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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

The bad side of being a writer | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 1, 2022:

Last week I wrote about the connections I make through my writing – but this week I’m going to share some of my least favorite aspects of being an author. As strange as it may seem, authors tend to be shy and introverted. Who else would spend hours alone, scribbling or typing words that they are afraid no one will read or that someone will read and not like! And we live in fear of several other things as well.

Writer’s block is a dark cloud that hovers in the mind of anyone who ever sits down in front of a blank sheet of paper or a white screen with the intent of filling it with words. At some point we all think something like this. I don’t have any idea what to write! What if my ideas don’t make sense? What if each writer is only allowed a certain number of words in their lifetime, and I’ve already used mine. The thoughts don’t always make sense, but there are plenty of companies and individuals who are willing to offer techniques and cures for fighting or ending these blocks – all for a price, of course. My bouts of writer’s block are usually short-lived, but there are times when my screen is still blank as a deadline looms, and those questions pop into my head.

Once you get past the writer’s block, complete a project, and hit the Send button, you face another dark cloud – REJECTION! Whether you’re submitting a proposal for a doctoral thesis, a short story for inclusion in an anthology, or the manuscript of the great American novel to an agent or a publisher, the process is the same. You beat yourself up because you didn’t edit it one more time – even though you’ve been through it fourteen times already. You check the submission guidelines again to be sure it really said the average response time is six weeks, but you check your inbox every five minutes anyway. After thirty minutes, you sink into a depression, wondering why you ever put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, vowing never to do so again. As the days and weeks drag on, you begin to work on your next project, and you only check your inbox a dozen times a day instead of fifty. When the email finally comes, it says Thank you for your submission, but…, and you add it to your collection, telling yourself you’re one step closer to success.

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Bugs versus Beef | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 11, 2022:

There was a time many years ago when making someone eat a bug was a bad thing. In fact, a song by Relient K called I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas outlined reasons why Santa wouldn’t be visiting the singer that year. One of the reasons was because “I made Tommy eat a bug.” But times have changed.

As you may have guessed by the number of times I begin a column this way, I get a lot of my news from YouTube videos that are playing in the living room while I’m working in the kitchen. Last week I heard one in which a reporter was saying that the UK would be adding insects to the lunch menu of school children. I thought it had to be a joke, but I never heard a punch line, so I went to Google to check it out.

Sure enough I found an article on WesternStandard.New titled Insect meals worming their way onto British school kids’ lunch menus. It was written by Amanda Brown on June 7 of this year, and this was how it opened:

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What’s for dinner? by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 21, 2022:

The two most often-asked questions in our house are “What’s for dinner” and “Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean or dirty.” The answer to that first question, if it doesn’t include fast food or prepackaged heat-and-eat meals, involves a lot of time and work.

David and I recently made a trip to Greenville, and one of our stops was at Aldi. He rarely goes into the grocery store with me, but this time he made an exception rather than sit in the car in triple-digit temperatures. Besides, he likes to check for sardines and a few other favorites as well as scout out empty boxes for me. On the way home, we discussed how many times you have to handle the groceries – shelf to cart, cart to check-out, check-out to box or bag, bag to car, car to house, house to pantry, fridge, or freezer. It’s no wonder that many of us have become spoiled to home delivery.

As tiring as that first step can be, that is often only the beginning of the work. Several years ago we suffered through an infestation of moths, and I ended up discarding the majority of my pantry stock. After that experience, I store any non-frozen and non-canned food in plastic containers or plastic bags. I’m also a bit OCD about rotating my stock so I use the oldest items first, so putting away my purchases can become a bit of a production.

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Why me, Lord? by Linda Brendle

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

Two years after we moved to Emory in 2011 I wrote a column called “I’m a city girl, and I hate bugs!” In it I recounted three recent incidents that involved discovering a rather large bug in the glass from which I had just taken a swallow to wash down a couple of pills, the spontaneous dance I performed in the kitchen when a cricket made its way up the leg of my jeans, and the fate of a rather large spider that took up residence in our bath tub. There have been many encounters with bugs in the last nine years – most of which ended badly for the bug – and although I deal with most of them without hysterics, I still hate bugs. One of those encounters happened Sunday morning at church.

Every week before the service begins, or in this case, before Sunday School started, I make a pit stop so I can be sure to make it through class or the sermon without having to visit the ladies’ room. It’s a habit left over from my childhood when you didn’t leave the classroom or the sanctuary unless you were in need of an ambulance or you were about to throw up on your mother. These visits are not usually a traumatic experience, but this time when I went into the stall, I wasn’t alone. There, lurking in the corner by the door, was a HUGE spider. Well, maybe not huge, but at least two inches across if you count the legs.

While I was doing what I came to do, I was thinking about having to pass that spider on my way out. He didn’t move, so maybe he was dead. Maybe I could scoot by him, leaving him for the next occupant to deal with. But then that little voice that God put in your head to let you know when you’re about to mess up whispered in my ear. “What if the next person to come in is a visitor?” I immediately thought about Edwina Patterson.

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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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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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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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Dobby and Spike’s Excellent Adventures | by Linda Brendle

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.

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Kitty and Her Elephant | by Linda Brendle

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.

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Sandwich Quirks | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 6, 2021:

While recently enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich, I was thinking about my odd habit of eating around the edges and saving the middle for last. As a child, I didn’t really care for bread crusts, so I would pull them off my sandwiches and leave them on my plate. One day I performed my little ritual at my Uncle Dean’s house, and he told me to eat the crusts because they would make my hair curly. I don’t know if I really wanted curly hair or if I was trying to please him, but I ate them. By that time they were pretty dry and tasteless, so the next time I had a sandwich, I ate the crusts first. By the way, it was six decades later when my hair finally became curly.

My lunch-time walk down memory lane led me to other odd sandwich habits in my family. Mom ate hers a row at a time like eating an ear of corn. As the sandwich disappeared, she was left with two inch-wide slices of bread that were very difficult to control with arthritic hands. And my daughter-in-law once informed me that when she makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son, she HAS to cut it diagonally because “that’s the way Mom did it.”

Of course, the writer in me went straight to Facebook to do some scientific research. I posted the above explanation and asked for responses about the sandwich quirks of other. Here’s the condensed version of those responses.

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