15 03, 2024

Forest of Figs

By |2024-03-15T09:21:55-05:00March 15th, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Beekeeper Brian loves figs. His grandmother made fig preserves and I have been able to replicate the recipe. I’ve also found a recipe for a fresh fig cake that we both love.

Many people who have fig trees do not like figs. This has been to our benefit as we have picked many figs off other people’s trees. Alas, those trees have died, or the people have moved on, so we are left to produce our supply.

This is not easy. We have tried multiple times to plant a fig tree in our yard, but the scorching summers are too much for it.

This year Brian has a renewed determination. He has researched different varieties and has six pots with a couple of different varieties of fig trees growing in them.

They made it through the winter, and we are hopeful to be able to plant them in the ground at some point this year.

Three will go to the community garden that our church has nearby.  The others will stay on Miller Farm.

Brian recently visited his father 2 hours south of here and brought back a different variety of fig tree.

He has put the cuttings in water and sealed off the tops hoping that they will root.

There are seven potential trees. If they all grow into trees, we will have our own fig forest.

I may be looking for more fig recipes!

11 03, 2024

The Sayings of March

By |2024-03-11T08:53:34-05:00March 11th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

March always brings two sayings to mind. The origins and meanings of both fascinate me.

The first is  “March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.”

Old Man Winter doesn’t want to turn loose which is why March is said to come in like a lion—roaring with snow, ice, blustery winds, and cold temperatures—and end on a gentle, spring note.

While the adage most likely refers to the weather, other sources trace its origins to the stars. In the night sky, you can see two constellations on the western horizon – Leo the Lion and Aries the Ram (or lamb).

Leo rises in early March, coming in “like a lion.” By the end of the month, Leo is overhead, while Aries is setting on the western horizon. Hence, the month goes out like a lamb.

Another theory claims the saying is biblical and the animal references are symbolic. The problem is that conjecture is theologically inaccurate. Jesus came to earth as a lamb and will return as the Lion of Judah, backward from the myth.

Around here, our March arrived with temperatures soaring to the eighties and high winds! No snow, no cold. Kinda contradicts the saying.

Perhaps the best solution for what the saying means is to take it at face value. March may start with fierce weather, but it’s always a clear signal spring is coming.

Next, “Beware of the Ides of March.”

I first heard the saying while studying William Shakespeare‘s Julius Caesar in high school. You’re probably familiar with the soothsayer’s warning too.

Not only did Shakespeare’s words stick, but the date, March 15 became branded with a dark and gloomy connotation.

But the origin of the phrase was not sinister. March 15 was a normal day in the Roman calendar meaning halfway through the month and coincided with the rise of the full moon.

Ides comes from the old Latin verb iduare, which meant “to divide.” Every month has an Ides. In March, May, July, and October ides fell on the 15th, and in the other months, it came on the 13th.

During Roman times, the March ides was the deadline for settling debts. So perhaps, some Romans did consider the date ominous even before Shakespeare dramatized the 44 B.C. assassination of Julius Caesar.

Unfortunately, the soothsayer’s warning in Shakespeare’s play forever linked the date with bad luck.

Check out these things associated with March 15:

  1.  Smithsonian list of historical events that have occurred on March 15.
  2. The UK’s Independent’s five worst events that have happened on March 15

Terrible things can happen any day. So can good things:

11 Wonderful Things That Have Happened on the Ides of March

If I should receive any warnings about the Ides of March, I’m going to side with caution. I don’t want a day like the one Julius Caesar had.

8 03, 2024

Movement Help

By |2024-03-06T09:20:08-06:00March 8th, 2024|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I started a fitness program offered by my insurance that involves mostly stretching. It allows you to target a particular area, so I have been able to get relief from chronic neck pain.

It also encourages movement in any form to help keep pain in check.

I think the birds in the backyard have heard about this component as they have required more movement in the mornings lately.

The turkey has become increasingly grumpy and now will jump at me requiring some special movements I call the “turkey dance.”

It is like the chicken dance but with less arm flapping and more foot moving.

The ducks have also joined the campaign. They have decided to run out of the door of their coop when I go in to feed them.

This means I get to “herd” them back into their space.

I quickly learned to leave the chickens and turkey locked in their coop until I have fed the ducks and herded them all back to their home.

