13 01, 2014

A Week Gone Awry and the Magic Fix

By |2014-01-13T06:00:12-06:00January 13th, 2014|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

It’s been an upsetting week around the porch. You know one of those weeks where if it could go wrong, it did.

The black screen of death appeared on my husband’s laptop.

We received bad and sad news from friends and extended family.

Satellite cable went out, which meant none of our favorite programs would be recorded until Direct TV can find our little mountain hideaway sometime next week. No Downton Abbey, no Castle, no Good Wife, no NCIS. Now that’s too much!

Unsettled and struggling for a blog topic, I surfed the web mindlessly for inspiration.

I ran across this wonderful video Scott McKinley Productions created for a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation ad campaign.

The soundtrack is licensed by Kenny G. who just happens to be my most favorite jazz saxophonist. The music alone is awesome.

The short video, shot on location in Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, won Best of Category at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula Montana.

It’s a gentle and soothing reminder of the wondrous world around us. A dose of peaceful nature. Watch and see if you don’t agree.

An extra special thank you to Patti Shene for sharing on her blog.

10 01, 2014

A Dog and His Ball – Miller Farm Friday

By |2014-01-10T12:31:08-06:00January 10th, 2014|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

Linus has a blanket.

Christopher Robin has a bear.

Tucker has a ball – an orange jingle ball to be exact.  He actually has several balls – a blue one, a green one – but the orange one is his favorite.  Perhaps it’s the jingle noise it makes that is so attractive. tucker and ball

Whatever it is, Tucker has been known to fall asleep with this ball between his paws.  Whenever he is feeling stressed, he finds his jingle ball.

If you throw the ball, he will bring it back – again and again.

Rachel trained him to drop it right at her feet.

For a while, our morning routine consisted of whoever sat in a particular chair threw Tucker’s ball for him. If I happened to be in the kitchen fixing breakfast, the thrower would yell “incoming” as a warning.

On several occasions they forgot and I got pegged by the infamous orange jingle ball.

If he is feeling ignored, Tucker will throw his ball under a piece of furniture or the stove.  Then he will bark until someone retrieves it.  I would say he has us well trained.

One time a visiting young boy accidentally threw the orange jingle ball on the roof.  Tucker was inconsolable.  We lasted about two days before someone had to climb up and get it.

After that we insisted that the orange ball be his inside ball.

Unfortunately the green ball was too difficult to see outside in the yard, so I allowed Tucker to bring his orange ball outside for me to throw as I took care of the chickens. I did accidentally throw the ball into the chicken yard a couple of times.  The chickens thought it was food.

This fall the leaves in our Texas town were particularly pretty.  Not quite as stunning as when we lived in Connecticut but beautiful for here.  It did present a problem – though.  The orange jingle ball was difficult to spot.

orange ball in leaves

We have begun the search for a replacement ball in case this one really disappears.

So far we have had no success.  So we will continue to guard Tucker’s security ball for everyone’s sake.

8 01, 2014

It’s Letter Writing Week

By |2017-01-08T19:26:22-06:00January 8th, 2014|one word Wednesday|0 Comments

That’s right. January 8th through 14th is the official week for letter writing.

My friend Janie Carver clued me with her blog.

Then Edie Melson listed Letter Writing Week in her January holidays blog.

The intent of the week long observation is to

W-R-I-T-E a letter

with a pencil, chalk, marker, crayon or ink pen

not with your fingers on a keyboard or a touch screen.

That means you dig out some of that ancient stationery you’ve been meaning to pitch, grab a writing instrument and put words on the page.

letterwritingNo word-processed message.

No email message.

No text message.

No typewriter. (Do people even use those anymore?)

Not a clever card even if you add a personal message.

I suggest a thank you for a Christmas gift, a hello to an aging friend or relative, a note of gratitude, or reconnecting with someone you haven’t seen in a while.

As a collector of vintage postcards, I find the handwritten notes on the cards dating back to the early 1900s touching.

pcard 1-f

Don’t you wonder who Dear “old girl” is? 

Especially since he signed the card Brian and family.



No doubt these parents were thrilled to receive this postcard from their son Ralph.

Think what a treasure you’ll create when you participate in letter writing week.

I guarantee you’ll put a smile on someone’s face.

Now go write a letter.

6 01, 2014

Bye, bye 2013!

By |2014-01-06T06:00:03-06:00January 6th, 2014|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

2013-20142013 is gone.

