On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 14, 2020:

BulliesA bully is defined as a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable. Bullies have been around since the snake bullied Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, but the act of bullying has become institutionalized in today’s society.

There were mean kids when I was in school, but their rights to torment the weak were superseded by the rights of the teachers to maintain order and discipline. That’s not to say that no one was taunted or made to feel “less than.” Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 6, 2020:

ice cream freezerI loved the Fourth of July when I was a kid. We lived inside the city limits where the authorities frowned on the fun stuff like roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over a bon fire and shooting off fireworks. So we usually celebrated Independence Day at Aunt Fay’s. In addition to the fire-roasted treats, the menu also included potato salad, chips, watermelon, iced tea, Kool-Aid, and home churned ice cream. In later years when Uncle Dean bought the first charcoal grill I had ever seen, hamburgers were added.

While the adults prepared the food, the seven kids (me, my brother, and our five cousins) ran around Fay and Dean’s unfenced acreage, making noise and getting dirty. Sometimes we visited the food site to grab a chip or take turns sitting on the ice cream churn. By the time dinner was ready, we needed no prompting to come and eat. Everything was always delicious – food always tastes better when eaten outside on paper plates and sprinkled with a little bit of dirt. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 30, 2020:

Happy Chinese New Year RatMy first column of this year was titled “Welcome 2020!” I mentioned that a number of marketing firms seemed poised to launch ad campaigns reminiscent of the Roaring 20’s of the last century. I followed that up by saying “It remains to be seen whether the next ten years roar or whimper.” We have nine and a half years to go, but so far this decade has involved a lot of whining on my part.

The first ten weeks of the year went pretty well. There were rumors and stories about a strange new virus, but aside from a new subject for the talking heads on the news reports to discuss and a few interesting sound bites from opposing politicians, it didn’t sound like anything that would affect the list of activities on the white board on our refrigerator. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Community Chronicle in the June, 2020 edition and the Rains County Leader on June 23, 2020:

Porch gliderLast year, our front porch began to list to the southeast. Investigation showed that the support post on that corner was rotting away. We discussed our options with a local handyman, and several months and several thousand dollars later, we had a beautiful covered porch furnished with an indoor/outdoor rug, two padded rocking chairs and a comfy glider for two. We have spent many happy hours on our new addition, especially during this time of social distancing when God has blessed us with a lot of porch-sitting weather.

One morning, I was rocking and reading when I was distracted by a birdsong I didn’t Birdsongrecognize. It sounded like someone had pressed a key on a synthesizer and held it for a couple of seconds. The song continued for a minute or two with brief breaks between notes, but I was never able to find the singer. While I was looking for him, I noticed another bird singing what could have been a riff from a doo-wop song. I closed my book for a while and just listened, and I heard more birdsongs than I could count. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 16, 2020:

ConfusedWith all the unrest and chaos that’s going on in the country, I felt like I should write something of a serious nature this week. However, many of the situations make little sense to me, so it’s impossible to write something sensible. In searching for ideas, I came across this piece that I wrote after the holidays. After weeks and months at home with plenty of time to clean and organize, many people are now finding themselves faced with those same post-Christmas problems. So read on and see if you recognize you or anyone you know.

***

When the weather begins to turn warm and the trees begin to sprout green buds, the phrase spring cleaning“spring cleaning” always pops up. Maybe it’s because, after several months of being cooped up inside with artificial warmth, we can throw open the windows and let the fresh air chase the stale air out though the screens. Or maybe it’s because it’s time to do some deep cleaning after several months of letting winter cooking odors and fireplace soot settle on the windows and baseboards. Whatever the reason, Mom did it so we do, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 9, 2020:

blackberry-cobblerA recent post on Facebook described a perfect example of how our attitude toward time has changed in the last few months. Around 8:30 one evening, the husband of a friend mentioned there were blackberries in the refrigerator that needed to be used before they ruined. About forty-five minutes later as she was putting a cobbler in the oven, he commented that they probably shouldn’t be eating something like that so late in the evening. Her Facebook post read “If he thinks I’m pulling a warm cobbler out of that oven and not eating a bite tonight, he has another think coming.” A later comment indicated that he did think again and that they both had some cobbler before bed. David and I go through a similar routine almost every night now.

