My Thoughts · Patriotism · poetry · Politics

Did Democracy Win? Hell, yes!

I heart the American Flag Democracy Won!
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

I cherish and respect our long-held democracy in the United States of America, but then on January 6, 2021, my heart dropped as I watched domestic terrorists breach our Capitol. I’ve spent the last couple weeks mulling over the the bizarre start to 2021. Insurrection has become an often-repeated word. Really? Pertaining to the United States of America? Oh, my God! For other countries, other angry people, yes, but here? I thought we were immune to this sort of rebellion.

So, I turned to poetry to process my feelings.

Words-Democracy Won!
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

Insurrection, Not a Part of My Vocabulary

January 11, 2021

Definition, “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insurrection

The word, insurrection

            Has never been

                        A daily word in

                                    My vocabulary.

Never

Until January 6, 2021

            Invoked its repetition

                        Over and over

                                    Again.

I witnessed

The invasion of our Capitol

            By a blood thirsty mob.

Shocked

Spellbound

Disgusted

Violence

            Planned

                        To take over

                                    Our Capitol,

                        To take hostage

                                    Certain congressmen and women

                                    Our vice president

                        To execute them!

Gallows with a noose constructed

            Within view of the Capitol.

                       

Elected officials heard

            Their names screamed

                        As they feared

                                    For their lives!

For months,

            I’ve heard rumblings

                        Of a Civil War

                                    From conservative and liberal

                                                Friends

                                                            And family.

I knew they were planning something.

            Facebook knew.

            Twitter knew.

Why didn’t the government know?

            A question that needs answered.

Insurrection in the USA!

            I’m 67 years old,

                        Never before

                                    In my lifetime.

An anger that has raged

            For years

                        Spun

                                    Out of control

                                                In

                                                            that insurrection.

What’s coming?

            On January 20, 2021

                        Inauguration Day

                                    Threats of massive protests

                                                All over the country.

The Civil War could be here!

            What do I do?


The two weeks before the Inauguration I wondered. I checked news’ source repeatedly. The FBI actively arrested the leaders of the insurrection which totally changed the atmosphere at the Inauguration.

The military presence of 25,000 National Guardsmen in Washington, D. C. sent a strong message to the disruptors—we will not let it happen again!

Here’s my poem after the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris:

Insurrection or Democracy? Who Won?

January 22, 2021

On January 6, 2021

            Insurrection raised its

Bloody head

            Stood armed

                        And

                                    Dangerous.

Fear constricted my throat.

            A breached Capitol

                        Desecrated with

                                    Angry urine

                                    A Confederate flag

                                    Unfulfilled dreams

                                    The threats of death

                                                And

                                                            Execution

                                                                        Of

                                                                                    Legislators

                                                                                    Our vice president.

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

Our legislators counted the votes!

Insurrection did not stand in the way!

Two weeks we waited

            As a country,

                        Holding our collective breaths

                        Multiple arrests

                                    Family members turning in protesters

                        More video of the vile carnage.

Rumors abounded—

            More violence

                        More threats

                                    For January 20, 2021

                                                Inauguration day.

Democracy Won!
Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

But democracy won!

            A civil exchange of leadership

            A warm presidential speech

                        Overflowing with calm,

                                    A call to unity.

Musical interludes

Patriotic celebrations

Then my heart exploded!

Amanda Gorman - Democracy Won!
Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman spoke,

            The young black poet

                        Crowned her black braids

                                    With festive red ribbon.

My poet’s heart soared.

            Her words captured

                        unquestionably

                                    A much-needed positivity.

            Her presentation,

                        Clear and precise!

Don’t let your political party affiliation

            Stop you! Listen to her words!

They expressed

            A positive spin

                        Of our wounded nation

                                    “The Hill We Climb”

                                                with multiple alliterations

                                                            and strong imagery.

Amanda’s words

Healed my heart

            Healed my fear.

I pray deeply, “If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

            The light

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

As an English teacher, I printed Amanda’s poem and marked it up, circling the numerous alliterations and images. The repeated sounds created a poetic rhythm that soothed my soul. She made two references to the award-winning play, Hamilton, in her poem. https://bookstr.com/article/amanda-gorman-references-hamilton-in-the-hill-we-climb/

Poetry, above any other genre, needs to be heard, and there’s a magic if it’s in the poet’s voice. Reading it is good, but hearing it is so much better. Be sure and listen to Amanda’s presentation of her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

If you’d like a copy of Amanda’s poem, download here:

As we move forward in 2021, insurrection no longer needs to be spoken or thought about. I choose to focus on peace and the spirit of Amanda’s intriguing poem.

