Blogs · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Two Hundred Blog Posts! Yahooo!

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Yes, It’s a Thick Book!

“It’s a thick book!” Many have received their copy of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, and this has been one of the major responses. Wow, thick!

Thick book spine of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

Yes, it ended up being thick—Flippo had a rich full life. There’s 592 pages (sixteen pages of front matter), more than 450 pages of memorable pictures and ten appendices. Also, there’s story galore: Flippo told stories about callers and cuers and then callers and cuers told stories about Flippo. Because I felt this was a history book, I included an Index of thirty-seven pages for cross-referencing.

Flippo worried about the size of this book and commented, “It won’t be as big as Bob Osgood’s.” So I worked hard to keep it smaller. Bob Osgood became the leader of square dancing for many years. He published a monthly magazine, Sets in Order, that kept dancers and callers abreast of square dance news in its heyday. This magazine influenced many callers’ careers with articles, advertisements and reviews of newly released songs. He helped Flippo’s career immensely. He also was the mastermind behind, CALLERLAB, the international organization for square dance callers that standardized square dance calls.

As I Saw It, Bob’s biography is 636 pages, so Flippo’s is smaller, by a few pages.

After readers received the book, the other comment I’ve heard with much scrutiny is about something special I added to the title page. Early on when people signed up to pre-order a book, someone asked that Flippo autograph her book. I agreed to do this, and I was certain many people would want his autograph, then he passed away before it was published.

That thought returned to me often as I was transcribing our interviews and putting the book together, then I had a brainstorm. I contacted his son and ex-wife and told them about my plan. I asked if they had a good signature we could use.

His ex-wife found a couple: one on their divorce decree that wasn’t as legible and another one from a card sent at an earlier time in their lives with a clear signature, so she sent it to me. I inserted it on the title page, and it actually looks like he autographed the book, saying, “Love Flip.”

So, no I didn’t forge his name as some have intimated which I would never do. I just thought it was a nice touch when the reader opens the book—a welcome from Flip!

I’d like to end this with a list of books written about square dancing. Some are thick; others aren’t. You can find this list in Appendix J, Additional References in Just Another Square Dance Caller:

  • Betty Casey, Dance Across Texas, University of Texas Press (1985).
    • $24.95 paperback; $7.49 hardback; $11.95 e-book on amazon.com
  • Betty Casey, The Complete Book of Square Dancing [and Round Dancing], University of North Texas Press (2000).
  • Bob Osgood, As I Saw It, Humbug Enterprises (2017).
  • Bob Sumrall, Do-Si-Do, (1949).
  • Jim Mayo, Step by Step Through Modern Square Dance History, (2003).
  • John W. Jones, Square Dance Fundamentals, Jones Street USA, LLC, (1970).
  • Lloyd and Dorothy Shaw, Lloyd Shaw and the Cheyenne Mountain Dancers, (2014).
  • Lloyd Shaw, Cowboy Dances, The Caxton Printers, Ltd. (1949).
  • Richard Severance, A Step in Time: The American Square Dance, (2018).

The history of our activity fascinates me. I’m hopeful that Flippo’s biography will join these legendary tomes in your library. Yes, it’s thick but it’s worth it!

Are you a history buff? What history do you enjoy?


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography on Zoom on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm MST! Be ready to celebrate! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more! The meeting ID number & the password will be posted on my website on Wednesday, July 28.

~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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

How Do You Capture & Celebrate Marshall Flippo’s Big Life?

A Texas childhood, a young sailor in the Navy during World War II, a young caller struggling with some basics—all key pieces that led to a successful calling career and a big life for Marshall Flippo. But how do you capture it all?

How do you do it? In words, pictures and sound. Obviously, I did capture it with words and pictures in his authorized biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller. I wanted to bring that story to life.

We are a visual and auditory world today! As a retired teacher, I know the importance of visual tools. I saw it every day in my classroom; students responded better to any lesson with some visual aide. Whenever I added sound, it also enriched the student’s experience.

In our visual/auditory world, people live their lives attached to their SmartPhones, iPads and desktop computers. Our digital world overflows with visual and auditory stimulus, so I harnessed those tools in a fantastic marketing tool to capture some of Marshall Flippo’s big life—book trailers (like movie trailers).

