On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for October, 2019

My tech guru | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rain County Leader on October 29, 2019:

David and Linda at Fay's 2018David has earned a reputation as the tech guru at the Senior Center because of his knowledge of all things electronic – computers, phones, tablets, and even high-tech watches. Many of our friends have asked him questions about how to fix or operate their devices, and when they didn’t understand the answer, they brought the contrary gadget to him for help. Problems range from a phone that won’t ring because the sound is turned off to a new computer that needs a complete setup.

Reactions differ, too. Some take his services for granted like the man who dropped a new phone in front of him with a curt, “Set that up for me,” as he headed over to another table to visit with friends. Others offer to pay him, which he usually refuses. My favorite though is the man who was having trouble getting his new TV up and running. David made a house call, and once the TV was set up, the man offered money. David wouldn’t take it, but he gave him several packages of home grown frozen purple hull peas and two packages of peaches. Later in the week, he brought us a pie. Now that’s gratitude!

People often ask how David knows what to do to fix whatever ails these mysterioustech guru machines that have become such a necessity to modern life. The answer is simple – he reads – a lot. He is the only person I know who reads the owner’s manuals of everything he owns. He also reads blogs, articles, and updates from the major communication companies. And although he may not remember what he had for breakfast, or if he had breakfast, he seems to remember most of what he reads.

Through our almost twenty years together, I have been the main beneficiary of his technical knowledge. When we met, I had a small desktop computer and a VCR, both of which I knew how to turn on but not much else. Since then I’ve been through several phones and a few laptops and all the problems that come with them. He has always been there to help, even when the problems were with company computers at my office.

Computer filesHowever, there is an old adage that says the doctor’s children are the last to be treated, the cobbler’s children have worn out shoes, and so forth. This past weekend I wondered if the same principal applied to the wives of tech gurus. I’m working on a new book and am trying to do the design and setup myself. In order to format the cover to suit the publisher, I had to download a new program to my laptop. In the process, my computer froze up, and all I had was a black screen with the silhouettes of a few ghostly boxes. I’ve learned enough from David to know what to try first. I hit the Escape key several times with no effect, and I tried to open the Task Manager with the same result. Finally, crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t lose anything vital, I rebooted. The same screen came up.

After going through this series of moves several more times, I told David about my troubles. He was watching the LSU football game, so I’m not sure he even heard me. At half time he announced he was going across the street for a cup of coffee with Charles, and I felt as if the doctor had left the building. But I had a few Saturday chores to do, so like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, I decided to worry about my computer later.

When David came home, he noticed that my laptop was closed, so he asked if I had everything taken care of. When I said no, he immediately sat down in my spot and went to work. I could tell he was going through the same routine I had with the same results. He said unsettling things like “I don’t know…” and “…bad hard drive.” I wracked my brain trying to remember if I had backed up my latest manuscript on my flash drive. Then, he went into the office. A few minutes later, he yelled for me to bring my laptop in there. He hooked it up to an external hard drive, and it started. In the next few hours, I was able to download the new program and finish my book cover. The next day, my laptop was back to normal, and I made sure to backup all my files.

Sometimes David thinks I understand more about technology than I do. I’ve learned a lot from him, as you can tell by some of the techie terms I throw around, but new devices are invented much more quickly than I can learn. Sure, I can download a program and use some pretty sophisticated software to create and share the things I write. But I still have no idea how to operate the DVD player we’ve had for almost a decade. And since we discontinued satellite TV and began streaming everything through the Internet, if my tech guru isn’t home, I read a book.

Blessings

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Fall is almost here | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 22, 2019:

Fall color in texasAutumn arrived on the calendar several weeks ago, but the actual season is just now making its appearance in Texas. We’ve had a few cool nights that called for a blanket, and one night I woke up to find Kitty snuggled up against me. And a few mornings have called for a lightweight jacket, but we still have some days – like today – when the high temperature is near 90 degrees. Still, fall is definitely in the air, and here are a few ways to tell that Summer is on its way out.

