Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

CALLERLAB—How Did Flippo Take Part?

Flippo & Neeca at a CALLERLAB banquet
Flippo & Neeca at a CALLERLAB banquet

CALLERLAB came to life because the future of square dancing looked bright! All over the United States this dance craze exploded during the 50s and 60s. But with no organization in place, dancers faced mayhem if they traveled just fifty miles away from home because there was no standardization of calls. So, at home one call meant one thing; over there, something totally different.

Bob Osgood, being a futuristic thinker, caller and the editor a popular national square dance magazine, saw a gigantic need and provided an answer. Producing his square dance magazine provided him contact with callers from all over the United States, and this same problem kept cropping up.

Something of this magnitude took time. Organizational meeting started in 1964, and Bob used his magazine, Sets in Order, to report the progress of his group to the dance community. After organizing, they realized they had other issues to address in this group besides the standardization of calls.

In 1974, the first CALLERLAB convention occurred, with ten callers working with Bob to form this new organization, the international association of square dance callers. “Marshall Flippo was one of the eleven founding members of CALLERLAB.” They meet annually with banquets, training, calling and conversations.

Eleven Founding Fathers of CALLERLAB
Eleven Founding Fathers of CALLERLAB

The founding fathers were Bob Page, Marshall Flippo, Ed Gilmore, Lee Helsel, Arnie Kronenberger, Bruce Johnson, Joe Lewis, Bob Van Antwerp, Dave Taylor, Frank Lane, and Bob Osgood.

Flippo had a close association with Bob Osgood because he had worked with him at Flip’s favorite festival at Asilomar, California, and several of these callers worked there, too. Interestingly, Flippo had close relationships his whole calling career with all the founding fathers. He told hilarious stories about many of them and wanted them included in his biography.

Flippo’s Thoughts About CALLERLAB

When I interviewed Flippo for his biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller, he labored over his responses to my questions about this group he loved.

Flippo wondered about CALLERLAB, “See, we were getting great, huge, humungous classes at that time. I wonder if CALLERLAB hurt it, or did it? I believe it might have. It could have made the longevity longer, you know. Anyway, I thank, but it might have hurt it in a way like I go into a town and the guy following me, he called the same type of dance. So now you went in, at that time, you went in as a person, but now you go in as ‘He’s a Mainstream caller or Plus caller or, at best, caller.’ They still used your name, but it’s just incidental.”

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 223.

As he processed his feelings, he recalled specifics, yet still wavered about CALLERLAB’s influence on the activity he loved.

Flippo was on the Board of Governors for ten years, “but I got off it and decided I’d never get back on it. I had enough. I wasn’t much of a leader, Larada. I was just in thar, and I’d be real quiet. Sometimes I wouldn’t say anythang the whole meeting.” Flippo never envisioned himself as a leader—he helped get this organization off the ground and running but didn’t want to participate in the governing anymore; however, he was a regular attendee right up until the 2018 CALLERLAB Convention, the year he died.

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 222.

How Did CALLERLAB Standardize Square Dance Calls?

CALLERLAB’S standardization divided the square dance calls into separate lists at five different levels, with each level becoming more difficult. It started with Basic and then Mainstream. Originally, they had Plus1 and Plus2 but consolidated into Plus. Then they had A1 and A2 with the A standing for Advanced. The last level was Challenge divided into five levels. Today we still dance and teach these levels.

This topic was hard for Flip. “Geez, this is tedious.” So, when the list came out and everybody was teaching the same things, it became easier for a caller to go some place and they say, “Now we want Mainstream.” Then he knew they could probably dance Mainstream pretty well.

Pretty soon they were hiring callers for the level they could call, and a lot of the festival were all Mainstream, and then Plus got in there and most of them now are Plus. “So, damn, I can’t say it the way I want to say it.”

But once the list came out, it seemed all the callers began to call the exact same things. “Basically, if you hired one caller, the next caller you hired would call basically what the other caller called. Do you see what I mean? Before . . . it seems like they hired callers for their name and how they called . . . so pretty soon, they were hiring them for their level instead of for their name.”

After the lists came out, Flippo remembered that he was to call over in Lubbock, Texas. “Man, I knew those guys over thar were good dancers, so I made up a whole dance of stuff that I wanted to call. Well, when I got over thar, I started calling. Well, I thought they could do what I had written down, but every time I’d try somethang, it would go under. I knew the first tip that they weren’t going to be able to dance what I had written down and what I thought they could dance, so I had to kind of fall back on really what I thought they could do. It was tedious for a caller in a way to go somewhere without the list.”

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 227-228.

Finally, to end our discussion

Flippo’s statement, “We took ten lessons, and we were square dancers” demonstrated the evolution in square dancing. Today’s weekly lessons average four and a half months—a far cry from ten weeks.

He responded, “Yeah, that’s about all you had to do. You know, Betty [Casey, one of his mentors] taught four or five classes a year because if you just did ten lessons, you had two and a half months. She could teach another class, and that’s what I did when I first started calling. I’d teach a class, and two weeks later, I would start a new class. So that way, I thank, we got too uppity, uppity or somethang.”

Looking back, CALLERLAB came up in fourteen interviews with Flippo, a topic he loved to talk about yet wrestled with often. No matter what, he loved it!

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 229.

CALLERLAB Today

CALLERLAB continues to be a major influence on square dancing and has endorsed a new program, “Social Square Dancing” which can be taught in twelve weeks. Interesting how similar its length is to Flippo’s original experience of lessons so many years ago. The pandemic has affected our activity, so hopefully this new mindset will provide a movement that makes Flippo’s word come true, “I thank it’s going to survive it.”

For more information about CALLERLAB, visit their website: https://www.callerlab.org

Did you know about CALLERLAB before this blog? For more information about square dance history, here are two other books to look at:


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Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? CALLERLAB

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

Join me at my Zoom Launch Party for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? on September 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Go to my Facebook Event to RSVP, and I will send you the meeting info: https://www.facebook.com/events/596181948062057

Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

family · Mom · My Thoughts

Cars—Does One Rank As Your Favorite?

Hands on the steering wheel - cars

Cars—do you have a favorite one? I say 100% yes! I’ve loved two cars, especially, in my lifetime: my first one and my mom’s last one—two extraordinary adventures.

