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Posts tagged ‘city girl’

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.


More country than city | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on May 19, 2022:

The City Girl column first began with a Letter to the Editor in September of 2011. When I continued to submit my thoughts from time to time, Earl Hill gave me print space. After several stories about the adventures and misadventures of being out of my city element, he began heading my column “City Girl,” and the name stuck. I still have my moments of showing my city roots, but almost eleven years later, there are periods of time when I’m definitely more country than city.

Around Easter David and I did a tour of the yard and noticed several wild blackberry vines in bloom. They’re more scarce than they were when we first moved here since the Virginia Creeper has taken over most of their favorite spots, but there are still enough to be of interest to cobbler fans. So, early last week I donned my berry-picking clothes, grabbed an overly-optimistic-sized container, and headed out.

I only found about half a cup of ripe berries, but it was fun searching for the small treasures hidden under other plants and often sheltered by a canopy of spider webs. It was also fun being able to distinguish the blackberry vines among the miscellaneous tangle of leaves without having to see the actual berries or having David along to point them out. I did, however, bring home an uninvited guest. When I was changing back into my “house clothes,” I felt a tickle on my shoulder. I discovered a small tick looking for a place to dig in, and like any good country girl, I sent him on a free tour of the Brendle septic system.


Back in the Garden | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 24, 2022:

Those who have been reading this column from the beginning may remember that some of my early offerings were about my attempts at gardening. My protests of not knowing what I was doing because I was a city girl led to the name of the column. I haven’t done any gardening in the last several years, but gardening has come back to the Brendle homestead this spring. Before I tell you about that, though, let me share the fifth article I wrote for the Leader.

May 27, 2012 – My Garden

No, this isn't my garden.

I planted a garden a couple of weeks ago. It’s not the garden I envisioned earlier in the year. Now that we’ve removed several trees, we have some perfect garden spots that get full sun, and David’s mom has a tiller she has offered to give us. In February I imagined a large area, tilled and mulched and fertilized, ready for several rows of squash and okra and beans, all those things that are so good for you but are so expensive in the grocery store. Then we began to make tentative plans to visit Florida for a month or so this summer, so I watched with envy as neighbors laid out their garden plots and tended the tiny green plants that stretched toward the warm Texas sun. But plans don’t always work out, and we realized that the trip to Florida isn’t going to happen, so when we went to Hooten’s to get some oil for the chain saw, I asked David a question.

“Is it too late to plant tomatoes?”

The little girl marked in red is my maternal grandmother, Alva Lee Hagan.

Remember, I’m a city girl. True, I’m only one generation removed from the fields of West Texas, but it was a pretty complete removal. Mom and Dad were both raised on farms, but Mom never liked it. Her sisters called her their house cat, because she would swap chores with anyone to avoid working outside. She wanted to get away from the farm as quickly as possible and never had a desire to return. She enjoyed fresh corn, peas, and cantaloupe when they were in season, but she wanted to buy them at the produce stand and prepare and eat them in the air-conditioned comfort of home. The only exposure I had to gardening was at Aunt Fay’s. She and Uncle Dean always had a sizeable plot full of all sorts of good things to eat, but Mom made sure we weren’t around during planting and harvesting time.

Despite Mom’s best efforts, my country girl genes creep through from time to time. When I was single again, I tried to raise a couple of tomato plants on the patio of my tiny, zero-lot-line home. One Saturday morning I checked on my babies and was dismayed at their condition. Half the leaves were gone, and many of the remaining ones were full of holes. Dad was still in good health and came over on the weekends to help me with my yard work.

“Dad, come look at my tomatoes. What’s wrong with them!”

“You’ve got tomato worms,” he said as he pulled one of the fat, green critters from one of the stems and squashed it with his shoe.

“Ewww, gross!” I’m not that much of a country girl.

With the help of a little chemical spray and a vigilant eye, my scraggly plants survived. I have to admit that I didn’t adopt Dad’s method of dealing with the worms. If I found one, I snipped off the whole stem and threw it away. In spite of the worms and my squeamishness, I produced a few scrawny, misshapen tomatoes with tough skins.

“Cool,” said Christian when he saw my crop. “Can I have them to make salsa!”

It’s nice to have your efforts appreciated.

A few years later after David and I married, we planted some tomatoes and peppers in a flower bed in the back yard. The peppers grew nicely, producing pods so hot that even David couldn’t eat a whole one. The tomatoes didn’t do so well. They were doing okay, but I left them on the vine a little too long. The morning I went out to harvest them, some critter had taken a bite out of the bottom of each one.

So it was with this limited experience and questionable success that I asked David about the tomatoes in Hooten’s.

“I don’t think it’s too late,” he said.

