Dancing · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · square dance

The Roller Coaster Ride of Last Week!

SORRY: Another side trip away from our British Isles Cruise. I will resume it next week with Day 5: Kirkwall in Orkney Islands, Scotland!

We just returned from a square and round dance vacation week at Fun Valley RV park at South Fork, CO, and the week was an emotional roller coaster ride for me!

Lin with 4 scoops of ice cream and a brownie!

The weekend started off with dinner Saturday night with a group of 25 dancers at the Firehouse restaurant in South Fork. We connected and reconnected with friends anticipating a great week. Lin had his traditional oversized ice cream treat!

Sunday morning started off with our annual potluck brunch—another gathering of friends, giving us time to visit. I talked with a friend I’ve known for years but really didn’t know her history—it was a precious sharing time.

Sunday evening dinner started the official week’s activities. After dinner, Lin and I sought out a Colorado couple we had invited to this week. I signed up with the enthusiastic wife of this couple to do the horseback trail ride on Monday morning at 11:00. Ever since I had heard the horses would be there this year, I had been so excited. In previous years, the horses were already gone when we arrived because we’re the last week of the season at this RV park.

We dressed casually for Sunday night’s dance, laughed and twirled. I squealed often as I saw friends from Utah, Colorado and Texas who I hadn’t seen in a year. A great evening of square dancing to Gary Shoemake and Jerry Gilbreath and round dancing to the cues of Steve Harris with his lovely wife, Lori, supporting him on the sidelines.

Monday morning, I ate breakfast and donned my boots for the ride. Lin drove me to the stables, and my friend was there with her husband. They had 5 horses saddled and ready after they finished the 10:00 ride, and this ride was going to be a blast because I knew all the riders.

I had wondered if I could even get up on the horse—I haven’t ridden in 20 years! I was so proud of myself that I did, with a little struggle for sure!

The ride was glorious—clear blue Colorado sky, the Rio Grande beside us and aspen trees still dressed in green leaves. I kept taking pictures with my iPhone as we rode–which confused my horse because I kept drawing his head over to the right! It was perfect—until that moment happened. First behind me, one horse kicked another which caused the kicked horse to buck and its rider hit the ground. Then the loose horse galloped past all of us which stirred our horses up. One rider galloped off to try to catch the loose horse, then my friend’s horse jumped into a gallop like a bullet, and she was gone.

I realized I had about 5 – 10 seconds before my horse jumped in with the other horses running back to the barn. His ears went straight up, and his eyes focused on the three racing horses; quickly, I turned him in the opposite direction. He jumped up and down, revving up to take off, but I kept him turned the other way and kept his head tight, then I circled him and circled him, and he calmed down.

When my friend’s horse took off, I thought, “Wow, she’s a good rider,” but she lost her stirrup when she was startled, and she fell off and was severely hurt. I applaud the care and concern the EMT’s showed her—they gently worked with her to move her into the ambulance. The wrangler and I stayed with her, then I rode to Del Norte in the ambulance with her.

When I got out of the ambulance, her husband was already there, so we went to the emergency room waiting room, and I filled him in on all the facts of the accident. We spent a lot of the afternoon there with her being x-rayed and tested. When we were finally brought back to her room, her sense of humor prevailed. She held up her mangled, bruised left hand and said, “Oh, Larada! I broke a nail!” Lin joined us at the emergency room to support our dear friends during this stressful time.

I was able to offer objective suggestions to my friend’s husband because, thinking back now, he was in shock! At first, he was going to drive back to Denver and they were going to airlift her; I strongly suggested his wife needed him with her in the plane, and we would take care of their car and possessions in their room.

So, they were flown to a Denver area airport and transported to a hospital. Lin drove their car back to Fun Valley, and I drove our car. I called my brother for assurance after such a horrible day, and his supported helped me. Lin and I packed up their room and got their car to another Denver dancer to drive home on Saturday.

Finally, when we were alone, I cried—so heart broke for my friend’s severe injuries! We didn’t square dance that night, but I did one round dance with tears in my eyes, and Gary Shoemake helped me out!

Needless to say, this incident affected me the rest of the week. Tuesday is blur to me—we did some of the activities, but our attention was on our phones and any messages from my friend’s husband. Her diagnosis dribbled in—cracked ribs and some dislocated which punctured a lung, a concussion and fractured vertebrae.

Tuesday afternoon, we did participate in a practice session for the skits our group would put on at the Wednesday night After Party. The highlight of Tuesday night was the skit the calling/cuing staff did at the After Party. The five of them danced to “Pretty Woman” in a unique manner. Check out my video below! This video has been blocked because of Copyright infringements, so I had to mute the song. Sorry viewers!

“Pretty Woman” Skit

Wednesday was a free day and many of the dancers traveled to Creede, CO to square dance in the unique fire house cut out of the side of a mountain, but we stayed at the RV. Lin had volunteered to make 2 batches of homemade ice cream, and my stomach problems flared up, so I spent the afternoon in bed—I couldn’t shake the tragedy or the stomach pain! The ice cream social was a new addition and it was a smashing success—four dancers made different recipes and all were delicious!

Wednesday night I came out of the funk some. It was theme night, “Pajama party,” so we participated. I enjoyed the skits put on by other dancers at the After Party, then we did our skit. I should have known that Lin would do something to shock me, and he did! He changed the punch line and totally caught me off guard—the audience loved the affect it had on me!

Daily, we got updates about our injured friend and it was up and down!

By Thursday, I felt better and enjoyed the dancing. The week’s schedule provided lots of round dance teaches and square dance workshops all day, then we had a dance each evening.

One of my favorite parts of this week is the horse racing Thursday afternoon where people buy a horse, choose a jockey for their wooden horse and the race is on. This year we had a hilarious addition—a Utah dancer dressed up in a pony costume and did the first race! With lots of laughter and fun, friendly competition prevailed.