My First Car

1966 Dodge Coronet 440 - cars
1966 Dodge Coronet 440

            In 1971, Dad bought me my first car—a bluish-green 1966 Dodge Coronet 440—to go to college. He bought my brother a light blue 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 at the same time and paid $1000 for both cars. They don’t make cars like them anymore. The sleek lines of that Coronet 440 created a beautiful picture. I was 18 years old and felt like a queen driving that car. I had fun in it at Trinidad State Junior College, but my brother’s roommate borrowed it often for his dates, promising never to leave Trinidad. One night I was twenty miles away in Raton, New Mexico with friends and saw my car sail by. That ended the roommate’s use of my car.

            The mechanics at our garage thought my brother and I shared one car because the colors were so similar. They kidded me when I brought my car in to be serviced, saying, “Why don’t you make your brother bring it in?” Repeatedly I had to explain we each had our own car, and what’s funny is Dad bought the two cars from the owner of that garage.

            As lovely as that car was, it didn’t have air conditioning, so I used what Dad called “Larada’s air conditioning” in warm weather—rolled down all the windows, especially the wing window and drive like hell.

            In 1973, I took that car into my first marriage, still loving everything about it. Because the upholster inside was shot, we redid that, matching the color outside, and it really looked sharp. As newlyweds, we bought a 1974 Dodge Dart off the showroom floor in Trinidad, but that was my husband’s car.

Many years later, driving in Windsor, Colorado, I stopped at a light, and a guy pulled up beside me and offered me a sizeable sum for my striking car. I laughed off the offer—it wasn’t for sale!

Somehow, we inherited a dilapidated Ford from my ex-husband’s grandmother when she passed, and then we had too many vehicles. Without my permission and before I had any gumption to say anything, he sold my car. I was heartsick, but I didn’t stop him. The crushing blow came a few months later when we divorced, and he left me with that lousy Ford.

I have never connected with a car since my first one—maybe the young woman and the mystique of my first can’t be captured again.

Mom’s Last Car

Fast forward to 2004—Mom was coming home from the post office in our small rural town and got hit by a semi-truck, totaling the car she had. It did not hurt her, thank God, but this accident stranded her. Being fifty miles from the nearest grocery store, doctor and everything, she needed transportation, so we went searching.

We found a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu and a Toyota Camry in Raton, New Mexico, fifty miles away. She test-drove the Camry and because of her petite size, she couldn’t see over the steering wheel, so that took the Camry out of the running.

Mom and her Malibu in 2004 - cars
Mom and her Malibu in 2004

Both of us fell in love with the Malibu and what made it more enticing is the owner lived in Cimarron, New Mexico. I called his niece, and we talked to him to learn about the car—it was a good fit.

So, Mom bought it and we have had no trouble with it at all mechanically. She absolutely loved her car and drove it to Trinidad weekly for her shopping needs. Mom’s driving history fascinated me. She married my dad at twenty-three years old and didn’t know how to drive, so he taught her. While we were at home, she drove very little. As Dad aged, his inability to drive sometimes forced her to drive, but she didn’t enjoy it, especially when she had to take over the wheel in Santa Fe, New Mexico once. After Dad died, she had no choice, so she became proficient, not venturing farther than her safe trips to Trinidad or Raton

Mom and I enjoyed several trips to western destinations, ending up in California to visit my brother and his family. When we were together traveling down the road, I drove and we talked endlessly. On one major trip we took to California in 2009, we had the radio on once for our three-week trip. The rest of the time we spent talking and laughing. That car held so many precious memories of those special times with her.

After Mom died in 2013, I inherited her car and drove it back and forth to our family ranch monthly. After my last trip to Branson, the air conditioning stopped as I pulled into my home in New Mexico—absolutely nothing. A trip to our mechanic cost us a lot. See, we live in the mountains east of Albuquerque and we don’t have a garage to store it in. A squirrel built a nest in the engine and chewed up the cables to the air conditioning, so that costly adventure made us decide to sell it. Because we don’t have a garage, this costly event could happen again and again.

As I cleaned it out preparing for the sale, I choked up several times, reliving the trips, the fun, and the laughter we shared. Yesterday we sold it to the son of a dear lifelong friend. I cried when they drove off.

Yes, I know cars don’t last forever, but their memories do! I will always have the special times Mom looped her left arm over the back of my seat, laughing at whatever our topic was and enjoying our time together in her car.

Do you have cherished memories attached to any cars? Do or did you love a car? Tell me your memories—I’d love to hear them. (Scroll down below to the Comment section to respond.)


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Join me at my Zoom Launch Party for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? on September 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Go to my Facebook Event to RSVP, and I will send you the meeting info: https://www.facebook.com/events/596181948062057

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover
Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

family · Mom · My Thoughts

Clothesline—A Thing of the Past?

Towels on a clothesline

Clothesline and laundry day were a part of my childhood. Mom hung out the clothes weekly on our clothesline until her dying day. She loved the smell of sheets that had blown in the breeze all day, and I inherited the love for that sweet fragrance. Are clotheslines still a viable part of today’s world?

In the past, a walk through a neighborhood on laundry day showed so much about the families living there. Just an inventory of the clothes blowing in the wind told if a family lived in that house or a single, if the children were boys or girls. It depicted what taste in clothes the wife had or what kind of work the husband did. So, those people strolling by could glean much in a scrutiny of the clothes on the line.

In our small country town, jeans and cowboy shirts filled the clotheslines on wash day, which was usually Monday. The women wore dresses and aprons, so they blew freely in the breeze. The boys dressed like their dads and the girls like their moms, so miniature similar outfits identified children lived there. We didn’t have any exotic characters in our town, so the lines didn’t shock any of the passers-by.

What brought this topic up for me right now? I had some work done on my house in Branson, Colorado, a couple of weeks ago. The worker called me up and asked if he could take down the clothesline because he needed to get mechanical equipment into the yard. The line was in the way.

“Go ahead,” I responded quickly, but then I have been mulling it over for the last couple of weeks. Yes, it was okay to do, but it’s a part of my history I cherish. The many memories I have came rushing back, a real mixed bag, though!

One of the stories Mom told us growing up worried her as a young mother. She had heard a story about another family who had a newborn and a thirteen-month-old like my brother and me. I was the youngest. The mom was outside hanging out laundry (probably diapers with two little ones like us), and she heard the baby crying. Nearing completion, she finished her chores before going inside. Before she could get there, the thirteen-month-old had grabbed the newborn out of the crib and drug it outside to his mom, killing the baby.

