Being Still Quote – E’yen A. Gardner

About the Graphic

The image is a photo by Edie Melson used with special thanks for offering her beautifully paired memes for all to share.

The photo and the quote from E’yen A. Gardner are a perfect match.  Staring into slow rippling water whether a pond or creek or lake or ocean can relax our minds and body and give a sense of peace.


Our Nighttime Guest

We have a nighttime thief around our house. We rarely see the culprit. We do see the evidence.

It’s not the first time said nocturnal guest has stripped my potted plants.

The pots originally sat on the front porch, too easily accessible. The nibbles at first were small. A few leaves here and there disappeared unnoticed. Then one day all the leaves were gone.

I hastily moved the plants around to the fenced back porch. Secure, I thought though I knew deer can leap a fence flatfooted in a heartbeat. I counted on the human scents discouraging them.

I nursed the plants back to full foliage with Miracle Grow and loving thoughts. This summer they were looking lovely. The ivy full of new leaves.

I potted red impatients to add color for our Fourth of July cookout. The plants bloomed profusely.

Then the impatient blooms started to disappear. The ivy flourished until yesterday when I discovered the nibbled-down-to-the-dirt pot. No sign of the foliage.

Not only had our nighttime guest consumed the ivy and impatients, he or she had nearly destroyed the Christmas cactus I bought our first Christmas back in Texas.

As you can see by the new growth, the cactus is trying to recover.

My butterfly plants at the back of the yard suffered the same fate. They’d bloomed profusely drawing beautiful monarchs. Then one morning they were all gone. Leafless bare stems waved in the breeze.

I sprinkled anti-deer pellets in that flowerbed. It helped a bit, but the poor plants barely recovered only to be destroyed again in this latest attack.

Our neighbors warned us that having plants with the deer population we have was impossible. Now I believe them.

I’ve given up. The deer have won.

I’m not going to subject my poor plants to the torture. I’m sticking to the plants that seem to survive these nighttime attacks. The deer ignore the Four O’clock, the Texas Star Hibiscus, Citronella, Rosemary, Lemon Grass,  Geraniums and Zinnias.

It makes me sad that I must give up the flowing ivy and cheerful impatients I love, but I’ve accepted defeat. I’ll enjoy the blooms in the yards of those who don’t have hungry nighttime guests.


Lost and Found

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

One of the chicks I brought home from school disappeared last week. I looked everywhere and didn’t find nary a feather.  I was concerned mostly because I was afraid the kids at school would ask about the chicks and I would have to confess to losing one.

The other morning Max was very intently looking at the pen where the chicks had been staying with the rooster.  He started growling and I figured there must be something there.

I hesitantly entered the coop fearful that I would encounter a snake.  I saw a bunch of white feathers under the coop and realized they were attached to a bird.

I carefully lifted the coop, thinking the bird was surely dead.  I was wrong.  The poor chick wiggled out from under the coop and stumbled over to the water.

I was pleasantly surprised.  I kept an eye on it and made sure there was plenty of water and food.  It seems to be none the worse for the experience.

I’m glad Max was insistent.  He gets credit for saving a chicken.  He only needs to rescue 6 more to replace all the chickens Bella has caught over the years.

And now I can honestly report that all the chicks are doing well.


Have Needle Will Travel

A Blog by Guest Blogger Carolyn Wedel

 I’ve dabbled in the needle arts since the ninth grade.  No, I’ll not reveal how long that’s been …only my doctor and I know that secret.

I’ve broaden my horizons recently in my quest to be more creative with my embroidery skills and purchased a Brother Persona PRS100 embroidery machine.  It’s a 68-pound beauty and it took my husband & I together with a dolly to man handle that baby upstairs.

My brother was my first customer on this shining star, and I embroidered 14 aprons for his son, who owns a restaurant in Missouri.

This new machine balked a few times (learning curve), so phone calls to the dealer and a bit of screaming on my part, as I watched the screen tell me “check the top tension or the bobbin tension, before finally getting that tension properly balanced.

Sewing buffs, you know what I mean. What’s up with that!  Which one do I adjust!

Well I looked in the book again and decided the bottom bobbin was my first go to in correcting and balancing the tension. What you need is a balance of top thread showing and only about a third of the top thread showing on the bottom of the garment. My personal tension, on the other hand, was all the way to a 10 on the Richter scale!

Finally, the dealer told me never to touch the bobbin tension (even though it is clearly described in the book). Now they tell me! They regret the book gives you that option.

