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Posts tagged ‘city girl’

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!



Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Tractors | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on 10/01/19:

Tractor pull - antiqueI went to my first tractor pull this weekend – well, almost. Actually, we were leaving the library after picking up a couple of movies David had reserved when I saw a sign at the entrance of Heritage Park that pointed the way to a Tractor Pull. I craned my neck as we passed, and I saw a couple dozen of the big, colorful machines lined up like a bunch of cadets standing for inspection.

I know very little about tractors, and even less about tractor pulls, so when we got home, I looked on Facebook. I found that the event was the Club Pull for the Lake Country Antique Tractor Association where antique tractors compete for distance pulling tons of material. I imagine that most readers of the Rains County Leader already knew that, but just in case, I did a little bit more research.

Apparently power pulling is a motorsport competition that is popular in several countries including the U.S. and can be done with both trucks and tractors. The vehicles are usually modified for the event so they can pull a heavy sled along a track with the winner being the one that pulls the farthest. If two or more reach the end of the track, they add more weight and do it again.

I found a few pictures of the event, and it looked like a fun way for people to show off their toys. You’ll notice that I wrote “people” and not “guys” because, even though I’ve seen more little boys playing with toy tractors than girls, I know a couple of big girls who have a thing for tractors, too. One is my Aunt Fay, and the other is Stella. You know Stella – she’s my friend who sometimes goes on trips so we can go stay at her house and play with her dog Spike.

Aunt Fay grew up on a farm, and even though she raised her family in a nice neighborhood in Mesquite, Texas, she has always had a garden and has always been a country girl. She and Uncle Dean bought several pieces of property through the years, and when he retired, they moved to a small farm in Brashear, Texas. They worked together for years, but when she was left a widow, she carried on. She contracted with others to harvest and bale her hay and to tend to the small herd of cattle she raised – but she took over the care of her sizeable yard and her not so small garden. She has several lawn tractors, one or two of which make David envious. She also has a small tractor and the attachments she needs to plow, cultivate, and generally care for rows of tomatoes, okra, onions, squash, peas, and more. She has slowed down a little in the past few years. She has sold all the cattle and has decreased the size of the garden a little. That’s to be expected, though. She is, after all, 95 years old.

Aunt Fay grew up in the country, but it really surprised me when I found out that StellaJohn Deere Tractor with shredder liked to drive their tractor and can often be found in the field during haying season. She is still highly sought after in her chosen field of pharmaceutical research, even though she retired several years ago to open her own travel agency. But I guess some of us shed our city girl persona more easily than others. Still having seen their tractor, I can see the attraction.

The few tractors I saw growing up and the antique tractors I saw at Heritage Park on Saturday were about the size of a pickup truck. Stella’s tractor is a monster by comparison. Its back wheels are taller than and I am, and I’d probably have to use a step ladder to get into the cab. I guess being in control of that much power could have a great deal of appeal, but the cab would be the selling point for me. It’s fully enclosed, air conditioned, and probably has a surround sound stereo system. Even so, I doubt you’ll ever find this city girl behind the wheel of one of those monsters. But I might have to show up at the tractor pull next year, just to see if it’s worth another column.



Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

The pigs are back! | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 24, 2019:

Pig in pen 091319Anyone who has lived in Texas for any length of time, unless they live in the city where they are surrounded completely by cement and asphalt, knows that feral hogs are a big problem in the Lone Star State. I didn’t know that much about these destructive creatures until the spring of 2018 when they decided to invade our backyard. If you were reading City Girl back then, you know that they provided material for half a dozen columns, but that was the only good thing about them.

For several months they made nightly raids, rooting up what little grass we had in search of acorns and other goodies and generally making a mess. Sometime in mid to late summer, they moved on, either because David shot one and six more ended up in a trap or because the food supply at our place was about tapped out. Thirty to forty pigs can do that to a little over two acres pretty quickly.

Whatever the reason, we didn’t have any more visitations until this spring. Even then, David spotted only minor damage toward the back of the lot near the creek, and then only for a few days. As the season wore on, though, we began to hear reports from several neighbors about pigs in their yards. None of their invasions compared with what we suffered last year, but since most of their yards are not as landscape challenged as ours, they were still concerned.

