A Child of the Soaps

Long before epic series like Game of Thrones and Outlander kept us breathlessly awaiting the next episode, serial radio shows kept listeners beside their radios.

Busy taking care of housework in 30s and 40s without the benefit of today’s appliances, housewives tuned to tales of Clara, Lu, and Em, three sorority sisters, or Painted Dreams, a story of a mother and her unmarried daughter. Those stories continued from day to day and one story line led to another or multiple story lines.

Listeners, primarily women, lost themselves in the fictional lives. Networks and advertisers saw the great potential of a daytime market and serialized radio stories became daytime television stories.

The televised programs, dubbed daytime soaps because program sponsors were companies like Proctor and Gamble or soap operas because organ music transitioned from one scene to the next, quickly became popular. By 1970, the three major networks aired eighteen different daytime serials.

That’s where I came in.

My Oma’s favorite “stories” transitioned from radio to television. She followed her characters to the small screen and took me with her. We’d have lunch on TV trays and catch up on As the World Turns then return later in the afternoon for Guiding Light. The shows, originally fifteen minutes in length, expanded to an hour presentations. 

The stories were fascinating and progressive for their time. Women didn’t dress like Aunt Bea of Mayberry. They had flawed marriages, rotten kids, and successful careers. In fact, the police chief and head cardiologist of General Hospital were both females.

There were cheating spouses, secret babies, evil twins, amnesia victims, ghosts, time travel, and vampires. The shows aired daily allowing little time to fully memorize and polish lines like prime time shows. There were no retakes with live TV.

Nowadays only four daytime soaps remain: The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS), Days of Our Lives (NBC), General Hospital (ABC), and The Young and the Restless (CBS). But, viewer numbers are shrinking so the number may shrink more.

I rarely watch any of them. They aren’t my soap.

Graphic: The Soap Opera Wiki https://soaps.fandom.com/wiki/Guiding_Light

MY soap was Guiding Light. It first aired on radio in 1937, moved to television in 1952, and ended on my birthday in 2009 after a record seventy-two years. I still miss the Spaulding, Cooper, and Lewis families, especially Reva and Josh.

While some consider soap opera watching a waste of time, I credit my hours of watching with sparking my storyteller gene and providing endless ideas for story lines.


Smart Chicks

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Several classes at my new school hatched chicks recently. It has been fun to check on them especially during the stress of the last weeks of school.  I think “chick therapy” is a great thing.

This morning the 2nd grade teacher told me she had found homes for all but three of the chicks.  Being a Chicken Wrangler, I felt compelled to wrangle them to our house. When I went to pick them up, there were actually four that needed a home.I figure since these chicks were hatched at a school, they should be smarter than the average chicks.  My only question is will the ones hatched in the 6th grade class be smarter?


Flower Quotes – Xan Oku

About the Image: The snapdragons underneath our bay window. Taken years ago with an old Olympia camera and an unsteady hand. With all the rain we’ve been having here in Texas lately I needed this reminder of why we need rain.


Mother’s Day Trivia

A long time ago in a land far away, we wore roses to church on Mother’s Day.

I can remember as a child going to my grandmother’s house before church to pick a flower to pin on my dress.I also cut blooms for my siblings.

I would carefully choose the prettiest red roses I could find for me and my siblings, cut the chosen buds and we’d take them home. There, my brother and sister and I would pin the rose to our Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and be ready for church on Mother’s Day.

A red rose meant your mother was living and a white one meant she was dead.

When I tell people about the annual chore, I usually get a puzzled look as if they’d never heard of it. Maybe it was only a Texas thing. There are lots of only Texas things that puzzle people.

Still, it was tradition for our family for many years. After I married and left home I continued the tradition. Once my children became teens the whining and complaining won and I kinda let the wearing roses thing fall to the wayside.

Anna Jarvis started the practice when she honored her own deceased mother with a special day of remembrance at a Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia in 1908. By 1914, she had campaigned so successfully that President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the proclamation making Mother’s Day a national holiday.

Interesting fact I uncovered as I researched about the tradition, both Jarvis and the President Wilson insisted that the spelling be singular possessive — Mother’s Day — to encourage a personal rather than generic observance.

The wearing a rose tradition makes the day even more personal. Red to honor. White to remember.

I’m thinking it would be nice to revive the tradition. Next year, maybe my rose bushes will be blooming, and I can pick a white one to wear to honor my Mother in Heaven.


Disappearing Flowers

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

We have had the prettiest yellow flowers in our yard this Spring. I am sure they are in the dandelion family and so should be considered weeds however, they are cheerful each morning and they make me smile.

Therefore I will leave them alone.

