I am veering off Lin and my trip to Ireland and England for one week and sharing a poem I wrote for my Mom for Christmas in 2003. Enjoy and hug your mother real close today! My Mom has been gone for five years and this Mother’s Day has been one of the hardest! This poem celebrates the place she had in my life.
Have you ever written a poem or story about your Mom? Share it here! I would love to read it.
Quiet surrounds me. A canopy of a clear blue Colorado sky covers this warm spring day. I’m in a small ranching community in southeastern Colorado–the home of my childhood.
Since my mom died five years ago, I visit here monthly to check things out. I forgot to bring my Ireland/England travel journal and hard drive that has my pictures, so I’m going to take a break from the travelogue and update you on my current writing project.
I’m writing the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, the most famous square dance caller in the world. He’s 90 years old and visiting Asilomar, CA this week, the site of his favorite square dance weekend and week that he did for years.
How did this project start? My husband and I remember its inception differently, so I’ll tell you my version.
We were at a square dance festival last year in the early spring–it was Saturday night after a jam-packed two days of dancing. A group of friends enjoyed a leisure time late in the evening and Flippo (that’s what we call him) came up.
Someone said, “Someone needs to write his biography.”
My husband, Lin, leaned my way and stated, “You’re the writer in the group. Why don’t you do it?”
Nothing more was said that night, but the reoccurring thought surfaced regularly. I was coming to the ranch about this time last year alone, so I brought up the idea to Lin and shared my serious consideration of taking on this task. I suggested we both pray about it and when I returned, we would share what had come up.
Again the idea intrigued me–in the last four years, I had self-published four books and three cookbooks, but the topics had been personal for me. I wrote two memoirs, a historical fiction from a story I had heard my childhood and a non-fiction about our family ranch. Could I write about someone else?
When I returned home, Lin and I both agreed it would be a worthwhile project. So Flippo was fulfilling his last contract at the New Mexico Square and Round Dance Festival in mid-May in Albuquerque, so I called him in mid-April to query if he was interested.
His first comment was, “No one would want to read a book about me, but I do have a topic of a book that would sell–all the stories of traveling callers, but it would be X-rated.”
Seriously, Flippo said he would give me his answer at the festival in May. Friday evening during a break, he was surrounded by several local callers and dancers. I didn’t have to bring it up–he did.
“Larada wants to write my biography. Who would want to read it?” He queried. They all raised a hand, and I think it shocked him.
In traditional Flippo flirtatious manner, he said, “OK, come over to my hotel room tonight at 1:30 am and we’ll talk about.” Laughter exploded and then he said, “Yes.”
During the summer, I started gathering resources. I talked to several close caller friends of Flippo’s to start gathering their stories and information about him. In October, I went to Tucson, AZ for a Women Writing the West. Flippo lives in Tucson, so we planned to meet together on Thursday night.
He called and wanted to change nights because the Houston Texans were playing in the World Series and he wanted to watch the baseball game, so we moved it to Friday night. Before interviewing him, I didn’t realize Flippo had a strong connection to baseball–he was so good, that’s what he did in the Navy.
Lin and I met him for dinner, and Lin started him talking immediately. I was going to wait until we moved to his home so I could record it, but he was off and running, so I grabbed my notebook and started writing. He picked a the Texan Steakhouse which had TV multiple screens on every wall, so he could watch the baseball game as we talked.
After dinner, we went to Flippo’s house, turned on the TV and muted it, and he continued our first interview, watching the game. He sent me home with three scrapbooks/photo albums and three photo albums as resources.
Since then we have talked weekly for an hour, and I have recorded each interview. What a delightful experience this has been. The hardest part is transcribing the recordings; we talk for one hour, and that one hour takes three to four hours transcribe.
Flippo’s last calling event was a New Year’s Eve square dance in Green Valley, AZ. Several caller friends encouraged Lin and I to go, so we did. Twenty-five professional callers and friends from all over the United State supported Flippo on this monumental evening of his career. He announced from the stage that I was writing his biography, and the chair-woman of CALLERLAB (the international organization for callers) said to me, “How are you going to edit out the X-rated stuff?”
During the night I watched several of the professional callers’ eyes riveted on their hero on the stage–expressions of respect, love and admiration for their mentor and teacher covered their faces. I also witnessed traces of a deep sadness at the loss of such a great caller and friend. He ended his final dance with the song, “I’m Leaving Here a Better Man.” I’m sure he selected that carefully.
