Christmas · Coronavirus · family · My Thoughts

Did the Coronavirus “Stay at Home” Ruling Affect Your Christmas Plans?

All I Want For Christmas is you: Stay at home
Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

“Stay at home.” We’ve heard that mandate repeatedly over the last few months, especially over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. We had the choice, and continuing a conservative mindset we’ve embraced since the onset of the pandemic, we stayed home! My husband and I both have some health issues. He is 80, and I am 67, so we stayed home and enjoyed our traditions, our decorations and connections with people through Zoom, YouTube Live, and the internet.

Even though we made the choice to stay home, did this “stay at home” order affect my Christmas plans? In some ways, yes it did; in some no!

Zoomin': Stay at home
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Zoomin’ Through the Christmas Holiday

Throughout the stay at home orders, Zoom has connected me to a variety of important people in my life. It truly helped me fight the horror of the isolation we’ve all endured. I have met with family members I had never met before. We planned a face-to-face reunion this summer, but we had to cancel it. So, Zoom took its place.

Through Zoom, I have attended weekly recovery meetings continuing my work to keep sane. I’ve attended my regular local meetings but have also found meetings in other parts of the United States. How that has broadened my view of the world!

Leading up to Christmas, I set up several Zoom parties to connect with friends all over the world.

  • December 15: Normally, every year I have dinner with Bec and Rhonda, the two teachers I team taught with and then later worked with at another school. We usually buy $10 of scratchers and while we’re visiting, we see how much we won. So, I proposed a Zoom Scratcher Party. What a delightful evening we had catching up. We won a few dollars and have plans for another Zoom get-together in January to celebrate Rhonda’s retirement.
  • December 16: From January 7 – 20, 2020 we went to Costa Rica with a group of people that we really enjoyed. On October 27, we did our first Zoom meeting with this group we lovingly call, “The Dirty Dozen,” and had a great time. Even our guide from Costa Rica attended. So, we decided then we needed a Christmas get-together. We had such a blast seeing each other, catching up again and seeing each other’s house decorations.
  • December 17: Our square dance club caller, Jerry Gilbreath, usually uses Christmas songs for his singing calls for the whole month of December, so we really get the opportunity to enjoy his beautiful voice. As I was thinking about missing his holiday songs, I thought, “How about a concert on Zoom?” So, we did “Jerry’s Christmas Concert” and had over 50 people attend! We’re talking about doing another one.

I wanted to host a Zoom Family Christmas party. My nieces and nephew are tech-savvy, but my brother isn’t, so I couldn’t do it without him.

Buying online: Stay at home
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Online Shopping

Leading up to Christmas, because of the coronavirus restrictions, I did almost 100% of my shopping online. Most of it turned out great.

I had one mishap with Blarney.com in Ireland. I ordered Lin a sweater on December 1, and they tried to charge an old charge card they had on file instead of the current one I gave them that night, but they never let me know the order was declined. I checked back several days later to find that out. When I reconnected with Blarney.com, Lin’s first choice was sold out in his size, but we found one to replace it, and it arrived several days before Christmas! Wow!!

Another company duplicated the item I bought. I know I didn’t order two, so tomorrow I have to check my charge card and see if I was double charged.

Normally, I shop locally especially enjoying Southwest gifts from favorite Old Town Albuquerque shops. Otherwise, my Christmas shopping went without a glitch.

Flyer for Christmas Eve Service - Stay at Home

Christmas Eve Service Online

My church, Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church, has streamed online church services through Facebook Live since the beginning of the shutdown, then they added YouTube.

I dressed up in my Christmas Eve attire—a Santa dress, hose and heels. In fact, this was the first time I’ve had hose on since January. I also blew dry my hair and put on make-up. I went downstairs, and Lin and I attended a beautiful Christmas Eve service. Afterwards, we savored blue corn posole and watched Christmas movies.

Normally, when we are in Branson, we drive to Des Moines, New Mexico to go to church at Mom’s church, the Des Moines Methodist Church. My cousin and her family attend there, too, so it was a good time to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with relatives I love.

Round table in Branson, CO
The Round Table We Play Games on in Branson, Colorado

Location of our Normal Christmas Celebration

For several years now, I’ve gone home to Branson, Colorado to celebrate Christmas with my Mom and Aunt when they were alive, and recently with my niece, her family and my brother. We have spent many hours sitting around the round table playing games, laughing and enjoying each other.

I inherited my Mom’s joy in cooking and baking for big gatherings, especially Christmas. Since I was baking only for Lin and me this year, I did much less baking: only one batch of chocolate peanut clusters, peppermint bark, peanut brittle and popcorn balls.

