Published in the Rains County Leader on August 17, 2022:
Kitty hasn’t had more than a passing mention this year, mostly because she’s become very settled and sedentary. She did, after all, celebrate her 7th birthday this spring – and in feline years, that’s mid-forties – not a kitten anymore. But she still has that unique Kitty personality, so I thought I’d give her fans a peek at what she’s up to these days.
In her maturity Kitty has become more sociable. She presents herself to David for a thirty-second pet more often and lies in his lap for short periods when he’s lying on the couch watching TV. One day I was sitting next to him on the couch, and she allowed me to pet her. I wondered if she doesn’t come to me more often because the space next to me on the love seat is usually filled with books and papers. I cleared a spot for her – actually, I moved the clutter to the floor – and she visited me once. But most of her one-on-one interaction with me involves sitting on the end table and waving her tail over my cup of coffee. Sometimes she’ll jump up on the TV trays next to my computer stand and stretch out her paw toward me. We’ll hold hands while I surf the Internet until she gets bored or gets a little free with her claws.
She’s also a bit friendlier with our neighbor Perkins. She doesn’t always run and hide under the bed when he comes over. Sometimes she sniffs his feet to see if he’s been anywhere more interesting than where we go, but mostly she ignores him and continues her nap.
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 9, 2021:
In the late 18th or early 19th century one of two newsmen coined a phrase about the newsworthiness of a certain event. Both are given credit, but whoever said it was probably right: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” However, when the man involved is the husband of a small-town newspaper columnist, the event will probably end up in print.
Yes, David was on the receiving end of such a bite this week. The daughter of one of our neighbors dropped off her pet with her dad over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Kato is a large, furry Great Pyrenees mix who seemed friendly enough. In fact, he immediately made friends with the wandering canine who took up residence with our neighbors earlier this year. Kato was visiting Max one afternoon when David went across the street to have a cup of coffee with Charles. In an attempt to be a good guest, Kato barked at the perceived intruder, and when David entered the gate, Kato bit him on the upper thigh. Luckily, David was wearing double-layered nylon workout pants, so the teeth didn’t actually touch the skin, but he was left with an ugly scrape and a nasty bruise. To his credit, David didn’t bite back, but let’s just say Kato is now persona non grata in the neighborhood, or whatever the doggy equivalent of that status is.
The rest of the week went better, providing several incident’s that were of interest to a city girl who is still learning about country life. For one thing, we spent the week with our much more pleasant Great Pyrenees friend Spike. He was very well-behaved and didn’t provide much in the way of writing material, but there always seems to be something happening at the Ranch.
Published in the Rains County Leader on November 18, 2021:
Those of you who have been raised around cattle all your lives and know everything there is to know about these four-footed critters might want to pass on reading this column. If you choose to read on, keep in mind that the author is, as the column name indicates, a city girl and knows nothing about the bovine species – except that they are delicious when grilled and served on a bun with a little mustard and a few veggies. Given this disclaimer, you may wonder why I chose this subject. It just seemed a natural choice after several calves came to my notice recently – so if you opt to read on, be charitable.
As Spike’s official dog-sitters and his unofficial step parents – along with his small herd of cattle, we usually receive baby pictures when new calves arrive. Friday I received a text with a picture a shiny black baby girl weighing fifty pounds or so. Stella said she was born on Wednesday but disappeared soon afterward, probably hidden by her mother to protect her from the large group of buzzards that attended the birth. The baby was safe, though, because she and mama were at the fence to see Kent and Stella off when they left for home group. At lunch after church on Sunday, we discussed names for the newborn. Mama’s name is Annabelle, so the name has to include Anna. The odds-on favorite by the end of the meal was Julianna.
David and I will be staying with Spike for a few days at the end of the month, so we will be able to see Julianna in person – or at least through the fence. Considering our lack of experience with and our aversion to being stepped on by animals that weigh upwards of half a ton, others come in to feed and care for the non-domesticated livestock. All we do in that regard is count noses each morning to be sure no rustling has occurred in the dark.
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 7, 2021:
The last thing Kent told Spike before he and Stella left on their trip was to stay out of the newspaper – but I can’t help myself. Their antics are just too easy to write about.
Last week I introduced Dobby, the Lab/Great Pyrenees orphan who is living at the ranch until a permanent home can be found. He’s young and energetic and reminds me of Spike when we first became his live-in companions when he’s left home alone. I didn’t realize how domesticated and easy-going Spike has become until I met Dobby.
Walking outside when Dobby is anywhere around is an adventure in grace and agility, neither of which I possess. Like many pets, Dobby likes to walk in front of the person with him. But he takes it to an entire new level by turning at a 45 degree angle and leaning against your legs. He further complicates the process by putting his foot on top of yours at every step. At this writing, David and I have managed to stay upright, but we have twenty-four hours to go.
Published in the Rains County Leader on August 31, 2021:
This column is dedicated to Judge Wayne Wolfe who passed away early last Thursday morning. I didn’t know him very well, but I knew him well enough to know that he was a man who loved the Lord, his church, his family, and Rains County. The only animals I saw on his Facebook page were cattle, so a story about a dog might not be his favorite, but maybe he would relate to Dobby, a character from the Harry Potter stories who was willing to give his life in the service of those he loved. It’s true that I didn’t know a lot about Judge Wolfe, but this Facebook post from someone who knew him well says all that needs to be said: Uncle Wayne made doing the right thing seem easy even it wasn’t.
