Published in the Rains County Leader on December 10, 2019:
At the end of last week’s column I mentioned that I was planning to be one of the vendors at the Christmas Around the Square event on Saturday. It took a bit more planning than some of the events I’ve done because it was my first outdoor one.
First of all, I had to plan for the weather. I know that everyone thinks the weather where they live is the most unpredictable, but if you’ve ever experienced a Texas Blue Norther and felt the temperature drop thirty or forty degrees in as many minutes, you know that Texas ranks pretty high on the volatile weather list.
I watched the long range forecast for several weeks, and the predicted temperature was consistently in a forty to sixty degree range. Of course, allowing for a ten to twenty degree variance along with wind chill, that could mean anything from a snowsuit in the morning to short sleeves in the afternoon. I settled on multiple layers and moved on to precipitation. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 26, 2019:
At the most recent meeting of the East Texas Library Friends Book Club, we discussed the book “The Stranger in the Woods” by Michael Finkel. The subtitle is “The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.” It’s the story of Christopher Knight who walked into the woods when he was 20 years old and lived there until he was captured 27 years later.
Our initial discussions centered around what a hermit actually is and whether Knight met those requirements. We couldn’t come to a consensus on that issue, so we moved on to the morality of how he supported himself – by stealing from vacation homes and a summer camp facility near his woodland home. Most of us agreed that theft is wrong regardless of the need and the self-imposed limitations on what is taken, although there was one dissenter who thought his actions were acceptable. The majority of our time, though, was spent on the subject of being alone. What was the longest period of time any of us had been alone with no contact or interaction with another person? Most of us had never spent more than 24-48 hours in solitude, much less 27 years – and most of us had no desire to do so. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 5, 2017:
In 1986 Robert Fulghum published a book titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Over the last thirty years, it has become a standard of common sense wisdom, and the basic ideas of this simple credo can often be seen on plaques, coffee cups, and other gift items. The first item on the list is always “Share everything.”
I’ve been thinking about sharing a lot the last couple of weeks, and for good reason. It seems like every time I turn around, I run into an opportunity to share, sometimes on the giving end and sometimes on the receiving end. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 26, 2017:
Okra had no place in our home when I was a kid. I don’t know if it was because nobody liked it or because it didn’t come in a can. Mom and Dad both worked long hours, and I began cooking dinner for the family when I was eleven, so there wasn’t much time or skill for preparing fresh veggies.
Okra wasn’t one of those dishes that made a regular appearance at church or family potlucks either. Fried okra doesn’t travel well or keep well like fried chicken, and boiled okra is – well, it’s boiled okra. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 28, 2017:
There was a time in the history of this country when people knew their neighbors and were involved in their lives. Unfortunately, that time is long gone, at least in the city.
My family wasn’t very neighborly when I was growing up. My parents were very reserved, private people, and my brother was so busy with various jobs and social engagements that he didn’t have time for the neighbors. That left me, and since I wasn’t allowed to go visiting when everyone else was at work, I watched a lot of “I Love Lucy” reruns. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 3, 2016:
The last couple of weeks have been a time of counting blessings at the Brendle house. Nothing really big, but like dynamite, blessings often come in small packages. I’d like to tell you about three of ours.
The first was poke salad. Until we moved to Emory, all I knew about poke salad was that it was the subject of an Elvis song from the late sixties. Then, two years ago, someone brought some poke salad to the Senior Center. David and I checked it out and realized we had lots of it growing around our back yard. I had heard a lot of stories about the dangers of the green, so I did some on-line research and harvested some. Both of us enjoyed it, and neither of us suffered any ill effects, so I added it to my list of menu items. (more…)
I’ve written several posts about my little garden in the past few months. (here, here and here) Gardens are not very exciting to those who’ve grown them all their lives, but they’re nothing short of miraculous to a city girl whose previous horticultural experiences consists of a window sill herb garden and a few pots of patio tomatoes. Every time I take a bag of frozen squash or okra from the freezer or open a jar of salsa or pickled okra, I think this isn’t the product of a giant faceless corporation. This is the result of hard work by Aunt Fay, Jerry, Dirk and even me. (more…)