Published in the Rains County Leader on January 26, 2021:
No, I didn’t go to my local recruiter and sign up. Military enlistments are down, but I don’t think they’re desperate enough to accept a mature woman like me. I did, however, do something almost as controversial, and one gentleman who shared my experience said it was like enlisting in the Army. I wasn’t sure until the last minute that I was actually going through with it, but on Saturday morning I received the first of two doses of a COVID vaccine.
The vaccines have been the subject of much conjecture, argument, and discussion since March 30, 2020 when the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services initiated Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine. Since then, I’ve been caught between two opposing sides of the argument.
David and I spent the weekend in COVID jail – not because we had the virus, but because we didn’t. He had some minor surgery on his hand on Monday at the VA in Dallas, and as part of the pre-op procedure, we had to go in Friday for him to have a COVID test. The results were negative, but as we were leaving, the nurse said, “You’ll need to self-quarantine until the procedure on Monday.” Not too bad, we thought at first. Then we began to think about specifics.
“Are you gonna text the Schutters’ and let them know we won’t be at Home Group tonight?” asked David. Dirk was serving bratwurst and red cabbage, so I had done an Internet search for an appropriate side dish. I had prepared pickled beets and eggs earlier in the week so the eggs would have plenty of time to absorb the flavor and the color. I had even dragged out a decorative platter – as opposed to my usual redneck Tupperware – so I could create an attractive presentation. I explained to David that I planned to drop my contribution off – at a proper distance – and that I’d let them know what was going on while I was there. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 22, 2020:
Masks used to be something that appeared on the store shelves sometime in September in preparation for Halloween, something worn to prevent frostbite while skiing, or something worn during the commission of a crime to hide one’s identity. In the last few months, they’ve become a life and death matter to some, a symbol of the loss of individual freedom to others, and a matter of regulation to the government.
We didn’t have to deal with masks in Rains County at first because it took us a while to reach the threshold of 20 active cases for mandatory masks. However, well before I had to deal with covering my own face, I was very aware of the controversy that surrounded the little pieces of cloth that have caused such a kerfuffle. Even I don’t spend that much time with my head in the sand.
Our neighbor Connie had given us several of the medical-style masks before anyone ever heard of COVID-19 just because she believes in being prepared. David always wears one when he mows, but other than that, they stayed in the kitchen junk drawer or the console of the car – just in case. I never really gave them a thought until the day I stopped by the Senior Center to pick up a couple of grab-and-go meals and received an unusual greeting. Instead of Margaret’s usual cheerful hello-how-are-you welcome, she was waving a pleated rectangle with loops on either end and saying “Gotta have a mask to come in!” The Center is operated by the East Texas Council of Government and is subject to their rules.
I stopped in my tracks. “I have one in my car. I’ll go get it.”
“No,” she said. “I’ll give you one.” (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on July 6, 2020:
I loved the Fourth of July when I was a kid. We lived inside the city limits where the authorities frowned on the fun stuff like roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over a bon fire and shooting off fireworks. So we usually celebrated Independence Day at Aunt Fay’s. In addition to the fire-roasted treats, the menu also included potato salad, chips, watermelon, iced tea, Kool-Aid, and home churned ice cream. In later years when Uncle Dean bought the first charcoal grill I had ever seen, hamburgers were added.
While the adults prepared the food, the seven kids (me, my brother, and our five cousins) ran around Fay and Dean’s unfenced acreage, making noise and getting dirty. Sometimes we visited the food site to grab a chip or take turns sitting on the ice cream churn. By the time dinner was ready, we needed no prompting to come and eat. Everything was always delicious – food always tastes better when eaten outside on paper plates and sprinkled with a little bit of dirt. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 30, 2020:
My first column of this year was titled “Welcome 2020!” I mentioned that a number of marketing firms seemed poised to launch ad campaigns reminiscent of the Roaring 20’s of the last century. I followed that up by saying “It remains to be seen whether the next ten years roar or whimper.” We have nine and a half years to go, but so far this decade has involved a lot of whining on my part.
The first ten weeks of the year went pretty well. There were rumors and stories about a strange new virus, but aside from a new subject for the talking heads on the news reports to discuss and a few interesting sound bites from opposing politicians, it didn’t sound like anything that would affect the list of activities on the white board on our refrigerator. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 9, 2020:
A recent post on Facebook described a perfect example of how our attitude toward time has changed in the last few months. Around 8:30 one evening, the husband of a friend mentioned there were blackberries in the refrigerator that needed to be used before they ruined. About forty-five minutes later as she was putting a cobbler in the oven, he commented that they probably shouldn’t be eating something like that so late in the evening. Her Facebook post read “If he thinks I’m pulling a warm cobbler out of that oven and not eating a bite tonight, he has another think coming.” A later comment indicated that he did think again and that they both had some cobbler before bed. David and I go through a similar routine almost every night now.
Pre-isolation, we had a busy schedule. On Monday mornings we stopped by the church so David could upload Sunday’s sermon to the website and send it to the radio station, on Wednesday morning I went to Ladies’ Bible Study, and Thursdays mornings Bingo began at 9:30 at the Senior Center. Even on non-Bingo days, we tried to make it to the Center by 11:00. Lunch was served from 11:00 to 12:30, but everyone seemed to eat early, and by 11:30 or so the place was empty. (more…)