How about you?


Flippo's Book Cover with Book Excellence Awards Review

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY 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:

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

~Larada’s Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books:   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

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

Blogging · My Thoughts

What Does Seven Years of Blogging Look Like?

Seven years of blogging

Seven years! Thank you to any reader who took the time to read what I deemed my priority for that week. I so love thinking about my weekly blog post. Topics tumble around in my head, percolating. I usually spend Sunday afternoon writing my weekly post.

Since 2019, I’ve evaluated my year of blogging during the early part of January. I believe this type of deep assessment has helped me grow my exposure.

During my first few years, I adopted the suggestion to do a blog but posted sporadically and had no commitment to it. My first year I posted seven times—obviously not a priority in my life! Something happened in 2018, and it’s grown ever since.

As I faced 2020, I planned to write about the following:

  • Our Travels
  • Square Dancing
  • MAJOR FOCUS: Marshall Flippo and promoting my new book
  • Personal life stories
  • Being 65 and fully alive
  • Holiday highlights
  • Ranch life in southeastern Colorado
  • My 16-year-old cat, Jesse

Little did I know, that the coronavirus would affect much of my writing for the year. Yes, we had two amazing trips. In January, we spent twelve days in Costa Rica, and I wrote about that amazing trip in six posts. My readers loved my travel blogs, and February 2020 showed a marked increase in views—2511 for the month. That month ended up my biggest month of the year!

At the end of February, we traveled to Spain, and I had the same plan—blog about our trip featuring each day in my weekly blog. Then the coronavirus hit! I did feature the nine day Spain trip in four blogs, but the pandemic changed my plans for the year.

As a poet, I turned to writing poetry to process my feelings generated by the pandemic, so I featured those poems and my narrative in twenty-seven posts. And as an offshoot of those posts, I collected those posts in a book I’m publishing in the next couple months that will be available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book titled Bitter or Better: My Coronavirus Journey.

2020 saw a marked increase in views and visitors by almost 5000 each. My blogs about our trips and the coronavirus stimulated that increase. Look at the growth my blog has had over the last seven years:

Here’s how many posts I have published in seven years:

  • 2014 – 7
  • 2015 – 16
  • 2016 – 6
  • 2017 – 22
  • 2018 – 54
  • 2019 – 66
  • 2020 – 64

For a total of 235! Wow! That’s a lot of words!

Seven years of blogging--the world

My audience continued to span the globe. I advertised worldwide on Facebook last year, until recently when it made that option not available. That concerns me for future growth worldwide.

The United States continued to be my biggest market, followed by countries with the most to least visits: Myanmar, China, Algeria, India, Ireland, Nepal, Laos, Philippines, and Bangladesh.

Other visitors came from Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Canada, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Iraq, Turkey, United Kingdom, Australia, Bhutan, Vietnam, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia, Libya, Japan, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Honduras, Sweden, France, Brazil, Morocco, Cote d’lvoire, South Africa, Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia, Maldives, Venezuela, Congo – Brazzaville, Paraguay, Armenia, Suriname, Ecuador, Cambodia, Senegal, Jordan, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Samoa, Denmark, Mozambique, Fiji, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Peru, Nigeria, Lebanon, Congo – Kinshasa, Guinea, United Arab Emirates, Palestinian Territories, Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka, Italy, Tanzania, Albania, Timor-Leste, Spain, Romania, Chile, Angola, Russia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Guyana, Mauritania, Thailand, Georgia, Chad, Liberia, Cape Verde, Belgium, Netherlands, Kyrgyzstan, Belize, New Zealand, Malaysia, Kenya, Djibouti, Togo, Macedonia, Switzerland, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Brunel, Serbia, Singapore, Ghana, Gambia, Vanuatu, Jamaica, Israel, American Samoa, Bulgaria, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Uruguay, Solomon Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Moldova, Benin, Northern Mariana Islands, Comoros, Finland, Caribbean Netherlands, Greece, Gabon, Burundi, Taiwan, Hungary, Martinique, Guinea-Bissau, Curacao, Mauritius, Panama, Czech Republic, European Union, South Sudan, Lesotho, Zambia, Poland, Niger, Micronesia, South Korea, Equatorial Guinea, St. Lucia, Oman, Central African Republic, Palau, Rwanda, Yemen, Madagascar, Namibia, Cook Islands, Lithuania, Tonga, Kosovo, St. Pierre & Miquelon, Zimbabwe, Norway, Aruba, Bahrain, Marshall Islands, ­­Kiribati, Barbados, U. S. Virgin Islands, Kuwait, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sint Maarten, French Guiana, Anguilla, Reunion, Uzbekistan and Guam.

