Colorado · family · My Thoughts

Colorado At Its Best: A Fun-Filled Weekend!

On Friday, July 29, I returned to Colorado for a fun-filled time with my brother. We took our cousin Lisa to Cuchara, Colorado, on Saturday. Then Sunday we rose early and drove to Denver to see the Colorado Rockies play the Dodgers. Then, Monday morning, we got up and went to the Denver Broncos Training Camp! We explored the beautiful Colorado mountains and then went on to Denver and a sports adventure! What fun we had!

Cuchara, Colorado with Lisa

On July 25, 2022, I received this text from Lisa: “Are you in Branson or back in Tijeras?”

I let her know I plan to go to Branson the next day and found out she would be in the area for a while, so we agreed to find some time together.

When I arrived in Branson on Friday, July 29, my brother and I put together plans for the next couple of days.

“How about we take Lisa to Cuchara tomorrow?” He asked. I texted her, and we made our plans.

I said, “Let’s go to the Bronco’s Training Camp on Monday.” My brother stated, “If we’re going to Denver, why not go to a Rockies’ baseball game on Sunday?” So the die was cast!

On Saturday morning, Lisa met us in Branson, we left Branson at 9:30 am and drove to Cuchara, a lovely drive west of Trinidad through the mountains. We stopped by Monument Lake, driving around the lake and marveling at the high level of water in the lake. Then we drove by North Lake and I reminisced about attending church camp at Camp Salvation near the lake.

From there we drove to Stonewall, Colorado and stopped at the store there, a favorite of ours for fun touristy items. It was on to Cuchara where we toured some stores. We ate lunch at the Dog Bar outside on the patio, enjoying all the dogs and their owners at this fun-loving bar.

After lunch, we continued our shopping tour and ended up at the Yacht Club for a drink and more conversation. My brother and I so enjoy any time we have with Lisa!

On the drive home, my brother saw a bear, but Lisa and I, heavy in conversation, didn’t see it, so we turned around to find this wildlife, but we didn’t. We hit a heavy rainstorm which we all celebrated because of the need for rain.

What a delightful time we had with Lisa in our favorite funky mountain town.

Trip to Denver & Colorado Rockies Game

On Sunday morning, we left Branson at 7:00 am, just in case there was any traffic issues on I-25 northbound. Because it’s a four hour drive, we cushioned the arrival time, just in case. It was a pleasant trip with no problems.

Once we got to Denver, finding Coors Field became a major task. My brother thought there would be signage up on I-25, but there was nothing. My Car Play app on my Jeep and iPhone weren’t working correctly, so that added to the confusion. After wandering around downtown, finally we found the Coors Field’s parking lot, parked and caught the shuttle to the field.

Because we arrived early, we had lots of time to walk around the stadium and enjoy the sights. We each bought a foot-long hotdog and delicious fries for lunch. After eating, we went to the store and looked around, but fans overflowed, so we got out quickly.

Then we went upstairs to the Rooftop Bar and took pictures. Up on that level, purple seats identify “A Mile High” in that level.

What a hot day! 90 degrees and we were in the sun for most of the game. I enjoyed the game, having bought a score sheet and pencil so I would watch it closer. When we were in high school, I kept a score book for my brother’s games and gave it to him as a graduation gift, but he had to help me with some notations—too many years away from baseball!

My brother is a San Francisco Giants fan, so he didn’t want the Dodgers to win, but they did and there were Dodger fans everywhere!

After the game we found our hotel, but it wasn’t where we thought it was going to be—within blocks of Dove Valley and the Bronco Training Camp the next morning. We had a delicious Mexican dinner at the Hacienda Colorado next door and spent the evening relaxing and watching TV.

Denver Broncos Training Camp, Denver, Colorado
Me and my brother waiting in line for the Broncos Training Camp, Denver, Colorado
Me and My Brother Waiting in Line for the Broncos Training Camp

On Monday morning, we again got up early, grabbed a ridiculously minimalist breakfast at the hotel and drove to Dove Valley. We arrived before the parking opened next to the training camp, so we parked some ways away and walked.

By doing that, we got in line ahead of those parking close to the camp. We waited in line from 8:00 – 9:00 am. When they opened the gate, the workers controlled the crowd, and we had front-row seats (on grass). Then, we had to wait another hour before it started. The Broncos provided free water and also had plenty of misters where fans could cool down.

Being avid Bronco fans, my brother and I have wanted to attend training camp for years, but it never worked out before. What an experience!

There we sat in the blazing, scorching sun—ended up being 94 degrees! I wore a bare shoudlers top—I have no idea what I was thinking! But I did have a light hoodie with me and I alternately draped it over my shoulders and then my legs.

The whole thing fascinated me with all the veteran players I love and the new players vying for a position on the team. When Russell Wilson, our new quarterback gained from Seattle, came on the field, the crowd exploded.

For most of it, we could clearly see the drills and the running backs were so close, it was exceptional. Onedrill they did farther away with the non-players standing between us and the action. That drug on and on!

Our kicker, Brandon McManus, entertained the crowd during one part. He got fairly close to us and kicked the football into the crowd. Fans threw it back to him, then he moved farther back and kicked again. This went on for quite a while.

At the end, some players came by all us crazy fans lined up for autographs and high fives. My brother still for the high fives but gave up for the autographs. I got a few.

Russell practiced with two receivers right in front of us for a long time after the autograph time began and regular practice ended. Then he took off his helmet and started autographs at the end of line to the right of me.

Hot, tired and not feeling optimistic he’d come as far as where I stood, I gave up and found my brother further up the hill. I went to the bathroom and talked to a woman in there who worked at the camp.

She said I shouldn’t have given up because Russell walks down the entire line and gives autographs to everyone he can! It devastated me! So close to getting his autograph!

On our trip home, we left the craziness of Denver and ate lunch in Castle Rock and drove home. All in all, it was a fantastic time for us, but we both decided we never needed to return to training camp.

Finally,

Are you a sports fan? If so, which team? Which sport?


