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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

It’s not just a book sale | by Linda Brendle

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.

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FOL Sorting Team is Ready for a Break | by Linda Brendle

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.

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The case of the missing book! by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 16, 2022:

Agatha Christie

From the time I read my first Agatha Christie novel, I’ve been a diehard mystery fan. In addition to Dame Christie, I’ve read a  lot of Dick Francis, all of Sue Grafton’s Alphabet Murders (and was broken-hearted when she died before writing Z), and all but a few of Robert B. Parker’s works. The list includes James Patterson, David Baldacci, Terri Blackstock, Joel C. Rosenberg, and many more. I’m also a fan of TV sleuths like Perry Mason, Columbo, Kojak, Magnum PI, Hawaii 5-0 (the original), Hill Street Blues, CSI, NCIS, Black List, The Mentalist, and Elementary. There are many more, but you get the idea.

When I began writing my first suspense/thriller novel, legal and illegal dialog and descriptions of criminal activity seemed to flow from experience rather than research and hours of reading and watching. That’s why, when we had our own little mystery at the Brendle house, I felt competent to handle it without consulting any of my fictional detective heroes.

One of our current favorite authors is Michael Connelly, especially his Harry Bosch series. At the Friends of the Library Book Sale last April, I found six or seven of his books that we hadn’t read. I also found a number of books by a new author to us – Harlan Coben whose main character is sports agent and amateur detective Myron Bolitar. I brought home a total of sixteen books. I divided the books between us, stacking half on my night stand and half on David’s with the earliest books on top and proceeding down in date order. When either of us finishes a book, we pass it to the other and it goes on the bottom of our to-be-read pile. After we have both finished a book, it goes into a donate pile to be returned to the Friends of the Library for the next Book Sale or to be placed in one of the Little Free Libraries around town.

A few of nights ago David picked up the next book in his pile, but after reading a few pages, he said, “I think I missed a book or two. This one is ten years later than the last one, and Bolitar has a son I didn’t know about.” It was bedtime, so I found an unrelated book he hadn’t read, and put off the investigation until the next day.

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Christmas around the Square | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 2, 2021:

After a COVID cancellation last year, Christmas around the Square is returning to downtown Emory this Saturday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. I had participated in this annual tradition twice as a vendor, and Christmas 2021 didn’t seem complete without it. I’m looking forward to being there this year, but I’m a little nervous since there is a slight chance of rain, and paperback books don’t fare well in damp weather. Hopefully, the weatherman will have pity and revise the forecast.

It’s not just my inventory that would be subject to bad weather. Over thirty other vendors will display their wares around the Courthouse Square, and that’s just part of the fun. There will also be tacos, a rodeo, JJ’s Texas Twirlers, story time from 5-6:00 pm, a live nativity presented by the United Methodist Church from 6-7:00 pm, a Christmas parade at 7:00 pm, the official lighting of the Rains County Christmas tree, Rhythmic Productions Music by DJ Calvin Hickerson, pictures with Santa, and much more.

Based on pictures of trees, lights, and other festive displays that have been appearing on Facebook for several weeks, it seems that many people are already well into the spirit of the holiday. But if you are having trouble feeling Christmas-y, this festival is a great way to banish the Grinch-y feelings and kick start some Christmas cheer. Past experience tells me there will be lots of smiles, laughter, hugs, and shopping going on between the live entertainment and other planned activities.

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The Problems Behind the Sale | by Linda Brendle

Somehow I’ve gotten behind and haven’t posted in almost two weeks. Time to play catch up! This article was published in the Rains County Leader October 28, 2021:

Last week I wrote about the amazing success of the Friends of the Library Book Sale and how smoothly it went. That was true, but the sale wasn’t without problems. Most of the problems landed in the lap of Cheryl Watson, our facilities coordinator – and me. Her responsibilities included picking up keys to the City Centre, opening and locking up, and coordinating the delivery and pick of books and equipment.

The plan was simple: Cheryl would pick up keys at the EDC office on Monday, Oct. 11. On Tuesday Jane Dillon would meet the Road and Bridge crew at the book shed by the Library to pick up books and equipment and Cheryl would open the Centre for volunteers to begin setting up. On Monday the 18th, Road and Bridge would pick up the equipment, unsold religious books which would be donated to Love Packages, and books reserved for Little Free Libraries, and Peter Adams of Gladewater Books would pick up remaining unsold books. Cheryl would return the keys to the EDC office, reserve the Centre for April, and the sale would be over. But there were problems.

