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Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Dirk Schutter, loyal citizen or unlawful presence | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 10, 2022

Dirk Schutter, resident of Rains County since 2001, has been a citizen of the United States since 1960. But because of an expired driver’s license and three missing digits on a bureaucratic form, he is now classified by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as “lawful presence not verified.”

Schutter was born in Wilp, Holland on July 18, 1937. When he was twelve years old, in order to find a better quality of life for their children and better healthcare for Dirk who was recovering from polio, his family immigrated to the United States. This was during a time when immigrants were required to have a U.S. sponsor who would guarantee a place to live and a job for at least five years. Upon arrival in New York, new arrivals were processed through Ellis Island before being sent to join their sponsors. In the Schutters’ case, their sponsor was in Terrell, Texas.

Schutter had completed the fifth grade in Holland, but he spoke almost no English. Instead of making special provision for his lack of language skill, the school system dropped him back to first grade. He learned quickly and almost caught up to grade level, graduating from high school at the age of twenty. By that time, he had met Patricia Moore and had fallen in love. However, her mother wouldn’t allow her daughter to marry a non-citizen, fearing he would take her back to Holland. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Schutter attended naturalization classes, and on August 29, 1960, he became a citizen of his adopted country.

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Book sale tales | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on October 27, 2022:

Another FOL Book Sale has come and gone, and we are a tired but happy bunch of volunteers. Thank you to everyone who worked and everyone who shopped to make the event a huge success. Final figures have not been announced, but the first day was so busy that total sales, dues, and donations were expected to reach a record amount.

Most of the mechanics of the event are familiar enough to have become routine, so they no longer provide much writing material. However, the roadside signs are usually worth a story or two. Putting up the flag signs is especially challenging because parts seem to go missing from one sale to the next. They’re probably hiding in some corner, giggling along with the missing socks and plastic container lids. This time we couldn’t find the screws that tighten the tie-down clamps – a very important part, especially on a windy day. But creative use of duct tape came into play, and both signs survived both sale days without incident.

One of the best parts of the sale is the customers. Friends who only see each other twice a year at the sale renew friendships over a common love of books, and new friendships are formed because of the same common interest. The book sale is a much anticipated event for some families, and it’s fun to watch the children grow between sales. The baby who was still nursing a year ago is now walking, the middle child who was listening before is now reading on his own, and the older boy is now big enough to carry the boxes of books to the car without help. And another family will have a new book lover by this time next year.

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Learning to be spontaneous | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 15,2022:

Spontaneity used to scare me – probably because as a child and later as a teenager, when I said or did something without proper forethought, I usually ended up putting my foot in my mouth or doing something awkward and embarrassing. As a result, I became an adult who makes lists, plans menus, and wants to know all the whens and wheres of an upcoming trip.

David, on the other hand, hates to plan. I’ve tried to explain that you miss some pretty spectacular events and experiences in life if you don’t make plans in advance, but he still prefers to follow his nose and see where it leads him. However, they say that married people become more alike the longer they’re together, and after over twenty-two years, we’ve both mellowed a bit. He’s learned that it’s a good idea to find out of someone will be at home before you go for a visit, and if the cook doesn’t plan in advance, he might not get his favorite German chocolate cake for his birthday. I, one the other hand, have learned that an afternoon motorcycle ride that turns into an overnight visit to Jefferson, Texas can be a lot of fun, even if you have to buy jackets because you didn’t plan for the cold front that came in overnight.

I recently experienced a lesson in spontaneity that will stay with me for a long time. Several times a year Believers’ Baptist includes a Family Fun Night in the schedule. In the past, this usually meant that, on a Sunday evening, we gathered on the parking lot bringing lawn chairs, outdoor toys and games, and desserts to share and spent the evening enjoying each other’s company. Earlier this year Family Fun Night was taken to the next level, and we had Church in the Park. We gathered at Sandy Creek Park where Red and Lori Lewis fried fish, hush puppies, and French fries, and the rest of us brought cole slaw, potato salad, watermelon, coolers full of soda, and enough desserts to send us all into diabetic comas. The children made full use of the splash pad and the playground equipment, and kids of all ages played football, corn hole, and other games. But mostly we simply enjoyed being together.

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Berry Pickin’ Time | by Linda Brendle

Just when I think I’ve experienced all that country life has to offer, I find something new – or at least new to me. In the eleven years we’ve lived in Emory, I’ve heard about the “you pick” farms, but I always seem to miss the seasons, and I always seem to hear about the picking parties after the fact. But this year was different.

