My Thoughts · Travel

Extreme Greece: Athens & Mykonos!

Extreme Greece: Athens and Mykonos—two very distinct destinations. History and mystery surrounded me in Athens, and I could hardly wait. Beauty and mystery abounded in Mykonos. Greece truly captured my heart!

October 10—Piraeus, Greece; Visited Athens

Up at 6:30 AM, we started this amazing day early! ATHENS! I couldn’t believe I was actually here. We met the tour organizer, grabbed a bus, and headed to the metro subway station, where we met our guide. Interestingly, she toured us around inside the metro, which was an archaeology site. She said anytime they dig in Athens; they unearth ruins. And immediately she started telling the Roman mythology stories I had shared with my students as an English teacher as many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed every tale she told!

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

From there we walked to the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, like ours in Washington, DC, but so different. We watched as the pair leaving marched in a synchronized, high stepping manner with a distinct kick that appeared to be in slow motion with exaggerated movement. She told us that the Greek soldiers had knife blades in the pompons on the tops of the shoes.

Glued to the ceremony, I photographed the showmanship of the two guards leaving and two coming on duty. The whole ritual was breathtaking.

Zappeion

Zappeion in Athens, Greece
Zappeion in Athens, Greece

From there we walked through The National Garden of Athens, a beautiful garden, to the Zappeion, “is a large, palatial building next to the National Gardens of Athens in the heart of Athens, Greece. It is generally used for meetings and ceremonies, both official and private and is one of the city’s most renowned modern landmarks.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zappeion

The Fountain Spraying by Zappeion, Athens, Greece
The Fountain Finally Spraying by Zappeion,

From there we walked by a fountain below Zappeion. Our guide assured us it would start spraying water anytime, but it didn’t, so we walked away. One of our group lingered and shouted at us, “It had started,” so we all rushed back and took pictures, looking back at Zappeion.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

Our next stop was the Temple of Olympian Zeus, all within proximity.

“The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a former colossal temple at the center of the Greek capital Athens. It was dedicated to “Olympian” Zeus, a name originating from his position as head of the Olympian gods.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Olympian_Zeus,_Athens

Here we saw tall pillars surrounded by scaffolding. So much care taken of these old structures! It was a massive site with rocks laying on the ground around the Temple. Ruins surrounded it too. And the Acropolis called in the distance!

The view of the Acropolis from the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens, Greece
The view of the Acropolis from the Temple of Olympian Zeus

Hadrian’s Arch

Then we passed the Arch of Hadrian.

“It spanned an ancient road from the center of Athens, Greece, to the complex of structures on the eastern side of the city that included the Temple of Olympian Zeus.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arch_of_Hadrian_(Athens)

Acropolis

For some unknown reason, I thought the Acropolis would be out of town, out of Athens, but we kept getting a peek of as we walked closer and closer.

So, I needed clarity—was the Acropolis different from the Parthenon? Our guide helped me get it clear. These are all terms I’ve heard and seen in history books, but it’s been years.

The Acropolis is the hill where the Parthenon sits.

“The Parthenon is a former temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, that was dedicated to the goddess Athena during the fifth century BC.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenon

 As we walked up the hill to the Acropolis, our guide told story after story from the Roman mythology and took frequent stops so we could rest.

Theater of Dionysius, Athens, Greece
Theater of Dionysius

On the way, we stopped at the Theater of Dionysius with special carved seats for the royalty out of marble—not super comfortable!

View of Athens, Greece
View of Athens, Greece

Climbing higher and higher, I marveled at our view of Athens—here I am in Athens, Greece, climbing up to the Acropolis! Wow!

The Crowd as we reached the top of the Acropolis! Athens, Greece
The Crowd as we reached the top of the Acropolis!

As we got closer and closer, it felt like a crescendo of a lifetime of hearing about this place was about to explode. When we got inside the ruins, the crowds increased, and the size of the Parthenon overwhelmed me!

The Parthenon in scaffolding

Oh my God! When we finally arrived and stood in front of the Parthenon, a pillared structure looming gigantic in front of me, I just couldn’t take it all in and then. Again scaffolding caressed the beloved structures. Then, the battery for my camera died!!

Our tour ended, but Lin and I lingered. I grabbed my iPhone and took pictures. Its magical draw kept me there, not wanting to leave. We took picture after picture, standing in a variety of places.

When we finally left the Acropolis, a guard directed us to go a different, shorter route out and we missed the masses of people.

From there, we joined some people from our tour, but we took a wrong turn and ended up wandering down a side street. Lin and I decided after quite a while to turn around, leaving the others. We walked right in front of Mars Hill, where St. Paul preached. I googled it later when we got back to the ship. I knew it had importance but couldn’t remember why.

After our wrong turn, we finally made our way back to a familiar area of shops and restaurants near the Arch of Hadrian, where our shuttle was picking us up to go back to the port. We ate Greek pizza, and I bought a delightful Greek dress made of blue and white cotton material. I also bought a gold leaf headband and enjoyed wearing it that night on our ship to dinner.

I will never forget this memorable day in Athens and the history and mystery that surrounded me that day.

October 11—Mykonos, Greece

We were up at 7:00 am for breakfast and out to the port to our tour, which ended up being a sizeable group. When we got on the bus, our tour guide said something about us being back to the ship by 3:00 PM. One of the other travelers told her we had to be back at 1:30 PM. The guide gasped and I could see she was flustered. It changed the plans for our entire tour.

Panagia Tourliani Monastery, Mykonos, Greece

Our tour first took us out of Mykonos eight kilometers to Panagia Tourliani Monastery. On the way, the guide told the history of the island of Mykonos. Mykonos is one of 56 islands which are a part of The Cyclades, and Santorini is also a part of those islands. It saw its first cruise ship in 1920. During the 70s, hippies and artist came, and the culture embraced a very liberal stance, being gay friendly. In the winter, there are 15,000 residences now; in the summer 60,000! They saw 50 million visitors from March to the beginning of November this year.