Most of the many trees in our yard are oaks of one kind or another with a few elms sprinkled in for variety. Instead of giving us a nice display of fall colors, they usually go directly from green to brown – overnight. However, we have one black gum tree outside our dining room windows that puts on a bit of a show before dropping its foliage. This week I saw a number of yellow and reddish leaves, and Sunday morning when we drove in from church, I noticed that the riot of red has begun.

Last week I was driving down County Road 3200 fairly early in the morning when I sawBuck on the road something in the road ahead. It was an animal of some kind, but it was in the shadows, so I couldn’t tell what it was. It was a small buck, but he didn’t seem to be moving, so I slowed down to give him time to get out of the way. I stopped a few feet away from him before he finally tore his eyes away from whatever was holding his attention, turned around and ran back across the street in front of me, and disappeared into the woods. If you’re a city girl like me and don’t know what could have made him so careless of his own safety, go ask you mother about the facts of life. Apparently, in the Fall a young buck’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.

Another sign of Fall is that seasonal food events are in full swing and seasonal foods are making their appearance. Our annual church chili cook-off has come and gone, and the date of my family’s annual fish fry has been finalized after several changes. And every coffee shop, bakery, donut shop, and candle store offers something in a pumpkin spice flavor or fragrance.

pumpkin_spice_latteNeighbors are now coming outside to finish up projects that were set aside when the thermometer neared triple digits in an effort to complete their work before the first frost. Charles who lives across the street is painting his porch, Connie is working on her greenhouse, and David and I put a final coat of paint on the railing around our front porch. We still need to put one more coat on the floor and do some cover-up work on some spots of algae or mold that are bleeding through on some of the rafters before we call it done – unless David decides to add a heat source so we can continue to sit out when the blue northers come.

Last week I pulled out Kitty’s blanket, the one I got for Christmas last year that she immediately claimed as her own. She has ignored it so far, but I have a feeling she’ll rediscover it once the really cold weather hits. Maybe Santa will bring her a blanket of her own this year.

Speaking of Santa, one final sign that Fall is around the corner is David. He has begun counting down the weeks and days until Christmas. If I didn’t love him so much, I might have to kill him!

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Life in the waiting room | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 15, 2019:

YuckDavid had an endoscopic examination of his upper GI tract last week. The doctor was concerned because of some recent weight fluctuations. She ordered the test in spite of our explanations that he had stepped on the scale wearing a jacket with a cell phone, wallet, and other weighty items in the pockets during one visit and a T-shirt the next time. So, Friday morning we left the house in the driving rain and made the trek to the VA in Dallas. The traffic was backed up, the parking lot was full except in the very back, and the day surgery was the building where we weren’t, but we made it within minutes of our scheduled arrival time.

David checked in, and I was sent to the waiting room while he was prepped for his procedure. After he had changed into a pair of khaki scrub pants and some over-sized hospital socks and the nurse had put an IV into his hand, I was allowed to visit with him for a few minutes. It was a simple procedure, but it was still hard to go back to the waiting room, leaving him in the hands of strangers. Still, the waiting room provided some interesting diversions while I waited. (more…)

Feeling my age again | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 8, 2019:

Kitty on the back of the couchIn May I wrote a column titled “Feeling my age” after spending a week wielding a paint brush on our porch. However, I am finding that there’s nothing like a week with a ten-year-old, my granddaughter Zoe, and a fifteen-year-old, my grandson Mattias, to make a person really feel her age! Don’t get me wrong, I love these two beautiful young people, but keeping up with them as they race through life is a little more demanding than keeping up with Kitty’s nap schedule.

A couple of weeks ago I received a text from my son Christian asking if we could stay with the kids for a few days while he and his wife took a parents-only vacation. Since our social calendar was clear and we had no doctor’s appointments, I jumped at the chance. Plans were made, and they set about the arduous task of pulling away from their demanding responsibilities for a week. I set about sharing our plans with anyone who might be inclined to call for a police welfare check if they didn’t see us for a few days.

