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Archive for the ‘Country Living’ Category

The Call of the Wild | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 25, 2020:

cowardly lionFirst, let me say this column is not about the Jack London novel or the new Harrison Ford movie. It’s sort of about a dog, but it mostly about me being a fraidy-cat.

This week David and I are visiting with Spike, our occasional canine son, while his people visit the Holy Land. Their flight was a late one, so the plan was for Spike to have his supper before they left and stay in the house until we arrived after Home Group was over. Then, we’d walk him one more time before bedtime.

It was a good plan, but the problem was that David didn’t feel well, so he didn’t go to Home Group. That meant I had to go back home to pick him up before heading out to the ranch. These things always take longer than expected, and it was late and very dark when we arrived – and the coyotes were out. (more…)

The Storm Cellar | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 13, 2020:

storm cellar doorStrong storms covered Rains County with torrential rains accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning Friday night. The winds were not as strong as predicted, but the forecasts had many residents talking about the weather all week. At the Senior Center on Wednesday, I heard a woman at the table behind me ask if anyone had a storm cellar. Only one of her lunch companions had one, but she said that, in the nine years she had lived in her home, she had never been into the dark hole in the ground with its rotting, shutter-style doors. I wasn’t surprised that no one else had a cellar. The shallow Texas bedrock makes the cost of digging prohibitive. But the conversation brought back memories of my very early days in west Texas.

I was born in a tiny town about twenty miles west of Abilene called Merkel. We moved

Merkel_Street_in_Merkel_Texas_3-15-2014

A picture of Merkel’s downtown we took around 2002.

from there to Snyder, about fifty miles further west, just shy of my fourth birthday, so my memories of Merkel are limited. I’m sure some of them are things I’ve been told rather than things I actually remember. I know that we lived in a rented house behind Miss Johnnie’s house, our landlady, but I don’t remember much about her. I remember eating pinto beans at her house once – they needed salt. I remember learning to brush my teeth with tooth powder. And I remember the storm cellar. (more…)

Christmas Boxes | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 17, 2019:

Ralph and Alva HaganWhen I was a kid, December 26 was Granny Hagan’s birthday. Later on it became the day to return those what-were-you-thinking gifts and to stock up on Christmas supplies for next year. More recently I’ve heard it referred to by a specific name, especially on Facebook when greetings of “Happy Boxing Day” appear on the day after Christmas.

It turns out that Boxing Day began in Britain as a time when the rich boxed up gifts for the poor. I’m thinking it might have been a charitable way to get rid of boxing-day-1901the leftover turkey and those unsuitable gifts. It also became a day when servants were given the day off after receiving a Christmas box or gift from their employers. The servants in turn would go home and give Christmas boxes to their families.

Boxing Day isn’t widely celebrated in the U.S., but boxes certainly play a big part in the American Christmas season. Even though gift bags are probably more popular now than gift boxes, online shopping has resulted in an over-abundance of shipping cartons. And some traditionalists still like to wrap and tie bows on containers with square corners. (more…)

Country folks are prepared | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 10, 2019:

Unpredictable weatherAt the end of last week’s column I mentioned that I was planning to be one of the vendors at the Christmas Around the Square event on Saturday. It took a bit more planning than some of the events I’ve done because it was my first outdoor one.

First of all, I had to plan for the weather. I know that everyone thinks the weather where they live is the most unpredictable, but if you’ve ever experienced a Texas Blue Norther and felt the temperature drop thirty or forty degrees in as many minutes, you know that Texas ranks pretty high on the volatile weather list.

I watched the long range forecast for several weeks, and the predicted temperature was consistently in a forty to sixty degree range. Of course, allowing for a ten to twenty degree variance along with wind chill, that could mean anything from a snowsuit in the morning to short sleeves in the afternoon. I settled on multiple layers and moved on to precipitation. (more…)

Stories | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 3, 2019:

Lane Street Collectibles

Lane Street Collectibles, Nov., 2019

Most of my Saturday was taken up by a book event. Angela Snyder and Billy Watkins, partners in Lane Street Collectibles in Quitman, hosted a book signing for me. After helping me set up and tear down, Billy commented, “There’s a lot involved in these book signings.”

He’s right. I have a banner, banner stand, and several boxes and bags of books and other supplies that have to be carried in, set up, and positioned for traffic patterns and visibility. In addition to my inventory of books, my supplies include several tablecloths because you never know what size table will be available; business cards and holder; book marks; Lucite sign holders and signs; candy and a decorative bowl; tape, twine, scissors, pens, note pad, and other miscellaneous supplies; and snacks for me. I believe in being prepared.

I’ve spent quite a few Saturdays in the past few months at the craft fairs and markets that are popular this time of year. I sometimes check the numbers and wonder if it’s worth the effort. I sell enough books to cover my expenses, but not enough to make any best seller lists. However, all the interesting people I meet and the stories they share make up for any shortfall. (more…)

Plenty to do in Emory | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 12, 2019:

Theres nothing to doMany people don’t like the idea of small town life. “There’s nothing to do!” they cry. That might be true if they want first-run movies, Broadway-style stage performances, world class theme parks, or five-star dining. But if they can be content with fun, heart-warming events shared with warm-hearted, friendly people, Emory just might be the place.

David and I have always been happy to stay at home, working on small projects around the house, reading, or watching football or old movies. But after living in Emory almost nine years and making lots of friends, it’s hard not to get involved. The past few days have been really busy for a couple of less than social butterflies like us.