Mom passed on to me a delicious pie recipe that our family doctor’s wife from Germany gave her in 1952 . I use that recipe anytime I make pies. Normally I make 3-4 pumpkin pies, 1 pecan pie and maybe a Hawaiian Fruit pie. This year I made one pie!

I did have fun with the one pie I made. Lin was diagnosed with diabetes a couple years ago. He immediately changed his diet. Since then he has lost 40 pounds and is no longer diabetic, but he still watches his sugar intake. Early on, his nutritionist, told us about Monkfruit sweetener, a natural sugar substitute. This year, I used it in my pumpkin pie—what a success!

Usually we attend several holiday dance events, and I make Christmas goodies for them too. The pandemic shut those down too, and I didn’t need to make any extra batches of goodies.

Lin and Larada on Christmas Eve 2020: Stay at Home
Lin & Larada, Christmas Eve 2020

How Was It the Same?

I had the pleasure of spending Christmas with Lin who makes any holiday special with his positive attitude and hilarious sense of humor!

No matter what’s goin on in the world, Jesus is the reason for the season any year, but I especially focused on it this year. Because I had extra time, I spent more time contemplating this special holiday and its importance to me.

Usually I’m rushed, splintered, and frantic. This year, I took the time to concentrate on Jesus’ birth and its importance in my life. I hope you did the same!

How did the coronavirus affect your Christmas plans?



~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ END OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

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

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Christmas · Coronavirus · family · My Thoughts

Christmas Shopping During the Pandemic?

Christmas Shopping the way it used to be!

Christmas Shopping Coronavirus-Style, has it been different for you? In New Mexico, we have restrictions limiting the number of people in a store, so if I do go shopping, I have to wait in the queue outside in the cold. I have to be near people who could be infected and so far, my husband, Lin, and I have been spared from this virus. So, for me, the answer is simple—stay home and shop online!

Over the last few years, I’ve bought many gifts online whether for my husband, my brother or the rest of my family, so I’m not new to this concept. One holiday tradition I’ve loved though is going to Old Town Albuquerque for regional gifts. I won’t be doing that this year.

So, for this year’s Christmas shopping, I’ve ordered online 99%. I did buy one gift while at Walmart this week.

Calendar - Christmas Shopping
Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

When thinking about Christmas gifts, I love making them and have done it for years whether it was a hand-knitted garment or a photo gift. This year I have had to cancel my favorite gift I have given my family for 23 years—a family calendar featuring photos from the previous year. We weren’t together in 2020, so I have none. Also, recently, I’ve had an eye problem with blurry vision which would make this project difficult, so no Horner Family Calendar 2021!

Here’s where the calendar idea came from! A couple years after my Dad died one of my team teachers, Rebecca Betzen, connected with my mom, wanting twelve pictures from my life. That was a sad Christmas, missing Dad, so Mom and I flew to California to spend the holiday with my brother and his family. Rebecca had been specific, “Don’t open my gift until Christmas Day,” so I did!

What a surprise! Mom had selected a variety of pictures from my childhood all the way up to my graduation dinner for my masters’ degree! Several pictures highlighted favorites posts on our family ranch.

This project thrilled me so much, I decided to do one the next year for Mom and me. We took a memorable trip to Eastern Europe, so I featured that trip in my first calendar. My ex-husband loved it so much, I made one for his family the next year, continuing the whole time we were together.

When we were just doing three or four, my ex and I printed the calendars ourselves. It was quite a job, but we mastered the process. When the number of calendars increased, I decided to outsource them to OfficeMax, and they have always done a great job!

At first, I put one picture on the page above the month, but after a few years and a large array of pictures to choose from, I created a collage of several pictures for each page and tried to highlight different people on each page. The time-consuming part was going through all of my photos and selecting which ones to use.

I first added my brother to the list of recipients, and the list has grown over the years. Last year I gave calendars to thirteen family members.

Several years when I first gave a calendar to my Aunt Willie, my Mom’s sister, I laughed at her response. I asked her if she liked it, and she answered, “Yes, especially November.” I spotlighted pictures of her on the November page because that was her birthday month.

So, yes, I take lots of pictures anytime we’re together as a family, and my family has come to understand that.

Horner Calendar 2011 Cover
Cover for Horner Calendar 2012

Each year I highlight whoever has shown that year like graduations or weddings. If a family member died the previous year, I featured him or her on the cover. I also highlighted our family ranch on the cover of some calendars. My second cousin married in England in 2017, and Lin and I attended, with me taking lots of pictures. Her new husband said, “I bet we make the calendar next year!” And they did!

