Monday, December 31, 2012

Daily Poem & Photo

Twittering at my window
Angry eye pins me
Why is there no seed out here?

Chestnut-backed Chickadee glaring at me for letting the feeder get empty

All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2012, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form:  Haiku 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Daily Photo: Freya's Christmas

Freya had to be outside today
Freya watches from the sunroom on Christmas Day. 

Imagine an exuberant 120 lb puppy joining in with the Christmas fun. Each gleeful squeal would be seen as an invitation to leap and bound and join in the unwrapping fun!  Christmas is fun!  Puppies like fun!  Wheeeeee!

So, yes, Freya spent the day out in the sunroom.  Don't worry though.  She curled up on the green velvet sofa and watched us through the window.

Merry Christmas, Freya!  Maybe next year you'll be an indoor dog for Christmas!  We'll work on your down-stay so that you can be a good girl even when things are exciting!  Promise!

Daily Poem: The Ohm of Writing

The Ohm of Writing

Dark and cold.
Colorful Christmas lights.  Dogs curled near me.
Distractions pushed away.
I put my fingers to the keys and write.
It's like meditation.
When the distractions push at me, I just write.
Let them float by me . . .
and write.
Just write.

All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2012, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Just do it! Just say no!

Just read a post about how to write 1000 high quality words in an hour by someone named Danny Iny.  I guess he's a name -- calls himself the Freddy Krueger of Blogging.  (Is that a good thing?  The visual is disturbing to say the least!).  Anyway, here's Danny's advice in a nutshell.  Sit down to write and be organized about it.  Know what you are going to write about, have an outline, have a hook and then write.

Good advice and a varient -- focused for blogging -- on what I teach my students to do.  Know your genre, know where you are going, and write.  Add in details, add in description, add in the things that good writers do (craft).  Revise.  Edit.  Publish.

I love it when my teaching matches real world expectations.  It makes me proud of what I do with kids.  I particularly love it when my teaching could be applied to myself.  So, what do you need to do to be a successful writer?  Write.

That's what everyone says.  Just bloody well write.  Everyday, even if you are just writing crap!

I've been warming up my writing skills again by writing poetry which is, I think, a good start but not sufficient.

So, here's my plan.

  • write and post daily poems
  • write blog posts 3 times a week
  • take more photographs (blog fodder and creative juices)
  • work on novel for 1 hour a day minimum

What was that old Nike slogan?  Just do it!

And why is that mentally tied to the Nancy Reagan slogan -- Just say no!  I think I'll apply that part of it to just saying no to distractions and excuses.

Write.  Every.  Damn.  Day.  Just do it.

Just say no to Facebook and  Pinterest and playing games and wasting time browsing the interwebs.  Just say no to quitting before you start.  Just say no to not trying.  Just say no to failure.

Being a writer has been my dream for as long as I can remember.  I have always seen myself as a writer.

I just don't do it. . . consistently, thoughtfully, with dedication.   I just haven't done it.

Writers write because they have to and I've been shoving that part of myself aside.

Enough is enough.

Today, I write.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today's thoughts

Grief weighs down on us
Pulling us to dark places
I insist on joy
Let light fill us up
Blasting away grimy muck
With super cleansing power

All content (words or images) by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2012, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License
Poem form:  Tanka 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mondays are tough . . .

Raven Silhouette I
Solitary Raven
I love my job -- I really do.  Sometimes though, it's tough.  Having to guide students through grief and fear is very, very difficult.  I don't want to have the kinds of conversations that I need to have with my kids.  I want to teach them about reading great books, writing from their hearts, solving the puzzles that are math problems, treating their friends well, the amazing and wonderful state of California, and art . . . I want to teach them about all the good in life.   I don't want to teach them about death and grief and sorrow and fear.  

But, that's the job.  Sometimes, you put aside the lesson plans and deal with the real feelings and emotions of the day.  You walk that fine line between preparing and scaring.  You let them know you love and support them and that all the grownups at our school will do whatever we can to keep them safe.   

And, then you teach math.  And reading.  And writing.  And art.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cold Morning Haiku

Crazy Quilt - Grandfather's Ties

Curled under a soft, old quilt
Cold air sneaking in at the edges
The smell of coffee brewing

All images and content by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2012, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Monday, December 10, 2012

Getting ready . . .

Yesterday, we spent our day in Middle Earth!  We should have started earlier on our journey as we did not quite finish.  We started around 10am with a bit of a break around 2pm (to make lunch and work on recalcitrant Christmas tree lights).  It was a great day.  My mother-in-law joined us although she left before we watched the first disc of Return of the King.  We are going to watch the last disc of that movie tonight.  What an adventure!

We ate like Hobbits all day.  I made second breakfast of eggs, bacon, and Yorkshire pudding.  We had sausage and potatoes for lunch.  Later, we had some dip and chips and then chocolate chip cookies.  Oh, and we enjoyed tea throughout!  It seemed that the best way we could help Frodo and the gang was to keep our strength up!  No point in getting peckish!