My across-the-street neighbor, Connie, was the most upset, because she has been nursing a lot of fruit trees and veggies that she doesn’t want to share with the local wildlife. She told her son Jon, an avid hunter, about our problem, so he and his buddy decided it might be a good time to spend a long weekend in Texas. In spite of lack of evidence, we put a couple of game cameras in the yard. If there were any pigs, they didn’t pose for us, but the guys decided to come anyway.

A few weeks before they were due to arrive, a Facebook friend posted pictures of half a dozen pigs chowing down at their deer feeder. I put her in contact with Jon, and she gave him permission to come and hunt at her place. It’s about a ninety minute drive from here, so he only went once with no success. He spent the rest of his time scouting around Rains County and visiting with Connie. His buddy, on the other hand, spent most of his time there and bagged four of the beasts. They went home with coolers full of meat and left a happy mother behind.

As if to thumb his snout at the hunters, a huge black boar ran across Connie’s yard while Jon and his friend were packing their truck for the trip home. They tracked him across the street into our yard and down into the creek, but they lost him in the underbrush and didn’t have time to pursue him further. We got the last laugh, though.

The trapper that helped us out last year has developed health problems and never came back to get his trap. It’s a fairly big contraption with posts that are sunk firmly into the ground, so it has remained in place and has become a trellis for wild vines and briars. While here, Jon cleaned it up a bit and reset it. I didn’t expect any results, but it didn’t hurt anything to try.

Then, Friday the 13th, while I was at the Fair, David texted me a note that said, “Look what you caught.” Sure enough, there was a picture of a black boar, trapped inside something I had thought was useless.

“So now what?” I replied. The hunters were long gone by then, and even though I’ve heard of people keeping pot-bellied pigs for pets, I didn’t think Kitty needed a sibling.

“Waiting for you to get home and clean it.” Right! Like that’s gonna happen. By the time I closed my book booth and arrived home, Connie had found someone who wanted our uninvited guest, and the pen was empty again.

Of course, the news got around, and neighbors thanked us for getting rid of at least one pest. David has since reset the trap, and we’ve been putting food scraps in it from time to time. We haven’t seen any more activity, but hopefully, the smell of captivity and fear will linger long enough to insure peace at least for a little while.



Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Memories of Earl Hill | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 2, 2019:

A spray of white roses adorning the door of the Rains County Leader is a testament to the love and respect given to a life well lived. Earl C. Hill, Jr., owner, publisher, and former editor of the Leader died on March 27, and he will be missed. I don’t have a lot of personal memories of Mr. Hill, but the few I have are good ones.

David and I moved to Emory in February, 2011, and I submitted my first article to the Leader in September of that year. The titled of it was “Your Tax Dollars at Work,” and it was about the Senior Center. Participation in the weekday lunch program was down, and there was concern that the program would be dropped. My purpose in writing the article was to introduce the service to anyone who might not know about it and to encourage seniors to try it out for the first time or to come back. I didn’t hear back from Mr. Hill, so I assumed he didn’t like what I had to say – but then my article appeared in the paper in the “Letters to the Editor” section.

I wrote another article or two over the next several months, and each one was printed. Then, in January of 2012, I received a phone call from Mr. Hill. He said that he had checked out my blog, and that he liked what I wrote. He also said that any time I wanted to submit something, he would print it. I’m sure there were limits to that offer, but I guess never pushed them too far. True to his word, he printed everything I submitted – with the exception of one column in which I mentioned that we were out of town. Company policy didn’t allow articles that might notify thieves of a potential target. He even gave me a column with a byline at the beginning and a brief bio at the end.

At first, I wrote when the spirit moved me, but I began to develop a small following at the Senior Center. People began asking me on Monday or Tuesday if I had a column in that week’s paper, and some were disappointed if I said no. Some even based their decision of whether to buy a paper on my answer, so I began to feel an obligation, both to my readers and to the paper, to become more regular in my writing. The final push to weekly submissions came when Mr. Hill gave my column a title.

Mom and Dad were both raised on farms in West Texas, but they had long since moved to the city by the time I was born. Until David and I bought our two-plus acres in Rains County, I had never dealt close up and personal with the realities of country living. A lot of my columns dealt with the struggles of adjusting – and then I decided to plant a garden. Oh, the writing material! There was wind, rain, drought, bugs, leaf mold and fungus, garlic-eating gophers, tomato-eating squirrels, leaf-eating deer, and much more. I moaned and complained that people from the city didn’t know how to deal with such things, and one Tuesday morning, I discovered that I had become “City Girl.”

