How can we help West, Texas?

 In a week filled with horrific events, West, a small Texas town 19 miles north of Waco, experienced a fiery explosion at the Texas fertilizer plant located there. Fourteen people, mostly volunteer firefighters who rushed to the fire at the plant, died. Two hundred people were injured, and dozens of homes and businesses were destroyed.


Click these links to see the details, if you missed the news reports.

Rachel Firasek, an author who is a member of the West Community, shared the following first-hand account:

“I wanted to give everyone an update. I actually live about 10 miles away, but my children go to school in West and my husband grew up there. We felt the blast all the way at our house. The noise was deafening, even that far away. We’re still desperately waiting for word on names of the fallen. I know that my hubby has already lost one cousin and a very good friend is in critical condition.

We lost three of the four schools. The only thing left is the elementary school. My kids will finish the school year at schools 30 miles away. It’s going to be a hectic next few weeks for all of our family and friends, but this is a tight community and they are already rallying.

Please don’t feel obligated, but thanks for anything you can do for these families.”

So how can we help West, Texas?

Authorities said Friday that charitable organizations have received more donations of food, clothing and other items than are needed in West. Excess donations will be distributed to surrounding areas.

Cash donations to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army would be welcome.

With schools destroyed, donations to the education program are desperately needed. Rachel provided this link with for details.

Other places to donate and help:

  1. Donate to West Fire Department – mail donations to:
    West Fire Department, PO Box 97, West, TX 76691
  2. Donate to the victims – PointWest Bank: POINTWEST Bank – Home Page
  3. Donate Blood – during the next few months schedule appointment to donate blood. Blood will be needed and it has a limited shelf life. Go to Donating Blood | American Red Cross for additional information and to find a location near you.
  4. Contact donation facilities for specific items still needed at this time:
    Extraco Events Center (254) 776-1660
    First Baptist Church of Lott (254) 829-2321
    **packing materials are going to be needed when the families can enter their homes again

Medical help for animals is also needed. Contact these area animal clinics for specifics:

  1. Happy Endings Animal Clinic 254-666-8240
  2. Brazos Valley Boarding Kennels 254-854-4104
  3. La Vega Vet Clinic 254-744-1948

And for those who want to share a word on social media sites:

Anything you can do, especially prayers, in this devastating time will be welcomed.


Chivalry in the Chicken World

A Post by Friday’s Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

Meet Elliot our bantam rooster.


He is quite a character and has been assured a place in the flock by having a name.  He does crow, but not loud enough to disturb the neighbors yet.

One of the reasons Elliot earned a name is his CHIVALRY. defines chivalry as the sum of the ideal qualifications of a knight, including courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms.

Chivalry isn’t often thought about in a barnyard, but Rachel pointed out Elliot’s kindness to his hens.  She saw him jump up and get some leaves off a low hanging branch and set them on the ground.

Then he crowed for all the hens to come help themselves, definitely Knightly behavior.

Chivalry is alive and well in the chicken world. At least on the Miller Farm.


One Word Wednesday – GENIUS


Today let your talent be on fire. today.


Unpredictable Days

Life happens. Plans get disrupted. Things we don’t expect (or we do expect) happen to sabotage our writing intentions.

Least that’s been my situation for the last month.

Everyone faces times where no matter how well we plan, we cannot stop unpredictable days from occurring.

You probably ran into at least a couple of days with unexpected roadblocks last week. I’m sure we’ll all have at least a couple of unpredictable days this week.

And every week for the rest of our lives. That’s how life works.

So how do you to stick to a daily plan when unpredictable things happen?

You can’t.

Unpredictable stuff can’t be avoided.

If bad stuff happens two days out of the week, it’s OK. Three off days isn’t a tragedy either. In fact, statistically, three unpredictable days out of seven is about normal for most of us.

What I’ve discovered is that I can usually count on having at least one extremely productive day a week. In one excellent day when life cooperates, I’m always surprised how much of my week’s work gets done.

Problem is I never know in advance which day will be excellent, and I can’t let that stop me from planning what I’d like to accomplish daily and weekly. If you missed my blog about how I plan, here’s the link:

But I digress, we’re discussing unpredictable days.

Days when something goes wrong are always going to happen, however those rare days when everything does go well can make up for all the rest.

I find I can whip through my daily list at light speed when everything goes right, and that means I can check things off my weekly list.

In fact, I’ve learned if I have TWO or more great days in a week, I complete just about everything off my weekly list.

Impossible? No. And there’s a way you can test my theory.

Tryout this experiment from Randy Ingermanson’s The Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine.

  • For the rest of this week decide what you want to accomplish for the week then make daily lists. (Writers that means a writing goal for the week then daily ways you’ll reach that weekly goal.)
  • Keep the daily lists for five days and, at the end of each day—even the unpredictable days, count how many things you accomplished.
  • On the fifth day, check those daily lists against your weekly goals.

I’m predicting, even if you didn’t have a single “successful” day where you accomplished everything on your whole daily list, you’ll find you have at least one or two highly productive days in which you made huge progress toward your weekly goals.

You might discover that even if every day is “unsuccessful” the week as a whole is a SUCCESS just like I do.

“What,” you say, “how can five bad days add up to one good week?”

According to Randy, the reason is that we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a week.

Now test Randy’s theory and my results by doing the experiment yourself, and I think you’ll see Randy and I are correct.


Chicken on a Fencepost

A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We are currently integrating two new flocks into our chicken family.

One is the group of chicks Rachel purchased and the other is the group that hatched at the beginning of March. They are currently in the side of the chicken yard with the Bantams until they get big enough to join the big girls.

chicken on the fenceOne white hen was apparently ready to move. We looked out yesterday and saw her perched on the fence between the two areas.

Seeing her clinging to the fence reminded me of a song – imagine that!

I found this one in a packet I received at a music teacher convention in 1993 – Chicken on a Fencepost

Here is the music so you know I’m not making this up.

It even came with directions on making chicken puppets, which make very authentic chicken noises.

When I tried them at home, all the chickens came running to the fence to see the new girl in town.
chicken cups

To make the chicken sound, you pull a damp sponge over the string at the top.

The kids love it.


Who would have thought in 1993 that I would actually have a chicken on a fencepost at my house?

Life sure is interesting – even stranger than fiction.


Words to Inspire A Writer

Today is One Word Wednesday, but I have not one word today, but two author’s words to inspire a writer.

These quotes from Kipling and Michener resonate with my writer’s soul, inspire me to write.


Michener words

YOUR TURN: Do you have a famous quote that speaks to you?


I live in a zoo

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Matt Damon bought his zoo on purpose, but I live in a Zoo where I never know what will arrive next.

Guinea pigs in the girls’ room.

Dachshunds everywhere.

Chickens way out there in the backyard.

Bearded dragon in the front living room behind glass.

Quail in the garage, growing up fast.

Goose eggs, hatching.

Big dogs in the back yard, where they belong.

It’s fun to live in zoo. Most of the time.

This morning Matt yelled on his way to the kitchen, “Mom, there’s a snake on my floor!”

Word must have gotten out that we have our own farm aka zoo, and all animals are welcome. Well, that’s not entirely true and someone forgot to tell the snake.

It was only a small rough earth snake and Beekeeper Brian came to the rescue.

I do wonder where it went when Brian let it loose outside.

I don’t want to hear, while fixing coffee in the morning, that there’s a snake in the kitchen.

That’s where I draw the line for living in a zoo!