~NEW—Join me for my One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Celebration on Zoom Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 7:30 PM MST. Email me at larada@icloud.com for the Zoom meeting information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

~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!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? 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: https://laradasbooks.com

Friends · My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

Part 2: Two Special Friends Continued!

Kathi twirling - Part 2
Kathi Twirling

Part 2 of my series on two special friends continues today. I met Kathi Raver at Duke City Singles square dance club in 1997, excited to have a younger woman to relate to—she was a teacher, too! She immediately jumped in and took part in the club’s leadership.

Kathi stood nearly six-foot-tall and I’m 5 feet 3 inches, so we were like Mutt and Jeff for sure, but we loved to dress alike with our square dance clothes. When she died, we had about thirteen outfits alike.

One year to promote the Fling, we went to TASSD (Texas Area Single Square Dancers) in Amarillo, Texas—Art Tangen, our club caller, was calling. So, we decorated our petty pants on our backside with, “I (a heart) Art!” Then we mooned him when he was calling, showing him our petti pants and our support. Someone took a picture of Kathi’s bottom, and they featured her on the TASSD newsletter the next month.

I had been the chairperson for the New Mexico Singles Fling for several years, and she became my co-chair, then chaired it for several years. I stayed onboard the committee then and did the publicity for her. We had so much fun on that committee, producing major successful event, one right after the other.

For years, we did an outfit check before a dance weekend to see what we would wear each night. Kathi made several of my square dance outfits when she was chairing the Fling. She always felt that it helped me out because she liked to sew and I did the computer stuff for us for the Fling.

In 2000, she and two other women square dancers from Albuquerque went to Oklahoma City for Dance-A-Rama, the national single square dance festival. They came home and convinced me to chair the Dance-A-Rama in Albuquerque in 2003.

To promote Dance-A-Rama, 2003, the committee traveled to Richmond, Virginia, Norfolk, Nebraska and Dallas, Texas. Those travel trips top the list of my memories with Kathi. We had a blast doing it, and again, we had a major success. After DAR, 03, we promised each other we would go into the same nursing home and remember DAR, 03 and all of our fun antics over the years.

During this time, Kathi’s melanoma came back with a vengeance after being in remission for twenty years. It broke my heart to watch my spirited, fun-loving friend slow down as she dealt with this horrible disease. She continued working and daily gave herself shots as needed.

In 2004, Kathi met Lin Miller, and immediately they connected. In 2005, I treasure the memory of being present at Festigal, an annual square dance festival in Gallup, New Mexico where they met, when Lin asked her to marry him. Her face said absolute shock.

We hung out together with my ex-husband. We danced all over the Southwest together. When we were home, we danced at Duke City Singles on Friday night, then afterwards played cards until the wee hours of the morning.

Kathi’s the one responsible for my red hair. At a dance in Norfolk, Nebraska, in 2007, we went out to have breakfast. She saw a woman standing in line in front of us. Casually, she whispered in my ear, “Go ask her what color she uses. You’d look great with red hair.”

So, I did. The women chuckled, “Hot Tamale.” I came home and colored it and loved it. I returned to my natural color after a year, but in 2013 I went back to “Hot Tamale” and have had it red ever since. Every time I color it, I think of her.

During the years, we traveled together a lot. In 2008, we went to Branson, Missouri with two other couples. We cried at the Roy Rogers Museum during the show with Roy’s grandson.

In 2008, my ex and I broke up, and Kathi and Lin took me under their wing. Kathi went house hunting with me and her sister-in-law was a realtor. She would tell her sister-in-law, “Larada can’t afford this place.”

When I moved into my new townhouse, Kathi helped me find it. After getting instructions from her brother on how to do it, she hooked up my gas dryer. She climbed behind the dryer with barely enough room to get around in. She did it to save me $85.

In thinking about relationships, Kathi had a brisk attitude about them: give your mourning time of six months, then get on with life. She had a hard time watching me deal with my recent divorce—she wanted me to move on.

Her cancer came back with a vengeance again, and she kept beating it, but she couldn’t for the last time. Her powerful spirit still shown through, though. When the ambulance drove her to the hospice in Albuquerque, they went to the wrong hospital, and she had to direct them to the right one! Leave it to Kathi.

Kathi died on November 25, 2009, eleven years ago today. I felt privileged to be by her side when she died. My heart felt shattered as I stood by her bed and witnessed her last breath after our fourteen years relationship. What a privilege to be there!

Her spirit lives on around me today—because Lin, her husband, and I ended up together and married. We live in her house she built. Some might be uneasy about this. I have never had an issue because I remembered her strong directive when my ex and I broke up—take six months and get on with life.

Lin and I had a very interesting confirmation about our relationship from a mutual friend of ours and Kathi after she died. We’re all on the committee of an annual dance, Hot August Nights. Kathi and this friend were talking in the kitchen. Kathi had been battling her last round of cancer. She watched me on the dance and told our friend, “I hope Lin and Larada get together if something happens to me. They would make each other happy.” That was August; she died in November!

So every day I get to thank Kathi for so much! The memories, the fun, the craziness an her beautiful house! And she gave me Lin!

Part 2 features Kathi; Part 1 featured Candy. I’m so fortunate to have had two friends like these two women, and I carry them with me each day.

Here’s the Gratitude Log again if you need it. I shared a couple days ago.

Do you ever buy clothes alike? Have you ever been present with a friend dying? What did you take away from it?


Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

Blogging · Blogs · My Thoughts · Travel · Writing

Blog Topics—How Do I Decide?

Blog Topics—make your choice

My blog topics are up for grabs—I never run out of ideas. So how do I handle them? How do I manage them? Here’s the system I’ve used for seven years, and it seems to work well.

Normally, I write ideas on posits and scraps of paper scattered everywhere around my computer on my desk, but I knew I had to handle this differently, so I did. For my blog topics and dates, I create a database for the upcoming year that becomes my blogging calendar. I usually write my blog weekly on Sunday afternoon and post it that night, so that’s the date I have in the date column.