So, Mom told us repeatedly the fear she had anytime she spent time outside hanging up laundry on the clothesline. She said she ran inside every few minutes to check on us and worried about it constantly. As an adult in hearing this tale, I could hear Mom’s anguish and concern still, years later.

Wringer washing machine - clothesline
Vintage Washing Machine with Squeezing Rollers – path included

As older children, about four and five, we loved to help Mom on laundry day. She had a wringer washing machine which fascinated us. Mom’s didn’t look like the image above—it was porcelain and a newer model. My brother, Bub, liked to help Mom push the clothes through the wringer, and she often cautioned him to be careful. I was young enough to be just his cheerleader and observer.

One summer day, Mom did the laundry outside like so many other days, and Bub neglected to be careful and pushed his hand too far into the wringer with the clothes. His hand got caught in the wringer. He screamed, trying to pull his hand out but he couldn’t; I screamed in unison with him. Mom panicked and ran next door to our neighbor, Edna Fry. They came running over, and Edna immediately hit the release and Bub’s hand fell out. The area around his thumb suffered the most damage, but he didn’t need stitches.

Here’s how a wringer washing machine works:

https://dengarden.com/appliances/How-to-Use-a-Wringer-Washing-Machine

Those early sad memories have stayed with me for years, but the smell of clothes hung out on the line—that’s what I remember, mostly! That luscious fresh air smell of sheets can’t be beat—marketers today can’t bottle that refreshing aroma. Also, white clothes sparkled after being outside bleached white in the sun.

As a young married woman in Denver, Colorado, I continued what I Mom taught me—hang your laundry out on a clothesline. One evening, after making my bed with clean sheets that smelled delicious, I sat down when I finished and got stung by a bee I had wrapped up in the top sheet—ouch!

In 1980, when we moved to a new house in Loveland, Colorado, the covenants didn’t allow clotheslines, so I got away from using one. That has continued for me after that, but Mom continued using hers until she died.

Clothespins for a clothesline

After she finished washing her clothes, Mom hooked her bag of wooden clothespins on the side of her little cart and wheeled it outside. Quite a feat in the dirt! Any passers-by visited with her as she worked and she with them. It was a community time. Often, I came home, welcomed with something waving to me on the clothesline, and it felt inviting.

So, when I return to Branson this next week, Mom’s clothesline has disappeared, so no welcoming committee, but the memories live on.

Did you use a clothesline? Do you have one now? Can you describe the smell? (Scroll below to comment)


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Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? promotion - clothesline

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

Flippo on a coffee table - clothesline
Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Book Production · My Books · My Thoughts · Writing

Writer/Author, Promoter—Which One Am I?

Inspired writer in a meadow

Writer/Author, promoter—roles I have to play as I self-publish yet another book! But which am I? As I pondered each one of these, I wondered, “can I do it all?”

Just last week, I released my current book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?—my sixth book. Several blog posts I wrote last year during the pandemic inspired this book. I had originally planned to just publish the posts with no revisions, but my editor said I couldn’t do that—that people wouldn’t buy what I gave away free. So, with her help, I enlarged the chapters, added a quote at the beginning of each chapter and sprinkled relevant photos throughout the book, and now it’s done.

As my promotional list grew and grew for my new book that faces a controversial topic, I wondered about each role and how I’ve learned to do each.

Yes, I am a writer and an author. In fact, that’s my favorite part of the process. Each book I’ve written has offered me a delightful experience in the writing process.

Collage of all of my six books - writer

I wrote the poetry and prose in This Tumbleweed Landed when I took part in the Rio Grande Writing Project in 1992, and I put it aside for twenty-one years. Often it spoke to me from its secluded place, but I was too busy living to do anything with it. Then I retired after Mom died, and I had plenty of time to dust it off and work on it. Originally, I wanted the book to be short poetry vignettes about the people, places and activities in my small country town, but after attending a writing workshop in December 2013, I added prose I had written about my country life that enhanced the book. In 2014, I received the boxes of my books. I will never forget opening the box of books and seeing my words in print for the first time—unimaginable!

I wrote When Will Papa Get Home? years ago, when the creatives juices flowed like never before and have never after. On a visit home to our family ranch, I found a blue marble at the Philly Place, an old homestead, and I wondered whose it was. As a teacher, I was on summer break and I had brought a clunky Apple 2E computer home to use. I went home to Denver, and wrote day and night, consumed with the story, letting it unravel as it would. I did not know the ending.

Again, I put this one away for twenty or more years. When I finally pulled it out and revised it, it needed more “meat.” I totally enjoyed researching homesteading in Colorado in the early part of the 20th century and details about life then. The creative process took over again, and I got lost in the words, the revisions, the possibilities, and I saw it in print in 2015.

It took me four years finally to write A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. Mom died in 2013, and I published this book in 2017. I turned to poetry to deal with my grief, so I filled this book with reflective poetry and prose about both of my parents’ deaths. It deeply healed my heart.

In 2017, I started the biggest writing project of my life—Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, the most famous square dance caller in the world. I recorded forty hours of interviews with Flippo. After transcribing those interviews, I faced 258,000 words, so I had the daunting task of cutting, cutting, cutting. I also had to do research and make sure his memories of World War II were factual, and they were!

Flippo wanted to tell stories about sixty plus callers and cuers he had worked with, so I added a chapter of favorite stories from callers and cuers about him. What a mammoth task this was, but I feel I created not only a wonderful biography but a history book about square dancing.

Even though I work across several genres, I love the writing piece! I’ve written and self-published six books now (that’s shocking to me) and three cookbooks. I took each project all the way through the process and actually published them, so that’s much more than being a writer or an author. Whew!

Now we come to the promoter’s part. I have been a promoter for years in the square and round dance world. Because of my computer skills, I’ve created hundreds of flyers, emails and events on Facebook. My love affair with Desktop Publishing goes way back—my masters’ degree is in technology, and that’s where I learned many of my computer skills preparing lesson worksheets and projects for my students. Early on I bought an education bundle of Adobe programs and became familiar with Photoshop and its capabilities.

