Albuquerque · Dancing · My Thoughts · square dance

Looking Back—Hot August Nights 2022

Hot August Nights banner - looking back

Looking back a week later, I sigh with relief and marvel at the success of Hot August Nights 2022. We hadn’t had this event since 2019. This year, we required the vaccine to attend, so we wondered how many would support it.

Excited, we had eleven squares pre-registered but received emails from dancers telling us they were attending USAWest in San Diego instead of our event. So, in reality, we did not know.

The Recycle Shop Work Beforehand

The saga began the week before the event. Lin came up with a great idea—every time we drove to the dance hall for a club dance, bring a load of clothes from the storage unit for the Recycle Shop. See, our stash had grown over the two and half years we didn’t dance because we kept getting donations.

Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling and our event share the clothes for the Recycle Shop, and they sold lots at the Spring Fling, but dancers kept donating since May. Then it took three vehicles to get the clothes to the storage unit near us in Tijeras, NM.

So, on each of the three—four trips, we swung by the storage unit, packed the Tahoe full and completed the last trip on the Thursday before Hot August Nights.

Looking Back at Our Busy Friday

At 9:00 am Friday morning, we started the arduous task of setting up the Recycle Shop with several helpful volunteers. Immediately, we realized we had to purge the over-abundant supply of clothes or we wouldn’t have enough room. We filled six boxes and put those boxes out Saturday morning, free for the taking.

We finished the Recycle Shop, did minimal decorations and enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the area, Millie’s. While we dealt with the Recycle Shop, Lin picked up Mike and Denise Hogan at the airport, so they joined us for lunch—I love these informal times where dancers really get acquainted. It was especially great to have Denise here with us!

Our event opened with a Welcome dance at 3:00 pm. Pre-rounds began at 7:00 pm for the evening dance with Mitchell and Chelsea Thompson. For many years, Friday night’s dance has been a Beach Party with beach balls and casual dress beach attire. This year, the balls flew across the dance floor and Mike and Mitchell had chosen beach music to dance to. What a fun-filled way to begin the weekend.

Looking Back at Saturday & Some Surprises

On Saturday morning, we focused on round dancing. The morning began with an introduction to rounds with the waltz rhythm at 9:00 am, and several couples enjoyed Mitchell’s easy way of teaching. Then at 10:30 am, Mitchell and Chelsea provided a Foxtrot clinic to help dancers move up from a level three dancer to four. Super-informative.

Several dancers began going through the boxes of free clothing. One dancer from Sierra Vista, Arizona, took several garbage bags home for their new dancer class. Such a better way of using the clothing instead of giving them to Goodwill.

Sadly, we canceled our tradition potluck luncheon because our committee member who headed that had to quit the committee. We organized all the round dancers to go to Jimmy’s Cafe, another favorite restaurant near the dance hall, and wanted to sit together, but the group was too big, so we had to split up.

On Saturday afternoon, we focused on square dancing. The afternoon started with Mike Hogan doing singing calls for one hour and we thoroughly enjoyed his gorgeous voice. Then he did a plus workshop for an hour and a half, focusing on calls he noticed we needed help on—thank God! Then he did thirty minutes of high energy and hot hash. He ended the hot hash portion with Lin’s favorite song, “Fisherman’s Luck,” and had the place rocking. We wondered about putting the high energy section at the end of the afternoon, but the dancers jumped in and enjoyed it completely.

Saturday evening began with an hour of pre-rounds with Mitchell and Chelsea—such a wonderful round dance cuer and a wife/partner who loves to dance and jumps in and dances with any single either part.

The evening continued with Mike Hogan and his exceptional calling and Mitchell cuing. A highlight of Saturday night with Mike Hogan always is his rendition of “Pink Cadillac”—this year was no different, but he added help. Mitchell joined him and the crowd went wild.

Looking Back at Sunday & Our Hilarious Shenanigans

On Sunday morning, Hot August Nights has a reputation to uphold with shenanigans galore and Mike added to it. He did progressive squares, Sicilian Circles, and Air Raid. The dancers jumped in and did Scatter Promenade on their own.

We had eleven squares both nights and felt this was a tremendous success after the two-year hiatus. The dance commitment overwhelmed us this year. In 2019, we had twenty-two squares and twenty couples preregistered for 2020 (which was canceled, so we rolled them over). This year with eleven squares, we had twenty couples preregistered, so we gave away two free Hot August Nights registrations and two free room nights at our host hotel. Our Hot August Nights dancers are the best!

