Published in the Rains County Leader on November 24, 2021:
In preparing to write this week, I read last year’s Thanksgiving column called “How Thanksgiving Grows.” The gist of the story was that, because of residual fears about COVID, none of our usual family gatherings occurred, so I planned to fix a small but special meal for David and me. However, by the time the big day came, we had three guests, and I spent the best part of two days fixing the customary multi-course feast. This year we will be sharing a traditional celebration with David’s sisters – and we had to turn down two other invitations.
Although I enjoyed the memories, the article didn’t help much with this week’s column. After that I went to Facebook and scrolled through my photos. I didn’t take many pictures last Thanksgiving, but I did find one of the kitchen island loaded down with food. There was also a photo of the leftovers the next day when we invited the neighbors back for a rerun. I remember feeling grateful that we could enjoy another go-round without all the work and also that all that food wouldn’t go to waste.
From there, I scrolled through the rest of the year. Again, there weren’t a lot of pictures, but there were enough highlights to inspire a gratitude list for this week:
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 5, 2021:
For the last few days, Facebook, email, texts, and all other social media have been full of messages related to the beginning of another year. Although most are similar in content, there is a definite difference in attitude. Some are simply the traditional Happy New Year, others are full of excitement and anticipation of a clean slate and a new start, and still others are full of pessimism if not downright despair, expecting 2021 to be nothing more than a continuation of the cancellations of 2020. As I looked for a good illustration of this difference in attitudes, and how those attitudes can affect outcomes as well as those around you, I came across some holiday pictures of the Marshall family.
If you are a fan of good barbecue, you’ve probably met Aaron and Sarah at their Barbecue Pit, but the real stars of their family are their children. Blakely, 6 years old, is outgoing and enthusiastic about life. Her sister Gracie, 5 years old, is a little more reserved on the surface but underneath is equally lively and excited to be alive. Then comes 3-year-old Lane who brings up the rear in age only. Lane is adventurous and fearless, and Sarah has pictures to prove it. She has posted photos of him climbing a ladder clad only in a pair of cowboy boots, sitting astride a full-grown horse in full western regalia, and petting the nose of a cow whose head was bigger than the he was.
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 14, 2017:
Spring doesn’t officially arrive for another few days, but the East Texas vegetation doesn’t seem to care. The daffodils came and went several weeks ago, and although I haven’t seen any yet, I’ve heard that the bluebonnets are in bloom. Blooms are popping out on a lot of the trees, and many of the others are taking on that pale yellowish, green color of fresh, new leaves. (more…)
My first official book signing was Saturday, February 28, in the Meadows Room of the Rains County Library. In spite of the cold weather and the icy road conditions in the Metroplex, we proceeded as planned. It was such fun that I hope to do another one some time soon.
Slide Show? Check. Business Cards? Check. Books? Check. Author? Check.
David – my loving husband, very special friend, and greatest supporter.
Literally surrounded by friends – Pat and Nancy.
The audience was friendly and enthusiastic – and they bought books!
I signed a lot of books!
I had to shed my jacket.
I even learned how to accept a credit card on my phone.
Watch for details of coming events, or buy now on-line!
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos
I hate having my picture taken, but part of being a published author is having a head shot. My sister-in-law Jo Lynn has tried several times to get me to sit for her, but I always came up with some excuse–I was having a bad hair day or I gave up posing for Lent. Then my neighbor Connie took on the task, and I gave in. She made it relatively painless–instead of going to an intimidating studio, David and I walked across the street and sat on her front porch. While we chatted and her husband quietly manipulated the light with various pieces of colored or shiny cloth, she clicked and coaxed and teased. When it was over, we had some nice shots.
David and I don’t have a regular date night. We enjoy each other’s company enough that watching a movie on our 47” television with a bag of microwaved popcorn seems like a date. But thanks to David’s growing reputation as a chili cook-off judge, we had a special date night last Friday in Quitman, another small East Texas town about 25 miles from Emory.
A couple of weeks ago, David got an urgent call from a friend in Quitman. They went to school together in Jonesboro, Louisiana, and the tale of how they reconnected after all these years is a tribute to coincidence, but that’s another story. For now, she was in a bind and needed help. She was coordinating a chili cook-off to benefit the Special Olympics, and one of her judges had pulled out for medical reasons. She needed someone from a county other than hers and preferably someone with a little bit of experience. Lured by the chance to expand his resume and by all the free chili he could eat, David said yes, and I went along to watch the show. I didn’t take my camera, and my phone didn’t have enough of a charge to take a lot of pictures, but I took enough to show you that people in Quitman know how to have fun. (more…)
One of the hardest things about being a caregiver is grieving a loss that is ongoing. We had a grief counselor speak at one of our caregiver support meetings, and she suggested that we consider personal and or group rituals to help us to let go of the relationship as we knew it and to move into acceptance of the present reality. The tributes I wrote about on Wednesday were part of that process. Another was our “Favorite Photos and Memories” night. The idea was simple. Each caregiver brought a favorite photo of their loved one and shared the memory behind the photo with the group. It was one of my favorite meetings. (more…)
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.