Now, as I face the following list of promotions, I muse over what I have to do to advertise my new creation:

CREATIONS

  • Create iBook
  • Create Nook  
  • Create Kobo 
  • Create page on website
  • Add thumbnail to sidebar in website
  • Order proof copy from KDP
  • Order 25 paperbacks

PROMOTIONS

  • Create ad on Kobo for September 9 – 19, 2021 for Australia & New Zealand at discounted price
  • Create a new Kindle Countdown Deal – September 21 – 28 – 9:00 am, starting at $1.99
  • Posted on bookois.com & upgraded to Gold at $50
  • Created new release on Kobo
  • Listed on Alignable
  • Buy 15 Kindle e-books for giveaways
  • Use Buffer to send out weekly emails to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Instagram
  • Add book & e-book to my Etsy Shop
  • Create giveaway on Goodreads
  • Create giveaway on Librarything 
  • Create ad on BookBub when I have e-book listed on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble & iBook
  • Create ad on Amazon
  • Email two lists I have
  • Create campaign on MailChimp
  • Have Launch Party
  • Post on Facebook pages
  • Connect with guy on Instagram who messaged me about this book a couple months ago
  • Email Sue Ready to post review on Amazon
  • Email ARC readers to post review 
  • Search for spiritual/religious book Facebook pages
  • Amazon-30 days after launch important for rating
  • Add to Reedsy Discovery
  • Send paperbacks to 4 ARC Blurb readers
  • Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories.
  • Online Book club listing – https://onlinebookclub.org/submit-book.php – Requested review bit won’t be available for 2-3 months
  • Get Kindle link to Fiverr promoter

Yes, the promotional part of this job seems overwhelming. But after seven years, I’ve found the places I need to focus on. What’s time sensitive is that some of these tasks depend on the completion of one before the other. For example, I have created e-books at Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble, but I had trouble with the iBook e-book, and I need links to all four popular e-book formats for the BookBub ad.

Many years ago, I created my first e-book on iBook when I was a support staff for Albuquerque Public Schools. This time, it took hunting for the correct app to upload the file—I had an outdated one. Also, I had trouble with the app accepting my password for my Apple ID which was bizarre. I use that Apple ID all the time, but finally it accepted it. So, I’m waiting, but the minute I get the okay for my iBook, I’ll launch that ad on BookBub.

As I look to this next week, I will attack this list, promoting my new book as many ways as I can. Writer/author and promoter—I have to do all these jobs to make my book a success.

Do you struggle with writer/author and promoter roles? Do you like one of the roles over the other? (Scroll down below my promotions and make a comment.) I’d love to hear from you.


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? ad - writer

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is now available:

Just Another Square Dance Caller
Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Costa Rica · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Spain · Travel

World Explorer—Why I do it!

World traveler

World exploring and its wonders! Souvenirs, pictures, reminisces of fun-filled travels remind me daily of my experiences in this big beautiful world. Because of the pandemic, we canceled our travel plans for later in 2020 and have nothing planned for 2021. So today, I wondered why I love to travel so much. The packing and planning put many people off, but I enjoy every part of a trip.

I grew up in a small rural ranching community fifty miles from the nearest doctor and grocery store. I lived in a small town though, but the world out there seemed so big and unattainable, beyond the prairies and canyons of southeastern Colorado. Granddad Horner subscribed to the National Geographic magazine, and I thumbed through each issue, mesmerized by that world out there and its mysteries. I blushed at the foreign women’s bare chests, yet yearned to see that world.

Granddad and Grandma Horner took annual vacations touring the United States, and I relished their slide show of pictures from places I dreamed about in the United States—the Grand Canyon, Bullhead City and so much more.

My dad, a high school graduate and world thinker, read voraciously and kept educated about world matters so much so I gave him a globe for Christmas one year so he could find that faraway country he’d read about.

Little girl pointing at a world globe
Little girl holding index finger on Earth globe

So, I inherited a large worldview, bigger than Colorado, bigger than the United States. My first husband and I discovered Mexico: Mazatlán and the Yucatan peninsula in the 70s, when tourist hadn’t discovered both areas yet. When I saw my first Mayan Indian ruin, I felt captivated by the mystery, and I was hooked.

After we divorced, I traveled with a girlfriend back to the Yucatan peninsula to see many more Mayan Indian ruins and then on to Tikal in Guatemala, the Mecca of Mayan Indian ruins to me.

Then in 1999, Mom and I took our first European trip to do an Eastern Europe tour, basically to find her lost grandfather who had immigrated into the United States, but we had no record of his entrance here. That trip opened me up to a larger world—the wonders of eastern Europe with so many historical sites and cities.

In Berlin, we looked in a phone book for Mom’s granddad’s last name, Ulbig, and found several names listed. Neither of us spoke enough German to call any of our possible relatives. So, we tore that page out of the phone book, and that became Mom’s favorite souvenir of our trip. I cried during our tour of Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp, a horrible example of man’s inhumanity against man. I will never forget that sight.

In 2001, my third husband and I drove the Can-American highway in our RV to Alaska. What an adventure that was! We saw Denali, Alaska’s tallest mountain, usually shrouded in clouds. We took a small airplane ride up to a glacier and walked around on it, surrounded by absolute white.

During our years together, we toured the United States in an RV, dancing and sightseeing all over the United States. We went up the west coast in 2003, promoting a national festival. We traveled to the Midwest and east—so many adventures.

In 2007, I joined the cruising world doing an inside passage tour to Alaska on a square dance cruise. I feel in love with cruising.

My present husband and I love to travel and see the world. We have taken several cruises—what a relaxing vacation they are. On one, we went through the Panama Canal and marveled at that amazing engineering feat.

In 2017, we traveled to England and Ireland. Lin drove in both countries and we had a delightful time. In Ireland, we saw the Cliffs of Moher, enjoyed dancing in Irish pubs and enjoyed staying in bed and breakfasts. While visiting England, we based ourselves in London, alternating between a tour one day and a free day the next. In London, we visited the British Museum, realizing we could have spend days there. We saw Stonehenge on a tour but were so rushed; I didn’t buy one souvenir there. We saw a Broadway play, Les Misérables, on the West End, and Lin vowed never to attend a play in the USA again since the production was so outstanding.

In January 2020, we went to Costa Rica with my husband, Lin’s ex-wife who is Costa Rican. The group was small, only twelve! She knew everyone in the group; we knew her, her husband and one other couple. Lin had told me repeatedly he wanted me to see Costa Rica. We had stopped at a Costa Rican port on one of our cruises, but his ex-wife shuddered when he told her where. She said it wasn’t a great example of Costa Rica. On our tour with her, we saw animals galore, ate delicious food and saw many gorgeous sites. I saw a quetzal bird in the jungle, a bird I had heard about thirty years before on the Yucatan peninsula.