In 2019, visitors came from 154 different countries to my blog. This year it expanded to 176 countries! That is so amazing to me, and it shows the worldwide accessibility to the Internet.

So, I’d like to share the take-aways from this in-depth look at my blogging history:

  • Blogging has become a major focus of my writing.
  • Readers especially like my blogs about our travels.
  • Readers emailed me about my blogs about the coronavirus.
  • I love the worldwide audience I have created with my blog!

Seven years of sharing my thoughts! I continue to want more interaction with my readers. Respond, like, let me know what you think. Let’s have a dialogue!


Flippo's book

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY 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:

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for all my bookss   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

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

Christianity · God · My Thoughts · Politics

Epiphany 2021: Light & Darkness Collide

Epiphany: Light and Dark Collide
Light and Darkness Collide

On Epiphany 2021, January 6th became a day in USA history. Light and darkness collided with not many even aware of that fact. Most years this ecclesiastical day goes unnoticed except for those who celebrate it. I will never forget this year.

So, what is Epiphany to me, as an Episcopalian? “. . . the church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, which marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas each year on January 6. Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “appearing.” At the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate Jesus being made manifest or appearing as Christ.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/files/bi010613half.pdf

The Episcopal church says: Epiphany is “. . . the manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The day was called “The Feast of Lights.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/epiphany

Epiphany: The three wise men

“On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Wise Men, or Magi, arrive bearing gifts and present the Christ child with gold (recognizing him as king), frankincense (recognizing him as a priest) and myrrh (an anointing oil for burial).”

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/asking-clergy-what-does-the-epiphany-celebrate-1.25264739

Normally, I have mixed feelings with the arrival of Epiphany because it marks the end of Christmas, and I love the Christmas season and everything about it. I do love Epiphany, though, because of its focus: Jesus, the light of the world. I wait to take down my Christmas decorations until then. In its own way, Epiphany is a celebratory time.

This year, I dreaded this day for weeks ahead of time because I knew it coincided with the certification of the results of the election by Congress, and I knew protesters planned an event in Washington.

When the day came, initially I forgot it was January 6. I did my normal routine: my Quiet Time reading and writing in the morning, rousing Cribbage games with Lin, my husband, during breakfast and normal stuff. At 11:00 am, I had a Zoom meeting with my marketing agent and ten other authors.

After finishing that peaceful, supportive meeting, I headed downstairs. Lin came in the door, returning from a trip to Walmart. He had listened to a news station on Sirius, and said, “Turn on the TV. They’re storming the Capitol.”

I did; we ate lunch trying to digest the horrific activity before our eyes. Our Capitol had been breached by the protesters, no terrorists. I sat glued to the TV for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. Image after image exploded on the screen of these lawless invaders looting the Capitol. Darkness raised its ugly head.

As I watched, I cried! I posted my despair on Facebook and received massive support and one dissenter. What a dark day in our history! I realized that day stood as a turning point in my life for acceptance of the lies perpetuated over the last two months about the election and the results. It had been brewing for four years, so I set boundaries on Facebook with supporters of this sedition.

As the afternoon dimmed into night, I remembered Fr. Dan Tuton, the priest at my Episcopal church, had scheduled a Zoom Epiphany Service and I planned to attend. Should I? What new development would I miss? My hours’ long vigil had worn me out. I needed to refocus on God and love and light.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had shared with Lin I planned to attend this service, and he joined me. I want to thank Fr. Dan Tuton and Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church for a peaceful reflective Epiphany service in the midst of such a turbulent day. He read Matthew 2:1-12, recounting the Magi’s visit to the Messiah. Then he read Henry Van Dyke’s, The Story of the Other Wise Man.

