Monday, May 30, 2022

Milliron Monday: The Morning the Toad Sang

Milliron Farm & Clinic from the Federal Creek bridge 2021

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017), including his wife Jody (1938-2021)

"Each voice has its own melodic and rhythmic life, 
independent of others."
―Jody Smith, Listening to Baroque Homework Notes 1957

There is a pile of typewritten stories on yellowed paper from the Milliron farmhouse. The thin paper holds scenes of dirty dishes, woodlands, and kids. Many stories through many years, this one is from Jody's at-home Famous Writers School writer's course:

The Morning the Toad Sang
by Jody Smith

    Early this summer as I was attacking a kitchen with dirty dishes climbing out of the sink and overflowing the counters, my little girl, Jessica, came running in.

“Come now, Mommy!”

Her brother, Pat, was pursuing a toad across the yard. She was sure he would get warts on his hands. I was sure the toad would get injured either by the boy or the two dogs who had joined in the chase.

I scooped up the toad. It soon settled, cupped in my hands. We all lay down on the fresh grass; the children’s faces were alive with eagerness to see the toad closeup. I put my hands on the ground and then stroked the toad’s rough back. He ducked his head, blinking his eyes, but remained calm. Gingerly, Jessica stroked the toad as I explained away the “wart story” she had heard from a child on the school bus.

Pat was eager to hold the toad in his over-zealous, four year old hands. He demanded “his toad” immediately. I watched fascinated, as the toad hopped casually from my hands across a few inches of grass and a tree root onto Pat’s hand, pressed palm up in the grass. His face lit up with joy. He ventured cautiously to stroke the toad. He held his breath and began to caress it. He talked to it quietly.

Jessica and I watched from outside his world. Then, in the hush of the warm May morning, the toad began to chirp. “Listen, Mommy, he’s singing us a song.” Pat’s round brown eyes shone. I was transfixed. The moments stood still until the toad hopped slowly from Pat’s hand. Pat explained, “He’s got to go home now.” He hopped into a drain tile and out of sight. This was the first of many gentle meetings which highlighted our summer with “Pat’s toad.” I wish we could execute a “piaffe” and have this marvelous age of four just “trot in place.” But, as it already rushes onto five, the memory of the morning the toad sang remains.


Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.


Monday, May 23, 2022

Milliron Monday: Blackberry Pie & Biscuits


Author & Illustrator Sandra Russell at Milliron Clinic
Original Art (c) Sandra Russell

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017), including his wife Jody (1938-2021)

If food's involved, Pete will be there.
― Jody Smith

Blackberry Pie & Biscuits

Art & Story by Sandra Russell

In the pantheon of veterinarians "Pete Smith" was a god! I had a long background series of animals with Pete Smith. My mom, my brother also. I could write a couple more stories about him as far as that goes. How he helped my mom, and myself so many times. Since1974 !!!  - up until shortly before he died. Some of the animals needed chronic care and so I would trade blackberry pie and biscuits for some of the treatments. The last pie I baked was baked in an antique stove with a movable propane tank in a field. I was semi-homeless, as in, I lived in a camper in a field with an electric pole and had a tiny gas stove under a tarp. I would uncover it, hook it up to the gas tank and bake a pie. I would trade these to Pete for surgery and medications for a cat with cancer. All a long time ago. But he was the best vet ever.

Pete told me once that there are five or six different local parasites that can do a dog damage; fleas, some lice, ticks, deer ticks etc. A couple of these vermin live under the skin and are not visible...the eggs manifest on the hair of the animal, but you don't see the bug.

Well I have an old cat "Miss White" who should be named Miss Betty White as old as she is...but no, she's from Clue. I picked her up as a stray at the hospital so she was Nurse White, then just Miss. She is plagued by some bug that drives her nuts and so I went to Friendly Paws and got one generic powdered Capstar, which is a flea killer that works for 24 hours, and then a tube of a topical bug killer to put on her tomorrow. This combo should provide some relief and is cheaper than going to the local vet who knows nadda about how to fix this problem, and costs 3x's as much to fail. Wish me luck.

Read more from Sandra here.

Have a great week ahead.

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Do My Clothes Make Me Look Fat? Art & Story by Sandra Russell


Do my clothes make my head look fat?

How do I express myself with fashion?