At the end of February 2020, we went to Spain with twelve square dance friends and fell in love with Spain. We saw several major Spanish cities, starting in Barcelona and ending up in Madrid. We traveled through Don Quixote land, and I could see him mounted on his trusty stead, Rocinante, a long side his trusty companion, Sancho Panza.

So why do I enjoy traveling so much? I love seeing that world Granddad and Dad introduced me to so many years ago. When I stand at a site like Strafford-on-the Avon, Shakespeare’s home, I can’t believe this little country girl is there. The tour guide hugged me there as I cried. She remarked, “I wish all people responded like you.”

In my travels, the big world has shrunk, because I now know people in Scotland, Ireland and England. We sat and chatted, and I realized we have the same hopes and dreams—we’re really all the same.

In March of this year, Lin got a little cabin fever and had received several brochures promoting cruises next year. So, we signed up for two cruises in 2022 and one for 2023. The first one next year is a Transatlantic cruise going from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Barcelona, Spain. Our next one goes through the Mediterranean. And in 2023, we travel to Japan.

In conclusion, I travel to discover what’s out there—my dad used to look at a side dirt road going up over a hill and out of view. He always commented, “I wonder where that goes!” Obviously, I inherited his wanderlust, but he never traveled outside the United States, so I do it for him.

Do you like to travel? What is your favorite travel memory? Why do you travel? (Scroll down below to make a comment!)


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Flip for Flippo!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

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Book Production · My Books · My Thoughts · Writing

Self-Publishing—How Difficult is it?

Woman looking at books—self-publishing

As a self-publishing author, I usually do most of the tasks to publish a book. It isn’t easy, but I love it. I write the book. Next, I have always hired a professional editor because I know it’s impossible for me to distance myself enough from my work and not make mistakes. Because of my computer skills, I love laying out the cover, and I have done four of my six books. In self-publishing A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, I paid someone to do the cover, but I suggested the total layout and added to it.

Also, I do the interior layout with Vellum, a Mac program that creates the print version and four e-book formats. I also enjoy this part because it lets me express myself creatively in how the book’s interior looks.

See how my current book has gone! My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? has been hanging on the edge of being published for several weeks. After reading and studying many marketing books, I decided this time I would pay to have the cover done, and that’s been the hold-up. They asked me to send all the parts for the cover in one email and here’s what they required:

  1. Trim size/page size (5X8, 6X9, etc.)

2. Paper type (cream or white)

3. Exact page count of your fully finished formatted manuscript (to determine spine width)

4. Back cover text (the book description usually works for this)

5. Short author bio and picture (this is optional, and please make sure any picture you send for the back cover has a resolution of 300dpi or higher)

6. Your publishing venue (Ingram Spark, KDP, both… if Ingram Spark, please also send the ISBN)

6.5. If you want an Ingram Spark hardcover, would it be a case laminate, dust jacket, or jacketed case laminate?

Normally, when self-publishing, I do everything for the book and am in total control. Then I have total control of the timing. The book cover company I hired for this book finished the e-book cover about three weeks ago, and I liked it.

Then I had a delay with the book description for the back cover of the book which I never write. With my first book, someone advised me to never write my own book description—that I was too close to the work. So, I always hire someone to do it. Recently I was traveling, and she was too, so we had delays because of that. Then she missed the meaning of the book at first, so we had several rewrites. So, this delay held up the cover getting done. Finally, she got the message from the book and wrote an acceptable description.

Then, off to the book cover layout company with all 6.5 items listed above. I provided pictures I wanted used, so I created a Drop Box shared folder. When they did the first paperback cover, the front was easy—it was the e-book cover. They had lots of trouble with the back cover.

I shared a picture with them in Drop Box of Lin’s gorgeous garden for the back cover because I loved the whole idea that so many people adopted gardening and an appreciation of nature during the pandemic. This book addresses a hard topic, so I wanted that positive result reflected in the cover.

After waiting and waiting, I emailed the representative of the company, and he said he emailed it to me three days before—I never received it. So, he resent it. First cover they sent me to approve had no picture on the back cover—it was a bland back cover with only the book description, my picture and a super-short bio.

Then, we started the revision process that took several days—much longer than necessary. When they added the garden picture to the back cover, they overlaid a green shade over it, so you couldn’t see the garden clearly.

So, I asked them to fix that, and they did after several days. Finally, they sent me three choices. Here are two of them. My husband, Lin liked one; I liked the other. Help me select the cover for this book by responding in the Comments section below.

TWO BOOK COVER CHOICES

Choice #1 has the green overlay of the garden. Choice #2 has a colored picture in the background of the Lin’s garden. Vote for one!

Choice #1 – Green overlay
Choice #2 – No green overlay—Colorful

In my future of self-publishing, I don’t know if I will hire someone else to do the cover. If I don’t, I would avoid the frustration of working with an outsider and the expense. But I like the two choices provided for this book, because it looks professional and they did creative things I would not have! What a dilemma!

Are you self-published? How do you handle the stress of self-publishing? AND BE SURE TO VOTE ON WHICH BOOK COVER I SHOULD USE—#1 OR #2? (Scroll below to the Comment area and respond about which cover you liked and your self-publishing experiences.)


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Flippo in the sand—self-publsihing
Flip for Flippo!

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~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:

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~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Did You Dance at Kirkwood with Flippo?

Kirkwood Lodge
Kirkwood Lodge

Kirkwood Lodge and Flippo became synonymous to square and round dancers for many decades. Kirkwood Lodge, in the Ozarks at Osage Beach, Missouri, played a gigantic role in Flippo’s success as a caller. How did this love affair start? Again, Flippo would say, “I was at the right place at the right time.”

Kirkwood played such a key role in Flip’s life, I dedicated three chapters in Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo:

  • Chapter 9 – Kirkwood Lodge
  • Chapter 10 – The Pride of Flippo’s Life, John
  • Chapter 11 – Life at Kirkwood & More.