Finally,

Looking back, the laughter, the smiles and the hugs from Hot August Nights marked it a success for me more than anything else. Dancers seemed so ready to be out and dancing again.

Have you been to a big dance event recently? How did it go? Did you laugh a lot? Smile? Give and get hugs?


~NEW ONLINE WEBINAR BY ME—Would you be interested in an online class about writing a life story, either yours or someone else’s? I’m planning on doing a webinar in September on this subject. Let me know if you’re interested at larada@icloud.com. Specific information next week.

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme
There’s still time to grab beach time with Flippo’s e-book!

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? mem
Read, reflect and respond—and heal!

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Books · Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Recordings of Flippo: 14 Different Labels!

Marshall Flippo - recording king

In Marshall Flippo’s square dance calling career, he recorded over 222 records for fourteen different recording labels. He started with Blue Star Record Label, owned by Norman and Nadine Merrbach. During his illustrious career, he moved on and worked with many recording labels. Here’s how it went after Blue Star!

Move from Blue Star to Chaparral Records

Flippo’s loyalty to Blue Star records and Norman and Nadine Merrbach kept him there for twenty-seven years, but times changed. The move to Chaparral welded lifelong friendships for Flip with the callers at that record label: Gary Shoemake, Ken or Kenny Bower, Jerry Haag, Beryl Main, and Scott Smith.

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 257.

Flip and Neeca talked about the royalty issues with Blue Star Record. After much deliberation, he chose to move. His big concern was Norman and Nadine. Flippo was a people person—he loved people; they produced his first hit, “The Auctioneer” which rocketed his career. He didn’t want to hurt their feelings, and he commented to me how his move changed their relationship.

Flip retold many stories about the Chaparral callers, and once again, his connection with people affected his choices. The staff callers did various popular Chaparral weekends all over the country, with hundreds of dancers in attendance. Flip found his niche.

Years later, when I interviewed Flippo for his biography, his go-to guy was Gary Shoemake for any details he couldn’t remember, and he told multiple stories about each of the men listed above. These five callers became family to him.

Also, this rowdy gang traveled internationally, and some of his most hilarious stories told in his biography are about these travels and these men.

Sets in Order

“Then Flip did albums with Sets in Order with Bob and Becky Osgood. Flip never did do a single for Bob. He was always on an album with a bunch of other callers where each caller did one song. He was on quite a few of his long plays that he put out.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.
2 Sets in Order Album Covers: 18 & Lucky 13th Jamboree. Source: Just Another Square Dance Caller
Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga
2 Sets in Order Album Covers: 18 & Lucky 13th Jamboree. Source: Just Another Square Dance Caller,
Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga

Flip did not know how many Sets in Order albums he did, but Mike Seastrom connected with Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga from Japan, and Doc sent me pictures of six album covers. Then Ted and Karen Clements sent me pictures of four more, and I found others. Last count: he recorded twelve Sets in Order Albums and twenty-five Blue Star Long Play Albums, enjoying every moment.

Other Recording Labels

As Flippo’s popularity grew, he expanded out to other labels. Some label owners were personal friends, and he only recorded a couple of songs with some of them.

When asked how many recordings Flippo did, he responded, “Exact number of songs I called, I have no earthly idee how many.”

 Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.

Flippo recorded for more than Blue Star and Chaparral. Rhythm Records is Wade Driver’s company, and Flip did a few here and there. Also, he did one on River Records. “I believe I just done one or two for Chinook out of Knoxville, for ole Ted Frye.” The Internet showed that Ted Frye was owner of Square Tunes and Pioneer Records.

When I listed the number of record labels he recorded with, he replied, “Holy mackerel! Good Lord a Mercy, some of them I don’t even remember. A bunch of old records. Well, the one from Knoxville—Ted Frye’s ole one. They’d call you up and say, ‘Hey, can you do this number for me? Will you do it?’ Of course, I usually did somethang. Some of ’em were terrible, but I did. I did one for Riverboat, I thank was. I hated for anybody ever to hear any. I don’t know whether he released ’em or not. But it was God-awful!”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.

