Cats · My Thoughts

How about a Cat For a Pet?

Jesse, my cat
My cat, Jesse

How about a cat? My life took a major change after my divorce from having dogs my adult life to having a cat. What a life transformation!

When my ex-husband and I divorced in 2008, I couldn’t take our wolf dog hybrid, Kita because I couldn’t manage him. For the first time in many years, I faced life pet less which I didn’t like. I discussed with friends getting another dog, but I traveled a lot and knew that wouldn’t work.

As soon as I talked about the prospect of getting a new pet, a pro-cat colleague encouraged me to get a cat, but I had never had a cat. She reminded me anytime I mentioned buying a dog that a cat was a better choice.

One day away from my office at a staff training, my phone rang, and my pro-cat coworker exclaimed, “I found your cat. He’s a stray. I’ve fed him outside our office. Come and see him.”

So, I drove to the office and met her outside. A filthy Siamese Silver Tip cat hedged his way around us. Skeptical, he kept his distance and meowed his Siamese yowl.

“I heard him crying last night when I left the office after a training I facilitated,” I told her. It felt eerie in the dark.

“Take him home tonight!” she directed.

I refused and went home but dreamed of cats all night, so the next day she helped me gather all the cat supplies I needed and I took him home. When I closely examined Jesse, my new pet, after a quick clean-up, he looked much better than the day before which made me realize he probably belonged to someone.

So, I took him to a vet to see if he had a chip—he did. Then, the vet called the owners, and they turned him over to me. When I talked to them, they identified Jesse’s vet so I had access to his total history. The vet told me Jesse’s age: he was six years old when I found him.

When I first got Jesse, he was not a “lap” cat. He kept his distance but seemed to appreciate our shared home. I quickly adjusted to having a cat, and I realized leaving him was far easier than a dog. When my Mom and I went on extended trip to California in 2010, a colleague’s son watched him. I called home every few days and talked to him through the answering machine. Mom thought I was whacked, but I knew he’d recognize my voice and not be so lonely.

After Lin proposed, and we contemplated to a new life together, I had to face his dislike for cats. He suggested first for me to get rid of Jesse and get a dog. I couldn’t do that! So, he compromised by wanting Jesse declawed because he had a leather loveseat. I found a vet that did the laser surgery which was supposed to be more humane that the traditional declawing method, but Jesse still suffered with the surgery.

We moved in with Lin in 2011 and found a system that worked for all of us.

In 2012, I had shoulder surgery and Jesse instinctually knew I needed extra care and often sat in my lap. Now we both enjoy our nightly ritual.

Jesse absolutely loves Lin and responds to him anytime Lin comes into a room with a big meow. A couple years ago, Lin and Jesse started a morning ritual: meowing back and forth like they actually understood each other. I laughed at the connection they have made.

I’ve had Jesse now for eleven years, so he’s seventeen. At seventeen years old, Jesse’s human age is 84 years old, a Senior cat. https://www.purina.co.uk/cats/key-life-stages/ageing/cats-age-in-human-years

In 2016, Jesse got really sick, and I found out he had feline diabetes. When this happened, he might have suffered a stroke too because he started this bizarre pumping of his back leg whenever you touch his neck. At first, we managed the diabetes with special food, but that didn’t work. So, we added insulin and have increased the doses over the years. I now give him shots twice a day.

He has never fought me with the shots. In fact, sometimes he meows and stands by the refrigerator reminding me he needs his shot!

I found a fantastic pet sitter who comes to our house twice a day when we’re gone to give Jesse his shots and plays with him. He loves her dearly and I feel safe with her watchful care. She has texted me photos of Jesse to show how he has faired during our absence.

Now my husband and I laugh about Jesse being senile. He sleeps most of the day, searches for that shaft of sunlight to warm his aching bones, and meows often for food or just to let us know he is still kicking. Another part of being a senior cat, Jesse can’t hear very well anymore which surprised us because he used to have amazing hearing.

Jesse, my cat, on the arm of the loveseat
Jesse perched ready to watch TV

Jesse loves to join us nightly on the arm of the loveseat. First, he perches there, then he moves to my lap to spend the rest of the evening. I love his rhythmic purr, a wiggle up closer and a contented sleep!

Last week I talked about the dogs in my life. Click here to read it!

This week I introduced my cat, Jesse to you. Dog or cat—to me it doesn’t matter! I just need a pet because it adds so much to my life!

Jesse, my cat, reaches over and lays his paw on my hand!
Jesse, my cat, reaches over and lays his paw on my hand!

How about you? Dog? Cat? Both?


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Cats · Dogs · My Thoughts

Dog or Cat? What’s Your Preference?

Dog and Cat

Cat or dog? Strong feelings about one or the other? Which is the best pet? For many, a strong opinion prevails—I’m not one of them. I like them both and see the advantage of each. Here’s my pet history in two parts: my dogs this week and then my cat next!

When I was growing up in a rural country town, Dad felt dogs belonged outside, so we lost many of my early childhood dogs to people running over them—you know how dogs like to chase vehicles! Then my uncle gave us Kimo, a Chihuahua, and Dad finally agreed to an inside dog. This little one won all of our hearts. He didn’t last long though because he got hit by a semi-truck right in front of our house!

My half-sisters and half-brother lived in Denver, Colorado and brought a stray cat with them any time they came to visit. Dad counted at one time, and we were responsible for about 35 feral cats roaming our little village. Dad didn’t want cats inside either.