I have been given the task middle of June to help a group of teens define an aspect of their personality or goals by designing an outfit that somehow represents themselves. I am as yet unsure what may be involved exactly? I'm thinking they will want some abstract goal, like 'I want to be a hero' or I want to be 'rich smart and successful, the envy of all who see me?' But it may just be something simple like...'Who am I now? And can I say something to express just a little bit of swagger, a little bit of cool and feel that this removeable skin of fashion can contribute to my feeling good?

This morning I reflected on some clothing aspects that made my mother, grandmother, and self feel ill at ease, or feel really fine with what we wore. Grandma was certainly not concerned with promoting her appearance as a beauty. She was way too busy working a farm, raising six kids, and teaching school. I remember her 'look' to be always practical. She had a few dresses in dark colors, blues and browns, with patterns that sort of ran together like mashed grapes and leaves in a barrel. "Won't show the dirt". For laundry was done by hand and difficult to accomplish. I did note an element of luxury in that when she could, she wore silk.

My mother on the other hand wore pastel colors and prints such as polka dots, or broad stripes where the colors separated on a field and did not touch. She would actually feel ugly in blended colors or greyed down colors. Her ideal was head to toe matching purse, shoes, and a clear, mint green or pink dress.

I remember having horrible taste in clothes as a kid or teen, I liked vests and leggings and skirts and shirts that didn't 'go together', I don't really think I thought of the body as one unit? I didn't see anything wrong with arms one color, legs another. I'm better at mixing textures and all that as an adult. But recalling how emotionally effecting clothes can be will serve me in questioning the designs the teens may want? I am certainly not going to object to someone who feels powerful in head to toe aqua. It's their design.   

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

This Week @ Monday Creek: At the Library


Historians can wear many important hats. Archiving, preserving, and collecting photos, documents, etc., can be overwhelming. Local History Librarian, Lorinda LeClain, fills her days sorting through memorabilia. Recently, I had the opportunity to connect with Lorinda at the Nelsonville Public Library. Lorinda’s desk is hedged in history.

A seasoned professional, Lorinda plays a vital role in keeping our history alive. She is a researcher, teacher, writer, cultural interpreter, and primary resource for local history. Want to know about your great-great-grandfather who lived in Chauncey? Ask Lorinda. She may have photos and documents that you may not have seen.

Besides her role as local historian, Lorinda is also a published writer. She is the author of Images of America: Nelsonville (Arcadia Publishing 2015), a detailed account of Daniel Nelson, the founder of Nelsonville.

In the near future, Monday Creek Publishing will be collaborating with Lorinda to produce writing journals for library patrons. We are excited about this opportunity and will keep you updated as cover designs and ideas come to fruition.

Stop in and tell Lorinda I sent you! Peruse the historical archives and see if you find something about your past you might not of known.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Milliron Monday: My Poem Anthology by Noah Fox

Abbott "Pete" Smith D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010
Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017), including his wife Jody (1938-2021)

“I find hope in the people I meet.
Noah Fox

The third of Pete and Jody's grandchildren, Noah has vivid memories of Milliron Farm and Clinic. Visiting with Noah last week, I asked if he would consider writing Milliron Monday and share his memories. I hope we hear from him in the upcoming months. 

An expressive and thoughtful writer, here are a few of Noah's childhood poems from My Poem Anthology:

Noah and friends in SE Ohio

Have a great week ahead.

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Don't Overthink, Overwork, Overedit...Or If You Do; Keep the Sketch - Original Art & Story by Sandra Russell

Don't Overthink, Overwork, Overedit...Or If You Do; Keep the Sketch
Original Art & Story by (c) Sandra Russell

This washed off illustration is as a souvenir or as an illustration of the beauty that inspired it; now more or less trash. The yellow is all over the place, and the original poetry of the tree is lost in too many afterthought branches. I left it this way to prove a point. That point being that sometimes we overwork an initial impression to make it 'right’ and lose the original. The results may have been more correct as a result of these many focused moments, but the poetry was lost. The result was no longer personal, and the whole thing became wooden and lifeless. I myself am often content with a gestural strike and a slur that shoots from the hip. It's juicier and more alive and I don't mind that. I am hoping to bridge the gap of 'doing it right' and 'doing it truthfully' by drawing and painting outside in watercolor, in pencil sketches and allowing the moment to be what it is. 