The Fourteen Record Labels

Flippo’s popularity put him in high demand. Here are the fourteen labels who recorded with:

  1. Blue Star Record Label –
    1. Single song – 171 records
    1. Blue Star Long Play Albums – 25 albums
  2. Dance Ranch Record Label – 6 records
  3. Bob Cat Record Label – 1 record
  4. Chaparral Record Label – 24 records
  5. Desert Gold Record Label – 1 record
  6. E-Z School Record Label – 1 record
  7. ESP Record Label – 4 records
  8. Four Squares Record Label – 1 record
  9. Rhythm Records Record Label – 6 records
  10. Riverboat Record Label – 1 record
  11. Royal Record Label – 3 records
  12. Square Dancetime Record Label – 1 record
  13. Square Tunes Record Label – 2 records
  14. Sets in Order Record Label Albums – 12 albums

Notice that Flippo only recorded albums for Sets in Order, and that he recorded twenty-five long play albums for Blue Star.

Finally,

Flippo’s recording career fascinated me—I was more interested in how many records he recorded than he was. When I asked him which of his recording was his favorite, he surprised me. As a lifelong Texan and country boy, I figured it would be one of the country and western songs.

When asked about his favorite recording, Flippo responded, “Oh, geez! I have no idee. ‘Every Street’s a Boulevard’ is probably—you know .”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 289.

If you are interested in perusing the lengthy list of songs Flippo recorded, be sure and buy this amazing biography!

In comparison with today’s square dance world, I can’t even visualize Flippo’s popularity during the heyday of square dancing. He said he’d take a stack of records to a dance, and they’d all sell out—imagine that!

What was your favorite Flippo recording?


~ Check out my blog post from last week. I usually advertise my blog on one of the social media platforms, and they rejected it because of the topic! Please, read!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Coronavirus · Dancing · Goals · My Thoughts

2022, Hello!

2022

2022 is here, and I’m ready! Each year arrives with new hope, new possibilities! Because of the last couple of years, I have mixed feelings. What does 2022 hold for us? With everything still on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, join me in my wondering!

My Book Business in 2022

Four of my books - 2022
3 of my books - 2022

I now have six books and three cookbooks in my stable. I plan on focusing on my book business and becoming more proficient in the administering of it. My mission statement is “a baby-boomer with a purpose.”

I have five areas of focus this year:

  1. Writing
  2. Recording audiobooks of my books
  3. Online Memoir workshop
  4. Promoting
  5. Continued training

Today I wrote a plan for each area so I use my time more efficiently. Obviously, writing is my major focus. I have two books in the works: a description of my experience of writing Flippo’s biography and what I learned and the first book in a poetry series. Before the pandemic, I had a successful Memoir Workshop I presented at various libraries in the area. Now, I plan to host it online through Zoom.

Audiobooks are another major focus of this year. I will record, Let Me Tell You a Story, first. After that, I plan to record my newest book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?. Then, I will tackle This Tumbleweed Landed and then When Will Papa Get Home? Sounds ambitious, maybe, but I’ll let you know my progress.

Promoting takes so much of my time. I hope to be more systematic at my promotions this year. And last, I have bought some great training packages over the years, so I plan to incorporate training in my weekly schedule.

2022 Goals

My Personal Life This Year

Dancing

I want to dance! I’m getting cabin-fever and want my old life back. As I look at 2022, I see annual festivals we normally attended and yearn to go. Normally we’re in Arizona at the end of January at Hummingbird Hoedown, so I’m hoping we can make that this year.

Because we have a mask mandate, here in New Mexico, we haven’t danced since August—Lin can’t dance with a mask, so I’ve stayed home. But I’m going to go to a weekly Advance dance with a girlfriend because I can dance the guy’s part.

Hopefully, the three local festivals I’m involved in will not be canceled again this year: Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling, New Mexico State Square and Round Dance Festival and 16th Annual Hot August Nights.

Dancing is my passion and I just have to dance!

Our Ranch

Recently, I went to our family ranch in Colorado, but I want to go monthly and spend more time there.

Our Response to the coronavirus

As a couple, Lin and I have been super conservative, staying home mostly for the last two years. We will continue being cautious, but hopefully activities will open up more this year.

My Spiritual Life in 2022

Because of such major changes in our lifestyle, we stayed home these last two years, providing me an opportunity to go deeper spiritually. I plan to continue the habits I’ve honed over these couple years of dedicating time to a Quiet Time in the morning to read devotionals and study Scriptures and write. I also plan to add more meditation to my daily habit.