When we stopped at the monastery, we quietly entered and saw the inside of a beautiful Greek Orthodox church. Our guide explained all the different parts. At the back of the church were lit candles stuck in sand, so I bought one and lit it. I love doing that whenever I can.

From there we walked through this village to a restaurant and had Greek coffee and doughnut, delicious. Then we drove to a beach for picture taking. From there, we went back to Mykonos and had to decide what to do because we didn’t have time to continue our tour to the windmills.

I Did Get a Picture of the Windmills! Mykonos, Greece
I Did Get a Picture of the Windmills!

So, our guide bought us Sea Bus Tickets, then we followed her through a crowded walkway. There, Lin and I left the tour group and shopped a little and bought gelato. I’m always wanting to be on time; Lin always pushes to the limit. When we got to the line for the Sea Bus, it was so loooong, but we made the second one.

Before boarding the ship, I shopped at the Duty Free shop. When I got back to the room, I put on my bathing suit for the first time and went to the pool to get some sun.

Stromboli Volcano Erupted As We Went By!--Greece
Stromboli Volcano Erupted As We Went By!

As we sailed away from Mykonos, we saw a volcano, Stromboli, erupting! Remember, I told you last week we were in volcano country!

Sadly, that night, we went to the Epic Beatles show, and I lost a precious piece of silver, a Zia which is a New Mexico symbol. I guess I lost it while we were up dancing, but it tainted that day for me!

Finally,

Athens and Mykonos—two glorious ports in Greece. I will never forget either of them! Have you been to Athens? Mykonos? What are your thoughts about my experience?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme
Write out your answers to my thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter!

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme
Grab a cup of coffee and your tablet and enjoy!

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

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

Italy · My Thoughts · Travel

My Favorite Port: Santorini & Two More!

Looking from Santorini towards our cruise ship with Blue Dome Church - My favorite!
Looking from Santorini towards our cruise ship with Blue Dome Church

My favorite port of this Mediterranean Sea cruise was Santorini, Greece, the breathtaking city on top of the cliffs. Before Santorini, we visited two other ports: Kotor, Montenegro and Corfu, Greece. As I thought about these three ports and all the possibilities, I highlighted Kotor, Montenegro and Corfu, Greece and focus on Santorini.

October 7 — Kotor, Montenegro

As we moved in closer to Kotor, we enjoyed the gorgeous scenery as we came into a beautiful bay with the mountains coming closer and closer on each side. The tender was late because of port authorities.

This small country has an intriguing history. During World War II, President Tito’s presence was obvious. Montenegro achieved independence as a country in 2006.

For the first part of the excursion, we went to the city of Budva, considered the “Queen of Tourism.” We had limited time there, and I desperately needed a bathroom, so we had to buy a drink to use one. We walked through narrow paths that wove through the city.

Afterwards, on the way back to Kotor, we spent one hour in an expensive rug shop, listening to an informative presentation on the different rugs. I made the mistake of commenting on the beauty of one rug, and a hungry salesperson grabbed me and took me to another area to see more like that one. Again, I had to go to the bathroom, so I left Lin with this ambitious salesperson, which Lin didn’t appreciate. The price: $10,000 for a rug about 3 feet by 5 feet. Needless to say, we didn’t buy one!

When we returned to Kotor, we toured the fort of old Kotor, a fascinating historic city where we needed more time to explore! We saw a fascinating orthodox church, a cathedral that dated back to 1166 inside the fort. Lin found time to have another gelato, though!

When we tendered back to the ship in the early evening, beautiful sharp mountains surrounded us running down to the sea. As lights came on, we saw an ancient defensive wall lit up in the nighttime.

October 8 — Corfu, Greece

Corfu, one of the Ionian Islands, was gorgeous, surrounded by the azure blue Mediterranean! I dressed in a culotte dress in case we visited a church. Before we left the ship, I needed to exchange my money and get some Euros for the day.

The Old Fortress of Corfu - My favorite
The Old Fortress of Corfu

On our excursion, we traveled through the town of Corfu and enjoyed the tour guide’s tales about its rich history and folklore. The old fortress of Corfu sat sentinel on the hill.

As an English major, I loved when he shared Odysseus left his ship here and, legend said, it was petrified.

“Odysseus’ ship, which took him home from Corfu to Ithaka, turned to rock according to legend.”

http://i-greece.gr/news/corfu-homers-odyssey-and-odysseus-petrified-ship/

Another important fact he shared about Corfu—Prince Phillip was born there and we drove by his family’s home (mansion).

Evidence of how close we were to the building!
Evidence of how close we were to the building!

When we left Corfu, we traveled through a village, and the bus barely passed through between the buildings. Then we went on up a windy road to the top of a mountain where we shopped for souvenirs and enjoyed the view.

Beautiful view going up the mountain!
Beautiful view going up the mountain!
Mavromatis Distillery - My Favorite

On the way back to Corfu, we stopped at the Mavrommatis distillery where they made kumquat liqueur, a specialty of that area. We bought a variety of kumquat treats!

October 9 — Santorini Island, Greece

All of our ports took my breath away with their beauty—turquoise water and beautiful historic islands! But Santorini Island was my favorite!

At first, as we sailed closer, we saw white on the tops of the gigantic cliffs that looked like snow. As I zoomed in with my new camera, I realized the white was houses. Beautiful white houses trimmed in blue and blue domed churches covered the very top of the cliffs.

Hikers on a different island!
Hikers on a different island!

As we got closer, we saw a variety of boats in coves along the way. Lin, using his binoculars, saw a large group of hikers on one island as we passed. With my new camera, I zoomed in and saw what he was talking about.

Cable cars going up the cliff to Santorini
Cable cars going up the cliff to Santorini

This was another port where we tendered from our ship to the port because of the size of the Norwegian Epic. We knew we were meeting our tour guide up on top by the cable car.