Nameless

Nameless, my last childhood dog, had a fun-loving personality and roamed our town freely. He loved to follow us everywhere we went. On a hike to Brown Springs in the mesa above our town, he tangled with a porcupine. I ran to the nearest house and told our family friend, Fred Smith, “Nameless got quilted!” He immediately knew what I meant.

To deal with this disaster, Dad took the front gate off of its hinges and placed it on top of Patches so he could remove the quills. This wasn’t Nameless’ first meeting with a porcupine. The first time, Dad tried to just kneel on him and pull out the quills, but Nameless bit Dad, so the gate served as protection.

Nameless had a bad habit of raiding the neighbor’s chicken coop, so our angry friend shot our dog, and Dad couldn’t defend him. I still felt bad with this loss!

For the majority of my adult life I have had dogs.

Windy, my dog
Windy & a young me! Notice the color of Windy’s eyebrows!

Windy

My first husband’s grandmother raised miniature poodles, so she gave us Windy as a puppy—a black haired ten pound ball of energy. Really that’s the reason she gave him to us; he was too much for her to handle. What a joy he was to us, and no, he was not a “yappy poodle.”

When my husband and I divorced, we each made a list of what possessions we wanted, prioritizing them. Windy topped my list; my husband wanted our water bed as his first choice.

Windy loved to travel with me, so when we went to Branson, he curled up in the seat and slept until we neared home, then he whined and barked, knowing we were close. He enjoyed going out on the ranch with Dad, Mom and me with his head out the window and his ears blowing in the wind.

When I moved to Raton, New Mexico and lived in a mobile home, I didn’t have a fenced yard, so when I let Windy outside, I had to put him on a chain I had attached to the steps. One morning, I let him out like usual, but he didn’t scratch at the door as quickly as he normally did.

I opened the door to see if he was okay, and he was hanging from the chain unconscious—I thought he was dead, so I called my folks sobbing. He came to before I arrived at the vet’s. He seemed to be okay, but within a couple weeks, my all black poodle’s eyebrows turned white. The vet thought it was because of lack of oxygen.

Windy lived seventeen years. I made the choice to put him to sleep because he had become senile and couldn’t control his bowels anymore. Mom went with me when I took him to the vet. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’s buried in the backyard in Branson.

Patches, my dog
Patches – notice the color of his eyes!

Patches

While I had Windy, my second husband and I rescued an Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix puppy who had one blue eye and one brown. When we got Patches, ticks covered his body, so we had our work cut out for us.

I remember a funny experience with him. Even as a pup, Patches exhibited his natural herding instinct. We had a big backyard in our home, and one afternoon, he herded Windy and a friend’s Great Pyrenees clear to the back of the yard. We watched him do the work systemically. He didn’t care he was a third the size of the Great Pyrenees!

Patches never wanted to be an inside dog except when the thunder and lightning crashed. He required little care but gave so much love.

My mom volunteered often to take care of him when my third husband I traveled, so they had a special relationship.

At the end of his life, Patches faced numerous cancerous tumors, and we agreed to spend the money to treat him, no matter the cost. He died in April 2003 in our living room between us. I cut a piece of his multi-colored fur and still have it stashed away in an envelope in my desk. What a gorgeous dog he was!

Kita

We waited until November 2003 to look for another dog because we had a big square dance festival commitment for Labor Day that required lots of travel during that summer. After several visits to the Humane Society, we had identified three dogs as our future possible pet, but we ended up with Kita, who was supposed to be an Akita/Chow mix.

On our final visit, a volunteer noticed a yappy puppy had caught our eye and redirected us to Kita. She said, “That puppy will drive you crazy. Look at this quiet one.”

Kita laid silent and almost blended into the concrete with his coloring. With big solemn eyes, he just looked at us. We took him outside to see how he would be with us, and he attacked a leaf and entertained himself easily, so we went home with our new pet.

As Kita grew, we realized he had been misclassified. On a trip to the wolf sanctuary in southeastern Colorado, they confirmed our suspicions. Kita was a wolf hybrid. We became aware afterwards that the Humane Society couldn’t identify him as a wolf. We took him to another wolf sanctuary in New Mexico and they agreed with the other one—we had a wolf on our hands.

Kita demanded a lot of attention, so my ex-husband wrestled with him nightly. Once, I watched Kita drag a lounge chair around our back yard—he needed activity. He demanded a daily walk and lots of rough-housing!

Losing Kita in the divorce devastated me, but I couldn’t manage him, so I let him go. Yet I yearned for a pet.

Next week, I’ll tell you about my change over to the cat world and how that went! So dogs or cats? Which is it for you?


Cover of 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 and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Facebook · My Thoughts

“Shame on You”—Bullying or Not?

Innocent couple by the bay
Image by Bingo Naranjo from Pixabay

And they felt no shame.”

Genesis 2:25 NIV

Bullying or not? At age 67, someone commented on a Facebook post of mine this week, “Shame on you.” Now, that’s amazing to me! I don’t think anyone has said that to me since elementary or middle school. It wasn’t an accusation my parents used at all. This current attack caught me totally off guard. I knew I had to talk about it, and what better place than my blog. I’ve vowed not to fight on Facebook, but here I can do a thoughtful consideration of a toxic topic so destructive.

I do believe the statement, “Shame on you,” qualifies as a bullying technique, and bullying has become rampant in our world over the last few years. Whether I’m the target or witness, it aims to injures my soul. I saw a bully’s harm repeatedly as a middle school teacher, so I do think those who use it might be locked into that age mindset.

Then, what did I do to spurn this rebuke? I took my own advice from last week’s blog and created a positive post about the vice-presidential candidate of my choice. Shame on me for what? Having a different opinion? Being a woman? Using the brain God gave me to think independently? What?