I’ve spent the last six months doing the work: weekly interviews, research online and reading books. Flippo stands pivotal in the history of square dancing, and I have had confirmation from many callers and square dance historians that this book needed to be written–I’m glad the muses chose me!
I’m collecting data to see if a hard back book is a viable option. Here’s your opportunity to pre-order the book, go here Pre-Order Flippo Book
Our day began again with a traditional Irish breakfast again. We especially loved it here in Killarney.
Our route from Killarney to Lahinch changed because Pat, our host at the bed and breakfast in Killarney, suggested we go up to Tarbert and take the ferry across the River Sharon. Originally we planned to go through Limerick, so this new plan shortened our travel and gave us a delightful ferry trip. The drive through the countryside in Ireland dazzled me with all the variety of greens!
Lin waited in line to get on the ferry. Yes, he drove on the left side of the road–some say the wrong side, but he did a great job.
The ferry we rode across the River Sharon.
Arriving at the other side of the river, the scenery was breathtaking with cattle grazing in lush green pastures. The hedge fences accentuated the symmetry of the pastures–a magical line drawn around each pasture.
From here, we drove to Lahinch. Again we had trouble finding our bed and breakfast, but Lin listened to his gut and we found it. Susan Harrington was our hostess and provided us a beautiful room.
Susan suggested a great lunch spot a long the way–Vaughn’s, so we stopped and had a seafood platter that was mostly mussels. It wasn’t my favorite meal of the trip for sure, but Lin loved it.
Our next destination was one of Ireland’s most popular: the Cliffs of Moher and what a sight–gigantic vertical cliffs plunged down to the Atlantic ocean abruptly.
I loved to focus on trees or plants in the foreground on a picture like this.
The beautiful cliffs unobstructed.
Another one of my pictures with something in the foreground.
Lin and I hiked the path that wove its way near the edge of the cliffs, but we didn’t walk the other direction because he was dealing with plantar fasciitis the whole trip. It was here where the pain affected him the most! And thank God–I couldn’t have hiked the other side of the cliffs anyway (the direction of the above picture).
The path we walked to arrive at the sheer cliff below.
The birds soaring between the rock face and me highlighted this view. This was our destination. Standing on the edge of this cliff overwhelmed me–usually I’m OK with heights but the sheer drop off took my breath away.
On the walk back, I marveled at the cattle grazing on such lush green grass and tried to get this picture. Being a rancher’s daughter, I’m always captivated by green grass and cattle. I reached down to focus on the grass and touched a hot wire and was electrocuted, screamed and blacked out for a second. The pain was piercing!
Lin rested his elbow on the fence that electrocuted me! He didn’t touch the hot wire like I did!
One of the cows that caused me to reach across the fence and get shocked!!
We spent a restful night at Lahinc reading and relaxing. Our hostess’ children played in the backyard which added a familial feel to our stay–this truly was a bed and breakfast in someone’s home. The next morning, we had a delicious breakfast to send us on our way!
Coming up next – a drive to Westport through the Burrens!
Does the size of a book matter, the thickness of its spine? the word count?
My first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, was less than 125 pages–over 10,000 words. It was collection of poetry and prose about growing up in my small ranching community of Branson, CO during the fifties and sixties. My second book, When Will Papa Get Home?, was about 150 pages and over 20,000 words. Does that mean that those books were less than, inferior? I’ve had people comment on these books and how the content touched them in a variety of ways.
My newly released book, A Time to Grow Up–A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, is 412 pages long–over 46,000 words. Does the size of this book make it better than my previous ones? This mindset baffles me.
Shakespearean scholars would have a hay day with this idea and say there’s a phallic symbol hidden in there somewhere.
I had a conversation with someone the other day about creative writing. She has not published a book yet. She said she was only going to write thick books, so that’s what encouraged this blog post.
If you judge a book by its size, you may miss out. Many small books have big messages. Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull comes to mind immediately. How about Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet? It’s a short 107 pages yet those 26 prose poetry fables are world known and celebrated.
I never judge a book by its size. I have some huge tomes that bore me to tears and small ones that have touched my life deeper than any long winded volume.
As a writer, I don’t focus on the size of the project I’m working on–my books dictate their size and message.
Yes, I know that size matters in some things, but when it comes to books, I make my decisions to buy a book on its topic, the author, the cover and much more than its size, so size does not matter.
