13 07, 2020

Why the spelling Judythe?

By |2020-07-12T16:27:51-05:00July 13th, 2020|Writer's Life|2 Comments

I’m guessing you read my first name and you thought Judy the Morgan.

Pretty much everyone that sees Judythe in print the first time does. The spelling has been a blessing and a curse my entire life.

In school, I could always tell when the teacher came to my name when calling roll on the first day. There’d be a pause. Some would shorten to Judy. Others wouldn’t know what to do because my last name was a tongue twister too. A few got the pronunciation correct. Most reverted to the traditional Judith.

It’s definitely a unique spelling and there’s a story behind it. According to family tradition, the name comes from my maternal grandmother Julia and one of her sisters Edythe.

Ju from Julia and dythe from her sister Edythe. Put the two parts together and you get Judythe.

In a family with Irish roots you can never be sure if a story is true or simply a great tale. Either way I’m stuck with Judythe.

Not only did my first name have pronunciation issues, my real last name before marriage and after marriage were both also difficult to spell. I figured my books would never be found if I used my real name.

Knowing all this, I used a pseudonym when I started writing. But not a totally different name.

An author needs to found in the gigantic sea of so many books. I knew readers would remember Judythe. I chose to keep my first name and use hubby dear’s middle name.

On the other hand in the age of search engines, the spelling of my first name can be tricky. Look at these two search results on Amazon.

Judy the Morgan; judythe morgan

Option 1 you only see two of my books not a complete list of all. That’s okay if the person searching knows how to get to my author Amazon page.


Judy the Morgan; judythe morgan

Options 2 you have to read carefully and see that Amazon’s algorithm searched with Judy the Morgan to find zero of my books. You must read below and click to search Judythe Morgan.

It’s perplexing. And, I’m sure, not something my parents took into consideration when naming me.

10 07, 2020

The Great Divide: Hymns and Contemporary Christian Songs

By |2020-07-10T10:00:15-05:00July 10th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

This week I am writing not as Chicken Wrangler Sara but as my alter ego – Music Teacher Sara.

I was blessed to have been raised not only in church but in a musical family that actually sang at home.  My mother would play the piano, and we sang hymns in harmony.  The number of parts varied as each of the kids learned to read music and developed a favorite part.

As we have married and had our own children, the tradition continues when we gather at Nana and Pepa’s house.

Recently, churches have moved from singing hymns to singing praise songs.  There are strong feelings about this.  I happen to enjoy both.

My previous school sang hymns every morning in chapel.  In the last years I was there, I started singing the hymns with my music class the day before we sang them in chapel.  This gave the students a chance to at least hear them before the chapel service.  Not all of them liked to sing.

One afternoon, just before my last class of the day, I received word that my son was in the hospital 4 hours away. I was devastated.

My husband got the call first and left immediately. He called from the car, and we agreed it was best for me to stay and take care of Miller Farm.  I would not have been helpful at the hospital.

I was able to pull myself together before my high school class arrived.  The hymn we sang that day was “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” These are the words.

1 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
Come, all who hear; now to his temple draw near,
join me in glad adoration.

2 Praise to the Lord, above all things so wondrously reigning;
sheltering you under his wings, and so gently sustaining!
Have you not seen all that is needful has been
sent by his gracious ordaining?

3 Praise to the Lord, who will prosper your work and defend you;
surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend you.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
if with his love he befriends you.

4 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that has life and breath, come now with praises before him.
Let the Amen sound from his people again;
gladly forever adore him.

As I sang Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore Him!  I was forced to remember that God was still in control and still worthy of praise. Our son did come home and now works at a machine shop nearby.

This morning I was watching a performance of that hymn at Westminster Abbey.

There was an extra verse before verse 4.  I tried to find the words in a hymnal but every hymnal I checked only had the four verses.  I listened to it again and wrote down the words.

Praise to the Lord who, when tempests their warfare are waging,

Who when the elements madly around they are raging.

Biddeth them cease

Turneth their fury to peace

Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

This verse seems particularly appropriate as tempests of disease and civil unrest are waging their war.  I am comforted once again by the thought that God is still in control.

God still uses music, both hymns and contemporary Christian songs, to bring me comfort.  People can argue about what is best.  To me all music is a gift from God.

6 07, 2020

Move Over Toilet Paper and Hand Sanitizers, There’s a New Coronavirus Shortage

By |2020-06-27T10:28:55-05:00July 6th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Happy 4th of July!

I hope you’ve had a great weekend. Mine was spent working this patriotic puzzle I purchased before the COVID-19 pandemic started, thank goodness.

Media focused on the toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages, but there’s another shortage going on—a pandemic jigsaw puzzle pandemonium.

As people tire of binge watching Amazon Prime and Netflix, they’re doing jigsaw puzzles. Worldwide puzzle sales are up more than 370% since March.

It’s understandable. Fitting puzzle pieces together is a diversion. And during these months of social distancing and sheltering in place, heaven knows we need diversion.

Jigsaw puzzles aren’t a new thing. John Spilsbury, a map engraver in England, mounted a world map to a sheet of hardwood and used a hand saw to cut around country boundaries in 1760. He called them “Dissected Maps” and sold as a tool for teaching geography.

Centuries later, I used map puzzles in my classroom for the same thing.