Monday morning I went to Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio. Lisa Schorr is the director of arts education at The Decorative Arts Center of Ohio (DACO). They are offering a free and open painting, drawing and fellowship opportunity with plein air painting. I did not stay long as I had forgotten some of my equipment but it was a gorgeous day, the pond was glistening with sheets of colors in the sunlight. I could see a sort of cobalt blue just where the water met at tan. But at the periphery of my view, olive green and teal shards floated above a burnt umber ground. The spring greens and harshly yellow baby grasses and shrubs lay in stripes of crayon green and piney darks across the lawn. The people around me were absorbed in their own responses to the sight before them and probably also the mission/dream/bias of what they would eventually be taking home as a work of art?

I tried to work from memory, a big mistake...not to say that had I had all my colors with me to capture what I saw, (not what a camera saw) I could have done a studio work from that; that would hold much of the meaning of the original sketch? I know that they will be doing this from 10:00 till 12:00 noon on Mondays in May. Anyone with an interest in such fellowship and study is welcome to attend. Just look for the banner or the easels, or the sketchbooks and join in.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Vacation Original Art & Story by © Sandra Russell



Original Art & Story by © Sandra Russell

I've been thinking about vacation. The idea of abandoning the daily pendulum, track loop or whatever repeat; pause; repeat responsibilities that sort of eat up your soul has grown and groaned accustomed to, needs a boost of energy. Vacation is an idea that not only is a break from routine behavior and a sense of loss or waste somehow attends that behavior, but that a new point of view can refresh the mind, body, and spirit. A sort of rebirth and a chance to change a couple things that have been missing from your life. That brings me to mention a couple of 'vacationers' I saw this week. One couple I saw (reminds me of a t-shirt I saw when I lived on Nantucket for a few months), it read, "Don't hassle me; I'm local". My advice to vacationers if I were to give any, is this: I get that you spent real life money to visit a 'pink cloud' vacation; where you have great expectations to find life 'interesting', but remember, those living here are not on vacation.  

Sometimes vacationers go a little out of bounds, so be sure you are not taking your position as a privileged one; people you meet are not likely also on vacation; nor are they working for you, in service to you, to expect a tour guide relationship from a friendly face is to ask too much. You are not a private guest but a visitor to an area. To ask directions, or for recommendations for places to see, eat, things to do, is fine, and deserves hospitality in return. We not on pink cloud need to allow the guest to enjoy the bubble, but remember the difference.

I would not say "When in Rome; do as the Roman's do." It's okay to be yourself. Just that I am seeing my position as 'host' rather more as an ambassador of my community. I see your position as much the same for your own community, state, family self-dignity. As we take turns moving from place to place we are remembered for more than just a pair of flip flops, sunglasses and a funky hat, we do stand in for; like it or not, a larger social body. Be cool and have a great vacation.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

This Week @ Monday Creek: Sunflowers

There's a lot of excitement at Monday Creek! With the onset of Spring, we find ourselves busy fixing farm fence, mowing, cleaning, and assessing our next big project (maybe an indoor riding arena!).

Even though it’s too early to plant a garden for fear of frost, I can’t resist all of the offerings from the local greenhouses. Not far is a hidden treasure – Fannin Family Farms Greenhouse & Farmstand.

When I stopped by the greenhouse, the early morning air was still cool and all the plants were in the greenhouses from the night before. The proprietor was busy placing plants outside for gardeners to see. They stock a variety of healthy flowers and vegetables to choose from. It’s the perfect place to find garden plants or something to give as a gift (Mother’s Day is Sunday!). I highly recommend this family owned greenhouse!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Stockhands Horses for Healing: An Interview with Tim Funk


Stockhands Horses for Healing: An Interview with Tim Funk

by Gina McKnight
Archived from the April 2022 Issue of Florida Equine Athlete
No duplication without permission.

“A horse will tell you a lot about yourself if you listen.”

Facebook is a great tool for connecting people – and in this case horse people. I was out of town several weeks ago and noticed a man wearing a jacket with the Stockhands Horses for Healing logo on the back. I was in a hurry and didn’t have a chance to connect with the man, but I made a mental note of the logo. When I arrived home, I searched for the organization and found that I have a Facebook friend, Tim Funk, who is the founder of Stockhands Horses for Healing! Wow! I was excited. I reached out to Tim about his program. I have never met Tim in person, but he has invited me to his stables, which I hope to visit this summer.

Stockhands Horses for Healing is located in Delaware, Ohio. From their website: “Stockhands Horses for Healing is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing equine facilitated therapies to veterans, adults, and children with developmental, mental, physical, and emotional disabilities and challenges.