I purchased a new bobbin to finish my project & learned (vowed) to never touch the bobbin thread case again. I will only turn the top three tension indicators knobs to appropriately make adjustments.

Since there are four tensions adjustments (three on top and one on bottom) for the machine, I learned a few days ago what steps to go by in adjusting these tension knobs.

Whew! What an education.  The top tension, I was told to adjust, made all the difference in the world. Yea! Success.

I’m like a dog with a bone, I just don’t give it up until the lady sings. Such a learning experience and it’s not over yet.  However, I am not as intimidated any longer with this new piece of equipment, which tried to buffalo me.  No-siree, I’m in control and she purrs like a kitten … wonderful!

For now, I have been pulled away from my loving embroidery passion to help my husband with our last phase of house renovations, which has bordered on a nightmare. We are upgrading our existing home and running into so many areas that are not squared. My husband says studs are not on 16” centers, plus leaky toilets. We have pledged to do whatever we can to make our home look square and pretty.

We’ll be content to say this will be the last upgrade and have a blind eye to any imperfections. lol. I really am excited with a mental image of the results, so it will be worth the efforts.

I did squeeze in a small embroidery job and sewed our initial W on a table runner in gold metallic, which had existing gold thread in the material, and it turned out awesome. Sewing with metallic thread is extremely tricky, but my new machine took it in stride.Happy trails to you.


Doggie Love

Finnegan loves me. How do I know?

I actually considered his actions of leaning on me, staring at me, and dropping his head into my lap when least expected to be very annoying.

After reading “5 Signs of Deep Affection You Won’t Want to Ignore” in my August issue of Your Dog, newsletter of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, I changed my opinion.

In case you have a loving dog like our Finn, I thought I’d share what I learned.


This is a clear signal your dog feels special about you.

Our Finn will sit on our feet leaning his head back to be petted. He weighs ninety pounds which gets heavy after a while and we must use the enough command. He trots off to sit in front of the nearest fan content with whatever petting he gets.

Knowing he’s really letting me see how special I am to him, I might let him sit on my feet a bit longer next time.

~Eye contact or staring

Doggy direct eye contact is normally used for threats or aggression. But, if your dog makes direct eye contact with you like our Finn does, he’s acknowledging what a cherished connection you share.

Staring releases oxytocin, the bonding hormone that new mothers experience when they first hold their newborns, into a dog’s brain. Looking back into their eyes releases the same hormone to your brain.

I often catch Finn staring. Now I know he’s not challenging me, I’ll smile back.

~Dropping his head in our laps

Veterinarians call this docking. Not clipping the tail, but more like a space capsule reconnecting to the mother ship.  Finn’s saying “I need warmth; I need closeness.”

While we’re watching television, Finn will jump on the couch and plop his head in my lap. I accuse him of deliberately aggravating his Maltese brother who always occupies my lap when I sit and doesn’t like to share. I pet Finn for a bit and he jumps down content to let Buster have my lap.

It’s good to know Finn’s not being obnoxious when he leans, stares or docks. He’s saying “I love you.”

So is your dog.

From now on, I’ll return the sentiment with soft strokes and loving words. I know I feel bad when I say I love you and I don’t hear the words returned.


Not Quite Empty Nest

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Rachel recently moved to Huntsville to be closer to graduate school. After she left I discovered she had left some things – like the incubator.  That made sense because her research was dealing with horses and they don’t need an incubator.  I figured we would pass it on to another young chicken lover.

Well that is not exactly what happened.  Beekeeper Brian filled the incubator with chicken and duck eggs.  I was a little frustrated at first.  I thought we were done hatching birds. 

Then the first baby duck hatched.

It was so cute and I remembered how much I like baby birds.

Rachel was in town for a doctor appointment and stopped by.  She thought the baby duck was lonely so she put a stuffed animal in with it.

It seemed much happier.

Another one hatched today so now there are two.  Eventually we will also have chicks.

So much for an empty nest!



Hoarding Memories

Recently Chicken Wrangler Sara blogged about a relic she’d uncovered from her past. If you didn’t read that blog, you can here.

She comes by her hoarding of things with fond memories honestly. Her father and I have downsized four times now and I still have personal things I just can’t bring myself to discard.

I’m piggy backing on her post to share a couple of items we’ve hoarded that, some day, she and her siblings will be forced to deal with.

