Published by the Rains County Leader on June 29, 2021:
One of the most difficult parts of being an independent author is marketing, but it can also be the most rewarding. Obviously, the biggest reward is selling books, but other positives include finding interesting new venues, meeting other creative entrepreneurs, interacting with readers face to face, and collecting writing material. This past Saturday I attended the Greenville Market for the first time.
I learned about this vendor event at the East Texas Expo in May from the lovely ladies from Sadie’s Place Rescue who had the booth next to mine. The Greenville Market is a monthly event that is held the last Saturday of each month on the Hunt County Fairground. The vendors offer a wide variety of items including food, jewelry, craft items, plants, and much more – including books.
Another big draw for the event is that it is held in an air conditioned building. I was assigned a space directly in front of one of the cooling units. The blowing air was a challenge during setup while I attached the banner to the front edge of the table and laid out the tablecloth, but the same air was a big plus when the outside temperature reached the mid-nineties in the afternoon.
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 22, 2021:
It’s summer in Texas which means one thing above all others – it’s HOT!
Many conversations begin with “It’s so hot that…” followed by some tall tale that has been passed down for generations. When I was a kid, the big claim about hot weather was that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. I remember one ambitions reporter who tried it without much success, but I have friends who claim to have baked brownies or cookies by placing a pan of dough on the dashboard of a closed car parked in the sun.
Summer in Texas is the time when closed cars really do become solar ovens on wheels. Sunglasses left inside can leave permanent scars on the bridge of a nose, and the wise driver doesn’t touch a door handle or steering wheel without protection. The same can be said for sitting on vinyl or leather seats while wearing shorts. It’s also a good idea to stand back as the door is opened because the blast of hot air might singe eyebrows and eyelashes.
July and August are the months during which water bills soar from watering lawns, flower beds, and gardens and from filling wading pools for children, grandchildren, and fur babies. We never had a swimming or wading pool, but we often played in the sprinklers or just squirted each other with the hose. I also tried more than once to fill up the huge cracks that appeared in our yard during the drought in the late 1950s. I never managed to fill any of them, and now I wonder how Daddy managed to pay our water bills.
Indoor Texas pets are as reluctant to go out into triple digit temperature as they are when it snows or even when it rains. I once had an old cocker spaniel who didn’t really enjoy walking in the best of conditions, but when the temperature began to climb, he hated it. He watched for spots where sprinklers were watering the sidewalks and laid down on the wet spot with all four legs stretched out so his tummy could enjoy the full effect of the wet cement. It’s a good thing he wasn’t a Saint Bernard because I often had to carry him home.
I’ve always heard the really hot part of the summer referred to as the dog days. I had a vague idea of what that meant – that it was hot – but I didn’t know specifically. Wikipedia agrees with my definition – hot – but it adds a bit more. There’s something related to astrology that I didn’t understand, but I understood the part that said it’s connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. The official dog days of summer for 2021 are July 3 through August 11. As those days approach with threatened brownouts and power outages, the powers that be have asked us to conserve by keeping our thermostats at 78 or above. If 78 is still too hot for comfort, do what we did before we had home air conditioning. In the hottest part of the day, strip down to your underwear, lie down under the ceiling fan, and take a nap. Of course, if you’re not retired like David and I, your boss might frown on that method, so you might have to settle for a big glass of ice cold sweet tea.
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 15, 2021:
My father has been in Heaven for ten years, but I still miss him and think about him a lot. He’s especially on my mind in June when there is so much emphasis on fathers, so in honor of the special day we just celebrated, I want to share some of my favorite memories of the man I called Daddy.
I was Daddy’s girl, especially when I was little. When he went anywhere, I wanted to go with him. In the time before seat belts and child seats, he was my child restraint system. I remember standing beside him, tucked “safely” behind his right shoulder. As shocking as that may be to our safety conscious society, I felt completely safe and lovingly protected.
Another of my favorite memories is something that today’s children, strapped and restrained as they are, will never experience. From time to time, he would let me sit in his lap and drive the car. Of course, all I was doing was holding onto the steering wheel while he continued to be in complete control. Still, it was fun, it was a great confidence builder, and it was great practice for my later life as a Christian when I finally realized who is really in control.
