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18 01, 2021

To Think About on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

By |2021-01-17T15:16:03-06:00January 18th, 2021|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Today is a day set aside to honor  Martin Luther King, Jr. and his accomplishments. It is also a federal holiday dedicated to a day of service.

Dr. King’s attitude on service was clear.

Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

King’s  words offer introspect and inspiration to find a project that forwards his vision and participate. While today’s coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns disrupt plans for many in-person celebrations and volunteering efforts, there are plenty of safe virtual activities available.

This NYT article has suggestions from several different areas of the country. A Google search using your locale will bring up local opportunities.

If you’re into parades, Houston offers their annual parade virtually on January 18, from 10 a.m. to noon on HTV and via Facebook on the Original MLK Day Parade page.

Dr. King’s nonviolent activism during the civil rights movement changed things. He passionately believed

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

MLK, Jr. Day offers an opportunity to reflect on the past, think about the present, plan for the future, and remember what is truly important–We are all in the same boat now.

Let’s make this boat we’re in a better place.

15 01, 2021

Welcome, 2021!

By |2021-01-15T10:52:21-06:00January 15th, 2021|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


I was kind of hoping the New Year would bring a little normalcy. On Sunday, January 3 Beekeeper Brian and I both tested positive for COVID.  We only had mild symptoms but were still put in quarantine for 10 days.

My hope of being back in a routine became a struggle to teach music classes from home.

Then on Sunday, January 10 it snowed.

That may not sound like a big deal but in our part of Texas, it hadn’t happened since 2017.  This snowstorm produced the 5th largest amount of snow on record.

We measured 4 ½ “.

This may not sound like a lot unless you are a dachshund whose legs are only 4 inches long.

The chickens were not fans either.  They sent a scout while the rest stayed in the coop.

Got some interesting pictures I never could have imagined – chicken prints in the snow.

And, of course I built the obligatory snowman.  It’s not too bad.

I can’t wait to see what this Sunday brings…

 

11 01, 2021

That Time of Year Again

By |2021-01-09T13:12:37-06:00January 11th, 2021|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

2020 is gone at last. It’s time to face a new year and make new year’s resolutions.

Resolutions to do this or that, don’t do well for me. BUT I do like goals. Goals solidify intangibles into tangible. To-do lists have always governed my personal life.

When I taught, goals, called lesson objectives, were an integral part of my days. Once I quit teaching, transitioning lesson goals to my writing career was a logical, easy progression.

A pandemic and civil unrest in our 2020 world caused my goals to fluctuate, some to fail. There were days I struggled to simply focus. I think we all did.

We’re a week into 2021 and it’s been a doozy of a week. While I didn’t expect what used to be normal would magically materialize on January 1, I did hope for a better year. Unfortunately, this first week was a reminder that we –you, me, this country– still have a bumpy road ahead.

As a writer, I view 2021 as a book with blank pages to fill any way we want. No goal plan required, but it could help. Whether you choose to write resolutions or specific, measurable goals or fly uncharted ahead with nothing at all planned, that’s up to you.

Me, I’m setting writing year goals/objectives. Personally, I’m determined to hang onto hope.

Hope fuels creativity.

Hope motives through the dismal days.

Hope is a choice that requires courage and action. With hope, we find a well from which to draw grace and kindness for daily living.

Juliet Marillier’s 2013 New Year’s blog post, directed toward writers, is filled with ideas for finding focus. What she labels focus, I’m calling hope. I especially like her #9:

Breathing.

Step away from your screen regularly. Go outside, look at something beautiful and breathe slowly for a few minutes. You live in the real world; it is the source of your inspiration. Honour and respect it with all its flaws.”

Finding Hope on Psychology Today’s blog suggests:

Turn to your faith.

Your faith can be a strong ally in holding on to hope. Sometimes your faith offers the support of not being alone and trusting that a higher power is with you. If you are questioning your beliefs, then talk with someone in your faith whom you respect. Others have encountered difficult times, and they will understand. Voicing your questions is a step toward resolving your confusion and also a step toward hope.”

I believe grace and kindness are what we’re gonna need to weather this new year 2021 . It’s starting out to be another 2020-version 01. Find your well of hope.

4 01, 2021

Discovering My Nativity’s Provenance

By |2020-12-26T10:23:05-06:00January 4th, 2021|A Writer's Life, Holidays|4 Comments

If I had decorated for Christmas this year–which I didn’t–I would now be taking decorations down and storing for next Christmas.

We had a painter working to rejuvenate the outside of our almost forty-year-old home. He did a fabulous job painting and power washing. The house looks clean and fresh. Unfortunately weather delays meant he didn’t finish until December 23. We decided it was too late to put up decorations only to take them down three days later.

Not decorating gave me extra time to read subscription blogs, which had piled up like old newspapers used to do.