How I did need that time bathed in the glory of Epiphany. God works in mysterious ways for sure. Right before we took an intermission at the mid-point in Van Dyke’s story, a dear friend messaged me with a personal prayer request, so I shared it with the group, and we prayed right then. I knew they would because my church is a healing community. Whew! My God in the middle of chaos!

The images from that infamous day whirl around in my mind still. Because I’m a historian and record keeper, I downloaded several images of the looters, the terrorists, the destruction, thinking I would use them in this blog, but no! I do not want to give them any more notoriety. Instead I want to provide a respite from the chaos.

Let’s focus on the light, the Christ Child who lights up my life. Fr. Dan helped me refocus that sad day to a commemoration of three wise men (or more or less. No one knows for sure) who traveled a long distance to confirm the birth of the Messiah as described in Matthew who witnessed the beginning of His life.

Then in Van Dyke’s story, The Story of the Other Wise Man, he revealed another possible wise man, Artaban, who touched my heart with his willingness to give his gifts intended for the Messiah to those in need. In doing that, he missed the Magi’s finding of the Christ Child but had a serendipitous meeting with Jesus later.

So, this sad day ended on a positive note, with a celebration of the Magi honoring the Christ child and the giving spirit of Artaban. I felt God’s light and love emanating from this Scripture, this tale and this service.

How can we refocus now? How can we identify the goodness of our country and its people? I would be interested in your thoughts!

Epiphany: Happy 2021 & Larada

~Visit my blog post from last week:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY 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:

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

~ BEGINNING 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

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

Coronavirus · Goals · Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts

What Does 2021 Hold For Us?

2021
Photo by Vladislav Murashko from Pexels

2021 is here! Yahoo! Happy New Year! Whew! I thought it would never come! Closing 2020 with a quiet bang, I look to opening up 2021 with enthusiastic gusto!

But like so many others, I reminisced about meaningful past New Year’s Eves, and one repeatedly came to mind. In 2017 many square dance callers and dancers met in Green Valley, Arizona to witness Marshall Flippo call at his last square dance on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Flippo’s Last Dance 2017

Many national callers came out to see their mentor and friend end a 60 year+ career. Numerous dancers traveled from far and wide to hear Flippo call one last time. I felt the magic in the air that night—sadness mixed with deep love and appreciation. I will never forget that evening nor my dear friends in attendance.

This year, we celebrated a quiet one. We watched “Bells of St. Mary” with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman and cried at the ending even though we had seen it before. After the movie, we prepped an elk roast and vegetables to cook in the crockpot overnight for our New Year’s Day dinner. Then we ended the year watching the celebration on the plaza in Santa Fe, NM—what a New Mexican party it was. I loved that they sang, “Las Mañanitas!” to bring in the new year!

So, let’s talk about this new year. 2021 is an empty book, a new chapter, today a blank page in my life! What will I do in 2021 with still so much uncertainty? Yes, we have the vaccine, but not many people have been inoculated yet. So, we need to be cautious and use those familiar safety suggestions:

  • Masks
  • Social distancing
  • Wash, wash, wash our hands

That just reminded me of a hilarious experience Lin and I had on cruises we have taken. Greeting us at the door of any restaurant onboard, two ship employees sprayed our hands with sanitizer and sang, “Washy, washy.” What made this so hilarious was the enthusiasm they did their task with—smiles and pure joy! I wish most Americans handled all the safety suggestions with such joy and enthusiasm!

So, as I ponder 2021, I think about a day in this year as being a blank page—the nemesis of many writers. I love the sight of a clean page, a new year, a new beginning. I choose what’s written there. I choose my attitude with which I face each day. I choose to be positive and proactive.

So, I spent part of yesterday and today reading book marketing ideas to prepare for this new year as an author. I jotted down several new ideas to incorporate into my plan for 2021. I also thought about how I want my life to be different, especially incorporating what I learned in my solitude in 2020.

2021 Goals
A Word Cloud of My 2021 Goals

So, here’s my list (more than book marketing stuff):

  • Publish a new book, Bitter or Better: My Year’s Coronavirus Journey
  • Do my daily Quiet time
  • Dance
  • Attend recovery meetings
  • Dance
  • Promote my books, especially the Flippo book at dance events
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Dance
  • Spend time outside in nature
  • Dance
  • Connect face-to-face or virtually with family and friends
  • Dance
  • Recreational Reading
  • Dance
  • Visit our family ranch in Colorado
  • Dance

As you can see, dancing tops my list of activities I want to add back this year.