We arrived on Tuesday, for grandparent orientation and schedule briefing and were able Court Houseto help with last minute trip preparations. They have lived in their 100-year-old home in Granbury – two blocks from the historic town square – less than a month and don’t have a washer and dryer. Christian, Zoe, and I spent some time bonding over take-out burritos at the Laundromat while Amy was at a meeting and David and Mattias held down the fort at home.

Duties related to getting a reluctant teen and a tween who hates mornings up and off to school were handled by parents on Wednesday. Then, they left at 11:00 am, and David and I were on our own. At 3:30 I met Zoe’s bus, and she and I played a rousing game of Jenga and perused her fund-raiser catalogues while David went to pick up Mattias at 4:30. We made it to Youth Group at 5:30, picked them up at 7:00, and did some metal detecting in the front yard. Even though we only found a metal-laced rock and an old nail, they were fascinated with the process. We promised a trip to the swim beach for more treasure hunting the next day, and then it was bedtime. One day down – six to go!

Treasure HuntDay two started well enough; we were at the bus stop when Zoe’s bus came, and Mattias was at school in time for band rehearsal. Zoe came home with exciting news – she had received an award for a science test and she had been named Student of the Month in her class – but she was missing her parents. When I told her that, with the near triple digit temperature, a trip to the swim beach was not a good idea, she deflated. We decided to eat dinner first and try the beach near sundown, but she was still droopy and toyed with what little food she took. But just as we were finishing, Pitchfork et alshe received a call and was able to share her big news on a Face Time with her parents. She was like a different child after that. Our trip to the beach wasn’t a success by most standards, but the kids were thrilled with our finds: a quarter, several tent pegs, and the rusty head of a three-pronged pitch fork. I was thrilled that, since they were both sandy and sweaty, they didn’t argue about taking bedtime showers.

Student of the MonthFriday was crazy – all day long. Not only did I have to get the kids up and ready to leave the house by 6:50, but we also had to be ready to attend the 7:30 Morning Meeting at Zoe’s school. Of course, we did whatever it took to see Zoe get her “Student of the Month” award. Later in the day, we bought tickets for the homecoming game and made another trip to Mattias’s school with black socks for his band uniform. With our grandparent duties done for a few hours, we walked to the square again to check out a few things we had missed the day before, and before we knew it, it was game time. Our team won convincingly, and the band gave an awesome performance of their contest show. Another good day in the books.

We all slept late on Saturday, and didn’t leave the house until time for the matinee of theHF 2019-09-28 GHS Band Reza Edge of Illusion show at the Opera House. We all loved it and talked about it all the way home for a late lunch. A trip back to the square for candy and ice cream followed by the Granbury Ghosts and Legends Tour ended an almost perfect day. As Mattias was getting ready for bed, he broke out in an itchy, fast-spreading rash. Turns out it’s not a good idea to pose for a picture on a hay bale if you have grass allergies. After a few frantic texts between parent and grandparents, a couple of antihistamine capsules, and a cool shower, sanity was restored and day four came to an end.

Ready for RezaNo one wanted to get up Sunday morning, but after a quick stop at the donut shop, we made it to Sunday School only a few minutes late. We had a fast food lunch and a fun discussion of 1960s slang, and as I write this, the kids are playing Mind Craft and David and I are watching football. Christian and Amy will be home in 48 hours, and we’ll be on our way back to our quiet, sedentary life. I’m looking forward to spending some time with my old, swollen feet up and no schedule to worry about but my own. Still, I will miss these kids, and I hope we’re leaving behind as many happy memories as we’re taking with us.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Book Bargains for National Book Month | by Linda Brendle

In looking for an excuse to offer special pricing on my two novels, I found the perfect one – National Book Month. This month-long celebration is held each October and focuses on the importance of reading, writing and literature. The National Book Foundation created the first National Book Month in 2003.