A page from a calendar - Christmas Shopping
Photo Collage from 2020 Calendar

My joy came when my family members opened this gift and leafed through the pages, laughing at certain pictures and make heartfelt remarks. These calendars have become a historic family document of our year together.

So, Christmas shopping did change in 2020, but I’ve stayed focused on the joy and celebration of this precious holiday.

How has your Christmas shopping changed this year? What have you done differently?


~Visit my last three blog posts from last week:

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW:

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me & my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Age · Coronavirus · family · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

How Do We Age? How Did I Get Here?

How do we age? How did I get here? This last week, a phrase haunted me, “Age crept up on me.” I turned 67 years old this summer—not old in today’s world, but. . .. So, naturally, I wrote a poem.

Shadows of age

As I look back over my life, I remember my mom and dad in their late 60s, and I was in my 40s and 50s when they were my current age. They were active and full of life but appeared much older than I feel today—interesting.

Going back another generation to my grandparents when they were in their 60s, they seemed ancient. So, it’s all perspective, I guess.

I do know today, I have arthritic aches and pains and troubles with my stomach, but I don’t feel 67. So that begs to ask, what does 67 feel like?

I’ve seen 6 decades plus come and go—a multitude of advances. The TV was just coming in when I was a child, so I’ve always had a TV. We didn’t get a phone in our home until I was about ten years old, so I’ve had some sort of phone for most of my life. I touched my first computer in 1981 when I was a student at Colorado State University and have had access to one ever since—39 years!

And that phrase, “Age crept up on me” caused me lots of wandering through my life.

Shadow of age
Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels

Here’s my poem that came out of this week’s musings:

Age Crept Up on Me!

August 12, 2020

Only yesterday, I was 16
            It seems
 
You may laugh
            My age shows
                        In wrinkles
                        Years lived
                        Dyed red hair to hide the grey
                                    With white
                                                Escaping near my eyes
 
Something happened!
            An acceleration
                        Of time
                                    Of minutes
                                                Of years
                                                            Recently
 
Is it a side effect of the coronavirus?
            Too much time on my hands?
                        Pondering my existence
                                    In uncertain times?
 
I remember 18
            High school graduation
                        Four students in my graduating class
                                    Started kindergarten together
            Trinidad State Junior College
                        Fifty miles from home
            Anxious about my future
                        And how my dreams
                                    Would play out
 
I remember 20
            Newly married
                        With life and dreams
                                    Spread out before me.
                                                Hopeful and positive
 
I remember 30
            Divorced and devastated
            At the university as a student       
                        And
                                    Starting over
                                                With dreams of being a teacher
 
I remember 40
            In sexual trauma treatment
                        For incest
                                    Uncovering and recovering from
                                                Childhood pain
                                                            And dashed dreams
 
I remember 50
            Celebrated at
                        The National Square Dance Convention
                                    In Oklahoma City
            Serenaded at our After Party by
                        Jerry Junck
                                    Mike Hogan
                                                Lanny Weaklend
            Still dreaming
                        About possibilities
 
I remember 60
            Mom had just died
                        A feeble celebration in Branson
                                    With Bub, Lin and Jackie
            My dreams diminished by the pain
                                    The loss
 
Yes, you see
            I’m not 16
                        But 67!
 
I look in the mirror
            And recently
                        Somehow
                                    Age crept up on me
 
In that reflection
            I see years
                        Life
                                    Experiences
 
Received no warning,
            No alarm,
                        I see an older woman,
                                    A matured lady,
                                                A seasoned Larada
 
Where did the years go?
            Fast living
                        A rich life
                                    A multitude of adventures
 
Yes, age crept up!
            Quickly
                        Relentlessly
                                    Quietly
                                                Without warning
 
So be aware
            It can and will
                        Happen to you!
Photo by Edu Carvalho from Pexels

My hope and prayer is that I continue to age gracefully and with spunk! I hope to redefine any concepts you may have about older adults.

What are you thoughts on aging? Has it crept up on you, too? How do you handle it?


Flippo's biography

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~On Wednesday, I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Christmas · Christmas · family · Grief · My Thoughts

Christmas Traditions or Not?

            Do you have repeated Christmas traditions in your family? We did—my Mom, Dad and I! During my lifetime, I often helped Dad shopped for Mom’s Christmas gift over the years, but this one was special.