My Blog Topic Calendar

Then I create the following columns:

  • Date to post blog
  • Title of post
  • Facebook Ad–Check button
  • Cost for ad
  • Two Results columns for Facebook Ads
    • People Reached
    • Clicks
  • Notes

At the first of the year, I enter topics that go with specific holidays and personal dates like birthdays and anniversaries. Also, in my first blog each year, I have done a statistical analysis of my blog for the previous year—that may be more for me than for my readers, but the data shocks me each year. The readers get to see the worldwide neighborhood they are in when they read my blog.

Specific Topics

In 2020, I published a biography of a world famous square dance caller, so I dedicate the first Sunday each month to a topic about him. I identified the specific area of his so I wouldn’t duplicate.

Also in 2020, I wrote many posts about my experience during the coronavirus pandemic. Then those posts became the inspiration for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, so I often write about current events.

What topics do I write about?

Most bloggers pick a specific area of interest and write about that. I wish I could do that, but I have such a variety, I can’t. I’m an author and writer, but I’m a square dancer. I have strong connections to country living, growing up in a small ranching community in southeastern Colorado, and now am co-owner of a ranch there. So, I have to talk about the current drought.

So, my blog topics jump all over the place because I have a rich full life and many interests. During my daily walk, driving to town or watching TV, an idea springs up, and I grab my iPad and add it to my calendar. Right now, I have half of the topics for 2022 already identified.

One Big Change


I need to change the day I write my weekly blog post though. I’m a Bronco fan, having grown up in Colorado, so I have a crunch on my writing time every Sunday, and I don’t like that. But it’s a habit of seven years, and it’s hard to break!

When I travel, I write several posts in one day and then schedule them to publish weekly. That’s what I should do all the time—take a day and write several posts. But I percolate my topics for days, sometimes changing the whole gist of it after going over it for days. So, that won’t work.

How do you select your blog topics? How do you manage them? Let me know in a comment below.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? ad

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

Marshall Flippo, an International Sensation!

Flippo, Neeca and Prince Mikasa. International
Flippo, Neeca and Prince Mikasa of Japan

An international sensation—a shy Texas square dance caller? How did it happen? Flippo called in Japan, Germany, England, Spain, Morocco, and Majorca. He joined callers on several cruises. How did this unfold?

First, his popularity at Kirkwood Lodge for forty-two years influenced this part of his successful career, as it did so many areas. Dancers came to this dance haven from all over the world, then requested he visit their home country.

Love Affair with Japan

After World War II, Flippo made two trips to Japan as occupational forces. He related, “I kind of had a love affair with Japan. When I started going over thar as a caller, I had stood over a year down at Yokosuka after the war, and they treated you like their kinfolk. I mean, they just treated you so good, it was unbelievable.”  

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 235.

When asked how many times he traveled to Japan as a caller, he couldn’t remember. Matt Asanuma, a Japanese caller, first booked Flippo in Japan in 1983, and he told me his favorite story a couple times from that trip:

Matt announced to Flip the Prince would be there in about thirty minutes, and the Prince only knew about twenty Basics. “The Prince is NOT going to break down. Do not let him falter. You stay within those twenty Basics.”

Matt added, “We’ll all dance what he wants. He won’t stay but about twenty minutes. Call a tip, and he’ll probably be out of there, but don’t call anything so damn hard that he can’t do it.”

And his wife at that time could not be seen in public. Flippo didn’t know why, but it’s changed since then. “I ’member that afternoon almost like it was today. I called to them, and he came in.”

Matt stressed to Flippo, “Don’t call anything that he can’t do. We’ll put him in our best square, and he will NOT BREAK DOWN. He’ll probably be here only one tip.”

Well, he stayed two hours, and all these really, really good dancers just smiled about it. They didn’t mind. “Boy, they just danced along with twenty Basics for two damn hours. And they came after he left and said, ‘We’re sorry about that.’”

Flippo answered, “Well, I betcha you are, too.”“Oh, no, no, no. We had fun. We had fun. We like to dance.”Flip and Matt both thought the Prince would leave earlier, but Matt said, “He is having a good time.” Well, he stayed two hours, and all these really, really good dancers just smiled about it. They didn’t mind. “Boy, they just danced along with twenty Basics for two damn hours. And they came after he left and said, ‘We’re sorry about that.’” Flippo answered, “Well, I betcha you are, too.”“Oh, no, no, no. We had fun. We had fun. We like to dance.”Flip and Matt both thought the Prince would leave earlier, but Matt said, “He is having a good time.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 236.
Calling schedule in Japan - International

Flip shared a copy of the calling schedule for that memorable first trip, and the only time he wasn’t calling was when they were eating lunch or supper. Ten hours of calling for two days! Flippo said, “I should have been quintuplets!”

Japanese officials asked if Flippo had ever been to Japan before, but he avoided their question because he didn’t want to bring up his presence their after the war.

Flippo opened the door to Japan for many other callers by recommending callers like Gary Shoemake.

Flippo returned a couple times with the Chaparral Record Label “boys,” Gary Shoemake, Ken Bower, and Jerry Haag, but he couldn’t remember if Beryl Main ever went with them before he died. Gary said Beryl had already died before they traveled to Japan.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 244.

In his biography, he shared hilarious international stories about his Japanese trips with “The Boys.”

The Love Affair was Mutual

In 1994 Martha Ogasawara wrote in an article, “Out of the American callers popular then, Marshall Flippo probably had the most influence on Japanese callers. Everyone slavishly imitated his style of calling, and to this day, many older callers call with a Japanese/Texan accent.”

The Japanese people loved Flippo. I connected with one of Flippo’s friends, a Japanese caller named Masaharu Hiraga, for information and mementos from Flippo’s times in Japan. He was incredibly helpful, contacting several people who knew Flippo throughout Japan and sending me their photos and stories of Flippo.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 245.

Germany

Flippo enjoyed another international destination—Germany.

