Walking is my most favorite exercise next to being in the swimming pool. When we lived in the mountains, some days I walked 5+ miles. Lovely weather, lovely views.
My four-legged boys always went with me. Most times, hubby-dear did. We walked no matter the weather.
We don’t have the cool weather walks any more or the mountains. Our view is filled with massive, hundred-year-old oaks that shade our way.
And we go early in the mornings before the sun rises enough to crest the treetops.
Buster’s thirteen so he doesn’t move as fast. Finn turns around and checks on us often. He does not grasp social distancing.
Walking’s safe and an easy form of exercise. No added athletic skill needed, no training, or special equipment required. Well, you do need a good pair of walking shoes, but then you need good shoes anyway.
Walking is easy…you might say automatic. No thinking involved with the exception that you do need to make sure you don’t trip or walk into something.
Walking allows our five senses to experience what’s around us. The sound of a bird’s song, the breeze rustling the leaves. The scent of fresh cut grass. The sweet aroma of honeysuckle blooming on a neighborhood fence.
Walking reminds us of the real world around us. One that isn’t from the news or a movie or a tv series. Sequestered inside we sometimes forget the good that’s outside our door.
Walking can help us feel better physically and mentally. When I walk the dogs placing one foot in front of the other and taking in the sights refreshes my brain and my spirit.
Walking can take our minds off these troubling times of this pandemic.
My walking companions and I recommend going for a walk. We always feel better when we do. You might too.
A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
Part of my music education was ear training. This involved identifying different instruments, different parts of a music selection and even specific notes and rhythms in a song. These are very useful skills as a music teacher. I teach these skills to my students on a simpler level and the youngest classes get very excited about writing rhythms.
These astute listening skills can be a detriment, however. When a song we play on the praise team at church does not end the way my ear believes it should, I confess there are times when I quietly resolve the chord just for my own peace of mind.
I can also identify nonmusical sounds.
For example, a couple of weeks ago Beekeeper Brian and I were lying in bed, reading, and we heard an unusual noise. It sounded like the ceiling fan was blowing a piece of paper but that wasn’t the case.
We looked around for a minute then the sound stopped. When it started up again, my aural memory kicked in and I said “that’s a click beetle.”
For those who don’t know, it is a beetle that makes a clicking noise as it tries to get from its back to its stomach. I guess it is a step up from a roach that just stays on its back until it dies.
Here’s a picture of one in the kitchen.
I, on the other hand, was thankful the skills I learned earning my music degrees continue to be useful.
Stories with heroes who persevered, who vanquished evil, who faced natural and supernatural challenges, who made sacrifices to a greater good. Those stories stick in my head like all the fairy tales of my childhood.
I’m learning courage comes in a variety of forms. Then I look around and realize we’re seeing a lot of courage in real time.
Think about the courageous people out there:
~The parent trying to figure out how to feed their kids when unemployment insurance gives out or never arrives. The ones juggling work from home with family under foot. Or, struggling to make the best decision for their kid’s schooling this year.
~The adult child dealing with an aging parent, who may or may not have COVID-19, in a nursing home or not, impossible to touch or hug.
~The teenager caring for sick parents or waiting on test results themselves.
Then there are the medical professionals worldwide who go to work every day with a lack of medical equipment or PPE while trying to treat too many patients so ill with a disease they don’t know how to cure.
The relief workers, the ambulance workers, the shelter volunteers, the food bank workers, the list goes and on and on.
All of them showing everyday courage to go forward when the world seems to be falling apart around them. Sure, they get mad sometimes or break down completely, sobbing uncontrollably. But the key is they pick themselves up and dust themselves off and go back into the fray.
That’s real-time courage, friends.
Courage is not something you think about or read about. It’s something you do. It’s people who risk their own health and their family’s health to stock shelves or deliver packages every day since this nightmare began. It’s frontline workers risking their lives to save others.
This COVID-10 pandemic demands courage from all of us. And, after this is over (whatever after looks like) these everyday heroes are going to linger in our minds. Same as fiction heroes and superheroes.
We’re not born with courage. If we ask any of these people about their courage, they’ll deny being courageous at all. “I did what I had to do.” or “I didn’t do enough.”
Courage is stepping up to the moment and moving forward, even when forward is uncertain or alarming and just plain scary sometimes.
Look at these people and be inspired. Find your courage. We will get through this. Together.
A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
When I was grading science papers this Spring, I was reminded about life cycles. I saw many drawings of caterpillars to butterflies and tadpoles to frogs.
At Miller Farm I get to witness the life cycle of a chicken.
