Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

Hot August Nights, 2019 Sets Records!

2019 Hot August Nights flyer
Hot August Nights Flyer

            TRAVEL JOURNAL READERS—I had to interrupt the travel journal of our trip to the British Isles with this current event. We will go to Edinburgh next week!

I love square and round dancing and I love to attend festival, attending hundreds over the years. My favorite of the whole year is Hot August Nights in Albuquerque, and I am the chairperson of this delightful affair.

Tonight I’m an exhausted yet fully satisfied chairperson! We just finished the 13th Annual Hot August Nights square and round dance festival and what a success it was! This festival is a three-day event and draws people from all over the Southwest. Our usual supporters come from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Utah. This year we had dancers from Nevada, northern California and Oregon.

FRIDAY

This event started Friday afternoon, August 16, with a Welcome Dance from 2:00 – 3:00 PM with a local caller, Greg Tillery. We had five squares of dancers who anticipated a great weekend of dancing. Greg called a fun, energetic dance that help set the atmosphere for the weekend.

Friday night featured Tony Oxendine as our caller and Steve and Lori Harris as cuers. It has taken me eighteen years to get Tony to Albuquerque. We tried to have him as our featured caller for the National Singles Festival I chaired in Albuquerque in 2003, but it didn’t work.

This year we broke the Friday night record with 19 squares in attendance. We have a Beach Party theme, so most people dressed casually in fun beach attire. Tony rocked the place with high energy music and choreography. He wowed everybody with his beautiful voice and knowledge of music. We danced, we laughed and enjoyed the delightful evening of dancing. All of the round dancers enjoyed the round dancing with Steve and Lori Harris. We finished the evening with traditional root beer floats and time to socialize with old friends and make new ones.

SATURDAY

Saturday morning is dedicated to round dancing—cued ball round dancing to those who might not know. The Harris’ introduced fifteen new round dance couples to the Two Step rhythm. It’s always a joy to see new round dancers on the floor. Then they taught a waltz and rumba to seventeen experienced round dance couples and three singles.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is the potluck at noon. Ninety dancers sat and shared this meal together, laughing and enjoying a relaxing meal–another record breaker. During a festival, it’s hard to really become acquainted with other people on the dance floor because there’s really no time. This leisure meal provided the opportunity to enlarge old relationships and build new ones.

Square dancers filled the hall Saturday afternoon for three different sessions: singing calls, a plus workshop and high energy dancing. Tony has such a beautiful voice and used a variety of music, so everybody enjoyed the singing calls.

Tony’s expertise shone during the plus workshop. He extended everyone’s dancing repertoire through taking a call everyone knows and expanding it. I always know that I will grow as a dancer in attending one of Tony’s workshops. Seventeen squares participated wanting more and more of Tony’s knowledge.

The afternoon ended with a session of High Energy—some people call it Hot Hash. It’s the type of dancing when the caller calls fast and keeps the floor moving like never before. Tony kidded Friday night about all his calling is high energy, but he ratcheted it up a couple notches and had us sailing around the floor. This type of square dancing is not for the faint of heart for sure!

Saturday evening dancers wore square dance attire, except for my husband, Lin. He stunned the crowd in his new kilt he bought in Scotland a couple weeks ago.

In the pre-rounds, we had 31 couples on the floor—an amazing record for us! The women dressed in beautiful square dance attire, and the scene was a colorful array! I love to watch the spins and twirls of these dresses on the dance floor.

Before squaring up, Tony sang the “National Anthem,” bringing tears to many eyes! When the square dance started, we had 22 squares on the floor—another record breaker! We danced the night away enjoying Tony’s selection of music and beautiful voice and playful attitude! We ended the evening with root beer floats again and laughter and joy.

SUNDAY

The Sunday morning Trail Out dance is another favorite of mine—these are the diehard dancers who just can’t get enough dancing ever! We had 13 squares of crazy dancers for more dancing and fun—another record broken!

We do crazy antics on Sunday morning like scatter promenade which mixes the whole floor up. Tony sang a gospel tune and several requests from dancers who have known him for a while.

All in all—it was a blast and an amazing success! I’m always a little sad when an event like this ends, but many of us dancers didn’t say good-bye but “see you at the next dance festival down the road.”

As a chairperson of many square and round dance events, I have to say that working with Tony and the Harris’ was such a pleasure. When asked for extras, Tony simply agreed to do what was asked and did it beautifully. The Harris make my job an easy one providing for all the round dancers needs. As a chairperson, you couldn’t ask for better!

