Grateful for YOU

I’m thankful that in this great big blog world we have connected.

If you’ve read my about page, you know I’m a writer and an antiques dealer/collector. Ephemeron fascinates me. That’s why I chose this particular greeting today.

Not familiar with the term?

Ephemera (the plural form) refers to something transitory or short-lived. Items like pamphlets, notices, tickets, postcards or greeting cards designed to be useful or important for only a short time. In this age of technology, we’re losing ephemera.  Especially old postcards like these.

Back reads “from Ray to the Baby 1913 H. R. M.”
“Wishing you a Peaceful Thanksgiving Day; With all of Earth’s fruit from the blossom of May.”
“North South East and West; Let’s all join hands So that we may truly rejoice on Thanksgiving Day” To Marguerite from Grandma, 1915.

Each card undoubtedly has a story. Who was Ray and why did he send a Thanksgiving card to Baby? Were Marguerite and Grandma feuding and needed to join hands? There’s definitely a story connect to that one.

The writers among us could probably plot some compelling stories based on these old postcards. I think that’s why I find ephemeron so intriguing.

But just for today, let’s forget about writing.

Instead, let’s

Sit around the table and visit with family and friends.
Cheer for our favorite football team. Or nap.

And most important, remember to take the giblets out of the turkey!

Thanks for showing up today to read my blog.

I’m going to enjoy my blessings today.I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving day with your family and friends.

See you here on the 26th.


Bedlam in the Chicken Yard-Miller Farm Friday

I looked out the kitchen window last evening and saw a rooster about 5 feet off the ground on top of the quail cage in the middle of the chicken yard.

This would not be a problem if he could get back down to the ground on the right side of the fence (the one with the chickens, not the dogs). However, we have learned that chickens (and roosters) are not particularly coordinated.

I headed out to the chicken yard to make sure he was safe.

Later, we decided if the rooster could make it to the top of the quail cage must be time to clip wings. While this sounds horribly painful for the birds, it is actually more like clipping fingernails.

The hardest part is catching the birds.

Since the sun was setting, the chickens headed for the coop. They are creatures of habit and every evening they go to bed in the coop, and every night I shut the door to keep non-chickens out.

Since the birds were contained, Beekeeper Brian decided to go into the coop and clip wings. He started with the smaller game birds which made the most racket I ever heard.

I was afraid the neighbors would think we were killing them. Eventually all the wings were clipped and no chicken died, though from all the noise I’m sure the neighbors did wonder.

Wing clipping prevents the birds from flying over the fence where Bella (the dachshund) could “play” with them. At the same time, wing clipping also makes it very difficult for them to fly up to their roosts in the coop.

I believe at least one of the birds held a grudge against us. 

When I went to collect eggs the next morning, she pecked at my hand. I’ve gotten used to that and it doesn’t really hurt – especially when compared with bee stings.

So I got the eggs and the chicken immediately went to the roost in front of the nest box and started squawking very loudly. I swear she was saying “Thief, Thief!!!!.”

If you spend enough time around chickens, you learn to speak their language.

That evening when I went to close up the coop, one of the birds sounded very raspy. I told Beekeeper Brian it was probably the one who had fussed at me. She’d squawked so loud she made herself hoarse.

Without missing a beat, Brian replied, “Well how is she supposed to lay eggs if she is a horse?”


Monday Motivation: Lending a Hand or a $

Mondays are usually blogs to motivate writers. Today I’m deviating a bit.

I live on the Texas gulf coast. I’ve seen lots and lots of storms. Big hurricanes, little hurricanes, and tropical storms that did more damage than any hurricane.

I’ve also been stranded in a volunteer fire department in Deep Creek, Maryland during a Nor’easter blizzard for days with three small children,  a miniature schnauzer and a husband anxious to get home to check on our house. We shared the small fire department’s building with about two hundred other motorists traveling home after the Thanksgiving holiday.

BEFORE the era of cell phones I might add. No one knew what had happened to us for days.

