Christianity · My Thoughts

What is Holy Week?

Holy Week may have no significance to you. I’m an Episcopalian, rooted deeply in the Anglican tradition, and we celebrate Holy Week, starting today, Palm Sunday. I’d like to share my thoughts with you about the events of Holy Week and the participants who stand out.

“From early times Christians have observed the week before Easter as a time of special devotion. As the pilgrim Egeria recorded in the late fourth century, Jerusalem contained many sacred places that were sites for devotion and liturgy. Numerous pilgrims to the holy city followed the path of Jesus in his last days. They formed processions, worshipped where Christ suffered and died, and venerated relics. From this beginning evolved the rites we observe today on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These services provide a liturgical experience of the last days of Jesus’ earthly life, as well as the time and events leading up to his resurrection.”https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/holy-week

In my tradition, we separate out these events from the Easter celebration. Some of Christianity focuses only on Easter and the Resurrection. I like our way of honoring all the events beforehand that set the stage for Easter.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, not in full Royal regalia but on the back of a donkey colt. His entry defied what the world thought the King of the Jews would do!

Maundy Thursday, we give the willing the opportunity to have their feet washed, again taking Jesus’ actions to heart of “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:64) The act of feet washing is an act of love and service.

            “The Thursday in Holy Week. It is part of the Triduum, or three holy days before Easter. It comes from the Latin mandatum novum, “new commandment,” from Jn 13:34. The ceremony of washing feet was also referred to as “the Maundy.” Maundy Thursday celebrations also commemorate the institution of the eucharist by Jesus “on the night he was betrayed.

Following this, the altar is stripped and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church.”

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/maundy-thursday

Good Friday we provide a quiet solemn time at the church from noon until 3:00 PM doing the Stations of the Cross with ample time for reflection.

            “The Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial.”

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/good-friday

Holy Saturday we have the Easter Vigil Candlelight Service celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

Easter Day is truly a day of celebration—He is risen, He is risen indeed!

So, what’s all the fuss? As I slow down this week and linger at these points along the way, I enrich my Easter experience with the details leading up to the most important day in all Christendom—Easter.

What fascinates me most in the midst of the events are the actual people who participated willingly or unwittingly:

  • Of course, Jesus is center stage. His behavior throughout the week varies. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey colt when many thought the King of the Jews would have a magnificent entrance letting all know of his power and authority. Instead, God wanted a man among men, not an authority figure similar to the Roman dictator and all his fanfare.
  • Jesus needed alone time before the insanity of the week took over, so he drew away in the garden at the Mount of Olives in the dark of the night to pray and anguish over what He faced.
  • The Twelve disciples joined Jesus, but they couldn’t stay awake and support him in prayer. They knew that something was coming and they feared the possibilities. Grief gripped their hearts in the dark of the night, and they drifted off to sleep out of emotional exhaustion.
  • Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He had been one of Jesus’ closest associates but was willing to sell him out for money. When did he stop loving Jesus?
  • Peter denied being a follower of Jesus three times, just as Jesus had predicted. The cock crowed, and at that moment, the eye contact between Jesus and Peter at his third betrayal must have been electric. Why did Peter change so quickly? In Jesus’ stare, Peter realized later a deep forgiveness.
  • Pilate and Herod, world leaders at the time, became mere puppets in the drama that unfolded: Jesus accused; Jesus’ silence enraged them; Jesus’ fate determined by an angry mob, not two world leaders who should have stopped it. Did they realize the position they put themselves in?
  • The angry mob shouted “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate succumbed to their angry words forcing him to sacrifice Jesus instead Barabbas. Did one person start the chant then it grew out of control?
  • Barabbas, a convicted criminal, guilty of insurrection and murder, released from facing this cruel death, and Jesus took his place, innocent of any crime and not guilty. The mob won. Did Barabbas suffer from survivor guilt?
  • Simon of Cyrene, an innocent countryman, forced to carry the cross behind Jesus. What did he think as he watched the wounded Jesus stagger and fall? Did he agree with the decision to crucify Jesus and not Barabbas?
  • Chief Priests hurled insults at Jesus, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God his chosen one!” How could these Godly men watch this horrific torture of another human being and not weep?
  • Two criminals crucified on each side of Jesus. One accused Jesus, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other one identified Jesus’ innocence. Jesus promised the repentant one, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
  • The centurion witnessed Jesus’ death, “Certainly this man was innocent.” Did he sob at what he saw?
  • Women followers stood at a distance in shock, not knowing what to do. We know there were three or four women, but we’re not sure who they were except for Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Were they able to sleep Friday and Saturday night as they grieved over the death of their Jesus?
  • Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council and a good man who did not agree with what happened asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and he laid Jesus in a tomb. Did he think that Jesus would burst forth from this tomb?

 

            It took this whole cast of characters plus many others to put into action the events that happened during Holy Week. Some names we know; some unnamed, but yet they participated in a succession of actions that changed the course of history for all times.

            At church today, we sang a song, “Above All.” The last line of the chorus states: “You took the fall, and thought of me, above all.”

            At that moment on the cross when the suffering of Jesus seemed insurmountable, He thought of me, He thought of you, above all! That’s why he suffered and died—because he thought of you and me!

            Do you celebrate Holy Week? If so, how?

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Albuquerque · My Thoughts

An English Garden in New Mexico

Today, Lin, my husband, and I celebrated spring! For several weeks now, my husband-gardener has anticipated the opening of the Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse yesterday, April 6, but we had to wait until today because we had a prior commitment yesterday.