Flippo traveled three times to Germany with Tom and Gina Crisp as one of the calling staff. Once when he was still married to his second wife and two by himself.

Tom Crisp clarified Flippo’s trips to Germany. “We took Flip three times to Germany, first in 2002. We were scheduled for 2001 but had to cancel because of 9/11. He went again in 2007 with Jerry Haag, Ken Bower, and Gary Shoemake. We took them all again the next year in 2008. All three were sell-outs.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 247.

Spain, Morocco & Majorca

Continuing his international travels, Flippo and his first wife, Necca, went to Spain, Morocco, and Majorca with Bob and Nita Page for an eight-day trip. They started in Madrid, and he shared another hilarious story with Whitey Puerling, a dear square dance friend, and an trying to find an Easter parade you have to read (page 248 & 249 in his biography.)

England

Flippo added England to his list of international targets.

Flippo and his second wife went to England with Dave Taylor [another square dance caller], flying into London. They rented a car, and he remembered Dave asking, “Have you driven over here?”

“No.”

Dave stated, “I drove over here for about a mile.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 249.

What a time they had with the driving and a fantastic dance experience.

One That Got Away—New Zealand

Flippo received a written invitation in 1989 to go to New Zealand from the Prime Minister to celebrate the anniversary year in 1990. Flippo finished up his discussion about his international travels with, “And let’s see. I never did get to go to New Zealand. I guess I was asked a couple of times, and it always . . . Thar was somethang holding me back—somethang.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 250.

Cruises

Flippo went on several international cruises but didn’t know the exact number or destinations. He cruised with “The Boys” from Chaparral Recording Label: Ken Bower, Scott Smith, Jerry Haag, and Gary Shoemake. Flippo also joined these callers on cruises: Jerry Story, Tony Oxendine, Larry Letson, Tim Marriner, Randy Dougherty, Wade Driver and Mike Seastrom. He loved any time he could be calling and traveling with his caller friends.

Finally

In all his travel stories, Flippo related fun-loving tales. He never lamented the long hours of travel or the calling time there. He celebrated the fun, his friends, the different cultures and the people.

So, throughout his career, his popularity soared both nationally and internationally! Flippo reunited each year at CALLERLAB with his international caller friends, especially his Japanese friends. He loved his international connections.

Hopefully, these travel stories have whetted your appetite to read about this sensational caller, Marshall Flippo. You will find the travel stories and more in his biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo.

Did you ever travel with Flippo? If so, share your stories with us! (Scroll down below to the Comment section.)


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? - International
Read, Reflect, and Respond on the beach!

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo - International
Add Flippo’s biography to your personal library

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Costa Rica · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Spain · Travel

World Explorer—Why I do it!

World traveler

World exploring and its wonders! Souvenirs, pictures, reminisces of fun-filled travels remind me daily of my experiences in this big beautiful world. Because of the pandemic, we canceled our travel plans for later in 2020 and have nothing planned for 2021. So today, I wondered why I love to travel so much. The packing and planning put many people off, but I enjoy every part of a trip.

I grew up in a small rural ranching community fifty miles from the nearest doctor and grocery store. I lived in a small town though, but the world out there seemed so big and unattainable, beyond the prairies and canyons of southeastern Colorado. Granddad Horner subscribed to the National Geographic magazine, and I thumbed through each issue, mesmerized by that world out there and its mysteries. I blushed at the foreign women’s bare chests, yet yearned to see that world.

Granddad and Grandma Horner took annual vacations touring the United States, and I relished their slide show of pictures from places I dreamed about in the United States—the Grand Canyon, Bullhead City and so much more.

My dad, a high school graduate and world thinker, read voraciously and kept educated about world matters so much so I gave him a globe for Christmas one year so he could find that faraway country he’d read about.

Little girl pointing at a world globe
Little girl holding index finger on Earth globe

So, I inherited a large worldview, bigger than Colorado, bigger than the United States. My first husband and I discovered Mexico: Mazatlán and the Yucatan peninsula in the 70s, when tourist hadn’t discovered both areas yet. When I saw my first Mayan Indian ruin, I felt captivated by the mystery, and I was hooked.

After we divorced, I traveled with a girlfriend back to the Yucatan peninsula to see many more Mayan Indian ruins and then on to Tikal in Guatemala, the Mecca of Mayan Indian ruins to me.

Then in 1999, Mom and I took our first European trip to do an Eastern Europe tour, basically to find her lost grandfather who had immigrated into the United States, but we had no record of his entrance here. That trip opened me up to a larger world—the wonders of eastern Europe with so many historical sites and cities.

In Berlin, we looked in a phone book for Mom’s granddad’s last name, Ulbig, and found several names listed. Neither of us spoke enough German to call any of our possible relatives. So, we tore that page out of the phone book, and that became Mom’s favorite souvenir of our trip. I cried during our tour of Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp, a horrible example of man’s inhumanity against man. I will never forget that sight.

In 2001, my third husband and I drove the Can-American highway in our RV to Alaska. What an adventure that was! We saw Denali, Alaska’s tallest mountain, usually shrouded in clouds. We took a small airplane ride up to a glacier and walked around on it, surrounded by absolute white.

During our years together, we toured the United States in an RV, dancing and sightseeing all over the United States. We went up the west coast in 2003, promoting a national festival. We traveled to the Midwest and east—so many adventures.

In 2007, I joined the cruising world doing an inside passage tour to Alaska on a square dance cruise. I feel in love with cruising.

My present husband and I love to travel and see the world. We have taken several cruises—what a relaxing vacation they are. On one, we went through the Panama Canal and marveled at that amazing engineering feat.

In 2017, we traveled to England and Ireland. Lin drove in both countries and we had a delightful time. In Ireland, we saw the Cliffs of Moher, enjoyed dancing in Irish pubs and enjoyed staying in bed and breakfasts. While visiting England, we based ourselves in London, alternating between a tour one day and a free day the next. In London, we visited the British Museum, realizing we could have spend days there. We saw Stonehenge on a tour but were so rushed; I didn’t buy one souvenir there. We saw a Broadway play, Les Misérables, on the West End, and Lin vowed never to attend a play in the USA again since the production was so outstanding.