Others who disagreed with me politically joined in with their reproach and misinformation, but I had friends who supported my post. What began as a simple positive post ended up a political battle field—exactly what I was trying to avoid!

Stop bullying

So, I plan to use this teachable moment—once a teacher always a teacher even though I’m retired. The dictionary defines shame as:

  • to cause to feel shame; make ashamed: His cowardice shamed him.
  • to publicly humiliate or shame for being or doing something specified (usually used in combination): kids who’ve been fat-shamed and bullied; dog-shaming pictures of canines chewing up shoes.
  • to drive, force, etc., through shame: He shamed her into going.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/shame?s=t

From the definitions listed, this person tried to do publicly humiliate or shame me (bullying me), but guess what? It didn’t work. This new attempt at shaming me took me back to my teaching days witnessing bullies trying to dominate someone on the playground. It took me back to my childhood when some bully tried to one-up me! But its power evaporated!

As I pondered the word, shame, I remembered where I’ve heard it talked about often— in my recovery groups. We have a great slogan to defuse it: Guilt says I did something work; shame says I am wrong. I’ve spent years dealing with toxic shame that debilitated me.

One source that helped me early in recovery was the work of John Bradshaw and one book specifically, Healing the Shame That Binds You. John’s website describes this book: “Toxic shame limits the development of self-esteem and causes anxiety and depression, and limits our ability to be connected in relationships. This book is for those seeking the one great thing that is missing in their life–WHOLENESS and WELLBEING.”

https://www.johnbradshaw.com/bookstore

Bradshaw says, “. . .shame as a healthy emotion can be transformed into shame as a state of being. As a statue of being, shame takes over one’s whole identity. To have shame as an identity is to believe that one’s being is flawed, that one is defective as a human being. Once shame is transformed into an identity, it becomes toxic and dehumanizing.” Healing the Shame That Binds You, Page vii

When I walked through the doors of recovery rooms many years ago, I suffered severe depression and low self-esteem. As I faced my alcoholism and deep injury caused by incest through doing step work and adding individual therapy, I moved beyond the shame that bound me. It took years!

Recently, a recovery friend suggested a daily devotional, Shine the Light of Truth on Shame: Daily Reflections by Santa Fe author, Barb Tonn. I’m always open to going deeper. This book is described as “. . . a refreshingly unique book that provides an honest, thorough, easily understood, and insightful program to release us from the pain of shame. Author Barb Tonn shares from a deep well of tools she developed working as a psychotherapist, who for over thirty years specialized in healing shame.”

Tonn says, “Shame is a profoundly hurtful way of gaining control. It damages relationships and trust. It tears down and does not build up again. Shame is NEVER the way to attend to problematic situations.”

Shine the Light of Truth on Shame: Daily Reflections, Page 16

I love Tonn’s practical advice and tools on dealing with shame today, and reading it prepared me.

So the Genesis verse referenced at the beginning tells us that Adam and Eve felt no shame in the sinless beginning of this world, and I long for that perfection to return! When this attack came, my years of recovery prepared me not to react, but it has shown bullies still exist in this world, no matter what our age!

Will I stop posting positive information? No, because I won’t quit! I refuse to let the bullies win.

No to bullying

What do you do when bullied or shamed? Let’s hope that our discourse on the topic will help those of us who want a better world, a world without toxic shame and bullying.


Book cover of 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 and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

My Thoughts · Politics

I’m Stupid, I’m Satanic Because of Our Political Disagreements!

Two specific political memes on Facebook this week caught my eye and rumbled around in my head all week, demanding I address what this meant to me. One implied half of the country and I are too stupid because we disagree with one party’s assertions. I don’t agree with you; therefore, I’m stupid! The second claimed that it’s their candidate versus Satan which would include me because I support that person. I am a Christian and appalled at that supposition. Does the person posting this type of political memes ever think by saying, “(Fill the party name) is stupid or satanic,” they might be talking about his/her hairdresser, cousin, or best friend?

The logic behind these vicious memes escapes me, and I’m offended by these statements.  I don’t comment on Facebook with everything I disagree with because I don’t feel it’s my place to argue with someone’s post. Maybe that person doesn’t realize how divisive and ugly this kind of political campaigning is, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, talk about my feelings about this issue and offer a possible solution!

Recently, the month or so before an election, many people choose to stop participating on Facebook because of this sort of rhetoric! She innocently posts something political and positive then gets attacked by the other side, with dear friends throwing insults and verbiage she can’t imagine. So, the solution is to walk away and take a break, hoping all is healed after the election. I understand that tactic; however, I propose a positive alternative.              

Disagree agreeablly

I love this quote from Bob Ehrlich, “Thoughtful people of different political philosophies can disagree, but in a very agreeable manner.”

Here’s more information about Bob:

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

So, can we disagree in an agreeable manner? That’s the question. Yes, I understand this election seems larger than life with both sides saying it’s the election of a lifetime, but can we dial back the accusatory posts?

People have noted that the current division in our country has torn families apart in a way like no other election. Personally, I abhor arguing politics because my Dad and I often screamed nose-to-nose, red-faced and veins popping, clearing a room anytime the topic came up. Neither of us won! Neither of us changed the other’s mind—wasted energy and wounded spirits!

The last big fight we had we were driving down in our canyon after the election, a beautiful fall morning. His candidate didn’t win. Up until this point, we enjoyed a light jovial conversation, then Dad stopped the pick-up in the middle of the road, glared at me and repeated this question, “Are you one of them?” (A member of the opposite party).