In fact, in his excitement, sometime this winter we drove by Parker’s to check out the day they opened so Lin could be ready!

Today was the day! We left home at 9:00 am, had a delicious breakfast at Denny’s in Edgewood, and then we joined a steady stream of garden enthusiasts into an oasis in the high desert outside of Edgewood, New Mexico—Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse.

Several years ago, Lin’s sister-in-law had told him about Parker’s, but he didn’t check it out until his British plumber asked him if he’d seen the English garden in Edgewood. Lin had shared his interest in gardens and specifically English gardens with this plumber after we got back from England and Ireland two years ago, so his plumber friend thought we would enjoy seeing it.

After that referral, we drove by Parker’s too late in the season two years ago. They are only open from April until July, but last year Lin started early and took a solo trip up to scout it out, then I joined him for a wonderful flower shopping trip and a visit to the gardens.

Last year we saw the garden later in the season, and all the summer plants were in full bloom. When I walked through the gate, it was a step out of the desert of New Mexico into a truly breathtaking Formal English garden and more. We wandered around the center part that is dubbed the Formal English garden with roses, hedges and meticulous trimming. Then we went to the right and meandered our way around the outer garden seeing a nice assortment of Native Grass and Evergreens. We came back and headed towards the lily pond with a wonderful array of flowers, trees and shrubs along the way.

The Lily Pond, June 2018

The setting of the lily pond shocked me again. Huge trees provided ample shade, and it truly felt like an oasis. We lingered near the pond in a shaded area and drank in the quiet beauty there.

A large frog statue graced the sitting area with an umbrella and some humor keeping a watch over the lily pond!

We marveled at the sculptured bonsai tree area that felt Zen to the max. As we drove away last year, we agreed on a return trip this year.

Today, our visit began in one of the greenhouses. We were warned not to buy any of these starters if we didn’t have some place to keep them inside for a couple weeks. We live at about 7400 feet elevation in the east mountains above Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the plant zone is between 5 and 6. We still can get a heavy freeze and snow. Lin smiled as he told the owner he had a place to keep them. I chuckled to myself because last year we built an add-on greenhouse to the house for Lin’s plants which he calls “the solarium.”  

As we worked our way through the greenhouse, we had to bend down to see the names of the plants because they were on the ground—a wonderful array of plants and herbs. I loved the smell of the mint, but we left it behind. Lin did buy Beard’s Tongue, three varieties of Sedum, Blue Flax and Dianthus.

Outside, we wove our way through the plants that are ready to plant and picked a variety of plants: colorful columbines, Jupiter’s Beard, McKana Giant Hybrid Columbine, and Aurinia.

Thinking we were finished, Lin purchased his new wonders and we headed to the car. Neither one of us have been feeling well lately. So, as we were unloading the plants, Lin asked if I wanted to go through the gardens.

I assured him I did and would be OK and away we went. It was a different experience this year seeing it in the spring. Many of the summer plants are not in bloom yet, but the spring flowers were gorgeous: a delightful variety of daffodils and more.

One of the owners greeted us at the entry to the gardens and gave us their URL for their web site. They have a wonderful addition to it: the perennials and the trees and shrubs are tagged by number and identified easily on sheets on their web site. This technological advance beat the hassle of shuffling through three or four pages of paper—a great addition.

We leisurely strolled through the garden and looked up a variety of the plants. We both liked the Donkey’s Tail, a fascinating ground cover, and found out they will have it for sale in a couple weeks.

As last year, the finale of the garden is a lily pond and shady spot to sit and relax. We eyed gold fish in the pond of varying sizes and marveled at their movement.

We also liked the Mugho Dwarf pine, so Lin bought one on our way out. We plan on visiting again in a month or so to see the summer flowers in bloom. The Parker family’s hospitality sets the tone for the visit. Their dedication to this amazing hidden spot is to be commended. If you are in the area, put this on your list to see, but remember it’s open April – July only.

Here’s their web site: https://parkersfarmandgreenhouse.com/

To visit the gardens, it’s $5 per person with complimentary coffee, water or soda pop. Take a book and camera, schedule enough time to be able to stop and enjoy the serenity that fills this place.

Here’s a map of the grounds today:

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Dancing · Marshall Flippo · square dance

Marshall Flippo’s Career Started in a Chicken Coop

Marshall and Neeca Flippo

            We have Neeca, Marshall’s first wife, to thank for getting him into square dancing! After arriving late to their first lesson, they decided not to go in but returned the next week to learn in ten lessons the basics of square dancing from renowned caller, Betty Casey.

Excerpt from Just Another Square Dance Caller, Biography of Marshall Flippo

         When asked about how and why Flippo started calling he said, “I thought maybe I can do this. In time, I loved to sing but to whistle? I was out of lessons about a year before I ever started. The square dance club downtown, and thar was two of them, and they were both full. You had to go on a waiting list. They both had waiting lists for people to get in. So, we put our names in for that one. They could only dance 25 squares.  The list wasn’t that long, probably 10 – 12 couples. But Ed Hall, who was in our class and I knew him, lived out at Wylie. And Wylie, Texas is where I went to school from the fourth grade on until I joined the Navy in my Senior year.”

         Ed said, “I have an ole chicken coop that would probably dance three squares.” Flippo continued, “He had a farm out thar at Wylie.” Flippo located Wylie, “5 miles south of Abilene (now in the Abilene city limits).”