Every year at the Thursday night dance callers and cuers in attendance are invited to call a square dance tip or cue a round dance. Lori Harris talked to me last year about cuing, but we ran out of time to practice. This year I practiced a favorite, “Could I Have This Dance?” a couple times with Steve’s professional advice and encouragement. Steve and Lori danced it while I cued and continued to give me helpful hints about this new endeavor. I was really nervous and wanted to get it over quickly, so I did the first round of the night—what an experience! It went well, and what a thrill to be able to stay ahead of the dancers, stay on beat, and see dancers smiling! It was fantastic! I plan to continue this new activity when I finish the Marshall Flippo biography.

Thursday’s theme was “Country and Western night,” so dancers donned jeans, hats and boots. This festive night ended with Jerry Gilbreath singing many good ole country tunes we all love and us two-stepping the night away.

Friday was the famous “Miniature Golf Tournament.” Lin was asked again to be a caddy, and he did a exceptional job because of his exuberance and sense of humor. All the caddies successfully fulfilled their task: distracting the other golfers with their zany costumes and make-shift drums (pot lids and spoons). The caddies for the women golfers outdid themselves, as you can see!

Part of the 2020 NMSRDA State Festival Committee

The dance week ended Friday night with a festive evening of dancing and trophies given out to the winners of the different competitions. Our group from Albuquerque dressed in our 2020 state festival outfits—colorful and delightful!

Yes, the start of the week broke my heart, but I was able to regroup and first participated and then enjoyed the rest of the week. I rose to the occasion to help in the emergency room and kept calm and collected. Getting myself out of a funk isn’t easy, but I knew that my injured friend and her husband would want me to! Life certainly contains both tragedy and joy–it’s important how we handle both!

How do you handle tragedies? What’s your success secret? Do you have a horse story?


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

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

I HAVE 199 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY! Be the 200th to pre-order! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Life Lessons · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Ranching

What Should I Write About This Week?

Sorry, readers, I’m changing horses mid-stream! I’m in the midst of writing a travelogue of our British Isles cruise, but these last couple weeks have been full. I don’t know what the word “bored” means! So. . . here we go! The trip will have to wait a week.

Flippo and Me at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque, 2018

First and foremost—Monday, September 2 is Marshall Flippo’s birthday. He would have 92-years-old this year! Two years ago, Lin and I were with him in Paris, Texas at the annual Chaparral square and round dance weekend, and he was calling for the last time. Flip had called at this event for years! He was on his “Farewell to the Road” tour which would end up in Abilene, Texas to finish up his successful career where he started at the Wagon Wheel Square Dance Center. What a memorable time that was for sure!

I’m writing Flippo’s biography, and I had hoped to have him here to see the finished product, and he so wanted to do that! What a joy this project has been! If you knew Flip, you know he was a storyteller supreme, so I’ve had to drastically cut out some of his stories from the 37 interviews I did.

They are not lost though! I plan to put them on my website for people who buy his book to read, so stay tuned!

Happy birthday, Flippo! We miss your raspy voice, loving heart and quick wit!


On that same vein, yesterday I attended the funeral of John Clark, a dear 98-year-old neighbor, who lived across the street from me in Branson, Colorado. I witnessed my rich heritage in being a part of a loving ranching community that remembers and honors its own.

Yes, 98-years-old is quite elderly, and John had seen the world change unbelievably, but he was ready “to go”—to be with his Lord and loving wife, Betty who passed a couple years ago!

The gathering at his memorial touched my heart. Being a Navy veteran of World War II, two sailors in dress whites unfurled the flag ceremoniously, then refolded it and handed it to John’s youngest daughter with admiration and respect for John’s service to his country. Attendees listened as one of the sailor’s played taps on a bugle which brought tears to my eyes and many sitting around me.

John’s four daughters and their children celebrated his life with many friends from the surrounding ranching communities. I saw mostly cowboy hats held in hands or stashed under chairs and boots, cleaned up and proper to show respect for John.

During an open time to share memories of John, I heard platitudes about his rich, full life. One friend shared one specific story about John almost getting killed during the war if he had been standing where he normally was!

Others told humorous tales. Many honored the work he did for many ranchers in the area—John ran a bulldozer, fixing roads through dangerous canyons and moving miles of dirt from reservoirs. My Dad said watching him work was like poetry in motion!

Grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces shared memories of a man who stood center in this fun-loving family. They talked of regular game nights when they were together in Branson; John didn’t participate but sat in his chair close by and enjoyed the activity, laughter and love that surrounded him.

It was a privilege to be present to see a man weep as he shared about his relationship with John–honest emotion that validated his loss.

After the service, I visited with friends I hadn’t seen for years—a great time to reconnect and remember.

What a heritage I have where I can hear a 91-year-old woman who went to school with my Mom tell an 89-year-old woman, “Say hello to my younger friend!” Laughter exploded at this statement, but it made me think about the reality here! A celebration of age and longevity!

I drove home, marveling at the spirit of unity and love present at John’s service. After Dad died, John and Betty helped Mom. When Mom died, they did the same for me. At night when I locked the front door and saw the light in their bedroom, I always felt safe and secure and knew help was close.


One last musing—my brother, my husband and I attended the 6th Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering in Cimarron, New Mexico August 22 – 25. We have only missed the first year!

We love this event hosted at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, a beautiful venue. Again, the poets and musicians entertained us Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night. We laughed; we cried. We enjoyed those we had seen before and celebrated new comers who brought a refreshing new flavor to the event.

There’s no way I can list all of my favorite singers/poets—I tried, and I was typing everyone’s names! One new entertainer I enjoyed was Barry Ward, who spoke to my heart with his song, “That Old Barn.”

It’s a relaxing weekend in a slow-paced community. On Friday before the Gathering started, we drove to Eagle Nest to the Flea Market and had a blast shopping and listening to music! They had a one-man entertainer there singing old time songs, so we sat and enjoyed the beautiful Moreno valley scenery and the live music.

Look at a couple photos taken at past Gatherings:

Here’s the website for the Cimarron gathering in case you’d be interested next year: https://www.cimarroncowboygathering.com/

So, you can see—I have a rich, full life where I witness and celebrate life where I can which can be in the midst of death and loss. My country blood rages through my veins, directing me to slow down and enjoy this moment, these people, and this place.

Join me on the front porch!

So, join me on the front porch with a glass of ice tea for a chat! I would love to talk!


