On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 9, 2019:

Wedding scrapbookPhotography is a favorite pastime with many members of my family, especially my sister-in-law, JoLynn. She’s very good with a camera, and in the pre-digital days, she filmed many memorable events including mine and David’s wedding. She has gifted many of us with beautiful scrapbooks, and she has become the unofficial family historian.

Since the advent of digital imagery, JoLynn has spent countless hours scanning and cataloging photographs which she can access on request – and I have made a number of requests. She continues to snap photos and make scrapbooks, making use of new technology to create hardback coffee table books of family reunions and trips, special occasions like landmark birthdays and anniversaries, and the lives of her three sons and eight grandchildren. Read the rest of this entry »

Becca Hart asked some very interesting questions in our conversation. Check it out and see if my answers were equally interesting.

Becca Hart

I recently had a chance to connect with Linda Brendle, author of Mom’s Long Goodbye, the story of her journey as a caregiver of her parents, particularly her mom,  her mother with Alzheimer’s and her father with Dementia. It’s an honest and raw look at what being a caregiver to ailing parents is like, the ups and the downs of that personal journey.

Hi, Linda! There’s a lot in the book about you as well, but tell us a little more about yourself, perhaps, that’s not in the book.

I was born in a tiny West Texas town name Merkel, Texas. Dad used to tell me he got me at the hardware store. That was not far from the truth as the only clinic in town was on the second floor above a hardware store. Years later, my husband, David, and I took a weekend motorcycle trip to Merkel. I…

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Published in the Rains County Leader on April 2, 2019:

A spray of white roses adorning the door of the Rains County Leader is a testament to the love and respect given to a life well lived. Earl C. Hill, Jr., owner, publisher, and former editor of the Leader died on March 27, and he will be missed. I don’t have a lot of personal memories of Mr. Hill, but the few I have are good ones.

David and I moved to Emory in February, 2011, and I submitted my first article to the Leader in September of that year. The titled of it was “Your Tax Dollars at Work,” and it was about the Senior Center. Participation in the weekday lunch program was down, and there was concern that the program would be dropped. My purpose in writing the article was to introduce the service to anyone who might not know about it and to encourage seniors to try it out for the first time or to come back. I didn’t hear back from Mr. Hill, so I assumed he didn’t like what I had to say – but then my article appeared in the paper in the “Letters to the Editor” section.

I wrote another article or two over the next several months, and each one was printed. Then, in January of 2012, I received a phone call from Mr. Hill. He said that he had checked out my blog, and that he liked what I wrote. He also said that any time I wanted to submit something, he would print it. I’m sure there were limits to that offer, but I guess never pushed them too far. True to his word, he printed everything I submitted – with the exception of one column in which I mentioned that we were out of town. Company policy didn’t allow articles that might notify thieves of a potential target. He even gave me a column with a byline at the beginning and a brief bio at the end.

At first, I wrote when the spirit moved me, but I began to develop a small following at the Senior Center. People began asking me on Monday or Tuesday if I had a column in that week’s paper, and some were disappointed if I said no. Some even based their decision of whether to buy a paper on my answer, so I began to feel an obligation, both to my readers and to the paper, to become more regular in my writing. The final push to weekly submissions came when Mr. Hill gave my column a title.

Mom and Dad were both raised on farms in West Texas, but they had long since moved to the city by the time I was born. Until David and I bought our two-plus acres in Rains County, I had never dealt close up and personal with the realities of country living. A lot of my columns dealt with the struggles of adjusting – and then I decided to plant a garden. Oh, the writing material! There was wind, rain, drought, bugs, leaf mold and fungus, garlic-eating gophers, tomato-eating squirrels, leaf-eating deer, and much more. I moaned and complained that people from the city didn’t know how to deal with such things, and one Tuesday morning, I discovered that I had become “City Girl.”

All my correspondence with the Leader is done electronically, and I only remember meeting Mr. Hill face to face one time. I believe it was the winter of 2012 when David and I stopped by the Leader office for the Christmas Open House. We met several staff members, and then one of them introduced us to the owner himself. He took us on a personal tour of the building, showing us pictures of earlier offices and owners and explaining the inner workings of the operation. It was obvious that he was proud of the results of his life’s work, and with good reason.

I didn’t know Earl Hill, but based on the care with which he oversaw the operation of the Leader, it was obvious that he was a man of conviction and principle. He knew what kind of paper he wanted to produce, and he refused to bow to money-making trends or gimmicks if it meant violating his principles. On the other hand, he didn’t hesitate to take a chance on something he liked, even if it was a writer like me who had no experience or references to offer. Thank you, Mr. Hill, and may God continue to bless the legacy and memories you left behind.



Published in the Rains County Leader on March 26, 2019:

Christopher Knight's CampAt the most recent meeting of the East Texas Library Friends Book Club, we discussed the book “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel. The subtitle is “The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.” It’s the story of Christopher Knight who walked into the woods when he was 20 years old and lived there until he was captured 27 years later.