            So, Ed said, “I’ll clean that thang out if ya’ll wanna come out thar, but I can’t take more than twelve couples.”

Flippo explained, “So twelve couples of us signed up to go out thar, and we danced out thar every Friday night. So, we were dancing to records, and thar weren’t many out at that time that were good to dance to. Joe Lewis had the best ones. Joe played an accordion, and he had it fixed up where he could put different musical instruments in it, or he could play a guitar. He had about three or four instruments that he could play out of his accordion. He lived in Dallas, Texas. And Les Gotcher had some that were really hard. He was a hash caller from California and toured the whole country—probably the tops in his time.”

            Flippo added more about square dancing at the time, “Jonesy had some, but thar was no way we could dance them. Come to find out, Jonesy played in a band in LA. He picked up the lingo and said I believe I can do this, so he just got up and called a whole bunch of stuff he didn’t even know what worked into what. He just knew the words he’d heard callers use. He put them on Capitol Records. Well, thar was no way we could do those. And later on, he learned to square dance and then to call and then became a very good caller.”

            Flippo added, “We danced to records for quite a while, and then we’d have a band come in. Most of the Fridays we danced out thar with him to a two-piece band. If you said, ‘Record! We’re going to have a record dance,’ nobody’d come. People liked live music. So, we’d have a two-piece band and the fiddle player.”

Flippo continued, “When we couldn’t get them, we’d use those ole records that had calls on them like Jonesy, Joe Lewis or Les Gotcher. I can’t think of anybody else at that time. Thar were very few people recording at that time.”

            And one night someone said, “Thar’s twelve of us here. Why don’t we all learn to call? And we won’t have to have a record or a band, so we’ll just be our own caller.” Flippo explained, “So that’s the way it kinda started. I remember the first one I started. Singing calls didn’t appeal to me too much at that time, so I learned patter. First one I learned was ‘Dip and dive.’  Let me think a minute. So, we all did some kind of little calls. Some guys were good. I wasn’t one of the good ones.”

            Neeca remarked, “You can’t stay on beat. What’s wrong with you? Can you pat your foot to the music?”

Flippo Started with a Califone

           Flippo said, “Yeah.” He added, “So I had a big ole ‘Turkey in the Straw’ record, and I’d get in the front bedroom of our house ‘cause we had no furniture in thar, and I had a little ole record player. I believe it was a Califone. So, I’d get in thar.

Neeca’d come in and she’d say, ‘Flip, you’re not on the beat. I know good and well you can pat your foot to the music.’”

            He’d say, “Yeah.”

            She’d answered, ‘Well, start patting that foot to the music. Don’t do anythang—just keep patting it. When it hits the floor, you say ‘Bow to your partner, corners all,’ and just stay on the beat.”

            Flippo remembered, “Well, I had a hell of a time with that. So, we danced out thar a long while. Then we got taken in by one of those clubs in Abilene. I believe that was the Abilene Crosstrails. Somebody set it up. At the time, all the clubs—thar wasn’t one caller calling a dance. If you were thar and wanted to call, you could call, so it was multiple callers all the time.”

            Flippo provided a glance into what square dancing looked like in the 50’s. After he became a national caller, he met Joe Lewis and has stories about him. He had a picture at the WASCA festival in the DC area with Les Gotcher. In his intervies, he shared his historical perspective of square dancing and a variety of callers.

Flip started small, but one “lucky event” turned this small-town caller into a national hit. I’ll share this turning point with you next month.

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Life Lessons · My Thoughts

I Have Stomach Pain! An Anti-Depressant?

After my Mom died in 2013, I got terribly sick, losing weight and having severe stomach pain. I was diagnosed with Celiac Compression Disorder—an artery to my stomach is compressed by 70%.

Since then, I have had some reoccurrences but nothing like what I’ve experienced in the last three weeks. On Monday, March 4, 2019, I was at a square dance promoting a festival we’re having in May, and the cramps started at about 7:00 PM on the drive to the dance hall. I kept thinking they’d go away, but they intensified. I hadn’t had a full-blown stomach problem for several years.

It only worsened during the evening, and I had to leave abruptly in the middle of making a promotional announcement about our dance. I had an eighteen-mile drive home and prayed the whole way, hoping the diarrhea would hold off until I got home. The cramps increased. Sweat beaded on my brow; I turned off the radio so I could concentrate on breathing and not exploding.

I called my husband, Lin, as I turned down our lane, and he had the garage door open. I turned off the car, jumped out and ran to the bathroom, and the diarrhea hit. It relieved the pain for a while, but the cramps/spasms came back with a vengeance until 3:00 AM. At one point, I thought I was dying the pain was so intense.

Tuesday morning I called my GI doctor and luckily scheduled an appointment for the next day with a Nurse Practitioner because my doctor was not available. To my surprise, my doctor followed the Nurse Practitioner in the exam room and was a part of the discussion. I shared the questions I had written out and they answered them, as best they could. We scheduled a CT Angiogram scan for that Friday. Again, I was able to get this much quicker than I thought possible.

The scan was done easily in the morning, and I received the results that afternoon on MyChart, the medical portal I have access to through Presbyterian insurance. I read the results, not understanding the findings. It all sounded good, but I wasn’t sure. I needed a doctor’s interpretation.

I had a long weekend, not feeling good and wondering about the results.

On Monday, a nurse called me from the GI office with the results, but still I wasn’t clear about the results and next steps, so I asked to have the Nurse Practitioner call me. She did call back on Tuesday, but my phone was upstairs and I was downstairs, so I didn’t make it. She never did call back.