I dragged him out to the garden section to see what they had. The selection was very limited, but I found a couple of promising looking tomato plants, a four-pack of cayenne peppers, and another four-pack of Anaheim peppers. Not the wide variety I originally planned, but enough to play with and not enough to feel like I threw away a lot of money if my results are less than stellar.

The next morning I put on my working-in-the-yard hat and gloves and went out to bed down my plants. I chose a sunny, weed-free area and started digging. We haven’t made it to Louisiana to get the tiller yet; it would have been overkill for such a small plot anyway. The sandy soil is nice and loose, so I dug ten small holes and worked in a little bit of soil from a compost pile left by a previous resident. I mixed up a bucket of plant food and gave them all a good soaking. Finally, I marked the corners of the plot with four large rocks so my Cub Cadet pilot won’t run over my babies by mistake, or maybe on purpose. David laughed and said my little plot looks a little scraggly.

He’s right. It’s a little scraggly, and I don’t know what will happen. Some people are predicting another hot, dry summer, so it may all burn up before it has a chance to produce. Or the critters may get into it. If they do, maybe they’ll leave me enough for a batch of salsa and a pot of green chili stew. Regardless, I’m looking forward to watching the process. I think watching a tiny plant take dirt, water, and sunshine and turn it into something good to eat is nothing short of a miracle. It’s like being present at the Creation: “Let there be…and there was…and it was good.”

Now in 2022 David Perkins, our friend rents our motor home, asked earlier in the year if it was okay for him to plant a small garden. Of course we said yes. He immediately starting seeds in empty cans he collected from the Senior Center and now has an impressive collection of tomato plants and several types of greens growing on the dashboard of the motor home. He has already shared some horseradish leaves with friends, and he has a number of small green tomatoes developing.

He hand tilled a small area beside our shed where he has planted a few onions, a couple of Swiss chards, and a cabbage. And this week he borrowed a tiller from Dirk, another gardening neighbor, and tilled up a larger plot behind the shed. He transplanted a few tomato plants on Sunday and is looking forward to the predicted rain on Monday.

His enthusiasm has awakened my gardening bug, and I’m beginning to envision trips to Hooten’s and Potts for bedding plants, and I’m trying to remember how to pickle okra. My interest may be short-lived if the gophers and deer come for dinner, but in the meantime, we may get a few fresh veggies out of the deal as well as a column or two. Happy spring planting!



Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Calves | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 18, 2021:

Those of you who have been raised around cattle all your lives and know everything there is to know about these four-footed critters might want to pass on reading this column. If you choose to read on, keep in mind that the author is, as the column name indicates, a city girl and knows nothing about the bovine species – except that they are delicious when grilled and served on a bun with a little mustard and a few veggies. Given this disclaimer, you may wonder why I chose this subject. It just seemed a natural choice after several calves came to my notice recently – so if you opt to read on, be charitable.

As Spike’s official dog-sitters and his unofficial step parents – along with his small herd of cattle, we usually receive baby pictures when new calves arrive. Friday I received a text with a picture a shiny black baby girl weighing fifty pounds or so. Stella said she was born on Wednesday but disappeared soon afterward, probably hidden by her mother to protect her from the large group of buzzards that attended the birth. The baby was safe, though, because she and mama were at the fence to see Kent and Stella off when they left for home group. At lunch after church on Sunday, we discussed names for the newborn. Mama’s name is Annabelle, so the name has to include Anna. The odds-on favorite by the end of the meal was Julianna.

David and I will be staying with Spike for a few days at the end of the month, so we will be able to see Julianna in person – or at least through the fence. Considering our lack of experience with and our aversion to being stepped on by animals that weigh upwards of half a ton, others come in to feed and care for the non-domesticated livestock. All we do in that regard is count noses each morning to be sure no rustling has occurred in the dark.


Picking Peaches | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 13, 2021:

This city girl had another new experience Saturday – I picked peaches for the first time. I have bought a half bushel at a farmers market and spent hours putting them into bags destined for the freezer, but I had never taken them off the tree.

Connie (across the street) had a bumper crop from her two trees this year. After putting ten bags in the freezer and having a tray full ripening on her counter, she invited me over to pick some. The first thing I learned about picking peaches is that the trees are designed for those of us who are height challenged. No step ladder required like the time I picked figs from Dirk and Pat’s trees.

Strange things sometimes happen while you’re harvesting. Some of the peaches were very close together, and while I was trying to pick a particularly reluctant one, the one next to it flung itself toward the ground. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the poor thing landed on the blade of a mole-chasing windmill and cut itself almost in half. Since the work was already half done, I sliced that one up when I got home, and we had it for dinner.


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…)

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