Often when I think of harmony, I first think of music–Barbershop Quartets, Sweet Adeline’s, and the OakRidge Boys. That sweet, harmonious sound thrills my soul. How do they do it? It seems so simple, but is it?
There’s so much more to that simple word. Look at four definitions of harmony:
These definitions all have something in common: something in agreement or accord.
Harmony in the world is a lofty goal. I want harmony in my life–the inner landscape of my life where I really live. To realize this, I have to train my voice (my spirit and soul) to listen to those around me and blend in with their tones and nuances. That’s where I get stuck sometimes, but I dedicate myself to be aware of that possibility and give it a try.
More so, I have to listen to my differing inner voices and be in harmony with them in my mind, so I can be more harmonious with those who around me that grace my world. If, I am in discord with my inner landscape, I will be the same in my outer landscape.
I want harmony in every aspect of that inner life–a mesh of all the different parts that fill my busy life. Let’s see what you think about harmony: do you think about being in harmony with family and friends? are you in harmony with yourself? do you harmonize or are your relationships off key?
Share your thoughts with me–I’m interested in your thoughts and remember–words matter!
I am sitting at a craft fair at one of the top schools in our city trying to sell my books. The visual aversion people have to books is remarkable. I bet that 2/3 of the people I have offered a free bookmark to have refused.
Where have all the readers gone? I offer historical fiction, memoir and non-fiction. The most interest is in a cookbook series I created from my Mom’s recipes. The intrigue is in the fact that I scanned in her recipe cards but no buyers.
I self-publish my books and thought that Arts & craft fairs would be a good venue for selling–especially at a school, it I had a similar experience last year at the top school here.
I wrote two books and waited 30+ years to publish them. Don’t wait! I stashed those manuscripts away in a desk drawer for years, but they were not silent. They whispered to my spirit often, but I ignored them. At first, their constant chatter distracted me, but after repeated negligence, the sound grew dimmer and dimmer. I married; I divorced. I walked away, turning my back on my creations.
Somehow I listened to the soft voice of This Tumbleweed Landed, sent out a query letter, and received a request for the full manuscript. Then came the rejection—that put an end to my writing career for several years.
I filled my life with other activity, but those two manuscripts kept up their relentless vigil. They haunted me, wanting to be released from that dark prison of my desk drawer. They were stories and poems that needed to be told.
I retired and refocused. Finally I couldn’t stand their noise anymore! The endless clamor ended because I listened!
I took out This Tumbleweed Landed and fell in love with my poems and stories again. J. R. Gilstrap’s illustrations ignited my heart and soul. I self-published this book in 2014 and felt empowered and successful.
After this experience, When Will Papa Get Home? demanded my attention. After my first read-through after so many years, I knew it needed expanded–it was only 10,000 words. As often happens in the creative world, snippets came to me about several additions: how about Felipe Baca, the founder of Trinidad, CO which led to tying Mora, NM to my immigrant family; how about adding reference to Dutch Henry, the notorious horse thief; how about Philly building his own rock and adobe house and starting with an outhouse as a prototype; how about a family outing to pick piñon nuts.
When Will Papa Get Home? was released November 2015. The clamor of those two books has ended because I listened! And I continue to write–a new book to be released this year and another next year.
Promise me you won’t wait! Write! Publish! Share your stories with the world! We need them!
Lin and I just got back from a cruise through the Panama Canal and one of our ports was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala. From there we drove through the country side for ninety minutes to Antigua, the old capitol of Guatemala. On the drive, we saw a volcano erupt and I got great photos of it.
At one of our stops along the way at a coffee plantation, I bought a journal with a Guatemalan textile cover. Guatemalan textiles use all the colors I love!
Antigua’s charm comes from her age; she dates back to 1524. We walked ancient cobblestone streets, and I had a blast bartering with the vendors. I speak a little Spanish so I was able to visit with them and enjoy them in a different way from the non-Spanish speaking tourist.
I collect journals and use them regularly for writing. I’ve gone through phases when I’ve bought big ones — 9 x 11 and toted them around everywhere I went to smaller, more convenient ones. I have a collection of full journals in my book shelf besides my computer, and the other day I started going through them, looking for a specific story. I didn’t find the story, but what joy I had to see all my writing over the years.
Right now, I have a small notebook in my purse and I wrote in it regularly on the cruise ship by the pool.
I have set my new gorgeous Guatemalan journal on a stand besides my computer and every time I walk by it, it calls to me to open it up and write. I will!