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Posts tagged ‘Country Living’

Candied Cucumbers | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 3, 2022:

You know your weekend wasn’t very exciting when you have to look on Facebook to see what you did that was worth writing about. Even then, it’s often not what you did that is interesting but rather the reactions of your Internet friends.

I’ve mentioned before that our neighbor David Perkins has raised quite a garden this year. One of his most successful crops was cucumbers. We had lots of salads, especially tomato and cucumber, and I made several batches of cucumbers and onions in vinegar. Perkins and I even worked together and made eight pints of bread and butter pickles. But after a while, the cucumbers get too big for pickles, and neighbors begin to run when they see you approaching with another offering of excess produce. Then Gennell brought her annual treat of candied cucumbers to the Senior Center, and I was inspired to try some myself.

I searched Google, my favorite cookbook, for a recipe and was a little intimidated when I discovered the long process involved in making these tasty treats. But keeping in mind that I learned to ride a motorcycle when I was fifty-two and published my first book after I began collecting Social Security, I tackled the project.

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Surviving Fair Week | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 22, 2022:

The 92nd annual Rains County Fair has come and gone, and many tired people in Emory and beyond can attest to its success. My perspective of the actual Fair was, as usual, confined mostly to the corner of the Exhibit Building by the restrooms, but since a large percentage of Fair goers pass by my booth at least once during the week, I have a few stories to share.

The festivities began before opening day on Tuesday, so we got up early Saturday morning and headed downtown. David loves a good breakfast, so we attended the American Legion monthly breakfast. Once we were full of some of the best bacon in town and all that goes with it, we walked over to the square to check out the classic cars. There were over 300 entries this year, and all the smiles were almost as bright as the highly polished paint jobs.

Sunday afternoon was set-up time in the Exhibit Building. Linda and Rocky Pietila shared a booth with me, and it took us a while to figure out the exact configuration that showed my books, Rocky’s hand-crafted western decorative items, and Linda’s western memorabilia to the best advantage. With David’s help, we made fairly quick work of displaying our wares and were soon ready for Tuesday’s opening.

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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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Rains County Fair | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 8, 2022:

The first Rains County Fair was held on the courthouse square in Emory from October 31 through November 1, 1930. A lot has changed since then. The event has moved from the square to the Fair Grounds, it now extends over five days instead of two – and more if you include the judging of the exhibits before the Fair opens and the livestock sales afterward – and it is held in September. But most of all, the Rains County Fair is probably a lot more exciting than it was 92 years ago.

Of course, exciting depends on your perspective –but there’s something for just about everybody regardless of what your perspective is. There are rides for the thrill seekers and all kinds of treats for the foodies. It’s the big finale for students who have spent months raising what they hope will be the prize-winning animal in its class, and it’s the photo op of a lifetime for parents and grandparents whose young ones are competing in one of the pageants or showing off their courage and skill at mutton busting. Those interested and talented in creative arts, horticulture, mechanics, baking, and more can present their offerings to be judged, and those entries are then exhibited for everyone to see.

The Fair itself opens on Tuesday, September 13 and closes on Saturday, September 17. Fair week also includes activities that are not on the Fair Grounds. The 24th annual Classics around the Square car show will take place on September 10, and a parade through downtown Emory and a chili cook-off will take place on the final day of the Fair. There’s much more that I’ve missed, but you can find more information here in the Leader, on the Rains County Fair Facebook page, or at www.rains.agrilife.org/county-fair .

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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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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.

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Nothing to do, Part 2 | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 3, 2022:

Last week’s column about things to do in Emory attracted some attention, and my final request for suggestions of things I might have missed received enough response to warrant a follow up. Here are a few more ideas of things to do in Emory along with some of the things that make small town living special.

My cousin Bobby pointed out that Emory has a livestock auction on Tuesday and Saturday every week at the Sale Barn on Highway 19. I have never been to the auction, but I have seen lots of trailers full of animals going to or coming from the barn. The parking lot is always full on sale days, and it looks like it might be a lively social event.

Another Linda, one of my Friends of the Library buddies, suggested that weekly shopping at Good Samaritans Thrift Store is a fun social event. The Thrift Store is open to the public on Saturday from 8:00 am to noon. It’s a great place to find a wide variety of gently used and sometimes new items including clothes, household items, books, toys, Christmas decorations, and more. You will see the same people often, including my neighbors Pat and Dirk who frequent the Saturday sale, and the volunteers are very friendly. The Good Samaritans operation is also a great place to volunteer as they always need help sorting donations and managing the food bank during the week.