In January 2020, we went to Costa Rica with my husband, Lin’s ex-wife who is Costa Rican. The group was small, only twelve! She knew everyone in the group; we knew her, her husband and one other couple. Lin had told me repeatedly he wanted me to see Costa Rica. We had stopped at a Costa Rican port on one of our cruises, but his ex-wife shuddered when he told her where. She said it wasn’t a great example of Costa Rica. On our tour with her, we saw animals galore, ate delicious food and saw many gorgeous sites. I saw a quetzal bird in the jungle, a bird I had heard about thirty years before on the Yucatan peninsula.

At the end of February 2020, we went to Spain with twelve square dance friends and fell in love with Spain. We saw several major Spanish cities, starting in Barcelona and ending up in Madrid. We traveled through Don Quixote land, and I could see him mounted on his trusty stead, Rocinante, a long side his trusty companion, Sancho Panza.

So why do I enjoy traveling so much? I love seeing that world Granddad and Dad introduced me to so many years ago. When I stand at a site like Strafford-on-the Avon, Shakespeare’s home, I can’t believe this little country girl is there. The tour guide hugged me there as I cried. She remarked, “I wish all people responded like you.”

In my travels, the big world has shrunk, because I now know people in Scotland, Ireland and England. We sat and chatted, and I realized we have the same hopes and dreams—we’re really all the same.

In March of this year, Lin got a little cabin fever and had received several brochures promoting cruises next year. So, we signed up for two cruises in 2022 and one for 2023. The first one next year is a Transatlantic cruise going from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Barcelona, Spain. Our next one goes through the Mediterranean. And in 2023, we travel to Japan.

In conclusion, I travel to discover what’s out there—my dad used to look at a side dirt road going up over a hill and out of view. He always commented, “I wonder where that goes!” Obviously, I inherited his wanderlust, but he never traveled outside the United States, so I do it for him.

Do you like to travel? What is your favorite travel memory? Why do you travel? (Scroll down below to make a comment!)


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Ad for new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? + world

~Order My New Book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? 

Just Another Square Dance Caller & flip flops + world
Flip for Flippo!

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

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

My Thoughts · poetry · Travel

Haunted by a Favorite Poem of Mine

Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991 - Haunted by Coba
Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991

Thirty-five years ago, I wrote a poem after my memorable adventure in Cobá, Mexico, in the summer of 1985. Laying solemnly unattended in a folder on my computer, it has haunted me over the years. Today, I recalled my surreal experience when I wrote the poem, remembering the physical parts of the Cobá experience, and then the magic I added.

 In 1986, also, I was finishing up my coursework at Colorado State University. We studied magical realism in my Spanish classes, looking at the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez. This genre fascinated me—reality with a dash of magic.

 So, what is magical realism: 

 Magical realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic or fantasy. Magical realism is a part of the realism genre of fiction.

Within a work of magical realism, the world is still grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. Like fairy tales, magical realism novels and short stories blur the line between fantasy and reality.

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-magical-realism#what-is-magical-realism

For several years, the Mayan culture and the Yucatán peninsula captured my attention, so I visited many Mayan Indian ruins there: Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum, and Cobá. During tours at each ruin, I took copious notes. I bought several books and read about the Mayans, their culture and beliefs and absorbed details.

During our 1985 trip to Cobá, much of it lay overgrown with heavy jungle vegetation. Lynn Hafer, my travel companion and I stayed at a Club Med hotel nearby, but it wasn’t a “Swinging Singles’” Club Med infamous at the time but a research facility with a full library and a quiet, somber setting. Because of its remote location, the Mexican government had not commercialized Cobá yet, so what a raw jungle experience we had!

In 1991 I continued my Mayan treks. To celebrate my completion of my master’s degree, Lynn and I went to Guatemala to one of the largest Mayan Indian ruins, Tikal, a dream come true for this Mayan ruin lover. However, my experience, noted in this poem at Cobá, regularly surfaced and haunted me, so I thought I’d share it with you. In looking at it today, I felt the call to revise!        

                

Cobá—I Was there!!

Written – March, 1986

Revised – July 25, 2021

The year was 1985.

Walking down an overgrown jungle path with my friend,
	toucan birds squeak above my head
                nestled in the canopy.
A turn in the road, thick over-growth blocks the sun 
        for a minute.
		Shadows, sounds, smells--
			transported me back to 900 A.D.
      
A shiver pierces my soul.
I stare at crumbled ruins
        while an iguana lazily poses on a low step,
	       large but approachable.
Colorful in dress, Mayans step out 
        of the past and the bushes,
	       brush my arm.

I strain to see their faces 
        and 
               to hear their voices.
Is it real?

The bees buzz in the tops of the
        Trees among the orchids that
	       Decorate the canopy
		        With their color.
The bees’ hum above
	Joins the voices below.

Where am I?  
When?  
       With whom?
               A step back in time, yet caught between
                        Two worlds—then and now!

Had I been here before?
       At this spot,
       Centuries before,
              Standing at the foot of this Temple, 
                        surrounded by my fellow Mayans, 	    	    	        
              Worshipping the god "Chac" and 	   	    	    	    	
              Listening to the familiar
	    	    	Squeak of birds
                               and the laughter of howling monkeys.
   
The smell of Copal, sweet incense, fills the air
      The mingled 
             Odor of honey and grain,
                       My sacrifice to my god.
A bright fire illumines the scene
      With reflections and smoke.

The drums beat—beat—beat a familiar steady cadence.
      Draw me to them.
The Mayan priests chant—chant—chant soft sounds that join the 	    	    		
      Bass beat of the drums.   
The Mayan language a mystery to me,
      Yet I know it’s deep meaning.
I sway to the beat—the chant.
      It vibrates in my soul calling me forth
              Through the ages,
                      Past time’s illusive barrier!

