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

Age · Coronavirus · family · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

How Do We Age? How Did I Get Here?

How do we age? How did I get here? This last week, a phrase haunted me, “Age crept up on me.” I turned 67 years old this summer—not old in today’s world, but. . .. So, naturally, I wrote a poem.

Shadows of age

As I look back over my life, I remember my mom and dad in their late 60s, and I was in my 40s and 50s when they were my current age. They were active and full of life but appeared much older than I feel today—interesting.

Going back another generation to my grandparents when they were in their 60s, they seemed ancient. So, it’s all perspective, I guess.

I do know today, I have arthritic aches and pains and troubles with my stomach, but I don’t feel 67. So that begs to ask, what does 67 feel like?

I’ve seen 6 decades plus come and go—a multitude of advances. The TV was just coming in when I was a child, so I’ve always had a TV. We didn’t get a phone in our home until I was about ten years old, so I’ve had some sort of phone for most of my life. I touched my first computer in 1981 when I was a student at Colorado State University and have had access to one ever since—39 years!

And that phrase, “Age crept up on me” caused me lots of wandering through my life.

Shadow of age
Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels

Here’s my poem that came out of this week’s musings:

Age Crept Up on Me!

August 12, 2020

Only yesterday, I was 16
            It seems
 
You may laugh
            My age shows
                        In wrinkles
                        Years lived
                        Dyed red hair to hide the grey
                                    With white
                                                Escaping near my eyes
 
Something happened!
            An acceleration
                        Of time
                                    Of minutes
                                                Of years
                                                            Recently
 
Is it a side effect of the coronavirus?
            Too much time on my hands?
                        Pondering my existence
                                    In uncertain times?
 
I remember 18
            High school graduation
                        Four students in my graduating class
                                    Started kindergarten together
            Trinidad State Junior College
                        Fifty miles from home
            Anxious about my future
                        And how my dreams
                                    Would play out
 
I remember 20
            Newly married
                        With life and dreams
                                    Spread out before me.
                                                Hopeful and positive
 
I remember 30
            Divorced and devastated
            At the university as a student       
                        And
                                    Starting over
                                                With dreams of being a teacher
 
I remember 40
            In sexual trauma treatment
                        For incest
                                    Uncovering and recovering from
                                                Childhood pain
                                                            And dashed dreams
 
I remember 50
            Celebrated at
                        The National Square Dance Convention
                                    In Oklahoma City
            Serenaded at our After Party by
                        Jerry Junck
                                    Mike Hogan
                                                Lanny Weaklend
            Still dreaming
                        About possibilities
 
I remember 60
            Mom had just died
                        A feeble celebration in Branson
                                    With Bub, Lin and Jackie
            My dreams diminished by the pain
                                    The loss
 
Yes, you see
            I’m not 16
                        But 67!
 
I look in the mirror
            And recently
                        Somehow
                                    Age crept up on me
 
In that reflection
            I see years
                        Life
                                    Experiences
 
Received no warning,
            No alarm,
                        I see an older woman,
                                    A matured lady,
                                                A seasoned Larada
 
Where did the years go?
            Fast living
                        A rich life
                                    A multitude of adventures
 
Yes, age crept up!
            Quickly
                        Relentlessly
                                    Quietly
                                                Without warning
 
So be aware
            It can and will
                        Happen to you!
Photo by Edu Carvalho from Pexels

My hope and prayer is that I continue to age gracefully and with spunk! I hope to redefine any concepts you may have about older adults.

What are you thoughts on aging? Has it crept up on you, too? How do you handle it?


Flippo's biography

~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, I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Blogs · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Two Hundred Blog Posts! Yahooo!

Two hundred blog posts!  Welcome! As I was writing the biography of Marshall Flippo, the thought kept occurring to me—this is a movie in the making!

Now that I have finished the book, I remain convinced that Marshall’s story should be told in a movie. Nothing may come of this, but I want you to know that I will actively pursue this project.


I thank you for your patronage of my blog and I look forward to the next two hundred! I started in 2014 haphazardly for three years then I became committed to it in 2017 and have posted weekly since then. My topics range from childhood memories, square dancing, poetry, our hilarious travel stories and Marshall Flippo.


~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

Christianity · Dancing · God · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry · Sexual Abuse · Words Matter · Writing

Honestly, Do You Know Me?

Honestly, do we know anyone, really? I know I hide part of myself from the world, afraid to expose too much of my true self, concerned about safety. Will I get burned, again? Can I be that honest? I’ve struggled with this for years.

One of my favorite books published in 1975 was Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? by John Powell. “Why am I afraid to tell you who I really am boils down to — if I told you who I really am and you didn’t like it — it’s all I’ve got.”

That explanation resonated with me forty-five years ago and still does today. Over the years, I’ve tried to be honest but have failed often. I avoided confrontation and making waves, but is that being honest? I’ve bit my tongue and walked away from a potential argument.

So, I offer you a glance inside me with these two poems: a country carefree child and an adult sizing up me and my life today.