Mom & Me in the mid-1980’s

In the mid-1980’s, Dad asked me to pick out a dress alike for Mom and me and started a tradition that continued while he was alive and after he died for seventeen years until Mom’s death.

Any time we wore of outfits alike with Dad, his chest swelled, and he smiled a lot and made a point of letting everyone around him know the history of this tradition—he was so proud!

            When Dad died, Mom whispered to me in her grief, “You don’t have to buy our look-alike outfits for Christmas anymore.” We both sobbed. I shook my head, and I never wavered. I continued this heartfelt idea.

            Our first outfit was a dress, then during the years Dad was alive I bought us dresses. After he died, I bought us a variety of outfits: slacks and sweaters, warm-up suits and dresses. One problem I faced when I bought slacks was my Mom’s height. She was short; I’m short, too, but she was shorter.  So, I always had to buy her petite size slacks so she didn’t have to cut them off. Often that forced me to have to look hard for outfits in two different departments or I would buy petite for me and just deal with shorter slacks than I preferred!

            So, we wore our outfits together proudly and often explained why we were dressed alike. We always gave Dad the credit for starting this tradition.

            When Mom passed away, getting rid of our look-alike outfits broke my heart! I couldn’t imagine seeing them on someone else. Then I had a brainstorm! I shipped them off to a girlfriend in Virginia, wanting her to have them, and I didn’t have to see them again. In fact, those outfits were the first of Mom’s clothes to go!

I did continue wearing mine, celebrating the connection to Mom. This tradition blessed my heart for many years. Do you have anything like it in your family? Share yours with me!


NEW Christmas ChapbookA Colorado Country ChristmasFull color paperback chapbook or digital version. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft to purchase: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~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/

~I HAVE OVER 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? 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

family · My Thoughts

Why Garden?

I write; my husband, Lin, gardens. My passion is words and stories; his is flowers and gardening. And a timely event happened today, we had a summer mountain hailstorm threatening his precious garden, but the damage was minimal.

Before we married, Lin had a couple of roses but that was it, and they died. Lin and I married October 22, 2011, and he didn’t do much with the garden the first couple of years of our marriage because we spent the month of July in Pagosa Springs, Colorado with another couple.

After a while, I missed my rose garden in my townhouse in Albuquerque. I had lived in a couple places there and had beautiful roses, so I suggested trying roses.

He lamented, “Roses don’t do well in the east mountains,”  thinking of his earlier experience. See Albuquerque is like Denver, Colorado, a mile high—5,280 feet. Tijeras is 6,322, and we are higher at above 7,000 feet, so my success with roses in Albuquerque didn’t necessarily mean they would grow in Tijeras.

So as luck would have it, Lin talked to a sales’ clerk who lived in the east mountains and gave him the success formula for growing roses in higher elevation, and it worked. So, Lin’s success with the roses encouraged him to try other plants.

Lin continued to study, bought magazines galore and gathered information on this newfound hobby, always fine tuning his floral explorations within our zone. I’ve come to learn there’s hardiness zones which identify your location and the plants that will grow there. We’re between zone 6-7 in the east mountains, but Albuquerque is zone 7, so there’s a major difference. Zone 6 can go down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit; zone 7 only goes down to the 0 degrees. That’s understandable! Because of our elevation we get more snow than Albuquerque. Also, Lin has to be cautious about his plant selection and check carefully on its zone.

If you’re wondering, here’s a place to put in your zip code and see what zone you live in:

https://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=zone-lookup

In 2013, Lin experimented more with gardening possibilities. He had a few plants in pots and some in the ground, but life happened, and he put the beginning of a new passion on hold for a few years.

In 2016, Lin got bit by the gardening bug, and it has grown into a full time commitment he loves. See the pictures above of how he began.

At first, he had roses, then Lin’s circle of interest enlarged. He added New York Asters, a variety of lilies, Shasta daisies, salvia, lavender, sage, delphinium, coreopsis, peonies, alum and the list goes on.

Lin had criteria when he first started his expansion from the roses. He wanted to attract more hummingbirds to our large flock every year. He also wanted to provide for butterflies and bees, so any plant he put in this thoughtful garden had a purpose. His gardening interests piggybacked on his love of birds, butterflies and bees!

When he began, Lin added a variety of annuals which added a rich color to the landscape yet bloom once and die, but he decided over the years to add more perennials so they bloom over and over again. Now he just adds a few colorful annuals to spice up the color.

Each year he expanded after hours of research, trying his hand at a variety of new plants. Some succeeded and some went by the wayside.