I’m sure most of  you have seen the pictures of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation. If you haven’t, check out this site with before and after shots. Slide your mouse over the before snapshot and view the aftermath of Sandy. You’ll be shocked.

Before/After Hurricane Sandy Photos Show How Storm Devastated East Coast (INTERACTIVE PICTURES)

A week later a Nor’easter visited the east coast. Too much for an already crushed area.

There is no doubt the damaging effects of Hurricane Sandy will be with us for a long time. Today I want to encourage everyone to help out and suggest donations to:

From my personal experience with the Red Cross in a weather crisis, I know they are “Johnny on the Spot.” Red Cross volunteers offered some terrific sandwiches, warm blankets, and delivered messages for us during our blizzard experience. Just click on the logo above to donate.

Based on my research, I believe the following organizations are also trustworthy and positioned to help those in need receive immediate help and care. In order to make it easier for you to donate to these organizations, here are the direct links:

Salvation Army

Samaritan’s Purse

For our military families in the path of both storms, these organizations offer assistance:

Air Force Aid Society

Army Emergency Relief Fund

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

I’m sure you may know of other organizations where you can help out in person or send a donation. HELP.

I found Write Now Relief  on Facebook that I know isn’t a scam and offers the opportunity to win a like a 50-page critique of your novel by a published novelist in exchange for the winning donation bid.

You bid at  Write Now Relief  between Nov 9 and Nov 16. Highest bidder’s amount with be  sent to relief efforts for the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Okay,  back to the writing…


Miller Farm Friday: Bees in the Bonnet

Well the inevitable finally happened – I got stung by a bee.

I really can’t blame the bee. It flew into my hair while I was filling the chicken waterer and it got lost. The bee panicked and burrowed into my scalp and stung me.

I understand. I panic when I get lost too so I can feel its pain – literally.

I managed to avoid doing the frantic bee dance and walked quickly to the water hose where I “washed that bee right out of my hair.”

As I continued my morning chicken chores, I had two thoughts:
1. Where are the epipens
2. How long would it be before someone found me if I passed out in the yard?

Fortunately, I did not have the same reaction to the bee sting as Beekeeper Brian so I didn’t need an answer to either question.

Later as Beekeeper Brian was checking my head for stingers, he suggested that I wear a hat or bandana to prevent a repeat of the incident. This was a great idea.

I remembered the bonnets you made for us to wear at Sturbridge Village on the 4th of July a million years ago? I still have one, or at least one just like it and it works perfectly for keeping bees out of my hair. 

So now, if the neighbors did not have enough entertainment before today, they now can watch me doing my morning chicken chores wearing a blue gingham bonnet.

Ah – what a life.

Our other daughter immediately responded:

I am not sure, the bonnet might make things worse. For, as the song goes, don’t women frequently get a bee in their bonnet? Or is that just me to whom that happens?

Either way, I am quite impressed that you still had your Sturbridge Village ephemera. All I have left is fond memories of a picture taken on a canon, with either Sandra Kay or some other random individual.

With our family, you just never know who it might be… friend, foe, fowl, feline or canine.
Cheers, Steph

Interesting to me that both girls remembered the bonnets and not the reading of the Constitution or the fireworks. Which were the reason we originally made the trip!

Steph is correct we did always have a house full. Someone who needed a place to stay or escape or an animal or bird that needed rescued.

That’s why there are so many characters in my stories. Every visitor came with his own backstory which spawned a new story idea for me.

I’d recommend a trip to Sturbridge Village if not on the 4th of July then one of the other seasonal events. It made quite an impression on our children as you can tell.

And, for those of you who might want your own bonnet. has some excellent choices including flannel-lined for winter.


Ever been stung by a bee?

Been to Sturbridge Village? Did you have as much fun as we did/do?


Tipping point and the course of human events

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Anyone recognize that paragraph? I hope so. It’s the introductory paragraph to the Declaration of Independence. My fingers automatically typed those words instead of what I was meaning to say thanks to some teacher who made us memorize it and the Preamble to the Constitution.