I kept wondering—what are the next steps then? And I felt lousy!

On Thursday morning, I had another stomach attack that hit suddenly. I called the GI office, and they counseled me to go to the emergency room. Lin and I decided not to do that, so we spent the afternoon researching on the Internet—what could this be?

We both came up with an ulcer and the need for an endoscopy.

I spent most of Friday and Saturday in bed, but Saturday afternoon, I joined Lin downstairs to watch some TV, and it hit again. The pain doubled me over into the fetal position. This was different—two episodes in a few days. That had never happened before.

I spent the rest of the weekend in bed, miserable with the pain and fear of what was going on.

On Monday, again I called the GI doctor for another appointment, and I was able to see her on Tuesday. Lin accompanied me. We walked in, armed with a list of questions, and we requested an endoscopy, so she scheduled one. I was afraid it would take a while, but there was an opening on Friday—again, my God intervened.

Our conversation took a strange twist during this appointment. The Nurse Practitioner asked if I had any stress in my life which I could understand with stomach pain. I answered yes, and she asked me how I handle it. I told her I write. Then she told me that many people come to their office with stomach pain, do the testing and end up with normal test results. She suggested I see a therapist for stress management at their Behavioral Science department, and she prescribed an anti-depressant, Amitriptyline.

I was so sick that day, I filled the prescription without thinking—Medicare and my supplemental insurance didn’t cover it, but it was inexpensive. I brought it back to the car and read the warnings to Lin. We both gasped at “Suicide, depression, etc.”

Here’s what shocked me even more when I researched this drug on the Internet:

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.
Amitriptyline can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults. People of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be watched closely for signs of changes in behavior or worsening depression.

https://www.healthline.com/health/amitriptyline-oral-tablet#warnings

The Nurse Practitioner called me after I filled the prescription and said to not start it until I got an EKG because I didn’t have one on file. I think that was my God intervening here to stop the process.

When I got home, I received a call from the stress management office; they have no openings and put me on a waiting list.

I did the endoscopy on Friday, and the doctor there was really concerned about the compressed celiac artery, saying it could be causing all the problems. We’re waiting for the biopsy results.

I’m having the EKG tomorrow, Monday, March 25, but I’m not going to start the anti-depressants. I know what depression feels like—been there, done that; I am not depressed. Lin said she didn’t prescribe it for depression; she prescribed it for pain. Why not use Tylenol?

Besides its alternative use as sleep aid, amitriptyline is also used to treat pain associated with a wide array of medical conditions.

https://www.insomnia.net/medications/amitriptyline/

I still don’t understand the prescription of this medicine. Is this how the opioid crisis happened in America? She took a sidetrack with me that day trying to prepare me for no new diagnosis for my severe stomach pain, forgetting about the 2013 diagnosis I received.

The doctor that did the endoscopy said the compressed artery could cause the severe stomach pain and could be fixed surgically by removing scar tissue. That seems like a solution—the anti-depressant doesn’t!

Have you ever had an experience like this? What did you do?

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My Thoughts

An Angel Cat–Really?

In September 2008, my third marriage ended and my ex-husband kept our pet, a wolf hybrid named Kita that we raised from a pup. I have had a pet for most of my adult life, and these precious animals have fed my soul. After the split, I bought and moved into a townhouse, and by February of 2009, I was ready for a pet.

The women I worked with suggested getting a cat instead of a dog because I traveled often. They assured me that I could leave a cat easily and I wouldn’t have worry about a kennel. I had not had a inside cat since a tabby kitten when I was young and at home.

When I was growing up, we did have lots of cats running around my small country town because my half-brother and two half-sisters routinely brought a stray to us every time they visited. At one time, Dad counted 35 cats running around town he feared we had a hand in bringing there, but they were all outside cats.

Enough said, I was ready. At that time, I worked at the district office for Albuquerque Public Schools as support staff for teachers. We were housed at the Montgomery Complex and did workshops and training there.

I stayed late on a evening in early February for a training I was facilitating, and as I left my office, I heard a cat meowing outside in the bushes. It was a strange cry that I later became very familiar with–a Siamese cry! I made note of it but didn’t think anything more about it.

The next day I had just finished a training across town, and my phone rang with an anxious call from one of my co-workers, “Your cat is here!” She was a cat-owner and lover and had been the strongest voice urging me to get a cat instead of a dog.

“Where are you? Can you come back to the office NOW?” she queried.

I had just finished my presentation, so I agreed to return immediately. She took me outside through the door to my office, and there stood a skittish feline eating the food my co-worker had provided. This distressed cat kept one eye on me and one on his exit route. My friend informed me, “He’s a silver-tip Siamese,” and we oohed and aahed over him.

“Take him home with you tonight! Don’t you want to?” my friend urged me.

“I’m not taking it home tonight! I have to think about it!” I resisted. Needless to say, I went home that night and dreamed of cats all night, so with assistance from my cat expert friend, I bought a litter box and food and took him home the next day.

I named him “Jesse,” a name I was almost given. After going over Jesse with a fine-tooth comb, I realized how gorgeous he was–a silver-tip Siamese but skinny. I was sure he was someone’s pet, so on Saturday, I took him to VetCo and they wanded him to see if he had a chip. He did! They called the owners and the owners called me, giving me full possession of Jesse–I was now a cat owner.

His first big mess shocked me. I was conditioning my Dad’s leather chaps and had them spread out on the living room floor. In my absence for a few short minutes, he peed on Dad’s precious chaps. I was devastated and put them up in a safe place. There was a lot I learned about being a cat owner!