Dark bronze skins glisten in the firelight.
      Brown eyes search our faces for safety.
             Flat heads surprise me with their symmetry.
I marvel at the feathery headdresses with multiple colorful gowns.	  
      I join the celebration,
             The ceremony!  

Small sturdy people crowd around me, 
      Greet me in a soft rhythmic tongue.
            Gently, friendly—a spark shines in
                     Their eyes with recognition!

THEY KNOW ME!  I'm among my own.  I'm home!!!

But it can’t be!
      I grew up in Colorado
            Not Mexico
	    Not centuries ago
	    Not Mayan

"Did you hear that?  What was that?" my friend grabs
      My arm.


TRANSPORTED
     BACK
            TO REALITY, or is it?  
I'm back—1985.
	    
The summer's heat presses in,
     The sun's scorching heat
           Eerie sounds and hums flow 
                   Through the air.
Eerie, yet familiar.

I strain to hear it better
     To hear the beat of the past
          To see those familiar brown eyes.
	    	    	    	    
I want to return!
     But can I?


Déjà vu? A poem capturing my experience or a fictional treatment? I can’t explain what happened that day so many years ago, but I know it was surreal. My poetry helped me express what I felt, not exactly what I saw. When I wrote the poem, the total experience happened. For years, this poem haunted me with its expression of possibility. I believe there’s unexplainable mystery in this world. Maybe that’s why I am attracted to the genre of magical realism and the chance that I witnessed a Mayan ceremony so many centuries ago.

A mystery happened this afternoon. I planned to use pictures from that 1985 trip to Cobá, but I couldn’t find my photo album. I found pictures from our second trip to Cobá 1986. Historically, I take lots of pictures on any trip—what happened to that album? Another puzzle added here—I wonder?

Have you ever had an unexplainable experience like mine? What happened? How did you honor it and record it? (Scroll below to make a comment)


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Ad for Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Haunted

~Pre-Order My New Book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? To be released in Augusthttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdJNjMivaCzk2YcNWHGMoxG4FPsfVEqEQEzYbcYr4tX9cDPVQ/viewform?usp=sf_link

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. Haunted

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

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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

~Stop by my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Can I Recapture Spain?

Flamenco Dancers in Seville, Spain
Flamenco Dancers in Seville

A year ago today, we flew home from Madrid, Spain after a delightful nine-day trip. During this trip, I lost myself in another world of delicious tapos, ancient cathedrals, Flamenco dancers, Moorish influence and a carriage ride with high-stepping Andalusian horses. A year later, can I recapture the magic of that wonderful trip?

Let’s set the stage. We journeyed with twelve square dance friends from New Mexico, joining up with about thirty others to make the tour with Bradley Dick, an amazing fun-loving tour guide with Insight Vacations (a top tour company that alters the bus, taking out seats to provide ample leg room for everyone).

When the trip ended, we flew home from Madrid on March 8, 2020, noticing many in the airport with masks but ignorant of the danger we faced. On March 8 Spain had about 500 coronavirus cases; on March 9 they had 1500, and the numbers increased exponentially daily. In researching the coronavirus online, I found several sites, but we ended up liking this one the most, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

As we watched the daily numbers increase in Spain, the fear mounted because we had spent the last two days in and around Madrid. In fact, we had our farewell dinner Saturday night downtown Madrid in a packed restaurant with strangers too close by today’s social distancing standards.

Thankfully, no one in our travel party became sick!

Today as I reminisce about this fabulous vacation, I realized we never told and retold our travel stories like normal. We never sat around a table with the other New Mexican travels and recalled special events and adventures. We can home and self-quarantined for two weeks, sure that the coronavirus lay in the corner of a suitcase or somewhere on our souvenirs. We’ve stayed close to home this year, so we had no opportunity to seat around a table with friends and share our Spanish adventures.

Therefore, I came up with a way I could recapture the memories: repost my blog posts about our trip. I also went through some of my pictures from our trip and realized I hadn’t organized them in folders like I usually do. So, what fun I will have revisiting all the Spanish places we went.

A map of our trip to Spain
A Map of Our Trip

Enjoy the magic of this haunting country:

A year later, I pinch myself as I review these posts! I fell in love with Spain, the people and the folklore! While I walk down memory lane, I stand in front of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and marvel at the outrageous architecture. Moving on to Valencia, I savor the flavor of the paella. In Granada, I feel overwhelmed with the Alhambra and the Moor influence. My favorite city, Seville, and the Flamenco dancing capture my dancing heart. I will never forget the gigantic cathedral/mosque in Cordova. Then in Madrid, I bask in the splendor of El Prado and its treasures and lightly say, “Holy Toledo!” in memory of the many churches in Toledo.

Yes, Spain continues to be a mysterious place to me. I hope you recaptured the joy of our trip! Have you been to Spain? Which is your favorite city? How long did you stay there? If you haven’t gone, is it on your Bucket List?


Did you miss one of my blogs in February? Here’s a chance to see them:

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

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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

~Visit my website for all the information you need about me & my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ MARCH MADNESS SALE: 20% Discount my Etsy Shop for select paperbacks & digital copies: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Costa Rica · My Thoughts · Travel

Remember My Extreme Costa Rica, 2020 Trip?

Remember The Rain Forest Canopy in Costa Rica
The Rain Forest Canopy in Costa Rica

Have you ever thought about going to Costa Rica? A year later, I remember the amazing trip we had to Costa Rica in 2020 and sigh deeply! A trip of a lifetime, and I want to go back!! Let’s revisit my blog posts about this trip for your travel pleasure and mine. Victoria, the trip organizer, and Enrique, our guide, put together a fun-filled trip with variety and adventure. We spent time in villages shopping, in the rain forest looking for exotic animals and by the ocean soaking up the sun! You couldn’t have asked for a better experience!

Map of Central America and Costa Rica
So where is Costa Rica?

So, visit any or all of my blog posts about this wonderful trip to get a glimpse of this beautiful country:

I’m a great one to remember anniversaries of special events in my life—this is one that has been reeling around in my mind for most of January and February because we traveled there in January 2020, but I wrote my narrative mostly in February.