Finally,

I always anticipate the best for each new year: a blank page where I get to decide how to fill it. What do you feel at the beginning of a new year?


~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

~Check out a Gigantic End of Year Sale at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft. 25% off almost all bundles!

Dancing · family · Friends · Holidays · My Thoughts

New Year’s Eve Memories & Shenanigans!

Happy New Year Ev'es

New Year’s Eve 2021 is here! I always get nostalgic thinking of past New Year’s Eves, so I’d like to share some with you.

New Year’s Eve With Bub & Lela

My brother, Bub, and his wife, Lela were my favorite New Year’s Eve partiers! For a couple of years, we went out to a bar in Clearlake Oaks, California and danced to country and western music. They followed one band and became good friends with the whole band and their spouses, so it felt like family.

My sister-in-law, the perfect playmate, dressed up with me, and we sprayed glitter in our hair and out the door we went. After doing that a couple of years, we became known as the “Glitter Girls.”

When the bar closed, we often went to someone’s house to continue the party—being in our early thirties, we had the energy to stay up late, drink a lot and keep going. One year, we came home after the party at someone’s house and went through all their pictures. We finally went to bed around 5:00 AM.

One year, I rode out to California with a friend on Amtrak. We woke up New Year’s Eve morning in the party car, and we had a party day traveling to Sacramento.

Square & Round Dancing on This Night

When I started square dancing, I loved to dance on New Year’s Eve with the tradition of ending the year with a dance, then starting the new year with another one.

For a couple of years, my ex and I drove to Raleigh, North Carolina, to spend Christmas with his brother and then attend a round dance festival at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that ended on New Year’s Eve. During the festival before the holiday, Charlie Lovelace and Wayne and Barbara Blackford taught us some gorgeous higher-level dances. I loved being on the beach, too.

I had gotten into the habit of calling Mom in Colorado on New Year’s Eve—so, not thinking, I called her from Myrtle Beach when we got back to our room to wish her a “Happy New Year.” I didn’t realize it was late in Colorado, but she didn’t blink an eye! She was so glad to hear from me.

For several years, my ex and I went to Green Valley, Arizona, for New Year’s Eve. They served a delicious sit-down dinner, and then we square and round danced. We have so many friends in Arizona; it was a delight to celebrate with them there.

After Lin and I got together, we celebrated many years at the Albuquerque Square Dance Center with our Albuquerque square dance family. They got into the habit of observing the New York time of celebrating the New Year at 10:00 PM, our time, so we became used to an earlier night on New Year’s Eve.

Unique Night for New Year’s Eve

The most unique New Year’s Eve was Marshall Flippo’s last square dance in Green Valley, Arizona in 2017. About twenty-five callers came from all over the United States to see their mentor and friend call his last dance.

Flippo called a fun-filled dance. During the night, I saw groups of callers watching him on stage, emotions mixed for everyone.

During the amazing night, Flippo handpicked his music. He sang, “Another Square Dance Caller.” He shared a heartfelt thank you to everyone in attendance and ended his final dance with the song, “I’m Leaving Here a Better Man.” I’m sure that’s how he felt that night!

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 327.

What made that New Year’s Eve dance so unique—anyone there witnessed the end of an era with Flippo ending his square dance calling career. I felt honored to be there!

The Last Few Years on New year’s Eve

For a variety of health reasons of ours, we’ve been at-home the last few years on New Year’s Eve—not my idea of how to spend this holiday. And yes, during the pandemic last year we watched TV to ring in the new year.

Finally,

I enjoy celebrating the end of the current year and the anticipatory feelings of the new one coming. Putting on a silly paper hat, blowing a horn and throwing up confetti make me feel celebratory, but I love to observe this festive night dancing and being with friends.

Do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? If so, how? What is your favorite New Year’s Eve memory?


Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? New Year's Eve meme

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

EXCITING NEWS HERE!

Christmas · Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Christmas Celebration Flippo-Style!

Marshall Flippo - Christmas Celebration

For his Christmas celebration, Marshall Flippo came home to Abilene, Texas, for one or two weeks each year to be with his family after a busy travel and calling schedule. In fact, Flippo sandwiched Christmas in between his tours. He went north and then east, south, west and then home for Christmas. After Christmas, he headed north again and then west.

