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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.

Dec222007_7583-2

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.

YOUR TURN:

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.
cars2

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.

11 12, 2013

Claymation Christmas Celebration – One Word Wednesday

By |2013-12-11T06:00:35-06:00December 11th, 2013|Holidays, one word Wednesday|0 Comments

If you’re not familiar with A Claymation Christmas Celebration, you’ve missed a real treat.

The television special won a 1988 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program following its original broadcast on the CBS TV in 1987.

It was my youngest daughter’s favorite holiday television special. Still is.

We watched the show live and then for years afterward on VHS to kick-start the holiday at our house. She’s now sharing with her children.

Producer and director Will Vinton used stop motion clay animation to create awesome animation that equals some of today’s high tech productions.

So what’s the story about?

Two prehistoric dinosaurs one named Rex, an intellectual tyrannosaurus, and the other Herb, a dimwitted, bespectacled styracosaurus with a voracious appetite, are the main characters.

The pair guides you along a typical small town’s Christmas choral celebration with various Christmas carols preformed. The California Raisins are special guest stars.

Throughout the story, Rex tries to explain the true pronunciation and meaning of the term wassail. Different groups sing their rendition, all of which are lyrically incorrect.

Finally, a large truck loaded with elfin, cider-swilling townsfolk arrives, singing the correct version. When one of the townies explains wassailing means going around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols and getting treats and cordials, Rex’s theories are validated, much to his delight.

My favorite carol from the show is “We Three Kings.”

The Walrus ice-skating to “Angels We Have Heard on High” is a very close second.

If you want, you can watch the full thirty-minute show on YouTube here.

For repeated viewing, you can purchase your own VHS video from Amazon or a DVD with Will Vinton’s Claymation productions for Easter and Halloween.

9 12, 2013

Christmas Customs and Traditions – Carols and Caroling

By |2013-12-09T06:00:00-06:00December 9th, 2013|Holidays, Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

Christmas music blogEvery year, the holidays bring Christmas music playing non-stop through store speakers and on every radio station. Satellite radio devotes entire channels to holiday songs. Cable networks have channels exclusively for holiday music and shows.

Christmas carols show up at the same time every year and their annual appearance signals the descent of the Christmas spirit.

According to blogger Nathan Heller, “A December without them would be strange and slightly lonely, yet the prospect of their absence tends to be, by one week in, a reason in itself to look forward to the New Year.”

The word carol or carole is a medieval word of French and Anglo-Norman origin, meaning a dance song or a circle dance accompanied by singing. A carol, by broad definition, means a song of joy.

Yuletide songbooks overflow. Church hymnals devoted whole sections to Christmas songs.

Probably the most popular Christmas song is Jingle Bells, a song written by James Lord Pierpont, not for Christmas, but for the sleigh races held in his New England hometown.

Johnny Marks, a Jew who specialized in Christmas songs, gave us “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer“,”Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree“, and “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas.” There’s a complete list of his songs here.

rudolphsheetmusicI still dig out my copy of the original Rudolph sheet music every year.

But the tunes I think of as Christmas carols date back to the 14th century and the medieval English songs written with alternating verse and refrain, at times blending two languages such as English and Latin.

Songs sung around the themes of the Christ child or the Virgin Mary.

The carols that bring to mind the Victorian era and Christmas caroling with ladies with muffs and men in top hats. Victorian Carolers

And, family times around the piano on Christmas Eve singing carols from the church hymnal. Christmas 1957

 

A tradition our family carries from  generation to generation.

music traditionEvery year new versions of these old songs, secular and traditional, emerge.

The popularity of flash mob caroling found in the video below confirms the impact Christmas carols and caroling can have.

People stop what they are doing. They listen. They join in.

Whether you lean toward secular songs or Christmas hymns or newer contemporary songs, carols and caroling bring a Christmas spirit that speaks to the continuity of Christmas past and a hope of Christmas future.

YOUR TURN: Do you have a favorite Christmas tune?

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:

advent-wreath-coloring-page

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

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

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