When I replied, “No, I really don’t like either party. I’m an independent,” that wasn’t a satisfactory answer. Then he wagged his finger in my face as if I were a little girl and hurled, “Did you vote for him?” (The opposite candidate)

I pulled myself up in my seat to my full height of five foot three inches and declared, “Yes, I did!” He lost it then with every insult he could think of! Did he really think that behavior would change my mind? After that I avoided any political battles with him. Often, he tried to lure me in, but I refused!

So, why did I tell you that? Today I do believe that we can “agree to disagree” in a respectful manner. I have witnessed intelligent conversations where opposing beliefs were shared, listened to and honored, and everyone walked away the better off for having participated. I believe in the two-party system of our country. We need both parties and their ideals to balance each other. Neither are Satanic or stupid. I believe in energetic and passionate involvement, but I also believe we have to be kind and loving, more than anything. On November 4, 2020, I want to retain friendships with those who disagree with my politics. I want no relationship fatalities!

Let's agree to disagree!

            So, I present my Facebook challenge, starting today over the next thirty days—a halt to the ugly propaganda-style posts hurling insults at the “other” candidate. I encourage thoughtfulness instead. How about a post about the positive characteristics of your candidate? Celebrate your nominee with his attributes, his successful track record and his accomplishments.

            I know that some of you are shaking your heads at me and saying, “This is pie-in-the-sky, Polly Anna mentality.” That’s okay.

            To support your pessimistic stance, before an election several years ago, a friend of mine tried to have a positive forum on her Facebook page asking people to only share positive traits of their candidate, no bashing of the opponent. It lasted a short time before someone got on his/her soapbox lambasting the other opponent. Okay, I get it—that’s the easy way out!

            But what I offer here might be difficult and unusual in these times, but I believe doable! It’s called a challenge because of its difficulty! I dare you to dig deep and think of me when you’re posting something questionable.

A Challenge

            So, will you take the challenge? I commend you if you do. Maybe we can make the Facebook world a kinder, gentler world over these coming weeks and be proud of our effort.


Book cover of 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 and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

My Thoughts

“Easy Does It!” But How Do You Do It?

Red-headed woman relaxing on a lawn
Photo by Natalie from Pexels

“Easy Does It!” Sounds simple but really? This slogan stands as one of recovery’s many: First Things First, Think, One Day at a Time, Let Go and Let God and Easy Does It. This week “Easy Does It” continued to surface in my mind, so I thought, “what does it look like?”

Historically, I know what it doesn’t look like! I’ve been a workaholic my whole adult life, driven to overproduce! It started when I worked towards my Bachelor’s degree at 28 years old at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. During my first year, I attended classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I worked part-time as a beautician on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and did some babysitting on the weekends.

From my second year until I graduated, I dropped the babysitting and worked part-time as an English mentor in the computer lab where every Freshman had to use it for their English class. This work study job helped finance my degree but demanded more of my precious time.

As I added each additional commitment, I revved up more energy, more determination even though I had less time to do all of this. These four years of intense requirements set in motion a lifestyle I continued for the next 40 years+!

During my teaching profession, I worked hard at school and late in the evening, preparing for the next day or grading papers. I added committee work at my schools to this already busy schedule.

After I joined the square dance committee, I jumped in with several volunteer commitments locally and nationally—still working full time and chairing annual festivals.

Before I retired, many friends had already retired and I heard several say, “I’m busier now than when I worked.”

I uttered this curt response to my husband any time I heard that, “Shame on them! They’re in control of their lives.” Those words came back to haunt me.

My Mom became ill in December 2012 and came to live with Lin and me. I became her primary caregiver, still working full time as support staff for two departments at the district level of Albuquerque Public Schools. My boss allowed me to work remotely at home or the hospital as much as possible, so that helped, but I still had face-to-face training responsibilities.

When I retired in May 2013, my Mom had just died in March, and I became the executor of her will, dealing with probate in two states, New Mexico and Colorado. Now I had some open time, so I needed something to focus on—to fill the void. So, I pulled out a collection of poetry I had written thirty plus years earlier and published it. It fed my aching heart.

So, this ignited another phase of my working life in retirement: I have self-published five books and three cookbooks in the seven years of my retirement. Doesn’t sound like “Easy Does It,” does it?

Each book had its specific demands: the actual writing, research, formatting and publishing, promoting and marketing. But my last project went over the top! I wrote the biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world. It ended up being a nearly three year commitment from start to finish. I recorded forty hours of interviews, then I had to transcribe them all. The work continued with production of a paperback, a hardback and e-book and covers for all of them, collaboration with an editor and a total rewrite, lots of research, and final publication preparation. Currently, promoting dominates my time.

Whew! But for the last couple months I’ve exhaled and finally felt retired! Being home so much with the coronavirus pandemic has also eliminated our hectic square dance schedule and given me extra time.

Lady enjoying a field of sunflowers

As I pondered what “Easy Does It” looks like, I’ve finally figured it out:

  • Leisure morning
    • Get up about 7:00-7:30 am
    • Read the national news
    • Do my Quiet Time of reading and writing
    • Eat breakfast
    • Play a couple games of Cribbage
    • Sunbathe
      • Enjoy Lin’s Garden
      • Read my current favorite book
  • Leisure meal
    • Eat lunch
    • Watch one of our favorite TV shows
  • Focused afternoon
    • Check email
    • Do computer tasks
      • Promote Flippo’s book
    • Exercise (Lin has helped me with this because he has a rigorous exercise plan, so I do mine when he does his.)
  • Leisure meal
    • Eat dinner
    • Watch one of our favorite TV shows
    • Go to the hot tub
    • Shower
    • Watch one of our favorite TV shows
      • Promote Flippo’s book
      • Knit
      • Play on iPad

Repeat daily!