Kent and Stella are visiting his family this week, so if you’re a regular reader, you know what that means. David and I are staying with Spike, the Great Pyrenees who chose Kent and Stella several years ago to be his family. Shortly after his arrival, we became Spike’s official dog sitters when his family travels, and now we’re more like a step family to him.
We’ve been through a lot as he grew from a willful, energetic puppy who required a strong leash and quick hands to control his wandering ways. But like most of us, Spike has become a bit heavier, a bit more settled, and a lot more fond of the air conditioning than of running in the fields. When Stella contacted me earlier this year to ask us to save this week, we expected to spend a restful week – except for the part where he stands at the window and barks at the coyotes at 3:00 am. But things have become a little more complicated since then.
Published in the Rains County Leader on August 2, 2021:
Kitty has a collection of toys, most of which remain stashed in a lower section of her “condo” where I put them to avoid sucking them up in the vacuum cleaner. Occasionally, she’ll find a stray jingle ball and play a game of feline soccer, but these bursts of activity are short-lived and usually followed by a long nap. The one exception is her elephant. It is a three-inch square pillow made of yellow felt with two side flaps, a two-inch cord, and a small stuffed tube representing ears, a tail, and a trunk respectively.
The elephant received a cool reception when he first arrived on the scene several Christmases ago. The leopard-spotted fish was the reigning favorite at the time, but when it went missing under a piece of furniture or behind an appliance, the elephant took its place. Fame is fleeting, though, and when a new blue lamé fish appeared, the elephant was pushed aside.
The new fish was attached to a two-foot stick by an elastic cord, and Kitty sometimes enjoyed chasing it around when David or I bounced it in front of her. However, the #1 game was walking back and forth through the house with the fish in her mouth and the stick trailing along behind, especially through the kitchen. At least we knew she was coming when we heard the stick dragging across the ceramic tile. The stick also made it harder for the fish to hide under or behind things, but apparently it jumped off the bed into the crevice between the footboard and the cedar chest once too often. Disgrace followed, and the elephant reappeared.
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 18, 2021:
East Tawakoni held their first Arts & Crafts Expo on Saturday, and I was one of about fifteen vendors. Since there were no assigned spaces, I planned to get there well before the 9:00 am opening to get a prime spot. Apparently, I didn’t plan well enough, because I was almost the last one to arrive.
I parked and scouted the area before unloading. There were two rows of spaces facing each other, and when I saw an open one between two vendors, I asked if the spot was available. I was told no, that I needed to go to the end of the row. I sighed and trudged back to my car, not looking forward to the long walk carrying my table. It’s not heavy, but it’s awkward. It folds in the middle and has a carry handle, but when you’re height challenged you have to hold your arm in an uncomfortable position to keep from dragging the ground.
Then I noticed that other vendors had parked behind their booths. Even if I had to move my car after set-up, the ease of unloading would be worth it. The table went up easily, and while I was putting the finishing touches on my display, I looked around to see who my neighbors were. To my right was Sadie’s Place Animal Rescue with two beautiful, well-behaved rescue dogs, and directly across from me was My Favorite Day Dog Rescue with several cages of small dogs and a pen full of raucous black puppies. To top it off, a Kona Ice truck pulled in and parked to my left across the walkway so it could be seen from the front. I knew then that I had landed a prime spot after all. Everyone in attendance would be coming in our direction to ooh and aah over the puppies or to get a cool treat – or both.
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 12, 2021:
This last week provided lots of material for a serious post about the state of our society and our country, but I decided to write about something more fun – Kitty. The title doesn’t mean that David and I have adopted more cats. But we have had several feline visits recently, possibly with the thought of becoming the next Brendle household fur baby.
The first applicant showed up in mid December when a nocturnal visitor left a few tufts of fur and sand on the front porch glider. Shortly after the first discovery, David startled a small gray cat that had apparently taken shelter from the cold wind and rain. Of course, I had to post a picture on Facebook, and my cat-loving friends offered suggestions of how to meet the needs of our new friend. He looked pretty well-fed, though, and we believe that providing food to a wild animal does him a disservice by interfering with his natural hunting instincts. We did, however, decide to offer him Kitty’s bed – first, it’s softer and warmer than the glider and second, Kitty prefers our bed.
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 8, 2020:
David and I haven’t visited with our dog friend Spike since February when his human family went to Israel. They were supposed to go again in June, and I’m sure they had other fun trips scheduled, but COVID messed up their plans along with those of everybody else on the planet. But life goes on, and Spike’s family was called to the bedside of a terminally ill family member in Kentucky. On Wednesday I received a text asking if we were available to stay with Spike. I took a minute to check with David to see if we had anything planned. I knew the answer since we stopped making plans after the first half of the year was cancelled, but I wanted to include him in the decision. I told her we’d be glad to come and play with our buddy whenever their schedule was finalized.
Apparently, even though travel has been curtailed, finding an affordable rental car isn’t easy. They finally left Friday afternoon, late enough that we didn’t need to go check on the big pup until after Home Group. We went to the gym after lunch, picked up a grocery order on the way home, and prepared to relocate for a few days. I don’t do much packing when we go visit Spike. Stella has a great laundry room, so I stuff the contents of my hamper into a pillow case or two, and I’m ready to go. By the time the week is over, everything is dirty again, and I pack to go home the same way.
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.