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

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 3 – On Our Own in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle front
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh was our first stop in Scotland! When we were making our excursion plans at home, Lin and I decided to do Edinburgh on our own. We mainly wanted to see the Edinburgh Castle. He found some information that said they sold limited amounts of tickets each day, so that was our focus—also the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), “…with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between”, and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920.[1]

From the Castle gates to the Palace gates the street is almost exactly a mile (1.6 km) long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the royal history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, hence its name. 

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

When I woke up the third day of our cruise, I was so excited–my first time to Scotland. The ship anchored away from the shore, so, we had to ride a tender to get to Newhaven to catch a bus to Edinburgh. Our tender was scheduled to leave at 11:15 am, but we were lucky and left earlier. On the tender, we enjoyed a friendly exchange with a couple from San Diego who were adventuresome, too and doing the city on their own. We rode bus #15 to go into Edinburgh and had a delightful tour guide, Barbara, but she wasn’t much help until we asked for it. She warned us that we needed to be back to the bus by 6:15 pm because the ship was leaving at 6:30 pm.

We had some concerns because on ship we were told the last tender would leave Newhaven at 6:30 pm. Because of our late departure from Southampton, the first couple day’s itinerary had been adjusted, but apparently our tour guide didn’t get the news. Everyone on the bus seemed worried.

Barbara did hand out maps, so away we walked searching for the Royal Mile and the castle.

Bagpiper on the Royal Mile!

The Royal Mile is quite distinctive with quaint shops selling kilts, tartans and souvenirs. Bagpipers dressed in bright tartans played and entertained us!

I needed a restroom, so we stopped at one place that was like a chamber of commerce. They steered us up to the castle where I found one downstairs in a café. Waiting in line was hot, and I felt faint, so we took a break and had water. Lin had a sweet treat, and I had a banana. That helped.

St. Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle
St. Margarets Chapel

We toured the castle—a massive structure on the hill with St. Margaret’s Chapel dating back to 1130 being one of the sights we visited. Down in the bowels of the castle, we saw the prison where prisoners slept on hammocks. We went through the Royal Scots Dragoon Museum.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum is a regimental museum displaying the collections of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and its predecessor regiments. It is based in the New Barracks (built between 1796 and 1799) at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

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

View of our ship from Edinburgh Castle

There was absolutely too much to see in a day, but we thoroughly enjoyed the view from the castle. One attraction I hated missing was the Royal Jewels, but the line was way too long to wait with our limited time.

From there we wandering down the Royal Mile, stopping at several shops to buy souvenirs. I spied a Starbucks, so we took another break and had a Latte and Frappuccino and enjoyed a high-speed Internet connection. I bought one of my favorite souvenirs there—a coffee travel mug with the Edinburgh castle on it.

From there we continued shopping, and I found a store that sold a variety of handbags in a wide range of Scottish tartan colors—reds, blues, and purples! A young Scottish man, Liam, adopted us and told us that the red tartan I like was the Lowland tartan. 

While I bought my bag, Lin took Liam next door to shop for a kilt! Lin liked the navy blue and green tartan which is the Highland tartan, so Lin ended up buying a kilt and sporran.

A sporran which is Gaelic for purse, is a pouch worn with the male traditional Highland dress. The kilt has no pockets and so the sporran was designed for that function.

http://gaukartifact.com/2013/03/19/what-is-a-sporran/

Lin and Liam, our host in Edinburgh!

Lin and I so enjoyed Liam and his hospitality—a true ambassador for Scotland. We exchanged our Facebook information and are now friends. Any time I think of our Edinburgh experience, I think of Liam and his smile!

Lin proudly wore his kilt the rest of the afternoon, enjoying comments made by passersby. We laughed about what Liam and the sales’ clerk told him about what’s traditionally worn under a kilt–NOTHING!

Lin and I walked back to the bus early which my idea. Lin always has to be right down to the wire, but I like to be back early. I was also still wondering if our tour guide had given us the correct time to return. He couldn’t stand being early, so we took off up the hill, enjoying the walk and the scenery. I turned around before Lin did and went back to the bus and visited with Barbara, our tour guide. Lin made it back at 6:10—I was already on the bus and nervous!

When we left the bus and started down the walk towards the tenders, Lin walked in front of me, and one of the workers at gate grabbed me and whispered in my ear, “Tell him to go traditionally when he wears a kilt!” I laughed and shared this bit of advice with Lin.

On our tender ride back to the ship, we saw a seal on a buoy! I so enjoy the ocean and its serendipities! We made it back in time. Exhausted, we ate up on Deck 12 at Raffles, the buffet. We saw the evening entertainment at the Star Dust and headed straight to bed. What a day we had in Edinburgh and Lin had a kilt!

This cruise differed so much from previous ones. Usually we have sea days in-between ports, but on this cruise, we had one sea day, and then it was port-after-port-after-port which for Lin and I was either an excursion or outing each day! Whew!!

Have you visited Edinburgh? What was your experience? Do you own a kilt?

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

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

Hot August Nights, 2019 Sets Records!

2019 Hot August Nights flyer
Hot August Nights Flyer

            TRAVEL JOURNAL READERS—I had to interrupt the travel journal of our trip to the British Isles with this current event. We will go to Edinburgh next week!

I love square and round dancing and I love to attend festival, attending hundreds over the years. My favorite of the whole year is Hot August Nights in Albuquerque, and I am the chairperson of this delightful affair.

Tonight I’m an exhausted yet fully satisfied chairperson! We just finished the 13th Annual Hot August Nights square and round dance festival and what a success it was! This festival is a three-day event and draws people from all over the Southwest. Our usual supporters come from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Utah. This year we had dancers from Nevada, northern California and Oregon.

FRIDAY

This event started Friday afternoon, August 16, with a Welcome Dance from 2:00 – 3:00 PM with a local caller, Greg Tillery. We had five squares of dancers who anticipated a great weekend of dancing. Greg called a fun, energetic dance that help set the atmosphere for the weekend.

Friday night featured Tony Oxendine as our caller and Steve and Lori Harris as cuers. It has taken me eighteen years to get Tony to Albuquerque. We tried to have him as our featured caller for the National Singles Festival I chaired in Albuquerque in 2003, but it didn’t work.