Back when my husband and I were in junior high and high school in Texas, girls and boys were required to take home economics and shop classes. Even if your master plan was to go to college, before you graduated, you had to have classes in both.

He made a little stand in metal shop class.

I’ve used the stand for plants. Sometimes a circular piece of plywood sat on top and we used it as a little side table.

For the last thirty plus years, it’s held our gazing ball.

I made a little bowl in wood shop class. It hides in the closet holding safety pins, but it’s still around, too.

We’ve hauled both things through fifteen moves to nine different states, some states more than once. Does that make  us hoarders?

I don’t think so. Like Chicken Wrangler Sara’s talent show sign, the stand and wooden dish bring a smile whenever I look at them.And that’s the real reason I keep things, I mean hoard things. Don’t we all?



A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Times are changing on Miller Farm. It’s just Beekeeper Brian and Chicken Wrangler Sara in the house now so we are painting and rearranging rooms. In this process we have made some interesting discoveries.

Behind the lawyers stack, for example, were some posters. Most were disposable but one brought back fond memories. It is a large poster with Sara Lynn carefully written in it in large bold letters. It belongs to a long ago time in my life – my junior year of high school.

The senior class was holding auditions for their variety show and my group of friends decided to do a humorous skit about Julius Caesar. At the last minute everyone backed out leaving me alone at the auditions.

I had been taking piano lessons all my life and always had a song ready for performance. So, without any plan or preparation when it came time for my group to audition, I sat down and played a Tarantella.

As it happened, my piano performance was chosen to represent the junior class in the variety show.  They asked for the name of my act and all I could think of was my name.So, they put my first and middle name on a poster that I have managed to hang on to through three children and two countries.

The experience of performing in the variety show was actually very lonely. I sat by myself at the rehearsals and even won a patience award. This should have been my first clue that performing was not the career for me. I much prefer being surrounded by kids making music in a classroom. This is especially true during the summer when school is not in session.


Deviled Eggs or Angel Eggs

Deviled eggs and cookouts go together like PB&J. They are a mainstay at our cookouts.

I use my mother’s recipe. She never wrote it down, but I watched her enough to know to mix enough egg yolks, mustard, mayonnaise, and sweet relish to fill the hollowed whites. Sometimes I use dill relish instead of the sweet. Don’t tell Mother, she’d be appalled.

We serve our deviled eggs on a plate that belonged to my husband’s sister. Most of the time, cookouts around our house also include my aunt’s baked beans, my mother-in-law’s chocolate cake (the one with the secret coffee ingredient that we never told my father-in-law about) and my daddy’s homemade ice cream. It’s a way to include those who have gone before.

On July 4th, as we sat around munching deviled eggs, our conversation turned to why the eggs are called deviled.

Fingers of techno-device-loaded guests raced on iPhones, iPads, and Androids for the answer. In one click Google came to the rescue, revealing interesting things about deviled eggs.

  • Deviled eggs have been around since the first century.
  • The recipe was first compiled sometime between the fourth and fifth century A.D.
  • By the 15th century, stuffed eggs had made their way across much of Europe.
  • By 1800, deviling became a verb to describe the process of making food spicy.

You can read more fascinating details about the origin here

Google also provided the answer to our original question. The term deviled is assumed to come from the heat level of the stuffing ingredients. Spices such as mustard, paprika, cayenne and wasabi add spicy heat. That lends itself to the association between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell, hence deviled.

When served at church functions, deviled egg hors d’oeuvres are called mimosa eggs, stuffed eggs, dressed eggs, salad eggs, or angel eggs. To avoid an association with Satan, of course.

So, do you make deviled eggs? More importantly, do you call them angel eggs?


Unlikely Coop Mates

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The chicks I brought home from school have grown considerably. I had them in their own pen but one of them kept getting out. Then they all started roosting on the chicken wire.

Every night I would go out and put them all in the coop so they would not get eaten by whatever was hungry for chicken at night.  Then in the morning I would open the coop and let them out into their pen.

Eventually they all followed the chick with wanderlust and began exploring the larger pen with the big hens.  They seemed to do fine so I stopped locking them up at night.

One morning I found all four chicks in a pen with one of our roosters.We had separated the roosters to prevent them from fighting.  I was initially concerned about the safety of the little chicks.  Apparently this rooster does not consider them a threat and is leaving them alone.

So once again my plan for organizing the flock is undermined by the plans of the chickens.  Oh well, as long as everyone is happy and safe.