#1 – Because of family illness, Cheryl wasn’t available until Saturday the week of the sale, but I stepped in. Problem solved.

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Book Sale Events | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on Thursday, October 21, 2021:

The Friends of Rains County Public Library held their semi-annual Book Sale last Friday and Saturday. Publicity Coordinator Marsha Rakestraw had labeled the sale as an “event,” and her prediction proved to be true.

The book sorting team had warned that, because of the generous donations in recent weeks, some boxes might arrive at the City Centre unsorted. However, volunteers worked extra hours, and all inventory was broken down by fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and religion when the Road and Bridge Crew delivered several loads to the Centre Tuesday morning.

More volunteers made quick work of arranging tables, and unboxing and further sorting the contents into more specific categories.So much was accomplished so quickly that we knocked off at 1:00 pm on Tuesday. We began again on Wednesday morning, completing the finer sorting and adding genre and pricing signs throughout the room. Shopping bags were set out, and the check-out area was arranged. By shortly after noon, we were almost ready with only a few last-minute tweaks left for Thursday morning.

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Preface of A Long and Winding Road – Read It for Free!

A Long and Winding Road is on sale through Tuesday, August 10. You can read the Preface here for free, or you can buy the entire ebook for 99 cents at https://www.amazon.com/Long-Winding-Road-Caregivers-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00LDV3W50.

PREFACE

2004

Thursday, September 9

Change

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee:
 he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

There it was—a dump truck, coming straight toward me on a road with no shoulders and no place to go. The Department of Transportation’s motorcycle safety course teaches you to look where you want to go, and the bike will follow your line of vision. That would probably have worked, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the truck. Instead, the world around me abruptly shifted into a slow motion action sequence with a one-sentence caption that crawled across my mind: You’re going to die.

Avoiding a collision should have been easy: slow a little, push a bit harder on the  right handgrip, and then swing back into my lane My adrenaline-drenched muscles were tensed for fight or flight, though, so easy wasn’t happening, and I leaned hard into the curve. With a death grip on the throttle, I revved the engine, straightening my trajectory and sending the bike straight into the path of the truck. The right footrest screeched against the asphalt and gave way under the weight of the 700-pound motorcycle. I pulled my left leg up toward my chest; rubber crunched metal as both the front and back wheels of the truck hit the bike.

I don’t know what happened next. I don’t know if a heavenly hand reached down and plucked me off the bike or if I tucked and rolled, bouncing up at the end like a gymnast after a tumbling run. The next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of the road, surrounded by bike parts: a headlight; the footboard, where my left foot had rested; and various, unidentifiable bits of chrome.

The bike was a blue 2002 Harley Heritage Softtail that I called the Blue Angel. She was beautiful, loud, and had chrome in places where most bikes don’t have places. When I rode her, I was powerful and beautiful and shiny, just like her, and I rode every chance I got. Now, she was lying on the side of the road with a trail of broken bits and pieces behind her.

In a daze, I wandered over and said to no one in particular, “I guess my riding days are over.”

My husband David was leading the ride. Out of sight around the next curve and deafened by the roar of his pipes, he was unaware of what was going on. James and Peggy, our neighbors and riding buddies, were bringing up the rear. James pulled up beside me and made sure I was still breathing before speeding away to catch up with David.

I watched him until he was out of sight, and then I sat down in the weeds to take inventory. Unlike my Angel, I was bruised and shaken, but not broken. My helmet was scraped, and the visor hung from one snap. There was a slight cut on the bridge of my nose from my glasses. My left foot hurt, so I took off my boot to check the damage. I didn’t find anything major, but my instep was swollen and turning blue, so I put my boot back on before my foot outgrew it. My elbows were skinned, and the length of my right thigh stung from road rash. A dull ache on my left hip presaged a huge bruise—but I was alive.

Peggy and the truck driver had just dragged my bike out of the path of oncoming traffic when an Arkansas Highway Patrol car arrived. The next few minutes were a blur of activity. I watched it all from the cocoon of numbness that surrounds you after a traumatic event. I answered questions when they were asked and signed my name when it was required, but mostly I thought about what had just happened.

I had been following David like always. He rides a black 2000 Harley Road King Classic. As we had been winding through the trees and hills on a beautiful two-lane road, I’d felt good, enjoying both the memory of David’s compliments about what a good rider I was becoming and the elegance of his riding style. Even after a couple of decades as a civilian, he still had his military posture, and he looked almost regal in the saddle. He had pulled ahead of me a bit, so I had given the Angel a little more gas—a little too much as it turned out. I had gone into a right-hand curve a little too hot and swung out just over the yellow line.

