4 12, 2013

White Christmas – One Word Wednesday

By |2013-12-04T06:00:52-06:00December 4th, 2013|Holidays, one word Wednesday|2 Comments

I suspect most of my readers weren’t around when the Christmas movie, White Christmas debuted. I am guessing everyone has either heard the song from the movie or watched the classic.

Here’s the original trailer from 1954:

White Christmas, the movie, has it all romance, Rogers and Hammerstein songs, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney singing, Danny Kaye dancing. Nothing sets the holiday mood better for me than an evening by the fire, bag of popcorn in hand and watching the musical set in New England.

Of my top holiday movies for the season, White Christmas is right up there with It’s A Wonderful Life.  

Below is a clip of my favorite scene. I love the costumes, the dancing, and the singing.

Now don’t you feel more in the holiday spirit?

Ironic that hearing the song does bring on images of Christmas past and the promise of Christmases future, especially since the iconic, secular song was written tongue-in-cheek by Irving Berlin, a Jew who did not much care for the holiday.

This year we’ll have a true white Christmas. The snow dumped in the Rio Grande National Forest over Thanksgiving has yet to melt. Local folks tell me it won’t until spring.

And, more snow is drifting to the ground today as another winter storm passes through.

But I digress…

YOUR TURN: What’s your favorite holiday movie for getting you in the holiday spirit?

2 12, 2013

Christmas Traditions and Customs – Advent Wreath

By |2013-12-02T06:00:19-06:00December 2nd, 2013|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|1 Comment

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the spirit of giving and love that abounds. All the traditions and customs fascinate me. This month, I’ll be sharing stories about different Christmas traditions and customs.

KI17OX2AToday I want to talk about the advent wreath with one caveat: I’m not a theologian or a preacher. For theology questions, I highly recommend this website, Notbyworks.org

I’ll be offering “Just the facts,” as fictional Dragnet detective Joe Friday always said – and, of course, an opinion, or two.

Yesterday, December 1, marked the beginning of advent season for this year.

Not familiar with Advent or Advent Wreaths? Let me share the facts.

The word advent comes from the Latin adventus meaning arrival or coming, particularly of something having great importance. For Christians, Advent is the spiritual preparation for Christ’s birth on Christmas.

Christians in the following denominations observe Advent:

• Catholic

• Orthodox

• Anglican / Episcopalian

• Lutheran

• Methodist

• Presbyterian

 The observation of advent begins on the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas Day, or the Sunday, which falls closest to November 30, and lasts through Christmas Eve, or December 24.

Advent also happens to mark the beginning of the Christian church calendar.

The origins of advent began sometime after the 4th century as a time of preparation for Epiphany, and not in anticipation of Christmas. In the 6th century, St. Gregory the Great associated the season with the Second Coming of Christ.

By the Middle Ages, the church had extended the celebration of advent to include the coming of Christ through his birth in Bethlehem, his future coming at the end of time, and his presence among us through the promised Holy Spirit.

Modern-day church advent services include symbolic customs related to all three “advents” of Christ, depending upon the denomination.

Some people incorporate advent activities into their family holiday traditions if their church does not formally recognize a season of Advent.

Using an advent wreath can help diminish the commercialism of Christmas and constructing an advent wreath can be a fun Christmas project.

The wreath contains three purple candles, one pink candle, and one white candle set on a circular garland of evergreen branches representing eternity. The wreath itself symbolizes the coming of the light of Christ into the world.

In churches, the candles are lit on successive Sundays during the worship servicechurch advent

The Prophecy Candle is first. Many churches use blue to distinguish Advent from the observation of Lent.

Second Sunday another purple candle is lit. This time the Bethlehem candle. Third Sunday candle is the pink Shepherd candle. Fourth Sunday is the last purple candle called the Angel Candle. The White Candle or Christ Candle is lit on Christmas Eve.

Here’s another version of the candles’ symbolism:


Read more about the symbolism of the advent wreath, candles, and colors here.

YOUR TURN: Is an advent wreath part of your Christmas season?