I did miss the strawberries – they came and went in a hurry. And I thought I had missed blueberries when I saw a post that one venue had been picked out in three hours. But then a couple of weeks ago I saw a post from Alford Family Farm that they had lots blueberries ripening in sequence. When I asked David if he’d like to go on a berry-picking outing, he replied that he’d like to have some fresh blueberries, but he didn’t think he wanted to go in this heat.

I was a little disappointed but not crushed. I’ve not been a huge blueberry fan in past years. I enjoyed a blueberry muffin now and then, but after I had a major allergic reaction the first time I ate fresh blueberries, I swore off of them for a while. My doctor said he’d never heard of anyone being allergic to them, but whenever I ate anything blueberry, my face would itch so I continued to avoid them. But blueberries are everywhere, and a mixed berry cobbler is hard to resist. Eventually I ventured a taste here and there, and when I didn’t swell up and turn beet red, I decided maybe the doctor was right. Who knows what caused that initial reaction, but whatever it was, I seem to have outgrown it and blueberries have made their way back into my diet.

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Crawfish – Up Close and Personal | by Linda Brendle

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

Crawfish. The first thing I did before beginning this column was to Google the correct name for these strange looking creatures. According to those who are supposed to know, people north of the Mason-Dixon Line normally refer to these miniature lobsters as crayfish while residents of the West Coast, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas call them crawdads. But since I married a Louisiana boy where they are known as crawfish, that’s what I’ll go with.

Texas wasn’t mentioned in the blog post I used for reference, but in the era before organized play dates and yoga classes for kids, my friends and I sometimes went fishing for crawdads in the drainage ditch near my house. We’d sneak a piece of bacon out of the refrigerator, wrap it around a rock, tie a string to it, and troll the muddy waters. I don’t think we ever caught one – in fact, I don’t remember ever seeing one. I don’t have a clue what we would have done if we had caught one – but if it was good enough for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, it was good enough for us.

As an adult, I tend to avoid the unattractive critters. I love a good shrimp boil, but I don’t get excited when the local restaurants begin advertising that the crawfish are in. I did have some fried crawfish tails once which, as I recall, I enjoyed very much. But I don’t want those feelers and legs rising to the top of my bowl of gumbo or gracing my plate of jambalaya. Maybe it’s the eyes. I’ve had a couple of creepy experiences with the eyes of seafood.

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Kindness, Part 2 | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 14, 2022:

Several weeks ago I wrote a column about a friend who had been on the receiving end of a very unkind attitude and some very unkind words. These words came from an erroneous assumption based on her appearance after surgery and extensive chemo and radiation treatments. I ended that column with a quote from the friend’s Facebook post:

I say all this to say, be kind. You have no right judge someone based on appearance alone. We are ALL fighting battles you may never know about. Because trust me, a smile hides a lot.

Judging seems to have become a national pastime in our culture. People are quick to quote the Scripture that says “Do not judge…” when questioned about a personal decision, but they are just as quick to point fingers or level angry accusations because of a hat, a bumper sticker, a political sign, or an opinion. I was raised in a time when we were taught to be discerning but not to render a verdict until we had walked a mile in the shoes of another or at least until we had all the facts. I saw something Sunday that gave me a lot to think about in this regard.

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Plans vs Resolutions | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 7, 2022:

On New Year’s Eve, David asked me the big question of the day: Have you made any resolutions this year? I was already prepared with my answer based on a memory that had popped up on Facebook earlier that day.

“No,” I said, quoting the 2013 version of myself, “I think I’ll make plans instead of resolutions. Less pressure!”

As the day went on, I thought about some specific plans for 2022. First on my list is the same on the lists of many others this time of year – I plan to go to the gym on a more regular basis. I will be starting with a large advantage over most of those others, though, because I’ve only been a couch potato for less than a month as opposed to years or forever. Still, I became aware last week of what a difference a few weeks can make in the area of fitness.

David and I joined Anytime Fitness in February of 2020. Since then we have worked out four to five days a week with very few breaks. We have both seen significant changes in our weight and shape, and more importantly, we both felt better. Then in December, he began suffering from sciatic pain, and although he was going to physical therapy, he didn’t feel up to a more serious gym workout. And when he didn’t go, of course, I didn’t go either.

