family · haiku · My Thoughts · Nature · New Mexico · poetry

Flowers and Fun: Lin’s Garden Party!

Lin in his rose garden - flowers
Lin in his rose garden

Beautiful flowers and laughter! Last Saturday, July 8, 2023, we held our second annual Garden Party. We played garden and flower music while friends toured Lin’s beautiful creation. Raves abounded for Lin’s hard work. What a glorious day! And the weather cooperated—showers in the morning and a partly cloudy afternoon! Perfect!

This all started after the pandemic, and some friends wanted to come and see Lin’s garden. His pictures on Facebook piqued their curiosity because they saw how he had enlarged it over the pandemic. In reality, he expanded it 2/3 during this time of staying home, adding a pond and lots of decorative rock to landscape extensive areas to help control weeds. So, we had our first garden party last year, and it turned out fantastic.

Preparation for 2023 Garden Party

Right after last year’s success, we didn’t hesitate. “Let’s repeat it.” This year, we started planning early. A lot of Lin’s work in the garden in the spring and early summer focused on a completion date before the “Garden Party.” At first, we had two dates picked: June 17 or July 8. July 8 won because Lin wanted more time to prepare things, and he wanted more flowers blooming than last year. Last year, we had it on July 23 and several had already bloomed.

Lin worked hard from early spring until the day before the event, finishing a path around the back of the garden the Thursday before the big day.

Our preparation for our refreshments included cutting back on the number of watermelon we bought. Last year, we bought six and ended up giving whole watermelons away at the end. This year three sufficed. I also baked three batches of brownies. For drinks, we had flavored Pellegrino drinks and ice-cold water and lemonade.

Last year, a friend said, “You’ve got to play Ricky Nelson’s ‘Garden Party’,” so I looped it on my iPad and played it all afternoon. No one complained. For this year, I had been googling other garden and flower songs. Saturday morning, Lin asked me to add six or seven to “Garden Party,” so I did. What an eclectic list I came up with:

Garden/Flower Playlist

  • “Garden Party” – Ricky Nelson
  • “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” – Lynn Anderson
  • “English Country Garden” – Jimmie Rodgers
  • “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” – Neil Diamond
  • “Octopus Garden” – The Beatles
  • “Edelweiss” – Julie Andrews & Cast from Sound of Music
  • “In the Garden” – Elvis Presley
  • “The Flowers Will Never Die” – Elton John

When our party ended, we had about thirty-five garden lovers come by. What a treat seeing people wandering around Lin’s beautiful creation, oohing and aahing. When time allowed, many people received personal tours with Lin explaining the design and naming flowers. Then, after touring, they gathered in the shade for refreshments and visiting. We had people from different clubs we belong to and work friends of mine. So, many visitors didn’t know each other, but their garden interests brought them together.

Before the event, I wrote several haikus, so I shared a hard copy with our visitors.


Could this be heaven?

Birds, chirping, flowers blooming.

What could be better?

Red, pink, purple, green,

Yellow, and peach flowers bloom!

I could dance for joy!

The world the gardener makes

has plants I have never known.

Lin creates magic!

Lin’s garden is an

oasis to rest my soul!

His flowers bathe me!

Lin has created

a sanctuary for us.

Welcome, come join us!

My words above don’t show the splendor of Lin’s garden enough for me, so here’s a video and a collage of pictures. Enjoy!

Here’s the video tour of Lin’s garden:

Lin’s Flower Beds

Some Lin’s Gorgeous Individual Flowers


I’m one lucky lady to wake up in the morning and see this paradise! Most summer mornings, I walk around with my cat and marvel at all the beautiful flowers. I know how much work Lin puts into it! Thank you Lin!

Do you have a garden? Are you married to a gardener?

News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Meme - Flowers
Vacation with my book and heal!

Listen to my twenty-three minute interview on Masterfesto Media Podcast with Isabel Elias about my book Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo Meme - Flowers
Take your iPad outside for a summer reading day!

Get your free 50-minute audio recording of Flippo! Click here for easy access!

haiku · My Thoughts · New Mexico · poetry

“Haikuing” Through Life

Writing in a journal—haikuing

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

Haikuing” While Walking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · New Mexico

A Pilgrimage to Chimayó —A New Mexico Tradition!

El Santuario de Chimayó
El Santuario de Chimayó

Many New Mexicans take part in a pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó on Good Friday. Mostly are Catholic and here’s my experience with this amazing tradition.

In the late 80s, I moved to Raton, New Mexico, to teach. I had grown up on the northeast border of New Mexico, but had toured little of the state. When I moved to Raton, I spent many weekends doing day trips to different parts of the northern part of the state. I fell in love with Taos and visited whenever I could.

As I talked to many locals, I learned about the Good Friday pilgrimage to Chimayó. Yes, people as far away as Raton knew about the pilgrimage, and some took part. I’m Episcopalian and share some traditions and rituals with the Catholic church, so it appealed to me. That Lenten season, I sought a unique experience during Holy Week and went to El Santuario de Chimayó, which was the goal of the Good Friday pilgrims.

