Published in the Rains County Leader on January 27, 2022:
The last two weeks have seemed like a mini shut down, at least in my little corner of the world. The schools shut down two extra days over the Martin Luther King weekend for deep cleaning and because one hundred staff members and teachers were absent. The prayer lists grew longer as one family after another reported cases of COVID/Omicron, Cedar Fever, and other forms of upper respiratory distress, and the lunch crowd at the Senior Center was barely into double digits. The Believers’ Baptist Friday Night Home Group was canceled two weeks in a row, Wednesday morning Bible study was canceled last week, and church attendance on January 16 was about half of normal. Then, just about the time David and I were getting back to the gym after his back issues, we missed two weeks while we experienced alternate bouts of sniffles, congestion, and lots of fatigue that led to many unscheduled naps. Some shelves at Brookshire’s were unusually bare, and there were no harried workers in the aisle restocking them – and I began to have flashbacks to the fall of 2020.
It wasn’t all bad, though. During our mini-isolation I made some progress on the to-be-read stack of books on my bedside table, and for those of you who are Tatia fans, I added several chapters to the rough draft of the next book in the series. I caught up on the laundry – although I think I’m now behind again – and did a little bit of early spring cleaning. I didn’t have the energy for anything elaborate in the kitchen, but thanks to my Crock Pot and Instant Pot, we had some really good comfort food and some not-so-good-for us snacks. We watched lots of TV – some good movies and some real stinkers – and Kitty enjoyed snuggling with David on the couch on the really cold days.
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.
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.
Published in the Rains County Leader on February 9, 2021:
What is one of the first things we say to our grandchildren when we see them? I have no scientific proof to back this up, but it’s probably something like Come give Grandma a hug! And more than likely, the kids come running. Maybe it’s because they know that Grandma usually brings treats, or maybe it’s because there’s something in human nature that craves the touch of another person.
One of my favorite stories from our family history is of a cousin who went to her grandmother and asked for a hug. It must have been cool, because the older woman had on long sleeves. She picked up the little girl and gave her a squeeze, but the child wasn’t satisfied. “No, Grandma,” she said as she patted her arms. “I need to feel skin.”
It’s a cute, feel-good story, but the theories of some healthcare professionals seem to back up the little girl’s need. In an article dated March 1, 2010, Maia Szalavitz of Psychology Today stated that touch can ease pain and lift depression. She further said that babies who are denied touch through lack of being held, nuzzled or hugged may fail to thrive and may even die if the situation continues too long. In April of 2018, the Healthline website quoted family therapist Virginia Satir as saying “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 26, 2021:
No, I didn’t go to my local recruiter and sign up. Military enlistments are down, but I don’t think they’re desperate enough to accept a mature woman like me. I did, however, do something almost as controversial, and one gentleman who shared my experience said it was like enlisting in the Army. I wasn’t sure until the last minute that I was actually going through with it, but on Saturday morning I received the first of two doses of a COVID vaccine.
The vaccines have been the subject of much conjecture, argument, and discussion since March 30, 2020 when the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services initiated Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine. Since then, I’ve been caught between two opposing sides of the argument.
Published in the Rains County Leader on August 25, 2020:
Several months ago, diets became a popular topic of conversation at our weekly Home Group Bible Study. It’s not surprising since food is the second most important reason for getting together next to the actual study part. Well, maybe the third since we do enjoy each other’s company a lot. Anyway, it seems that, during the lock down, many of us shared a common experience – we ate too much. David and I attacked our few extra pounds by returning to the gym as soon as it re-opened, but going on a diet seemed to be the remedy of choice.
I sometimes got lost in the discussions of the finer points of the various weight control programs, but they all sounded like some version of an Atkins/Keto/low carb regimen. One thing they all seemed to have in common, though, was smoothies. When I thought of smoothies, I pictured concoctions invented by body builders consisting of various powders and additives, some of which have been banned by professional sports associations. But David heard fruit and easy weight loss, and he was interested.
“Maybe we should try smoothies,” he said one morning while I was fixing breakfast – if getting out bowls of cereal and fruit can be considered fixing. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 3, 2020:
At the beginning of this year, I wrote a column about mine and David’s intention to begin working out at a local gym in the hope of living what’s left of our golden years in better health. In keeping with my usual serious tone, I pursued the vital question of what to wear when I worked out. I received quite a bit of input from fitness fashionistas, but I ended up going with what I had, at least in the beginning.
