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Archive for September, 2020

Crossing the Rainbow Bridge | By Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 29, 2020:

It’s not unusual for me to turn on my phone in the morning and find a text from my neighbor Connie waiting for me. She has trouble sleeping some nights, and she finds that a good time to catch up on her correspondence. Tuesday morning was a little bit different, though. I received a message in real time at 7:26 AM telling me that Floppy, their beloved canine friend, had crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a few minutes before.

David and I dressed hurriedly and walked across the street to pay our respects. We arrived as Charles was closing the grave. David helped smooth out the dirt, and we all watched as Connie scattered some flower seeds on the freshly turned earth. Throughout the day, the gravesite evolved into a site that was outlined by two tiers of fence posts and adorned with a small American flag and a stepping stone with a cross and the first lines of John 3:16. (more…)

Mask-Go-Round | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 22, 2020:

Masks used to be something that appeared on the store shelves sometime in September in preparation for Halloween, something worn to prevent frostbite while skiing, or something worn during the commission of a crime to hide one’s identity. In the last few months, they’ve become a life and death matter to some, a symbol of the loss of individual freedom to others, and a matter of regulation to the government.

We didn’t have to deal with masks in Rains County at first because it took us a while to reach the threshold of 20 active cases for mandatory masks. However, well before I had to deal with covering my own face, I was very aware of the controversy that surrounded the little pieces of cloth that have caused such a kerfuffle. Even I don’t spend that much time with my head in the sand.

Our neighbor Connie had given us several of the medical-style masks before anyone ever heard of COVID-19 just because she believes in being prepared. David always wears one when he mows, but other than that, they stayed in the kitchen junk drawer or the console of the car – just in case. I never really gave them a thought until the day I stopped by the Senior Center to pick up a couple of grab-and-go meals and received an unusual greeting. Instead of Margaret’s usual cheerful hello-how-are-you welcome, she was waving a pleated rectangle with loops on either end and saying “Gotta have a mask to come in!” The Center is operated by the East Texas Council of Government and is subject to their rules.

I stopped in my tracks. “I have one in my car. I’ll go get it.”

“No,” she said. “I’ll give you one.” (more…)

I love books | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 14, 2020:

I love books. There weren’t a lot of them around the house when I was little, but I loved the ones I had. Dr. Dan the Bandage Man, The Little Red Hen, and The Little Engine That Could were my favorites. We had a set of Book of Knowledge Encyclopedias, and while I wasn’t interested in the boring factual stuff, I discovered there were fables and fairy tales scattered among the pages. I spent many afternoons reading them over and over. During the summer, I went to the library as often as Mom would take me. I checked out stacks of books, continuing to read long after my Summer Book Club requirements were completed.

I was in the fifth grade the first time I bought a book of my own. Once a week we each received a publication called “The Weekly Reader,” and once a month it included a list of books we could order. My first purchase was The Red Pony by John Steinbeck for $.50. I enjoyed the story, but I knew there was more to it than I understood. For the next several years I read more Steinbeck, Faulkner, and Michener, some of them voluntarily and some of them assigned, but my taste still ran toward the recreational rather than the intellectual. When I discovered Agatha Christie, I was hooked. I love books, but I really love a good mystery. (more…)

The Dog Whisperers | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 8, 2020:

David and I haven’t visited with our dog friend Spike since February when his human family went to Israel. They were supposed to go again in June, and I’m sure they had other fun trips scheduled, but COVID messed up their plans along with those of everybody else on the planet. But life goes on, and Spike’s family was called to the bedside of a terminally ill family member in Kentucky. On Wednesday I received a text asking if we were available to stay with Spike. I took a minute to check with David to see if we had anything planned. I knew the answer since we stopped making plans after the first half of the year was cancelled, but I wanted to include him in the decision. I told her we’d be glad to come and play with our buddy whenever their schedule was finalized.

Apparently, even though travel has been curtailed, finding an affordable rental car isn’t easy. They finally left Friday afternoon, late enough that we didn’t need to go check on the big pup until after Home Group. We went to the gym after lunch, picked up a grocery order on the way home, and prepared to relocate for a few days. I don’t do much packing when we go visit Spike. Stella has a great laundry room, so I stuff the contents of my hamper into a pillow case or two, and I’m ready to go. By the time the week is over, everything is dirty again, and I pack to go home the same way.

(more…)

Tex Midkiff – local historian, author and consummate mythical Texas man | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 1, 2020:

I was supposed to meet Harold G. “Tex” Midkiff at Reka’s at 9:30, but as usual, I was running about five minutes late. Hoping I’d recognized him from the author photo in the back of his newly published book, I rushed in the door. I needn’t have worried. Sitting on the sofa was a gentleman dressed in neatly pressed jeans, a long-sleeved starched button-down shirt, boots, and a black cowboy hat with a unique metal headband. He was indeed, as his media package had described, the consummate Texas man.

Midkiff is a native Texan, born in Houston and raised in Palestine. Although his career in homeland security has taken him all over the country, he has always returned to East Texas. He and his wife LaJuana now live on Lake Fork near Yantis in a house they built twenty-four years ago in anticipation of their golden years. Ultimate withdrawal from the work force was slow in coming as Midkiff retired in 2005, again in 2009 and finally in 2017. Several situations contributed to his various returns to work including the stock market crash in 2008, but the main reason was that he enjoyed his work and he was very good at it.

After graduating from high school, Midkiff’s intention was to study physics at the University of Texas. He said that when he walked into his first physics class, instead of 500 students like there were in most of his classes, there were seven including him – and they all had slide rules clipped onto their belts and pocket protectors in their shirt pockets. He had a pretty good idea then that he was in the wrong field, and his grade at the end of the semester confirmed it. In the meantime, he had become a married man and needed to find a way to support his family, so he went into the family business.

(more…)

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USA – Melting Pot or Seething Cauldron | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 1, 2020:

Ostrich head in sandWhen it comes to politics and current events, especially those outside the safety of small-town America, I tend to be of the Pollyanna/ostrich persuasion. If I can’t see the bright side of a situation, I stick my head in the sand, hoping it will go away. It has become difficult if not impossible to find a bright side or to hide from what is going on in our nation today when media of all types is saturated beyond capacity with anger and hatred. The country where I grew up prided itself on being a melting pot where different peoples, styles, theories, etc. were mixed together. But it has become a seething cauldron where anyone who looks, thinks, acts, or votes in any way that is not in lock step with the herd becomes a target of that anger and hatred.

Our pastor’s daughter has a Shi Tzu that has a sweet little face, and every time I see a Quintpicture of her on Facebook, I get a case of puppy fever. I mentioned it at Home Group Friday night but added that Kitty would probably not be pleased. Our host said she would get used to the newcomer and they would probably become fast friends. That sent my writer’s brain off on memories of the relationship between my dog Lucky and my son’s cat Miles when they became housemates for a few months. There was a short period of warily getting acquainted, but then they began to play and wrestle and even sleep in a pile of fur and paws. I began to mentally compose an article about successful friendships that develop and endure in spite of, if not because of, differences. As sometimes happens when you’ve written over a thousand blog posts and newspaper columns, the thoughts began to sound familiar, so I did a search. Here’s a column I wrote in April of 2018, and it seems more pertinent today than it did then. (more…)

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