As I face 2021, a year with possibilities, adventures and people, I wonder. I know I thought 2020 had all those possibilities. Will this year be different or more of the same? I’m sure the first part will feel very similar to 2020, but hopefully mid-year 2021 will take a turn towards normalcy.

What do you think?

I do want to end with some 2020 humor. This was shared our Next Door app before the end of the year, and I thought it was hilarious:

2020 – A YEAR IN REVIEW!!! I hope everyone can get a chuckle from this!

  1. The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.
  2. I was so bored I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone He asked me what I was wearing.
  3. 2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people.
  4. The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house & their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 5. This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog. It was obvious she thought her dog understood her. I came into my house & told my cat. We laughed a lot.
  5. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well.
  6. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?
  7. This virus has done what no woman has been able to do. Cancel sports, shut down all bars & keep men at home!
  8. I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! 10. I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.
  9. 11. I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the Backyard. I’m getting tired of the Living Room.
  10. 12. Appropriate analogy. “The curve is flattening so we can start lifting restrictions now” is like saying: “The parachute has slowed our rate of descent, so we can take it off now.”
  11. 13. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask & asking for money.
  12. 14. The spread of COVID-19 is based on 2 things:
    1. How dense the population is;
    1. How dense the population is.

~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

Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts

Good bye 2020, Hello ’21!

Good bye 2020, hello 2021

Good bye 2020, yes for sure! Hello 2021, welcome here! This afternoon, I wrote a couple poems to end this tumultuous year with my eyes on the next.

Standing on the Precipice

December 31, 2020

Stepping off - good bye 2020, hello 2021
Photo by @joagbriel from Pexels

Today I stand on a precipice

            2020 here

            2021 there

My heart yearns

            For the normalcy

                        Of

                                    2019

                                                2018. . .

2020 stopped me

            in my tracks

The world stopped

            turning

Ten months shut-down

            Shelter-in-place

                        Quarantine

                                    Words I wasn’t familiar with

                                                Before 2020

The new normal

            Masks

            Social distance

            Wash your hands often

The life we live now

            To protect us

            To protect you

Good bye 2020

            With your excruciating

                        Pain and loss

            With your deep lessons

                        Of spiritual changes

            With the coronavirus

                        Taking center stage

Hello 2021

            Can you be new?

                        The same?

                                    Normal?

                                                Just a little bit!

I stand here

            On the edge

                        One foot in 2020

                                    One foot reaching

                                                Stretching

                                                            For 2021

I extend my hands

            To the future

                        To the unknown

                                    To possibility

I still believe

            God is here

                        In this moment

                                    In the midst

                                                Of life

                                    In 2020

God will be in 2021

            Also

Today, He gently grabs my hand

            To jump into this next year

            To face the uncertain future

            To know the goodness of life

Yes, 2020 is over–Good bye!

            Thank God!

2021 is here! Hello!

            I’m ready!


We Get to Start Again!

December 31, 2020

Good bye 2020, Hello 2021
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

A new year

            A new beginning

Standing on the brink

            Of 2021

I revel in its newness

A new year

            With so many possibilities

Possibly more desirable

            Because it’s 2021

Hope abounds!

            A new day dawns

                        Upon a tired citizenry!

I smell anticipation in the air

            I taste joy in each bite

                        I hear hope in cheerful voices

                                    I feel kindness unfolding worldwide

Yes, we start anew

            2021

A fresh slate  

            To write my dreams on

            To sketch out my desires

            To scrawl and doodle my ambitions

It can happen

Yes, the coronavirus is

                        Still here,

The surge continues

            The cases and deaths mount,

But the vaccine provides a possibility

I must honor

            The place where I am,

Before I can move forward

But as I stand

            On the edge

                        Of 2021

For the first time

            In months

I feel different

A sliver of hope

            A dash of optimism

                        A smidgen of return to my old life

                                    A glimmer of hope

Join me

            Right now

                        In the universal

                                    Circle of hope!


Good bye 2020, hello 2021! Do take this time to be mindful of this year behind us and one ahead!

And here’s a little humor to start the new year!