Guess I became sidetracked by all the political ads and chatter everywhere. Today we have the option to cast a ballot for the Presidential candidate of our choice.

Now you go do the same. It’s our right and our privilege.

But I digress, the course of events that I meant to reference is that point in our lives when we recognize the time for change has arrived and we must do some personal downsizing.

No denying. All of us reach such a point sooner or later. By choice or by death.

As an antiques dealer, I’ve done enough estates – either as organizer, buyer or seller – to know that all our stuff ultimately has to go. Hearses don’t pull U-Hauls. We’re no longer an Egyptian pyramid culture where we entomb our worldly goods with us.

Recently, my husband and I returned from our vacation home and looked around at our beautiful home in the suburbs of the nation’s 4th largest city and experienced a tipping point.

We asked one another, “Why do we need all this stuff?”

The obvious answer was we don’t. For 4-5 months every year, we live in a small, small house in the Rio Grande National Forest and love every minute of it. We come back to hustle and bustle and headaches. So we asked ourselves, “Why?”

That’s when we reached the tipping point and decided to sell our house and stuff and vie for a simple life in the woods.

Our children are extremely grateful that they won’t be saddled with the grueling task after we’re gone. I think watching us disburse estates of our parents, his older sister, and our aunt and uncle convinced them it was an arduous job.

We’ve discovered a fringe benefit — seeing our children enjoy the things of their childhood and objects from our home in theirs.

That’s Chicken Wrangler Sara and her original Barbie house. She couldn’t believe we’d kept it all these years!
Our son and his son playing chess on the table where my husband and son played many a game.
This knife set (a wedding present to my husband and me) now hangs in our youngest daughter’s kitchen.

On Tuesdays, I’ll be blogging about our journey to simplify and the amazing freedom we’re finding as we turn the stuff loose. I’ll tell you how we decided what to get rid of and what to keep and how we disbursed the stuff.

Probably not every Tuesday. After all, this is a monumental task that takes time.

Plus I have another book due out this year. Gotta get in my writing time.


Monday Motivations: Creative juices dried up? 29 Ways to refresh

Hit a roadblock in your story? Creative juices won’t flow?

View this short two minute video for ways to get back in the groove.

I liked #25 and #29. #18 is great, especially with Thanksgiving looming on the horizon.

I’m not so sure I agree with #23. Doesn’t sound like fun to me.

YOUR TURN: What works to stir your creativity?


Whirlwind trips, Quail escape artists and bathroom remodels

I missed posting an email from the Miller Farm last Friday. My week was crazy with a whirlwind trip from the gulf coast of Texas to central Illinois. Left on Thursday back home on Monday. Two thousand miles in five days!

We made the trip to take most of our antique furniture to our son. Chicken wrangler Sara and her sister helped us out by taking some furniture, too. In the grand scheme of things we have more than our fair share of stuff. Watch for coming blogs about how we’re simplifying our lives by downsizing.

While we were traveling, life on the Miller Farm had its drama too.

We are remodeling our bathroom so right now things are really a mess, and we have no shower. 

Talavera sink we bought during our days as missionaries in Mexico City and granite top are set. Wall texture and painting yet to come.

We remodeled a bathroom in a different house 16 years ago and so we knew what we were in for…we thought.

We’ve discovered, with two teenagers, things work a little different. But no matter what’s going on inside the house, the chickens outside must still be let out, watered, and fed every day.

So this morning, after I swam and showered at the pool, I went to let the chickens out and discovered not one, but two quail stuck where they didn’t belong.

One was in the space where the eggs roll out of the cage in the coop. This has happened before so I was not too surprised.

Another quail was stuck in the feeder in the long cage. I have no idea how that happened.

I was able to free both quail without major trauma to them or me.

Then as I was filling the water for the cage in the coop, one of the quail got out. He was on top of the cage, which is hard to reach.