29 11, 2013

Disturbances on the Farm – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-11-29T06:00:32-06:00November 29th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|1 Comment

A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

This has been a very disturbing two weeks on Miller Farm.

Last Wednesday morning I discovered a dead quail in the cage in the chicken coop. This would not have been so bad except the quail was half-eaten.

I thought perhaps I had forgotten to feed them on Tuesday and their cannibalistic instincts surfaced. I gave them plenty of food and went on about my day.

Thursday morning I discovered another dead, half-eaten quail. This was not a welcome addition to my morning routine.

I looked all around the coop for evidence of the savage beast that was destroying my quail, but saw nothing out of the ordinary.

On Friday morning, I discovered not one, but two dead, half-eaten quail.

I was running late and didn’t have time to dispose of them before heading to school to play piano for chapel. When I returned, I removed the two dead quail bodies.

Then I decided to move the two remaining live quail to a different cage. Whatever was getting into the cage was certain to return. The quail were somewhat distressed at their new accommodations, but I thought it was better for them to be somewhat disturbed than very dead.

Saturday evening when I went to close up the chickens, I could not find one of the bantam hens.  I thought perhaps she had flown to the larger bird side and was in the big coop.

When I let the chickens out on Sunday, she was not there. I did find a bunch of white feathers leading me to believe a hawk was the culprit.

Later that afternoon, a gray bantam disappeared leaving only a pile of feathers.

This was extremely upsetting.  Was it possible whatever had eaten the quail was now moving up to the bantams?  Would it then turn on the larger birds?

A more pertinent question was – could I convince the predator to carry off some of the overpopulation of roosters instead of the quail and bantams?

The following Tuesday, I saw a flurry of activity in the chicken yard. I figured one of the large hens had gotten into the bantam side and was trying to return.

Upon closer examination, I realized it was not a hen, but a hawk who had invaded the bantam pen.hawk

One of the larger roosters was fighting it off through the fence between the bantam and large chicken yards.

I ran out into the yard, but the hawk flew off. I quickly took stock of the bantams and found none missing.  I scanned the trees for the murderous hawk, but there was none.

Returning to the kitchen, I watched like a hawk for the hawk (is that redundant?).

shooting hawskBrian showed me how to use the pellet gun should the hawk return. I’ll teach that hawk to mess with Chicken Wrangler Sara!

Tonight when I went to close the chickens, I discovered a giant possum under the bantam coop. possumI screamed and headed to the house to get Possum Wrangler Brian.

He grabbed the pellet gun and went after the possum. It was harder than I imagined.

Finally the deed was done.  Brian thinks it could have been the possum getting the quail. Not anymore.

Now if we could just get the hawk, all would be calm on Miller Farm – at least in the chicken yard.

27 11, 2013

OVER THE RIVER through the woods– One Word Wednesday

By |2013-11-27T08:00:20-06:00November 27th, 2013|Holidays, one word Wednesday|0 Comments

Thanksgiving brings to mind a very old song first written as poem titled “A Boy’s Thanksgiving Day.”


The author Lydia Maria Francis Child (1802-1880) was a teacher, a writer, abolitionist, women’s rights activist, opponent of American expansionism, Indian rights activist, novelist, and journalist. A busy woman for her day. She’s best known for her Thanksgiving poem written in 1844.

The poem celebrates her childhood memories of going to her grandparents’ home. You might recognize the first verse from “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” The Peanuts gang sings the first verse.

Modern Thanksgivings aren’t normally associated with snow, but in the early 19th century, New England experienced colder winters during a Little Ice Age.

Sorta like travelers today will be braving tomorrow.

I offer the poem, set to music, for you to sing as you travel.

25 11, 2013

Counting Thanksgiving Treasures

By |2017-11-04T20:10:22-05:00November 25th, 2013|Make Me Think Monday, Thanksgiving|0 Comments

It’s three days until Turkey Day.O

Time for family reunions, food, fun,

travel, football games, Black Friday

and being thankful.

Not necessarily in that order.