I’m sad to say neither Lin or I knew about the donkeys you could ride up or down the cliff! We found out after we rode the cable car up! I would have loved to ride a donkey up—my ranch girl heart came out! But we had donkey encounters on the trip down.

The crowds at Santorini
The crowds

The cable car was quite efficient and effective, moving people up the cliff. We met our guide at the top and gathered our small group together, and went to their office. The tourists crowded the narrow walkways shoulder-to-shoulder between the busy shops, yet our tour guide said this is not the busy time of year!

Quickly I realized why our tour was called “Panoramic Blue Shade Tour”—blue domes filled Santorini! This was the first time Lin and I didn’t use a Norwegian excursion company. We had waited too late to book them before we left, so we worked with an agent and she booked several tours for the end of our cruise through Viator (viator.com), and we loved them, especially this one!

It was a small group of about twelve.

We had a fantastic young tour guide who told us why they built the houses on the top of the high cliffs. The cliffs are pumice stone, so the digging was easy. So, when you think about it—the houses are cave houses.

Here was another place in the Mediterranean where volcanoes played a big part. The most recent eruption was 1957!

The history of the Santorini fascinated me:

  • In the late 30-40s, they suffered a cholera epidemic. They white washed the houses with limestone, and it stopped the cholera.
  • In 1956, they had a big earthquake.
  • In 1967, they found many archaeological ruins.
  • In 1967, during a dictatorship, every house was painted white and the domes blue, being patriotic—the color of the Greek flag.
  • In 1974, the dictatorship ended, and the demand of painting houses white and domes blue ended, but the tradition continues.
Engagement Locks At Oia
Engagement Locks At Oia

We toured around Santorini, heading towards Oia, the village world famous for its sunset view. We were given time there to shop and relax. At the spot for sunset viewing, we saw hundreds of locks attached to railings. We found out couples put their “engagement locks” there, with their names and engagement date.

During our free time, we shopped and had a gelato. When we got back to the cable car line, it went on and on—the wait would have been an hour or more. We had already decided to walk down the path, but the line convinced us. What an experience that was! Several white-haired people made the same decision.

Donkey manure dotted our path, and we enjoyed several close encounters with the donkeys. They did have a halter and reins, but it did no good. The donkeys walked wherever they wanted!

By the time we got to the bottom, my legs felt like jelly, and I knew the next day I would feel it, but what a glorious end to our wonderful time in Santorini! We caught the tender back to the ship, and I relished the day’s amazing experience with blue domes in the horizon and donkey humor everywhere!

Finally,

My favorite port, Santorini, lives in my mind with bright blue domes and white washed buildings. Have you ever heard of Santorini? Have you ever been there?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

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

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

Italy · My Thoughts · Travel

Volcanoes: Ports 3 & 4 in Italy

Volcanoes! Our Mediterranean cruise continued to two Italian ports: Naples (Napoli in Italian) and Messina where volcano eruptions changed history, and a recent eruption captured our attention!

October 5—Naples, Italy—Visited Pompeii

Yes, Dean Martin sang “In Napoli” and that song ran through my head as we docked at 11:00 AM in his beloved city. We slept in that morning. I took our passports to be held by the Norwegian Cruise Line for this part of Italy. They handled this exchange efficiently, and I was in and out in minutes. We ate a late breakfast and enjoyed our leisure time. Before leaving the ship for our next excursion, we went upstairs and snacked on banana bread and an apple.

Once again, our tour guide wowed us with his knowledge. This time he shared about Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii which is where we headed out of Naples.

In 79 AD Mt. Vesuvius erupted, destroying the populace site of Pompeii. Mt. Vesuvius is still active, being a young volcano. It erupted the last time around World War II. They now have sensors around the mountain that can predict a week before any eruption activity.

We drove around the Bay of Naples and the guide let us know Naples is the birthplace of pizza! He also identified the island of Capri to the right and the Sorrento peninsula to the left as we traveled.

When we got to the parking lot near the Pompeii site, our group walked to a streetlight. There we found out a man in our group got himself locked in a bathroom in the parking lot which detained us. Our guide was not too happy with him. The guide shared so much information, but I immediately forgot it.

Before our Pompeii tour, we stopped in a shop and saw how cameos are made. I bought one made by a student which cost $56. A master’s cameo of the same cameo was $400! I bought this because my sister had bought one years ago in Italy and encouraged me to buy one too! She died this last week before I could share my purchase with her.

I suffered from dizziness badly on the tour due to my neuralgia, but Lin helped me a lot.

There were phallic symbols in many places—I remembered that!

Here are the 10 Most Fascinating Pompeii Ruins

10.Temple of Apollo

9. House of the Vettii

8. Lupanar – the largest of the city’s many brothels

7. House of the Tragic Poet

6. Forum of Pompeii

5. House of the Faun

4. Pompeii Thermal Baths

3. Pompeii Spectacula – the oldest surviving Roman amphitheaters in the world.

2. Villa dei Misteri

1. Plaster Casts

https://www.touropia.com/pompeii-ruins/

Body mummified by the ash—volcanoes
Body mummified by the ash

At the end of the tour, we went through a museum that housed the bodies mummified by the ash from the volcano. They appeared frozen in time with gruesome expressions frozen on their faces.

After the tour and returning to Naples, we didn’t see the sights the guide suggested: the fort, the Royal Palace or the Theater. I just didn’t feel well. But we enjoyed shopping inside the terminal and our shopping experience.

Here’s my haiku about this day:

Mt. Vesuvius

Erupted and destroyed

Pompeii! Lives shattered!

October 6—Messina, Italy—Mt. Etna

The next day started early again with another fantastic excursion and guide. As we drove through Messina in the early morning, she shared fascinating information:

Another day of dealing with nature’s destruction quality. Messina was totally destroyed by an earthquake then a tsunami! When they rebuilt it, they followed an international idea. This area of Italy—Sicily—uses the famous dialect of “The Godfather.”