This year we broke the Friday night record with 19 squares in attendance. We have a Beach Party theme, so most people dressed casually in fun beach attire. Tony rocked the place with high energy music and choreography. He wowed everybody with his beautiful voice and knowledge of music. We danced, we laughed and enjoyed the delightful evening of dancing. All of the round dancers enjoyed the round dancing with Steve and Lori Harris. We finished the evening with traditional root beer floats and time to socialize with old friends and make new ones.

SATURDAY

Saturday morning is dedicated to round dancing—cued ball round dancing to those who might not know. The Harris’ introduced fifteen new round dance couples to the Two Step rhythm. It’s always a joy to see new round dancers on the floor. Then they taught a waltz and rumba to seventeen experienced round dance couples and three singles.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is the potluck at noon. Ninety dancers sat and shared this meal together, laughing and enjoying a relaxing meal–another record breaker. During a festival, it’s hard to really become acquainted with other people on the dance floor because there’s really no time. This leisure meal provided the opportunity to enlarge old relationships and build new ones.

Square dancers filled the hall Saturday afternoon for three different sessions: singing calls, a plus workshop and high energy dancing. Tony has such a beautiful voice and used a variety of music, so everybody enjoyed the singing calls.

Tony’s expertise shone during the plus workshop. He extended everyone’s dancing repertoire through taking a call everyone knows and expanding it. I always know that I will grow as a dancer in attending one of Tony’s workshops. Seventeen squares participated wanting more and more of Tony’s knowledge.

The afternoon ended with a session of High Energy—some people call it Hot Hash. It’s the type of dancing when the caller calls fast and keeps the floor moving like never before. Tony kidded Friday night about all his calling is high energy, but he ratcheted it up a couple notches and had us sailing around the floor. This type of square dancing is not for the faint of heart for sure!

Saturday evening dancers wore square dance attire, except for my husband, Lin. He stunned the crowd in his new kilt he bought in Scotland a couple weeks ago.

In the pre-rounds, we had 31 couples on the floor—an amazing record for us! The women dressed in beautiful square dance attire, and the scene was a colorful array! I love to watch the spins and twirls of these dresses on the dance floor.

Before squaring up, Tony sang the “National Anthem,” bringing tears to many eyes! When the square dance started, we had 22 squares on the floor—another record breaker! We danced the night away enjoying Tony’s selection of music and beautiful voice and playful attitude! We ended the evening with root beer floats again and laughter and joy.

SUNDAY

The Sunday morning Trail Out dance is another favorite of mine—these are the diehard dancers who just can’t get enough dancing ever! We had 13 squares of crazy dancers for more dancing and fun—another record broken!

We do crazy antics on Sunday morning like scatter promenade which mixes the whole floor up. Tony sang a gospel tune and several requests from dancers who have known him for a while.

All in all—it was a blast and an amazing success! I’m always a little sad when an event like this ends, but many of us dancers didn’t say good-bye but “see you at the next dance festival down the road.”

As a chairperson of many square and round dance events, I have to say that working with Tony and the Harris’ was such a pleasure. When asked for extras, Tony simply agreed to do what was asked and did it beautifully. The Harris make my job an easy one providing for all the round dancers needs. As a chairperson, you couldn’t ask for better!

Hot August Nights 2019 Committee
The Hot August Nights Committee, 2019

The committee that puts this event together is the best committee ever, working hard to make it a memorable experience for all. We only have two meetings during the year: one phone conference call in July and a feedback meeting the afternoon after the festival is over. Our total focus is to promote square dancing!

At today’s meeting, I loved to see the pride in each person’s eyes of a job well done. Now we relax a little and then prepare for next year!

Check out the Hot August Nights website for pictures from this event–especially a group picture of the Saturday night dancers which will be coming soon! https://larada.wixsite.com/hotaugustnights

What are your square dance festival experiences? Share them with me and the readers! Let’s spread a little square dance joy around!


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

Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 1 & 2- Flight Day & First Day at Sea

Lin and I left Albuquerque on Friday, July 19 and flew to Denver. On Saturday, July 20 we flew to Toronto, Canada and started our flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Sunday, July 21 at 11:50 AM! Whew! If you didn’t read my blog last week, you need to catch up and read that harrowing experience.

When we got off the plane (in travel lingo, is that deplaned?) and gathered our luggage, we had trouble finding the Norwegian Cruise Line representative to catch the shuttle to Southampton. As you actually enter the Heathrow airport, multitudes of travel companies, tours, etc. stand with signs designating their company on each side of a walk-way that passengers must pass through. We experienced this two years ago trying to find our transport to our hotel.

So, I stopped with our four cumbersome bags, and Lin wandered around one area and had no luck, then he went the other direction—again no luck. I asked someone standing near me, and they pointed out where NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) reps usually stand, so we crossed over to the other side of the walk-way and still no NCL rep.

Again, I asked someone standing near the walk-way, and the woman said, “He’ll be right back!” So, we found him. Overwhelmed the NCL rep rushed in like a whirlwind and let us know he was short-handed and many flights had been delayed, so he was doing the best he could. Lin and I were just relieved to find him. The responsibility of transport was on Norwegian now, so we could relax.

I found some snacks for us. We hadn’t come prepared on this trip with foreign currency, and it just now dawned on both of us! We came with American dollars and would be in places in countries that didn’t accept our money! They did accept it at Heathrow though, so I returned to Lin, and we waited patiently.

Finally, the NCL rep herded our group out the door to the bus. At this time, it had grown to a sizable crowd. We found our bus, boarded and headed towards Southampton. I was so exhausted from our flight but so excited to be back in London again!

Yahooooooo! We made it!

The one hour and a half trip went smoothly, and we arrived at the Norwegian Star at 4:30 PM. Usually when we board the ship, the terminal overflows with people and activity—only one or two Norwegian people worked behind the desk. That was it! No picture of us boarding the ship!

One thing they did that was strange: they took our passports and said they would stamp them and return them to us later. Really?