Our initial discussions centered around what a hermit actually is and whether Knight met those requirements. We couldn’t come to a consensus on that issue, so we moved on to the morality of how he supported himself – by stealing from vacation homes and a summer camp facility near his woodland home. Most of us agreed that theft is wrong regardless of the need and the self-imposed limitations on what is taken, although there was one dissenter who thought his actions were acceptable. The majority of our time, though, was spent on the subject of being alone. What was the longest period of time any of us had been alone with no contact or interaction with another person? Most of us had never spent more than 24-48 hours in solitude, much less 27 years – and most of us had no desire to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

We miss National Chili Month in February, but chili is always a popular topic, especially in Texas!

Anaiah Press

Photo by Zak Chapman on Pexels.com

I wrote this late on a Sunday evening in October of 2014. It had been a long day, but a good one. My church had held its Third Annual Chili Cook-Off after the morning service. It was lots of fun, and it was a lot like the family reunions I attended as a child.

Planning for the event began several weeks – or even months – in advance. People who didn’t normally consider themselves cooks pulled out their recipe folders, and if they didn’t have recipe folders of their own, they consulted Mom or Grandma or Uncle Joe who always made the best chili in the world. Discussions were heard in the hallways and parking lot about which cut of meat was best, which secret ingredient was sure to capture the taste buds of the judges, and of course, whether real chili should have…

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About the Book:

Five years old, frightened, lonely and confused, Jeanne faces a bleak future. Childhood is abruptly snatched away and she is robbed of any sense of security. When exploring her new ‘home’ she discovers an appalling Great Hall full of implements of torture and torment. Desolate, the vulnerable little Princess is seized with a spirit of despair. Overwhelmed with loss and abandonment, she has awakened in a horrible place, cold, bare and immense; permeated with a dark, heavy, mood. How can she face the coming days in this abysmal castle?

A historical novel about the realities of The French Reformation on the lives of the people during the 16th Century, the story traces the political maneuverings, and intrigues surrounding a five-year-old innocent child snatched from the security of her parents. She is ordered to an abandoned castle to be isolated and hidden away for grooming and education in preparation to become a future queen for the use and benefit of political greed for the mighty King of France, Françoise I.

At such a tender age, Jeanne d’Albret is an uncommon child. God blesses her with an incredible intellect, a royal bloodline strong in wisdom, discernment and queenly qualities. Embedded in her deep subconscious is an imperial intuition gleaned during her short time at the castle of her regal parents. Jeanne is a strong-willed child, stubborn and consumed with discerning truth at the foundation of every decision she makes. Given opportunities to search broad educational horizons and to explore the pros and cons of her own experiences, her growing-up years result in molding a strong-willed, compassionate woman scarred by mistreatment from others; nevertheless, independent and unflinching in her concern for her family, her kingdom and her stand for truth and moral authority amid the chaos of one of the most singularly terrible times of history. She emerges as a leader and defender of the French Huguenots during a pivotal movement of the 1500’s toward true worship.

After Jeanne’s death, France collapses in a morass of evil acts, persecutions and appalling inhumanity. Wave after wave of French nobles and leading producers of all kinds of goods denied an opportunity to worship as they deem right are forced to leave their lush estates, abundant wealth, and lifetime friends to flee for their lives among sheltering countries of Europe and eventually to a new land of promise across the oceans to America.


My Review:

Princess Jeanne of Navarre isn’t a Disney princess who rides off into the sunset with her prince to live happily ever after. Jeanne d’Albret was born and bred to rule, and she ruled well, but at great cost. History is not my favorite subject, but Thorns of a Reformation Rose kept me turning pages from beginning to end. The author took the two-dimensional history from her extensive research and used her imagination to create a colorful, enthralling world where her characters lived, loved, cried, laughed, fought, won, and died. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves an epic tale of the drama of 16th century royalty that reveals all the flaws behind the pageantry.

About the Author:

Jean Loidolt Head ShotJeanne Loidolt lives in East Texas on a quiet, peaceful farm with her husband, Dick.  She is retired from a career as a legal administrative assistant in Dallas. Jeanne is a mother of three sons and a daughter. She enjoys staying in touch with ten grandchildren. She keeps busy in her church and her artistic passion is water color and oil painting, although her attention has been dedicated to writing “THORNS OF A REFORMATION ROSE.”  Of course, Jeanne has other ideas for more historical fiction stories.

Find the author at her website.

Buy the Book on Amazon



Visit the Anaiah Press blog where I answer a few questions about me and talk a bit about Mom’s Long Goodbye.

Anaiah Press

  • Tell us a little about yourself.

I first began to write during my years as a caregiver – Mom’s Long Good-Bye is my second caregiving memoir. In the last few years I have ventured into fiction writing, and I hope to have a second novel available for the public in the not too distant future. I recently gave up a part-time secretarial job at my church, so I am now retired except for an on-line position with BookPros Publishing – and my writing. I am an active blogger, and I write a column for the weekly newspaper in the tiny East Texas town where my husband David and I live with our feral cat Kitty.

  • How did you hear about Anaiah Press?

In July of 2013, one of the members of my author support group posted information about PitchMAS, a semi-annual blog contest and Twitter party put together by Jessa…

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