Published in the Rains County Leader on November 24, 2021:
In preparing to write this week, I read last year’s Thanksgiving column called “How Thanksgiving Grows.” The gist of the story was that, because of residual fears about COVID, none of our usual family gatherings occurred, so I planned to fix a small but special meal for David and me. However, by the time the big day came, we had three guests, and I spent the best part of two days fixing the customary multi-course feast. This year we will be sharing a traditional celebration with David’s sisters – and we had to turn down two other invitations.
Although I enjoyed the memories, the article didn’t help much with this week’s column. After that I went to Facebook and scrolled through my photos. I didn’t take many pictures last Thanksgiving, but I did find one of the kitchen island loaded down with food. There was also a photo of the leftovers the next day when we invited the neighbors back for a rerun. I remember feeling grateful that we could enjoy another go-round without all the work and also that all that food wouldn’t go to waste.
From there, I scrolled through the rest of the year. Again, there weren’t a lot of pictures, but there were enough highlights to inspire a gratitude list for this week:
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 16, 2021:
Three weeks ago this column was about the effects of a week of ice and snow, but this one is about life after Snowpocalypse 2021. After all the snow and ice melted, there was a lot of landscape sadness to be seen. My neighbor Connie lost most of what was in her greenhouse even though she had a heater running, and two other neighbors have small palm trees that look as if they are beyond hope. One yard on Highway 19 is surrounded by a beautiful wrought iron fence lined with some kind of small shrub with reddish leaves. If any of those plants survive, they will probably have to be cut back to the ground. And the two big century plants in front of my church had to be pruned back to one brown-edged, spiky leaf each.
My own yard didn’t suffer much because there’s not much that would really qualify as landscaping. I lost a paradise flower a friend brought me last year. I should have brought it in and let it winter in the bathtub with my hibiscus, but it had put long shoots up through the trellis, and I didn’t want to cut it back. The few daffodils beside the porch are still green, but the buds that were peeping out before the snow are gone. I’ve read that they probably won’t bloom this year and may be thin next year because of sparse foliage, but they should survive. The few garlic bulbs I planted last fall looked a little burned around the edges, but I trimmed away the brown parts, and they’ve put on new leaves. And my irises look pretty healthy so far.
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 2, 2021:
On September 7, 2017, Heather Rollins created a Facebook group called Emory Alerts. In March of 2020, the name was changed to Heather Rollin’s Community News, and now this group is a great source of information and more to just under 4,000 members. Rollins describes the group this way:
Just a side gig to help keep the citizens of Emory informed about community events. Something I choose to do – NOT something I have to do. If you are a business I will share for you. Please understand – one post a day is relevant, more than that is too much and people will dismiss!! My page my rules…I will help if I can, Thank you!!
I discovered the group sometime last year and found it very helpful as well as educational and entertaining. During the pandemic, the various posts provided much needed information about what was open and what was not, which events were scheduled and which had been cancelled, and the current status of the mask situation. There were also a few ads that helped in finding Christmas bargains without braving the mall, and sometimes there were hilarious memes that helped ease the cabin fever.
Published in the Rains County Leader on February 23, 2021:
The Snowpocalypse of 2021 has been a challenge to all of us – some more than others. While many report spending days without heat and water, David and I experienced only two days of rolling blackouts, and we had no water outages. We’re now under a “Boil Water Notice,” but that’s only a minor inconvenience.
TV, on the other hand, was a major difficulty. As the thermometer fell, so did our Internet speed – and since our television reception comes through the Internet, we received mostly nothing. Without access to email, social media, and other digital entertainment, and having no desire to go outside and frolic in the snow, we searched for ways to amuse ourselves. David didn’t want to trek across the street for coffee, so we read a lot, I wrote a bit, David paced the floor, and we both looked out the windows.
Our neighbors were cocooned inside their houses, too, so they did nothing to relieve the boredom. In contrast, the wildlife was very interesting. Monday morning I saw Kitty in her predatory stance staring intently out the front window. A bird had found a thin spot close to the front porch and was doing a little dance that involved a couple of scratching steps, which sent dried leaves flying, followed by a peck which hopefully scored a tasty bug or seed. There was a catchy rhythm to the dance, and where Kitty saw a potential snack, I saw a demonstration of what a little spunk and ingenuity can accomplish.
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 5, 2021:
For the last few days, Facebook, email, texts, and all other social media have been full of messages related to the beginning of another year. Although most are similar in content, there is a definite difference in attitude. Some are simply the traditional Happy New Year, others are full of excitement and anticipation of a clean slate and a new start, and still others are full of pessimism if not downright despair, expecting 2021 to be nothing more than a continuation of the cancellations of 2020. As I looked for a good illustration of this difference in attitudes, and how those attitudes can affect outcomes as well as those around you, I came across some holiday pictures of the Marshall family.
If you are a fan of good barbecue, you’ve probably met Aaron and Sarah at their Barbecue Pit, but the real stars of their family are their children. Blakely, 6 years old, is outgoing and enthusiastic about life. Her sister Gracie, 5 years old, is a little more reserved on the surface but underneath is equally lively and excited to be alive. Then comes 3-year-old Lane who brings up the rear in age only. Lane is adventurous and fearless, and Sarah has pictures to prove it. She has posted photos of him climbing a ladder clad only in a pair of cowboy boots, sitting astride a full-grown horse in full western regalia, and petting the nose of a cow whose head was bigger than the he was.
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.