Lin and I boarded the ship, found our room–#5078–and relaxed a moment but heard an announcement that we had to attend the “Emergency Training” in the Stardust theater on Deck 7! We took a breath and ran up to the training. The review of what to do in an emergency reminded me of the danger of sailing on a ship, and interestingly enough, we learned on this trip that the Titanic sailed out of Southampton on its fateful voyage, just like us! We found our designated spot to go to in case of an emergency and went upstairs to the buffet, Raffles, for our first meal of the day.

When we got back to our room, we unpacked and relaxed until the entertainment show at 7:30 PM, fully aware we hadn’t left port yet. We were supposed to leave at 5:00 PM, so we thought the cruise director would explain our delay at the show—she didn’t.

The show was an overview of the talent we would see on this cruise and they all were exceptional! Lin and I especially like the magician.

After the show, we slipped back to our room quickly and went to bed—exhausted from this marathon day.

On July 22, I slept until 8:00 AM. When I’m onboard a ship, I always look out the window first thing to see what I can see—we were sailing. We found out later Norwegian crew worked in scuba gear for hours, and the cruise was almost canceled, but we finally left port about 4:30 AM. Lin and I were so exhausted we never heard the ship pull away from the port. Lin was gone when I woke up—out walking the deck and enjoying the sea. I never heard him leave!

When he returned, we had a leisurely breakfast in Raffles, the buffet on the deck 12, one of the complimentary restaurants on the Star. In wandering around deck 12 and getting oriented again, we found the Game Room, so we played a couple Cribbage games, and Lin won. We continued our tour of the ship and had a delightful lunch in Windows, one of the complimentary restaurants onboard ship.

Lin’s $20 Chocolate

Anyone who knows Lin knows he loves chocolate. We went by the Tourist Shop onboard, and Lin bought a HUGE bar of Lindt chocolate. Shocked after he bought it, it cost $20. He rationed it out the whole trip, and we finished it in the airport in London waiting for our flight home.

At about 2:00 PM, we participate in one of our favorite onboard ship activities: Deal or No Deal. Neither one of us was chosen to play, but everyone who participates has a chance to be a winner, and Lin won a free 8 X 10 photo.

Afterwards, we went to the Excursion desk to put our names on a waiting list for Conwy Castle at Holyhead, Wales. It was sold out when we booked our excursion, so we signed up for Penrhyn Castle & Gardens as a second choice. The agent told us they would create another tour if enough people asked—we both really wanted to go to Conwy Castle because of the pictures we saw, and it all worked out!

After all this activity, Lin and I retired to our room, and he napped. I experimented with getting on the Internet and had some problems. I also worked on my current book project: the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. Yes, I took Flippo with me on this cruise.

We ate dinner at Shogun’s, another complimentary restaurant for certain dishes, then went to the early show and saw Danielle Williams—energetic pop music singer!

Lin had heard they had coconut ice cream up at Raffles, so we ventured up to see. They didn’t have it, but they had a piña colada that was delicious. We went by the lounge for a short time and listened to the band, Hot Wire.

When we got back to the room, we tried the Internet again. Lin had a lot of trouble, and it was slow for me, so we gave up and went to bed.

The next day we had our first experience in Scotland—Edinburgh and the castle! We were both excited about the four ports in Scotland! Also, the next day started our marathon of ports and excursions—ten ports, ten excursions and no at-sea days in-between to catch up and rest! None of our previous cruises had this intense schedule!

So, next week I will share our Edinburgh adventures! Stay tuned!


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

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS END AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Why Is It So Hard to Travel to London?

Two flights to London in my lifetime: once in 2017 and now again in 2019–each time a nerve-wracking experience!

On July 19, 2019, Lin, my husband, and I started the first leg of our trip to London for a twelve-day cruise of the British Isles and flew from Albuquerque, NM to Denver, CO. We got our flight through Norwegian cruise lines, and the one catch was that it had to be through a major airport, so that’s why we had to go to Denver.

We live in the east mountains above Albuquerque and the drive to the airport takes about thirty minutes. Most of our travel is on I-40, and there was an accident in front of us, but –thank God—we saw the slow down and ducked off the Interstate at a nearby exit. If we had been further down the highway, we would have been caught there and possibly missed our flight. After breathing deeply, we both sighed and realized a near miss.

We both flew to Denver on Southwest Airlines for free which always makes the flight sweet. Also, we flew at 5:50 PM which meant no getting up at O’Dark Thirty to start our adventure.

We arrived in Denver at 7:00 PM, wondering if we needed to eat at the airport before finding the shuttle to the Microtel Hotel near the airport. So, I called the hotel and got a strange response when asked if there was a restaurant within walking distance.

 “There should be!” Lin and I both laughed and decided to take our chance there because food is so expensive in an airport. We maneuvered our bags to level five, island three to wait for the shuttle.

The warm Colorado evening invited us to sit and enjoy the beginning of our travels. It took the shuttle over thirty minutes to arrive, but we relaxed and anticipated our trip. We had originally planned a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in November but had to cancel it because of the death of a dear friend. We reveled in the fact that nothing could go wrong this time—Norwegian cruise lines had booked our flights and they were professionals. They would allow enough time between flights–nothing to worry about!

When we arrived at the hotel, we saw a restaurant within walking distance, so we registered at the desk. I peered at the guy who had given me such a strange response, and he told the person in front of us that there was a restaurant within 10 seconds of the hotel. I laughed to myself at both responses. We ditched our bags in the room, ate dinner, and had a relaxed, restful night. We had come into Denver a night early so we could catch our flight easily the next day.

When I got up the next morning, I planned on wearing the same clothes, but I could smell BO on my top, so I hand-washed it and then dried it with the hair dryer.

The night before we had reserved a shuttle back to the airport at 12:30 PM and went downstairs to check out about noon, and the shuttle was already there, so we took it. We grabbed lunch at Pandora Express and enjoyed the leisure atmosphere.

Lin and I aboard the Air Canada Flight for Toronto–Excited about our adventure ahead!

Our flight to London started with the first leg to Toronto, Canada leaving Denver at 5:25 PM. Yes, we were early, but we found our gate, and I used the time wisely to work on my current writing project of the Marshall Flippo biography. Great uninterrupted time to work!

Before leaving home, Lin had checked the weather in Toronto, and thunderstorms threatened the area, but no one from the airlines had said anything, so we let it go.