That was ten years ago. Jesse is sixteen years old now and suffers from feline diabetes, so he needs insulin twice a day. He travels with me monthly to Branson and loves to go once he realizes he’s not going to the vet.

My husband, Lin, is not a cat person at all, but he compromised when we married. I think he has grown to like Jesse–they have a morning ritual of a meow-fest. Jesse responds to Lin anytime he’s around, and they go and forth meowing at each other.

Jesse and I also share a morning ritual. I write and read every morning in our library, and he snuggles up close to me–a great way to start the day. In fact, if I don’t go immediately to the library in the morning, he scolds me and goes ahead of me.

For our first three years together, Jesse wasn’t a lap kitty, but in 2012, I had shoulder surgery. He must have sensed my pain because he crawled up into my lap then, and now it has become a nightly ritual if we’re sitting on the loveseat in front of the TV. In fact, Jesse often moves to the arm of the loveseat in anticipation of us joining him.

Jesse on one of his favorite perches!

As Jesse’s aged, I’ve marveled at his resiliency. When he was diagnosed in 2016 with diabetes, he was so sick and had lost from twenty pounds (big, fat cat) to 13 pounds. The disease caused a sad limp and he couldn’t jump anymore. He couldn’t go upstairs to the loft to join me when I worked on my computer. We worked hard to get him back on his feet, and he has stayed steady at 16 pounds now.

Today, I use his ability to go up the stairs as a gauge to his health–it’s a good barometer.

What a joy he has been to me! My Mom said early on, “He’s an angel sent from God! He’s so much company for you.” I agree with her–angels come in different forms and I’m convinced he’s one.

Christmas · family · Life Lessons · Mom · My Thoughts

Why Knit?

A skein of colorful yarn, two needles and a knitting pattern–life is good! Yes, I’ve been a knitter since I was about 10 or 11 years old. I saw a friend knitting and was mesmerized, so I asked my 4-H leader to teach me and the rest is history!

My Mom and maternal grandmother both crocheted, but I fell in love with knitting. I’ve made a variety of items. I started with slippers, and I remember the pride I felt with the first pair I made. Then my whole family wanted a pair!

I graduated to sweaters, ponchos, vests, socks, afghans, dish rags, dresses, and Christmas stockings. It was my habit to knit when I was watching TV growing up, and I have continued this habit. I loved giving a knitted gift to a family member or friend because spent the whole time I was knitting thinking about that person. I filled it up with good vibes!

Often, my Dad would tease me, saying the sofa bounced with the rhythm of my knitting needles. He used to chide me when I ripped out a huge chunk that had taken hours to complete, thinking I was a perfectionist. In reality, with an intricate knitting pattern, a mistake threw the whole design off, so I had no choice but to rip. This taught me ripping was a part of the process.

When I was in high school, I knitted my dream sweater for my last 4-H project. The project required more than one color and carrying the different colored yarn on the underside of the garment. I made my Dad a sweater with a Hereford bull on the back and his brand on the front. It was the most ambitious project I’d ever done. When I finished his, Mom wanted me.

My Dad’s Sweater

After high school, my life had gotten complicated—I was off to college and busy with my fun-filled college life, so I played a trick on Mom. The first Christmas, I gave her the back and two fronts because that’s all I had completed. The next Christmas, I gave her the sleeves. We enjoyed the craziness of that, and she loved it when I finished it and wore it proudly.

I took an evening class for advance knitting at Trinidad State Junior College and learned some amazing skills that took my knitting to a new level.

I took a break from knitting for several years after I was diagnosed with arthritis in all three thumb joints of both hands. The doctor put me in hand splints to save the joints, but they limited anything I did with my hands. I gave up on them and returned to knitting, and I have had less thumb pain now than then. The movement has helped my arthritic hands, not hurt them!

In 2013 after my Mom died, I returned to the hobby I love and made dish rags, a simple lovely pattern I could make without thinking. The rhythmic motion of the needles soothed my broken heart, and I ended up making more than 40 dish rags in the year after she died. I know it had a meditative quality for me with the repetition. It quieted in my mind and soothed my soul, and family and friends benefited from work.

Last year I had three family and friends having babies, so I made each one a baby afghan. Then for Christmas, I made them each a Christmas stocking with his name knitted into the stocking.

Recently I heard something that confirmed my belief that knitting has healing qualities. I listen to Dr. Bob Martin’s radio show driving to church each Sunday. On this one Sunday, he listed 10 ways to reduce stress and knitting was on the list. I chuckled as I heard him laud the hobby that had been a part of my life for over 50 years—what confirmation for me!

“According to new research by Knit For Peace, knitting could actually improve your health. The U.K. nonprofit organization published findings on the benefits of knitting based on extensive past research, as well as their own — and there are quite a few reasons to start stitching.
 
Health benefits were both physical and mental, and included lower blood pressure, reduced depression and anxiety, delayed onset of dementia. Knitting was deemed as relaxing as yoga, the researchers noted.”


https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/03/14/knitting-health-benefits_a_23385911/

One of the three sweaters I have knitted & I will use this pattern next!

My next project will be a rainbow-colored sweater made out of lamb’s wool and a fashionable pattern I’ve already made three times. I’ve had the yarn for a few years, and I’m anxious to get started!

After that—I bought several skeins of beige Aran yarn in Ireland at the Irish Store in Blarney two years ago, so I will be making an Aran sweater with all of its complexity! I love the history I found about the Aran sweater.