So, what changed? The change for me has come through years of recovery work, facing my workaholism. I knew I had to deal with it—Mom and my brother often voiced their concern about the unrealistic schedule I kept.

Recently, a fleeting thought flashed in my mind—this is what retirement/Easy Does It looks like? I felt calm with no major demand forcing me to work. I chuckled and thought, “So, this is what it looks like!” After that moment, I questioned my conclusion—is this for real? Then it happened again, and I realized I had set something in motion.

What do you think? Do you know how to “Easy Does it?” Tell me your experience!


Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

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

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

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · Mom · My Thoughts · Recovery · square dance

A Safe Birthday Celebration Today—How?

Birthday candles
Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

During the coronavirus, how do I safely celebrate my husband’s 80th birthday in a special way? I have wrestled with this problem as soon as the quarantine began. I had thought about an open house, a square dance in his honor, and a variety of other possibilities. Then the pandemic hit, and I realized I couldn’t do any of these.

I had been raised to go all-out for birthdays and have ever since my Mom did that for me repeatedly as a child and an adult. She felt a birthday had to be celebrated, and I have continued that idea, but the pandemic created a major obstacle.

When my husband, Lin, turned 75, I treated us to an Amtrak ride to Winslow, Arizona and two nights at La Posada Hotel, a restored Harvey House. Many people asked us what in the world did you do in Winslow for two days, and we laughed! We toured all the souvenir stores and visited a remarkable museum. Lin and I spent hours on a self-tour of the La Posada, a Harvey House, enjoying its remarkable history. We savored delicious food in the Turquoise Room at La Posada, unique gourmet meals. Also, we basked in our gorgeous room and balcony.

How was I to compete with that memorable birthday celebration? About a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending a family reunion via Zoom, and that gave me an idea—how about a Zoom surprise birthday party for Lin?

So, I had my plan. I emailed, called and messaged friends about two possible ways to join the fun:

  1. Send birthday cards in the mail
  2. Attend the Zoom surprise birthday party

After that, I scoured a variety of email lists I have. I also went through my Contacts looking for people who don’t do email or Facebook. The list kept growing.

Successfully, I kept my secret. Lin started receiving cards several days before his birthday, and he kept saying, “Wow! I don’t normally get a birthday card from. . .” Then the stack of cards grew a couple days, and he eyed me, quizzing, “What did you do?”

I kept smiling, not disclosing the secret—how obvious it was!

During the week before the big day, we planned his birthday dinner: scallops, baked sweet potatoes and a vegetable. Saturday was his birthday, so I went to Pastian’s bakery in Albuquerque for his birthday cake on Friday afternoon, a delicious carrot cake. I had bought Pumpkin Spice Blue Bell ice cream in the morning.

When I got up Saturday morning, I gave him his cards and gift and looked at the cards he received the day before. He again questioned me about all the cards he received. I almost said, “Well, there’s more to come,” but I didn’t, thank God.

The bad news—I woke up Saturday with a bad stomachache, so I spent most of the day in bed when I wasn’t attending a Zoom Recovery Retreat for the weekend. We enjoyed Lin’s delicious birthday lunch, cake and ice cream. After the afternoon session, I showered and got ready for the evening.

I had put on our shared calendar an evening session for the retreat, so I had a good cover-up, and Lin had the Nascar game to watch. After a light dinner, I went upstairs to my desktop computer to prepare for the party.

I got onto Zoom early, and two people had already signed in. One of the early birds, a Nascar fan too, asked how I was going to pull Lin away from the race. I wheeled his computer chair in front of my desktop computer ready for the birthday boy. Then I waited for a commercial and asked Lin for some help on my computer.

Reluctantly, he came upstairs to our loft to my computer, sat down and truly enjoyed the party. People came and went, and the conversation continued! We had friends from a variety of our interest areas: square dancers, people from a football pool, and travelers we met on our Costa Rica trip. Also several family members joined in the fun.

When the evening ended, I had surprised Lin with a truly wonderful celebration of his special 80th birthday, using the technology available to us today during these crazy times. It was a smashing success, and I continued the Horner tradition of celebrating a birthday!

How have you celebrated birthdays this year during the pandemic?


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

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

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

During This Pandemic, Are You Zoomin’?

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

The coronavirus pandemic changed so much: shelter-in-place and no more face-to-face meetings. At the beginning, we had no idea how long the pandemic and the restrictions would last, but here we are six months later with limited access. So, early on, Zoom leapt to our collective consciousness as the answer.

            I had attended a couple of Zoom meetings before the pandemic for training for my book promotions, but now I feel like a pro having attended several meetings and hosted some. Here’s my experience with the amazing Zoom app and its connectivity to the world!

            Early in our isolation, the recovery communities jumped onboard and started zoomin’. So, this provided the opportunity to attend meetings all over the world any time of the day—truly taking advantage of technology.

            On April 3 – 5, I attended a Zoom recovery retreat with 450 participants, the first major recovery event during the pandemic for me. The organizers dealt with a few glitches, but what a boost that was! The attendees came from all over the world! Monthly recovery retreats have kept many people connected through Zoom, and I’m attending another one next weekend.

            Weekly I have attended two recovery meetings. I have so enjoyed seeing friends I haven’t seen for months and staying active in my recovery.

