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Posts tagged ‘friends’

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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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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Crawfish – Up Close and Personal | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on June 16, 2022:

Crawfish. The first thing I did before beginning this column was to Google the correct name for these strange looking creatures. According to those who are supposed to know, people north of the Mason-Dixon Line normally refer to these miniature lobsters as crayfish while residents of the West Coast, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas call them crawdads. But since I married a Louisiana boy where they are known as crawfish, that’s what I’ll go with.

Texas wasn’t mentioned in the blog post I used for reference, but in the era before organized play dates and yoga classes for kids, my friends and I sometimes went fishing for crawdads in the drainage ditch near my house. We’d sneak a piece of bacon out of the refrigerator, wrap it around a rock, tie a string to it, and troll the muddy waters. I don’t think we ever caught one – in fact, I don’t remember ever seeing one. I don’t have a clue what we would have done if we had caught one – but if it was good enough for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, it was good enough for us.

As an adult, I tend to avoid the unattractive critters. I love a good shrimp boil, but I don’t get excited when the local restaurants begin advertising that the crawfish are in. I did have some fried crawfish tails once which, as I recall, I enjoyed very much. But I don’t want those feelers and legs rising to the top of my bowl of gumbo or gracing my plate of jambalaya. Maybe it’s the eyes. I’ve had a couple of creepy experiences with the eyes of seafood.

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Sunday’s Coming!  by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 14, 2022:

Last week was a hard one, not so much for me personally, but for several people who are important to me. A friend lost a long-fought battle with cancer, a family member was unjustly accused of scandalous behavior, a sweet young lady lost her first love, and a friend who is normally the life of the party is suffering through a bout of depression. As if that weren’t enough, we’re entering the week on the Christian calendar during which we remember the betrayal, death, and burial of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In deciding what to share this week, my thoughts drifted back to a time when my own son experienced what the doctor called a psychotic depression. To paraphrase the opening line from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, it was the worst of times, but it ended up being the best of times. Following is an excerpt from my first memoir about a special day during that time:

My heart ached as I watched this brilliant young man, who was always going, doing, thinking, or creating, do little more than exist. Day after day, wearing baggy shorts, a t-shirt, and a baseball cap, he sat in front of the TV until I came home from work. His long, blond hair that was normally meticulously washed and brushed became stringy and oily, and more often than not, he forgot to eat. He lost weight and began to look severely emaciated. His normally erect posture became slumped and downcast. He visited with Dr. E periodically and took the various medications he prescribed, looking for the magic combination that would break the bonds that held him in his pit. I continued to pray.

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Kindness | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on December 16, 2021:

Warning! This is not a typical light-hearted, feel-good column that will leave you with a smile. It is a full on rant against cruel and insensitive people whose words leave wounds that may never heal.

Kindness has become a sort of buzzword in recent years, although it is definitely not a new concept. The Apostle Paul told us in the “love chapter” of 1 Corinthians that Love is kind, and one of the first verses I learned in Sunday School was Be ye kind one to another. It had a certain rhythm that made it easy for little minds to remember, even if they didn’t understand exactly what it meant.

The Oxford Language online dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate or as a kind act. Wikipedia explained it this way:

Kindness is a type of behavior marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward. Kindness is a topic of interest in philosophy and religion. Kindness was one of the main topics in the Bible. 

According to a 2006 blog post on a site called Random Acts of Kindness, in 1982 a woman named Anne Herbert wrote “practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty” on a place mat and set off a chain reaction that turned into the Random Acts of Kindness movement that has swept across the world. A random act of kindness is described by Wikipedia as a nonpremeditated, inconsistent action designed to offer kindness towards the outside world. However, since Herbert first penned her memorable quote, these acts have become not only premeditated but also institutionalized and commercialized.

In 1993 Herbert published a children’s book titled Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty. Later that year, a college professor in California gave his students an assignment of performing a random act of kindness. This assignment sparked a flood of stories, and the concept spread quickly and widely. Since then people have paid tolls for those behind them, paid for the dinner of a stranger on the other side of the restaurant, and performed other acts of generosity without plan or forethought.

Before long, though, the randomness began to fade as websites were established that suggest ideas and calendars that offer ideas for daily acts of kindness. Non-profit organizations and for-profit vendors offer t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs, tote bags, stickers, posters, and more. In 1995 officials in Denver created the first Random Acts of Kindness Day, and Random Acts of Kindness Week began in 2018. In spite of efforts to organize or profit from the concept, it continues to spread and hopefully will carry on until the beauty of simple kindness changes all it touches.