The bees really like them.  Therefore Beekeeper Brian will leave them alone.There is an interesting phenomenon, though.  When I come home each afternoon, they are gone.  I thought at first they had all died but the next morning they were back.  They remind me of morning glories only they are yellow. Between the storms that have come through our area each week, Beekeeper Brian mowed the yard.  Now the flowers are not even there in the morning.

I’m hoping they will return as the grass grows.  Everyone around here needs a cheerful greeting in the morning.


Flower Quotes – e.e. cummings


Busy, Busy Month of May

May signals the beginning of summer. Senior proms and pomp and circumstance graduation celebrations fill the days. End of school parties occupy weekends even before that last bell rings.

The month is also full of military observances. Four to be exact.

  1. May 8 is V-E Day (Victory in Europe)

On this day in 1945 the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

A copy of The New York Times published May 8, 1945, bearing Kennedy’s scoop (AP/Rick Bowmer)

A side note about the day:

The news came to the U.S. via Edward Kennedy— not the late Democratic senator from Massachusetts but a man by the same name who was the chief correspondent in Europe for the AP in 1945 and had watched the signing in person.

Unfortunately, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had imposed a news blackout on the surrender, under orders from President Truman. Kennedy defied the order and sent the news out anyway.

His defiance backfired instead of the greatest scoop of his career, it was the scoop from. Allied headquarters stripped away his press credentials, denounced him personally for breaking the rules, and expelled him from liberated France to New York, where the AP promptly fired him. In 2012, he finally won a posthumous apology.

Newsbreak or unethical double cross? That is the question even among news reporters today. In our day of Twitter and Instagram, it’s hard to believe Kennedy was the only reporter in 1945 willing to break the news blackout.

  1. Armed Forces Day on May 19.

The day set aside to show appreciation to all active duty service members. Not to be confused with Veterans Day (November 11) or Memorial Day (May 27 this year). Both of those days commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service.

  1. May 22 is National Maritime Day.

The day set aside to observe the U.S.’s proud maritime heritage and honor the men and women who serve and have served as merchant mariners.

  1. May 27 is Memorial Day.

Originally called Decoration Day, many wear red poppies on Memorial Day which symbolize the red poppies that grew on a battlefield in Belgium during World War I and immortalized by Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.

Moina Michaels, an American professor, wrote her own poem in 1918.She was also the first to wear a poppy, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money benefiting servicemen in need. Four years later, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to sell poppies nationally.

A little side note about this day:

A Memorial Day picnic and poppies play a prominent role in the love story of Green Beret Alex Cabot and Department of Army Civilian Lily Reed, The Pendant’s Promise.

Then there are high school graduations, college graduations, birthday parties, and Mothers’ Day.

Last important day in May, though not nationally celebrated or recognized, is our wedding anniversary on May 30. Fifty-six years and counting—a rarity these days.


The Early Duck…

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Now that the ducks are in their new space, we have settled into a new routine on Miller Farm.

Each morning I feed the chickens their fermented chicken feed and give the ducks cat food.  I haven’t found a specific duck feed and the cat food has the calcium they need so it is all good.

I also retrieve the egg that Lucy lays.  In the afternoon I throw some feed to the chickens and ducks and gather chicken eggs.

On Fridays I empty the “duck pond” i.e. wading pool, and refill it with clean water.  Last week when I turned it over to empty it, there were many worms underneath.

Lucy thought it was a feast.

Ricky was a little slow so he missed out.

I guess it is true – the early bird gets the worm – even if the bird is a duck.


Debunking an April Proverb

The familiar proverb “April Showers Bring May Flowers” probably originated from the General Prologue of The Canterbury Tales:

“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.”

Another version is traced to the 1557 collection of writings by Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry. He wrote:

“Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers”

Tusser’s rhyme is a couplet, which fits nicely with our thoughts about poetry in National Poetry Month.

But, if you’re like me, you might wonder if April rains truly bring May flowers.

I checked.

Botany and biology research says there is no connection. Instead, flowers’ first appearance relates more to temperature than to rain.

That being true, perhaps, the couplet should be re-written to read

“Warm temperatures in March bring April flowers.”

Doesn’t have the same poetic ring, does it?



A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The orchid I was given as a secret pal gift at the beginning of the year got knocked off the counter and the stalk broke. I was more upset than I should have been and had to remind myself that it is just a plant – a plant that makes me smile.

I gently reattached the broken stalk and hoped for the best. Months later it is blooming again.

I think it needs a bigger pot but I have been told to leave it alone while it is blooming.  Apparently orchids are very delicate.  That makes the fact that mine has persevered through the broken stalk even more amazing.

Perhaps I can learn from my orchid and persevere through the end of the school year.  And as long as my orchid is blooming, I can do it with a smile.