“From its origins, the Aran sweater has been intimately linked to clans and their identities. The many combinations of stitches seen on the garment are not incidental, far from it. They can impart vast amounts of information to those who know how to interpret them. Aran sweaters were, and remain, a reflection of the lives of the knitters, and their families. On the Aran islands, sweater patterns were zealously guarded, kept within the same clan throughout generations. These Aran sweaters were often used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea. An official register of these historic patterns has been compiled, and can be seen in the Aran Sweater Market on the Aran Islands.”


https://www.aransweatermarket.com/history-of-aran-sweaters

“As a craft, the Aran Sweater continues to fascinate audiences around the world. A finished Aran sweater contains approximately 100,000 carefully constructed stitches, and can take the knitter up to sixty days to complete. It can contain any combination of stitches, depending on the particular clan pattern being followed. Many of the stitches used in the Aran Sweater are reflective of Celtic Art, and comparisons have been drawn between the stitches and patterns found at Neolithic burial sites such as Newgrange in Co. Meath.
Each stitch carries its own unique meaning, a historic legacy from the lives of the Island community many years ago. The Cable Stitch is a depiction of the fisherman’s ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea. The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth. The Zig Zag Stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran Sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The Tree of Life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects the importance of the clan, and is an expression of a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.


https://www.aransweatermarket.com/history-of-aran-sweaters

I will finish my lamb’s wool sweater first. I have admired the Aran patterns for years but never attempted to make one because I knew it was a complicated pattern to knit. So, as you can see, the Aran sweater will take me a while to make, but I look forward to the day when I get to wear my two new creations!

Are you a knitter? What have you made? How do you feel when you knit?

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Marshall Flippo – a Navy Man!

“How’s the Flippo book going?” I’m asked regularly by curious friends. I appreciate the interest from many. Writing the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo is the project of a life time. I have completed the Prologue and Chapter One, Flippo’s childhood, but this carefree time of his life was cut short because World War II was raging in 1944 and many Americans’ patriotic focus gave them no option but to join up.

“During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.


https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/d-day

Flippo is one of the best-known callers in the world, so, do you think you know him? Do you know that Marshall enlisted in the Navy? At what age?

A Young 17 Year-Old Marshall Flippo

On his 17th birthday, Marshall Flippo enlisted into the Navy with his parents’ consent—17 years old! That sounds so young today!

As discussions about Flippo’s choice of which branch of the service to join filled the Flippo home, Marshall wanted to join the Marines because his buddy, Hub Evans, had enlisted and returned in his dress uniform which dazzled the young Flippo. His Dad encouraged him not to join the Marines, so somehow, he ended up in the Navy.

After this discussion, Flippo recalled that his parents accepted readily his patriotic desires because his older sister, Helen, had enlisted before him and they were used to it!

He was inducted into the Navy in Dallas after an enjoyable train ride with a bunch of recruits from Abilene, then the train went back through his hometown, so Flippo said good-bye to his parents once again, bound for San Diego for boot camp.

Flippo went unnoticed in boot camp, so at the end of it, his superior commented that he must have done a good job because he didn’t know Flippo—I guess the rowdy ones are the only recruits he dealt with during that time.

A Young Marshall Flippo Cleaning a Colander

Flippo volunteered to go to “Amphib” training on Coronado island across from San Diego—he had no idea what that meant, but he volunteered anyway. His fate was set for the end of the war. He ended up on the USS Lander, a destroyer tender,  where he was a baker and spent two years. We do have a couple pictures of him on the USS Lander: cleaning a colander and on deck.

USS Lander

His wartime stories are unique through the eyes of a 17-year-old. He ended up at Iwo Jima at the end of the big battle there. Then on he went to Okinawa. From there, he had a surprise voyage to China crossed the equator, experiencing the initiation of a “Pollywog.”

A Young Marshall Flippo on the Ship

After decommissioning the USS Lander, Flippo landed on USS Piedmont, then the USS Wiltsie and finally the USS Dixie. The Piedmont, Wiltsie and Dixie were all after the war. All four of these ships were destroyer tenders:

A destroyer tender, or destroyer depot ship in (American) British English, is an auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships. The use of this class has faded from its peak in the first half of the 20th century as the roles of small combatants have evolved (in conjunction with technological advances in propulsion reliability and efficiency).


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroyer_tender

USS Dixie

He played baseball on the USS Wiltsie and was selected as one of two baseball players from the Wiltsie to transfer to the USS Dixie to play baseball in Des Pac, Destroyers of the Pacific team. He returned to San Diego on the USS Dixie and played baseball at David Field.

Flippo spent four years in the Navy, two years in the South Pacific at the end of the war and two playing baseball for Des Pac.

Flippo had a Navy book he referenced often—it chronicles the year 1945 and the USS Lander. I’m so sick I didn’t read it before Flippo passed away, because I’d loved to question him about the specifics detailed in the book. He refrained from describing some specific events because he thought we’d go over the book together. My regrets for sure!

This is just a short summary of Flippo’s Navy experience. I hope I’ve whet your appetite! His stories are rich and wonderful! I have more than 10,000 words from our interviews about his Naval experience, so there’s more!

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · family · Hospice · Marshall Flippo · Mom · My Thoughts · Ranching · Retirement · Travel

What Does My Retirement Look Like?

Here’s the stereotype of what retirement looks like for many: an aged couple rocking chairs on the porch, relaxed, watching the world go by–no hustle, no bustle! Lots of people are retired and retiring, thanks to the Baby Boomers.