I loved going to work with Daddy. The first job I remember was at a lumber yard, and when Mom would take his lunch to him, my brother Jim and I would go climb on the stacks of lumber. Later, he took a job at the Post Office, and he sometimes picked me up from school. While he cased his mail for the next day, I’d sit on a stool at a work table and practice my letters or put my fingers through the air holes in the crates of baby chicks and pet their fuzzy yellow feathers. I’m sure we broke lots of OSHA and Federal regulations, but being a real part of his life was worth being a bit of an outlaw.
A friend once told me that, when God made me, He forgot to put in the higher gears. I’m not sure exactly what she meant, but perhaps she was referring to my tendency to nod off in either a car or a church. In the early years, as soon as the sermon began, I put my head in Daddy’s lap and went to sleep. Sometimes, though, I stayed awake and sat in his lap. I amused myself, and totally ruined his ability to concentrate, by playing with his tie. I would begin at the bottom, roll it up to the knot, and release it. After it rolled out to its full length, I repeated the process. Maybe that’s why, for every gift-giving occasion, I gave him a tie.
When I was five, we moved into a house where I had my own bedroom. Until then, I had slept in a crib in my parents’ room or shared a bed with Jim in the living room. For a few months, I had occasional sleep-walking episodes during which I assume I was looking for companionship. Several times I woke up sitting on the side of Mom and Dad’s bed with Daddy sitting beside me, his eyes full of sleep and his hair standing on end, trying to stop the flow of my tears and reassuring me that everything was okay.
I also jotted down five memories of how Daddy provided support and practical aid later in my life when I was single again. Before I completely exceed my allotted word count, I’ll summarize:
He often hung curtains and pictures, installed ceiling fans, and finished many other things on my “I don’t have a honey to do” list.
In addition to caring for his own yard, he mowed, trimmed, and edged mine. He also removed and disposed of tomato worms that tried to take over my patio tomatoes.
Although he wasn’t in a position to offer financial assistance, he didn’t hesitate to co-sign a note when my old car bit the dust.
Daddy always had a key to my house, and more than once he got up out of bed and came over to unlock my door when I locked myself out.
Daddy showed me how a godly man should love his wife. His love for Mom was one of the defining realities of his life. He loved her as Paul told the Ephesians to love their wives and would have given up his life for her. He told her every day how beautiful she was and how much he loved her, and he never tired of kissing her or holding her hand.
There’s much more, but these are a few of the things that added up to a lifetime of love and care. Daddy led by example and loved by acts of service. Happy Father’s Day to the first man I ever loved.
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 8, 2021:
During my formative years – many years ago – developing a good work ethic was a very important part of becoming an adult. My family believed in work.
Dad was never without a job as far as I can remember, and most of my high school years he worked two jobs. Even after he retired from the Post Office, he continued in the work force in various part-time jobs as long as he was able. Mom went to work the same day I entered first grade and continued to work until she turned 50. My brother Jim began to work as soon as he was old enough to have a paper route, and at the age of 78 he still pastors a church. My first baby-sitting job was shortly after my twelfth birthday if I remember correctly, and I applied for my first “real” job at Woolworth’s on my sixteenth birthday.
Work has been a part of, not just my life, but all life from the beginning, and it appears that it will continue into the afterlife. The first book of the Bible says that when God neared the end of His work of creation, He created man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Then He created a companion to help him with this work. Of course, after the fall his work became much harder, but that’s another story. The last book of the Bible says that God’s servants will serve Him in Heaven – so those who expect to spend eternity lounging around on a cloud may be in for a surprise.
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 1, 2021:
Many Facebook posts this past week have been devoted to graduations. These pictures of and congratulations to children and grandchildren have sent many of us on trips down memory lane to our own high school and/or college graduations. I graduated from high school in 1965, and before you spend too much time counting back, that’s fifty-six years ago. And yes, that means I’m older than dirt.
My high school years were not the happiest time of my life. I was too shy and too worried about academic and social failure to venture into unknown territory or to take the risks that can make those years exciting and rewarding. I had not yet found the courageous part of myself that in later years led me to finish my Bachelor’s Degree at 51, to jump into the dating pool and find the love of my life shortly thereafter, to learn to ride a motorcycle at 56, and to publish my first book after I began to collect Social Security.
Most young people today seem a lot more sophisticated and street smart than I was at their age, but up close and personal, many of them seem just as unsure and insecure as I was in lots of ways. With that in mind, I want to share a few bits of wisdom that might be of help as they venture into the world.
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.