Next, the escape artist quail  jumped to the ground. I shut the door to the coop (checking to make sure the string was on the inside so I could get back out) and trapped him.

Unfortunately when trying to put him back in the quail cage, he escaped again. At last sighting, he was hanging out on top of the cage. He must think he is a chicken, which is fine with me.

I figure the worst case scenario is he joins the other quail, who thinks he’s a chicken, that hangs out in the chicken yard all the time. 

Score one for Chicken Wrangler Sara.

YOUR TURN: Made any whirlwind trips or chased down escape artists this week?


Monday Motivation: Empty pickle jars, golf ball days and chocolate

I found this three minute video titled The Empty Pickle Jar offered some wise motivation.

Empty Pickle Jar from GiftsToGive on Vimeo.

Here’s to a golf ball day of writing and lots of chocolate milk for you.


Monday Motivations: Testing the Waters

A friend recently shared this video titled Neglected Ducks Get Their First Swim from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. Great music, btw.

My first thought after watching the ducks repeatedly turn away from the water was that we writers are sometimes like those hoarded ducks-afraid to test new waters with our writing.

When was the last time you tried to write

  • a different genre
  • a short story if you normally write novels
  • a novel if you normally write short stories
  • a blog instead of just reading blogs
  • a tweet – now that will test your skill
  • a 1st person POV if you usually write 3rd person POV
  • 3rd person POV if you usually write  1st person POV

To me the pond in the video represents possibilities for our writer creativity. If we’d only venture forth and test the waters more, I think we’d see brave new worlds open up for our muse.

Did you notice how much fun those ducks were having once they took the plunge?

And who knows, we might find we like writing something new and different more than what we’re comfortable writing.

YOUR TURN: Have you ever written something out of your comfort zone? How’d it feel?


Miller Farm Friday – Barnyard Bullies

I think I figured out why the new little chicks are not going into the coop at night.

I went out before the sun was completely gone last night and watched one of the Bantam hens stand at the door of the coop, refusing to let the little chicks in. When one slipped inside, she chased it back out. 

I explained to her that she was behaving like a bully and it had to stop. She didn’t listen very well and continued to chase the little chicks away.

Bully Bantam

Thinking a distraction might discourage her bullying. We decided to let three quail out of their cage so we could use the cage to transport other quail (another moving day – this one less traumatic). 

Watching freed quail is quite fascinating.

They are not interested in leaving the chicken yard. In fact, I’m not sure they know how to fly very far. They can get away from the dogs if necessary, but prefer to walk around with the chickens. 

Perhaps, living with chickens, they don’t know they are quail.

Anyway, one of the newly freed quail began chasing the chickens around. Why the chickens run from something a fraction of their size is beyond me. I think it is the bird brain phenomenon.

Chicken Chasing Quail

I must confess when I saw it chasing Bully Bantam, I felt a certain sense of justice. 

Apparently, Bully Bantam learned her lesson. All six little chicks were safely in the coop tonight.

However, I did notice a frog in the chicken waterer. I was afraid he was planning to move in and worried about how he would be received by the Chasing Quail and Bully Bantam.

 This morning Mr. Frog was gone so maybe he just came to get a drink at night when all the bullies were sleeping.

By definition bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional, hurtful, (physical and psychological), and/or threatening and persistent (repeated). There is an imbalance of strength (power and dominance).

In the Miller Farm Barnyard, the imbalance corrected itself when the small quail took on the Bantam hen.

In real life, if we see someone being bullied, we have the power to step up and be a bully chaser like that quail in Chicken Wrangler Sara’s email today.

I love this quote by  Taylor Swift “If you’re horrible to me, I’m going to write a song about it, and you won’t like it. That’s how I operate.”

That’s being a bully chasing quail!

For another example of how  an overweight television newscaster handled being bullied, check out fellow WANA tribe member Ginger Calem’s blog about the much publicized bullying episode.

YOUR TURN: Have you had any experience with a bully? Did a quail come to your rescue? Or have you ever stepped up to be a bully chasing quail?