2014 is six days old.

A new year signals the time for goals, resolutions, and predictions.

I’m a goal setter. Last year I shared a blog about how I set my yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily SMART goals. You can check out my method specifics here.

This year I’ve read several great blogs with ideas for how to be successful in 2014.

After reading Joe Bunting’s If You Want to Have a Great 2014, Spend an Hour Doing This, I knew the topic for my first blog of 2014.

AARs (After Action Review)  are already a major component of my goal-setting method so following Bunting’s advice works well for me. Click here if you aren’t sure what an AAR is.

So without further ado, here is my 2013 in review (with AARs):

Writing: My second novel, Love in the Morning Calm released in November. For a list of all my books on Amazon, click here.

AAR for novel writing: It’s taking too long to get the stories out there! I need to write faster.

I wrote 143 blog posts, which drew 6,400 views and 96 followers. According to WordPress, my blog visitors came from 113 countries.

AAR for blog writing: Thank you, blog readers for stopping by now and then.

Travel: My husband and I traveled to Ireland with a tour. The idea was to research my book set in Ireland that will coming out this year. Traveling with twenty-six other delightful people does not leave much time for writing research.

AAR on overseas travel tours: Guess we’ll have to plan another trip.

Not exactly travel, but major locales change. We sold our Houston, Texas, home of thirty-three years and moved to our summer home in Colorado.

AAR on our move: Loving it!

Around the house: Life has been crazy since our move with projects! We remodeled our little cabin and added a garage, which is still not complete.

AAR on home improvement projects: Patience, patience, patience.

Life in General: We survived the June 2013wildfire in the Rio Grande National Forest. We are so thankful. So many lost homes and lives in Colorado wildfires last year.

My dear sweet aunt, a shining light in my life, went to heaven to join her husband, her parents, and her sister. Her passing brought home the reality of mortality and established me as the oldest living relative on my maternal side. Now that’s a sobering thought!

AAR on life: Cherish every moment!

Whether you choose to end the old year by setting goals or making resolutions or reviewing your accomplishments, I wish you a 2014 filled with success and happiness.

Thanks for starting your New Year with me.

YOUR TURN: So how was your 2013?

To celebrate 2014, I’m offering a free copy of Love in the Morning copy to one lucky commenter.

1 01, 2014

Happy 2014!

By |2014-01-01T22:03:18-06:00January 1st, 2014|Holidays|3 Comments

This postcard greeting from my vintage card collection was originally sent in 1912 and it’s my wish for you today.

new year 1

Chicken Wrangler Sara and I will start our 2014 blog schedule next week. See you then…


20 12, 2013

Hawk Saga Chapter 2 – Miller Farm Friday

By |2013-12-20T06:00:46-06:00December 20th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

A hawk is using our chicken coop as an all-you-can-eat buffet. hawk in tree

So far, the predator has carried off two of our bantams and tried to carry off a big hen, but apparently the hen was too heavy. The hen has tale-tell signs of claw marks on its back.

Another hen, named Little Gray Hen, died of unknown causes. I’m blaming the hawk.

Thanksgiving morning I looked out to see the hawk with another one of the bantams.  My husband took his pellet gun outside and the hawk dropped the hen and flew off leaving the deceased hen on the ground.

My son asked if there was such a thing as hawk bait.  Apparently, bantam chickens work great.

The hawk stayed away for a few days.

Then when I got home one morning this week, I heard a familiar cry from the chicken yard – “hawk, hawk!!!”

I raced out in search of the hawk, but couldn’t see it.

I saw no chickens either. Even the bantams were hidden under their coop.  All the big hens cowered under the trees.

As I checked on them, the hawk flew away. He’d been somewhere close by watching and waiting.

A friend recently asked me about the intelligence of chickens. I’m not sure about their intelligence but something allows them to sense danger when humans cannot see it.

There have been no hawk sightings in the past few days.

Just in case, the chickens are keeping an eye on the sky.hens watching-2

19 12, 2013

Christmas in Texas

By |2017-12-03T07:10:44-06:00December 19th, 2013|Holidays, one word Wednesday|0 Comments

Celebrating Christmas in Texas is different. No snow, no cold, and a few other traditions unique to the Lone Star State.

We’re excited to be where we have both snow and cold this year, but memories of our Texas Christmases linger.