From today through the end of the month, Tatia’s Tattoo and Fallen Angel Salvage ebooks will be 99 cents, and paperbacks will be $12.95 or less.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim sizeTatia’s Tattoo: As a successful D.C. lawyer, Tatia’s mission in life is to destroy the sex trafficking trade in small-town America. She knows where to find it. She’s been there. Filled with tragedy, crime, redemption, and love, Tatia’s Tattoo is a story that exposes the sordid underbelly of small towns and shines a light of hope on how the evil might be defeated.

 

Fallen Angel Final Cover FrontFallen Angel Salvage (Tatia’s Story, Book #2): Tatia and Jesse have a perfect life in Chicago. Her testimony put Eric in prison in Texas twenty years ago. How could anything go wrong? An old black van. A missing child. Tatia and Jesse race through the city streets with a band of bikers while Johnny and Jade dig through the dark web and Detectives Nelson and Martin pound on doors. Will it be enough? Or will their daughter become another statistic?

Blessings,

Linda

Tractors | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on 10/01/19:

Tractor pull - antiqueI went to my first tractor pull this weekend – well, almost. Actually, we were leaving the library after picking up a couple of movies David had reserved when I saw a sign at the entrance of Heritage Park that pointed the way to a Tractor Pull. I craned my neck as we passed, and I saw a couple dozen of the big, colorful machines lined up like a bunch of cadets standing for inspection.

I know very little about tractors, and even less about tractor pulls, so when we got home, I looked on Facebook. I found that the event was the Club Pull for the Lake Country Antique Tractor Association where antique tractors compete for distance pulling tons of material. I imagine that most readers of the Rains County Leader already knew that, but just in case, I did a little bit more research.

Apparently power pulling is a motorsport competition that is popular in several countries including the U.S. and can be done with both trucks and tractors. The vehicles are usually modified for the event so they can pull a heavy sled along a track with the winner being the one that pulls the farthest. If two or more reach the end of the track, they add more weight and do it again.

I found a few pictures of the event, and it looked like a fun way for people to show off their toys. You’ll notice that I wrote “people” and not “guys” because, even though I’ve seen more little boys playing with toy tractors than girls, I know a couple of big girls who have a thing for tractors, too. One is my Aunt Fay, and the other is Stella. You know Stella – she’s my friend who sometimes goes on trips so we can go stay at her house and play with her dog Spike.

Aunt Fay grew up on a farm, and even though she raised her family in a nice neighborhood in Mesquite, Texas, she has always had a garden and has always been a country girl. She and Uncle Dean bought several pieces of property through the years, and when he retired, they moved to a small farm in Brashear, Texas. They worked together for years, but when she was left a widow, she carried on. She contracted with others to harvest and bale her hay and to tend to the small herd of cattle she raised – but she took over the care of her sizeable yard and her not so small garden. She has several lawn tractors, one or two of which make David envious. She also has a small tractor and the attachments she needs to plow, cultivate, and generally care for rows of tomatoes, okra, onions, squash, peas, and more. She has slowed down a little in the past few years. She has sold all the cattle and has decreased the size of the garden a little. That’s to be expected, though. She is, after all, 95 years old.

Aunt Fay grew up in the country, but it really surprised me when I found out that StellaJohn Deere Tractor with shredder liked to drive their tractor and can often be found in the field during haying season. She is still highly sought after in her chosen field of pharmaceutical research, even though she retired several years ago to open her own travel agency. But I guess some of us shed our city girl persona more easily than others. Still having seen their tractor, I can see the attraction.

The few tractors I saw growing up and the antique tractors I saw at Heritage Park on Saturday were about the size of a pickup truck. Stella’s tractor is a monster by comparison. Its back wheels are taller than and I am, and I’d probably have to use a step ladder to get into the cab. I guess being in control of that much power could have a great deal of appeal, but the cab would be the selling point for me. It’s fully enclosed, air conditioned, and probably has a surround sound stereo system. Even so, I doubt you’ll ever find this city girl behind the wheel of one of those monsters. But I might have to show up at the tractor pull next year, just to see if it’s worth another column.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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