On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Posts tagged ‘humor’

Cabin Fever | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 28, 2020:

cabin feverDisturbing dreams have been a part of my sleep patterns off and on for most of my life. They’re not usually the scary kind with ghosts and monsters chasing me, but more of the kind that are supposed to indicate worry about being unprepared for something. I used to dream I went to school or to work without the proper amount of clothing, and sometimes I dreamed I was trying to run, but it felt as if I was moving through Jello. My sleeping activity has slowed down a bit since I retired, but I still have a strange night from time to time. Friday morning I woke up after spending what felt like a life time dreaming about being in a concentration camp.

“David,” I said at breakfast, “I think I’m really getting cabin fever.”

I went on to tell him a little bit about my dream, but by then it was fading, so I couldn’t give him much detail. As I finished eating, I wondered what other symptoms of cabin fever I might be exhibiting. The only thing I could think of is that I tend to check supplies often in anticipation of the next curbside pickup order. (more…)

Hidden Assets | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on April 21, 2020:

Grocery rouletteTwo weeks ago I wrote about Grocery Roulette, also known as curbside pickup. First, there is a disclaimer that items that were available when the order was placed may not be available when the order is filled. And second, shoppers are encouraged to allow substitutions meaning, if what you ordered isn’t available, your personal shopper can choose something close. It sounded pretty much like a game of chance to me.

My first order went pretty well. Eight items were missing altogether, but the few substitutions were acceptable. And I got a bonus! When I was putting my groceries away, I found a box of frosted flakes. I thought it was a substitute for the cereal I had ordered, but when I pulled out a bag of bagels, I was totally confused because I hadn’t ordered any kind of bread. That was when I realized I had a bag from someone else’s order. (more…)

Top Ten Uses for Extra Toilet Paper | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 17, 2017:

Empty ShelvesI don’t mean to make light of serious circumstances, but let’s face it, some of the situations that have arisen because of the Corona Virus are hilarious. The first time I saw a Facebook post that mentioned toilet paper, I thought it was a joke. However, a day or two later, Facebook and every other social media platform was flooded with stories, pictures, and jokes about empty shelves, hoarding, and panic at the possibility of being caught short of this bathroom necessity.

Two posts in particular fired my writer’s imagination. One was a narrative of a man who was in a Walmart about forty miles from his home. He noticed a stock of toilet paper, so he texted his wife to see what kind she usually bought. When he received his instructions, he bought six cases. Another post was a picture of two men in a checkout line. One was pushing a cart loaded with a stack of toilet paper higher than his head. The other one had a case of Corona beer. The caption was something about different coping mechanisms, and though the thought was funny, it wasn’t what caught my attention. I wondered if the first man had checked with his wife about the brand of tissue and, if not, what happened when he got home. (more…)

Things I’ve Learned at the Gym | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on March 3, 2020:

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a column about mine and David’s intention to begin working out at a local gym in the hope of living what’s left of our golden years in better health. In keeping with my usual serious tone, I pursued the vital question of what to wear when I worked out. I received quite a bit of input from fitness fashionistas, but I ended up going with what I had, at least in the beginning.

HokasAfter a few weeks of faithful gym visits, along with David’s interest in the new running shoes of some friends, we went shoe shopping and rewarded ourselves with fancy new shoes that feel really good on our old feet. The next week we added new sweat pants, so now we’re somewhat color coordinated. My outfit of choice is gray shoes with salmon/pink highlights and white soles, gray pants with a white stripe, and a large pink T-shirt that hits me about mid-thigh. It’s not high fashion, but everything is comfortable – and the place we go isn’t the kind of place where people go to be seen, at least not at the time we go. I have, however, seen a few interesting people and learned some things about fitness enthusiasts. (more…)

The Call of the Wild | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 25, 2020:

cowardly lionFirst, let me say this column is not about the Jack London novel or the new Harrison Ford movie. It’s sort of about a dog, but it mostly about me being a fraidy-cat.

This week David and I are visiting with Spike, our occasional canine son, while his people visit the Holy Land. Their flight was a late one, so the plan was for Spike to have his supper before they left and stay in the house until we arrived after Home Group was over. Then, we’d walk him one more time before bedtime.

It was a good plan, but the problem was that David didn’t feel well, so he didn’t go to Home Group. That meant I had to go back home to pick him up before heading out to the ranch. These things always take longer than expected, and it was late and very dark when we arrived – and the coyotes were out. (more…)

Welcome 2020! by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 6, 2020:

Happy-New-Year-2020-768x535Happy 2020 – a new year, a leap year, and the beginning of a new decade. One hundred years ago marked the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, a decade of economic growth and widespread prosperity, driven by postwar spending, a construction boom, and the rapid growth of consumer goods. The few forecasters I saw didn’t really commit on whether the 20’s will roar this time around, but apparently advertisers are jumping on the band wagon. One article showed a dozen or so Art Deco logos touting the Roaring 2020’s in upcoming ad campaigns. It remains to be seen whether the next ten years roar or whimper.