A Christmas classic story to read was The Night Before Christmas in Texas, That Is by Leon A. Harris,  Based on the well-known “Night Before Christmas,” this tale with a definite Texas spin has entertained audiences for more than forty years.

From the inside cover flab: A Western Santa Claus-decked out in Levis, a ten-gallon Stetson, a cowboy vest, and with a bandana around his neck-makes his Christmas journey on a buckboard piled high with presents.  Swooping in over the prairie to the amazement of sleepy residents and jackrabbits alike, a plump, jovial Santa parks his buckboard outside a peaceful ranch house. From boot-stuffing gifts to the faithful “hosses” pulling his “sleigh,” this is a Christmas tale rich in Texas tradition.

Gene Autry recordGene Autry recorded the poem for Columbia Records in the 1940s or 50s. I have a copy of the original 78 record.

Take a listen to a later release:

These are some other Texas Christmas traditions we’ve brought to Colorado with us:

Hanging a pickle on the Christmas tree

Lining our sidewalk with Luminaries

Eating tamales on Christmas Eve

Christmas is next week. I’ll be taking a break to enjoy my family and friends.

Before I go, though…

You can take the gal out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the gal.

While I’ll be celebrating Christ’s birth in the snowy woods of SW Colorado this year, I’ll be singing…

And that’s my wish for all of you — MERRY CHRISTMAS, Y’ALL! See you next year.

16 12, 2013

Christmas Customs & Traditions – Christmas Tree

By |2013-12-16T06:00:30-06:00December 16th, 2013|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

The Christmas tree tradition as we know it today began in Germany in the 16th century. Added lighting began with Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, who was awed brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens, wired tree branches to recapture the scene.

The custom was slow to gain popularity in American. Remember, the colonies were founded by Puritans who held to a strict sacred observation of Christmas. In fact, in 1659, hanging decorations brought fines for breaking a law that made any observance of December 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense.

Our tribute to our German ancestry.

Our tribute to our German ancestry.

As the numbers of German and Irish immigrants grew, the Puritan legacy lessened. Still, as late as 1840, Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

QueenThat view began to change when a sketch of Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, standing with their children around a Christmas tree, appeared in the Illustrated London News. By 1846, the custom of setting up a Christmas tree arrived on the east coast.

Early Americans decorated with homemade ornaments, fruits, and garland of popcorn or cranberries. Electricity brought lighted trees. Perhaps the most famous lighted tree is the one in Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree displayed for the first time in 1931.


Christmas trees play an important role in decorating for us. Even if we’re not at home we decorate a tree.  That’s our grandson Michael decorating the tiny artificial tree we used the year we went to Frisco, CO, to have ourselves a white Christmas.

TX ornaments-2When we lived in Texas, we had trees in every room. Each tree was special. A tree with Texas state capitol ornaments graced a corner of the dining room.

Two trees with White House collectible ornaments sat on the dining table.White House ornaments-2White House ornaments-1

Upstairs in the loft, we set up a Victorian tree with our vintage ornaments surrounded by children’s toys…a tribute to Albert and Victoria.Victorian tree-2

Some years we had creative trees like this one done by our grandson Matthew from giant TinkerToys.DSC03553

On the kitchen table, you’d find a gumdrop tree. A tradition started by my Irish grandmother.

gumdrop tree-2This year we’re in our new home in Colorado in the middle of adding a garage addition with a bedroom and studies above.

All our Christmas decorations are in storage awaiting the new space. 🙁

But Christmas will not be Christmas without a tree so we bought a small living tree that we’ll replant when we do landscaping in the spring.tree (2)-rotated

Looks a bit like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.

Soon, our daughter and her family will arrive, and we’ll go into the woods and cut a real tree.

Then it’ll really feel like Christmas around here.


Is a Christmas tree part of your holiday tradition?

13 12, 2013

Miller Farm Friday: You Know it is Thanksgiving When…

By |2013-12-13T06:00:29-06:00December 13th, 2013|Friday on the Miller Farm, Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

A Guest Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

The driveway looks like a parking lot – five people, five cars.

The living room looks like a dormitory.
living room2

It was great to have the girls home for the long Thanksgiving weekend.

We went shopping and I could actually ask if what I was trying on looked good together. Teenage boys aren’t much help with that.

We did have a problem, though.

We went through more toilet paper and milk than normal. (I wonder if there is a relationship there.)

I also ended up with a pair of denim capri pants that no one is claiming.

Oh well, I’ll just consider the capri pants payment for a weekend at home.

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