Remember a coatimundi we saw on our trip
A Coatimundi we saw on our trip!

I have thousands of pictures that I have revisited; snapshots of a world so different from my dry desert and mountains of New Mexico. Thinking back, this trip challenged me to expand myself in so many ways, and I’m always up for a challenge!

The group we traveled with became known as, “The Dirty Dozen” and has kept connected through the year with a couple Zoom get-togethers. It’s funny how we remember key events and retell the stories again and again. Facebook also keeps us abreast of each other’s lives. Initially, most of us didn’t know each other, but after twelve days of adventure, exploration, and spending travel time in a van, we became close friends. We plan to journey again some time, some place whenever we can. When you find people you can travel with, keep them close!

So, do you travel? Have you had a trip of a lifetime? More than one? Have you been to Costa Rica? If so, what was your favorite city? Area?


Did you miss one of my recent blogs? Here’s a chance to see the last three weeks:

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

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

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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

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

~My Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

 

~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces: https://cookinginaonebuttkitchen.com/

Christmas · Costa Rica · My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Lin and Larada’s Christmas Newsletter & Decorations

I love the idea of the Christmas newsletter! I love looking back over my year and reflecting on it. I also love decorating my home with familiar decorations. Two traditions I love! Every year for thirty-two years, I’ve written a Christmas newsletter to share with family and friends highlighting my previous year. Also I seriously enjoy Christmas decorations. So, enjoy Lin and my Christmas newsletter and decorations.

Lin and Larada's Christmas Newsletter banner

2020 Started Off Great!

Yes, 2020 started off with a bang! On January 7, 2020 Lin and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime—twelve days on a private tour of Costa Rica with Lin’s ex-wife, Victoria. She invited us and 7 friends on this delightful escapade. We invited two of our friends, so the “Dirty Dozen” was formed. Our tour guide, Enrique, led a square dance tour in 2001 that Lin and Victoria organized, so Lin was excited to reunite with his old friend.

We saw exotic animals—quetzal birds, iguanas, Jesus Christ lizards, monkeys and sloths—and spent time in gorgeous jungle areas. We sailed over the canopy of the rain forest on a zipline! What an experience! We ended our trip with some leisure time and a catamaran trip out to snorkel.  

The majority of the people on this trip didn’t know each other when we started, but we became friends by the end!

After being home a few days, I squeezed  in a trip to Branson, CO to do major revisions on my book project. We left on February 27 for Barcelona, Spain with a group of square dance friends. Lin and I fell in love with Barcelona! Our tour guide, Bradley Dick, entertained us with his extensive knowledge and humor. Again, I can only give you highlights of a jam-packed twelve days.

I loved La Sagrada Família in Barcelona, a cathedral beyond description—truly sensory overload—and Gaudi’s other amazing architecture throughout the city. We also visited Montserrat, an 11th century Benedictine monastery built on the side of a mountain. There we saw a fascinating black Madonna and Christ Child.

In Valencia we enjoyed delicious paella, the place of its origin. From there we headed to the Arabic Triangle of Spain: Granada, Seville and Toledo with Córdoba in the middle. In Granada, we visited the Alhambra and Generalife, marveling at the influence of the Arabic world on Spain. 

In Seville, after dinner, we had a carriage ride with high-stepping Andalusian horses, stopping for photos in front of the Plaza America. In the evening, we saw Flamenco dancers, a much-awaited event for me! Dazzling sweeping costumes, taps on shoes and snapping castanets! 

On our trip to Madrid, we toured a gigantic Mesquita (mosque) and Catedral (cathedral) at Córdoba. From Córdoba to Madrid, we drove through La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote! In Madrid, we explored a small section of The Prado then drove to Toledo and toured this scenic city built on a cliff.

We left Madrid on March 8, 2020 and Spain had 500 coronavirus cases. Our magical second trip of a lifetime ended abruptly on our arrival home.

Then the Lockdown!

On March 9, we woke up to Spain’s explosion of coronavirus cases to 1500 in one day, so Lin and I started a two-week quarantine. I was certain we would get sick because we spent the last two days in downtown Madrid and then at the airport, but thank God, we didn’t. And that’s the way spring, summer and fall went. All of our annual square dance events were canceled. Lin dedicated his extra time to his garden and he produced the most amazing explosions of color and foliage ever—hours upon hours of work.

Because of Lin’s work in the garden, he always has a gorgeous tan and is very wise about how he does it, so I adopted his method and did a lot of sunbathing and reading.

Immediately, I became a fan of Zoom and have used it weekly to connect with family and friends. I’ve lived here for nine years and finally cleaned out a storage shed Lin bought for my extra stuff when we married. I found some treasures I’d forgotten about!

We have watched lots of British TV series, and my cat, Jesse, assumes the position on the arm of the loveseat every night for our TV time—something so unusual at our house!

We had planned a square dance trip  to Germany in September, but it was canceled too! We moved it to 2021!

And the Release of Flippo’s Book

I spent my time finishing up my newest book,  Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo in the midst of the pandemic. I had planned to release it at CALLERLAB at the end of April, but that event was canceled, so I had more time to work on it. I released it May 8, 2020 and am so proud of the end product which took me nearly three years to complete. It was the project of a lifetime.

Because all square dance events were canceled, I have spent time promoting this book online and have enjoyed the connections I’ve made with Flippo fans all over the world.

If you are interested, visit my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Lin’s Wildlife Habitat Certification

Lin's Certified Wildlife Habitat - Christmas Newsletter
Lin’s Banner

In planning his garden, Lin plants flowers that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and we’ve seen the increase of visitations from these creatures over the years. He also puts out bird food that attracts birds at twenty-five feeders. The culmination of his efforts resulted in meeting the qualifications for certification by the Wildlife Habitat, and he received his certification in October.


Miller’s Christmas Decorations

I’d like to feature our decorations at our home. You can’t come visit our house because of the pandemic, so I’d like to bring my home to you!