Good bye 2020, Hello 2021

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

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

~ 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 · 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 · Costa Rica · My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Lin and Larada’s Christmas Newsletter & Decorations

I love the idea of the Christmas newsletter! I love looking back over my year and reflecting on it. I also love decorating my home with familiar decorations. Two traditions I love! Every year for thirty-two years, I’ve written a Christmas newsletter to share with family and friends highlighting my previous year. Also I seriously enjoy Christmas decorations. So, enjoy Lin and my Christmas newsletter and decorations.

Lin and Larada's Christmas Newsletter banner

2020 Started Off Great!

Yes, 2020 started off with a bang! On January 7, 2020 Lin and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime—twelve days on a private tour of Costa Rica with Lin’s ex-wife, Victoria. She invited us and 7 friends on this delightful escapade. We invited two of our friends, so the “Dirty Dozen” was formed. Our tour guide, Enrique, led a square dance tour in 2001 that Lin and Victoria organized, so Lin was excited to reunite with his old friend.

We saw exotic animals—quetzal birds, iguanas, Jesus Christ lizards, monkeys and sloths—and spent time in gorgeous jungle areas. We sailed over the canopy of the rain forest on a zipline! What an experience! We ended our trip with some leisure time and a catamaran trip out to snorkel.  

The majority of the people on this trip didn’t know each other when we started, but we became friends by the end!

After being home a few days, I squeezed  in a trip to Branson, CO to do major revisions on my book project. We left on February 27 for Barcelona, Spain with a group of square dance friends. Lin and I fell in love with Barcelona! Our tour guide, Bradley Dick, entertained us with his extensive knowledge and humor. Again, I can only give you highlights of a jam-packed twelve days.

I loved La Sagrada Família in Barcelona, a cathedral beyond description—truly sensory overload—and Gaudi’s other amazing architecture throughout the city. We also visited Montserrat, an 11th century Benedictine monastery built on the side of a mountain. There we saw a fascinating black Madonna and Christ Child.

In Valencia we enjoyed delicious paella, the place of its origin. From there we headed to the Arabic Triangle of Spain: Granada, Seville and Toledo with Córdoba in the middle. In Granada, we visited the Alhambra and Generalife, marveling at the influence of the Arabic world on Spain. 

In Seville, after dinner, we had a carriage ride with high-stepping Andalusian horses, stopping for photos in front of the Plaza America. In the evening, we saw Flamenco dancers, a much-awaited event for me! Dazzling sweeping costumes, taps on shoes and snapping castanets! 

On our trip to Madrid, we toured a gigantic Mesquita (mosque) and Catedral (cathedral) at Córdoba. From Córdoba to Madrid, we drove through La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote! In Madrid, we explored a small section of The Prado then drove to Toledo and toured this scenic city built on a cliff.

We left Madrid on March 8, 2020 and Spain had 500 coronavirus cases. Our magical second trip of a lifetime ended abruptly on our arrival home.

Then the Lockdown!

On March 9, we woke up to Spain’s explosion of coronavirus cases to 1500 in one day, so Lin and I started a two-week quarantine. I was certain we would get sick because we spent the last two days in downtown Madrid and then at the airport, but thank God, we didn’t. And that’s the way spring, summer and fall went. All of our annual square dance events were canceled. Lin dedicated his extra time to his garden and he produced the most amazing explosions of color and foliage ever—hours upon hours of work.

Because of Lin’s work in the garden, he always has a gorgeous tan and is very wise about how he does it, so I adopted his method and did a lot of sunbathing and reading.

Immediately, I became a fan of Zoom and have used it weekly to connect with family and friends. I’ve lived here for nine years and finally cleaned out a storage shed Lin bought for my extra stuff when we married. I found some treasures I’d forgotten about!

We have watched lots of British TV series, and my cat, Jesse, assumes the position on the arm of the loveseat every night for our TV time—something so unusual at our house!

We had planned a square dance trip  to Germany in September, but it was canceled too! We moved it to 2021!

And the Release of Flippo’s Book

I spent my time finishing up my newest book,  Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo in the midst of the pandemic. I had planned to release it at CALLERLAB at the end of April, but that event was canceled, so I had more time to work on it. I released it May 8, 2020 and am so proud of the end product which took me nearly three years to complete. It was the project of a lifetime.

Because all square dance events were canceled, I have spent time promoting this book online and have enjoyed the connections I’ve made with Flippo fans all over the world.