When we left Messina, the guide identified Carrara, “The city is famous for some of the world’s finest marble, called Carrara, taken from nearby quarries and used by sculptors from Michelangelo to Henry Moore.”

https://www.britannica.com/place/Carrara

As we drove, she shared endless information: “Our region was Greek. Mt. Etna erupted twenty years ago. One thousand years ago, the Arabs found this area. Twenty thousand years, it was first founded by the Byzantine Empire.”

Savoca where The Godfather Filmed—volcanoes
Savoca where The Godfather Filmed

As we drove, she identified a medieval village on the top of a hill, Savoca, where they filmed part of “The Godfather.”

Mt. Etna Smoking—volcanoes
Mt. Etna Smoking!

Mt. Etna loomed in the distance as we drove, and the guide continued sharing information about this volcano, and we could see where it was smoking—eerie for sure!

Then we stopped at the Crateri Sylvestri Visitor’s Center for a bathroom break and a snack. Here she explained a lot about volcano eruptions and different types of ash and volcanic rocks. We walked around the top of the whole crater, and I struggled with dizziness, so I stayed away from the edge.

Lin on the edge of Crateri Silvestri—volcanoes
Lin on the edge of Crateri Silvestri

Afterwards, we went to the GIVAL jewelry store and saw a demonstration. Lin bought me beautiful turquoise earrings for our anniversary. They had a light buffet for us there, served on a tropical patio.

Looking towards the sea—volcanoes
Looking towards the sea

On the drive back, I took lots of sea pictures, but my camera’s battery died again!

When we returned to the ship, we napped, dressed up and ate dinner where they had live music. Finally, we danced! Several years ago, we had such a memorable time on the Norwegian Epic ship—this ship—because they had a fantastic duo who played a variety of dance music. We hooked up with the dancers and followed the duo all around the ship at the different venues. I had been aching to dance, and it finally happened.

Finally,

What a memorable day we had near smoking Mt. Etna. Our amazing guide snow skied alongside Mt. Etna when it was erupting! Wow! And Pompeii in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius fascinated me with its massive ruins.

Do you like volcanoes? I grew up near Capulin volcano in northeastern New Mexico and have always loved them.


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

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

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

My Thoughts · Travel

Ports 1 & 2: France & Italy

European map - Ports 1 & 2 - France & Italy

Our first two ports onboard the Norwegian Epic moved us to France and then on to Italy. What breathtaking sights we saw!

October 3—Cannes, France

We procrastinated on our excursions for this cruise, so the flamboyant trips to Monaco and Monte Carlo were full. We chose a delightful excursion to Nice, France, weaving our way through the streets of a quaint town on a small “train” (motorized).

Little Train in Nice, France - 2 ports
Little Train in Nice, France

Our ship couldn’t dock at the port at Cannes, so the morning began with a tender ride to Cannes, which always adds to the day. Because of my still experiencing neuralgia from shingles, my doctor said I might experience motion sickness, so I bought bands my husband uses. Thankfully, the ship and the tender didn’t cause motion sickness.

As we traveled through Cannes, I’ve heard of this place my whole life with the Film Festival—I couldn’t believe I was there. It felt surreal as we passed a mural of Marilyn Monroe the full size of the building. From Cannes, we traveled by bus twenty-seven miles to Nice, following the coast and seeing the allure of the beautiful French Riviera with sparkling turquoise water.

Horserace track - 2 ports
Horserace Track

On this trip, I enjoyed seeing a horserace track between Cannes and Nice, actually at Cagnes sur Mer—my country roots!

https://www.cannestouristinformation.co.uk/horse-racing.html

Repeatedly, we saw boats, boats and more boats—all sizes but mostly gigantic yachts!

Palace Hotel Le Negresco - 2 ports
Palace Hotel Le Negresco

In Nice, we passed the massive Palace Hotel Le Negresco, a landmark. “Staying at Le Negresco is like jumping into a joyous mixture of eras and styles. Contemporary artists, masterpieces, monumental sculptures… Le Negresco owes its well-respected identity to its important collection of artwork and period furniture with over 6,000 references.”

https://www.hotel-negresco-nice.com/en/hotel

After the astounding little train ride around Nice, we ended up at “Place Masséna (Massena Square) is the vibrant center of Nice, attracting both tourists and locals.” https://www.hotels.com/go/france/most-popular-streets-squares-nice

And the centerpiece of the square is the Sun Fountain with Apollo standing regal and powerful.

Larada at the Sun Fountain with Apollo statue - 2 ports
Larada at the Sun Fountain with Apollo statue

After our tour, we had a little free time here and went to a restaurant to get a drink, but mostly to use their restroom. We asked the owner if we would be served in 10-15 minutes—she said, “No!” So, I asked if we could use her bathroom. She saw our age and kindly said, “Yes!”

When we returned to Cannes, we walked around the port and took in the beauty. One thing I notice were the outrageous size of yachts and number of them!

At the end of the day, we tendered back to our ship. I had to deal with our internet package, and the line to the tech was way too long. I ended up figuring out our problem with the help of a woman in line.

That night we saw the “Burn the Floor, The Ultimate Ballroom Sensation!” What a great show it was! They moved from Viennese Waltz to the Latin influence to contemporary dance.

https://www.burnthefloor.com/

October 4—Livorno, Italy port; visited Florence & Pisa

The next day began early at 5:30 AM and then we went to breakfast. We ported at Livorno, grabbed our tour bus and headed to Florence or Firenze to the Italians for an hour and a half ride. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride through the countryside, seeing a castle on a hill and beautiful green fields.

Our guide, Claudia, began immediately sharing information about the area we traveled through.

Ponte Vecchio bridge - 2 ports
Ponte Vecchio bridge

When we arrived in Florence, we did a walking tour through town. First, we saw the Ponte Vecchio bridge that was bombed during World War II.

Replica of David - 2 ports
Replica of David

Then we walked to Piazza della Signoria, the square where the famous David statue used to be, but now we saw a replica of David—he’s so big! This was one statue I was so anxious to see! David was featured in a square where there were many statues. We also saw there the Poseidon fountain and Equestrian Monument of Cosimo I.

Claudia shared fascinating stories as we walked like you can see Galileo’s index finger from his right hand in a museum. The church cut it off because he used that figure to show them the rotation of the earth.

Dante Statue - 2 ports
Dante Statue

Also, Dante wasn’t buried in a church because in Divine Comedy, he has a pope in “the Eighth Circle of Hell.” We saw his statue in Piazza Santa Croce, outside the Basilica of Santa Croce.

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy - 2 ports
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

We also saw the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, a massive, beautiful church.

Then we had free time in this square, and I bought a beautiful leather handbag and reversal belt. Lin bought a wallet. And Lin squeezed in a gelato break for us before lunch.

Next we ate lunch where Claudia’s husband was a chef. We had vegetarian lasagna and chianti. Lin sampled the chianti; I had water. Then we had prime rib and potatoes and a delicious dessert.

From there we drove to Pisa and didn’t nap. We enjoyed driving through the Tuscany landscape. My new camera’s battery died! We walked to the Leaning Tower of Pisa near the Cathedral and Baptistery. We took lots of fun picture (using my iPhone), taking cues from creative people. Lin had another gelato, and I had a Fanta.

Our trip back to Livorno from Pisa was shorter. This excursion day exhausted me with so much walking, so I napped until 8:30 PM. We had a light dinner and turned in early.

I’ll end with a haiku I wrote that summarized our first three days:

Three countries, three days

Spain, France and Italy—Wow!

Connected by smiles!

Have you been to Cannes? Florence? Pisa? Share your experience with me.


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

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

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

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Barcelona: Our First Mediterranean Stop!

Barcelona: our first Mediterranean stop! The trip for our Mediterranean cruise started with an early departure. How I hate those early mornings because I can’t sleep, all exciting and anxious!

Here’s the first four days of our fifteen-day adventure!

September 29, 2022Not Yet Barcelona

The alarm went off early on September 29, 2022, at 3:30 AM. We left the house at 4:30 AM after doing those last-minute bag checks.

Our flight day to Barcelona, Spain via Atlanta, Georgia and Amsterdam, Holland took off at 7:15 AM. We had about three hours in Atlanta and thought we had enough time to eat at a sit-down restaurant, but the server charged the booth behind us with our bill, so it got dicey.

From Atlanta to Amsterdam, I slept a little, which is unusual for me and also enjoyed the great distraction of movies. Lin and I both watched the new Elvis movie but had trouble hearing it because of the cabin and engine noise, so we need to see it again, but what a great movie!

September 30, 2022—Destination: Barcelona, Spain

When we arrived in Amsterdam, we had to go through customs but had enough time to grab coffees and sweets. On the flight from Amsterdam to Barcelona, they required we were masks—the only time on the trip.

At the Barcelona airport, we gathered our bags—yahoo! After so much media hype about lost luggage, I bought AirTags for our checked luggage in case they disappeared. We both breathed a sigh of relief when we saw our bright blue and red suitcases appear on the carousel.

Then came our next concern—the transfer to our hotel. We immediately found the guy wearing the “Orange shirt,” we were supposed to from our paperwork, but he said we had a private transfer. After some delay and a helpful phone call, I saw a man go by with “Linwood Miller” handwritten on a sheet of paper. Relief!

Our hotel, The Corner Hotel, was a genuine treasure, but not in any tourist area. We rested a little, then found a neighborhood restaurant suggested by the friendly clerks at the desk. Eating outside thousands of miles away from home in Barcelona felt magical that evening.

On our walk home, we stopped at a market and bought essentials: water for both us, chocolate for Lin and prunes for me and my stomach!

That night before going to bed, I reviewed the settings on my new camera and experimented with it while Lin reviewed the map of Barcelona to get his bearings again.

October 1, 2022—Barcelona Sightseeing

We had been to Barcelona before in 2020 on an Insight Tour with AAA. This tour with Bradley Dick, as a tour guide, had shown us the wonderful highlights of the city. So, we knew we had a full day ahead of us—the alarm went off at 7:00 AM. First, we thoroughly enjoyed a leisure European breakfast at the hotel.

Then we caught the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus, one of our favorite ways to see a European city, weaving our way through the area closer to our hotel. We had a destination in mind: the Columbus statue by the sea and Las Ramblas.

https://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/ramblas/barcelona-las-ramblas.html

Because I needed a bathroom, we found a Starbucks and had some coffee. Then we wandered through an outside market (that had been there in 2020) near the Columbus statue.

Salvadore Dali in Barcelona on Las Ramblas

From there we walked “Las Ramblas,” enjoying three mimes: Salvador Dali, Don Quixote and a mythological creature. We stopped, and I had a photo taken with Dali. We shopped at tourist spots and I enjoyed “dickering” with a salesperson over a Gaudi Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus and a solar Flamenco dancer.

Afterwards we hunted for a side street we had found in 2020 but never found it. However, we found another hidden jewel.

We ate lunch outside on the sidewalk. When we finished our time on Las Ramblas, we caught the orange bus to Montjuïc, which means Jewish Mountain. https://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/areas/montjuic-district.html

We continued our bus ride, getting off at La Pedrera, Gaudi’s Casa Milà, an amazing building.

https://www.lapedrera.com/en

We hoped to tour one of Gaudi’s famous creations but decided against it because of time restraints, but we looked in the gift shop.

On our walk back to the hotel, we walked two extra blocks past our hotel and then back, probably because of deep conversation. I have Morton’s neuroma on my right foot, and it hurt terrible at this time. Those four extra blocks didn’t help.

When we arrived at the hotel, I checked email and received the notification of my book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? had won the 2022 New Mexico/Arizona Book awards in the body, mind and spirit category. What a delightful addition to our great day!

We ate dinner again outside and enjoyed the Spanish food and ambiance.

October 2, 2022—Left Barcelona on the ship

Our second morning in Barcelona went quickly. We packed up after another delicious breakfast and waited downstairs. The hotel staff helped us so much! The transfer to the port arrived on time. Pablo, the driver, spoke a little English, but I enjoyed speaking Spanish with him.

We easily checked in to the Norwegian terminal. As we passed the photographers that always station themselves for the passengers going onboard, Lin tried to avoid them, but I grabbed his arm and we took the picture.

We found our stateroom easily—we had upgraded to a stateroom and the extra space was great. We unpacked our carry-on bags, then went to the deck 15 and ate pizza and coconut ice cream out by the pool.

Later we saw the Epic Beatles show, a tribute to the Beatles! What a fantastic show with so many memorable songs!

Onboard the ship, we could finally relax and know that all the airplane rides and transfers worked and now the real fun would begin!

Finally,

Barcelona continues to be one of our favorite cities in the world. We love cruises too. Next week I will share about our one day in France and then on to three ports in Italy.

Do you like to travel? Have you ever done a cruise? Traveled internationally? Any interesting stories to share?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet?

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

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

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

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

I Came, I Saw, I Walked!

Tennis shoes walking. I walked
I walked!

I walked and walked and walked for a two-week total of 193,199 steps! Julius Caesar’s famous quote: “I came, I saw, I conquered” inspired me for today’s topic. Lin and I just got home last night from an eleven-day Mediterranean cruise with a two-day extension before in Barcelona, Spain and a two-day extension in Rome, Italy. On almost all of our excursions, we walked!

MY STEP COUNT FOR THE TRIP=193,199:
  • September 29–4594—Flight day to Barcelona, Spain
  • September 30–0—Barcelona—my FitBit wasn’t working!
  • October 1–272—Barcelona: we did lots of walking, so my FitBit must have not been charged!
  • October 2–10387—Left Barcelona on the ship
  • October 3–14047—Cannes, France
  • October 4–15176—Livorno, Italy port; visited Florence & Pisa
  • October 5–18517—Naples, Italy; visited Pompeii
  • October 6–7126—Messina, Italy
  • October 7–12070—Kotor, Montenegro
  • October 8–9241—Corfu, Greece
  • October 9–17067—Santorini Island, Greece
  • October 10–16003—Piraeus Italy; visited Athens
  • October 11–12227—Mykonos, Italy
  • October 12–10605—At Sea
  • October 13–12231—Rome, Italy
  • October 14–26323—Rome, Italy
  • October 15–7313—Flew Home

Some of these days’ totals don’t reflect that day’s activity because of the seven to nine-hour difference in time zones from ours in New Mexico, but they are close.

But we had to walk! How else could you see the ruins at Pompeii? Or the mind-blowing Acropolis in Athens? Or the massive colosseum in Rome?

I Walked the Most in Rome!

My largest walking day was in Rome, Italy, on October 14, where we followed suggestions given by the desk clerk at our hotel and wandered around from site to site. Lin’s amazing map reading skills made this possible. Then we had an excursion that evening where we moved from restaurant to restaurant sampling traditional Italian food. I walked 26323 steps in one day and ended up with busted blood vessels on my right leg from this action-packed day!

For the next few weeks of my blog posts, plan on traveling with me. We had such a fantastic time; I want to share this trip with you! I haven’t downloaded my pictures yet, so I shared none of mine today, but be ready for some great shots!

Finally,

As I walked where centuries ago many people walked, I felt in touch with those ancient ones. Are you a traveler? Have been to this part of the world? What was your experience?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme. I walked!

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. I’M SO EXCITED!

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme. I walked!

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

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

haiku · My Thoughts · New Mexico · poetry

“Haikuing” Through Life

Writing in a journal—haikuing

“Haikuing” through life helps me make sense of this life we’re leading in an economy of words. Yes, life’s topics inspire me to write haikus, a three-line poem with Japanese origin broken up into syllable counts: 1st line–5 syllables, 2nd line–7 syllables, 3rd line–5 syllables.

Haikuing” While Walking

In 2021, I walked regularly and composed haikus as I walked. Nature inspired the topics easily.

bird birds usa raven. Haikuing
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
July 15, 2021
Raucous cawing of
Black birds circling above
Noisy neighborhood
July 20, 2021
See your essential
“Spiritual beingness” now
Do not dread your death!


To be present now
I must ground me to something
Earth, please touch my feet.
white cumulus clouds. Haikuing
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com
July 27, 2021
Cloudy skies, humid
New Mexico greens up with
July rains. So fresh!


The desert greens up
With abundant July rains.
Wet, not hot, this year!
August 11, 2021
I turned sixty-eight.
Is that old now? I wonder.
Hell, no! I’m not old.
woman and dog walking at woods. Haikuing
Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Pexels.com
August 17, 2021
Walking frees my heart
And soul to connect with my
World and God as one!


Puffy white clouds hang
Suspended against blue skies.
Are they cotton balls?
August 18, 2021
Tomatoes, green now
Tomorrow ripe, red and ready.
Joy and juicy now!


One small chunky start
Cucumbers ready to burst
My mouth savors them!


You can’t eat flowers,
But they feed my soul daily.
God’s heavenly fare.


God speaks through flowers.
Multi-colored—see a splash
Of diversity!

Finally,

I write free verse poetry too, but I have always had a love affair with haikus. When I taught poetry to middle schoolers, they wrote wonderful, meaningful haikus. Recently, after attending Natalie Goldberg’s “The Way of Writing” class in 2021 and reading her book, Three Simple Lines, that fire re-ignited in me, and I have fanned the flame regularly to keep them coming.