            Some of my regular meetings chose to do phone conferencing, but I didn’t like that as well as Zoom. It seemed people talked over each other more, and I liked seeing attendees. I do understand not everyone has internet at their homes, and I think that was reason for this choice.

            As a service for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, I have hosted monthly board meetings since April. I provided a tutorial for the first meeting for many first-timers, but I still felt some reluctance. So, I scheduled a practice session and several attended, getting their feet wet! Since then, those fearful first-timers show up easily and participate.

Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

            In the midst of the cancellation of all of our dance events, I faced doing a virtual book launch for my new book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. At first, I thought I’d use Facebook Live for this event, but after research, I realized I could have a problem. We don’t have a reliable internet connection at our house, and that might cause an issue. Also, I wanted to interact with the attendees, and you can’t do that on Facebook Live.

            So, I decided to Zoom instead. What a memorable evening we had! About thirty-five people attended, and I relished their participation and stories! We had people from all over the United States and one from Japan.

            Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we canceled our annual square dance festival, Hot August Nights. To keep our supporters connected, I hosted a Hot August Nights Zoom Party. Again, we had great attendance. My husband, Lin, and I were on from 7:00 PM until 10:00 with people dropping by, visiting and then more would come. Many appreciated seeing so many dancer friends.

            Virtual square dances have taken the square dance world by storm during this crazy time. Lin and I attended a benefit dance for a caller who has been deathly sick. We hadn’t danced in six months and had never virtual square danced. We had to pretend we were dancing with another couple. At first, we struggled but improved over the evening.

Here’s a link to see a virtual square dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnRY_x_89FM&list=PLpOrf4KvYkjDwwsu0saQoJoYmvgbRDKnR

            Again, we saw dancers from all over the USA and the world. Dancers attended from Australia, China, Japan and England.

A Zoom Meeting
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

            There are so many possibilities with Zoom. I reconnected with a roommate who I haven’t seen in thirty years with a Zoom meeting. Then we added another friend we used to hang out with, and we laughed and talked non-stop last Sunday. I had to cut us off after a couple hours to write my weekly blog. After such a successful time, we’ve decided to meet monthly during this crazy time.

            I made another connection with a cousin who contacted me after I did my DNA on ancestry.com last year. We had talked about a face-to-face family reunion in Arizona this summer, but that went by the wayside with all the restrictions.

            So, my cousin invited me to a Zoom Family Reunion last month. Only four attended that meeting, but I loved seeing my cousins. The cousin who organized this fun event entertained us with stories of our heritage, sharing maps and other documents via Zoom with us.

With it being so much fun, we scheduled another session for yesterday, and I invited my cousins and my 92-year-old aunt to participate. We ended up with nine participants this time. I could see how much my aunt enjoyed this celebration of her mother’s side of our family, and she repeated a couple times how much my mom would have enjoyed this. During the 70s, my mom researched both sides of our family’s genealogy—she would have thoroughly loved all the new information and connections to add to her data!

In the future, I have more Zoom meetings planned—I so much more enjoy seeing people’s face instead of being on a joint phone call. If you have any reservations about doing a Zoom meeting, don’t!

To prepare for a Zoom meeting, download the app to your desktop, laptop, iPad or Smart Phone. Then when you receive the invitation for the meeting from the host, it includes all the connection information you need. You have two choices to connect on a computer: the easiest connection is a URL, so click on it and it activates the website and the app. The second option is a Meeting ID and password you input on the Zoom website after you select “Join a Meeting” on the menu bar.

If you’re using a phone, the invitation provides several phone numbers to access Zoom.

Once you arrive in a meeting, you can use the video showing you and your surroundings or you can choose not to show the video but you can still participate.

One caveat when you’ve entered the meeting is muting or unmuting yourself. There’s a button on your window or down on the left of the menu bar at the bottom of the computer’s screen.

I enjoy another Zoom feature, a Chat window where you can type in communication to everyone at the meeting or select individuals.

As you can see—it’s straight-forward. After a couple Zoom meetings, celebrate your newfound skills and partiicipate!

Have you zoomed yet? If so, how do you feel about zoomin’?


Cover of 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 and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

My Thoughts · Patriotism

Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

September 11, 2001—This day is etched in my memory forever—the horror of being an eyewitness to this tragedy! Our world has never been the same since. Three thousand lives lost! Many injured and maimed. Families torn apart. Fear injected into the hearts of all Americans across our country on that day. Air travel interrupted with people strained helter-skelter.

            My Mom had just flown to my brother and his wife’s a couple weeks early to take part in preparing for my nephew’s wedding on September 22.

            My ex-husband lay in bed watching the morning news on the TV. I could also see the TV from an adjacent bathroom as I prepared for work, putting on my makeover and blowing my hair dry.

            We both rushed nearer the TV as we saw the replay of the first plane crash into one tower of the World Trade Center. Trying to grapple with what we had just seen, the second plane crashed into the second tower, and we fell limp on the bed, trying to take this all in.

World Trade Center before September 11, 2001
World Trade Center Before Attack

            I raced to finish dressing and went to work. When I got to school and settled in my room, I turned on the TV to see that both towers had collapsed. Children streamed into my room silent, unusual for lively six graders. Shock permeated the room.

            Military helicopters flew around Albuquerque, concerned about more attacks across the country because by now, we had learned another plane had cracked in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the terrorists had flown another plane into the Pentagon.

            I taught no classes that day. The TV and the news became the focal point in my classroom. Later administration admonished us for letting the students watch such horror. I had faced nothing like that before. I wanted to keep up with the news of the day, and so did my students. No one cared about learning.

