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.
Published in the Rains County Leader on March 9, 2021:
Computer work has been interesting at the Brendle house for the last week since we’ve been without WiFi. We had what we thought was an unlimited plan from a major carrier through a third party provider called Nomad. I don’t know where the wires got crossed, so to speak, but the major carrier apparently thought we were using more than our share of data and cut us off. Nomad has been very helpful, arranging for service through a new carrier and deleting charges for time without service, but it’s still taking a while to receive the new router and SIM card we need to get reconnected. In the meantime, we’ve gone to the church several times to pay bills, file taxes, and other necessities, but we can’t check email, engage with any social media, or watch TV at home – and we can’t do any online research.
I never realized how often I go to Google for a recipe, to answer a question, or to check out something for a writing project. On Saturday I wanted to spend some time working on my next novel, but I had questions about extradition, incarceration of a habitual felon and a parole violator who are awaiting indictment for an alleged kidnapping, and other things a simple country girl doesn’t know about from experience. I ended up with some general notes about the time sequence of a plot segment and a list of questions to ask my lawyer and law enforcement friends who are more familiar with such things than I am.
I also ran into some issues in choosing a subject for my column. My first choice was the hoopla over supposed racism in several Dr. Seuss books, but I didn’t know many details, and doing research on my phone when all I have is an LTE connection isn’t my idea of a good time. Then, I thought about doing some sort of retrospective, a kind of then and now look back at the last year. So I pulled up my file of columns from 2020 with some pretty interesting results.
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 2, 2020:
Last week I wrote about the fact that normal life is beginning to call to all of us because social people cannot stay in isolation long. The call to community is too strong. One of my calls was the fact that I needed a loaf of bread – not a long list of items that would meet the minimum requirement for a curbside pickup order, but just a single loaf of bread. I got my bread, but not by actually entering a store for the first time since March 13. After checking my list, I realized a Walmart run was overdue, I placed an order for bread and 25 other items, and we drove to Mineola. While I waited for the order to be brought to the car, David braved the elements and went inside in search of a particular car care item I hadn’t been able to find online. He returned with a smile of success and a request for hand sanitizer, just in case.
I also mentioned in my previous column that vanity might call some people to the gym, the hair salon, or the shopping mall. Although my weight has fluctuated a bit in the last couple of months, I’ve pretty much maintained my pre-isolation size, and David has actually lost weight, so the mall hasn’t tempted us. And since I’ve cut his hair for years and mine for several months, we’ve avoided the salon with no problems. However, the gym is another story. (more…)
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.
After 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…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 21, 2020:
Every year between October 15 and December 7, Medicare open enrollment rolls around. That’s the period when people who have Medicare coverage can reevaluate and/or change their plans. David has coverage through the VA, so when the helpful reminders from every insurance company known to man begin to arrive in the mail, they end up in my to-do paperwork. I’ve been pretty happy with my carriers, so I usually ignore the pile until the deadline has past and then file it in what Dad used to call File 13.
This year was different, though. My supplement, the plan that covers co-pays and other things Medicare doesn’t pay, went up a few dollars as it does every year due to my advancing age. But my prescription drug coverage that had doubled in the seven years since I became eligible had doubled again in just one year. It was time to do some insurance shopping. (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.