Published in the Rains County Leader on April 28, 2022:
Another Friends of the Library Book Sale has come and gone, but it wasn’t just another book sale. During preparation for the fall sale last year, publicity chairman Marsha Rakestraw declared the sale to be an “event,” and so it has become.
Setup, which begins on Tuesday of sale week, has always been something of an event, but it was much easier this year. Having signed up for the first shift of the week, I arrived at the City Centre at 8:00 am expecting to walk into an empty space and begin setting up tables. However, several members and their husbands had already arrived, and almost half the tables were already set up. By the time the Road and Bridge crew arrived about fifteen minutes later and began bringing in boxes of books, the tables were in place and waiting to be filled. And I had done little more than help with table placement and stay out of the way.
The next three hours were a flurry of unboxing and sorting. Experienced volunteers coached newcomers on how to sort and display the books in a manner that led one customer to make this comment: “This is the best organized book sale that I’ve ever seen.” When David picked me up for lunch, there was still a lot to be done, but there were lots of people still working with more arriving all the time. I intended to return on Wednesday afternoon to help finish up, but by the time our ladies’ Bible study was over, set up was finished. All that was left to do was to rest up on Thursday and be ready when the doors opened on Friday.
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 21, 2022:
Every week two or more dedicated members of the Friends of the Rains County Library meet at the Book Shed to go through accumulated donations and sort them in preparation for the next FOL Semi-Annual Book Sale Event. The Spring Event is happening this week at the Emory City Centre at 735 North Texas Street (Hwy 19) from 9 am to 5 pm on Friday and 9 am to 2 pm on Saturday – and the sorting team is ready for a break.
The team is headed by Jane Dillon and Alice Kissell and also includes Cindy Cooper, Marsha Rakestraw, Shirley Eversult, and Jim Dillon who provides transportation for picking up donations and muscle for moving and stacking boxes of books. When asked about the biggest problem the team faces, Jane Dillon immediately answered, “Space – that and the fact that most of us are over 70.”
One might expect the heat and cold to be a problem, but the team has that covered. Books were originally sorted and stored in the green-topped shed behind the Library, and an extension cord was run from the Library. But when the operation outgrew the space and a larger shed was installed on the other side of Doris Briggs Parkway, the team asked for and received wiring. Dillon says that fans and/or space heaters keep the temperature bearable, but most sorting is done in the morning to avoid the afternoon sun that shines directly on the shed door.
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 14, 2022:
Last week was a hard one, not so much for me personally, but for several people who are important to me. A friend lost a long-fought battle with cancer, a family member was unjustly accused of scandalous behavior, a sweet young lady lost her first love, and a friend who is normally the life of the party is suffering through a bout of depression. As if that weren’t enough, we’re entering the week on the Christian calendar during which we remember the betrayal, death, and burial of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In deciding what to share this week, my thoughts drifted back to a time when my own son experienced what the doctor called a psychotic depression. To paraphrase the opening line from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, it was the worst of times, but it ended up being the best of times. Following is an excerpt from my first memoir about a special day during that time:
My heart ached as I watched this brilliant young man, who was always going, doing, thinking, or creating, do little more than exist. Day after day, wearing baggy shorts, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap, he sat in front of the TV until I came home from work. His long, blond hair that was normally meticulously washed and brushed became stringy and oily, and more often than not, he forgot to eat. He lost weight and began to look severely emaciated. His normally erect posture became slumped and downcast. He visited with Dr. E periodically and took the various medications he prescribed, looking for the magic combination that would break the bonds that held him in his pit. I continued to pray.
Published in the Rains County Leader on April 7, 2022:
We’ve had our “new” car for almost five years, and I still really like it. It has all the bells and whistles including heated and cooled seats on both the driver’s and passenger’s side. (In the Pontiac, only the driver’s seat was heated, and David took delight in describing how warm and toasty he was while I shivered on my side of the car.) The Kia has a sun roof that extends all the way to the back seat, but we rarely used it because, well, because it lets the sun in – but it’s still nice to know it’s there. The spacious trunk is perfect when I get carried away at Brookshire’s or Walmart, and my paraphernalia fits nicely when I pack up for a vendor event.
The car is also outfitted with all kinds of electronics and more memory than David and I put together. There are several buttons for adjusting the driver’s seat and mirrors, and at the touch of one of these buttons, the car automatically returns to the preferences of Driver 1 or Driver 2. Like a sea-going vessel, I tend to think of the car in terms “she” and “her,” probably because the voice on the GPS is feminine and because she has an attitude. She’s pretty proud of her abilities and gets a bit sassy from time to time. She tells on me when I forget to fasten my seat belt, which is often, and she sounds an alarm if I try to get out of the car without turning off the engine. She also screeches loudly if I try to lock the door with the key fob still inside. I’m grateful for this one, but I do wish she’d be a bit more discreet.
Her dashboard features the normal gauges with a few extra warning lights thrown in just to show off. And as if TVs, computers, electronic tablets, and smart phones weren’t enough electronic input in our lives, she sports her own screen where she gives visual and audio directions to our chosen destination and tells us the name, artist, and release date of whatever oldie we’re currently listening to on SiriusXM. She also gives reminders and advice on car maintenance from time to time. David has read the two-volume owner’s manual from cover to cover and knows what all these gadgets and messages signify, but even he was taken aback one day last week when she flashed an ominous message across the screen:
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 31, 2022
Robert Worley approached me at church on Sunday and told me I recently missed a newsworthy event – the Rains County Republican Convention. Apparently it was a great success with some positive results. Seven representatives were chosen to attend the Texas State Republican Convention in June where they will present a resolution that will prevent foreign countries from buying Texas land and companies.
I was excited for him because, not only does the proposal address an issue about which he is passionate, but he is also one of the representatives. But I am not much of a political writer. I occasionally collaborate with Robert on something of a more serious nature, but left to my own devices, I tend to produce feature articles and fluff. Still, our conversation made me wonder what else I might have missed during the past week.
Early spring is my favorite time of year. I’m not too crazy about the time change, but since my schedule is pretty much my own, I adjust without too much trauma. But what I love is the beauty that appears as the plants come out of hibernation with a promise of new life. In Texas, though, you have to enjoy quickly, because the time between winter chill and summer heat is short-lived. As I looked back on the last few days, I realized that I had missed several of those special days while I was inside reading or working on my computer. Those were not wasted hours as I studied for classes that I attend or facilitate at church and as I work on that illusive next novel, but you know what they say about all work and no play. So Sunday afternoon I took a stroll around our back yard to see what our untamed wilderness was up to.
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.