Hot August Nights 2019 Committee
The Hot August Nights Committee, 2019

The committee that puts this event together is the best committee ever, working hard to make it a memorable experience for all. We only have two meetings during the year: one phone conference call in July and a feedback meeting the afternoon after the festival is over. Our total focus is to promote square dancing!

At today’s meeting, I loved to see the pride in each person’s eyes of a job well done. Now we relax a little and then prepare for next year!

Check out the Hot August Nights website for pictures from this event–especially a group picture of the Saturday night dancers which will be coming soon! https://larada.wixsite.com/hotaugustnights

What are your square dance festival experiences? Share them with me and the readers! Let’s spread a little square dance joy around!


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

Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

Yes, I Always Think I Can—How About You?

When you’re asked to volunteer to do something, what’s your first response: I can or I can’t? If I can’t do the big thing someone asked me, can I contribute in a small way? Or is my answer immediately, “I can’t.” It’s all in the attitude.

I just finished a weekend square and round dance festival, Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling, and yes, I’m exhausted, but in a good way. I’ve been the chairperson of this event since 2013, was the chair from 1997 to 2000, and I have taken part on the committee for 24 years. Why?

Today when I looked around at the sheer joy on happy dancers’ faces as they twirled and spun around the dance floor, all my hard work was worth it! The rewards resounded. That’s why I volunteer!

In 1994, I attended my first Fling (that’s what we called it then) as a dancer only and caught the square dance fever. In 1995, the chairperson asked me to help on advertising, and I failed miserably because I didn’t know what I was doing. But that was a learning experience—ask questions when you don’t know!

In 1996, our club took over this festival, and I agreed to be the co-chairperson, again not knowing what I was doing. The next year I moved up to be the chairperson! People believed I could do the job, and their belief confirmed I could. I had no idea what I was doing but someone needed to step up, and I said, “Yes, I can!” The previous chairperson had put together a manual for running a festival, so I followed that for many years until I got my system in place.

 My involvement with this has gone on and on. Why continue doing it or why do it at all, you may ask. Volunteering has been core to my life for the last 25 years. I don’t hesitate; I jump in and worry about the specifics later.

I have volunteered for other activities besides square dancing, and I love the connections I’ve made with people over the years and the rewards from those activities.

My square dance outfit for the National Singles Square Dance Convention in Albuquerque, 2003

After being involved in this festival for years, three square dance girlfriends asked if I would chair the National Singles Square Dance Festival for Singles in Albuquerque in 2003. They said they would help if I headed it. They had worked with me on our local festival and liked the results. Again, I didn’t flinch, and again I had no experience at chairing a national event, so I took my time-tested knowledge from our smaller event and applied it, and we had a smashing success.

So why volunteer? Someone has to do the work—the event won’t happen without you, without me! Is it time consuming? Yes! Will you have to work with disagreeable people? Probably! But what else in life offers deep connections with people which we all crave?

I have a wealth of wonderful memories that became a byproduct of volunteering. Several women dancers sat around a table and hand painted our square dance outfits one year. We laughed and shared our lives as we painted. Our hostess dropped her paintbrush on her vest and remarked, “That’s a bird,” and it worked out fine. Today when I wear that outfit, my heart glows with those moments.

My friend, Kathi, and I stayed up until 3:30 AM one Saturday because one of our talkative club members distracted the band who was trying to put up their instruments and equipment and get home at one of the Flings. We watched this talker and tried to get him away from the band but back he went repeatedly! Whenever we recalled this, we joked about who would sit on him next year so we could get home earlier, but what a memory!

At this talkative friend’s funeral, I shared this story with his family with a laugh and a lot of love in my heart. 

I sprayed a caller in the face with Silly String at our National Square Dance Convention for singles which started a war of Silly String the whole weekend. I ended up being the biggest target. What rich memories!

Because of my involvement in this national organization, I have dear friends all over the USA—because I volunteered years ago at our local event. See what happens? The opportunities grew and grew from volunteering, and I became self-assured about my talents in organizing an event like this.

I’m tired tonight. Each year when the Spring Fling is over for another year, I look into the faces of the committee members and my co-chair and marvel at their commitment, their willingness to take part and am so deeply touched. The success unites us together as a force, and immediately the thought moves to next year’s events and what we needed to do.