Chinese New Year is on January 25 and will begin the Year of the Rat. That sounds ratherHappy Chinese New Year Rat unpleasant if not downright disgusting to those of us with a Western mindset, but the Chinese characterize this zodiac animal as having spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility, and vitality. Nice traits but not ones that seem likely to produce much of a roar. On the other hand, there was quite an uproar (pun intended) in the 1950s when Leonard Wibberley wrote a novel called A Mouse that Roared. (more…)

Cat hair? Don’t care! by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 26,2019.

Pet hairSunday morning while I was drying my hair, David came into the bathroom with Kitty trailing not far behind. They were carrying on an animated conversation – at least he was. She wore her usual bored expression.

“Kitty, have you looked at the carpet? Why do you leave clumps of hair all over the place?” he asked.

She must have known it was a rhetorical question, because she yawned and lay down on the bedroom carpet where I’m sure she deposited more hair. If she had answered, she would probably have said something like, “Cat hair? Don’t care!”

When we chose carpet for the house, we would have chosen a color other than light beige if we had known that we would one day own a black and white semi-long-haired cat. Of course, the white hair would have been just as obvious on a darker color. The same dilemma applies to clothing – the black hair shows on light-colored clothes and the white hair shows on dark things. The only solution for owners of black and white cats is to go naked, but that presents an entirely different set of problems.

I don’t really understand Kitty’s shedding cycle. When the weather was hot, I expected cat sheddingher to lose half her body weight through hair loss, but she just seemed to get furrier. Then, when it began to cool off, she began to leave clumps of hair like Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs. I went online to see what is “normal” when it comes to shedding, and this is what I found:

Cats who are allowed to go in and out or who live outside will shed seasonally. Indoor cats may also respond to the calendar, but typically they shed all year, although this may vary by breed. In general, it’s fair to say that cats shed some degree of “winter” coat in the spring and summer.

I’m grateful that she doesn’t shed all year, but I’m not surprised. It says the typical indoor cat sheds all year, and Kitty’s anything but typical. She’s just ornery.

Last week I posted a picture of Kitty on my Facebook page. One of my friends sent this reply along with a photo of her black and white cat:

Mrs. Linda, tell Kitty that Jinx would like to meet her.

Kitty on the afghanThis was my response:

I’m not sure how Kitty would feel about that. She’s not generally very sociable, but she might surprise me! On the other hand, she might be jealous of Jinx’ beautiful, smooth coat. Kitty sometimes looks shiny and pretty, but sometimes she looks like a hairball waiting to happen!

Obviously, my response was written. If Kitty heard me say something like that, I’d probably end up with a giant hairball on my pillow.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

No Baths for the Brendles | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on November 5, 2019:

The earliest freeze on record in North Texas was on October 22, 1898. We missed that record by a few days, but the low temperatures last week still had lots of Rains County residents scrambling to move vulnerable plants indoors. I haven’t been part of the scramble in the past, because my indoor plants stayed in the house year round, and my outdoor plants were planted in the ground and were on their own when the temperatures dropped. This year was different.

hibiscusSince Kitty came to live with us over four years ago, her interest in all things green and leafy has caused me to limit our indoor plants to those that have been given to us for one reason or another. We have two peace lilies – one was a sympathy gift when Mom passed away, and one was a Christmas gift. I also have two Christmas cacti and an African violet that were give to me for one reason or another.

The lilies were confined to the small bathroom in the front of the house when Kitty decided they were particularly tasty and that the dirt in their pots was fun to dig in. The smaller plants have been relatively safe on the island in the kitchen except for the one time Kitty decided to dig up the violet. It must not have been as exciting as she had expected, because she hasn’t revisited it. The plant has recovered, but it hasn’t bloomed since its trauma.

Earlier this year, when our neighbor Ed built our new porch, he added a plant ledge to the front, and my friend Mary envisioned hanging baskets of red begonias. I didn’t find any affordable baskets, but I did find two hibiscus “trees” on sale. They looked beautiful on the ledge, and their continuous blooms added lots of summer color. My neighbor Connie later shared some basil with me, and I brought home a parlor palm I had received from Pastor Jason but had left at the church when I retired for fear that Kitty would eat it. Once we added furniture to the porch, I brought my indoor plants outside with the exception of the lilies. I thoroughly enjoyed my own little green space until last week when the cold fronts were predicted.

I crossed my fingers and set the cacti and the violet back in the kitchen, but I had no idea Small bathroom with plantswhat to do with the other plants. My previous experience with hibiscus plants was with two that were planted in my yard. My green-thumbed neighbor advised me to mow them down to the ground in the fall and expect them to pop back up in the spring. That worked, but I didn’t think my two would react the same way. In each of the pots, several plants had been intertwined and trimmed to form a tree shape, and I didn’t think I would get the same result if I whacked them off at the dirt.