            Several of my students had parents at Kirtland Air Force Base and feared for their parents’ lives. Cell phones rang, and I ignored the no cellphone policy, knowing parents needed to connect with their children.

            The horror of that long day drug on—anticipation of the unknown. The United States had never faced a terrorist attack like this. Finally, school ended, and I sped home.

            During the 6:00 PM news, Peter Jennings gave an emotional report and ended with, “Connect with your family, near and far, right now!” So, I called my brother and talked to him and Mom. Her voice cracked but as we talked, she reassured me she was safe, but I shuddered at the thought: what if she had traveled a couple days later to California? She could have been stranded somewhere alone amid this craziness, scared to death, instead of secure with my brother.

            On this September 11, nineteen years have passed, yet the memory and the trauma linger. Children have grown up without a parent. That fateful day splintered families. Those of us who watched the planes crash into the towers, then saw the towers collapse and people running for their lives will never be the same. I live thousands of miles from New York City, but I felt like I was there. Time eases the pain, but the memory still lingers.

            I shudder and sob today for our loss! I hope you do, too!

Here are some resources:

September 11 attacks

Kirtland Air Force Base

Where were you on that fateful day?

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · poetry

Coronavirus Reflection: Bitter or Better?

Bitter or better? Life hands us a curve ball every once and a while. Then we have the option of how we respond. I have had several of those opportunities in my life, and sometimes I grew bitter, but more often than not I became better because of the difficulty.

Bitter over when it ends

The coronavirus’ impact continues to affect our lives six months later. Normal life activities came to a screeching halt. Yes, it’s been horrible for those 193,000+ who have lost their lives or families who have lost loved one. Also, people have lost jobs, and businesses have suffered extreme losses. For many, it’s been a psychological affront causing depression and anxiety. I have been one of the fortunate ones, not experiencing the extremes of the pandemic.

But many, like me, who have not experienced the dire side of this catastrophe have been impacted in our own ways. It seems people have reacted in two ways.

Some have become bitter over mandated requirements like social distancing and/or masks. People dubbed as “Karens” or “Kens” have violently erupted at various store clerks asking compliance to safety measures.

Bitter about wearing a mask

Many worldwide bitter rebels have actively protested like one organized event on September 15, “World Antimask Protest.” Others continue to believe this is a hoax and vehemently denounce the virus and any of the safety requests.

Others have decided to look at this respite as a time to stop the crazy pace of a busy 21st century life, slow down and go deeper on a spiritual quest. That’s what I decided to do early on. Because I was fearful and anxious, I processed my feelings through poetry. I became proficient at Zoom and participated in and hosted a multitude of Zoom meetings which helped ease the isolation.

As the pandemic has lingered, I’ve written more and more poetry, and a friend specifically asked me to address the positive outcome this slow-down provided for me, so here it is:

Reflections on Coronavirus
Coronavirus Reflection: Bitter or Better?

September 5, 2020

For six months
            The coronavirus rages
                        Ebbs and flows
Never have I faced
            Anything like this!
I remember
            The polio-scare
                        As a child
                                    But nothing like this.
 
Quarantined
            Deaths
                        Shelter-in-place
                                    Fear
                                                Confusion
Who do you believe?
 
My life style drastically altered
            NO dancing
                        NO traveling
                                    NO interaction
                                                With people
But the good news:
            I’ve stayed healthy
                        My family has, too!
 
It’s reflection time
            Has this focused time
                        Made me
                                    Bitter
                                                Or better?
 
Stripped
            Of normal life
                        And activity,
I sat quietly
            Listened
                        Breathed
 
I watched my husband
            Gather his strength
                        In his garden
                                    Working with his hands
                                                            His mind
                                                                        His soul 

Lin and I shared Cribbage games
            Numerous TV nights
                        Watching mysteries
                                    Each trying to solve them
                                                           Comparing our suspects
I celebrate this man
            Who I was quarantined with.
 
I focused on
            The Flippo biography
                        Which helped alter the horrible state
                                    Of our world
 
I gathered strength
            In words
                        Working with my hands
                                                            My mind
                                                                        My soul
 
In this forced respite
            I reconnected with
                        My God
                                    In a time of needed solace
                        Myself
                                    Exploring reactions and feelings
                                                To this fearful situation.
 
                        My husband
                                    A good person to
                                                Be quarantined with
 
I cleaned out age old belongings
            I connected with people on Zoom
                        I wrote poetry
                                    Diving deep!
                        I had weekly phone dates
                                    With hurting friends
 
Yes, I missed
            Monthly visits to our ranch
                        And my brother
            Family gatherings
            Square and round dances
            Travel
            Friends
 
But today, I relish all of those much more
            Hungry for their return
I savor what they
            Brought into my life,
                        How they enriched me.
 
I had moments of bitterness
            Hot August Nights weekend canceled
                        So, I scheduled a Zoom party
            Labor Day square dance weekend
                        So, I scheduled a Zoom meeting
                                    With long time friends.
I have flirted with bitterness
            The vile taste of bitterness
                        Discourages
                                    My lingering there long.
  
When this time of trial is over,
            I will step up and say
                        It made me better!
                                    And that feels good!
 
I savor this capsule of time
            That I used to benefit
                        My growth
Bitter or better
            The choice is yours!

Yes, I do have a choice anytime life deals me a blow—will the experience make me bitter, resentful and angry? Or will I take advantage of the opportunity present and plunge into a deeper relationship with myself and my God?

I choose better!

Here’s a poem to end on that is light, frivolous and courts with a genre of literature I love, magical realism, “. . .a style of fiction and literary genre that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements.”