“Our mission is to facilitate a positive and non-judgmental environment for participants and their families. Stockhands is a place where human and animal relationships can flourish through effective and creative equine assisted therapy.”

Welcome, Tim!

GM: Tim, it is great to have you here. Thank you for connecting! I always begin with asking about horse history. When was your first encounter with a horse?

TF: My first encounter with horses was at a very young age. My grandparents had a couple of horses. Nothing really flashy, mainly pasture pets. They were my dad’s when he was younger. At the age of 13 I started working as a stall boy for a local breeder of Appaloosas. The job didn’t pay much but I gained some experience. After working there for about six months, I purchased a yearling mare from them and started the journey of horsemanship. I started her under saddle at the age of two. My father was able to help some with this - he was of the old school of cowboying them out. So I made a ton of mistakes along the way. She did turn out to be a decent trail horse. I never took any formal lessons and was pretty much a passenger until later in life when I relearned basic riding and training. My grandfather taught me how to do a basic trim as well. I got way from horses for a while and enlisted in the United States Marine Corp (1991-1996). During this time I had an opportunity to go to the Marine Corp Mountain Warfare Training Grounds in Bridgeport, California. There I was reintroduce to horses and mules. I took a packing course and learned how to pack and negotiate terrain with mules. I decided at this time that I wanted to be a farrier when I got out of the Marine Corp. When I got out, I was slated to go to the Kentucky School of Horseshoeing, but life changed plans and I had to get full-time employment rather quickly because my wife announced we were expecting out first child. So horses were put on hold again.

GM: Thank you for your service. You certainly have an interesting background with horses! How did Stockhands Horses for Healing begin?

TF: I struggled with alcohol after getting out of the Marine Corp and was without horses for a lot of years. So I decided to get back to my roots so to speak. I purchased a 13yr old Appendix Quarter Horse. Where again I had to relearn what I thought I knew about riding. I eventually purchased three more horses and my family of four started trail riding.

A friend of the family reached out to us and asked if she could bring her 12-year-old Autistic son out to ride one of our horses. Naturally I said yes, she then told me that he was nonverbal and didn’t want to be touched. So I picked out the best horse we had, a 4-year-old spotted saddle horse that I started the right way. This mare was quiet and very willing to please. The day came for the young man to come out and ride. My daughter had taken that horse to trail ride that day. The only horse I had available was the grumpy Appendix Quarter Horse. You had to be an experienced rider on him. He didn’t like to stand still and would crow hop, pop up in front every time; just full of energy and ready to go. I rode him before the young man showed up and  it wasn’t a great ride… The young man arrived and came into our small front pasture. He came over to where I had a mounting block and climbed right on the horse. The first thing I noticed was the horse’s demeanor totally changed. We stepped away from the block and he hung his head like an old peanut roller show horse. Every time the young man would shift his weight in the saddle, the horse would stop and turn his head back to look at him. We walked around for about ten minutes like this. My first thought that there was something wrong with the horse. I asked the young man if he was done and he shook his head, “Yes.”  He popped off the horse and landed on his feet, then his butt, and got back to his feet. At this time my daughter showed up and came and retrieved the horse. As soon as they were away from us, the horse went back to his normal high energy prancing self.

Me and the young man started to walk back to the pasture gate, about 40 yards away. He reached over and took my hand and held it till we got to the gate. His mother was there waiting for us with tears in her eyes. I assured her he was fine, me thinking she was upset because of his not so graceful dismount. So as I have learned, when women cry it is generally my fault so I made a haste exit. It wasn’t till later that night that I learned that he doesn’t hold his mother’s hand or his father’s or anyone’s.

After that I started to do some research on equine therapeutic riding and contacted another friend whose nephew was autistic and wanted to see if I could recreate the first experience with the same horse. This young man was four-years-old. The same changes happened with the horse and same change with the new rider. This is when I decided to Open Stockhands. I found a certified instructor and a facility to lease with an indoor arena. We opened our doors in July of 2014. Since then I went through the process of becoming a PATH  certified instructor. Currently we have five certified instructors and service 80 participants a week

GM: You offer many wonderful programs that connect horses with people; at risk youth, veterans and first responders, reading with horses, and much more. All of the programs sound intriguing. How can people enroll for a program?

TF: those who want to join one of our programs can reach us through our website or email me

GM: Do participants choose a horse? Or do you assign horses to individuals?

