. “What does it mean that though out history “dynamic living people have been driven out of existence by identifiable and overwhelming external forces?” Davis asks.

With a perfect blend of science and human insights, Davis makes  powerful observations. In the chapter on Sacred Geography he states, “…I would like to reflect on this particular attitude of ours, this manner in which we have reduced our planet to a commodity, a raw resource to be consumed at our whim.”  The modern world…”is certainly not the true and only pulse of history. It is merely a constellation, of beliefs, conviction, paradigm, that represent one way of doing things…”

For some reason I thought of this song when I was writing this blog. In the vast oceans, we are but ripples and waves. But, as that, we part of the whole. We are past, present, and the future–if we don’t fuck it up.

“I’m a wave upon the ocean, I’m a little ripple on the sea. Don’t get no crazy notion, you know you’re very much like me.” Shivas Headband

Posted by: Laura Carter | September 2, 2014

Free Justin Carter

Justin Carter


New November 24, 2014

Today we learned that the motions denied by the judge in September will be appealed to the Appellate Court, which is a good thing. I think he will still have to make some pre-trial hearings, but the dates aren’t set yet. And, the party never ends…

New September 2, 2014: Family and friends rallied behind Justin as he was in court two days last week. His wonderful lawyers, Don Flanary III and Chad Van Brundt argued two significant motions, one for “no probable cause” regarding the search warrant. The other was dismissal of a ‘confession’ Justin made to two detectives from NB–without his lawyer being present. Yes, that happened. No surprise, the judge denied both.

What’s next? Flanary and Van Brundt continue the quest for justice by appealing the decisions to the 3rd Court of Appeals. That will only take a couple of years. Yes, that the way it happens.

In the meantime, they will ask for the bond restrictions to be eased so at least Justin might be able to work.

Sitting in court, listening to witnesses for the defense define social media, hyperbole, and other aspects of the law was very interesting. As my granddaughter said, “It’s really nothing like they show on TV.” I considered it a real learning experience–however unfortunate the reason we were all there in the first place.

Thanks to all our friends and supporters and our lawyers for whom we have the utmost respect.

I want to add that in no way do we make light of what Justin wrote, only that it was meant to be a sarcastic retort.

June 23, 2014: More trial delays. Not sure what’s happening. I trust the lawyers 100% to be doing an excellent job for my grandson. Justin and I laughed all the way home talking about “Game of Thrones” characters. We definitely do not agree on favorites.

May 9, 2014: Justin’s new court date is June 19th. Ironically both Juneteenth, “the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States” (read more), and Justin’s brother Logan’s birthday. Hopefully this auspicious date will translate to a full dismissal of all charges. Please sign the petition page at, where there are usually updates as well.

March 2014:Latest article from the Austin Chronicle. Pretty much sums up what’s been happening. Next court date is March 27, 2014.

December 2013:Justin is still going to court for pre-trial hearings, about once a month. The next pre-trial hearing is on December 16, 2013. It would be a nice Christmas gift if his case was dismissed and he was free to get back to his job and life.

Thanks to an anonymous donor angel, Justin’s $500,000.00 bail was paid in full and he was released to his family on July 11th. It is not over yet, as the charges are still pending. We are grateful he is no longer in jail. Check the news for other updates.


OK, I’m really diving in now. Since June 25, when my son did his first interview about Justin’s plight, the story has spread across the world. Never in my life did I think my family would be the center of a story that continues to make the airwaves, printed media and rounds on the internet.

I also find rather Kafkaesque Justin’s arrest and subsequent incarceration, the outrageous bond, and the unwillingness of the prosecution to even entertain the fact that they have blown a comment completely out of proportion.

I think one of the reasons this story hits home is because there is a whole generation of citizens out there who understand the propensity of ‘trash talk’ on internet forums and games. Facebook has become a repository of some of the banter. Cruise around the internet and you’ll find comments that certainly make my generation cringe. But, criminal? I think not. It’s also the reality of jailhouse abuse that has us angry and upset. Should it be accepted that every person behind bars is abused and that’s just part of the punishment? To me that’s criminal.

I’ve read so many stories, with so many spins on the facts, though I thank them all for getting the word out. I thought the one from the Christian Science Monitor was the most intelligent.  Plus a video from Sky Williams who also made a fundraising page.

Needless to say, we love everyone of you who has supported Justin in comments, by signing the pledge (86,918 as if post time). Please support the fundraisers for bail. I promise the money will go to getting Justin out of jail. I also thank the most excellent attorney, Donald H. Flanary III for his time and expertise on this case.

I look forward to hugging my grandson in the flesh very soon.

Posted by: Laura Carter | July 8, 2014

Speaker Search Underway for TEDxSANANTONIO 2014

“We heard you, San Antonio!”


With a theme of “Ideas in Action,” TEDxSanAntonio is now accepting speaker applications for the event that will be held at Rackspace Global Headquarters on Saturday, October 18, 2014. Visit to complete the online application. See complete news at

Here are just two of my favorite speakers from previous years to give you a taste of the San Antonio flavored TEDx event. I liked these two because they were compelling and inspiring personal stories. Please visit  TEDxSanAntonio to view any or all the speakers from the first four years. You won’t want to miss the 5th annual event!
Linda Perez 2012 TEDxSA

Life is short, build a ranch, and pick your bull wisely! Linda Perez 2012 Photo credit Davis Staedtler


Nelson Guda, tedxsanantonio

Nelson Guda 2013 A life photographer with a stunning, visual story. Photo credit C. Mims

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,072 other followers