Here’s some key findings about visual learning:

  • Of all the information transmitted to brain, 90% is visual.
  • As opposed to text, visuals are processed 60,000x faster.
  • Humans are capable of getting the sense of a visual scene in less than 1/10th of a second.
  • 40% of nerve fibres are linked to the retina.
  • Our brain can see images that last for only 13 milliseconds.
  • Human eye can register 36,000 visual messages every hour.

https://elearningindustry.com/visual-learning-6-reasons-visuals-powerful-aspect-elearning

As a retired teacher, I know the importance of visual/auditory tools, so I’ve created three trailers to capture three keys areas of Flippo’s life: his childhood and Navy life, his after party skits, and his motto and where that led him here in the United States and the world.

Here are the three trailers! Let me know what you think!

I have a fourth one in production, but what would you suggest after that? I know I need to do one for CALLERLAB. How about Flippo’s athletic interests? What else?

selective focus photography of gray stainless steel condenser microphone
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

An auditory opportunity came out of the blue for Flippo’s book! Marty Northrup interviewed me on Monday, July 13, 2020 on his podcast, Marty’s Podcast about Flippo’s book. Here’s the link:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/474541/4554098

Marty has interviewed many national and international leader/callers in the square dance world, so I felt honored to share my stories about Flippo and his biography.

The list of callers he has interviewed is a Who’s Who of Calling:

  • Steve Kopman
  • Jerry Story
  • Gary Shoemake and Ken Bower
  • Jerry Biggerstaff & Greg Jones
  • Lilith Kopman
  • Darryl Lipscomb
  • Justin Russell
  • Elmer Sheffield, Jr.
  • Tom Miller
  • Randy Page
  • Texas Tornadoes—Ross Howell and Darryl Lipscomb
  • Marshall Flippo Remembered – John Flippo
  • Ken Ritucci
  • Wade Driver
  • Tony Oxendine
  • Patty Greene
  • Betsy and Roy Gotta
  • Ted Lizotte
  • Noah Siegman
  • Mike Sikorsky
  • Jerry Junck
group of people having neon party
Photo by Marcin Dampc on Pexels.com

Lastly, I will celebrate Flippo’s big life at the Zoom Release Party of his biography on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. MST. I will have door prizes, stories about the book production, and Flippo’s songs. Here’s the link to the Facebook event to register:

https://www.facebook.com/events/598522567534301/

Visual, auditory, words—all tools to describe! After interviewing Flippo, I had over 258,000 words, so I had to condense that down considerably. His biography is nearly 600 pages long with over 450 pictures, depicting Marshall Flippo’s life, a very big life!

What do you think?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! New shipment coming in this wee! Yahooo! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164(US)                    Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                   Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US) – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography on Zoom on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm MST! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!~Visit my web site for all the information

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

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Why Do People Avoid the Topic of Death?

Death—a topic most people want to avoid, but lately it’s in the news everyday with the coronavirus updates. Because of so much focus on death lately, I wrote “Are ‘The Dead’ Dead?” this last week and “I Want You Back! Or Do I?” six years ago—two poems very different in topic and tone!

Personally, I’ve not shied away from this topic. Possibly because I was raised in a multi-generational community and saw significant elderly people die like my grandparents and life-long babysitters. I don’t remembering viewing the bodies, just the loss.

In my early twenties, we buried my first husband’s grandfather, a dear man I loved. I remember seeing his lifeless body and a new reality hit me—that was not the man I loved. It was simply the physical shell that housed his fun-loving spirit.

Later, I had the privilege of witnessing the death of my best square dance girlfriend, Kathi Raver. The hospice nurse took the small group of friends and family gathered through the death process which fascinated me.

In 2017, I published a grief and growth memoir talking about my parents’ deaths, and readers recoiled at the title! I knew it wouldn’t be popular, but the response shocked me. Nevertheless, I had to share my process about my losses.

A natural segue for me now, surrounded by the devastating effect of the coronavirus and the mounting death count, I wrote the following poem:

Talking about death
Are “The Dead” Dead?