If you are interested, visit my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Lin’s Wildlife Habitat Certification

Lin's Certified Wildlife Habitat - Christmas Newsletter
Lin’s Banner

In planning his garden, Lin plants flowers that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and we’ve seen the increase of visitations from these creatures over the years. He also puts out bird food that attracts birds at twenty-five feeders. The culmination of his efforts resulted in meeting the qualifications for certification by the Wildlife Habitat, and he received his certification in October.


Miller’s Christmas Decorations

I’d like to feature our decorations at our home. You can’t come visit our house because of the pandemic, so I’d like to bring my home to you!

Santa & angel collection: Christmas Newsletter
Our Santa Claus & Angel Collection
Small village - Christmas Newsletter
A small Christmas Village
Our Christmas Stockings
Nativity - Christmas Newsletter
Our Famous Outside Nativity

A Miller Christmas Eve tradition is Lin reads a Christmas poem, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer,” from Tombstone Epitaph. Enjoy!


Christmas newsletters, decorations, the magic of this holiday! Yes, I do believe!

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

~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 · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Charles Dickens’ Message for Christmas 2020

Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

Is it “Bah, humbug?” or “God bless us, everyone?” Last night my husband, Lin and I watched Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a tradition we enjoy each year. What message does Charles Dickens have for 2020?

As I watched it, I know the story by heart. I studied Charles Dickens as an English major. I taught it to my sixth-grade literature class each year. We’ve watched each year together. I love its message!

And how does it relate to 2020, the craziest year I’ve ever experienced?

Ebenezer Scrooge, the story’s central character, receives a visit from his former business partner, Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve. Marley warns Scrooge of what’s coming: visits from three spirits.

The visits from the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come forced Scrooge to face the life he had lived, full of “Bah, humbug,” monetary rewards, and negativity since the death in childbirth of his sister, Fan. This reflected Scrooge’s own life because his mother died in childbirth with him and compounded his pain.

This story has strong implications for 2020: redemption and change.

Our Round Table in Branson, Colorado

Christmas Past

Year after year, my family met at our family home in Branson. I traveled there often in my adulthood. The attendees changed over the years. Years ago, Mom and Dad hosted Mom’s parents, Aunts and Uncles, cousins, and me.

Recently, my niece and our family joined Mom, Lin and I with Aunt Willie and my cousin and her family.

Throughout the years, we ate delicous meals, played lots of games around the round table, laughed and shared gifts. We caught up with each other’s lives—a memorable time.

Our family had its moments where we all didn’t get a long, but the people faced the adverse effects, offered forgiveness and we stayed connected.

Christmas Present

Lin and I will celebrate a memorable quiet Christmas here at home alone because we strongly support all the suggestions the CDC has issued about holiday gatherings. We will play Cribbage, open gifts and celebrate our lives together. It will be good because we have accepted the change we have to do to keep everyone in our family safe.

Many families face drastic changes this Christmas with a strong suggestion to not gather together. Sacrifice yes! Change, for sure! Can you do it?

The Future
What Does the Future Hold?

Christmas Yet to Come

I trust that next year we will again gather in Branson, sit around the table and play games with loved ones. We will visit the ranch we all love, looking for wildlife and reminiscing about all those special places we love. And I will relish next year more than ever because of the loss of time together this year! After this year, I will value my familial relationships more because of the stark lack of time with dear ones this year.

So much is different in 2020! Can we collective embrace Dickens’ lessons from the Christmas Carol?

If you’ve battled the mandates, could you change from “Bah, humbug masks” and rethink this and vow to wear a mask for your granddad or grandma’s sake? Your grandchild’s sake? To alleviate the load on our health care workers? Can you change to Tiny Tim’s prayer, “God bless us, everyone?”

If you’ve railed about everything that was canceled this year like your favorite square dance festival, could you say a quiet prayer for forgiveness and then pray for the families who lost someone to the coronavirus?

If you’ve put yourself in the center of this drama called life in 2020 and been so negative and selfish, could you bow your head and honor the health care workers who have placed their lives on the line for many every day in a selfless way?

Yes, change is possible! Redemption is possible, but the process is awareness, acceptance and action. The action is in the doing!

A Christmas Carol reflected Charles Dickens’ life. Because his father was imprisoned for debt, his life changed drastically, and his writing highlighted the brutal changes in his life. Can we take a breath and learn from Ebenezer Scrooge this Christmas? Not “Bah, humbug” anymore, but Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, everyone!”


~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Cover for Just Another Square Dnce 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

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