Heading Home for His Christmas Celebration

Annually, Flip called in Memphis, Tennessee, before Christmas for their holiday dance. After that dance,

Flippo headed west toward home and the holidays, calling in Dallas. “It’s 180 miles down to Abilene, so I went home, spent Christmas. I was calling basically every night. I was usually home around one or two weeks. Then after Christmas back to tour again.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 182.

Flippo’s Christmas Celebration in Sets in Order

Flippo enjoyed notoriety in Bob Osgood’s December issue of Sets in Order. Each year in the December issue, Bob went above and beyond by featuring many callers with a greeting in the footer on many pages. Dancers searched the holiday magazine to see a seasonal greeting from their favorite caller and spouse. This idea personalized that magazine.

From 1964 to 1985, Bob had a greeting from Flippo each year. He repeated other callers throughout the years, but Flippo was the constant for twenty-one years! See Flippo & Neeca’s holiday greetings and listen to Flippo’s Texas holiday song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://buff.ly/2VhFtKk

Neeca’s Special Christmas Present

Neeca created a scrapbook for Flippo as a Christmas present one year, filling it with articles, pictures and memorabilia about his calling career. Afterwards, because of his amazing success as a caller, she filled two more. He cherished those scrapbooks, and they became the source of much of the information for his biography.

Finally,

Flippo cherished his time with Neeca and his son, John, so he prioritized his schedule so he was at home in Abilene every year to celebrate with their families there. Before and after Christmas, he traveled, but he wanted to be home for the holiday.  

What does your Christmas celebration look like? Do you prioritize your schedule to be home for Christmas?


Christmas Meme for Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

EXCITING NEWS HERE!

Dancing · family · My Thoughts

My Family—How I Appreciate You!

Thank you latte to my family

My family rates high on my gratitude list, and I’d like to focus on them and how they have supported me over the years. I have an extensive extended family, so I won’t be able to give the credit due to everyone. So, I’m going to focus on my parents and my brother.

My Parents

Dad & Mom's Wedding Picture - my family
Dad & Mom’s Wedding Picture

My parents encouraged me in whatever endeavor I pursued. Throughout my childhood in Branson, they attended church and school programs. They cheered me on as a cheerleader. They celebrated my academic accomplishments when I earned salutatorian of my graduating class. Mom worked hard at school to support my class activities, especially my senior year when she was our room mother and baked many pies for the concession stand for the basketball games. In fact, that’s when I learned to bake pies alongside her.

 When I wanted to become a beautician, Mom and Dad drove the fifty miles to Trinidad every week for me to practice my new skills on her. Then, when my state board tests finally came, Dad and Mom drove to Denver, and she endured the grueling day of being my model.

Later, they had to watch me do some craziness before recovery and still didn’t desert me. When I went to Sexual Trauma treatment in Los Lunas, New Mexico in 1993, they attended Family Week and took part in my healing intimately there.

I so appreciate their love of dancing and remember many times together at either country-western dances or square dances. I loved to dance with Dad, but when they danced together, I watched with amazement and pride. They glided across the floor as one, after dancing together for nearly fifty years. We shared this unique activity together, first with Dad being the square dance caller for our 4-H club. Then my brother and I often traveled to dances with our parents in our high school and college days and for our adult lives as well!

Since I have always lived close to them, we traveled together many summers and enjoyed our adventures. Mom and I always teased Dad about driving long days and not allowing us to soak in the swimming pools because we arrived at the motel after they closed. And he never changed!

As they aged, I had the privilege of being a caregiver for both of them, and I did it with honor, remembering how each of them had taken care of their aging parents.

My Brother

My brother and I, August 2021
My brother and I, August 2021

Next, my brother, Harold, who I call Bub, has been a major player in my life. He’s thirteen months older than me, so Mom and Dad raised us like twins. I loved playing Cowboys and Indians with him, then he would play dolls with me and made me promise not to tell anyone.

We supported each other with our interest areas in school: he played basketball and baseball. I was a cheerleader. During high school, he danced a little.

When we went to college, we both attended Trinidad State Junior College, and I shared his last year there with him. At this point in his life, he had become a dancer and what a dancer he became! We traveled all over southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico, attending dances. Often, we would dress in the same colors. We danced together so much people who didn’t know we were brother and sister thought we were a dating couple.

When Bub married, I fell in love with his wife, Lela and we became close like sisters. The two of them blessed me deeply in a special way. I always wanted children but didn’t have any. They knew how much I wanted children, so they share their two daughters and son with me.