Family reunions may be iffy this year with a major storm wreaking havoc over the entire U.S.

Off topic here, but I found this interesting blog about a similar weather pattern fifty years ago. Read November 1963 vs November 2013. Is Weather History Repeating Itself? for the full comparison of weather history.

Even Black Friday shopping will difficult. I do worry about all those people camped outside stores to be first in line for the extra savings items. It’s got to be cold and wet in their tents. Are the savings really worth all the effort and discomfort?

This year things are different than they were for that first Pilgrim Thanksgiving feast. What hasn’t change is the basis for Thanksgiving.

The celebration became an annual tradition with Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 proclamation of a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

As early as 1607, the inhabitants in the Commonwealth of Virginia held Thanksgiving services. Celebrations rooted in their religious beliefs and to show gratitude to their Heavenly Father.

Pilgrims were Puritan Separatists. Their journey to America began with a desire to escape religious persecution under Elizabeth I and the Church of England or Anglican Church.


Personally, I believe being thankful shouldn’t be limited to one holiday. An attitude of gratitude  should be an everyday occurrence. Check my blog.

Because it is the season, I want to acknowledge my Thanksgiving treasures today:

my loving husband (who’s the hero model for my novels)

my family and friends  (far and near)

my pets (who brighten every day)

my church (which is my anchor)


most especially you, my readers.

As you go about the preparations for your celebration, spend some time thinking about the origins of the holiday and say a special thank you for your Thanksgiving treasures.

And, if you are traveling, Godspeed.

22 11, 2013

Chicken Feed Famine on the Farm – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-11-22T05:00:52-06:00November 22nd, 2013|Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A guest blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Around the Miller Farm feeding the chickens is a multi-step process.

First, I go to the feed store and buy 50-pound sacks of lay pellets.

Then I bring the sacks home and move them into 5-gallon buckets. This prevents non-chickens (i.e. rats) from getting into the food in the shed.  Most of the buckets have lids that snap on and are difficult to remove.  Beekeeper Brian was kind enough to purchase special screw-top lids to make life easier for me.

I fill two screw top buckets with feed and the rest goes into regular buckets. I move the feed from bucket to bucket as needed. It is all quite efficient when I am paying attention.

Monday I was not paying attention.  I went out to move feed from a regular bucket to an empty screw top bucket.

The regular bucket was empty.

In fact, all the buckets were empty. The poor chickens had no food.  Their feeder was empty.

empty bucket2It was a chicken feed famine on Miller Farm.

So I closed up the shed and headed to the feed store.  I went up to the counter and asked for two sacks of lay pellets.

The woman behind the counter informed me they were out of lay pellets. She said they’d run out about an hour ago before I arrived.

I was speechless.

She asked if I had enough to make it until their delivery arrived on Tuesday. I was embarrassed to admit we had no lay pellets at all.

She offered to sell me a 10-pound sack to get me through. Since I knew Tuesday would be a busy day, I bought a second 10-pound sacks to last until Wednesday when I could make another trip to the feed store and purchased a 50-pound bag.

On Wednesday, when I returned from the feed store, the chickens obviously recognized the larger sack and anxiously waited the arrival of feed in their feeder. I scattered some around the yard and filled the feeder.

50-pound bucket

The remainder I put into the appropriate buckets thus ending the famine on Miller Farm.

Last week I learned that 30 chickens are not the same as 46 chickens. This week I learned that 10-pounds of feed does not go as far as 50 pounds.

ten pound and bucket2Even the chickens recognized the larger feed bag.

Math is a very useful subject.

15 11, 2013

Numbering Chickens – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-11-15T06:00:41-06:00November 15th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|2 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

When people ask how many chickens we have, I usually say 30.

I hadn’t officially counted them, as they don’t stand still in the yard making it very difficult. It is like counting preschoolers.

roosting1However, one evening last week, as I closed the coop, I counted them. They were all roosting on various spots in the coop and were settled down for the night.


It was then that I made a shocking discovery.

We have 40 chickens not counting the bantams in the little yard.