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Kindness | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 16, 2021:

Warning! This is not a typical light-hearted, feel-good column that will leave you with a smile. It is a full on rant against cruel and insensitive people whose words leave wounds that may never heal.

Kindness has become a sort of buzzword in recent years, although it is definitely not a new concept. The Apostle Paul told us in the “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians that Love is kind, and one of the first verses I learned in Sunday School was Be ye kind one to another. It had a certain rhythm that made it easy for little minds to remember, even if they didn’t understand exactly what it meant.

The Oxford Language online dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate or as a kind act. Wikipedia explained it this way:

Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward. Kindness is a topic of interest in philosophy and religion. Kindness was one of the main topics in the Bible. 

According to a 2006 blog post on a site called Random Acts of Kindness, in 1982 a woman named Anne Herbert wrote “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat and set off a chain reaction that turned into the Random Acts of Kindness movement that has swept across the world. A random act of kindness is described by Wikipedia as a nonpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world. However, since Herbert first penned her memorable quote, these acts have become not only premeditated but also institutionalized and commercialized.

In 1993 Herbert published a children’s book titled Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty. Later that year, a college professor in California gave his students an assignment of performing a random act of kindness. This assignment sparked a flood of stories, and the concept spread quickly and widely. Since then people have paid tolls for those behind them, paid for the dinner of a stranger on the other side of the restaurant, and performed other acts of generosity without plan or forethought.

Before long, though, the randomness began to fade as websites were established that suggest ideas and calendars that offer ideas for daily acts of kindness. Non-profit organizations and for-profit vendors offer t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, tote bags, stickers, posters, and more. In 1995 officials in Denver created the first Random Acts of Kindness Day, and Random Acts of Kindness Week began in 2018. In spite of efforts to organize or profit from the concept, it continues to spread and hopefully will carry on until the beauty of simple kindness changes all it touches.

Still, there is hard-hearted unkindness in the world, and Tennille, a dear friend, fell victim to it today. While shopping in Quitman, a man told her that “her kind” were not welcome there and that she needed to be what she was born as. I wish I had been there with her. I would have told him that what she is – a wonderful wife and mother. She is a loyal friend with a hilarious sense of humor and a joy for life like few I have ever known. She is brave beyond belief and in the last couple of years she has experienced a cancer diagnosis, a double mastectomy, radiation, and chemo. She survived all this with amazing courage and opted to forego the pain and expense of reconstructive surgery so she could get back to her life and the thriving cookie business she runs from her home – but it has not been easy. In her own words:

I’ve gotten used to occasionally being called “sir”. I knew my decision to not have reconstruction after surgery would come with some confusion. I try to dress girlie and wear clothing to make it obvious that I am, in fact, a girl.

Yes I look a little different. Trust me, I know. I see myself in the mirror every.single.day. And I’m trying very hard to come to terms and acceptance of my new “me”.

I say all this to say, be kind. You have no right judge someone based on appearance alone. We are ALL fighting battles you may never know about. Because trust me, a smile hides a lot.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

History of a Treadmill | by Linda Brendle

Published by the Rains County Leader on Thursday, October 13, 2021:

Two weeks ago I wrote about our appliance ordeal when the dryer went out and we unexpectedly bought a freezer, all in the same day. Space is too limited to recount all the confusing details that caused chaos in the Brendle household. Suffice it to say that some major shifts had to occur to make room for the freezer. One item that had to be moved was a rather large, heavy treadmill. This wasn’t just any treadmill, though; it was a treadmill with a history.

Several years ago a couple named Michael and Magrate began attending Believers’ Baptist. They were Malaysian missionaries who gave seminars on worship through movement. They had come to the U.S. to present a number of seminars and ended up buying acreage in Rains County where they planned to build a retreat and education center. Magrate came to our ladies Bible study where we became friends, and she and Michael invited us to their home for dinner several times.

After a couple of years, they moved to Tennessee to be closer to family during some health issues. The Texas property was listed for sale, and Michael asked David to keep an eye on things until it sold. As they prepared for the move, they invited us for one last dinner and gave us a complete tour of the property including an outbuilding where I spotted the treadmill. It was dusty and covered with cobwebs, but when we plugged it in, it still ran. I offered to buy it, but they insisted on making a gift of it.

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Meeting Dobby | by Linda Brendle

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.

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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.

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