Santa & angel collection: Christmas Newsletter
Our Santa Claus & Angel Collection
Small village - Christmas Newsletter
A small Christmas Village
Our Christmas Stockings
Nativity - Christmas Newsletter
Our Famous Outside Nativity

A Miller Christmas Eve tradition is Lin reads a Christmas poem, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer,” from Tombstone Epitaph. Enjoy!


Christmas newsletters, decorations, the magic of this holiday! Yes, I do believe!

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

~HAVE YOU ORDERED A PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY FOR A CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR A LOVED ONE OR YOURSELF?   AVAILABLE NOW! Go to the homepage on my website & pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Here’s Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When Its Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Dancing · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Spain · square dance · Writing

What’s Your Passion?

Passion—that activity that motivates me! It energizes me, animates my spirit and lights a fire in my soul. Does it have to be just one? No I have several passions!

During this depressing pandemic, I’ve been denied participation in my deepest passion: dancing, square dancing, round dancing and any other type of dancing there is.

So, what did I do? I’ve reacquainted myself with some of my other passions. Some might call them hobbies, but I like the word passion better because it resounds with emotion.

My personal list of passions/hobbies are:

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Knitting
  • Sunbathing

Let’s look at each one.

My passion: Writing

Writing

Yes, I am a writer and have continued my weekly blogs during this crazy time. I featured many poems I wrote about the pandemic, and the poetry writing fed my soul. It provided me a means to process the insanity that hit initially with the shelter-in-place and the cancellation of so many dance events.

Also, I finished my current writing project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. The cancellation of events provided me extra time to add some novelties to the book.

Words and ideas flicker in my mind and must be recorded—definitely a passion for me!

My Passion: Reading

Reading

My husband, Lin, reads a lot, but I’ve felt too busy the last couple years to read during the day and limited my reading to bed time.

In our home, we have an extensive library, so at the beginning of the pandemic, he picked up Shadowlands, the heart-wrenching story of C. S. Lewis and his wife, Joy Goodman. He always shares about his current book with me, and that interested me. I have been a C. S. Lewis fan for years.

So, when he finished Shadowlands, he jumped into the legendary Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis and read the whole set. After doing some research on the Internet, he came up with a different reading order and read them chronologically instead of using the numbering system they used when they published the set.

Here’s the suggestion:

My Passion: Chronicles of Narnia

Chronological Order

  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

At that time, I was finishing up some books we bought on our trip to Spain in late February and early March. Also, I’m a long-time Jodi Picoult fan and wanted to finish leaving time, a fascinating novel with a shocking ending. I had, also, downloaded an e-book off of Kindle on a special, The Victory Garden, so I had that to read. What a delightful read!

After finishing them, I decided I wanted to end the summer with C. S. Lewis, so I started with Shadowland. I wept through the end of that book. Then I started the Chronicles of Narnia, following Lin’s suggested reading order.

What a treat! Originally, I read the Chronicles of Narnia about forty years ago, so with my memory, it has been like reading them for the first time. Right now, I’ve finished The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Currently, I’m reading The Horse and His Boy.

So once again, reading has taken a major place in my day, a long neglected passion with my hectic life prior to the pandemic!

My Passion: Knitting

Knitting

I’ve been a knitter since I was ten years old, and I’ve knitted hundreds of items: sweaters, afghans, dresses, socks, vests, dish clothes and more. I love doing it while we watch TV, and it is a true passion of mine!

So, during this time, I’ve knitted a special baby afghan for a baby born in May, but the majority of my knitting now has been dish clothes. In fact, I’m starting my 17th today. It’s a simple pattern, and I can do it without watching my hands or thinking much. In fact, some people consider knitting a type of meditation, and I would agree with that.

The one knitting project I’ve avoided during this time is a complicated sweater for myself. I’ve made that pattern three other time, but it demands concentration. Every time I look at that knitting bag, I shiver because I want to finish it, but I don’t want to have count every stitch right now—maybe it’s the result of the pandemic and the stress. I don’t know, but I know I will finish it eventually.

And I have many future projects to look forward to because on our travels over the past few years, I’ve bought yarn as a souvenir at various places. From Ireland, I purchased enough beige wool to make an Aran sweater.

On our cruise of the British Isles last summer, I bought smaller amounts at different stops to make a scarf or something small.

I love the rhythmic movement and sound of the needles and the product at the end.

Sunbathing

Sunbathing

For my whole adult life, I have been a sun worshipper, spending countless hours in the sun trying to get a tan. My frequent travel companion during the 80’s and 90’s would scold me for laying in the sun on our trips to Mexico and South America. The crazy part is she would sit in the shade and I’d be full out in the sun, and she always came home with a better tan than me! Probably has to do with my red-haired fair-skinned father!

Often, I burned and took extreme chances with the way I sunbathed: spraying water on myself, using baby oil, and staying out way too long!

In 2001, my ex-husband was diagnosed with melanoma and had surgery. At about the same time, one of my best friends had a reoccurrence of melanoma after twenty years. Shortly, after this, I ended my sunbathing. I finally realized I was flirting with danger for sure.

This summer, my husband has gotten a gorgeous tan working in his garden and showed me the sensible way to get a tan: no long exposure, gradual increase in exposure and thoughtful consideration of how long he was in the sun.

 So, with book in hand, I started sunbathing again. I have used 50 level protection suntan lotion and started out slow and gradually increased my time to thirty minutes on each side—that’s it! I won’t go beyond that.

The sun’s warmth does something to my spirit. Laying outside in Lin’s gorgeous garden, I have time to appreciate the numerous flowers blooming and all the time he’s dedicated to it. (Gardening is his passion!) I have a dedicated reading time, and I’m getting a tan, all at the same time.

When this coronavirus pandemic has subsided, and we dance again, my passion for dancing will be ignited. Until then, these others bless me deeply. Passion, fervor, enthusiasm—we need it in our lives to feed our hearts, our souls and our spirits! How about you? What are your passions?


~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