How about you—do you do “haikuing” through life? Do you like haikus? Do you write them? If so, share one!


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. I’M SO EXCITED!

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshal Flippo meme
A pair of glasses, your iPhone & Flippo!

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

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

Coronavirus · My Books · My Thoughts

COVID-19 Pandemic: Tough Topic #2—Denial?

Stop COVID-19

Has the COVID-19 pandemic faded from our memories? Have we faced all of its losses and grieved? Or have we denied its impact and moved on? If I move on from a tragedy and haven’t dealt with it, I may carry some of it with me.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? book cover-COVID-19

My book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? offers the possibility of facing what this horrible pandemic was to you by reading my experience, reflecting on what you dealt with, and responding to some probing questions to put it all to rest.

NEWS UPDATE: I won the 2022 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award for the Body, Mind & Spirit category!

As we look back, we all lost two years of our lives—for me, it was dancing, traveling and seeing my family. Many suffered severe anxiety and depression.

These charts show the mental effect COVID-19 pandemic had on many people.

I structured my book in small chapters. Each begins with a captivating picture and quote. Then I share my thoughts and experience on that topic. Afterwards, I end each chapter with a reflection question. So, the reader has choices in how to use it: read it from cover to cover, peruse the Table of Contents and select a topic that jumps out at you, and/or use it as a journal.

Excerpt from Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Addressing COVID-19

An excerpt from my book might whet your appetite. I titled chapter twelve, “I’m Suffering.” The quote by Nichiren starts the chapter: “If you light a lantern for another, it will also brighten your own way…”

“The isolation of sheltering-in-place has begun to take its toll on me—basically interacting personally with no one except my husband since March 8th. As an extrovert, I relish social interaction. Yes, I get ample hugs from my dear husband daily, but I’m accustomed to hugs from a variety of people. We hug when we square dance, we hug at recovery meetings, and we hug at church. My family hugs a lot, also. I heard someone say this week, “I’m suffering from hug deprivation!” Me, too! That describes it perfectly.

I’m used to an abundance of hugs, so the social distancing has been a real trigger for me. Yes, I agree the restrictions are a necessity, but my spirit and soul thirst for a hug, and this lack of a normal staple has zapped me.

On top of the restrictions, I filled my March and April with the final production of my book project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, and though I was able to add some special features I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had rushed the production, it drained me. Hugs from a variety of people and interaction with dear friends are how I would normally replenish myself after a grueling workday, but there was no safe way to do that.

Come Back Tomorrow and I’ll Have More

April 17, 2020 

I’ve run out, 
Empty, 
No More,
Barely running on fumes. 

But come back 
Tomorrow. 
There will be more! 

More of me 
My humor 
My expertise 
My talents. 

I’ve used up
Everything today,
Ran desperately scarce! 

I spilled me 
Wide-open, 
Nothing left.
 
But daily I rejuvenate 
Refresh 
In my Quiet Time 
With God 
And start again 
With a full tank! 

So, don’t ask me
When I’m on empty 
To give more! 
That’s selfish! 

Ask me about
My availability. 
Ask me if I’m full 
Or empty. 
Don’t assume! 

I know me! 
I can tell 
The meter’s hanging 
Dangerously low, 
Near empty. 

I’m zapped, 
Nothing now, 
Today! 

But come back tomorrow, 
And I’ll have more! 

More of me 
More joy 
More compassion 
More energy! 
Totally more! 

Larada Horner-Miller, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, (2021): 95-99.

Finally,

When you finish, I hope you have reconciled the lost years and feel deeply better about how you handled it. In recovery, we say, “Denial is not a river in Egypt!” Face it, feel it and heal it!

Do you have a residual effects from the COVID-19 pandemic? If so, how have you dealt with them?


News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? COVID-19
Read, reflect and respond!

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is a finalist in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Winners will be announced in a couple of weeks.

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. COVID-19
Grab your SmatPhone & read this hilarious book!

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

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

family · God · My Thoughts

Parents’ Death: Tough Topic #1—Dread?

Parents and family - parents' death

For years, my parents’ death loomed in front of me as they aged. I dreaded losing them and wondered how I would cope. I had intricately woven my life into theirs, never living over four hours away.

It’s been almost ten years since losing Mom and twenty-six in losing Dad. The pain has subsided but never goes away. Here’s how I have coped.

In 2017, a few years after Mom’s death, I wrote a book, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, dealing with my grief over the loss of both parents, and how I handled each differently.

These excerpts from my book show the difference in how I handled their two deaths.

Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party. Parents' death
Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party.

Dad’s Death

“On January 6, 1996, my dad died. Losing my first parent left me reeling. This loss changed my life forever. At Dad’s death, I was eight years sober. I had feared his death for years because of our close relationship. How could I survive without him? I wondered.”

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter's Grief Memoir meme. Parents' death

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvi.

When my dad died, I didn’t write poetry to get clarity, to heal myself, or to see the events of my life as a part of my process. I wrote but not to deal with my loss.

I focused on Mom—that’s what I did, and I danced and worked.

We talked often about Dad, our loss, and our grief. I realized these conversations were important for both of us to heal. I learned that from her and relished her wisdom—I listened. Her tender care of herself demonstrated to me how to do this mysterious thing so many don’t understand how to do: grieve.

Time healed Mom. She managed her grief and lived seventeen years without Dad, in relative comfort and happiness.

I wanted that for myself when she passed.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): 11.
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad. Parents' death
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad.

Mom’s Death

On March 23, 2013, Mom died, but this time was different and so very difficult. Both my parents were now gone, and I felt alone, an “adult orphan.” My recovery and faith in my Higher Power helped me survive losing her, but my major relief came through writing—I wrote poetry and lots of it. When I wrote a poem, tears of relief flooded me—a major healing tool. I read them to my therapist, and she cried with me. One particular night, she asked me to publish them so her daughters could read them after she died.