Anytime I suggested a plant, Lin tried to add it. I had an amazing Butterfly Bush out my back door in Albuquerque that attracted butterflies and had a delicious fragrance, so he researched for a couple years trying to decide if one would grow up here. He planted one last year, and it has flowers this year. My Mom had red hot pokers in her front yard that were her mother’s plants. Lin never transplanted from Mom’s collection, but he did add some to his garden, and they are blooming this year.

The rabbits posed a possible threat to his lovely garden, so he put up a specific fence to keep them out, burying the chicken wire inches in the ground, and it’s worked. Lin has installed a watering system, relieving him of having to water by hand and also allowing him to leave and not worry about his garden.

Lin loves to use unusual items in his garden: he has a bathtub, a toilet and an old file cabinet as planters. He’s added several raised flower beds which help make weeding much easier. He has a whole flower bed (the outline of it is really the head board and foot board of an old bed from our ranch) full of sassy spring flowers: tulips, daffodils and crocus. To date, Lin’s rose garden has expanded to more than twenty bushes in a variety of colors. Here’s a video of his garden this year:

Last year, Lin created a side garden to the southeast of the big garden we call “Serenity Garden.” He transformed an ugly, unkempt space into a tranquil retreat to sit and enjoy God’s glorious creation. See what the Serenity garden looks like:

So why garden? For Lin, it has given him a venue to express his creativity. He doesn’t see himself as a creative person, but just look at the pictures and videos and you will disagree I’m sure.

In the early spring, he starts his gardening preparation. When summer comes, he’s out in his beautiful space he created and at peace with the world. It gives him something natural and special to focus on, and the rewards of seeing his design come to life with color and vibrancy are priceless.

As a willing observer, I have the luxury of enjoying his creation every day—the perks of being married to a passionate gardener who takes gardening to a new zenith every year.

Are you a gardener? Why do you garden? I’d be interested to hear your comments.

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

SUMMER SAVINGS UNTIL JULY 15, 2019: 25% off of both paper and digital copies of my book, A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS UNTIL AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’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/

Do you want 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

family · Holidays · My Thoughts · Ranching · square dance

Why Celebrate Father’s Day?

The Last Time I Danced With Dad!

Having just returned from the Colorado State Square Dance Convention in Pueblo, Colorado, I choked back a tear or two and felt a little nostalgic about the influence my Dad had on my life. Father’s Day is a day to celebrate our dad’s, so I wanted to share some of my fond memories.

My cowboy Dad loved his wife, his children, his ranch and friends. My brother and I inherited the ranch my grandfather put together—the place my Dad worked his whole life. I just returned from a drive around the ranch with my brother in the early evening looking for wildlife. I feel a special connection to Dad any time I’m standing on a ridge overlooking the canyon or eyeing a windmill he put in many years ago. Dad is everywhere on that ranch for me, and it happened again tonight.

Dad left a small souvenir all over the ranch—wrapped up baling wire for hay bales that he tied in a certain way and pitched out the truck window. We have tried to gather them up over the years, but a stray one appears, and I smile.

Yes, Dad loved this ranch, but another couple of his passions were dancing and storytelling, and I inherited both of them!

Dad and Mom met dancing, and it continued to be their main hobby until he couldn’t dance anymore. They danced to many of the big bands in Raton, New Mexico—a Catholic priest brought these famous bands to town, and the folks were on the dance floor—the cowboy donned a suit and boots and danced the night away. They glided across the floor as smooth as any other couple. During this time, they danced to the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Glen Miller for sure, but I bet there were others.

It wasn’t until I took round dance lesson after Dad died, I learned that he did the Foxtrot instead of Country two step—that was so surprising to me, but he loved big band music, and he danced many a mile to them, so they influenced his dance style.

He had a special step he did in his jitterbug repertoire; he said he stumbled one night when he was drunk and liked it so much, he kept it. Mom and I tried to reconstruct it after he died, but we couldn’t, so that dance move died with him.

When I was growing up, Dad was our 4-H club square dance caller, and he loved to teach people how to square dance. For a couple years we took two squares to Fort Collins, Colorado for the state competition. We never won, but we had a lot of fun.

He also liked teaching folk dances. Dad and I did the Jessica Polka to any polka played at a local dance. He taught us “Put Your Little Foot” or the “Varsouvianna,” the “Lily Marlane,”  the “Schottische,” and many others.

In this video, Cal Campbell explains the origin of the “Varsouvianna.”