Also, in the Members Only section of my website, I have four additional items I couldn’t include in his already sizeable biography:

  1. Origin of the Kirkwood name
  2. Flippo’s Stories About Kirkwood Employees
  3. Picture of Kirkwood Employees
  4. Picture of Kirkwood Employees

I never danced at Kirkwood Lodge, but I know many people who did. For many, the memorable experience focused on Flippo and the fun he brought to their vacation experience. Flip entertained the dancers with hilarious after party skits and routines. He wowed them with his calling and the guest callers and cuers he hired there. And finally, if you were lucky, he taught you how to water ski, one of his many athletic skills he seldom bragged about.

HOW FLIPPO ENDED UP AT KIRKWOOD LODGE

During our interviews, Flippo returned to the topic of Kirkwood Lodge and Bill Hagadorn often. Kirkwood Lodge and Flippo’s subsequent yearly tours shaped his life and calling career. For forty-two years, he called at Kirkwood, a vacation spot in the Lake of the Ozarks at Osage Beach, Missouri, then for six months, he traveled on the road with dance engagements booked from dancers he met at Kirkwood. Bill Hagadorn, the owner, hired him. As we talked one day, Flip requested, “Now we got to have a whole damn section about Kirkwood Lodge.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 107.

In 1957 Flippo and Neeca took a square dance vacation at Kirkwood Lodge, a place suggested to them by a greyhound bus driver and his wife, who came to one of his Saturday night dances at the Hayloft in Abilene, Texas. This driver described Kirkwood and the dance program provided. He drove high school seniors there from all over the Midwest.

Flippo felt burned out on square dancing, so he planned this square dance vacation to be the end of their square dancing, but a serendipity happened. It rejuvenated them, having the time of their lives. They enjoyed it so much; they returned in 1958 and ’59. In 1960, they joined Les Gotcher, a caller they met at Kirkwood, at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, as a part of the staff.

Flippo back at Kirkwood

With the success of “The Auctioneer” in his pocket and his winning personality and voice, in 1961, Bill Hagadorn asked Flippo to become the staff caller at Kirkwood Lodge and the rest is history. Flip often said that Bill was the best boss he ever had! Flippo continued calling there for forty-two years, enlarging the senior week program and the square dance program for families.

Flippo kept up a rigorous weekly schedule [at Kirkwood] but each season differed.

Neeca described his schedule, “Flip called six nights during square dance season, every night during high school seniors, and four nights during family season.’ He kept up that pace for the six months he was at Kirkwood for forty-two years!”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 119.

KIRKWOOD BECAME THE BASE FOR HIS TOURS

“Flippo shared, “What happened was Neeca helped me a lot because guys would come to me [at Kirkwood Lodge] like from West Point, Iowa and Minneapolis, Minnesota and they’d say, ‘Hey, can you call for us?’

Neeca remembered, “We had received several booking dates, mostly from guests at the Lodge. Some were several miles apart. We were made welcome in many homes; many of these people became dear friends. Word of mouth spread quickly, and we kept getting more dates. We never in all my years found the need to write and ask for a booking.

We soon received more request than we had dates open. It was difficult to write people back and tell them he could not make; we had to turn down more than we accepted. It took some time to accept dates that would make it easier to travel. In order to accept some dates, he would only go to that area every other year. Flip was always quick to refuse full pay when the crowd was small because of the weather or some other reason. He called many dances for no pay at all.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 163-164.

THE PRIDE OF HIS LIFE, JOHN

While the Flippos lived there, John Flippo, their son, was born, and this monumental addition to this couple made Kirkwood a special place to them.

“Neeca returned to Abilene to have him, ‘so he’s a pure Texan. They’re just thar a few days, and they came on back to the lake. He’s not enough Texan to move down thar. He’ll never leave that lake, I don’t thank.’”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 124.

And John didn’t leave. In fact, Flippo moved back to live with John at the end of his life, across the street from his beloved Kirkwood Lodge.

WHAT FLIPPO LOVED ABOUT KIRKWOOD LODGE

Flippo’s association with Kirkwood continued for four decades with a rich variety of national callers and cuers. He loved everything about Kirkwood: the dancers, the employees, and the calling and cuing staff he worked with over the years.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 115.

The Hagadorn Era at Kirkwood Ended

Flippo and Neeca and Pat and Joyce Munn bought Kirkwood in 1973 from Bill Hagadorn.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 146.

They owned it for twenty years, but trouble arose, so they parted ways. But Flippo only remembered this pivotal place in his life with fond memories.

When Flippo lived his last months with John near Kirkwood Lodge, he enjoyed time with lifelong friends who were dancers and callers coming across the street to see their dear friend. So, from 1957 until 2018—sixty-one years, Kirkwood Lodge played an instrumental role in his life!

I’m sorry to say that we saw Kirkwood Lodge torn down this summer—a sad end of an era!

FINALLY

To see many historic pictures from Kirkwood Lodge, join this Facebook group: Remembering Kirkwood Lodge-Square and Round Dancing.

To read about Flippo’s experience at Kirkwood in more depth and to see all the extra resources in the Members Only section on my website, buy a copy of Flippo’s book. Then email me at Larada@icloud.com and I will get you into the Members only section!

Did you dance at Kirkwood with Flippo? Share your experience—how many years? What was your favorite memory? (Scroll down to the Comments section and please share!)

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Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo - Kirkwood

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My Thoughts · poetry

Coyote Encounter in My Poetry

Coyote

Coyote in Native American folklore is a trickster, and I had my experience with this illusive scoundrel and recorded in a poem. My ex-husband and I lived near a Native American burial ground where we walked.

Coyote is a major mythological figure for most Native American tribes, especially those west of the Mississippi. Like real coyotes, mythological coyotes are usually notable for their crafty intelligence, stealth, and voracious appetite. However, American Indian coyote characters vary widely from tribe to tribe. In some Native American coyote myths, Coyote is a revered culture hero who creates, teaches, and helps humans; in others, he is a sort of antihero who demonstrates the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and arrogance; in still others, he is a comic trickster character, whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. In some Native coyote stories, he is even some sort of combination of all three at once.

http://www.native-languages.org/legends-coyote.htm

This poem came after my personal sighting of a coyote one morning.

Spirit Coyote

Larada Horner

September 20, 2000

One velvety quiet dawn

I see you and my heart knows.

We know each other deeply,        

beyond time and space.

                        Where did we first meet?

On the prairies in southeastern Colorado?

Your eyes haunt me

            following my every step.

Your home, a sacred Indian burial ground,

separated from the world by a chain link fence.