We boarded the Air Canada plane and then sat and sat. For thirty minutes,  a flight attendant walked through the cabin counting the passengers, then one came and asked the person sitting across from us to move at takeoff to distribute the weight more evenly—I had never heard that before.

Awhile later, the pilot announced that they needed to check the air in one of the tires—oh, no! Here we go again! We just lost over thirty minutes!

When it finally took off, I relaxed and worked on my book project. We were to arrive at 10:29 PM and the flight to Heathrow took off at 11:50 PM—plenty of time, I thought. I hadn’t done the math. Lin kept his eye on the flight monitor on the TV and kept calculating and recalculating our arrival time, getting more nervous the farther we went. He shared his concern with me, and we talked to the flight attendant about our possible peril. She assured us there would be plenty of time.

When we got to Toronto, we had to go through customs. Then we had no idea where to go, no idea of the gate number for our flight, and no signage to point us in the right direction. We walked down a hall desperate to find help.

Then we found an Air Canada employee who told us to go to level three to security, so we found level three but had trouble finding security. The lights were dimmed and the only people there were the cleaning crew. Somehow, we found security. He let us through a back door and all I saw in front of me was a long corridor.

The corridor went on and on!

Lin started walking, half-running down the corridor, and I had to run to keep up with him. It went on and on. I tripped once and almost hit the ground, but I steadied myself and kept going. Now he was nearly out of sight rounding a corner. So it was a full-out run now.

When I caught him, we stood at an intersection; only two people were there. Lin ran over to a counter and asked where to go.

“Gate 75.”

The other two people yelled, “Go straight through there and turn right.”

So, we did, and the workers at that gate waved and yelled, “Are you the Millers? They are closing the door right now!” We sprinted over; they checked us in and we walked on the plane and they closed the doors behind us!

The plane had been delayed ten minutes because of a rain delay—oh, my God! That’s what saved us!

We found our seats, sat down and breathed. Sweat dripped down my back and I panted now because of the race we just did. Trembling, I said to Lin, “Why is it so hard to get to London?”

We did make it, and I will take you on our twelve-day adventure cruising around the British Isles over the next few weeks in my blogs.

Have you ever had a travel experience like this? Share yours in the Comments section below.

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

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

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

My Books · My Thoughts · Prejudice, Mistreatment, Mexican, immigrant

Can You Speak English?

            Because Papa and his family could not speak English, he was doomed. Hatred and prejudice could have destroyed his future and Maria’s. Is that still true today? Read what happened to Papa that broke Maria’s and her Momma’s hearts.

CHAPTER 8

            Papa and I finish our daily chores and head for the house, hungry and ready to eat. Papa spots a five-point buck and three does. Their movement is slow and graceful. They are in no hurry to travel to the water hole east of our house. He signals me to be quiet and grabs my hand. We ease down the ridge to watch these free, beautiful animals water and graze in the cool of the evening. Their silhouettes stand out as the last rays of sunshine etch their forms against the ground.

            Papa squats down on a sandstone rock ledge that overlooks the watering hole, and his rough hands encircle me as I squat in front of him. I can feel his heavy breathing on the back of my neck and smell the familiar aroma of his sweaty clothes mixed with horse and leather. I so enjoy these special times together.

            He surprises me with a tight squeeze, stands up and walks towards the house in front of me. He drags his feet and the dust stirs up in small clouds. I see the nape of his neck, tanned by long hours in the sun. Tonight, it is tense and tight with the load of his world.

            We sit down to supper with an unusual silence hanging over our table. We try small talk about Papa’s trip to Trinidad and what happened here in his absence. Each of us jumps at any strange sound outside during the meal, fearing the unknown. Mama lights the kerosene lantern, placing it in the middle of the table to illumine our dark kitchen. The anxious mood lingers in the dim amber light.

            Usually the yellow light from the kerosene lamp comforts me in our long evenings inside our house. The shadows dancing on the walls have become good friends and playmates, but tonight it is so different. The dark, forbidding forms on the walls add to the suspense, feeling evil and scary.

            Halfway through our delicious, but modest meal, the much-feared event happens. Horses approach our house in a rush of noise from men and animals. The dreaded moment arrives and catches us all clustered together in the dark corner of our small kitchen. Three unfinished meals cover our deserted table.

            Several loud men on nondescript sweaty, panting horses ride up with shouting and cussing. A brisk pounding at the door sends us further in the corner. Before Papa can open the door, this mob forces the door open. What a violent invasion of our home! Six gringos fill our small, modest house of stone and adobe with their foreign language and foreign smells. One of these invaders is the sheriff of Las Animas County.

            Peering from behind Mama’s protective full skirt, I see the sheriff, now our enemy, argue with Papa in English. Papa pleads. I don’t understand the words, but I do understand the tone of his voice and theirs. Grabbing the sheriff’s hand, he begs, pleads, and cries! And then, they laugh, a communication that crosses all languages. Their laughter overflows with power, ridicule and anger. And all this is aimed at my Papa, my hero! That laughter bounces off of our adobe walls and crashes into my head.

            The sheriff and one man get on each side of Papa and push him outside towards the corrals. The others move back to their horses, light cigarettes and stand talking. Mama and I move closer to the closed door, listening and trying to understand what is happening. I don’t understand their words but I know they feel they have won.  

            In a loud voice, Papa continues to argue with the two men who take him to the corral where the horses are. I hear English words that I do know: “The Rose horse ranch” where we bought Smokey as a colt. From the conversation, I see in my mind the two gringos surveying our two horses, especially Papa’s horse. Papa continues his litany of innocence with his voice growing louder and shriller with each statement, but they ignore him. Laughter is their only response.  

            I hear Papa beg about something. The two ruffians bring him back to the house for our tearful good-bye. The last thing I remember hearing is his screams as they drag him from our house. “¡Mi hijita, mi esposa preciosa–esperame, esperame!” His screams for us to wait for him echo through my mind. I must have fainted because the next thing I remember is waking to Mama and our neighbor and friend, Pablo, standing over me with worried looks on their faces.

            “Where’s Papa? Where’s Papa? ¿Dónde está mi Papa?” I scream, demanding to know and trying to shake the cobwebs of uncertainty from my mind.