It also helped that I was older and more aware of my personal means of handling life’s hard knocks. I had seventeen more years in recovery and had learned more about grief in watching Mom and how she handled the loss of her beloved husband of forty-three years.

Relief also came from new activities that unfolded in my search for healing and in many familiar activities I had done for years.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvii, xviii.

Resources In This Book

As I wrestled with what I wanted to share in this book, my teacher-side came out and I added appendices galore to help the struggling wounded hearts who read this book deal with their grief.

The appendices I included are:

  • Appendix A—It’s a God thing!
    • I listed the many God incidents that occurred during those three months from Mom getting sick and dying:
  • Appendix B—Activities I did
    • I listed the activities I did after Mom died. Notice I focused on grief, but mostly the activities were a part of my normal life.
  • Appendix C—Books and websites that were helpful to me
  • Appendix D—Workbook
    • Healing from grief requires active participation if you want to get past the pain and the loss to the other side—to thrive more than just survive. I listed a few questions and activities to get the juices flowing after reading this book.

Finally,

In a unique twist, I didn’t write when Dad died—I focused on Mom. I wrote poetry and prose when Mom died. After Mom’s death, the poetry came in torrential waves! With every outpouring, more and more of me healed.

We must face our parents’ death—it is inevitable, but how we handle it is our choice. Originally, the title for this book was “I Grew Up to Be the Woman I Always Wanted to Be,” but that didn’t go with the subject, so I changed it. I wrote a poem with that title and will leave you with it by downloading it. (Download here!)

Have you lost a parent? Both parents? If both, do you feel like an adult orphan? How did you handle the loss?


News, News, News!

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

~I heard yesterday that my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is a finalist in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Winners will be announced in a couple of weeks.

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo
Grab your SmatPhone & read this hilarious book!

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

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

Grief · Memoirs · My Books · My Thoughts · poetry · Spirituality

Afraid of Tough Topics—Not Me!

We'll get through it! Tough Topic

Am I afraid of tough topics? Not at all! Two of my books touch very heavy subjects: death and the coronavirus pandemic, and I felt compelled to write them, no matter what the consequences. A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir addressed the death of my parents and my growth. Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? dealt with my experience with the coronavirus pandemic—another difficult concern.

Tough Topic #1—Death

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

A Time to Grow Up book cover. Tough Topic

When my father died in 1996, my mother told me, “Everyone grieves in their own way.”

I took these words to heart when Mom passed away in 2013. I discovered that writing poetry was the best way of working through my fresh grief. Eventually, I penned dozens of intimate, heartfelt poems about my parents’ lives and legacies and my deep sorrow and gradual recovery and growth. Yes, it was a grief memoir but a growth memoir, as well.

I discussed the emotional challenges of caring for my parents at the end of their lives. My words will strike a chord with any worried caretaker or child watching over ailing but fiercely independent loved ones.

As I explored the nuances of bereavement through my poetry, I provided inspiration and comfort for readers coping with the same burdens. While many of my poems explore the depths of my anguish, others exude humor and warmth—a reminder that there is still always light in the world.

Besides my poems, I included biographical sketches about my mother and father, as well as appendices that provide coping tips, suggested activities, and resources for others dealing with intense bereavement. These appendices offer a world of resources for anyone who has lost a parent or both.

This book received several awards:

  • 2018 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards “Finalist” in 2 categories: E-book Nonfiction and E-book Cover
  • 2018 Book Excellence Awards “Finalist” in the Memoir category
  • 2018 Independent Press Awards “Distinguished Favorites” in the Memoir category
  • 2017 New Apple Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing ”Official Selection” in the Biography|Autobiography|Memoir category.
  • 2017 New Mexico-Arizona book awards “Finalist” in 2 categories: Biography (Other) and E-book Nonfiction.
Tough Topic #2—Coronavirus Pandemic

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Tough Topic

I invite you to read, reflect and respond to the global pandemic of 2020 and successive months. I encouraged readers to think about how the pandemic affected them and how they adapted. The book is intended to be used as a journal, a safe keeping place to revisit 2020. I viewed the forced shelter in place as an opportunity for spiritual discoveries and renewed spiritual growth. The book incorporates what I learned during my year and more of solitude, a transformative process leading me to find a reconnection with my “God.” I struggled spiritually and emotionally. My emotions ran deep from fear, struggle, and despair going deeper into her faith, ultimately making me a better, not a bitter person. 

Themed chapters with poetry and prose add depth to the book. I divided the book into chapters with content developed from my blog over the years. Each chapter begins with a carefully chosen thought provoking quote complementing the theme. My prose and poetry are creative and soul-stirring. Both are extensions of the chapter’s theme. Many of the poems deal with the anxiety and depict the universal struggles of uncertainty during this time. Readers will find them inspirational and comforting. Reflective questions at the end of each chapter encourage reader participation to share their personal thoughts and stories as well as process hidden fears and concerns during time spent in quarantine. 

I felt this book offered a soulful looking back at this worldwide pandemic and then a step into the future, clear of the spiritual cobwebs of that experience.

Someone consoling someone else. Tough Topics
We can face tough topics together!
Finally,

But do readers want to read books about such tough topics? It seems the world’s fascination focuses on lesser topics of importance, a means of escape. Are these too scary? Too personal? Too intimate? Is it denial? Is there a major fear of feelings, tears and loss?

Hopefully, you will take this opportunity to delve into one or both tough topics with me through reading my books and then grow spiritually. I offer them to console your wounded or broken heart. The choice is yours. We can face tough topics together, survive and grow!


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme Tough Topic
Read, reflect and respond!

~I’m not afraid of tough subjects like the coronavirus. Yes, I get people are tired of hearing about it, but. . . Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

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

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme. Tough Topic
Grab a drink & read!

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

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