Image via Megan Hanlon

Imagine my surprise when one of my favorite blogs, Her View From Home popped up with a picture of my nativity angel and a heart-warming blog.

Turns out Her View from Home blogger, Megan Hanlon had the exact same manger I have when she was growing up. Only the angel she’d named Gloria and loved playing with as a child had gone missing by the time she inherited the set.

I’d received my nativity set as a thank-you for an estate sale I’d done many years ago. I always said someday I’d research its origin, or provenance. Never did.

Ms. Hanlon wanted a replacement Gloria to share her memories with her children. She searched the web. Finally, on eBay, she located “a white box with an outdated Sears & Roebuck Trim Shop logo and a picture of four figurines: a guitar-playing lad, a bearded man carrying a basket of bread, an angry camel, and a ginger-haired angel in a blue dress draped with a banner that proclaimed “Gloria.” All the pieces were there according to the listing.

She’d found her Angel Gloria replacement and, thanks to her blog, I now know where my set came from and its age.

Figures were missing from mine too—the four additional characters. I only had Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus and a homemade manager structure. No sheep or shepherds, no camel,  no “guitar-playing lad” or “man with a basket of bread,” and no Magi.

Missing Magi didn’t matter to me. Those kings didn’t show up at the manger anyway, but arrived later where Jesus lived as a small child. The sheep and shepherds I substituted from other sets. I’d bought a shepherd playing bagpipes in Ireland that I use. Still no man with a bread basket, but I may search eBay to complete my set with those original pieces.

For sure, next year when I set up my nativity for Christmas, I’ll be smiling and thinking of Ms. Hanlon’s children playing with her Gloria angel.

You can read her touching blog about “Finding Gloria” here.

21 12, 2020

A Much-Needed Holiday Tradition in a Pandemic Christmas

By |2020-12-21T05:56:23-06:00December 21st, 2020|A Writer's Life, Holidays|0 Comments

A long time ago, I began including newsy letters in our Christmas card greetings. In the beginning I wrote out the notes on individual cards.

With the introduction of word processors, I began to mass produce the letter. I know, I know some people loathe mass printed letters in cards, but I love them.

Keeper of things that I am, I have copies of every letter I’ve written, and there are a lot. The youngsters in that first picture card are all now parents and two are grandparents!

Last year for Christmas, we copied and compiled all the letters into notebooks for each of the children.

While it was never my intent to record family history, the letters are a memoir of sorts.

Reading through them sure brought back memories for all of us.

 

We’ve moved a lot between our military years and corporate days. I count Christmas greetings from friends with letters inside a real blessing, especially since our in-person visits are limited these days.

This year more than ever, we need to count blessings. Name them one by one as the old hymn says. If you don’t like the Christmas letter idea, it’s still a good idea to take some time to write down what’s been good this year. Remembering happy, positive things can, in turn, lift our spirits.

After the year we’ve had, I’m all for lifting spirits. How about you?

As 2020 comes to end (at last), it’s time for Chicken Wrangler Sara and me to begin our annual holiday break. See you back here on January 4 with new thoughts and views from the front porch.

Until then, enjoy the archives. We’ve been doing this since February 20, 2012. Hard to believe, isn’t it? There’s lots to browse.

18 12, 2020

Best Laid Plans

By |2020-12-17T08:38:41-06:00December 18th, 2020|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara


Putting together music programs has always been somewhat of a challenge.  This year it is exponentially harder.

We cannot perform before live audiences so we must record all the students in advance. We did this for the Veteran’s Day program then had some technical issues at the last minute, so the classes were unable to see the performances.

The principal is determined to avoid this and asked me to plan the Christmas program before we left for Thanksgiving Break. I gave him an outline of what each class would do and spent the week of Thanksgiving filling in the details.

When we returned, he asked me to have all the recording done before testing started the following week.  It was a stretch but I put together a recording schedule and started working with the classes.

I decided to do bucket drumming with the 7th and 8th grade classes.  It would reinforce rhythmic concepts and they seem to enjoy hitting on things.

Not having the budget to purchase official buckets, I gathered cat litter buckets and the students spray painted them red and green.  This took multiple days, but the result was pretty good, and most of the paint landed on the buckets.

The students also wrapped the drumsticks with red and green electrical tape.

All was well until the school closed for two days.  That put the recording behind schedule.  There was no one to do the recording due to absences in the office staff.  I kept practicing with the classes and put recording on hold.

Then the principal decided to proceed with the recording even though testing was happening in my room. We recorded in the cafeteria.

All was well until the 7th and 8th graders had to switch to remote learning for two days.  I adjusted the recording schedule, again, and took the remaining buckets home to finish the painting. Then the decision was made to keep 7th and 8th grade off campus until after Christmas break.

So now we have red and green buckets all ready to go and no one to play them.

I guess we can use them for Cinco de Mayo.

The rest of the program was recorded and is ready to be shown on Friday.

At least that is the plan…

 

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