Ancient ones honored!

I walk by daily on the outside—

you and them today on the inside.

Are you coyote?  Are you spirit?  I can’t be sure!

            This is Albuquerque,

                        The city

                                    People everywhere.

I question as you mesmerize me.

            You turn away from me, and        

                        I recognize your lean frame.

You are coyote!

Death has captured them

            and you, too.

Are you captured?

Are you free?

You follow my action,

            you sneak towards me.

I gulp worried you will charge,

            but your movement stops towards me.

Now you progress with me, alongside me.

I feel comfortable in your presence–

            no fear,

            a companion that knows my heart.

You rise up on a small mound

            then you’re gone—gone forever!

A chain link fence separates us.

            You locked in with the dead

                        me alive outside,

                        walking free,

            yet skirting you and death everyday.

At times, I hear the chains in the fence rattle in the breeze,

            yet I know it’s not the breeze–

                        the sound is too severe.

            I know it’s spirits, like you caught in that place,

                        that place between the unknown,

                                    a place I know so well!

We are one; I see it!

Death, spirit coyote and me

            roaming through this life!

Those ancient ones inside me clamor to be

            free, to be put to rest!

Your spirit sought me out

            with a message.

Some Natives see you as the trickster,

            the predator by ranchers.

Others see you as the tourist symbol of the Southwest

            and place a red bandana around your neck.

What a shame!

Your spirit is larger, filling the arroyo

            and canyon of my heart.

You roam free—

            So, take me along!

I yearn to roam free with you,

            to howl at the moon,

                           at my loneliness,

                           at my aloneness,

                           at the other spirits walking my same path.

This surreal experience happened twenty-one years ago, and magic realism took over my poem—wondering about mysterious disappearance of that coyote. So what do you think? Where did it go? (Scroll below & make a comment about this mystery!

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

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

My Thoughts · poetry · Travel

Haunted by a Favorite Poem of Mine

Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991 - Haunted by Coba
Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991

Thirty-five years ago, I wrote a poem after my memorable adventure in Cobá, Mexico, in the summer of 1985. Laying solemnly unattended in a folder on my computer, it has haunted me over the years. Today, I recalled my surreal experience when I wrote the poem, remembering the physical parts of the Cobá experience, and then the magic I added.

 In 1986, also, I was finishing up my coursework at Colorado State University. We studied magical realism in my Spanish classes, looking at the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez. This genre fascinated me—reality with a dash of magic.

 So, what is magical realism: 

 Magical realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic or fantasy. Magical realism is a part of the realism genre of fiction.

Within a work of magical realism, the world is still grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. Like fairy tales, magical realism novels and short stories blur the line between fantasy and reality.

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-magical-realism#what-is-magical-realism

For several years, the Mayan culture and the Yucatán peninsula captured my attention, so I visited many Mayan Indian ruins there: Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum, and Cobá. During tours at each ruin, I took copious notes. I bought several books and read about the Mayans, their culture and beliefs and absorbed details.

During our 1985 trip to Cobá, much of it lay overgrown with heavy jungle vegetation. Lynn Hafer, my travel companion and I stayed at a Club Med hotel nearby, but it wasn’t a “Swinging Singles’” Club Med infamous at the time but a research facility with a full library and a quiet, somber setting. Because of its remote location, the Mexican government had not commercialized Cobá yet, so what a raw jungle experience we had!

In 1991 I continued my Mayan treks. To celebrate my completion of my master’s degree, Lynn and I went to Guatemala to one of the largest Mayan Indian ruins, Tikal, a dream come true for this Mayan ruin lover. However, my experience, noted in this poem at Cobá, regularly surfaced and haunted me, so I thought I’d share it with you. In looking at it today, I felt the call to revise!        

                

Cobá—I Was there!!

Written – March, 1986

Revised – July 25, 2021

The year was 1985.

Walking down an overgrown jungle path with my friend,
	toucan birds squeak above my head
                nestled in the canopy.
A turn in the road, thick over-growth blocks the sun 
        for a minute.
		Shadows, sounds, smells--
			transported me back to 900 A.D.
      
A shiver pierces my soul.
I stare at crumbled ruins
        while an iguana lazily poses on a low step,
	       large but approachable.
Colorful in dress, Mayans step out 
        of the past and the bushes,
	       brush my arm.

I strain to see their faces 
        and 
               to hear their voices.
Is it real?

The bees buzz in the tops of the
        Trees among the orchids that
	       Decorate the canopy
		        With their color.
The bees’ hum above
	Joins the voices below.

Where am I?  
When?  
       With whom?
               A step back in time, yet caught between
                        Two worlds—then and now!

Had I been here before?
       At this spot,
       Centuries before,
              Standing at the foot of this Temple, 
                        surrounded by my fellow Mayans, 	    	    	        
              Worshipping the god "Chac" and 	   	    	    	    	
              Listening to the familiar
	    	    	Squeak of birds
                               and the laughter of howling monkeys.
   
The smell of Copal, sweet incense, fills the air
      The mingled 
             Odor of honey and grain,
                       My sacrifice to my god.
A bright fire illumines the scene
      With reflections and smoke.

The drums beat—beat—beat a familiar steady cadence.
      Draw me to them.
The Mayan priests chant—chant—chant soft sounds that join the 	    	    		
      Bass beat of the drums.   
The Mayan language a mystery to me,
      Yet I know it’s deep meaning.
I sway to the beat—the chant.
      It vibrates in my soul calling me forth
              Through the ages,
                      Past time’s illusive barrier!

Dark bronze skins glisten in the firelight.
      Brown eyes search our faces for safety.
             Flat heads surprise me with their symmetry.
I marvel at the feathery headdresses with multiple colorful gowns.	  
      I join the celebration,
             The ceremony!  

Small sturdy people crowd around me, 
      Greet me in a soft rhythmic tongue.
            Gently, friendly—a spark shines in
                     Their eyes with recognition!

THEY KNOW ME!  I'm among my own.  I'm home!!!

But it can’t be!
      I grew up in Colorado
            Not Mexico
	    Not centuries ago
	    Not Mayan

"Did you hear that?  What was that?" my friend grabs
      My arm.


TRANSPORTED
     BACK
            TO REALITY, or is it?  
I'm back—1985.
	    
The summer's heat presses in,
     The sun's scorching heat
           Eerie sounds and hums flow 
                   Through the air.
Eerie, yet familiar.