As a father, I watched him care deeply for his children and grandchildren. He truly is the best Dad.

Our hearts broke in 2005 when Lela died from breast cancer. I marveled at how my brother cared for her during her chemotherapy. He drove her and sat with her for every treatment. He took care of her at home with the aid of his youngest daughter, Cheryl, at long as possible.

Today, we co-manage the family ranch we inherited, and it is a pleasure to work with him. We agree on the management of this precious piece of land we love. He lives in Branson now, and when I’m visiting, we love to ride around the ranch and look for wildlife and reminisce.

He’s an ardent supporter of my writing and buys every book as soon as possible. We also share another passion: we’re both lifelong Bronco fans, texting during a game and then talking after a game about what happened.

Finally, my extended family goes out to my grandparents on both sides, aunts and uncles, and cousins and second cousins. I have a rich heritage, but I wanted to concentrate today on these three people—Mom, Dad and Bub! Thanks for making me the woman I am today!

Here’s the Gratitude Log again if you need it. I shared a couple days ago.

Who in your family is on your gratitude list? Why? Did you let them know?


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! Individual books, bundles and digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

Dancing · family · Gratitude · My Thoughts

Lin Miller Tops My Gratitude List

Lin Miller in his kilt
Lin in his kilt

My gratitude list is long, but Lin Miller, my husband, tops it for people in my life. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary, and what a ride it has been!

We come from two full lives: a small town New Jersey boy and a country girl from Colorado. As a boy, he loved to hide in the swamp and watch people walk right past him in his favorite hiding place.

And he’s still a boy at heart! He starts each day with a song and a smile. Often, he and my cat, Jesse, have a “Meow-fest.” They go back and forth and back and forth—what fun!

Why I Appreciate Lin

Lin proposing to me, Christmas 2010.
Lin Proposing to me Christmas 2010
  1. Lin asked me to marry him on Christmas Day 2010 in front of my mom and Aunt Willie. I will never forget his thoughtfulness of including those two precious women. Amazingly, Mom snapped a picture of him and me when he went down on his knee—shocking!
  2. His outrageous sense of humor amuses me every day. Some days, I wake up a little down and out. His quick wit catches me by surprise and I feel a deep laugh escape, and my world view changes immediately. He sings rhyming ditties he makes up on the spot, so I kid him about being a poet and not knowing it. That’s a joke to him because he doesn’t like poetry.
  3. Lin majored in history at Rutgers University and sees himself as an amateur historian. He’s also a voracious reader. I love history and relish our conversations about historical figures. His hunger for knowledge challenges me to learn more about Stalin, Churchill and other historical figures. As he reads his current book, often he shares the latest tidbit. Lately he’s been reading about Johnny Unitas and filling me in on his life.
  4. If you’re a Facebook friend, you’ve seen Lin’s gorgeous garden. When we first got married, he had three rose plants. Now he has over thirty and so many other flowers! I admire his dedication to gardening with an emphasis on plants that support birds, bees and hummingbirds. The upshot of living with an enthusiastic gardener: every morning, I look out the window to such an array of beautiful colors and plants and the wonder it provides.
  5. I love dancing with Lin. Before we got together, he did some round dancing (cued ballroom dancing). Since he knew how much I loved it, we danced weekly with our round dance instructor, and he improved drastically. He’s a natural, so it came easily to him.
  6. In 2013, Lin volunteered to be president of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles, a failing club with twenty-seven members. Through his daring leadership, he rejuvenated it with fun activities and a commitment to greeting every dancer every Friday night at our dances. When he quit in 2018, the club had grown to 92 members—what a feat!
  7. Lin is a football fanatic—a Philadelphia Eagles fan his whole life. I love football—a Denver Broncos’ fan. He runs a football pool with his best friend that he encouraged me to join, and what a kick we have! We talk football a lot around here. He’s so considerate. There’s one older guy in the pool who has computer trouble, so he calls Lin every week on Wednesday night about 7:00 PM to give Lin his picks. Lin patiently records them for him, visits with him and has a couple of laughs with him.
Collage of Lin and Larada, 10th Anniverary, 2021
Our 10th Anniversary Photo Shoot, 2021

Finally,

In reality, the list could go on! I think you can see how special he is! I truly thank God every day for this man in my life who makes each day an adventure!

Who tops your gratitude list for people in your life? Why?