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A Week of Country Life | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 9, 2021:

In the late 18th or early 19th century one of two newsmen coined a phrase about the newsworthiness of a certain event. Both are given credit, but whoever said it was probably right: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” However, when the man involved is the husband of a small-town newspaper columnist, the event will probably end up in print.

Yes, David was on the receiving end of such a bite this week. The daughter of one of our neighbors dropped off her pet with her dad over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Kato is a large, furry Great Pyrenees mix who seemed friendly enough. In fact, he immediately made friends with the wandering canine who took up residence with our neighbors earlier this year. Kato was visiting Max one afternoon when David went across the street to have a cup of coffee with Charles. In an attempt to be a good guest, Kato barked at the perceived intruder, and when David entered the gate, Kato bit him on the upper thigh. Luckily, David was wearing double-layered nylon workout pants, so the teeth didn’t actually touch the skin, but he was left with an ugly scrape and a nasty bruise. To his credit, David didn’t bite back, but let’s just say Kato is now persona non grata in the neighborhood, or whatever the doggy equivalent of that status is.

The rest of the week went better, providing several incident’s that were of interest to a city girl who is still learning about country life. For one thing, we spent the week with our much more pleasant Great Pyrenees friend Spike. He was very well-behaved and didn’t provide much in the way of writing material, but there always seems to be something happening at the Ranch.

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Tales from the Fair | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 21, 2021:

After a year off for COVID isolation, the Rains County Fair was back last week. The first two nights were so slow in the Exhibits and Vendor Building that I wondered if people were still cocooning at home. But even on the slow days, there were interesting people to watch – and by Saturday night, the crowds were back in force.

The most exciting happening on Tuesday evening was a plumbing problem. “Do you know how to unstop a toilet?” asked a distressed-looking Teri Baker. (In spite of the guaranteed traffic flow, there are disadvantages to having a booth just outside the restrooms.) After asking if there was a plunger, I explained its use briefly – but she still looked as if she might be sick, so I followed her into the men’s room. She grasped the handle of the plunger with one hand as close to the end as possible and stood as far away from the toilet as possible. She placed the rubber cup over the outlet and pressed gingerly. When nothing happened, she pressed again. It bubbled once, and she asked hopefully if she should flush now. I knew it was time for me to step in. I became quite an expert with a toilet plunger during my caregiving years, and after about thirty seconds of vigorous plunging, the clog cleared. Teri was very grateful, and I went back to my booth feeling like a hero.

Wednesday was evening more boring. Closing time approached without a single book having left my booth, and there wasn’t even a plumbing issue to break up the monotony. Finally, at 9:55 a man stopped to chat and left with two books and a tote bag. Never had a $26 sale been so welcome. Thankfully, the rest of the week was more productive.

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To Shoot or not to Shoot | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 14, 2021:

A friend recently invited me to attend a meeting of The Well-Armed Woman with her. She is a licensed gun owner and thought I might enjoy the group that describes itself as “a non-profit organization that…creates opportunities for women to be introduced to issues important to women shooters, learn safe gun handling skills and train together.” As it turned out, a trip to visit the doctor and do some shopping went long, so we didn’t get to go. But the invitation sent me on a trip down memory lane, thinking of what part guns have played in my life. It was a short trip.

I do not now and have never owned a gun except for a starter pistol I bought to make noise after I was confronted in the laundry room of my apartment by a guy in a ski mask. Thankfully, he ran off when I began to scream like a banshee, and I never had occasion to brandish the pistol. My dad had an old shotgun and a rifle which I never saw him use, and I think my brother and I shared a cap pistol. I don’t think it worked very well because I seem to remember using a rock or a hammer to fire the caps.

Guns were not a big social issue during my formative years. The best I can tell from my limited research, carrying a handgun was illegal in Texas from 1871 to 1995 when Governor George W. Bush signed the first concealed carry bill in the state. When I was in the sixth grade, a new student from New York was disappointed when he didn’t get to ride a horse and carry a six-gun on his hip. There were a number of high school boys who accessorized their first pick-ups with a gun rack and a rifle in the back window, though, and I never heard of any gun accidents or mass shootings. These kids were probably well-trained by their parents and kept those guns in case they encountered a snake or a coyote while they were feeding the livestock or baling the hay.

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