On Friday, we dropped in on the Women’s Service Club Reception and Open House at the Rose Community Center kitchenRose Community Center. The newly renovated building looks amazing, and even though we were a bit early, the women graciously took time from last minute preparations to show us around and answer my reporter-type questions. The trays of cheese, veggies, and cookies may not have been five-star, but they looked beautiful, and whatever was in the covered warming trays smelled even better.  We didn’t stay long, though, foregoing the refreshments and opting for lunch at the Senior Center.

Saturday morning we went to the American Legion breakfast, the place to be on the second Saturday of each month if you’re hungry for a delicious country-style breakfast. Apparently a lot of people decided to start their Veterans Day weekend celebration the same way, because we had trouble finding a place to park or a place to sit. We did, however, find one empty patch of grass and two empty seats at a table with some friends. We chatted with them, and I met a Navy Seabee who spent two tours of duty in Vietnam. There are some really interesting people in this little town.

David in Model ADavid had been invited by a friend to ride in his Model A in the Veterans Day parade, so after breakfast I dropped him off among a group of antique car enthusiasts and went in search of a good place to watch the parade and take a few pictures. I was early enough to snag a good spot in the Court House parking lot next to a couple of ladies I had met at the Senior Center. The weather was beautiful, the conversation was entertaining, and before I knew it, I heard the sound of drums as the Rains County High School Band led the parade down Highway 19. The Model As were close to the front, and David was in the second one, so I didn’t have long to wait. He was sitting in the rumble seat, so I got a great picture of him before he disappeared around the corner. The rest of the parade was fun with several floats, some marching groups, and a group of jump rope experts. It was over before the drivers who were stopped behind the barriers could become too restless, and all that was left was a few stray pieces of candy that would soon be flattened by oncoming traffic.

The festivities weren’t over, though. A canopy and folding chairs had been set up in preparation for a short ceremony honoring the veterans and dedicating several new personalized bricks that had been added to the memorial. Across the parking lot, several tables had been set up and filled with hot dogs, chips, cookies, cupcakes, and bottled water in preparation for the annual Veterans Day picnic. It had been several hours since breakfast, and parading raises an appetite, so David and I snagged some food and found an empty stretch of shaded curb. Several friends joined us, and I listened to one of them tell stories about her father’s years of service.

There was a chili cook-off and concert at Sidekicks later in the day, and maybe other David at Vet Day Program 2019events, but David and I had partied enough, so we went home. We’ll go to the high school on Monday for the annual Veterans Day program. There will be a nice Continental breakfast, and friends and family will applaud as each veteran is introduced. The color guard will present the flags, the band and chorus will perform several patriotic songs, and there will be ceremonies in remembrance of MIAs, POWs, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Most of all, we’ll shake hands, hug, and chat with friends who have become extended family.

As the holidays approach, there are many other activities coming up. The 4th annual Jingle Mingle, the Women’s Service Club Thanksgiving Luncheon, the Community Thanksgiving Service, and Christmas around the Square just to name a few. These events may not have the “WOW” factor that appeals to the younger generations, but to those of us who’ve fought all the crowds and stood in line for all the hours we care to, they are just perfect. Regardless of how you feel about the activities that are offered, you can’t say there’s nothing to do in Emory.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Fall is almost here | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 22, 2019:

Fall color in texasAutumn arrived on the calendar several weeks ago, but the actual season is just now making its appearance in Texas. We’ve had a few cool nights that called for a blanket, and one night I woke up to find Kitty snuggled up against me. And a few mornings have called for a lightweight jacket, but we still have some days – like today – when the high temperature is near 90 degrees. Still, fall is definitely in the air, and here are a few ways to tell that Summer is on its way out.

Most of the many trees in our yard are oaks of one kind or another with a few elms sprinkled in for variety. Instead of giving us a nice display of fall colors, they usually go directly from green to brown – overnight. However, we have one black gum tree outside our dining room windows that puts on a bit of a show before dropping its foliage. This week I saw a number of yellow and reddish leaves, and Sunday morning when we drove in from church, I noticed that the riot of red has begun.

Last week I was driving down County Road 3200 fairly early in the morning when I sawBuck on the road something in the road ahead. It was an animal of some kind, but it was in the shadows, so I couldn’t tell what it was. It was a small buck, but he didn’t seem to be moving, so I slowed down to give him time to get out of the way. I stopped a few feet away from him before he finally tore his eyes away from whatever was holding his attention, turned around and ran back across the street in front of me, and disappeared into the woods. If you’re a city girl like me and don’t know what could have made him so careless of his own safety, go ask you mother about the facts of life. Apparently, in the Fall a young buck’s fancy turns to thoughts of love.

Another sign of Fall is that seasonal food events are in full swing and seasonal foods are making their appearance. Our annual church chili cook-off has come and gone, and the date of my family’s annual fish fry has been finalized after several changes. And every coffee shop, bakery, donut shop, and candle store offers something in a pumpkin spice flavor or fragrance.

pumpkin_spice_latteNeighbors are now coming outside to finish up projects that were set aside when the thermometer neared triple digits in an effort to complete their work before the first frost. Charles who lives across the street is painting his porch, Connie is working on her greenhouse, and David and I put a final coat of paint on the railing around our front porch. We still need to put one more coat on the floor and do some cover-up work on some spots of algae or mold that are bleeding through on some of the rafters before we call it done – unless David decides to add a heat source so we can continue to sit out when the blue northers come.

Last week I pulled out Kitty’s blanket, the one I got for Christmas last year that she immediately claimed as her own. She has ignored it so far, but I have a feeling she’ll rediscover it once the really cold weather hits. Maybe Santa will bring her a blanket of her own this year.

Speaking of Santa, one final sign that Fall is around the corner is David. He has begun counting down the weeks and days until Christmas. If I didn’t love him so much, I might have to kill him!

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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