On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Archive for September, 2022

Fall has arrived | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 29, 2022:

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize the change of seasons in a climate that is either hot or cold with a few days of slightly milder weather in between. However, the calendar indicated that Fall began on September 22 this year, so I began looking for signs of the new season. Here are a few that I noticed – in no particular order.

Last week we spent four days in Arkansas with my brother Jim and sister-in-law JoLynn. I have visited them a number of time during the Christmas holidays, so I know that they go all out when it comes to decorations. They always have several trees which might include any or all of these: a Santa tree, an angel tree, a train tree, and several others. JoLynn also has an extensive collection of Nativity scenes, some of which are displayed year round but most of which make an appearance in December. Either we had never visited this time of year, or I have not been very observant, but I had never seen the large collection of pumpkins and fall arrangements that graced their home. It made us all feel very festive – except for my older brother who complained about how stiff and sore he was after eleven trips to the attic to bring down the boxes.

Decorations are changing locally as well. The seasonal tree at the Senior Center has shed it summer flip-flops, sunglasses, and watermelon in preparation for pink ribbons and other pink reminders of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Surviving Fair Week | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 22, 2022:

The 92nd annual Rains County Fair has come and gone, and many tired people in Emory and beyond can attest to its success. My perspective of the actual Fair was, as usual, confined mostly to the corner of the Exhibit Building by the restrooms, but since a large percentage of Fair goers pass by my booth at least once during the week, I have a few stories to share.

The festivities began before opening day on Tuesday, so we got up early Saturday morning and headed downtown. David loves a good breakfast, so we attended the American Legion monthly breakfast. Once we were full of some of the best bacon in town and all that goes with it, we walked over to the square to check out the classic cars. There were over 300 entries this year, and all the smiles were almost as bright as the highly polished paint jobs.

Sunday afternoon was set-up time in the Exhibit Building. Linda and Rocky Pietila shared a booth with me, and it took us a while to figure out the exact configuration that showed my books, Rocky’s hand-crafted western decorative items, and Linda’s western memorabilia to the best advantage. With David’s help, we made fairly quick work of displaying our wares and were soon ready for Tuesday’s opening.


Learning to be spontaneous | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 15,2022:

Spontaneity used to scare me – probably because as a child and later as a teenager, when I said or did something without proper forethought, I usually ended up putting my foot in my mouth or doing something awkward and embarrassing. As a result, I became an adult who makes lists, plans menus, and wants to know all the whens and wheres of an upcoming trip.

David, on the other hand, hates to plan. I’ve tried to explain that you miss some pretty spectacular events and experiences in life if you don’t make plans in advance, but he still prefers to follow his nose and see where it leads him. However, they say that married people become more alike the longer they’re together, and after over twenty-two years, we’ve both mellowed a bit. He’s learned that it’s a good idea to find out of someone will be at home before you go for a visit, and if the cook doesn’t plan in advance, he might not get his favorite German chocolate cake for his birthday. I, one the other hand, have learned that an afternoon motorcycle ride that turns into an overnight visit to Jefferson, Texas can be a lot of fun, even if you have to buy jackets because you didn’t plan for the cold front that came in overnight.

I recently experienced a lesson in spontaneity that will stay with me for a long time. Several times a year Believers’ Baptist includes a Family Fun Night in the schedule. In the past, this usually meant that, on a Sunday evening, we gathered on the parking lot bringing lawn chairs, outdoor toys and games, and desserts to share and spent the evening enjoying each other’s company. Earlier this year Family Fun Night was taken to the next level, and we had Church in the Park. We gathered at Sandy Creek Park where Red and Lori Lewis fried fish, hush puppies, and French fries, and the rest of us brought cole slaw, potato salad, watermelon, coolers full of soda, and enough desserts to send us all into diabetic comas. The children made full use of the splash pad and the playground equipment, and kids of all ages played football, corn hole, and other games. But mostly we simply enjoyed being together.


Rains County Fair | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 8, 2022:

The first Rains County Fair was held on the courthouse square in Emory from October 31 through November 1, 1930. A lot has changed since then. The event has moved from the square to the Fair Grounds, it now extends over five days instead of two – and more if you include the judging of the exhibits before the Fair opens and the livestock sales afterward – and it is held in September. But most of all, the Rains County Fair is probably a lot more exciting than it was 92 years ago.

Of course, exciting depends on your perspective –but there’s something for just about everybody regardless of what your perspective is. There are rides for the thrill seekers and all kinds of treats for the foodies. It’s the big finale for students who have spent months raising what they hope will be the prize-winning animal in its class, and it’s the photo op of a lifetime for parents and grandparents whose young ones are competing in one of the pageants or showing off their courage and skill at mutton busting. Those interested and talented in creative arts, horticulture, mechanics, baking, and more can present their offerings to be judged, and those entries are then exhibited for everyone to see.

The Fair itself opens on Tuesday, September 13 and closes on Saturday, September 17. Fair week also includes activities that are not on the Fair Grounds. The 24th annual Classics around the Square car show will take place on September 10, and a parade through downtown Emory and a chili cook-off will take place on the final day of the Fair. There’s much more that I’ve missed, but you can find more information here in the Leader, on the Rains County Fair Facebook page, or at www.rains.agrilife.org/county-fair .


The bad side of being a writer | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 1, 2022:

Last week I wrote about the connections I make through my writing – but this week I’m going to share some of my least favorite aspects of being an author. As strange as it may seem, authors tend to be shy and introverted. Who else would spend hours alone, scribbling or typing words that they are afraid no one will read or that someone will read and not like! And we live in fear of several other things as well.

Writer’s block is a dark cloud that hovers in the mind of anyone who ever sits down in front of a blank sheet of paper or a white screen with the intent of filling it with words. At some point we all think something like this. I don’t have any idea what to write! What if my ideas don’t make sense? What if each writer is only allowed a certain number of words in their lifetime, and I’ve already used mine. The thoughts don’t always make sense, but there are plenty of companies and individuals who are willing to offer techniques and cures for fighting or ending these blocks – all for a price, of course. My bouts of writer’s block are usually short-lived, but there are times when my screen is still blank as a deadline looms, and those questions pop into my head.

Once you get past the writer’s block, complete a project, and hit the Send button, you face another dark cloud – REJECTION! Whether you’re submitting a proposal for a doctoral thesis, a short story for inclusion in an anthology, or the manuscript of the great American novel to an agent or a publisher, the process is the same. You beat yourself up because you didn’t edit it one more time – even though you’ve been through it fourteen times already. You check the submission guidelines again to be sure it really said the average response time is six weeks, but you check your inbox every five minutes anyway. After thirty minutes, you sink into a depression, wondering why you ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, vowing never to do so again. As the days and weeks drag on, you begin to work on your next project, and you only check your inbox a dozen times a day instead of fifty. When the email finally comes, it says Thank you for your submission, but…, and you add it to your collection, telling yourself you’re one step closer to success.

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