29 05, 2023

Recognizing the Roots of Memorial Day

By |2023-05-26T12:00:13-05:00May 29th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

For most, Memorial Day signals the start of summer where burgers and cakes iced with American flags are the order of the day.

But Memorial Day began as a way to honor scores of dead from the Civil War called  “Decoration Day.”

In 1971, the name changed but the day remained a time to visit and spruce up final resting places of all who lost their lives in service to this country.  Read how Decoration Day became Memorial Day here

Such tradition might seem macabre or morbid.

At the same time, the Memorial Day tradition serves as a gentle means of passing history from generation to generation.

Here are three ways to recognize the roots of Memorial Day along with all the burgers and fun.

Pause for A Moment of Silence

In 2000 the House and Senate passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act to “remember and renew the legacy of Memorial Day, which was established in 1868 to pay tribute to individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States and their families.”

According to that law at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day, we should stop eating, chatting, and swimming, for one full minute to remember those who didn’t make it home to celebrate.

Display the American Flag Properly

Memorial Day has specific rules for where and when the American flag is raised and lowered. It’s the only day that observes both positions on the flagpole.

The Stars and Stripes should be raised briskly first thing in the morning and then lowered to half-staff.

At noon, the flag should be returned to full staff until it’s taken down at sunset.

Don’t have a flagpole? If you fly a flag from your porch and can’t lower it, simply attach a black mourning streamer to the top for when it’s supposed to be lowered.

Remember It’s Not Veterans Day

A lot of people will confuse the days of military recognition.

Most veterans don’t expect to be thanked for their service. This is especially true on Memorial Day.

While vets will accept the extra attention on Veterans Day, such thanks are not appropriate on Memorial Day.  To them, it’s a somber day of remembering those who didn’t come home with them.

If we recognize the roots of Memorial Day, we can keep the day from being just another holiday with an extra day off.

26 05, 2023

More than A Teacher

By |2023-05-25T07:04:34-05:00May 26th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

One of the fifth-grade boys in my class asked me if I could fix his backpack. His friend had grabbed the strap and pulled it completely out.

I figured one of his classmates had referred him to me. I had reattached the arm to her stuffed monkey earlier this year. I’m not sure how I ended up with that task.

Before I agreed to make the repair, I asked several questions. First, was there anything in his backpack that he needed? He assured me he had no homework to do. Since the next day was Field Day and a Friday, I figured he was being honest.

Then I asked if he had any food in there. I did not want anything to spill or spoil while it was in my possession. He assured me there was no food in his backpack.

Finally, I asked if there was anything living in his backpack. I once had a fifth-grade boy of my own who may or may not have brought living things home from school. He told me there was a duck in there but it was a toy duck. I told him that was good because I already had several ducks and did not want any more.

Once all those questions were answered, I agreed to fix his backpack.

It was a quick, simple job. It reminded me, though, that I am more than just a music teacher to some of these kids. That is ok. They are more than just students to me.

22 05, 2023

Backyard Food

By |2023-05-21T10:37:20-05:00May 22nd, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

Gardening has been around forever. Well, at least since the Garden of Eden.

The Pilgrims gardened to survive. Pioneers carried seeds and planted their food for their survival. The economy and lack of food supplies dictated home gardening during the Depression and war years.

Home gardening feeds our bodies and our need for self-sufficiency. If you don’t grow food for yourself, there are farmers’ markets where fresh produce, eggs, and even meat can be found.

We’ve been backyard gardeners off and on through the years. At first, we gardened because we couldn’t afford the fresh (or easily find it) and we wanted to teach how kiddos how to grow their food. The better taste of homegrown has made us continue.

We began with plots in community gardens. Once, when we lived in West Virginia, we plowed our entire backyard and planted a garden. The preserved bounties of that garden fed us well for years.

I became quite proficient in the art of canning and preserving. My jams and canned veggies even earned blue ribbons at many state fairs through the years.

We downsized our garden space considerably when we left West Virginia. But tomato plants in pots remain a standard planting in all our backyard landscapes. This year we expanded our backyard container garden with zucchini, yellow squash, and bush beans.

After weeks and weeks of heavy rain, the sun has finally come out and we’re reaping the bounty.















Nothing better than a meal of homegrown green beans cooked with petite red potatoes and served with a side of cornbread, tomatoes, and canned peaches.

Read more about the history of growing your food here: A Brief History of Gardening.

And here: The Story of farming

And here: Types of gardens

And here for how to start your own backyard garden

19 05, 2023

Still Using Sticky Notes

By |2023-05-19T06:28:24-05:00May 19th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

As my brain gets more and more full, I find myself using more and more sticky notes to remember things.

