28 08, 2023

Labor Day, Yellow School Buses, and School Supply Sales

By |2023-08-25T15:57:21-05:00August 28th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Fall Equinox will arrive on September 23, 02:50 A.M. EDT

Labor Day is upon us. The day that signals the time to bid farewell to the carefree days of summer and the return of high school football and fall festivals.

This little poem by Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt says it best.

It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.

Down here where I live, we’re not experiencing or expecting the chill but I’m a former teacher and the return of the yellow buses brings waves of nostalgia. Not because I’m longing to be back in a classroom again, those days are long gone.

To be a teacher again, I’d have to give up too much time and energy I prefer to devote to writing.

But fall also means school supply sales. Necessary stuff for all the munchkins heading off to school and impossible for writers to pass up.

At least this author.

Never mind, I have plenty of pencils, pens, and notebooks. I simply can’t resist. I have to stop to check out all the displays.

Nothing jumpstarts my creativity like a shiny fresh notebook and a sharp new pencil or a bright colored pen.

Plus, who can resist a sale?

How about you? Do Back-to-School sales entice you?

25 08, 2023

Extracting Honey

By |2023-08-24T08:19:19-05:00August 25th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Beekeeper Brian’s bees have been pretty productive this year so we were able to get honey for the first time in several years. I had forgotten what an interesting process it is.

We decided to move the extractor into the kitchen instead of using it out on the driveway. The Texas heat has been oppressive.

First Brian removed the frames of honey and comb from the hive. He used a special spray designed to drive the bees away. This was especially important since we were bringing them into the kitchen.

Then the very edge of the comb is cut to remove the wax caps.


The frames are then placed into the extractor.

Then it is a matter of physics – specifically centrifugal force.

The metal tub containing the frames is spun forcing the honey to vacate the comb.



The liquid gold is then put through a sieve to remove large pieces of comb and collected into a five-gallon bucket.

The last step is to put it in bottles to be used in tea, on yogurt, or just licked off a spoon. At the end of the process, there was sticky honey everywhere in the kitchen including on the heads of two dogs.

But having honey from our own front yard makes it all worth the effort.

21 08, 2023

Garage Sailing

By |2023-08-19T17:48:16-05:00August 21st, 2023|A Writer's Life, Writer's Life|1 Comment

Unfamiliar with the term garage sailing? No surprise. I made the word up to describe the habit of perusing garage/estate sales.

A habit or addiction that I share with many others. I can’t resist a sale sign stuck by the side of the road. I’ve been known to make U-turns on busy streets to follow the arrows.

Do I need anything? Heavens no!

My house is overflowing with stuff and I should be downsizing not collecting.

Should I be writing my next book? Of course. But the thrill of the hunt is too hard to resist.

You just never know what you might discover while garage sailing. And, if the seller is motivated to get rid of stuff, the prices can be cut-rate.

Finds are hit or miss. One time I scored flowerpots for $1.00 that retail for $30 or more. I’ve replaced broken water glasses with matched sets or found the exact glass.

Another time I found nothing. No treasures or great buys, but I met interesting people, who shared fascinating stories. That was still a win for me. I store away lots of ideas for character traits and plot twists.

Outdoor sales where I live are held pretty much year-round. Spring and summer temperatures near broiling this year cut down on my garage sailing. Not too many sales and way too hot to be outside shopping.

I fed my habit from Facebook Marketplace and other online markets in the air-conditioned comfort of my home.

But it wasn’t nearly as much fun.

I’m looking forward to fall and cooler temperatures so I can garage sail again.

18 08, 2023

New Music Room

By |2023-08-16T09:14:15-05:00August 18th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

For the past 5 years, I have taught music for a small charter school.  Most of the classes meet in portable buildings while the rest of the campus occupies what used to be a church.

Music class has been held in the sanctuary which is also used for morning and afternoon assembly.  All the musical instruments and materials are stored in what used to be the “cry room” at the back of the sanctuary.

It was cozy, to say the least.

           The classes met in an area partitioned off at the back of the sanctuary. I made it work.




This year I have my own music room!








I am ridiculously excited! This will be the best year ever!

14 08, 2023

A New Book and Creative Juices

By |2023-08-13T13:11:16-05:00August 14th, 2023|Uncategorized|1 Comment

I started a new book. It’s a romantic suspense loosely based on a true event that happened in 2008. A dead body was found on the riverbank below a friend’s home. Story ideas have been tossed around and around all these years until at last I have a story.

Lately, the words have not flowed. I’ve been too distracted by interruptions.

Time vampires suck my creative juices.  Vampires like my phone, email, and social media. I forget to turn them off when I’m writing and my creative juices dry up. If I’m not listening to my characters, they stop talking in my head.

In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell describes how to keep creative juices flowing:

“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first, you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

Austin Kleon, another creative whose blogs I enjoy, calls Campbell’s place a bliss station. His wife suggested, “Our bliss station can be not just a where, but a when. Not just a sacred space, but also a sacred time.”

A corner of the dining room is my Joseph Campbell bliss station. It’s where I tuck away with my characters and keep my focus on their story. They stare at me from their poster.

I may have followed the bliss station advice, but I haven’t disconnected from the world’s interruptions. I need to calm my brain, to find quietude and solitude for creative juices to flow.

I’m going to start again. This time with no phone, no email, and no social network interruptions. I suspect my characters will start talking again and those creative juices will again flow.

11 08, 2023

Odd Duck

By |2023-08-10T08:19:38-05:00August 11th, 2023|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Over the summer we hatched some duck eggs from our next-door neighbors. They have some breeds that we do not, so it added to the gene pool.

Among their ducks, they have some crested Khaki Campbells. One of these eggs hatched so now we have a very interesting duck.

It reminds me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book which makes me smile!Dr

7 08, 2023

To Speed Read Or Not To Speed Read

By |2023-08-06T15:29:47-05:00August 7th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Speed reading is defined as the process of recognizing and absorbing phrases or sentences on a page all at once, rather than focusing on individual words.

Research points to three advantages of speed reading.

  • Increased comprehension
  • Less eye time on the page
  • Less eye fatigue

It’s a handy skill in today’s world where we spend so much time reading—emails, web articles, texts, etc. We likely feel pressure to get through all this information more quickly, so that we “stay in the loop” and make informed decisions. Speed reading allows us to do that.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko Pexels.com

Photo by seyfi durmaz, Pexels.com

Reading to gain information or facts is one type of reading. I use rapid reading to wade through writing craft articles, blogs, and book research.

I don’t use speed reading if I’m reading for pleasure.

Then I want to savor the story and the author’s style of writing. I read every word.

My go-to technique in speed reading is skimming and skipping smaller words, i.e., prepositions and articles.

The technique creates a problem when I’m writing, though. I tend to leave out those words there too. Fortunately, critique partners, beta readers, and editors put them all back in.

Average adult readers read at a speed of 238 words per minute. Learning to speed read can raise that rate.

President John F. Kennedy was a big believer in speed reading. He read 1200 per minute. President Jimmy Carter’s reading speed is reported at 2,000 words per minute. Evelyn Wood read 2,500 words per minute. Check out other famous speed readers speeds here.

Speed reading is not for everyone, but it is a skill you can acquire. Want to learn more and whether it’s for you? Check out these articles.



Or give speed reading a try with this eight-minute free YouTube video that teaches speed reading techniques.

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