This is the music I grew up to doing the Schottische:

Because of my family’s interest in dancing, I learned to country swing in the 80’s. One time, I came home with my newest move—the snake. Dad and I moved to the kitchen, I grabbed his hands and whipped him around, and his old shoulders shouted at him and then he at me! He couldn’t move like that anymore, but he wanted to, more than ever.

My Dad’s other passion was storytelling and he was an expert. Many guests sat around the round table in our dining room at gatherings and listened to his tales. He told stories of growing up in a small country town in the 1920’s, the depression with the lack of tires and life as a rancher during the World War II. He had asthma, so he couldn’t go to war, but he told about working on ranches around the area for cattlemen whose sons did go. Dad got to know the parents of his buddies during this time by working with them–what stories!

Dad told stories of a time and an era long gone—helping Mose Russell drive a herd of horses from southeastern Colorado to Cimarron, New Mexico. He often talked of horses; he had two horse accidents to share. The life of a rancher never has a dull moment, so he spoke of cattle incidences and the wonders of his life—mother nature was his God, and he told of glorious sunsets and miracles with a hard birth for one of his favorite cows.

Dad’s health declined, and death came quickly—in August 1995 things changed, and by January 1996 he died.

“. . . he progressed to the point of not being able to talk—his lips moved to form words but they just wouldn’t come out, and his left hand curled up in a ball.
His intense, frustrated glaze locked in on me. His frightened eyes searched mine for the words. Sometimes I finished his sentences; other times I had no idea what he wanted to say. He struck the table with his clenched fist, more desperate each time it happened.”

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir

Yes, he could no longer speak, and his stories ended; the last time he danced at our school gym to celebrate his 75th birthday, he gasped for air and couldn’t finish a complete circle around the floor. Every once in a while still, when the music is right, I can almost do his favorite move, but I haven’t yet!

When I come face-to-face with Dad in the hereafter, I’m sure the first thing we do after shedding a few tears and a bear hug is a glide around the celestial dance floor, doing his move once more and laughing and enjoying the beat of the music! And then he will tell me his favorite story once more, starting with “remember when . . .”

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

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS GOOD UNTIL JUNE 24, 2019: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. The men in your life would love these two books. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read snteresting 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

family · Holidays · My Thoughts

Memorial Day or Decoration Day?

            As a child, we went to the cemetery in Des Moines, New Mexico and met my Mom’s parents on Decoration Day many times. The adults decorated the graves of family members, and we raced around dodging headstones and graves playing with friends. Many families brought picnic lunches and this allowed more play time for the children and more visiting time for the adults. This trip to a familiar cemetery meant the beginning of summer because school was over, and we headed to Amarillo, Texas to spend a week with my grandparents.

            Fast forward to my adult life. I watched my Mom and Dad religiously decorate family graves in Trinidad, Colorado and back to Des Moines. It was a family tradition, and their commitment to caring for deceased family members and their graves spoke deeply to me.

            When my Mom died six years ago, my cousin said she’d take care of the graves in Des Moines and I would do the ones in Trinidad, so faithfully I followed my family’s tradition for the last five years. I decorated my parents’ grave, my grandparents’ grave, and my Aunt’s all in Trinidad. I also decorated my sister-in-law’s in the beautiful quaint cemetery outside of my hometown of Branson, Colorado.

            This year I failed. I have been sick for the last three months and haven’t visited Colorado yet to decorate the graves. I will, but it will be late. This made me think about this tradition, its importance and the history behind it.

            What is Memorial Day anyway?

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

This is what I remember as Decoration Day! But it changed.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2019 occurs on Monday, May 27. 

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

            I celebrate both of these commemorations: my family and friends that have passed and anyone in the military who has given their life so we can keep our democracy safe and sound.

Some of the soldiers I have known who have passed:

  • Uncle Tanky Doherty
  • Marshall Flippo
  • Leroy Ellis
  • Excel Smith
  • Donald Berg
  • Fred Buhr
Mom and Dad’s Headstone

Those major family and friends I have lost over my 65 years:

  • Harold and Elva Horner – Dad and Mom
  • Laurence and Pearle Horner – paternal grandparents
  • Virgil and Tresia Dickerson – maternal grandparents
  • Hughie and Willa Urbanoski – Uncle and Aunt
  • Gay and Helen Waldroup – Uncle and Aunt
  • Fred Horner – Half-brother
  • Jason Talley – nephew
  • Reu and Helen Waldroup – parents’ best friends
  • Millard Warner – Dad’s best friend
  • Millie Sheldon – childhood babysitter
  • Kathi Raver – best girlfriend in the square dance world
  • Lela Kaye Horner – sister-in-law
  • Candy Vargas – lifelong best friend
  • Gene and Carol Champion – square dance friends
  • Joel Walton – Square Dance Friend

Whew! That’s a lot of losses! I just heard today if you grieve many losses, that means you’ve loved a lot! What a comforting thought!