Still, there is hard-hearted unkindness in the world, and Tennille, a dear friend, fell victim to it today. While shopping in Quitman, a man told her that “her kind” were not welcome there and that she needed to be what she was born as. I wish I had been there with her. I would have told him that what she is – a wonderful wife and mother. She is a loyal friend with a hilarious sense of humor and a joy for life like few I have ever known. She is brave beyond belief and in the last couple of years she has experienced a cancer diagnosis, a double mastectomy, radiation, and chemo. She survived all this with amazing courage and opted to forego the pain and expense of reconstructive surgery so she could get back to her life and the thriving cookie business she runs from her home – but it has not been easy. In her own words:

I’ve gotten used to occasionally being called “sir”. I knew my decision to not have reconstruction after surgery would come with some confusion. I try to dress girlie and wear clothing to make it obvious that I am, in fact, a girl.

Yes I look a little different. Trust me, I know. I see myself in the mirror every.single.day. And I’m trying very hard to come to terms and acceptance of my new “me”.

I say all this to say, be kind. You have no right judge someone based on appearance alone. We are ALL fighting battles you may never know about. Because trust me, a smile hides a lot.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

History of a Treadmill | by Linda Brendle

Published by the Rains County Leader on Thursday, October 13, 2021:

Two weeks ago I wrote about our appliance ordeal when the dryer went out and we unexpectedly bought a freezer, all in the same day. Space is too limited to recount all the confusing details that caused chaos in the Brendle household. Suffice it to say that some major shifts had to occur to make room for the freezer. One item that had to be moved was a rather large, heavy treadmill. This wasn’t just any treadmill, though; it was a treadmill with a history.

Several years ago a couple named Michael and Magrate began attending Believers’ Baptist. They were Malaysian missionaries who gave seminars on worship through movement. They had come to the U.S. to present a number of seminars and ended up buying acreage in Rains County where they planned to build a retreat and education center. Magrate came to our ladies Bible study where we became friends, and she and Michael invited us to their home for dinner several times.

After a couple of years, they moved to Tennessee to be closer to family during some health issues. The Texas property was listed for sale, and Michael asked David to keep an eye on things until it sold. As they prepared for the move, they invited us for one last dinner and gave us a complete tour of the property including an outbuilding where I spotted the treadmill. It was dusty and covered with cobwebs, but when we plugged it in, it still ran. I offered to buy it, but they insisted on making a gift of it.

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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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Coming Home | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 20, 2021:

David and I have experienced several homecomings of sorts recently, and I had a very special one this past week. The word homecoming usually brings to mind a soldier returning from the war or the annual celebration held by many schools in honor of former students.However, the dictionary also defines the word as “the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home.”

David’s middle sister Sharon invited us to celebrate the Fourth of July with her and their younger sister Deb and brother-in-law Jesse. Sharon lives in the house previously owned by their parents in West Monroe, Louisiana. We normally visit two or three times a year, but we had not seen his family since March of 2020, just before the shutdown. Even though David only lived in that house for three months before he went into the Navy, after such a long absence, our visit there definitely felt like a homecoming.  

When we arrived home on July 8, we learned that the Senior Center was re-opening for in-house lunch service on July 12. The Center is called the Rains County Senior Nutrition Program, but it is about so much more than food. Many Center clients, especially those who live alone, have little other social contact than the time they spend with friends around the tables there. And even those of us who are not so lonely look on the eclectic lunch group more as family than simply friends. The re-opening of the Center was a homecoming for all of us.

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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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Little Free Library | By Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 20, 2021:

Being President of the Friends of the Library has been a learning experience, and I’m still learning even though I’m almost half-way through my three-year term. Last week was doubly enlightening as I learned what actually goes into preparing for the Semi-Annual Book Sale and also all about Little Free Libraries.

Actually, the Book Sale lessons began early last year when Jane Dillon, who had been in charge of the FOL’s biggest fund raiser for ten years, announced that she was stepping down after the October, 2020 sale. I was involved in last year’s sale, but nothing shows how little you really know like acting as the go-to person when you don’t know where you’re going. After studying the detailed notes Jane had left, I attempted to coordinate communication, publicity, inventory, facility details, transportation of books from storage to venue, hospitality, the financial operation, and the sale itself. Thanks to Jane’s generous tutoring, advice, and hands-on assistance along with an amazing group of experienced and inexperienced volunteers, we had an extremely successful sale – and a lot of fun as well. One of the really fun parts was learning more about Little Free Libraries.

Before the Sale, Little Free Library was just another item on a Board meeting agenda. Someone else took care of any related issues, reported back with an “all’s well” kind of report and we moved on to the next item. But we’ve had several new members join us in the last few months, and they haven’t yet learned that I have no idea what I’m doing. When they have a question, they come to me, and since it’s difficult to gracefully dodge a direct question, I try to find an answer.

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