Of course, they start as eggs in the incubator. That part is pretty boring and lasts 21 days, usually. We always have at least one overachiever who makes their entrance early. Then they cheep loudly to encourage their friends to join them.
After they hatch and dry off they become “fuzzy butts.” These are quite cute and represent what most people think of when they picture chicks.
Shortly after this stage they are in the “piglet” stage where they eat all the time. I guess that helps them grow to be full-sized chickens. Soon these guys will join the rest of the flock.
Alan Greenspan once said, “I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
To me, the quote describes the biggest issue in communication—written or oral.
An obstacle that’s brought home to me every week with my critique partners. The way critique groups work is pages are shared weekly then participants meet – pre-COVID-19 in person, now via video chat – and discuss what was sent.
Greenspan’s quote becomes reality when we discuss what we’ve sent.
Way too often what my critique partners read is not what I wanted to convey. Sometimes it’s the way I wrote something or the words I chose. Other times it’s a total fail because my critique partners didn’t get what I meant.
It’s no mystery why this happens. Each of us brings a distinct perspective to our critiques. We’re all from unique backgrounds and geographic areas and grew up during different time periods (age span of our members is over thirty years).
Misunderstanding what’s on the page can be the kiss of death for a writer because a reader will stop reading. It’s the reason fiction writers spend hours scrambling for the perfect word and rewriting a sentence a gazillion times to capture the perfect nuance.
Reading an incorrect meaning into words–whether written or spoken–happens too often.
Finding, and using, words—spoken or written—that are mutually understood is critical for effective communication, especially in this tense, trying time with COVID-19 hovering, hurricanes lining up, and important elections on the horizon.
So, let’s disprove Mr. Greenspan’s quote and make what we say, or write, match what we mean to eliminate misunderstanding.
A Blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara
The East wall of our chicken coop fell down last week. It is not surprising. It has been slowly deteriorating over the past year. In fact, I was quite amazed when the recent hail storm did not knock it down.
In fact when it fell, there was no wind at all to blow it down. There was no chicken running into it to knock it over. It simply fell.
The chickens ran and squawked in fear. Rachel said they probably thought the sky was falling. She is so clever!
As I looked at the rotting wood on the ground I thought it to be symbolic of our society right now. We have weathered the storm of a pandemic, the darkness of isolation, the fear of uncertainty, the anger of civil unrest yet we remain standing – at least for now.
I believe there are some who are ready to just fall over at any moment. The sheer exhaustion of existing in such uncertainty has worn them down. They have withstood the storm and now they are tired and ready to rest.
So what does this mean to me? It means I must treat everyone very gently because I can’t tell by looking which person is done standing.
I should encourage everyone I see, offer help when I can, write notes and mail them, bake cookies and take them. Anything I can think of that might make people smile even if I can’t see it under their mask. Hopefully I can see it in their eyes.
We will rebuild the chicken coop. When the time is right, people will rebuild their lives, also. I will be standing by with a hammer and nails, and chocolate chip cookies.
For example, do you stumble over sentences like these?
- Their eyes locked across the room.
- His eyes zeroed in on the man lurking in the shadows.
- The man eyed the chocolate cake with the longing of a starving man.
In the first two sentences, I don’t picture actual eyes flying across a room to collide or zoom across space. I guess some people might and do according to the blog I read.
In the third, eye is being used as a verb, which it can be, and should cause no issues.
Some writers would substitute gaze for eyes in the first two sentences. And that’s the writing communities’ preferred word.
Sometimes, I will use gaze too. Other times I go with eyes. It depends on how the sentence reads. Consider this sentence:
The softest green eyes he’d ever seen rambled from his head down to his toes and back again.
I picture eye movement (something you’d see) traveling downward then back up. To substitute eyeballs which is actually what’s moving would sound ridiculous. Using gaze instead of eye would work but, in my opinion, decrease the subtle tension.
Eyes aren’t the only body part that roam.
Fingers fly: Her fingers flew to his cheeks.
Jaws drop: His jaw dropped to the floor.
Arms get shot: She shot her arm out to catch him.
Hands get thrown: He threw up his hands.
Faces fall: Her face fell.
Flying or roaming body parts don’t trouble me. If I read the character “swims through the crowd,” I don’t see splashing water. Or if someone writes “a lump of ice settled in her belly,” I don’t picture actual ice. Describing a character’s eyes with “pools of molten chocolate,” I don’t think he’s got Godiva eyeballs, just deep brown eyes?
A writer’s job is to provide a satisfying experience for the reader by creating a vivid movie in their head. One that combines the richness of language with remarkable stories. I believe being too literal can destroy the richness of language.
So, what’s your take on flying body parts? Do you cringe when you read those sentences? Are you pulled from the story?