How do you celebrate Decoration Day/Memorial Day? What are your traditions? Make it more than just another day off. How can you make it memorable? Please share your ideas in the Comments!


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

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? 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

Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

He’s a Winner!

Lin Miller, my husband, received a outstanding honor last night at the New Mexico Square and Round Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, They inducted him into the Hall of Fame for his work and support of square and round dancing in the state.

Lin’s Plaque and Badge

A friend nominated him two years ago, and I helped her put the paperwork together. Lin’s ex-wife contributed information about his dancing when they were together. We re-worked the application this year, because he wasn’t selected last year. My friend and I had secret meetings, telling Lin she had interests my books—he had no idea.

Just because someone is nominated doesn’t mean he or she is automatically in and in that year—sometimes it takes two years to actually receive this treasured recognition. I had won this award in 2007 and found out later that I had been nominated the year before, so it took me two times.

On top of that, the person in charge of the award this year didn’t let me know outright that Lin had won but hinted at it, so I wondered.

As we neared the festival, Lin and I ended up talking about the award some, speculating who might win, and I kept my reactions and tone as neutral as possible to not give it away.

This annual festival means a lot to me. It’s the one chance for our state square and round dance family to come together for a fun-filled weekend at various sites around the state. I always anticipate who’s going to be there and lament the loss of one of our dancers. I love our New Mexico state square and round dance members!

Greg Tillery calling with help from an Alien
Larada and Lin decked out the Alien Invasion!
Holly and Lin enjoying Roswell!

The theme this year for the festival, “Strangers Thing Happen,” ignited in a lot of us a frivolous, childlike celebration of Roswell’s claim to fame—the alien invasion. Many of us wore the festival’s lime green t-shirts on Saturday during the day with lights attached. Dancers played with the theme all weekend, and they talked about aliens, spaceships and other worldly matter—what fun! We blamed any mistakes made in the squares on “Aliens!”

The award ceremony was Saturday night. The anticipation mounted for me as the time drew closer. The Grand March started the evening’s activities, then it was time. The MC described the recipient without using his/her name, keeping us in suspense until it’s obvious who the recipient is. A dear round dance cuer received the first award, and my hands shook.

Finally the time came. I had told Lin before we arrived on Friday that I wanted to get lots of pictures this weekend, so he had my phone in his pocket. I didn’t want him to be suspicious when I needed my phone for the Hall of Fame awards. I had it out taking pictures of the first winner, so I caught him in total shock when he realized he was next.

Lin realized he won!

As he hugged me, he asked if I knew, and I had tears in my eyes when I nodded my head. His reaction was precious and priceless. In a rate moment of being speechless, he went on stage to receive a name badge and plaque.

Lin with his plaque and badge!

During the rest of the evening, dancers congratulated him. You may wonder what he did or does to receive this award.

For over ten years, he’s been the Promotions person for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, sending out emails to notify dancers of up and coming events, so the state dancers knew what he does there. Also, he has been the treasurer for Hot August Nights for twelve years. But most recently, in 2013 Lin volunteered to be president of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles, when it was dying with only 27 members and no one wanting to take the leadership. In five years, he built it up to 92 active members. This changed the face of square dancing in Albuquerque because those 92 members went on to join other clubs growing square and round dancing across the city.

Lin ignites any event he attends with his high energy and positive attitude, and because of his friendly nature, he loves to visit with old and new friends during the breaks. His sense of humor and jokes keep people laughing, so he is an asset to this activity for sure.

The state honored this hard-working man this weekend, and he truly deserved it! You’re welcome to give Lin congratulatory comments here!


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

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? 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

family · Grief · Life Lessons · Memoirs · Mom · My Thoughts · poetry

Does Your Heart Break on Mother’s Day?

Here it is six years after my Mom’s death and Mother’s Day smacks me in the face with fresh grief—I miss buying Mom a card and flowers and calling her up. I miss her infectious laughter and her practical jokes. The pain never goes away.

Many people face grief on this celebratory day—the graphic above shows those affected most. For many years before Mom died, I dreaded this day. Why? Because I am not a mother, and that hole in my heart pulsated to an overwhelming size on this annual day of remembrance.