All this in preparation for The Hobbit movie which starts on Friday!  And, to think . . . it's only part I!  We're so excited!

Friday, December 7, 2012

When I was a fledgling birder (I think I still am, though), there was a blog carnival called I and the Bird.  I started off reading and commenting and eventually got brave enough to submit my own posts to the carnival and, in time, to host the carnival.  I loved it and knowing it was out there pushed me as a birder.

But all good things must come to an end and eventually so did I and the Bird.

It was sad but I totally understood.

Imagine my delight when I realized that it was back!

Here is the current issue of I and the Bird - Cormorants and Darters.  Somehow I missed the previous edition on Nuthatches, dur!

You can check out my post that was included but also check out the other posts about these cool, fishing birds.

It's Friday!  Learn something new!

Friday, November 30, 2012


Rain in my driveway

Splatter patter splash
Plinkety plunk
Drip drip drip
Roaring, driving, raging
Rushing, gushing

All content by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2012, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time to go on the hunt

It was a beautiful fall day in the Santa Cruz Mountains yesterday.  We headed up to Crest Ranch to get our Christmas tree.  The sun was brilliant.  The sky was hyper-blue.  The air was crisp.  We could see for miles.  What a day.
Off on the hunt
Setting off on the hunt.  
We are very particular about our trees but we tend to make up our minds quickly.  So, we only considered a few which I took pictures of so we could compare on the spot.  Sometimes there is little doubt and sometimes we wander the whole property before making up our minds.
This one?
This one?
This one?
Or this one? 
This one!
When we found it, we just knew!  It was perfect.  Not too tall.  Not too skinny.  Not too many holes in the branches.  It was just right!

Then the cutting begins.
Greg got it started
Greg got it started.
Gage took a turn
Gage's turn. 
Ruth's turn
Ruth's turn.
Victory 2012
Tree done -- Christmas 2012 can begin.
We got it home and into the house that same day.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Proper forestry management

Our Christmas tree farm has very strict rules about leaving branches when you cut the tree so that the tree can grow back in the future and their farm is sustainable.

We like to take things even further.

The kids counted the number of rings.
Counting the rings on our tree's stump
Love the intensity.
They estimate that the tree we cut down was 12 years old.  So, we decided to replace it with another 12 year old.
Another 12 year old tree
Nice widespread branches, good height.  
Do you cut above the feet or below?
I love the delighted fear on Gage's face as his sister runs the saw against his jeans.
Now, when you cut down a 12 year old boy/tree, do you leave the feet or take the feet?

Fall tree at Crest Ranch
A beautiful place for getting a tree:  Crest Ranch

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Family traditions

The SF Auto Show is held the weekend of Thanksgiving.  For the past several years, the Millers have enjoyed going and doing some fantasy building there.

It's so fun to really get to touch the cars, sit in them, push buttons, open spaces, and really see if a car would work for you.  There is no pressure -- there are plenty of folks there to distract the sales folks on the floor but they are there if you want more information.

We all end up with our favorites, our dreams.

Gage loves muscle cars.
Ruth discovered this year that convertibles are very nice.
Sometimes you just need a break!
Black and sleek always works . . . 
Hi Gage!  Gage still loves a good photobomb!
What's not to like about an over-the-top Lambo?
The Academy of Arts University has an antique car exhibition here every year.  It's really amazing to see these mint condition cars all lined up.
A ridiculously cute old BMW 
MGB GT - just like my parents bought in England when I was a little girl.  Only ours was orange.  

Oh my goodness. Jags have ALWAYS been fabulous.
Greg's favorite of the show.  Wow.  
And, sometimes, based on what we've seen and touched and talked about, our plans (and dreams) may change.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blast from the Past

When 10,000 Birds puts out the call for posts for the latest (newly revived) I and the Bird, I respond.  They are looking for posts with Double-Crested Cormorants.  Not to toot my own horn, but I took an amazing series of photos of a Cormorant waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2007.

Wanna see:

Double-crested Cormorant
Here's the cormorant in a small pond near my mother-in-law's house.
Double-crested Cormorant
I walked around to the other side of the bird and got just too close and it launched . . . 
Double-crested Cormorant
This shot just blows me away whenever I see it.
Double-crested Cormorant
It was a brief take-off.
Double-crested Cormorant
And it's attitude is all . . . what, I meant to do this.
I hope you enjoyed this blast from the past.  Cormorants are pretty cool birds.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Pelican Fibonacci Poem

wings span
until soaring flight
shows your hidden graceful soul -- fly

All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
All photographs taken by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2012, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wildlife Videos

I used to have a bunch of videos on GoogleVideo but they kept bugging me to migrate them to YouTube.  So, I did.

If you want to see things like ravens chattering to each other, coyotes singing in the early morning, chestnut-backed chickadees darting to and from my feeders, then come take a look.

Liza's YouTube Channel

Random pigeon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Roses, Waterton National Park, Canada

Wildflowers, Glacier National Park

Wildflowers, Glacier National Park