That way I am not trying to do the turkey dance while herding ducks.

There is no place on my fitness app to record turkey dancing or duck herding. I just call it movement and leave it at that.

I’m not sure any of the coaches who monitor the site would understand the life of a chicken wrangler/turkey dancer/duck herder.

4 03, 2024

Hooks and Scrabble

By |2024-03-04T09:11:57-06:00March 4th, 2024|Writer's Life, Writing Craft|0 Comments

Scrabble is popular at our house. The game is all about words. Guess that’s why I love it.

Scrabble players can score fifty points when they have the right tiles, the perfect fit to play on the board and know the RIGHT word. Hubby-dear is our current fifty-point champion.

Scrabble players earn points from the words they create. Writers keep the reader hooked into turning the pages with their words.

A hook is what incites the reader to turn the page and read just one more chapter. Or decide to buy a book. In writing, hooks are words used at the beginning of scenes and chapter breaks. Screenwriters use hooks the same way.

The hook idea came from the 1914 silent movie series titled The Perils of Pauline. Pearl White starred as Pauline, the damsel in distress menaced by assorted villains, pirates, and Native Americans in the serialized movie. In 2008, the movie was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

In each episode the audience is convinced poor, pitiful Pauline’s situation will surely result in her imminent death until at the last minute she is rescued or otherwise escapes the danger. The damsel in distress and cliffhanger endings kept moviegoers returning.

How do successful writers use hooks like the screenwriters did with The Perils of Pauline? The simple answer is strong characters like Pauline and strong chapter breaks.  

K.M. Weiland suggests these other ideas to hook readers.

1. Promise conflict to come.

2. A secret kept.

3. A major decision or vow.

4. An announcement of a shocking event.

5. A moment of high emotion.

6. A reversal or surprise that turns the story upside down.

7. A new idea.

8. An unanswered question.

9. A portentous metaphor.

10. A plot turning point.

Weiland warns: “Not every chapter needs to end with a cliffhanger, but they do need to encompass a question powerful enough to make the reader crazy to know the answer.”

Unlike the silent movie success, the overuse of Pauline-in-peril gimmicks in stories can turn a reader off. Writers use caution.

If you’re a writer, what strategy do you use for hooks? If not sure, check out Mary Buckham’s Writing Active Hooks for great ideas.

As a reader, what hook from Weiland’s list keeps you turning the page?

26 02, 2024

Swimming and Books

By |2024-02-25T14:54:57-06:00February 26th, 2024|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|0 Comments

 There’s a new feature at the gym where I swim. A book table is now in the hallway to the indoor pool.

That’s right, a free books table and it warms the heart of this writer/reader.  

You can leave a book or simply choose from the selection available. Sometimes the books are fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes how-to and biographies.

SOURCE: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/383017143282395248/

It’s like one of those Little Free Libraries on a stand that neighborhoods have only this free library is on a table.

I leave the gym after my early morning swim refreshed in body and a brand-new or slightly used book tucked inside my swim bag.

 Life is good for this writer who is also an avid reader.

19 02, 2024

A Smile

By |2024-02-16T16:18:37-06:00February 19th, 2024|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Smiles are powerful.

Smiles breed trust, make you happier, and help you to live longer because “smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match.”

We smile when our pictures are taken.

We smile at babies and puppies.

We smile politely at friends or strangers.

How do we tell which smiles are genuine and which smiles are fake?

SOURCE: The Science of Smiling: A Guide to The World’s Most Powerful Gesture

The key to recognizing a genuine smile is to check the eyes. True smiles are called the Duchenne smiles, named after the scientist who identified two types of smiles as the “mouth corners”-only smile and the “eye socket” one.

Crinkly eyes = a real smile.

No wrinkles around the eyes, the smile’s a fake, or the result of too much Botox.

Intense fake smiles can sometimes produce lines around the eyes. If the cheeks bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting, then the smile is genuine.

Experts agree when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold – the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid – moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.

Isn’t that a genuine smile if you ever saw one?

Fake or genuine smiles are powerful. They spread optimism, happiness, and joy. Most of all smiles are contagious.

Leo F. Buscaglia says it best:

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Give someone a genuine smile today.

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