Pre-isolation, we had a busy schedule. On Monday mornings we stopped by the church so David could upload Sunday’s sermon to the website and send it to the radio station, on Wednesday morning I went to Ladies’ Bible Study, and Thursdays mornings Bingo began at 9:30 at the Senior Center. Even on non-Bingo days, we tried to make it to the Center by 11:00. Lunch was served from 11:00 to 12:30, but everyone seemed to eat early, and by 11:30 or so the place was empty. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 2, 2020:

curbside pickup signLast week I wrote about the fact that normal life is beginning to call to all of us because social people cannot stay in isolation long. The call to community is too strong. One of my calls was the fact that I needed a loaf of bread – not a long list of items that would meet the minimum requirement for a curbside pickup order, but just a single loaf of bread. I got my bread, but not by actually entering a store for the first time since March 13. After checking my list, I realized a Walmart run was overdue, I placed an order for bread and 25 other items, and we drove to Mineola. While I waited for the order to be brought to the car, David braved the elements and went inside in search of a particular car care item I hadn’t been able to find online. He returned with a smile of success and a request for hand sanitizer, just in case.

I also mentioned in my previous column that vanity might call some people to the gym, Gym wipesthe hair salon, or the shopping mall. Although my weight has fluctuated a bit in the last couple of months, I’ve pretty much maintained my pre-isolation size, and David has actually lost weight, so the mall hasn’t tempted us. And since I’ve cut his hair for years and mine for several months, we’ve avoided the salon with no problems. However, the gym is another story. Read the rest of this entry »

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 26, 2020:

loaf of breadI need a loaf of bread. David had been asking for BLT’s, so when Brookshire’s offered a three-pound package of bacon for $9.99, I put it on the list. We have enjoyed several sandwiches since then, and David is a happy man. However, I underestimated the number of sandwiches in that much bacon, and I’m almost out of bread. I don’t have a long list ready for another pickup order. I just need a loaf of bread. In the next day or two I will probably violate CDC recommendations that people of my age avoid such dangerous behavior and enter a grocery store to buy a loaf of bread. I’m sorry if that makes some people including my son nervous, but normal life is calling. Read the rest of this entry »

The first man who approaches Tatia on the street turns out to be Officer Kevin Adams, and she spends her first night in jail.

For the past few weeks I have been sharing sample chapters of Tatia’s Tattoo. Links to previous chapters are at the end of this post. Following is Chapter 20.

Final_Tatia's Tattoo Cover trim size

CHAPTER 20: …AND IN THE SLAMMER

The man reached into his hip pocket and pulled out his wallet. He popped it open with one smooth, practiced move, exposing his badge and confirming Tatia’s worst fears.

“Kevin Adams, Cameron PD. You’re under arrest for prostitution. Stand up and turn around with your hands behind your back.”

As he began reciting her rights, he pulled some flex-cuffs out of his pocket. He hated the things, because if you tightened them too much, you had to cut them off and start over before your detainee ended up with blue hands. The metal ones tended to rattle at the wrong time, though, so he made do.

“Do you understand these rights as I’ve told them to you?” he asked as he tested the cuffs to make sure he hadn’t made them too loose.

“Yes,” said Tatia in a voice so quiet it was almost drowned out by the buzz of her cell phone. “Can I take my phone?”

“You can’t handle it in the car, and you know you can’t keep it when they put you in a cell.”

“Oh,” she replied with tears in her voice.

“First time?” he asked with his voice softening a little.

“Yes.”

He picked up the phone and slid it into his pocket. “They’ll give it back to you when you’re released.”

Tatia nodded, biting her lip and struggling to control the fear of what would happen when she was released. Eric had no patience with girls who cost him time and money by getting arrested. Officer Adams held her arm securely but not roughly as he directed her back to his car, and he was careful not to bump her head when he helped her into the back seat. She knew Eric would not be so gentle.