I strain to hear it better
     To hear the beat of the past
          To see those familiar brown eyes.
	    	    	    	    
I want to return!
     But can I?


Déjà vu? A poem capturing my experience or a fictional treatment? I can’t explain what happened that day so many years ago, but I know it was surreal. My poetry helped me express what I felt, not exactly what I saw. When I wrote the poem, the total experience happened. For years, this poem haunted me with its expression of possibility. I believe there’s unexplainable mystery in this world. Maybe that’s why I am attracted to the genre of magical realism and the chance that I witnessed a Mayan ceremony so many centuries ago.

A mystery happened this afternoon. I planned to use pictures from that 1985 trip to Cobá, but I couldn’t find my photo album. I found pictures from our second trip to Cobá 1986. Historically, I take lots of pictures on any trip—what happened to that album? Another puzzle added here—I wonder?

Have you ever had an unexplainable experience like mine? What happened? How did you honor it and record it? (Scroll below to make a comment)


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My Thoughts

Can You Live Without Your Cell Phone?

Apple Cell phone

Since June 24, 2021, I have been pondering this question because I have had to live without mine off and on. I felt totally isolated and helpless. So, what happened to my precious cell phone?

Lin and I were happy Verizon customers for several years when we first got married, but every time we went to Branson, Colorado, no reception. In fact, Lin used to call Branson “The Black Hole” for cell phone reception. If he went to the front bedroom at Mom’s house on the right side of the bed and held the phone up at a certain angle, he could get minimal reception. Or if he went to the dump down over the hill or drove a couple miles to the New Mexico state line.

To solve that dilemma, we changed to AT&T and spent five or six years with reliable reception in Branson or anywhere we went. In fact, we enjoyed their promotional for traveling abroad — $10 a day with unlimited data and phone service.

But Verizon kept sending us advertisement to come back, and they lured us back. So, a couple weeks before that fateful day, I checked the map online on their website. It appeared that they had improved their reception in southeastern Colorado.

On June 24, after my doctor’s appointment with the current advertisement in hand, we dropped in to a Verizon store.

My first question to the sales agent was, “Is there coverage in southeastern Colorado?”

He pulled up the map and southeastern Colorado was red, depicting it had coverage. He solemnly affirmed we had coverage there, so we took the gigantic leap and changed cell phone carriers.

Map Showing Coverage in Branson, Colorado

Hindsight is always 20-20. I should have called a local friend and asked if the coverage had changed, but I didn’t. Caught up in the moment with all the promotionals, I upgraded my iPhone11 to a 12. I also bought a new iPad—that was one of the major reasons we went there was to do that! I had dropped my old iPad on a tile floor in Costa Rica last year and had a definitive crack on the corner.

Lin upgraded his iPhone7 to an XR10 because they offered a great deal. He didn’t see a need to go to a newer phone. Excited, we left with our new equipment.

As we were leaving, the sales agent specifically said if it doesn’t work, you have a two-week window to cancel your service. What he neglected to say was that all “the deals” we got on the new equipment disappeared!

Immediately Verizon started emailing me to send my iPhone11 to them for the upgrade offer, so I did.

The following week I went to Branson, Colorado (within the two weeks), and to my dismay, the reception was worse than it had been five or six years before. So, I spent a week in Branson with no cell phone service. Panic gripped me. What if someone needed to contact me? I had a landline at my house, but oh, my!

After this disconnected week, I returned home on July 6 and called Verizon to start the switch back to AT&T. The Verizon customer service person said I should receive my iPhone11 back from them on Friday. He also said we had to send the new phones back to them by the end of Friday. Very stressful trying to orchestrate this timeline.

 Afterwards, we had a delightful call with AT&T on returning to them, and they gave a great discount for coming back.

So, on July 8, Lin and I went to an AT&T store in Albuquerque. The sales agent put SIM cards in our two new phones and my new iPad. My iPad worked but our two phones didn’t because Verizon had locked them.

Then we returned to the scene of the crime, the Verizon store where we had been deceived. The manager said we had 30 days (not the stringent timeline the customer service person told us on July 6) to return the phone because the map on the internet showed marginal coverage. She also told my husband they would lock his XR10 for sixty days, so he plans to send it back. 

Believing what we were told, on Friday, July 9, we looked repeatedly all day for my iPhone11, and it never came.

In the meantime, Lin bought an XR10 from Apple who gave him a better exchange for his old phone, so I used his old cell phone with an AT&T SIM card; otherwise, I would have been without a phone this whole time.

Because my iPhone11 didn’t show up when they said it would, on Tuesday, July 13, I called Verizon and waited 30 minutes. I worked with a customer service person who tried to help. The previous person I talked to on July 6 did not create an order number or location code attached to the file. So, this person created both and shared them with me. Also, she created a rush on the order with one day shipping because of the urgency. She said it should arrive on Thursday by FedEx. 

Again, being optimistic, my husband and I looked repeatedly all day on Thursday, July 15 for my iPhone11, and it never came.

So, on Friday, July 16, I called Verizon and talked to a third customer service person and was on the phone for 3 hours and 43 minutes waiting to talk to a manager because they all were in a meeting. (What if a major world event had happened?) She looked up the order number and location code given to me from the previous customer service agent and found nothing.

While we were waiting, she said she talked to others who do her job, and they told her Verizon never sends a phone back to a customer but sends it to the vendor. She said she could put in a ticket for “an early unlock” on the iPhone12 I upgraded to because of the marginal coverage if I decided to keep it. At 4:13 pm MST, she said a manager would call me back today to resolve the issue. The manager never called me back. 

I have filed a complaint with the BBB and FCC, so hopefully we’ll get some action done.

This has turned into a nightmare, all because this cell phone carrier knows how important a cell phone has become to us, the consumer. Tomorrow I plan to call one more time to talk to a manager, then I will have to send back the iPhone12 or get charged for it, but the insane part is if I keep it, they will lock it for sixty days, so I can’t keep it!

Finally, I will buy a phone from Apple, and we will send Lin’s old iPhone7 to Apple for his upgrade, and we will have learned an expensive lesson! Don’t believe a sales agent or a coverage map!

When I first got a cell phone years ago, I thought a cell phone was a luxury; today it has become a necessity! Whew!

Have you ever had an experience with a cell phone carrier? If so, how did you handle it?


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~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/