            Mama falls across me on my small bed, crying and sobbing out of control, “¡Papa, se ha ido! Papa’s gone! He’s gone. Se lo llevaron. They took him away.” The weight of her body and sound of her wails almost suffocate me.

            Pushing Mama aside, I scramble out from underneath her, search our two-room home and explode. Uncontrollable anger rages from deep within me and I attack and destroy anything I can get my hands on. My doll crashes against the hard rock wall; my marbles fly out the door in all directions.  

            Mama tries to console me in the midst of my savage tantrum, but I push her away. I shove open the front door and collapse on the front step. I scream, I cry, and I wail! Finally, I take a breath and open my eyes—Paco is staring at me a few feet away. He seems apprehensive about coming any closer. My tantrum has lost its power, so my little friend ventures near and I scoop him up in my skirt. I gingerly hold him in my hand while my sobs are subsiding. He seems to know that I need him close to me. I sit there with him consoling me.  

            I look around and see my marbles strewn around our front door; I don’t pick them up, but go inside, leaving Paco outside. Mama and Pablo stop their conversation, and I slide into my bed fully dressed. Pablo touches my brow with gentle rough fingers and whispers, “Adios.  Hasta la mañana.” I appreciate his good-bye and the hope of seeing him tomorrow. Mama walks to the door with him and says her good-byes.

            She returns to my bed and repeats what Pablo did; she touches my brow with her long slender fingers and whispers, “Buenas noches.” I sigh my response and turn to the wall, heart-broken because the most valuable person in my life has been taken away.

Maria changes through this heartless event. I won’t give away the ending, so go to Amazon and buy a copy:

Here’s a trailer for this heart-wrenching story:

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

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

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

My Thoughts

The Face of Immigration–Has it Changed?

The Philly Place–the homestead that inspired this story!

            The immigration topic is hot today—so much turmoil and hatred with a lot of it targeted at Mexican and Latin Americans. Many Mexicans ventured into the Southwest, where I live, during the 1920’s and 30’s, and enriched the communities they lived in, but some of the locals didn’t receive them warmly at all. They spoke a foreign language and had unfamiliar customs that frightened those US citizens.

            My historical fiction, When Will Papa Get Home?, deals with this topic during this time in southeastern Colorado where homesteaders laid their claim to a parcel of land and a dream! This story is told through the eyes of Maria about the injustice she witnessed in the treatment of her Papa.

            Meet Maria’s Papa in Chapter 2 and how they acquired a quarter of a section–160 acres:

Cover of When Will Papa Get Home?

Chapter 2

As soon as Papa arrived in the United States from Mexico, he filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen. Many of our friends that came to America before us passed on information to Papa about the importance of doing this. Papa couldn’t write, but information was passed around our small community of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  I had no idea what all this was, but I knew it was important. Papa and Mama talked a lot about it, and they worked hard to get it. In 1926 Papa and Mama gained citizenship while we were living in Branson, CO, and we all celebrated their accomplishment. 

            I was an American citizen by birth, which really seemed strange because I don’t speak any English, only Spanish, and in my heart I am a Mexican. How does that work?

             Now that Papa and Mama were United States citizens, they were able to acquire a homestead in Colorado.  Our homestead included a quarter section of land–160 acres. To get our new home, we had to live on the homestead for five years. Acquiring the homestead was a three-step process: first, Papa filed a signed application. Second, we would get the land if we improved it by building a house or something Papa called “containments” on it. I didn’t know what that meant, but Papa translated it to me to mean walls, fences, roads, paths or gates. It took a couple years before we built the house.

            First, we built a lean-to to live in, and then we added a small enclosure for our horses and our small herd of cattle. Our animals took precedence over our house. Papa said the corrals were containments too–oh, the English language. The third step of homesteading was Papa filing a deed for our property. We lived there for five years, so it was ours, truly a dream come true for our little Mexican family.

            When we were living in the lean-to, I made friends with a horny toad. I had never seen one before. His spiky body fascinated me. He looked like a miniature dinosaur. When he visited, he explored everything he could. Papa and I played with him and fed him, but Mama didn’t like him. We named him Paco. After that we looked for Paco every morning. At first he didn’t come by every day, but we continued feeding and playing with him, so his visits became more routine. He got comfortable enough with me to let me pick him up and hold him in my hand—he just fit in the palm of my small hand. 

            Our next building was an outhouse a few feet away from where Papa planned to build the house. He experimented on it and built it out of sandstone rock from the mesa and adobe mortar to seal the rocks. He liked the results. Later he used the same material to build our home. The big job for the outhouse was digging a deep hole for all the sewage to go into. Papa spent several days working on it, and he sweat a lot. It was hard work. I tried to help, but it seemed I got in the way more than helped. 

            I loved that outhouse with its seat to sit on. I had never mastered the art of squatting. With my long skirt, it was so hard to not pee all over the hem of my skirt and shoes. Mama loved it too; it didn’t matter to Papa one way or the other, so I think he built it for us two females.

            I can’t believe the three of us built our house. It is so beautiful. Papa and Mama were used to homes made of adobe bricks, but with all the amazing sandstone rocks in the canyon around us, Papa’s experiment on the outhouse worked, so he decided to make our house out of rocks and adobe. He had admired houses in Mora, NM built out of rock and thought they were beautiful.  He talked to men there about how to build one, so he was excited to be able to actually have his own rock house.    

            During the early spring, we carried the heavy rocks down from the rim rock across the canyon–about a half-mile south. We tied the rocks to our two horses and drug them to our house site. It was backbreaking work. Then we mixed mud from the river for the adobe mortar. I liked that part the best because it was like making mud pies, but Mama didn’t because I stayed muddy and smelly for days. Papa mixed straw and manure into this muddy mixture. “My secret ingredients to make it strong,” he chuckled!

            The adobe sealed the rocks and made it snug and warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Mama complained about the smell when we were working, but I didn’t notice it. I remember when the stone wall was only as high as my knees. Then when it seemed like magic that Papa put a little square in the wall and it became a window and a big square became a door. We had one window in the kitchen and two in Papa and Mama’s bedroom. 