While he drove to the station, Tatia saw him glancing at her in the rearview mirror every now and then. Finally, he spoke.

“What’s your last name, Kaitlyn?”

“Golden,” she answered.

“How old are you.”

She did a quick mental calculation, making sure her answer matched her ID. “Twenty,” she said.

“Shame,” he said. “If you were, say, sixteen or seventeen, this would be a lot easier for you – especially if you told me where to find the guy you texted back in the room.”

“Oh, that,” she said. “That was just my roommate letting her know that I wouldn’t be home tonight.”

“Ahh,” he said cynically. “I thought it might be your pimp.”

“No, I don’t have a manager. I’m on my own – just making a little spending money,” she said, trying to sound much more blasé than she felt.

Both driver and passenger were silent for the rest of the trip. Adams pulled into a parking lot where he pulled in between two patrol cars. He helped Tatia out and guided her up the steps into the station and past the front desk where an officer was talking on the phone with his feet up on the desk.

“Slow night, huh?” said Adams.

“Yeah. Looks like you got a live one.”

“Uh-huh. Is Anderson here?”

“Yeah, she’s taking a break. We don’t have a houseful, but there are a few ahead of you.”

Tatia’s eyes were wide with apprehension as the reality of her situation played out in front of her. “Where are you taking me?” she whispered to Kevin.

He lowered his voice so only she could hear. “To a holding cell where you’ll stay until we’re ready to complete the booking process. Then you’ll be moved to a pre-arraignment cell where you’ll stay until the judge gets here and gets started tomorrow morning.”

“Tomorrow?” she said with tears puddling and threatening to spillover.

“It won’t be too bad. I type slow, and the night’s half over anyway.”

“You still have my phone, right?”

“Right here,” he said, patting his pocket.

The holding cell was down the hall from the front desk, but Tatia wished it was miles further. The small barred room was bare except for four metal benches bolted to the wall and the floor, a sink against the back wall, and an exposed toilet next to it. Women were lying on two of the benches with their faces turned toward the wall, and a third was sitting on another. None of them paid any attention as Kevin and Tatia approached. The officer who was sitting outside the cell at a tiny desk, however, gave her a thorough inspection.

“Hey, Adams! Looks like you caught a new one tonight. I haven’t seen her around here before.”

“Be nice, Hill. She’s never been inside before.”

“Yeah, first time but probably not the last. You know the drill – sign her in.” He shoved a clip board toward Kevin and continued his inspection of Tatia. Kevin wrote down her name, his name as the arresting officer, and the time.

“Okay, Hill. Get your lazy butt out of that chair and open the door so we can get on with this.”

While Hill unlocked the door, Kevin pulled a utility knife out of his pocket and used it to remove the cuffs from Tatia’s wrists. She rubbed her wrists, not because they hurt, but because she couldn’t believe she had actually been handcuffed. Hill swung the door open, she took a couple of steps inside, and stopped, frozen in place.

“This might take a little while,” said Kevin. “There are three ahead of you, but Officer Anderson will come get you and finish the process as soon as she can.”

About ten minutes later, Tatia moved toward the remaining vacant bench when she realized her toes were going numb from standing in four-inch heels. She sat on the edge of the bench, just enough to take the pressure off her feet, and stared at her hands to avoid making eye contact with anyone.

Tatia didn’t know how long she had been sitting there when she heard a female voice call out a name. She looked up long enough to watch Officer Anderson collect one of the other women and take her back down the hall. Anderson didn’t look nearly as nice as Kevin. In fact, the tall, husky brunette had a scowling mouth and an intense look that scared Tatia. She scooted back against the wall, tucked her feet under her, and wrapped her arms around herself, trying to keep from trembling.

She must have dozed off, because the next thing she knew, Anderson was calling her name. She stumbled to the door, trying to clear the sleep out of her head, and followed the officer to another room where she was instructed to sit down in the chair beside the desk. Anderson tapped on her keyboard for a few minutes, then, she began to ask Tanya some simple questions.

“Full name?”

Tatia caught herself before she gave her real name. “Kaitlyn Golden.”