I remember going to church one Mother’s Day many years ago (not to my present church for sure), and they had all the mothers present stand and gave them a flower. Again, I stifled tears being reminded of my lack.

Today my church gave every woman present a chrysanthemum and said a prayer for “Mothers, Potential Mothers, and Women Who ‘Mother’ in Any Way.” Today I stood, satisfied for sure.

Yes, I have mothered many people’s children. I was a middle school teacher for twenty years. My brother and his wife knew my deep longing for a child—I had a miscarriage about the time they got pregnant with the first of their three children. They share their children with me in a deep meaningful way, and I am close to them and their children.

After the miscarriage, my first husband and I sought help from a fertility specialist in Denver, Colorado—the famous Dr. Bradley who pioneered a natural child method. We started with fertility tests with my husband and went no further because he had aspermia, a disease of weak sperm.

So we thought about artificial insemination. The thought thrilled me because finally I could get pregnant, but my husband didn’t agree. So we planned to adopt a child and were within six months of getting our baby. I had knitted booties, baby blankets and put together a nursery. We went through Lutheran Social Services in Denver, Colorado, and they did the work-up on the couple a few months before placement instead of at the beginning. They felt if a couple lasted the four year wait; they were a sure bet. We had waited our four years to get our baby, but as the great day drew near, the tension in our marriage increased and he walked out. I later found out he had unsavory skeletons in his closet, and I was heartbroken in my double losses!

My mother especially grieved with me over the loss of a child—I had been raised to get married, live happily ever after and have 2.4 children. The Horner’s celebrated children and grandchildren. After my divorce, Mom talked about artificial insemination—she even offered to help me pay the hefty price of $10,000 for it! (Remember, this was in the early 1980s.)

The battle raged inside me—I could finally have the baby I always wanted, but I labored over the fact of being a single Mom. In the end, I chose not to do it which looking back; I realized was a wise decision for me.

The next few years I drank away, numbing my broken heart and acting out! God’s mercy won in the choice I made. I would have injured a child with my crazy lifestyle at that time.

The years have healed that profound ache, and I am satisfied with my childless life today, but I will always be indebted to my Mom and her undying support of the need she knew I had!

Here are two poems I wrote in 1996 and 2005 while I was still lamenting the lack of a child in my life:

Childless – 1996

The pain of being without a child!  Eternally alone!
No child has burst forth from my womb
nor sucked at my breast.
Barren cavity deep inside waiting to be filled with life.
Waiting, waiting, waiting!

I have no child to pass my stories on to, my history, our history,
how Grandad created our ranch,
how special Branson Christmas trees are
because we cut them down from our ranch, our land,
how to do the Jessie polka and waltz,
how I was almost named Jessie.

My name, Larada, that should pass on to my granddaughter,
like my grandmother passed it on to me, 
every other generation for 7 generations.

Cheated, robbed, failed!

Not woman, not mom, nothing!  Does a child define woman? 
Does the lack of them define me?

Names and faces dance in circles in my mind
Lael Marie
Patrick Lawrence
Curly blond hair, blue inquisitive eyes.
Bright red hair, changeable hazel eyes.
A mixture of him and me.

I have no daughter that has my smile nor a son with my Dad’s red hair.
No one to call me, “Mommy.”

The empty cavity waiting to be filled has grown larger
no longer just my womb,
but now my whole being,
my every thought,
ME!

Aching, lonely, pulsating to the beat of life
missing what never was!

****************

Childless at 51 – 2005

I am childless
51
single!
Reality hit yesterday as life in
My 50’s sheds light on my life’s fact.

Who will carry on the stories I have –
A lifetime full of
Traditions?

Who will recall that
Grandma Horner demanded
I have a set of sheets
With yellow roses?
Her mark of innocence for me, her namesake.

Who will name their child Larada?
Will that meaningful name
Die with me?

Who will remember that Dad
Called me Shorty?
Who will share my travel escapades?
My love for the Mayas!

Who will know the story behind
Each Christmas decoration
Hanging on my tree?

Who will understand the
Spiritual voyage I took
By looking through my
Personal library of life?
Will you be able to stitch together
The words that formed the
Frame that I draped
My life over?

That gave me closure to
The search through
The pages, the beliefs,
The heart-wrenching self
That examined herself
Through various beliefs
and concepts.

Who will look at all
My belongings
And be able to define
The complex mystery
Of Larada?
No one, but me!


Are you sad this Mother’s Day? If so, tell me your pain so I can share it and lessen your burden.


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

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL UNTIL MAY 14, 2019: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir—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