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

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Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

“Born Dancing”: More Poems

Dancing at Texas Stampede, Dallas, Texas
Dancing at Texas Stampede, Dallas, Texas
“Born dancing” describes me to the hilt! So, I wanted to share two poems which detail my birth and my love of square dancing. Here I reveal more of myself to you, my passion!

“She Was Born Dancing!”

On June 26, 1953, my folks left

their thirteen-month-old son with Millie,

the family babysitter,

to go to a square dance in Trinidad,

fifty miles away.

Mom danced one tip that night—

She was nine months pregnant

with me.

They left the dance early

feeling something was about to happen.

Early the next morning

Mom had labor pains

that made her stagger across the floor.

It was time!

The fifty-mile trip back to Trinidad

and the hospital

was made in record time.

At 10:30 a.m. I was born.

Dad went downtown to buy cigars

and ran into a fellow dancer

from the previous night.

Dad announced his good news—

a new baby girl!

Remembering Mom at the dance

the night before,

the only comment the stunned friend

had to make was,

“She was born dancing!”

Larada Horner-Miller, This Tumbleweed Landed, (2014): 9.


As an adult, I returned to square dancing in 1994 after an almost twenty-year lapse in dancing. This poem relates why I love to square dance.

Larada in Dance-A-Rama 2003 outfit. Born Dancing

Why We Square Dance—

Why I Dance

May 31, 2015

It’s a Friday night

            Or

                        A Saturday night

A dance night!

The week lasted for eons

            grueling

I had my work face on for five days

            and I kept going.

I finished this week

            Exhausted!

My family needs drained me

I am wilted,

            ready to dissolve into bed!

But it’s my dance night.

            I breathe deeply,

                        I know!

I select my square dance outfit.

            What do I feel like tonight?

                        Red or turquoise

                                    Southwest design or frilly lace?

The familiarity of my weekly routine

            takes over

Systematically, I put on my outfit

            As each layer goes on,

                                    my perspective and energy level changes!

First my hose

            With a deep breath, I release part of my stress

Then my pettipants

                        Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath

            my top and skirt

                        My goodness—a glimmer of hope

            my belt

                        A smile slowly crosses my lips

Next my matching petticoat and shoes

            Yes, I sigh with relief

Finally, my club badge

            To identify who I am—

            A square dancer!

A spray to finish my hair

            a touch of lip gloss

A final look in the mirror

A pirouette and a spin

            crinoline flowing

                        I am complete!

My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!

The drive to the dance hall

            becomes a time tunnel

                        a vacuum

                                    a timeless space

                                                void of the demands of this world

                                                            stress free

                                                                        relaxing

Either soft music in the background

            or

                        a compatible silence

            or

                        a casual conversation

A bridge between the world out there

            with its demands

and the dance world

            with its pleasures!

Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family

The music starts

I step onto the dance floor

            and I am free!

                        The carefree child within me

                                    spins round and around

                                                claps her hands

                                                            and

                                                                        Shouts for joy!

                                                                        I am free!

                                                                                    The tip starts,

                                                                        and I am safe

                                                                        to spend two hours

                                                                                    In sheer joy and ecstasy!

I drop the world’s cares and concerns,

            at the door,

                        kicking them out of view!

So if you have problems in your world, join me

            and

                        leave them at the door!

If you are angry or sad

            The magic begins

                        when you show up

                                    and

                                                dress up!

            The music starts

                        and

                        I step onto the dance floor!

And then the real magic takes over!

Cares melt down my shoulders

            and flitter away on a breath

                        giving a lightness to my step

Sorrows cluster together

            and ride away on an angel’s wings.

Music playing

            I am surrounded by dear friends

I step onto the dance floor

            It is a safe place

                        and

                                    I am free!

That’s why I dance!


Born dancing has been my motto for life—many types of dancing but especially square dancing. It truly is my passion.

What is your birth story? What is your passion? Share your comments below.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? mem

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Christmas · Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Memory?

Create a Favorite Christmas Memory
Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

Favorite Christmas memory—I have so many, but one stands out that has affected my whole life in different two ways. It’s about a white dress!

When I was four or five years old, my Mom made me a beautiful white dress with red embroidery on the top for Christmas. I remember her laboring over it because sewing didn’t come naturally for her.  I tried it on, and the gathered waistline with the fitted bodice just didn’t please her. It didn’t lie the way it should, so she ripped it out several times. She didn’t have one of those fancy sewing machines they have today that gathers easily—she did it all by hand. She so wanted to complete it for our Christmas Eve get-together, so her efforts continued, and I continued to try it on, hoping this time it worked.