July 8, 2020

In this coronavirus world,
            We speak
                        So often
                                    Of the dead,
                                                The dying
                                                            Death itself
 
My thoughts linger over
            My dead
                        My family
                                    My friends
 
A thought whispered softly,
            “Speak their names!”
                        Say it
                                    Repeat it
                                                Caress it
 
As I pondered
            This charge,
I realized
            I do this!
I mention my dead
            Their names
Every day
            In my prayers
                        Blessings for where
                                    They are
                        Support for me
                                    Like my personal
                                                A legion of
                                                            Guardian angels
                        Remembrance of
                                    Our connections
 
But the thought persisted,
            “Say their names!”
 
Why?
 
When I say a name
            Of the deceased,
They come to life!
            Memories flood me!
 
I chuckle as
            Dad and I glide
                        Across the wooden dance floor
                                    Doing his step
                                                No one else can imitate!
 
I smell
            Mom’s sweet aroma
                        And
            Giggle with her once more
                        Sitting on the couch
                                    Shoulders touching
            Souls and spirits connected.
 
I laugh out loud
            At Aunt Willie’s
                        Outrageous sense-of-humor
The twinkle in her eyes
            Mischievous and youthful
 
I lean back and marvel
            At Flippo’s memory and
                        Storytelling skills!
He got me again
            And again
                        And again!
 
I hug Scott close to my heart
            My lifelong friend
                        As we reminisced once more
                                    Of
                                                            childhood days
                                                            high school days
Carefree
            And
                        Powerful
 
Say their names
            And they’re no longer died!
They’re alive
            Vibrant
                        Active
                                    In delicious memories
                                                In my heart and soul!
 
Speak their names!
            Don’t Stop

In 2017, I published the following poem in A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. After Mom’s death, I struggled with my loss, yet wondered about wanting her back here. She had polycythyemia vera which morphed into myelofibrosis, a form of leukemia, demanding repeated blood transfusion and a feeding tube.

I Want You Back! Or Do I?

January 27, 2014

I stand at that mysterious wall
between life and eternity
                        and scream,
"I want you back!"
 
I pound my fists.
I scream!
I cry,
but nothing changes.
 
You slipped
through my fingertips.
I grasped.
You were here one second
and
gone the next!
 
Nothing I could do
would hold you.
Where are you now?
Sitting next to Jesus and Dad—
                        smiling
                        youthful
                        relaxed
                        happy!
 
I hope so!
 
I am earth bound—
held in place
            by time and
                        my human existence!
 
I now know more,
realize there's more.
There has to be!
 
A small peephole
opened into eternity
                        at your death bed.
Surprisingly, a small kernel of hope was born that day for me.
 
Life ended here for you
so quickly!
Your shell of a body
lay limp and lifeless
in that hospital bed.
I saw your last breath,
but I also saw something else
                        slight
                        faint
 
Relief for you!
A passing
A knowing
                        that you are gone
                                    from here,
                        but will wait for me
                                    there.
 
In my solemn, desolate space,
I will still cry,
"I want you back!"
 
But today I know
that
I don't want you back—
I want to join you
                        there!

©2017 Larada Horner-Miller

Death is a part of this life, but I wonder—does saying the name of a dead loved one bring them back to life, for just a moment? Are the dead really dead? Are they waiting with open arms to welcome us home?

What do you think?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers on the hardback copies—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164(US)                    Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                   Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US) –https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography on Zoom on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm MST! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!~Visit my web site for all the information

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

Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry

What is the Power of Metaphor?

As a retired English teacher, I love using metaphors in my writing because they come up naturally. I also love the power of metaphor and words; therefore, metaphor ramps up my poetry with imagery and connectedness!

Words create metaphors

What in the world is a metaphor?

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphor

So, in two poems I compare serenity with some natural settings I love and wearing an emotional mask as a defense mechanism. Metaphors help readers connect emotionally, sensually and intellectual with the comparison.

See what you think. . .

Serenity is the beach
What Does Serenity Look Like?
 
June 21, 2020
 
In the midst
            Of the coronavirus pandemic
                        Storm,
I wondered,
            “What does serenity
                        look like?”
 