The Slam of a Screen Door

July 16, 2020

Slam
            A screen door
                        Not today’s version
                                    But a relic from the 50s and 60s.
 
It bounced a couple times
            When shut
                        No latch to hold it
                                    Tight
                        Mosquitoes, flies and other
                                    Bothersome pests
                                                Escaped inside
 
Sharp, resonating!
Not as protective
            As the 21st century version!
 
But the slam
            The sound
                        The bang
                                    Echoes through
                                                 My childhood!
 
Running outdoors
            Giggling
                        Afire with life
                                    My brother chasing me
                                                With a water gun
 
Summer’s sound
            Of freedom
 
Slam!
            Close with a bang!

Mom’s repeated shout,
            “Don’t the slam the door!”
            Never heeded!
We didn’t do it in anger
            Only in haste
                        In urgency
                                    To get outside
                                    To start the adventure
 
Slam
            Too active
                        And driven
                                    To catch it!
 
Focused
            On other priorities
                        Other possibilities     
                                    Outside
 
A hike to Brown Springs
            To discovery
A bicycle ride
            To freedom
A secluded time in our treehouse
            To dream
 
Slam
            Close noisily
A new day
            A new adventure
A door opened to the world
            And
                        Possibility!
 
Let’s Go!

honestly hidden
You May Think You Know Me, But. . .

August 9, 2020

 
As I pondered a topic
            Old yet new
I marveled at the thought
            Daily Honesty!
 
Honesty
            Truthfulness
            Sincerity
            Frankness
            Freedom from deceit or fraud
 
To be honest
            Is to be vulnerable
                        To risk exposure
                                    To lay bare my insides to you.
Are you safe?
            Can I trust you?
 
At this moment,
            I feel compelled
                        To do so.
 
I’m country
            You know
I grew up embarrassed
            And ashamed!
Not sophisticated
            Like the ladies on TV
            Like the ladies in town.
 
I’m religious
            A Christian to the core
                        But unorthodox!
I’ve dabbled in
            Native American
                        Savored the peaceful sweat lodge ceremony
            Buddhist beliefs
                        Became a silent observer
                                    Valuing the art of listening
            Jewish wisdom
                        Honored the roots of Christianity

I’ve divorced three times.
            One heartbroken
                        But necessary for my sanity
            One victorious
                        Because I stood up
            One heartbroken
                        But a major turning point
 
I’m a political person
            Independent for years
                        Raised Republican
                                    But moved out
                                                Caused by disillusionment
                                                            With both parties.
 
I hate arguing politics
            Remember many hurtful conversations
                        With my dad
                                    We didn’t change each other
                                                In the process
Just bitter memories!
 
Saying that,
            I’m a liberal!
That’s not a dirty word
                        Dictionary says, “tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened; permissive, free, free and easy, easygoing.”
                        I can live with those!
I yearn for equality
                        For all!
 
I’m a talker
            Love sharing my thoughts
            Love heart-to-heart conversations
                        On spiritual real topics,
                                    Not head stuff.
I hate gossip,
            Yet I get sucked in!
 
I love people
            All colors
                        Shapes
                                    And sizes!
            Young and old
So much to learn!
 
My heart has been broken!
            I’ve faced despair
                        Depression
                        Suicidal thoughts
                        Alcoholism
                        Promiscuity
                        Incest
                                    Yet survived.
Recovery gave me my life back!
 
I was an English major
            I have book shelves lined with
                        Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets
                        Hemingway’s short stories
                        T. S. Eliot’s poetry
                        Hillerman’s southwest novels
 
I’m a poet
            At heart
                        Words inspire me to life
                        Words create images
                        Poetry gathers words
                                    And creates life.
 
I’m a writer
            The voice of the plains
                                    Of my heart
                                                And
                                                            Marshall Flippo.
 
I’m a dancer
            When the music starts
                        It sets me free!
                                    The movement
                                    The rhythm
                                    The connection to the universe!
 
I’m a computer geek!
            The magic of technology
                        Captivates me
                                    And I want to create!
 
I’m fragile
            Sensitive
I’m strong
            Resilient
 
I’m the baby of five.
            My daddy’s little girl
            My mom’s “baby girl!”
Adored by my parents!
 
I’ve feared obesity
            My whole life
I watched my mom struggle
            And her mom
                        And many of the women
                                    On that side of the family
 
I make friends
            I keep friends!
 
I’m a paradox
            So, my honesty jumps
                        From here to
                                    There.
I’m an expansive spirit
            Today a soul on fire
                        A God-driven energy
                                    And
                                                A sleeping cat
                                                            All rolled up into one!
 
That’s me!
Photo by Ivy Son from Pexels

Honestly, a dichotomy I am, but I know I have to be honest. I will engage with you; I won’t argue. I will share the depth of my spirit; I won’t hold back, and hopefully you will get a glimpse of Larada.

Tell me what “Daily Honesty” means to you! I’d love to hear your thoughts about honesty.


~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