About 61 million people collect Social Security benefits each month, and they account for about one in five people in the United States.

https://www.nasi.org/learn/socialsecurity/who-gets

I’m 65 years old, retired and busier than ever, and I don’t fit that stereotype and many of you don’t either! I retired in 2013, so this is my sixth year of doing exactly what I want to when I want—that’s the luxury of retirement. I’ve always been a busy person and feared that I was a workaholic! I have to be busy. This goes back to my childhood. I started knitting when I was 10 years old and started the habit of knitting and watching TV. To this day, I have a hard time just sitting and watching TV—my hands have to be doing something.

Today my life is full and rich! My husband and my normal weekly dance schedule looks like this:

  • Wednesday – Round Dancing & Plus Dancing
  • Thursday – Advanced Dancing
  • Friday – Mainstream & Plus

Then, we usually attend an out-of-town square and round dance festival once a month that begins Friday night and ends Sunday at noon—lots of dancing! The dancing and friendships across the country feeds my soul!

When I’m home, I do Zumba two mornings a week. I love the movement to high energy Latin music–it feels like dancing to me!

I also am chairperson for two square and round dance festivals in Albuquerque:

  • Duke City Singles & Doubles Spring Fling in May
  • Hot August Nights in August

These festivals keep me busy hiring new callers and cuers for future events and planning the upcoming event. I’m so lucky to work with two great committees that make the work fun and effortless!

I attend Hope in the Desert Episcopal church and recovery meetings regularly when I’m home.

After my Mom died in 2013, my brother and I inherited our family ranch, so I visit our ranch and our small ranching community, Branson, once a month to check on things. I love staying connected to that part of my life and my dear friends there.

For the first couple years of retirement, I was busy as the Executor of Mom’s will, and probate kept me hopping.

In 2013, I volunteered to be treasurer of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles. Now that may not sound like too daunting a task for you, but I’m a “Word Person,” not a “Numbers Person.” I did it because my husband volunteered to be President and I knew his time would be dedicated to the club, so I might as well join him. The first financial statement took me eight hours to resolve, but the last one was about an hour, so I grew as a “Numbers Person.” I did that for four years and helped revived the club and grow it.

Since 2014, I’ve self-published four books and three cookbooks:

  • 2014 – This Tumbleweed Landed
  • 2015 – When Will Papa Get Home?
  • 2016 – Let Me Tell You a Story
  • 2017 – A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir
  • 2014- 2016 – From Grannie’s Kitchen: Volume 1, 2, & 3

I had two really positive experiences with hospice: when my best friend, Kathi Raver died in 2009, and when my Mom died. I knew that I would become a hospice volunteer, but I had to get some time and space from Mom’s death before I could handle it.

Last year, I started volunteering for Presbyterian Hospice, so I see a client once a week and have learned so much about the mission and importance of Hospice. My client is suffering from Alzheimer’s so it’s a roller-coaster ride of mood swings and communication issues, but what an education! My client’s daughter and husband so appreciate my time with her, and I love it. I’ve become part of their family.

I’ve also been a part of the committee that puts on the Branson-Trinchera Reunion every June in Branson. This is a celebration of the small country school I attended.

My husband and I love to travel, and we’ve done several cruises and trips in my retirement. My favorite was to England and Ireland two years ago for three weeks. What an adventure we had! (You can read about it here in my blog!) We have another cruise scheduled for this summer to the British Isle—back to England and Ireland and our first time to Scotland and Wales.

My current writing project has taken over my life! I’m writing the authorized biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo, and I’m stressing out because I want to release it in September. As a self-published author, I’ve set up a timeline of production. Now I have to focus long hours to complete the writing by the end of April, to send it to a professional editor in May, to move the edited copy to a publication software and format it in June and July (our cruise is in July) and to order copies in August ready for distribution in September—WHEW!!!!

Someone said to me a couple weeks ago, “You’re not retired—you have two jobs: your books and your ranch. So, as you can see, I’m busy; I could never spend my days in front of a TV watching mindless TV. I may be retired; I may be 65, but I have energy and enthusiasm for life.

So, you may wonder why I’ve listed all I do in my retirement. I think many people have a skewed view of retirement. Yes, we anticipate the end of the grind—the 40 hours a week demands on our life and now the panacea at the end of the rainbow. I know many do retire and choose a much less active life than I have, but I wanted you to see the possibilities in retirement. You get to choose and the choices are limitless!

Curious about my books? Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount through the end of February – A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Ranching

Is a Windmill Important to a Rancher?

Windmills dot the southwest landscape. Their massive structure stands sentinel on the plains where I grew up. Dad and Granddad often spent hours fixing them, but I really had no idea of their value. How important are windmills to ranchers anyway?

My brother and I own a ranch in southeastern Colorado, and we have four windmills on the ranch. Three are operative, but last week in a furious wind storm, our main windmill in our summer pasture broke—the fan broke off and was hanging on the platform by the blades. It felt ominous for sure. With our raging drought, this windmill is a vital water source for part of the herd of cattle on the ranch.


Most windmills used in the Great Plains were of self-governing design. This means that they automatically turned to face changing wind directions and automatically controlled their own speeds of operation to avoid destruction from centrifugal force during high winds. 


http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.ii.062

I’ve seen this happen–facing one direction, then another; however, the wind storm that broke this windmill must have been a mighty one then!

