Gnomes and Google Doodles

Recently, Google’s search engine home page featured a gnome Google Doodle. (Try not to laugh when you say that fast.)

If you’re not familiar with the term Google Doodle, it’s the temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepage.

Google Doodles first appeared in 1998 and are now a regular feature on the search engine’s homepage to illustrate a range of interactive games and drop down articles to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, or people. Those who create the Google Doodles are called Doodlers.

I’ve only recently started paying attention to the Google Doodles. I’ve always been fascinated by gnomes. These gnomes live on my kitchen windowsill.

That’s why the Google Doodle gnome game caught my eye.

Gnomes are diminutive creatures that can live below the surface or inhabit gardens. All Gnomes have long, shaggy beards and pointed caps. History traces their roots from 13th century Anatolia to 16th century Italy to 19th century Germany.

Myths, legends, and fantasy fiction attribute good and/or bad qualities to the creatures depending upon the needs of the individual storytellers. You’ll find gnomes in the pages of such fantasy fiction as C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, and the novels of J. R. R. Tolkien.

The garden gnome – the one Google Doodle celebrated – originated in the Thuringia mining area of Germany. The local artisans hand carved the little statutes with shaggy beards and pointy hats.

Today, you find most garden gnomes are painted, wear red caps, and hold various garden tools. According to legend, a gnome protects your garden and brings good luck.

My concrete gnome has been watching over my flowers for years. He was always grey and he’s beginning to show wear. May be time to give him a coat of paint and a red hat.

If you want to give the interactive Garden Gnome Google Doodle game a try, click on this link.


Weed Control

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

A friend in my Bible Study Fellowship class is a gardener. She was talking about weeding one day and I mentioned that I always feed the weeds to my chickens.  They love scratching through and finding bugs.

Vicky started bringing her weeds to me.  She would put them in a mulch bag and I would carry them home in the back of my car.  The chickens are thrilled.

I made a video of the chickens eating to send to Vicky. In it you can see them scratching and hear them clucking with contentment.  You can also hear the dogs barking in the background.

At one point, Custard comes running by but he’s too scared to stop and scratch with them. He prefers to jump up and get the leaves off the tree behind the pile of weeds.

Why spend money watching movies when the chickens provide such great entertainment for free?


Words of Wisdom on DREAMS


People Watching and A Writer’s Eye

I’m an observer.

I learned from an early age that the art of observation could be a lifesaver.

When I was young, my mother would drive my grandmother and me along with my two siblings downtown where we’d park in front of the department store and people watch.

Mother and her mother would discuss the walkers—what they wore and who they were. Sometimes, friends they knew would stop beside the car and visit for a while.

My younger sister always wanted to know when we could go home. My little brother would cry to get out of the car. Grandmother would bribe them with the promise of an ice cream cone on the way home.

Me, I’d sit in the backseat and imagine why the people were downtown, what they were doing, and where they were going. I gave them silly names and made up stories about their lives. It kept the younger kids entertained and me from dying of boredom.

Mother always said I was a good storyteller—especially if I was in trouble.

I’m still a people watcher. I’m not being nosy or specifically eavesdropping. It’s human nature to observe. We all do it at one time or another.

The difference between my adult people watching and what I did as a child is that I store images and make notes of my reactions to what I see happening. I call it book research and character study.

I rely upon my writer’s eye to bring the images and feelings to mind at the appropriate time.

I may never use any of my observations, but people watching does exercise my creativity and passes what could be boring wait time more quickly.

Even if you’re not a writer, people watching can be fun entertainment. Plus, you’ll find you have interesting conversation topics.


More Duck Tales

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The ducks must have read last week’s blog ( and decided to cooperate with me. Topsy stayed in the pool long enough for me to get a picture.

The recent rains have filled the pool and with the temperature heating up, the pool is very inviting.

I’m curious to see if the chickens jump in also.

I was also able to get another picture of all the ducks:Someone must have told them about another popular saying. I can now say my ducks are in a row. 🙂


Southern-isms Explained

We took a trip to Iowa for our granddaughter’s college graduation. Earlier in this spring, we attended another granddaughter’s master degree graduation. So proud of our grandchildren. All twelve of them.

We stopped on the way to visit with our former Tennessee neighbors. We purchased our house, built during the 1940s Manhattan Project, in 1970 and it still looks great.

Our friends, who lived across the street, now live in a lovely log cabin overlooking the Clinch River. We spent hours on their screened porch talking.  One evening we cooked hot dogs over their fire pit. It’s become a tradition whenever we visit them.