For example, my last piano student today was telling me about the Talent Show at her school.  She will be playing piano along with some of my other students.  I wrote all the pertinent information down on a sticky note and stuck it on my computer, right next to the sticky note where I have written what levels of theory books to order for next year and my reminder to check on the theory awards.

My student agreed that putting them on the computer was a good plan.

This reminded me of the Sticky Note Wars blog I wrote on February 23, 2018.  Students wrote sticky notes and attached them to my piano. You can read it here. https://judythewriter.com/sticky-note-wars/

After more than 5 years, I am still using sticky notes.


15 05, 2023

Scary, Scary Thunderstorms

By |2023-05-14T16:10:50-05:00May 15th, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

We’ve been having severe thunderstorms in our area for the last three weeks.

A recent storm with heavy, heavy thunder and lightning sent our Finnegan jumping into my lap at the first clap. The next strike practically lifted us off the couch.

I knew it had struck very close because the flash lit up the night like those old floodlights stores used to highlight their grand openings. The beam circling the sky could be seen for miles.

The storms lasted off and on all night.

Finnegan was glued to us. He normally sleeps at the foot of the bed. Not this time. He was right between us.

All I can say is, thank heavens we have a king-size bed.

We realized how close the lightning strike came when we took Finnegan for a walk the next day and saw the lightning scar on the neighbor’s tree.

A second tree, to the right of this one, also had a lightning scar on the backside.

It’s been two weeks of continuous rainstorms. Fortunately, not all have had severe thunder and lightning, but the volume of the water has truly been overwhelming for the area. My phone is constantly beeping flooding alerts.

When you live at sea level, the water has no place to go. Flooding can be seen everywhere. It will drain off or run down to the Gulf eventually, but until then traveling on the roads is quite hazardous. Farmers and ranchers have to protect the livestock.





The sun has come out this afternoon for a few hours. It feels wonderful to see and feel the warm beams. The forecast is for a couple more days of rain and then the typical early-about-to-be oppressive summer heat will return.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’ll be so happy. Finn and I truly hate hot, hot days when we can’t venture outside as much as we do the thunderstorms. But at least on hot, hot days we can hide in the air conditioning, in front of a fan.

12 05, 2023

Busy Weekend

By |2023-05-10T20:22:32-05:00May 12th, 2023|Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our grandsons came to visit this weekend. (They brought their parents with them.)  They hadn’t been to visit since Christmas so we were very excited.  So were they.  At least Alex was excited.  When we talked on the phone a couple of weeks ago and mentioned the visit, he immediately went to get his sock and shoes on.  He thought they were leaving immediately.

They drove in on a Friday evening and went straight to Aunt Rachel’s house.  They came to Grandma and Pawpaw’s on Saturday morning.  While Theo took a nap, Alex and I walked to a nearby parking lot where a fire engine was parked while the firefighters did some training.

I’m not sure which was more exciting for Alex – the fire truck or the puddles along the way.






When we got home, we baked a birthday cake for Pawpaw.

Theo wanted to help, too.


Then we met more family at a nearby restaurant that had a great outdoor space for the boys.

Sunday, I introduced Alex to my new instrument – a tongue drum. He was very excited.

After lunch, they loaded up and headed home.  Alex was asleep before they got out of the neighborhood.

Grandma was not far behind.



8 05, 2023

How to Keep Your Brain Cells

By |2023-05-08T06:07:10-05:00May 8th, 2023|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

I received a thank-you email from Anita Gianakas, a library media specialist in Knox County, Maine recently.

She’d discovered my 2013 MENSA blog while working on their media center’s Brain Busters and Mind Puzzles guide for the library Educational Learning series.

The blog suggested things like jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Scrabble, and trivia mind games to keep your brain active, and provided online links to sites like these:

One of her students, Lily, suggested some fresh additions to that original list.

Rather than update the old blog, I decided to do this reminder blog because too often we forget to challenge and train our brains regularly.

It is so important that we keep our brains alert because brain cells do die off.

As a classroom teacher, I used a thinking warm-up—puzzles, logic problems, and review questions from lessons. Interestingly my students always preferred puzzles and thinking problems over reviews.

My source for those daily thinking warm-ups was Matching Wits with Mensa. I still use the book to refresh my brain periodically

It’s not necessary to be a MENSA member to keep your brain stimulated. Our family enjoys challenging each other all the time. Brain teasers, card games, puzzles, all these help us keep our brains sharp.

Check out the old MENSA blog for more suggestions or try some of Lily’s new suggestions above if you want to test or challenge your brain daily.

Want to practice first? Here’s a brain warm-up and put your answers in a comment.

EXAMPLE:  7 in a W = 7 days in a week 

#1 – 7 of the AW

#2 – 8 on a S S

#3 – 64 on a C

The first commenter with correct answers will receive a free copy of their choice from my book options. Good Luck!

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