After a few weeks of faithful gym visits, along with David’s interest in the new running shoes of some friends, we went shoe shopping and rewarded ourselves with fancy new shoes that feel really good on our old feet. The next week we added new sweat pants, so now we’re somewhat color coordinated. My outfit of choice is gray shoes with salmon/pink highlights and white soles, gray pants with a white stripe, and a large pink T-shirt that hits me about mid-thigh. It’s not high fashion, but everything is comfortable – and the place we go isn’t the kind of place where people go to be seen, at least not at the time we go. I have, however, seen a few interesting people and learned some things about fitness enthusiasts. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 21, 2020:
Every year between October 15 and December 7, Medicare open enrollment rolls around. That’s the period when people who have Medicare coverage can reevaluate and/or change their plans. David has coverage through the VA, so when the helpful reminders from every insurance company known to man begin to arrive in the mail, they end up in my to-do paperwork. I’ve been pretty happy with my carriers, so I usually ignore the pile until the deadline has past and then file it in what Dad used to call File 13.
This year was different, though. My supplement, the plan that covers co-pays and other things Medicare doesn’t pay, went up a few dollars as it does every year due to my advancing age. But my prescription drug coverage that had doubled in the seven years since I became eligible had doubled again in just one year. It was time to do some insurance shopping. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on October 15, 2019:
David had an endoscopic examination of his upper GI tract last week. The doctor was concerned because of some recent weight fluctuations. She ordered the test in spite of our explanations that he had stepped on the scale wearing a jacket with a cell phone, wallet, and other weighty items in the pockets during one visit and a T-shirt the next time. So, Friday morning we left the house in the driving rain and made the trek to the VA in Dallas. The traffic was backed up, the parking lot was full except in the very back, and the day surgery was the building where we weren’t, but we made it within minutes of our scheduled arrival time.
David checked in, and I was sent to the waiting room while he was prepped for his procedure. After he had changed into a pair of khaki scrub pants and some over-sized hospital socks and the nurse had put an IV into his hand, I was allowed to visit with him for a few minutes. It was a simple procedure, but it was still hard to go back to the waiting room, leaving him in the hands of strangers. Still, the waiting room provided some interesting diversions while I waited. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 8, 2019:
January is the time when everyone goes on a diet – or at least talks about it. Even the grocery store ads focus on items that have “Lo” in the description. I have to admit that, as the calendar rolls over, I have thoughts of eating better and exercising more, but circumstances usually conspire to derail my plans before they’re even made. Here are just a few reasons why the scale probably won’t go down this year, at least in January.
I still have brownies, chips, and a few other goodies left from the holidays, and I was raised not to waste food. After all, there are starving children all over the world!
I visited the close-out sale at Emory Food Mart where I found Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, a Mrs. Smith’s Peach Cobbler, and an Edward’s Key Lime Pie for half price. Bargain shopping is good for the budget – right?
January’s schedule includes Volunteer Dessert Day every other Wednesday at the Senior Center, Home Group Dinner and Bible Study every Friday night, a fund-raiser lunch after church on January 20, and the annual family celebration of Aunt Fay’s birthday at AJ’s Fish House.
One of my retirement projects is to organize recipes I have collected over the years and others that I inherited from Mom. I know that, in the process, I’ll come across recipes I want to make because I didn’t have time to try them when I was working and others I’ll make because I remember them fondly from my childhood.
I was excited when the new Anytime Fitness opened in Emory, but then I discovered that my health insurance doesn’t have the Silver Sneakers benefit. I know I could buy a membership, but since I’ll soon be unemployed…
You might ask why I don’t use the perfectly good treadmill a friend gave me a few years ago. Well, it’s wedged into a corner in the middle bedroom that we euphemistically called a storage room, and I’m claustrophobic.
Some people also mention that we live on a circle that would be a perfect place to walk. True, but there are several dogs that roam loose in the neighborhood, and I don’t run fast enough to get away from them if they should decide to give chase.
David and I plan to spend more time on the road when I’ve retired. Part of the fun of taking your kitchen with you is cooking – and eating – all your favorite dishes.
I always get at least one pair of new jeans for Christmas. My new Lee Riders are a size larger than normal, and the extra comfort gives me a false sense of thinness.
Instead of going to the gym or walking, I plan to edit two books and write another one. All that sitting at the computer will probably lead to a writer’s spread and another size larger on next year’s new jeans.
So there you have it. I once figured out that, between ages 20 and 60 I put on an average of five pounds per decade. I managed to hold steady while I was in my 60s, but since I hit 70, I’ve been losing the battle. I know the most effective exercise when it comes to weight control is pushing away from the table, but that’s not much fun. If anyone out there has a miracle diet where you can eat the goodies, sit in your easy chair, and keep the pounds away, please let me know.
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.