She made it through the rest of the questions, stumbling only slightly over her date of birth. She gave Cindy as her contact person, and she answered the medical questions easily since she had always been healthy. Before she printed the completed form, Anderson asked three more questions.

“Do you understand that you are being booked on a charge of Prostitution, a Class B misdemeanor?”

“Yes,” replied Tatia quietly.

“Were your rights read to you, and do you understand those rights?”

“Yes,” she whispered, thinking that the only rights she had were the ones Eric said she had.

“Would you like to make a phone call?”

“Yes, please.”

Anderson dialed the number Tatia gave her and then handed the phone to her. Tatia listened hopefully to several rings, but her face fell as the voice mail activated. She listened to the familiar message before leaving one of her own. “Cindy, I hope you got my text. I’m at the Cameron PD, and court starts in less than an hour. Please come get me!”

The sound of Tatia’s voice was covered by the chatter of the printer next to Anderson’s desk. The officer took the phone back from Tatia and reached into her desk drawer, pulling out an ink pad and another form. As if she was grabbing another implement off her desk, she grabbed Tatia’s hand and began rolling her fingers, first across the ink and then across the form. While she worked, Tatia asked her first question.

“Will I be searched?”

The hint of a smile tugged at one corner of the officer’s mouth. Without looking up, she replied. “Not that a full-body search would be all that new to you, but no. I don’t think you could hide anything under that dress. Besides,” she said, looking at her watch. “It’s less than an hour until court convenes. We won’t even have time to put you into one of our lovely orange jumpsuits.”

Anderson directed Tatia to an area with a backdrop that reminded Tatia of the back of the closet door where her mother measured her every few months to see how much she had grown. It was the first time she could remember being glad her mother was dead – at least she didn’t have to see what her daughter had become.

“Face the camera and hold this in front of you,” said Anderson as she handed her a slate with her name and a series of numbers on it. After snapping a front view and a profile shot, Anderson directed Tatia back to her desk. “Have a seat while I get your inmate ID.”

She came back in a few minutes with a strip of plastic that contained Tatia’s ID number, her name, her mug shot, and a bar code. As Anderson fastened the bracelet around Tatia’s wrist, she caught a glimpse of Tatia’s tattoo peeking out from under her three-quarter-length sleeve. She pushed the sleeve up a little and made a clucking sound with her tongue.

“Looks like you already have an ID. I thought Officer Adams said you were a solo act.”

Tatia pulled her sleeve down, folded her arms across her chest so the tattoo was well hidden, and exercised her right to remain silent.

# # #

Thank you for following Tatia’s adventures through the first 20 of 55 chapters. You can find the complete book on Amazon in either digital for $.99 or paperback.

Preface and Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5| Chapter 6 | Chapter 7| Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16| Chapter 17 | Chapter 18| Chapter 19

Blessings,

Linda

Published  in the Rains County Leader on May 19, 2020:

Drive in churchI’ve missed a lot of things during self isolation: lunch with friends at the Senior Center, picking out my own produce and meat at the grocery store, going to the library to choose what books we would read next, and going to the gym several days a week among others. The thing I missed most, though, was meeting with my church family.

Even before the shutdown officially began, the elders at Believers’ Baptist Church began recording devotions and sermons and making them available for those who chose to stay away from public gatherings. As isolation continued, they explored options for keeping Lawn Chair ChurchBBC members and friends connected. For several weeks there was drive-in church where the congregation gathered in the church parking lot and listened to worship music and Pastor Jason’s message on KRER 102.5. Windows were rolled down and waves and greetings were shared from family to family, but everyone stayed in their cars. Then, last week a group of almost one hundred met for lawn chair church in front of the Family and Children’s Building.

David and I chose to forego those meetings and to catch the services on YouTube. One reason for our decision is that we are both in the vulnerable age range and both have health issues that might put us at increased risk. In addition, our car radio turns off five minutes after the engine is shut down, and it has no accessory switch. Finally, our inexpensive folding camp chairs have passed beyond their “best used by” dates after spending several Texas summers in a metal storage building. But when plans for resuming services in the building were announced, we were ready. Read the rest of this entry »

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