Believe me, the rewarding answer when someone asks you to volunteer is “Yes, I can,” and you will never know where it will take you!

Do you volunteer? If so, where? What have been your rewards?


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

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

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

Albuquerque · My Thoughts

An African Violet Easter

Easter, the high holy holiday of all Christendom, is here! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Families celebrated this day in a variety of ways across the world, so I’m going to share how I spent the day—one traditional activity and one not so traditional.

For my religious observance of Easter, I attended church this morning at Hope in the Desert Episcopal Cathedral and witnessed a joyous celebration of our Risen Lord. The music set the tone immediately. Fr. Dan Tuton’s thoughtful sermon connected today’s Scripture readings to the horrific fire at the Notre Dame Church in Paris. His powerful words encouraged us to see beyond the fire that destroyed the famous spire to the brilliant Cross that remained untouched. He shared that President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild the familiar spire and reminded us of the purpose of the spire: “To cast our eyes upward towards heaven!” What a beautiful message after such a tragedy!

The comparison for me really embraced the Easter message: the tragedy of Good Friday and the crucifixion of Christ, the silent interim of Saturday filled with waiting and wondering about that horrible event, and the glorious news the women shared that first Easter morning, “The tomb is empty.”

Yes, the fire was horrible at Notre Dame, but faithful followers sang hymns and prayed and have set their eyes on what didn’t burn and the future. This positive attitude is the true essence of the Christian faith. Out of the tomb, Jesus arose—Notre Dame will rebuild and survive, even prosper.

For my family celebration of this special day, I joined my husband, Lin at the African Violet show at the Albuquerque Garden Club for an afternoon of enjoying a colorful collection of African Violets and meeting his new friends in the club. Both of these activities were pleasing to me.

Lin’s newfound interest in African Violets surprised me at first, but not any longer. He has become an accomplished gardener with an additional interest in house plants that deck our home. too. This interest is a natural progression to me from the love of his garden.

Yesterday, he connected his interest in African Violets to his grandmother. As he shared this intimate piece with me, I remembered my grandmother had African Violets too. I tried my hand at a plant or two over the years but killed them easily and gave up.

Lin’s African Violets are gorgeous and he recently joined the Albuquerque African Violet Club and added to his collection, so a visit to the African Violet Show on Easter afternoon was a natural segue. I love flowers and plants but am not as consistent in their care as Lin, so I have the advantage of beautiful house plants and a luscious garden and don’t have to do the work!

So off to the African Violet Show I went and what a delight! Tables of winning plants lined the room. I had no idea the variety of African Violets. Lin had brought home some different colors; my grandma had only purples ones. Today the colors overwhelmed me: I saw purple, lavender, pink, white, purple and white—amazing.

The members of the club greeted me whole-heartedly. Sharon Shannon, the president, shared her passion for these beautiful plants.

My husband, Lin, identified one woman from the club as being quite the expert. Her name is Jo Ellen Bowden and has won the Rosalie Doolittle Award for Best Standard African Violet Plant fourteen times from 1994-2018. Add to that she has won the Louisa Sando Award for Best Standard African Violet Runner-up twice from 2011-2018. See in the picture above, she really knows her stuff and demonstrated to Lin how to repot an African Violet of his, so giving of her knowledge, experience and expertise. The president, Sharon, helped him repot this plant at the end of the day.

The attendees of this show could purchase an African Violet to take home. The club started the show off with 300 plants for sale on Saturday and ended up with 23 left today! So, lots of people took one or more home to enjoy.

I enjoyed watching the visitors that came as they eyed the plants, usually talking to a companion. People walked out of the rush and hurry of their busy lives into a peaceful quiet room teeming with colorful African Violets. I talked to some people—friends from our square dance world came and wandered from table to table, oohing and aahing at the colors and the variety of plants.

How do you decide which one to buy? I saw people wander back and forth around the sales’ table, comparing this plant to that one, and then finally making a decision. Some focused on one plant but others walked out with a hand full.

This is a new experience for Lin and me. He volunteered to work today then invited me to come to the show after church and then a special Easter dinner.

The show is over and I’m sitting out in the hallway working on this blog while Lin and the other industrious club members fold up tables and clear out the room. It’s been a great show.