So far, Kitty has ignored the greenery on the island, but I felt sure the larger plants on her level would be too much of a temptation for her to resist. I walked the house, looking for available space in any of her forbidden spaces. There’s the office, but she sneaks in there almost every time David opens the door, so I crossed that off the list. There’s also the middle bedroom, but between the stored furniture, the treadmill, and my inventory of books, there’s no floor space. That left the small bathroom – the really small bathroom. I have to leave space for the door to open and a little space in front of the toilet, so there’s no floor space in there either. But there is a bathtub – so that’s where the hibiscus and the palm ended up. The basil is on the counter by the sink. The plants seem to like their new home. All look healthy, and the hibiscus blooms are lasting three days instead of one, so I guess the sacrifice was worth it.

We also gave up the tub in the master bathroom several years ago when Kitty needed a second litter box. We never used the tub. It’s big and shallow, and it drains the hot water heater before the water is ankle deep. We have a separate shower, so it’s no big deal. But if someone gives us another plant or Kitty decides she needs the shower for some reason, we’re in trouble.

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

My tech guru | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rain County Leader on October 29, 2019:

David and Linda at Fay's 2018David has earned a reputation as the tech guru at the Senior Center because of his knowledge of all things electronic – computers, phones, tablets, and even high-tech watches. Many of our friends have asked him questions about how to fix or operate their devices, and when they didn’t understand the answer, they brought the contrary gadget to him for help. Problems range from a phone that won’t ring because the sound is turned off to a new computer that needs a complete setup.

Reactions differ, too. Some take his services for granted like the man who dropped a new phone in front of him with a curt, “Set that up for me,” as he headed over to another table to visit with friends. Others offer to pay him, which he usually refuses. My favorite though is the man who was having trouble getting his new TV up and running. David made a house call, and once the TV was set up, the man offered money. David wouldn’t take it, but he gave him several packages of home grown frozen purple hull peas and two packages of peaches. Later in the week, he brought us a pie. Now that’s gratitude!

People often ask how David knows what to do to fix whatever ails these mysterioustech guru machines that have become such a necessity to modern life. The answer is simple – he reads – a lot. He is the only person I know who reads the owner’s manuals of everything he owns. He also reads blogs, articles, and updates from the major communication companies. And although he may not remember what he had for breakfast, or if he had breakfast, he seems to remember most of what he reads.

Through our almost twenty years together, I have been the main beneficiary of his technical knowledge. When we met, I had a small desktop computer and a VCR, both of which I knew how to turn on but not much else. Since then I’ve been through several phones and a few laptops and all the problems that come with them. He has always been there to help, even when the problems were with company computers at my office.

Computer filesHowever, there is an old adage that says the doctor’s children are the last to be treated, the cobbler’s children have worn out shoes, and so forth. This past weekend I wondered if the same principal applied to the wives of tech gurus. I’m working on a new book and am trying to do the design and setup myself. In order to format the cover to suit the publisher, I had to download a new program to my laptop. In the process, my computer froze up, and all I had was a black screen with the silhouettes of a few ghostly boxes. I’ve learned enough from David to know what to try first. I hit the Escape key several times with no effect, and I tried to open the Task Manager with the same result. Finally, crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t lose anything vital, I rebooted. The same screen came up.

After going through this series of moves several more times, I told David about my troubles. He was watching the LSU football game, so I’m not sure he even heard me. At half time he announced he was going across the street for a cup of coffee with Charles, and I felt as if the doctor had left the building. But I had a few Saturday chores to do, so like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, I decided to worry about my computer later.

When David came home, he noticed that my laptop was closed, so he asked if I had everything taken care of. When I said no, he immediately sat down in my spot and went to work. I could tell he was going through the same routine I had with the same results. He said unsettling things like “I don’t know…” and “…bad hard drive.” I wracked my brain trying to remember if I had backed up my latest manuscript on my flash drive. Then, he went into the office. A few minutes later, he yelled for me to bring my laptop in there. He hooked it up to an external hard drive, and it started. In the next few hours, I was able to download the new program and finish my book cover. The next day, my laptop was back to normal, and I made sure to backup all my files.

Sometimes David thinks I understand more about technology than I do. I’ve learned a lot from him, as you can tell by some of the techie terms I throw around, but new devices are invented much more quickly than I can learn. Sure, I can download a program and use some pretty sophisticated software to create and share the things I write. But I still have no idea how to operate the DVD player we’ve had for almost a decade. And since we discontinued satellite TV and began streaming everything through the Internet, if my tech guru isn’t home, I read a book.

Blessings

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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!

Blessings,

Linda

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

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