There are six bantams so that makes 46 chickens on the Miller Farm.

I’m not really good at math but I know that 30 does not equal to 46.

This means that I have been misrepresenting our flock for months. Some might even call it lying although my son assures me that I was only saying what I believed to be true.

It’s still a disturbing thought.

Some might considered 46 chickens over population, but the chickens don’t seem to mind. As long as they have food, I suppose they would rather be crowded than be dinner.

Knowing the exact count does explain something, though. When I go into the yard, I feel like I am struggling not to trip over chickens.

Now I know why – there are 40 chickens in the yard.

I could let Bella into the chicken yard. She would gladly dispatch several. However, I’m somewhat attached to the lot and would feel sad to lose even one.

So I guess I’ll just keep walking carefully through the chicken yard. And when people ask how many chickens we have, I can honestly say – not 30.

13 11, 2013


By |2017-11-04T20:13:59-05:00November 13th, 2013|one word Wednesday|7 Comments

GRATEFUL is an adjective describing a deep appreciation for kindness shown to oneself.gratefulGRATEFUL can be a powerful motivator.

Being GRATEFUL puts a smile on your face.

The word GRATITUDE is a noun meaning to feel grateful or thankful.

gratitudequote3Verbalizing GRATITUDE puts smiles on others’ faces.

Today I’m a grateful author who is thankful for readers of my blog posts and books.


Share what you’re grateful for today—in the comments below, on Twitter with these hashtags #grateful #gratitude, or join with the Thankful November Days posts on Facebook.

11 11, 2013


By |2013-11-11T06:00:40-06:00November 11th, 2013|Holidays|0 Comments

veteran's day vintage

“From the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge, to the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq, our soldiers have courageously answered when called, gone where ordered, and defended our nation with honor.”   ~Solomon Ortiz

My husband is a retired Army officer.

My father served in the Army Air Corps.

My uncle was a Marine.

My meager contribution to military service was a short stint as a Department of Army Civilian at Eighth Army Headquarters, Yongsan, South Korea. Now, I write military romances  and offer happily ever after endings that aren’t always present in the non-fiction military world.

This video as a poignant reminder of why we have this special day to honor veterans.

In recognition to all veterans, I say…


8 11, 2013

Flexibility and Perseverance – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-11-08T06:00:14-06:00November 8th, 2013|Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

As I was standing at the kitchen window yesterday and noticed a lizard on the ladder outside the window.  This is a common sight however, this particularly lizard seemed to be trying to eat something I couldn’t identify.

lizard on ladderUpon closer look, I discovered part of the lizard’s skin hanging from its nose. It had shed and was trying to get the last remaining dead skin off its nose.

Fascinated, I watched it rub its head against the ladder repeatedly to dislodge the dead skin with no luck.

I was tempted to go outside and “help” the lizard but I knew it would run away and I would not get to watch this process.

I began to appreciate the lizard’s persistence. It also made me glad I am not a lizard.  I’m not sure I have the perseverance to shed my skin on a regular basis.

Next, it used its hind foot to scratch the skin off.  This was so remarkable that I had to take a picture. lizard foot

It amazed me that the lizard could move its leg that way.

I certainly cannot.

I do good to get my legs to walk consistently. Scratching my head with my foot is totally out of the question.

All of which led me to think about flexibility in general. While I may not be physically flexible, I have to be flexible in other ways.

For example, I plan my menu for the week and grocery shop on Mondays.  A couple of weeks ago, my husband came home from the doctor with a very specific diet to follow.  Very little of what I had purchased and planned to fix for the week worked with the new diet.

Time to be flexible 🙂

Teaching requires lots of flexibility. I plan to play a circle game with the preschool class and they come in so wiggly that getting them to just sit down is an impossible challenge.

It’s time for a new plan.

The class right after preschool is the high school class. I go from wearing silly hats and using puppets to teaching on Renaissance music and playing ukulele.

How’s that for flexibility? Sometimes I feel like a rubber band.

At least I don’t have to use my foot to get dead skin off my nose.

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