            I loved the view out the kitchen window facing north and east. I could see Mesa de Mayo and the great open plains. I could see forever.

            Papa noticed that many of the residents in Mora, NM had painted the door frame and doors of their houses light blue.  After he got acquainted with the people there, he asked the reason for the blue doors. Many friends told him, “For safety!  It keeps out the bad spirits.” 

            So on one of Papa’s trips to Trinidad before we finished the house, he came back with just enough light blue paint. Papa and I painted the door and what fun we had! We ended up with as much paint on us as on the door and door frame. Mama wrinkled her nose and shook her head. She questioned him about this tradition at first but later grew to love it, especially when our neighbor’s wife, Rosa, commented on how nice it looked.

            Next we mixed more adobe and plastered the inside walls to give a smooth even texture—the straw stuck out here and there, so it never was completely smooth, but it made wonderful patterns.

            Finally we put on the roof. First we added the vigas, large, heavy support wooden beams we drug down from the mesa south of our homestead. The vigas span across the house, then we added ladrillas, smaller branches that crossed the vigas, then brush and dirt. Then we added the adobe mortar to tie it all together. When the roof was complete, we moved inside. That was a day of celebration because now we could sleep inside, out of the elements.

            When we moved into our new house, I wondered if Paco would find us or if Mama would let him in. Early the second morning when I opened the door to go outside, Paco sat sunning himself on our front step.

            I scooped him up in my skirt and took him with me to the ridge of the arroyo and he sat with me while I watched the sun rise and the scene before me come to life. Deer sauntered across the arroyo to drink. Long eared jackrabbits hopped around them, darting between bushes. A coyote skirted us, wary of getting shot. Paco just sat, observing our world. 

            A little later, Papa came from the corral and joined us. He burst out laughing when he saw Paco.

            “Has this become a trio?” Papa whispered so he didn’t disturb our wild guests. I nodded my head with a grin. The three of us enjoyed this ritual many days.

            “When will Papa be home? ¿Cuándo regresa mi Papa a mi casa?” This has been the longest day yet.

Maria’s wait for Papa ends and the tragedy unfolds. I won’t give anymore away—next week I’ll share what happened to Papa at the hands of a vigilante racist group. If you’d like to read the whole book, it’s is available at Amazon in paperback and e-book:

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

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

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · My Thoughts

Why Garden?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts

We Took a Wrong Turn in Española!

“We Took a Wrong Turn in Española,” I shared at a meeting tonight, and the whole room exploded in laughter. I must have had a surprised look on my face at this response. Afterwards, a well-meaning friend came up to me and explained, “A lot of good stories start with ‘We took a wrong turn in Española.’”

So, this is our story. My husband, Lin, and I planned to meet my brother and his youngest daughter and her family in Red River, New Mexico, on the Wednesday before the 4th of July at 3:00 PM. Lin did his due diligence and googled the length of the trip and factored in time to eat lunch. When we got to Española, he was driving, and I managed the GPS on my phone. We arrived at a junction, and he shot through the intersection before I exclaimed, “The GPS says we should turn left here for a faster route.” So, he did a quick U-turn and we turned. Neither of us questioned the turn; the GPS said to turn!

When we made the next right turn, we realized our favorite restaurant was on this road, Socorro’s Restaurant, in Hernandez, New Mexico. We relaxed and enjoyed some delicious Mexican food. Lin had enchiladas and I had Frito Pie.

I started driving after lunch so Lin could watch the women’s soccer match on his iPad. Quickly the GPS told me to turn right and we passed Ojo Caliente, a favorite mineral springs spa we love, but something kept nagging at me, “We’re not following the Rio Grande river up that awesome valley.”

We continued, and I asked Lin if this felt right. He answered me, “Yeah, just kept straight,” distracted by the soccer game and the sporadic reception on his iPad. We came to some rolling hills, but they weren’t in the right place. I watched our movement on the GPS screen, but we lost connection, so we were standing still. Our relationship to Taos was wrong, and I knew we had to go through Taos. On the GPS screen we were moving away from Taos!

We came to Tres Piedras, and that really felt out of place, but Lin assured me we were OK. A few miles out of town, I saw a mountain on the left side of the road, and as I saw it and realized our error, Lin looked up from his iPad and exclaimed, “We’re headed to Colorado!”

I did a quick U-turn and turned left at Tres Piedras, seeing a sign that said we would go over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and I laughed. We had never crossed the bridge coming from the Albuquerque area. Also going this way put us beyond Taos, so we missed the city completely and we both enjoy the city of Taos.

I called my brother to let him know our mistake and we’d be about 45 minutes late. He chuckled as he hung up. Lin and I spent the next 45 minutes laughing about our mistake, making joke after joke. Frequently during the next couple days, we referenced our side trip and laughed more. We have gone to Red River numerous times, but we go to Colorado also off of this back road, so we understood the confusion.

I’m glad to say we didn’t let it ruin the day or our 4th of July celebration. We arrived 45 minutes late; no one was hurt or maimed—it was a simply mistake. We enjoyed the holiday festivities in the Red River and Eagle Nest area.

Lin and I enjoying the ski lift.

We took the ski lift up the mountain for thirty minutes, walked around on top, and then the thirty minutes down. I ended up with a nasty sunburn on my legs because of this ride, but we enjoyed the spectacular scenery!

On our journey to Eagle Nest about 8:15 PM the evening of July 4 to see the fireworks over the lake, we saw a massive herd of elk and heard their strange sounds—what a serendipity! Enjoy the video below.

 On July 5th, we came home the usual way, winding our way alongside the Rio Grande where numerous rafters enjoyed the thrill of white water rafting. We made several stops: Taos to shop, Velarde at our favorite store which features beautiful items made in Mexican, and our favorite fruit stand for fresh fruit.

After this holiday trip, a phrase has been added to our family story, “We’re headed towards Colorado,” and when it is mentioned in the future, Lin and I both will smile at our unexpected side trip and also at how we handled it. Neither one got mad at the other; we just laughed at our mistake.

So, many stories start with “I took a wrong turn in Española.” What’s your story?

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

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

Whitey & Gladys Puerling were playful friends of Flippo’s who created a Fan Club. I thought it would be fun to recreate this group. Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42