All my correspondence with the Leader is done electronically, and I only remember meeting Mr. Hill face to face one time. I believe it was the winter of 2012 when David and I stopped by the Leader office for the Christmas Open House. We met several staff members, and then one of them introduced us to the owner himself. He took us on a personal tour of the building, showing us pictures of earlier offices and owners and explaining the inner workings of the operation. It was obvious that he was proud of the results of his life’s work, and with good reason.

I didn’t know Earl Hill, but based on the care with which he oversaw the operation of the Leader, it was obvious that he was a man of conviction and principle. He knew what kind of paper he wanted to produce, and he refused to bow to money-making trends or gimmicks if it meant violating his principles. On the other hand, he didn’t hesitate to take a chance on something he liked, even if it was a writer like me who had no experience or references to offer. Thank you, Mr. Hill, and may God continue to bless the legacy and memories you left behind.



Pig Wars | by Linda Brendle

Published by the Rains County Leader on May 15, 2018:


Can’t Someone Else Do It!

I hope you’re not as tired of hearing about pigs as I am of dealing with them, but there’s not much else going on around the Brendle homestead. When I left you last week, the visiting swine were showing their disdain for our trap by mooning the game camera before going on to tear up another section of the yard. The night after I submitted my column, they took it a step further.

Sometime after midnight, David shook me gently and said, “There are eleven pigs in the front yard.”

I rolled over, pulled the covers a little tighter around me, and mumbled, “Well, go shoot ‘em.” (more…)

We STILL have pigs! by Linda Brendle

Published in The Rains County Leader on May 8, 2018:

nothing is simpleTwo weeks ago I wrote about my lack of knowledge about feral pigs and my lack of desire to learn. However, it seems that I’m destined to learn about these destructive eating machines whether I want to or not.

When we first realized we had a pig invasion, our first thought was “traps.” It seemed easy, clean, and something other people would do for us at no cost because 1) it’s something they enjoy doing and 2) they can eat or sell what they catch. Unfortunately, nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems, and trapping pigs is no exception. (more…)

We have pigs! | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 24, 2018:

wild pig herdCity girls don’t know about pigs. We know that they can be delicious when processed and prepared properly, and we know that the pot-bellied variety can make cute pets when trained and house broken. What we don’t know, and don’t really want to know, is that wild ones can be really big and really mean and that there are approximately 2.8 million of them roaming around in Texas.

A couple of weeks ago David was doing his regular rounds of the yard, checking out the kingdom, when he noticed evidence of “rooting” toward the back of the lot. At first, we dismissed it, hoping it was the stray armadillo that used to live – and root – under the motor home. But more and larger new spots appeared, and we began to suspect the worst – pigs! (more…)

What I’ve Learned about Okra | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 26, 2017:

fresh okra on white background , close upOkra had no place in our home when I was a kid. I don’t know if it was because nobody liked it or because it didn’t come in a can. Mom and Dad both worked long hours, and I began cooking dinner for the family when I was eleven, so there wasn’t much time or skill for preparing fresh veggies.

Okra wasn’t one of those dishes that made a regular appearance at church or family potlucks either. Fried okra doesn’t travel well or keep well like fried chicken, and boiled okra is – well, it’s boiled okra. (more…)

City Sister and Country Sister | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 5, 2017:

HR 90th BDMom was born on September 3, so she’s always on my mind during this season. Every year I post a picture of her on Facebook that was taken six years ago on her 90th birthday, her last one on earth, and then I spend most of the day thinking about her. Last Sunday, probably because I was also thinking about what to write in my column, I remembered what a city girl she was in spite of the fact that she spent her first nineteen years on various farms in west Texas. (more…)

What a city girl doesn’t know about pigs | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 1, 2017:

pig jumping hurdlesI met a new friend this week. Becky owns a one-operator beauty salon outside of town, and she is very popular at the Senior Center for her Senior Thursday haircuts. She’s also very interesting to talk to.

While she was working on my unruly curls, she mentioned that her son might be going to college on a scholarship, that is, if he agreed to continue training pigs for the show ring. Training pigs? I knew that pot bellied pigs could be domesticated and even trained to use a litter box, but I had trouble imagining them jumping hurdles in an agility ring or responding to commands in an obedience ring.  (more…)

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