If I could just hit the rewind button and take that curve one more time.

Once the formalities were done and the shiny, twisted remains of the Angel had been towed away on a flatbed trailer, I climbed onto the buddy seat of the Road King. I was once again riding two-up behind David, leaning against his back with my arms around his waist the way I had the first time he took me riding when we were dating. shrunken caravan rode off in search of a place to eat dinner and lick our wounds.

Sitting on the back gives you time to think and pray. I thanked God for His mercy, amazed at what I had survived. I also asked why it had happened and if my riding days were really over. The only response I received in those moments of quiet meditation was a sense that I’d know when it was time to ride again. So far, I’m still riding two-up behind David.

Back at the condo, I took some pain reliever and soaked in a tub of hot water to ease my aches and pains. The pills and hot water worked on the physical woes, but they did nothing for the shock and horror of the images in my head, images of that truck coming toward me again and again. I joined the rest of the group in the living room and snuggled up next to David, looking for the warmth and comfort of his touch.

I was beginning to relax and unwind a bit when the cell phone rang. A flutter of anxiety made me catch my breath as it rang a second time. Only a few people had that number, so when it rang, it was usually serious. My first thought was of Mom and Dad who were over two hundred miles away.

In the fall of 2003, Dad had a mysterious neurological infection that landed him in the hospital for two weeks and in a rehab facility for three more. With her world turned upside down, Mom had an emotional breakdown, so she had stayed with us temporarily. She had delusions that Dad had died or run off with another woman, and when she saw him at the hospital, she called him “Mama.” Their snug two-bedroom house was not her secure little nest without him there, but she was afraid to be anywhere else.

Trying to meet their needs without neglecting my job or my husband did a number on my world, too. My neat, orderly little life turned into a chaotic mess. My perfect daughter, superhero alter ego took over, and I flew to the rescue.

I was the only one who could get Dad to eat, and I was afraid if I didn’t show up at the hospital three times a day, he would starve to death. I also spent hours with Mom, trying to calm her fears and cure her insecurities. This was when I experienced my first close encounter with the caregiver’s secret fear that it was my sole responsibility to see to the welfare of my parents. I thought that if I did everything right, my parents would get well and things would go back to normal. If they didn’t get well, it would be my fault.

After several months, Mom and Dad had both recovered from the trauma of his illness, but things had changed. They were back in their own home, but I still dropped by every day on my lunch hour to say hello and check on them. The yard on their little corner lot had been, at one time, well-tended and frequently admired by neighbors and passersby, but now it was unkempt, brown, and weed-choked. The hedges that had once been neatly trimmed now sprouted wild branches in every direction.

Inside was worse. The smell of unwashed bodies greeted me at the door, and the sigh of Mom and Dad sitting on the couch, staring at the TV, waited for me in the living room. The books and crossword puzzles that used to occupy their attention lay forgotten on the coffee table, along with piles of unbalanced bank statements and unpaid bills. The pantry and refrigerator that had once been stocked with fresh, nutritious food were either empty or filled with pre-packaged meals and snacks or leftovers that looked like a science experiment gone bad.

“What did you have for lunch?” I asked.

Each looked to the other for a response.

“I don’t remember.”

“You did eat, didn’t you?”

“I don’t know. I think we had a sausage biscuit around ten o’clock.”

Answers to questions about medications and doctor’s visits were equally vague. I reluctantly began to research care options, arming myself with as much information as I could. Eventually, some decisions would have to be made.

Not today, though. Today was supposed to have been a good day. We were on a motorcycle adventure with our neighbors, spending several days exploring new scenery and finding the curvy Arkansas roads that are like a Disney World thrill ride for bikers. The morning was beautiful, a perfect start to a day of forgetting about the real world for a while. Unfortunately, the day wasn’t so perfect after all.

When we stopped for a mid-morning rest, David whipped out his cell phone and called his buddy Roger, also a biker. Knowing Roger was at work, David greeted him with his usual taunt, Hey, man, where ya’ at? This morning, though, Roger had news. Delta Airlines, where David had worked for sixteen years, had announced that the DFW maintenance hangar would close and relocate to Atlanta in January. David was only fifty-six, too young to retire. He could relocate, but I wasn’t sure if I could work out a transfer with my employers. Starting a new career wasn’t appealing to either of us. Plus, what would we do about Mom and Dad? Then there was the truck, and now the phone was ringing.