Yes, an African Violet Easter—Our Creator God celebrated by a dedicated group of flower enthusiasts through their beautiful plants. Lin and I shared a delightful afternoon learning about African Violets, talking to club members and working his shift. As I looked at these delicate plants, I again marveled at the mystery of God and this world He created. Nature has always been a conduit to God—so it seemed fitting to spend this Easter day in the midst of flowers, African Violets. It doesn’t get any better than this!

This event was at another hidden jewel in Albuquerque at the Albuquerque Garden Center at 10120 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87112. If you are interested in the Albuquerque African Violet Club, visit:https://www.facebook.com/AlbuquerqueAfricanVioletClub

This show is usually the third weekend in April, so put it on your calendar for next year.

Are you an African Violet fan? Did you spend Easter afternoon doing something unususal? Let me know how you spent Easter 2019.

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

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

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

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:

_________________________

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.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

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

Albuquerque · My Thoughts

The Albuquerque Mystique–what is it?

I moved to Albuquerque in 1991; I’ve lived in the area for twenty-eight years ago and am still smitten with the mystique of this lovely high desert city. I wonder about the Albuquerque mystique. I tried to write prose to express my feelings but this calls for a poem.

The mystery about Albuquerque escapes me.

           I try to pin it down.

It’s the setting—the Sandia’s, the desert, the river.

            No, it’s the people.

It’s the offerings of the community,

            No, it’s the people.

It’s so much, so large, so elusive.

The watermelon red sunset over the Sandia Mountains.

            Spanish name for watermelon

                        named for the color splashed over the

                                    mountains at dusk.

Our spiritual Native ancestors who walked this land before us

            instilling their heart and soul into the very earth.

The ancient Petroglyphs stand sentinel to the west

            and Mount Taylor in the far distance west.

The gorgeous Sandia’s corral the residents on the east.

The Rio Grande weaves a thread through the scenic valley.

Sandia Pueblo borders the north,

and Isleta Pueblo hems in the south.

Albuquerque—surrounded, unique and mystique!

The people play a major role in its charm.

            As a child, I visited Albuquerque often because my aunt and uncle

             lived here.

                        Visits to the mall and the Thanksgiving Day parade downtown

                                    echoed through my soul as I contemplated re-locating

                                    here.

When I had the opportunity to move, I took it

quickly.

My first exposure as a working adult won my heart.

The faculty, parents and students of Washington middle school,

“La Washa” for those of us who love that south valley school,

welcomed me with open arms.

The connections there ran deep

fun collaborative projects that welded the staff together.

Many Friday afternoon after school

together in a local bar with memorable jokes

that still resonate with just one line remembered.

The staff was so tight the first couple years I worked there,

we had to have two Christmas parties.

One was not enough!

I still socialize with many of the “La Washa” staff member.

Other schools

Other faculties

            Other colleagues

                        continued deep connections.

Many cultures live side-by-side here,

celebrating their own heritage and each other’s.

Strong Spanish/Hispanic and Native American populations,

Caucasians, Blacks, Greek, Asians and Vietnamese, too.

The mixture gives me a strong respect for all ethnicities.

My recovery community saved my life

            and continues to each day.

My church community, Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church,

and its people loved and accepted me during a down time in my life.

A magnificent view of the Sandia’s out the window over the alter

each Sunday calms my spirit.

Fr. Dan’s soft-spoken words encourage me.

Today my focus is my square dance community.

 A tight-knit bunch that loves to dance and have fun.

A beautiful dance hall on the north side of town

probably the best in the country.

A lively group of people, an activity, and a place that finds my soul.

Add the Albuquerque weather to the mix and the mystery.

Mild winters and summers

Our snow accumulation is normally slight

The summer weather only goes over 100 degrees a few days,

otherwise, balmy, beautiful weather for most of the year.

Summers and fall are the best.

Often, I sit outside in the night time

listen to the serenades of the cicadas

loud and boisterous yet so soothing.

The desert moon’s light magnifies the stars strewn

across a black canopy of night.

And there’s so much more!

The University of New Mexico

The Balloon Fiesta

The Gathering of Nations

The Greek Festival

Old Town

Yes, I believe Albuquerque has a mystique about it!

For years before I moved here, I listened to

Jim Glasser sing about “The Lights of Albuquerque.”

Every time I heard it,

            My heart leapt,

                        My spirit soared.

                                    It has always had a mystique for me!

Have you ever been to Albuquerque? Share your comments. Check out my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com Until January 31, 2019, 25% Discount on Digital copies of my books at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft