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Posts tagged ‘Country Living’

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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Happiness is a Country Breakfast | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 17, 2021:

Big country breakfasts weren’t part of my childhood. Mom joined the work force when I started school, and with everyone in the family leaving the house for different destinations at different times, our morning meals usually consisted of a quick bowl of corn flakes or an over-well egg and a piece of toast that became a fold-over sandwich to be eaten on the run.

However, on Saturday mornings, Mom sometimes cooked breakfast. It wasn’t a real country breakfast because we never had gravy with our biscuits, and we didn’t waddle away from the table after having consumed several days’ worth of calories, carbs, and fat. But waking up to the smell of bacon frying was a real treat. And occasionally Dad would fix breakfast for dinner. Nothing elaborate – usually oatmeal and cinnamon toast – but special nonetheless.

A regular breakfast hasn’t been a part of my life as an adult either. My son wanted bacon, cereal, powdered sugar donuts, or some combination of the three – and his father’s breakfast consisted of Dr. Pepper and cigarettes. David would love to have a big breakfast every day, but cholesterol and weight issues make that a bad idea for both of us. For most of our life together, breakfast has been cereal with something more substantial thrown in for a special treat now and then.

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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.

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The creeping wilderness | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 27, 2021:

Several years ago David and I watched a documentary that projected, in the event humans went extinct, how long it would take nature to reclaim the earth. It seemed fanciful to watch computer animations of trees breaking through major highways and vines creeping up and over crumbling infrastructure and collapsed skyscrapers in a century or two. However, after a walk around our property last weekend, it no longer seems so impossible.

When we first saw the 2.3 acre plot that has been our home for the past ten years, the front acre was clear enough that, after the removal of a couple of large trees, we were able to place our mobile home with enough space left over to park several vehicles. The rest of the lot, however, didn’t look as if it had been cleared in recent memory.

We rented the house twice over the next couple of years, but neither tenant stayed long or did much in the way of outdoor maintenance. By the time we became permanent residents of Rains County, the wilderness had advanced significantly, and we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. We were not yet entrenched in the community life of our new home, so we spent a lot of time working outdoors. Within a few months, David had burned up his city push mower and had invested in a riding mower, a chain saw, a machete, and various other trimming tools. After several close encounters with poison ivy and sunburn, we also learned to wear hats, gloves and long sleeves regardless of the temperature.

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Community News | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 2, 2021:

On September 7, 2017, Heather Rollins created a Facebook group called Emory Alerts. In March of 2020, the name was changed to Heather Rollin’s Community News, and now this group is a great source of information and more to just under 4,000 members. Rollins describes the group this way:

Just a side gig to help keep the citizens of Emory informed about community events. Something I choose to do – NOT something I have to do. If you are a business I will share for you. Please understand – one post a day is relevant, more than that is too much and people will dismiss!! My page my rules…I will help if I can, Thank you!!

I discovered the group sometime last year and found it very helpful as well as educational and entertaining. During the pandemic, the various posts provided much needed information about what was open and what was not, which events were scheduled and which had been cancelled, and the current status of the mask situation. There were also a few ads that helped in finding Christmas bargains without braving the mall, and sometimes there were hilarious memes that helped ease the cabin fever.

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