So, I had the day off from school. I loaded up my ten-pound poodle, Windy, in the car, some snacks and water, and off we went. It was a 200-mile trip, taking us about three hours. I left early in the morning so I would have ample time to look around—before that trip I had only been to Chimayó once with a girlfriend, and we stopped at Ortega’s Weaving Shop, but we didn’t stop at El Santuario de Chimayó. At that time, I did not know the significance it had in New Mexico Christian heritage.

Inside the gate at El Santuario de Chimayó
Inside the gate at El Santuario de Chimayó

“El Santuario de Chimayó is a Roman Catholic church in Chimayó, New Mexico, United States. (Santuario is Spanish for “sanctuary”.) This shrine, a National Historic Landmark, is famous for the story of its founding and as a contemporary pilgrimage site. It receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and has been called “no doubt the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States.”

I remember enjoying the early spring morning ride up I-25 to Santa Fe, knowing this part of the road from trips to Albuquerque to visit my aunt and uncle when they lived there. Then I turned off I-25, and the world changed.

As soon as I drove through Santa Fe, the pilgrims appeared—some with large wooden crosses on their shoulders, many in a small cluster. Then I turned onto Road 503, which is the “High Road to Taos.” I had only been on that road once before, with my girlfriend on our previous trip to travel the High Road and go through Truchas, New Mexico, where The Milagro Beanfield Wars was filmed. Before the release of the film in 1988, I had read the book by John Nichols, howling at some of its hilarious situations and crying at its message about land and water rights. We had a great time on that trip.

The further I went with sage and pinon pines covering the mountainside, the number of pilgrims increased. As I motored by in my car, I glanced at serious faces on a mission. At one point, I felt a little ashamed of being in a car, but then I stopped and applauded myself for the effort.

When I arrived at the small village of Chimayó, I immediately knew the direction of the church. The masses walked towards it. I parked off on the side of the road, rolling down the windows for Windy and providing him with water.

I joined the crowd as it moved towards El Santuario de Chimayó. As we neared the gate in the adobe wall, a line formed and waited. Many people had told me about this part of the attraction to this place: holy dirt that heals.

The Gate into Sanctuario de Chimayó - pilgrimage
The Gate into Sanctuario de Chimayó

So, I waited in line, marveling at the size of the crowd and the age of the attendees—many faithful people ready to receive something special this holy day at this sacred place. Upon entering the church, it had wooden ceiling beams, white-washed walls, with a few pews. The altar area captured my eye—a wooden depiction of Jesus and the crucifixion.

How respectful the people in line were—a reverent silence canopied the church as we made our way to a door on the side of the sanctuary where the holy dirt was. When I entered the small room tucked away, crutches lined the walls from healings. I saw the hole in the ground where the dirt came from. Then I grabbed my bag of holy dirt and left. As I walked out, pictures lined the walls of people who had been healed. I have kept some dirt from Chimayó in my home in a variety of spots ever since.

When I got outside, I returned to my car, put Windy on a leash and we wandered around the area. I soaked up the peaceful, reverent atmosphere and found a shady spot under a tree to relax. Windy curled up next to me and we noticed blissfully the pleasure of being with worshipping people. I hadn’t gotten into the habit of carrying a journal with me yet, so that day never got memorialized in a poem, but what I took away from it has lasted for over thirty years in my heart. Today, I still feel the serenity in that church’s courtyard.

In the following years, I returned once during Holy Week on Good Friday in the early 90s when I moved to Albuquerque and on other occasions to share this New Mexican treasure.

In the summer of 2009, I returned to Chimayó after a divorce. After moving into my townhouse, I remembered the holy dirt and realized I had misplaced it. I knew I needed some to heal my broken heart. This time I went alone because Windy had passed away. Again, a line formed but shorter and wove its way through the church. I gathered a bagful of dirt and brought it home, placing it around my townhouse, believing in its power to heal. This time I spent time with a notebook in the courtyard recording my experience.

Lin leaning against the gate into Santuario de Chimayó - pilgrimage
Lin leaning against the gate into Santuario de Chimayó

In 2015, Lin and I vacationed in the Santa Fe area in the spring, and I showed him around Chimayó and El Sanctuario. We had a delightful time and the grounds surrounding it had changed a lot during my absence. We brought home a fresh bag of dirt to replace the old. All the pictures included here are from this trip.

As I face Holy Week this week, I remember my pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó from Raton—every year I am reminded of my experience, still savoring the time there. It still blesses my heart in a special way!

If you are interested, here’s this year’s Holy Week schedule there: Have you visited Chimayó? If so, what was your experience? Have you ever done a pilgrimage or something special during Holy Week? I’d love to hear about it!

~Celebrate spring with 20% off select book bundles at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft until April 30!

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: or at Amazon.

~Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: