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…)
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…)
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.