On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for July, 2021

Brown Bag Lunches | by Linda Brendle

Published by the Rains County Leader on July 27, 2021:

When was the last time you carried your lunch somewhere in a brown paper bag? I took my lunch to school most of the time, and it was usually in that simple sack. My mother was one of the few women I knew who worked outside the home, and since she had to leave earlier than Daddy, he usually packed my lunch. We didn’t eat much peanut butter at my house, but we had a lot of bologna and pickle loaf with tuna salad sprinkled in now and then. Sometimes if we were out of those, I’d get a sandwich made from leftover pot roast, meat loaf, or even scrambled eggs and bacon.

Some who grew up with more sophisticated lunches and fancy lunch boxes might think I was deprived, but if we were poor I didn’t know it. There was only once when I remember being embarrassed about my lunch. We were out of small paper bags, and this was before the era of plastic bags, so Daddy improvised. I took my lunch to school that day in an empty Kleenex box, and I thought I would die of shame!

When preparing my son Christian for Kindergarten, a lunch box was the first thing he picked out. He was a very picky eater, and if he had to eat away from home, he wanted to be sure his mom fixed his lunch. That worked until he entered fifth grade and began attending a school where he wasn’t allowed to bring a lunch. He was terrified until he learned that, in addition to a hot lunch line, they had a sandwich line which always included PB&J. He made it through six years at that school without starving, and he even expanded his tastes a little bit.

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Coming Home | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 20, 2021:

David and I have experienced several homecomings of sorts recently, and I had a very special one this past week. The word homecoming usually brings to mind a soldier returning from the war or the annual celebration held by many schools in honor of former students.However, the dictionary also defines the word as “the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home.”

David’s middle sister Sharon invited us to celebrate the Fourth of July with her and their younger sister Deb and brother-in-law Jesse. Sharon lives in the house previously owned by their parents in West Monroe, Louisiana. We normally visit two or three times a year, but we had not seen his family since March of 2020, just before the shutdown. Even though David only lived in that house for three months before he went into the Navy, after such a long absence, our visit there definitely felt like a homecoming.  

When we arrived home on July 8, we learned that the Senior Center was re-opening for in-house lunch service on July 12. The Center is called the Rains County Senior Nutrition Program, but it is about so much more than food. Many Center clients, especially those who live alone, have little other social contact than the time they spend with friends around the tables there. And even those of us who are not so lonely look on the eclectic lunch group more as family than simply friends. The re-opening of the Center was a homecoming for all of us.

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Picking Peaches | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 13, 2021:

This city girl had another new experience Saturday – I picked peaches for the first time. I have bought a half bushel at a farmers market and spent hours putting them into bags destined for the freezer, but I had never taken them off the tree.

Connie (across the street) had a bumper crop from her two trees this year. After putting ten bags in the freezer and having a tray full ripening on her counter, she invited me over to pick some. The first thing I learned about picking peaches is that the trees are designed for those of us who are height challenged. No step ladder required like the time I picked figs from Dirk and Pat’s trees.

Strange things sometimes happen while you’re harvesting. Some of the peaches were very close together, and while I was trying to pick a particularly reluctant one, the one next to it flung itself toward the ground. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the poor thing landed on the blade of a mole-chasing windmill and cut itself almost in half. Since the work was already half done, I sliced that one up when I got home, and we had it for dinner.

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Sandwich Quirks | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 6, 2021:

While recently enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich, I was thinking about my odd habit of eating around the edges and saving the middle for last. As a child, I didn’t really care for bread crusts, so I would pull them off my sandwiches and leave them on my plate. One day I performed my little ritual at my Uncle Dean’s house, and he told me to eat the crusts because they would make my hair curly. I don’t know if I really wanted curly hair or if I was trying to please him, but I ate them. By that time they were pretty dry and tasteless, so the next time I had a sandwich, I ate the crusts first. By the way, it was six decades later when my hair finally became curly.

My lunch-time walk down memory lane led me to other odd sandwich habits in my family. Mom ate hers a row at a time like eating an ear of corn. As the sandwich disappeared, she was left with two inch-wide slices of bread that were very difficult to control with arthritic hands. And my daughter-in-law once informed me that when she makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son, she HAS to cut it diagonally because “that’s the way Mom did it.”

Of course, the writer in me went straight to Facebook to do some scientific research. I posted the above explanation and asked for responses about the sandwich quirks of other. Here’s the condensed version of those responses.

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