With the invention of the foot-pedal jigsaw in the 18th century, puzzles became more easily produced and new cardboard die-cutting techniques created puzzles like we see today. Styles have advanced with more technology. Modern 3D block puzzles let you create multiple puzzles using the same pieces.

Jigsaw puzzles provide cheap entertainment because they can be completed, scrambled, and passed around within a family or community. With increased pricing and limited availability, people have come up with creative ways to share puzzles.

The Irish Athol Congregational Church created a drive-thru puzzle swap.  You stay in your car, drop off a puzzle to be disinfected and move forward to pick out a disinfected puzzle.

In Omaha, Nebraska  a bookseller runs a puzzle exchange. You trade a puzzle for a puzzle or a donation to the local food bank.

This puzzle mania may be to relieve coronavirus boredom, but psychologists say puzzles are so much more than just a way to pass the time.

Angela Garcia, PhD, a professor at Bentley University who has been researching puzzles for more than 20 years, says, “Puzzling lets us experience the closure and success we do not always get to experience in real life.”

I’ve always been a puzzle lover. There’s always one working around here . The enduring lure of puzzles is they’ll always be an escape.

Want to try a puzzle? Here are some sites that offer free online puzzles:

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Canada https://www.jigsawplanet.com/FisherLibrary

Jigzone.com has a variety of puzzle sizes and shapes. You can even upload your own pictures and make them into jigsaw puzzles or send a jigsaw puzzle postcard. My favorite feature is the daily jigsaw puzzle in my email.

3 07, 2020

Lucy’s Treat

By |2020-06-18T18:41:02-05:00July 3rd, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We have entered that special season in Texas where the heat and lack of rain bring out the large roaches.

They are particularly prolific in the shed and frequently crawl into the water jugs for a drink and then drown.

When I pour out the water, the roach falls out and whoever is closest grabs it.

Lucy has figured this out and now she follows me around waiting for her treat. This morning the roach fell into the water bowl.

Lucy was quick to grab it.

I pour the water that doesn’t fit into the water bowl into the duck pond.

Sometimes the roach falls out there so Lucy has learned to follow me to the pond.

I guess Lucy really likes this addition to our morning routine.  She has started laying eggs again.

1 07, 2020

Boys and Flags

By |2020-07-01T09:16:22-05:00July 1st, 2020|Holidays|0 Comments

Happy 4th of July!

This year’s 4th of July must look a lot different in order to abide by public health orders and keep us all healthy. But even COVID-19 shouldn’t stop a run around the backyard with an American flag.


If you viewed the blog early on Monday, you saw a white space where there should have been a picture taken by my photographer daughter of two boys (her sons, my grandsons) running with flags.

WordPress decided that photo was a security risk and deleted it.This is a stock photo from DepositPhotos.com Same idea. Not a security threat.

Strange because I’ve been using that picture for years around the patriotic holidays, but then it is 2020 and so much that used to be isn’t.

You can still grab a flag and run through your yard with an American flag and grill a nice, juicy burger to celebrate America’s birthday. Let’s hope.

29 06, 2020

The Homegrown Tomato Quest Continues

By |2020-06-27T10:19:04-05:00June 29th, 2020|A Writer's Life|0 Comments

Growing tomatoes in our yard is such a struggle. I woke up to this scene recently.

It wasn’t a stormy night so, what had happened?

I suspected a deer.

They’re in our yard All. The. Time. munching down on whatever suits their fancy.

Not usually so close to the backdoor when they’re in the backyard.

I must have frightened them when I turned on the kitchen light and they got a whiff of Finn’s scent.

But where had the tomato cage gone?

It was too dark to explore, so I took Finn and Buster for their morning constitutional, came back inside, and had a cup of tea while I waited. When daylight arrived, I found the telltale footprint beside the downed bottle tree. Plus, a piece of the patriotic pinwheel that was mounted on the tomato cage.
I searched our front and back yard but found nothing.

Somewhere in our neighborhood there must be a deer with a tomato cage stuck to its body.

Or, a neighbor woke to find a tomato cage in his yard with a broken patriotic pinwheel attached. He probably scratched his head and said, “Huh?”

The pot has now been righted and the plant re-staked. Only two tiny green tomato casualties, thankful. Hopefully the survivors will eventually mature and produce Hubby-dear’s homegrown tomato.

But people, I tell you this quest is a REAL struggle. What can happen next?

26 06, 2020

More Storm Damage

By |2020-06-18T18:39:45-05:00June 26th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Last summer we got a new car – a 2017 white Honda Accord LX. We named her Gertrude the Great White Whale Take Two. I wrote a blog about it here.

During the recent hail storm I inadvertently left the trunk open. (Don’t ask)

Fortunately there is a liner in the trunk so I simply dipped out the water, took out the liner, and in a day of Texas sun, the trunk was completely dry.

The rest of the car, however, did not fare so well.



Because the trunk was open, the tail lights took direct hits from the hail.

The roof and hood also took a beating. A friend said it looked like a monkey went after it with a ball-peen hammer.

Even the trim has dents.

The insurance company said it was not worth fixing and declared it a loss. Poor Gertie!

We decided to keep her anyway. The inside is great and she still drives wonderfully. I figure this is a type of anti-theft insurance.

If someone is going to steal a car, chances are they won’t steal one with hail damage!

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