We had such fun reliving early marriage adventures and visiting the old neighborhood.

With their permission, I’m using their home as a setting in the final book of the PROMISES series, Promises to Keep, which will come out later this year.

What warmed my heart the most on our visit was all the southern-talk that popped up in conversations. Southerners do have a language of their own. Here are a few southern-isms with my translations:

Full as a tick

This was a new phrase for me. Seems if a tick drinks too much blood, it actually bursts. Not a particularly appetizing comment for the dinner table, in my opinion. I much prefer “stuffed like a turkey at Thanksgiving” that we say around here.

It all comes out in the wash

My mother used this one a lot. Mostly referring to an enormous stain I’d gotten on a favorite dress. Translated it means “Everything will be alright in the end.”

Scarce as hen’s teeth

 Loved this variation meaning something is rare. Clearly, chickens don’t have teeth. Personally, I am thankful chickens are toothless because those beaks can do enough damage on their own.

Thinking about all these isms, reminded me of this one. (I didn’t hear it on our trip.)

A whistling woman and a crowing hen never come to any good end

My grandmother said that every single time she caught me whistling. In her opinion, whistling was a male-only habit.  We all know hens don’t crow. Roosters do. Her point was to behave in a ladylike manner. Daddy always added this part whenever he caught me whistling: “If you want to be treated like a lady, you need to act like one.”


Ducks to Water???

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I’m not sure where the phrase “like a duck to water” comes from, but I do know that our ducks have never heard it.

They outgrew the pan of water that we put in their pen so Rachel and I bought a small wading pool.  Negotiating around the garden center with a pool in the buggy was quite a challenge.

We got it home and discovered there were directions for assembling the wading pool.It has been a long time since I bought a wading pool but I’m pretty sure they are not hard to set up.  The instructions included a lanyard to be worn by the adult responsible for watching the children in the pool.

Since ducks are naturally good swimmers, we threw the lanyard away.

At the suggestion of the person who gave us the ducks, we put down a layer of mulch under the pool to keep down the mud.  The chickens thought this was for their entertainment and promptly begin scratching all the mulch out from under the pool.

The ducks were less impressed with their new “pond.” Rachel threw them in and they immediately climbed out as though it were boiling water.

We moved to plan B. Put the pool on more level ground. Surely the ducks would like it then. Wrong.

Rachel suggested digging an indentation to make the pool more level with the ground.  Sounded like a good idea to me.

So on to plan C. After wearing a blister on my hand, I had a shallow hole in which to set the pool.  I filled it with water and went inside to bandage my wound.

While enjoying some nice cold water, I glanced out the window to see the ducks in the pool!!!!  I was so thrilled I jumped up to get a picture.  They immediately jumped out.

Since then they have been in the water many times and I have tried to photograph them. This is the best I could do.

Any time I get closer, they exit the pool.  I’ve considered installing a camera in one of the trees.

I guess they finally heard the phrase “Like a duck to water.”


Remember when Memorial Day was always May 30?

From 1868 to 1970 that date was the official day for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.

Some of you may remember. I sure do.

As financially strapped students who couldn’t afford an extended time away from work, we chose May 30 for our wedding date.

That particular year Memorial Day was on a Thursday, which meant we only had to miss one day of work since the wedding was in the evening after our workday.

I even wore my mother’s twenty-five year old wedding dress to save more money. As they say, “Those were the days.”

Nowadays Memorial Day observances are on the fourth Monday of May.

We, of course, still use May 30 to observe our wedding anniversary.


Every year when I look at our wedding pictures, this quote comes to mind. It’s what I use as the theme in all my books.


What is Memorial Day?

A holiday not to be confused with Veterans Day or Armed Forces Day. That day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.

Memorial Day is different. It is the day set aside to remember the men and women who gave their lives while serving this country.

Personally, I can’t forget Memorial Day. You see, my sweetie and I shared our wedding vows on May 30 — the original date designated as Memorial Day.

That date changed with the passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Now Memorial Day is the last Monday in May. We still celebrate our anniversary every May 30.

Sometimes I think the Memorial Day holiday is devoted more to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events instead of remembering those who have given their lives in military service.

May this video jog our memory.


Where’s Waldo – Duck Version

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The ducks are finally big enough to run with the chickens. They eat the same things as chickens so keeping their food separate is not necessary. The arrangement seems to be working out pretty well.

In fact, I’ve decided to make a children’s book.

I’ll title it Where Are Tipsy, Topsy and Turvy? or Find the Ducks.

What do you think?