The phone rang a third time, and I picked it up with a trembling hand.

“Hello?”

“Linda, this is Mary.”

Mary and I were running buddies before I met David, and we were still closer than she and her twin sister. She explained that she had received a panicked call from Mom.

 Mom had asked her to go check on Dad. He had gone to my house to pick kup the mail and feed the dogs, and he’d been gone for long enough that she was worried.

My heart was in my throat, unable to decide whether to beat wildly or stop altogether.

“Are they okay?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Mary, “but you need to know what happened. When I turned onto your street I saw emergency vehicles in front of your house. The EMTs were huddled around Elmer. A passing neighbor found him lying unconscious on the sidewalk and called nine-one-one. By the time I arrived, he was awake, but he’s refusing to go to the hospital. I think you should talk to him.”

“Okay,” I agreed. My hand was shaking so badly I could hardly hold the phone while I waited for him to come on the line. “Daddy, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he said. “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I don’t need an ambulance.”

“Maybe you could let Mary take you to the ER, just to be sure everything is okay. Would you do that for me?”

“Okay. I don’t see any need of it, but if it will make you feel better, I’ll do it.”

After I hung up, I sat with my head in my hands, feeling like I’d just been hit by another truck. As I fought back tears, the caregiver’s guilty mantra taunted me: I should have been there.

Mary called back a couple of hours later. “Linda, I took your dad to the ER. They didn’t find any real damage, so they sent him home. I’m going to spend the night with them and check on him periodically.”

He made it through the night with no further signs of injury. A later check with his doctor showed no major damage, either, but he has not been quite the same since. None of us have.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road


Winding Road is 99cents

EBOOK SALE: 99cents through 8/10/21!

The story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend seven weeks touring the southeastern U.S. in a 40-foot motor home.

A reader says: This book was honest and real, funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. Reflections on all aspects of her life were insightful for anyone, regardless of whether or not they are a caregiver.https://www.amazon.com/Long-Winding-Road-Caregivers-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00LDV3W50

Vignettes from a Vendor Event | by Linda Brendle

Published  by the Rains County Leader on June 29, 2021:

One of the most difficult parts of being an independent author is marketing, but it can also be the most rewarding. Obviously, the biggest reward is selling books, but other positives include finding interesting new venues, meeting other creative entrepreneurs, interacting with readers face to face, and collecting writing material. This past Saturday I attended the Greenville Market for the first time.

I learned about this vendor event at the East Texas Expo in May from the lovely ladies from Sadie’s Place Rescue who had the booth next to mine. The Greenville Market is a monthly event that is held the last Saturday of each month on the Hunt County Fairground. The vendors offer a wide variety of items including food, jewelry, craft items, plants, and much more – including books.

Another big draw for the event is that it is held in an air conditioned building. I was assigned a space directly in front of one of the cooling units. The blowing air was a challenge during setup while I attached the banner to the front edge of the table and laid out the tablecloth, but the same air was a big plus when the outside temperature reached the mid-nineties in the afternoon.

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Connections | by Linda Brendle

Connections | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 25, 2021:

Writing is all about communication – about sharing thoughts and ideas through the written word – and about the connections that are made through that sharing. A writer often doesn’t know when those connections happen, but one of my favorite parts of writing is when a reader reaches out through a review, a comment on a blog or Facebook post, or an email to let me know about a connection.

An early connection happened when I was just beginning to be active on social media. Facebook groups had not yet popped up, at least not in the numbers that exist now, so I contributed occasional articles to several independent websites. One article was about my anger as a caregiver. I admitted lashing out in frustration and anger at my Mom when I first began caring for her only to realize later that my anger, and the underlying fear, were really about the Alzheimer’s that was taking her away from me in a way I could neither understand nor control.

Shortly after the article went live, I received a comment from a young woman whose mother had suffered a fatal heart attack many years before when she was a teenager. The older daughter had driven them all to the hospital, and the teen was confused by her sister’s apparent anger at her mother. After the mother’s death, the sisters were not completely estranged, but they never talked about the situation, and their relationship had not been the same. After reading my article, the younger woman approached her sister, and they talked. After exploring their feelings and reactions on that night that had changed their lives so many years before, healing began and their relationship was restored. Although we exchanged a few more comments, we didn’t strike up a friendship. Still, those written words established a point of connection based our similar experiences.

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