Published in the Rains County Leader on February 3, 2022:
According to the current Yahoo weather forecast, there is a 90% chance the publication of this week’s Leader will be accompanied by snow. The snow could be preceded by a couple of days of rain, and if the temperature drops at just the right time – or the wrong time – a base of ice could turn any snowfall into a real mess like the one we experienced about this time last year. During and after the Snowpocalypse of 2021, David and I watched a lot of videos on how to survive in desperate weather conditions. I thought I’d share some of that wisdom, if for no other reason than to give you a chuckle while you huddle under a pile of blankets.
If the power goes out, move into small room – preferably one attached to the kitchen so you can access food, and one that can be shut off from the rest of the house. That suggestion probably won’t be of much help to us. Our kitchen is part of an open floor plan that includes the dining area and the living room. This large area features a mock bay window and four other windows that, because I am a lover of the sunlight, are not covered by drapes that would keep out the cold. Besides, we are all-electric, so if the power is out, the kitchen is of little use.
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 23, 2021:
Christmas shopping is usually pretty simple around the Brendle household. David and I exchange a few gifts with each other, but our needs are few and our budget is limited, so shopping isn’t complicated. We have two teenaged grandchildren – one is a discerning fashionista and one is a computer expert. Since they prefer to choose their own gifts, shopping for them involves choosing the cards in which to enclose their checks.
There are a few families we like to remember with a little something, usually a coffee mug for the caffeine fans, a small ornament for the patio, or a tasty treat to be enjoyed during the season when calories don’t count. This year I had a brilliant idea that would cover all those on my list. In June I had a booth at the Greenville Market, and I met Georgia who makes jams, jellies, and dessert sauces in delicious and unusual flavors. A small selection would be the perfect remembrance without breaking the bank or braving the malls. If only I could figure out how to contact her.
I usually come home from vendor events with a handful of business cards and brochures, but I couldn’t find one from Georgia. Searches of Google and Facebook yielded nothing, and I was running out of time. Finally I contacted the organizer of the Market, and she gave me an email address. I reached out to Georgia, and she quickly filled and shipped all my orders with an efficiency that would make Santa proud.
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.
Published in the Rains County Leader on October 7, 2021:
I first became a member of the school pick up brigade when Christian was three years old. After several years of being a stay-at-home wife and mother, I rejoined the workforce and he entered the world of daycare. After a few false starts, we found a place we both liked, and I fell into a daily cycle of drop off, work, pick up, errands, and home. My quitting time was 4:30, so I avoided the pick-up crush of those who were on a 9-to-5 schedule.
By the time my little man was ready for kindergarten, I was working from home and we lived about two blocks from his school. When the weather was nice, we walked the two blocks together, crossing the one busy street with the help of a crossing guard. That orange-vested man with the hand-held stop sign became Christian’s hero. He says being a crossing guard is still on his bucket list. During bad weather, I drove, and sitting in line took longer than the drive to and from. Thanks to the same crossing guard, we always made the trip safely.
The summer between his first and second grade years, we moved further west. We didn’t like the local school system, so Christian entered private school, and I went to work in the school’s business office. One benefit of the job was on-campus childcare for staff, so we commuted together.
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 28, 2021:
In March of 2020 I wrote a column titled The Brendles Unplugged about a weekend when both our Wi-Fi and our clothes dryer went down for an eight count. Thankfully, my resident handyman knew what to do, and after a short wait for parts to arrive, he fixed both issues and had us up and running in short order. His repairs were faultless, and everything was working smoothly – until last week. David had been working outside and came in to take a shower.
“There aren’t any towels,” he yelled from the bathroom. “Should I grab one out of the linen cabinet?”
I was on the computer as usual, so I yelled back. “The new ones are in the dryer. Use one of those.”
“These are still damp.”
“Then I guess you’ll have to get one out of the linen cabinet.” We sometimes have deep discussions.
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 7, 2021:
The last thing Kent told Spike before he and Stella left on their trip was to stay out of the newspaper – but I can’t help myself. Their antics are just too easy to write about.