I felt so special in her choosing to sew this for me. I anticipated wearing it Christmas Eve to the Horner family celebration at my grandparents with a multitude of relatives in attendance.

After all her hard work, Mom finished my special dress. I donned my miracle dress and saw the relief in her eyes! She took me to the mirror. I saw Cinderella in my reflection! I loved it!

When Dad got home from the ranch, I had to model it for him and he oohed and aahed over it, solidifying the fact I had been transported into a magical princess!

Larada at the age of my favorite Christmas memory
Me about the age of this Favorite Christmas Memory

I don’t remember any gifts that year, but I do remember Mom’s efforts and tenacity, that precious dress and the feeling I had when I walked in the door at my grandparents’ house and the reception I received! That’s a gift you can’t wrap! This is my favorite Christmas memory!

One way this dress event affected me

As an adult, I have made many Christmas presents, whether I knitted a stocking or a sweater, painted a plaster-craft cowboy statute or crafted a family calendar. The joy for me is the giving. I learned this from my mother’s wonderful dress project.

I love to knit a favorite Christmas Memory
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

This year I knitted twenty+ dish clothes during the pandemic and gave them as gifts to my family—therapy while I knitted a rhythmic simple pattern that soothed my soul in the movement. Those dish clothes blessed me and hopefully will bless the recipient.

One of My Favorite Square Dance Outfits
One of My Favorite Square Dance Outfits

Another way this dress event affected me

As a square dancer, the moment I don my gorgeous square dance outfit, I’m transported back to that moment as a child when I put on my beautiful Christmas dress Mom made. I am Cinderella ready for the ball.

If you look at the square dance attire for women and think how crazy, let me tell, once I put on my outfit and petticoat and twirl in front of the mirror, I am transformed. My feminine side comes out, and I love it!

So, a delightful Christmas memory that touched me deeply as a child and continues every time I dance and every Christmas gift I create. You can’t bet that!

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory that has affected your whole life? How old were you? How did it affect you?


~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Book Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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Coronavirus · Dancing · Gratitude · My Thoughts · Recovery

Grateful Now? Why?

Grateful

Why grateful now? The coronavirus has ruined plans for most of 2020, and now threatens to affect Thanksgiving plans! Many have died or lost family or friends. Irreparable losses! Cancellations, shelter-in-place, a world turned upside down! Is gratitude even possible in 2020?

For me, gratitude changes everything, but I’m not talking about an unrealistic Pollyanna attitude. Gratitude is a paradigm shift—a fractional shift one direction or the other off of the coronavirus to a larger, more glorious world.

So why is gratitude important now? For me, it’s an attitude that changes my perspective. I can focus on the negative, an easy choice. So the chaos and horror of the pandemic take over, and I obsess about today’s totals. Seeing what’s wrong comes naturally. Gratitude asks me to dig deeper and take a different route. Personally, I’ve had minimal losses, yet it has taken its toll on me but nothing like many with gigantic losses.

So what’s the power of gratitude? I concentrate on the positive, what’s right with the world, what I love about my life and suddenly I feel different!

The best way to be grateful: write a gratitude list. I learned about this tool in recovery. How do you do that? List two, five, ten things I’ve grateful for. Start small and increase as you practice this. In doing this, I take the focus off the problem and celebrate the solution.

Gratitude list

On November 19, 2020 here’s my gratitude list:

1. My sobriety

2. My God

3. My husband, Lin

4. My brother, Bub

5. My health

6. My family

7. My friends

8. My cat, Jesse

9. Our family ranch

10. My love of dancing

Today I sit in the waiting room at my husband, Lin’s eye doctor. He sits in an adjacent room, having his second cataract surgery in a month or so. The success of the first one prepared him for today’s ordeal. His natural grateful spirit often shows me the power of gratitude for the seemingly small things. His positive attitude contributed to the success of the other surgery, so I know the same thankful attitude will affect the outcome of this one.

Okay, it’s your turn! For what are you grateful? If you name someone specifically, be sure and tell he/she made your gratitude list today! I’d love to hear what you are grateful for during these hard times.


~My other current blog post, “Poetic View: Nine Months Later,” faces life after nine months with the coronavirus pandemic.