Within a couple days, the windmill fixit man came from Folsom, New Mexico, and I had the treat of my life. My brother and I witnessed the crew of three fix the windmill.

We stood to the side, wrapped up in our coats and hoodies with a cold breeze cooling the February morning. Every phase of the work fascinated me. I grabbed my iPhone and captured as many pictures as I could.

They had a boom on their truck to lift the broken fan off of the tower. This magical operation took three men: one agile small guy up on the platform standing below the fan who hooked a chain around the fan, two men on the ground with one running the boom and the other ready to handle the fan as it came down.

The Agile Man Up on the Platform

Here’s a diagram of the parts of a windmill:

Then the work began. The young man on top took off the broken piece that the fan attached to, dropped it down unceremoniously, and they hoisted a new one up to him. The two men on the ground fixed any break to the fan, using lots of oil and elbow grease. After the two below fixed the fan, they sent it up the tower with the boom, and attached it to the new piece.

The Boom That Made the Fix Much Easier

Then they pulled out the sucker rod and the pipe it goes through. They measured the depth of the water, and the results were really sad to us. We’ve experienced a horrible drought the last couple years. We’ve received sufficient water to grow grass, but not enough to fill reservoirs and not enough deep water for the aquifer to fill the wells. A couple years ago, this well measure 17 feet deep; now it is 8.5!

Look at the size of the fan!

My brother had witnessed windmill repair as a youngster, so this was not new to him. I stepped in closer to see the work. While they had the working parts apart, the young man offered to show me the workings of the guts of the mill and how a windmill works—I had no ideas.

The Inner Workings of a Windmill

We also wanted to see how many gallons the well pumped a minute, but there’s a strange quirk with this well—it’s not straight down, so the pump they tried to put down the pipe wouldn’t go.

I’ve always had an unusual attraction to windmills and taken lots of pictures. To me, a windmill silhouetted in a sunset makes a beautiful, peaceful photograph. For us on the plains and high desert, we depend on the successful operation of a windmill. We have no rivers or live water on our ranch—a windmill provides that much needed water for the livestock. My respect for these giant wonders has grown in leaps and bounds and the maintenance of them.

Have you ever been attracted to photograph a windmill? Have you ever wonder about how they work?

Here’s how a windmill works:

  1. The wind turns the fan at the top of the windmill.
  2. The fan turns a set of gears called the motor.
  3. The motor pulls a pump rod up and down.
  4. The pump rod operates a piston in a cylinder pump located in the well.  This piston contains one o more valves.
  5. As the piston descends, its valve opens to allow the piston to pass through a water column held in check by another, lower valve.
  6. When the piston ascends again, the piston valve closes to prevent the water from flowing backward as the piston pulls the column up the pipe.
  7. At the same time, the lower valve opens to allow water to enter the pump and fill the vacuum created by the upward motion of the piston.  This is the new water column.
  8. The cycle repeats over and over again, working the water up the pipe until it overflows into a tank. https://homesteadontherange.com/2013/08/27/the-old-fashioned-windmill/

If you’d like a visual of how a windmill works, go to https://web.archive.org/web/20121028095740/http://www.aermotorwindmill.com/how-a-windmill-works.html

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Holidays · My Thoughts · poetry

How Can You Make This Valentine’s Day Special?

For years when I was single, Valentine’s Day was the worst day of the year, magnifying the fact I had no one to share this romantic holiday with—I felt ugly, lonely and alone. I avoided any semblance of celebration of the day, but my Mom always sent me a card and tried to make it special.

Who was Saint Valentine’s anyway? Why all the hoopla?

Officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, St. Valentine is known to be a real person who died around A.D. 270. However, his true identity was questioned as early as A.D. 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who referred to the martyr and his acts as “being known only to God.” One account from the 1400s describes Valentine as a temple priest who was beheaded near Rome by the emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples wed. A different account claims Valentine was the Bishop of Terni, also martyred by Claudius II on the outskirts of Rome. Because of the similarities of these accounts, it’s thought they may refer to the same person. Enough confusion surrounds the true identity of St. Valentine that the Catholic Church discontinued liturgical veneration of him in 1969, though his name remains on its list of officially recognized saints.


https://www.history.com/news/6-surprising-facts-about-st-valentine

Who helped create this popular holiday?

The medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer often took liberties with history, placing his poetic characters into fictitious historical contexts that he represented as real. No record exists of romantic celebrations on Valentine’s Day prior to a poem Chaucer wrote around 1375. In his work “Parliament of Foules,” he links a tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day–an association that didn’t exist until after his poem received widespread attention. The poem refers to February 14 as the day birds (and humans) come together to find a mate. When Chaucer wrote, “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate,” he may have invented the holiday we know today.


https://www.history.com/news/6-surprising-facts-about-st-valentine

Since I have been married to Lin, we have had some fantastic Valentine’s. Tonight, I wrote him a poem, and I did it because I heard Jenna Bush Hager on the Today show this week talk about writing a love letter to your spouse this Valentine’s Day.

Here’s her story about the love letter she wrote to her husband this year. https://www.today.com/news/jenna-bush-hager-shares-touching-love-letter-husband-henry-t148549

I know it’s late—I was traveling today and have been thinking about this for a couple days. You can still do it! So, do it later tonight or tomorrow—write a letter, a poem, a song. Take a chance and in writing, share your heart with your someone special. There’s no better gift in the world than word from the heart.

Let me know what you think about this: have you ever written a poem for your spouse or significant other? If so, how did it go?

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.