Last week I introduced Dobby, the Lab/Great Pyrenees orphan who is living at the ranch until a permanent home can be found. He’s young and energetic and reminds me of Spike when we first became his live-in companions when he’s left home alone. I didn’t realize how domesticated and easy-going Spike has become until I met Dobby.
Walking outside when Dobby is anywhere around is an adventure in grace and agility, neither of which I possess. Like many pets, Dobby likes to walk in front of the person with him. But he takes it to an entire new level by turning at a 45 degree angle and leaning against your legs. He further complicates the process by putting his foot on top of yours at every step. At this writing, David and I have managed to stay upright, but we have twenty-four hours to go.
Published in the Rains County Leader on August 2, 2021:
Kitty has a collection of toys, most of which remain stashed in a lower section of her “condo” where I put them to avoid sucking them up in the vacuum cleaner. Occasionally, she’ll find a stray jingle ball and play a game of feline soccer, but these bursts of activity are short-lived and usually followed by a long nap. The one exception is her elephant. It is a three-inch square pillow made of yellow felt with two side flaps, a two-inch cord, and a small stuffed tube representing ears, a tail, and a trunk respectively.
The elephant received a cool reception when he first arrived on the scene several Christmases ago. The leopard-spotted fish was the reigning favorite at the time, but when it went missing under a piece of furniture or behind an appliance, the elephant took its place. Fame is fleeting, though, and when a new blue lamé fish appeared, the elephant was pushed aside.
The new fish was attached to a two-foot stick by an elastic cord, and Kitty sometimes enjoyed chasing it around when David or I bounced it in front of her. However, the #1 game was walking back and forth through the house with the fish in her mouth and the stick trailing along behind, especially through the kitchen. At least we knew she was coming when we heard the stick dragging across the ceramic tile. The stick also made it harder for the fish to hide under or behind things, but apparently it jumped off the bed into the crevice between the footboard and the cedar chest once too often. Disgrace followed, and the elephant reappeared.
Published in the Rains County Leader on July 6, 2021:
While recently enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich, I was thinking about my odd habit of eating around the edges and saving the middle for last. As a child, I didn’t really care for bread crusts, so I would pull them off my sandwiches and leave them on my plate. One day I performed my little ritual at my Uncle Dean’s house, and he told me to eat the crusts because they would make my hair curly. I don’t know if I really wanted curly hair or if I was trying to please him, but I ate them. By that time they were pretty dry and tasteless, so the next time I had a sandwich, I ate the crusts first. By the way, it was six decades later when my hair finally became curly.
My lunch-time walk down memory lane led me to other odd sandwich habits in my family. Mom ate hers a row at a time like eating an ear of corn. As the sandwich disappeared, she was left with two inch-wide slices of bread that were very difficult to control with arthritic hands. And my daughter-in-law once informed me that when she makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son, she HAS to cut it diagonally because “that’s the way Mom did it.”
Of course, the writer in me went straight to Facebook to do some scientific research. I posted the above explanation and asked for responses about the sandwich quirks of other. Here’s the condensed version of those responses.
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.
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 12, 2021:
This last week provided lots of material for a serious post about the state of our society and our country, but I decided to write about something more fun – Kitty. The title doesn’t mean that David and I have adopted more cats. But we have had several feline visits recently, possibly with the thought of becoming the next Brendle household fur baby.
The first applicant showed up in mid December when a nocturnal visitor left a few tufts of fur and sand on the front porch glider. Shortly after the first discovery, David startled a small gray cat that had apparently taken shelter from the cold wind and rain. Of course, I had to post a picture on Facebook, and my cat-loving friends offered suggestions of how to meet the needs of our new friend. He looked pretty well-fed, though, and we believe that providing food to a wild animal does him a disservice by interfering with his natural hunting instincts. We did, however, decide to offer him Kitty’s bed – first, it’s softer and warmer than the glider and second, Kitty prefers our bed.
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.