TF: Depending on the program. We try our best to match participants with an equine partner that will best suit their needs. Some riders may need a more forward moving horse to help with stemming or to build more core strength. Or riders may need a stouter slow-moving horse to be able to better support the rider. Programs that have the mental health aspect to them, the rider or participant generally connects with a horse while touring the stables.

GM: Tell us about your horses. How do you acquire them, how many do you stable, and what are the requirements for being a Stockhands horse?

TF: Currently we have 30 equine partners, they range from minis to a 17.3 draft horse. In the beginning most of our horses where donated. This came with problems - everyone has the perfect therapy horse and would like to donate, most are up there in age and come with various lameness issues. We except horse donations but they have to be between 4-18, sound, and be able to drive, walk, trot, and canter. They go through a very stringent evaluation period before they are allowed into the program. Not every horse can do this job. They must be calm and understanding of what is being asked of them and it can be a lot at times. We are not only asking our equine partners to carry us around an arena. We are also asking them to carry our trauma and or emotional baggage.

GM: Describe a typical day in your life with horses...

TF: As anyone with horses knows it is not a 9-5 type of job. There is always something to be done from cleaning stalls, feeding, lessons, stalls again. My role is program director, instructor, and barn manger. I teach on Monday and Thursday evenings. I love to watch the growth in our participants - from them learning to be a little more independent to saying their first words on the back of their equine partner. Believe it or not, I find great joy in cleaning stalls. I get to visit with each horse and relax and reflect on our progress, it is my own Zen Garden and I have sense of accomplishment after each stall. My favorite time of the day is morning walks into the barn; the smell of hay and saw dust, hearing the horses nicker when they hear the door open.

GM: Sounds wonderful. You are helping others while fulfilling your own purpose. What is the most important aspect of being with horses that people should know?

TF: Horses live in the now. For the most part, they are reactive verses proactive. They are not hanging on to their past or preparing for their future. A horse will tell you a lot about yourself if you listen. Horses will reflect what we are feeling - if I am anxious or nervous, they will be anxious or nervous. We are a part of their herd by default when we are working with them.

GM: What advice do you have for novice riders looking to find their first horse?

TF: The best advice I can give a new horse owner before buying is to take lessons and work with a riding program (stalls, feeding, etc.). Know exactly what you are getting into. Ride as many different types of horses possible and as many different types of disciplines. Talk and learn from everyone in the industry. You can never know enough. Constantly learn and keep an open mind.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?

TF: Over the years my answer to this constantly evolves. In the beginning, it was about controlling the horse and getting them to do what I wanted. Now it is more of learning to partner with them, understanding how we can support one another. Riding as one and not trying to figure out who is in control.

Connect with Tim… 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Florals of Spring Art & Story © by Sandra Russell

Spring Florals Original Art (c) Sandra Russell

Florals of Spring

Art & Story © by Sandra Russell

Springtime means flowers. Face it; even if you are a person who does not cut or pick bouquets of flowers to bring into the house, even if you are not blown away by the surprise of seeing crocus, or daffodils popping up in clusters where only winter's footprint left a brown patch of muddy leaves and a debris of crushed tree bark: even if you are not a planter of flowers; boxes of petunias along the window ledge, pots hanging from macramé straps, or from long iron hooks; even if you are not one of these folks; if you have a working nose the flowers will find you. 

Take a step outside. The scent of the flowers will become a part of the breath you take. You have absorbed a floral note. Haha, just having fun with this, but maybe you want to sing a little like the birds around you? Focusing on a scent is a bit like tasting. Smelling hot bread, or apple pie before you take a bite has already been experienced as a taste in your mouth, right? So where does the scent of flowers go? Not the mouth so much, maybe to the heart, the mind's memory of love. For me, the scent of flowering trees fills me with a sense of fullness, but almost a gluttony...'more please'...I want to hold this moment a bit longer. So, I pick some flowers to bring into the house, they look gorgeous, even just a few in a jar can transform the feel of the room. Stalks of gladiola in a tall vase, maybe mixed with some lilacs and lilies has a majestic presence that can turn a hovel into a castle. The power of the eternal memory and beauty of flowers is for anyone to reach out and touch. But keeping, whether left outdoors or plucked for the table, that is the brief transience of the flower, as you pass by you catch it, like blown kisses you catch with your heart. 

Stuff & Nonsense: Introducing Celeste Parsons, Ohio Writer

Greetings from southeastern Ohio! My name is Celeste Parsons, and I live here on a 48-acre former dairy farm with my husband Jim, our Westie...