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

Salmon-Colored Rose in Lin's Garden
I Sunbathed in the Roses

September 5, 2020
 
A petal floated on the breeze
            Slowly
                        Settling on my forehead
Another landed on my stomach
            Bright red in color
                        Matching my sunburned skin
 
A plush cushion of white rose petals
            Gathered as my supple pillow.
Ivory-colored roses climbed
            The trellis
                        Near my feet
                                    And tickled my toes.
 
Salmon-colored roses
            Guarded my heart
                        And created a
                                    Vibrant crown for my brow!
 
Bright golden ones kissed
            The sun
                        As their next-of-kin
                                    And brushed my cheek
                                                With their satiny lips.
 
Peach roses danced
            In the gentle wind
                        A soft waltz
                                    In a lavish gown
 
To sunbathe
            In the midst of roses
                        Soothes
                                    Every ache
                                                Every pain
                                                            A galaxy of color
 
These flower friends lift me
            To the heavens
                        A multi-colored celebration
                                    Of life and love
                                                Surround me by a deep connection
 
Hummingbirds dive bomb my head
            Enchanted with the color
                        And the nectar
                                    I’ve invaded their sanctuary.
 
Lay still!
            I can’t!
                        I feel the prick of. . .
Yes, thorns
            Slightly
Careful where I lay
            But one foot strays
                        A little
                                    And I jerk it back
 
A reminder
            Sometimes pain hides in beauty
                        But mostly
                                    A restful soul
                                    A quiet spirit
                                                Surrounded by
                                                            A circle of roses
                                                                        My friends!

Did you giggle? Absurd—sunbathing in a rose garden! Let loose and laugh!

I hope I leave you better today for the reading of this than when you came!


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

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

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · Ranching

Where is Your Childhood Home?

Because of the coronavirus’ restrictions in New Mexico, I haven’t been to my childhood home in Branson, Colorado since the end of February. Finally, I decided I could come, and it has refreshed my soul.

My Home in Branson, Colorado

Currently, my husband, Lin and I live in a beautiful wooded area in the east mountains above Albuquerque, and I love it there, but my childhood home of Branson touches a deep part of me.

My time here has been filled with seeing friends (I social distanced and wore a mask) and reconnecting. I saw a 93-year-old friend who still lives by herself and is a live wire for sure! Finally, I met her five-month-old great-grandson and marveled at this little sweetheart.

My brother knows how much I like to visit our parents’ graves in Trinidad, so one morning we drove there and put out new flowers. It’s always a solemn event but so heartwarming.

Home - Looking at water in a reservoir & Mesa De Mayo
Looking at water in a reservoir & Mesa De Mayo

During my stay, my brother and I have visited our family ranch each day—a couple days in the morning and one day in the evening. We’ve seen a plethora of wild turkeys, a few deer and antelope. What we’re looking for is elk and bear! I take my camera, and we search the prairie and canyon land for wild life on any trip out.

Home - A Storm Brewing Over Saddle Rock
A Storm Brewing Over Saddle Rock

Memories of so many years here with dad, mom and granddad flood my mind as we drive along the rutted dusty road.

“Remember when. . .” starts many statements, then we are whisked away to a time long ago:

  • Our horse herd got struck by lightning one summer day, and it killed one mare and damaged two.
  • We watched a rain storm on a beautiful summer evening then jump in the pickup and drove out to the ranch to see how much it rained. We always celebrated rain!
  • Those good ole Branson dances where we all learned to dance to Eloy Gonzales & the Troubadours or Bob Jeffreys & the Nightriders.

So many good memories. Sadly, I leave on tomorrow, Monday—I arrived on Thursday afternoon. It’s never long enough!

I’d like to leave you with a couple poems I wrote in my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, about my childhood home and life.

This Tumbleweed Landed book cover
Horse Herd Struck by Lightning

One summer afternoon
after a severe thunderstorm,
Granddad, Grandma, and I
found several horses struck by lightning.
It killed Flicka, Sue’s mare,
by throwing her into
the barbed-wire fence,
wrapped up in the wire.
 
It hurt two of our horses:
Rusty, Dad’s favorite cutting horse.
It looked like someone had taken
his neck and twisted it out of shape
and
Prince, my 4-H gelding.
He was stuck in his tracks,
and his eyes were glazed!
Prince was never the same!
 
A devastating disaster
to our horse herd.
Nature’s cruel hand!

Branding Day

Branding day began early
with rounding up the cattle,
the cows, and the calves.
We had a cow/calf crop operation.
 
First, we brought the horses into the corral,
brushed and saddled them.
Then we rode out after the cattle
And herded them into the corral.
A quiet time of communion
And community.
We separated the cows from their calves
to work the calves;
that created a lot of noise.
The calves bawled the whole time,
wanting their mamas!
 
Dad and Granddad worked
like a team;
Dad branded and castrated on one side;
Granddad vaccinated and earmarked on the other.
 
At the branding table
I was Dad’s little assistant.
The smell of singed hair and
the sound of the calf squalling
filled my senses.
I held the rope tightly
that held the calf’s leg up.
I took my job seriously.
 
At times,
Bub and I played—
heated up irons in the open fire
and branded our imaginary brands on
the wooden boards of the chute.
 
Once I got sick at the branding;
I wrapped up in a blanket
and slept by the fire—
warm and comforted
by the familiar smells and sounds!

A step away from routine to this quiet village and familiar faces and surroundings has recharged me. Can you still go to your childhood home? Do you? If not, where do you go to get recharged?


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 and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post