A hazy mountain scene
            Calm and quiet
                        Seated on a rock
                                    Connected to the grandeur
                                                Of Mother Nature
A lazy beach setting
            Reclining in the rhythmic waves
                        Carefree
                                    Undulating with
                                                The timeless rhythm
                                                            Of our world
Our secluded mountain home
            Nestled in piñon pine trees
                        Sweet meditative music
                                    Serenading me
                                                In the background
            Meaningful work
                        Done by Lin and me
                                    Gardening
                                    Writing
                                    Life lived together
 
Serenity’s many faces
            Some fanciful memories
                        Of better times
            One a realistic experience
                        In the here-and-now!
 
Peace reigns in my heart
            When
I stay present
            Seek God
                        Seek truth
                                    Seek myself!
 
A sweet flavor on my tongue
            An aroma of heaven
                        Come down to earth
            A beckoning sound
                        Of my God’s gentle calling
            A touch of my God
                        Through nature
                                    Peace
                                                Silence
                                                            Sound
 
Serenity lights on my shoulder
            Wraps me in a cocoon
                        Of tranquility and goodwill
            Dances my heart
                        To a new rhythm,
                                    A melody of love!
 
Then it’s gone!
            Quickly!
                        Quietly
                                    Without warning
The world roars
            And scares it away!
The coronavirus surges
            And wipes out any remembrance!
                        Cases
                                    Hospitalizations
                                                Deaths
 
Then in the quiet
            The dark
Again, serenity gently returns
            Ready to protect
                        Me once again.
 
I anticipate its return once again!

A couple days ago, I started reading Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making by John Fox. I realized my connection to wearing a mask—I did it for years but a different type. The raging mask war fueled this poem.

A smile can be a mask!
I’ve Worn a Mask for Years!

July 3, 2020

Wearing a mask
            Isn’t a new concept
                        To me
 
For years,
            I wore a mask of
                                    Deception
                                                Pretense
                                                            Illusion
 
Invisible
            Illusive
                        All-encompassing
 
A veneer of acceptance
                        Compliance
                                    Fitting in!
 
You didn’t know
            No one knew me—
                        Only me!
 
I smiled,
            when asked and replied,
I responded,                        
            “I’m fine,"
            while I covered bruises on both arms
                        From my first husband’s attention
                                   The night before!
 
Yes, I smiled a mask
           For you to see.
In my heart, I winced,
           As that invisible mask
                       Suffocated me,
                                   But I continued to smile
                                               To wear it.
I lived in quiet desperation
           Behind that mask.
 
Before recovery,
           I donned it unconsciously
                       Early in the morning
                                   A regular part of
                                                My attire
 
Each night,
            In the loneliness of
                        My room,
I ripped it off,
            Tossed in a corner with all the
                        Other defenses I had learned
                                    Over the years.
 
I hated it!
            It smothered me
                        My truth
                                    My voice
            It hindered me
                        Like fetters
                                    causing me
                                                To stumble and fall.
 
At times,
            The wise seer
                        Looked beyond the smile,
                                    The mask
                                                caught a glance
                                                            of the true Larada
                                                                        and called me forth!
 
That’s exactly what happened in recovery!
 
Today, after years of recovery and healing,
                        My God melted the piles of masks
                                   into a fine powder                 
                                                that blew away
                                                          with the slightest breeze!
 
But now, because of the coronavirus,
        I must wear a mask 
                      proudly!
No refusal
        No explanation
 
Yes, I’m familiar with
            Wearing a hidden mask
                        For years
 
Today it’s visible
            For all to see
It’s not a coping skill any longer
            An invisible shield
                        An emotional blockade
 
Now it’s vital
            lifesaving
                       controversial
                                    appropriate

It’s a message
            To anyone who sees me
That I care
            About you
                        About me
                                    About we!
 
Today I proudly
            Wear a mask
 
How about you?

Metaphors, serenity, masks—tie them all together with imagery and you have poetry. And in poetry, I have found myself. I hope you to do, too!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   AVAILABLE NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers on the hardback copies—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164(US)                   Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US) –https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What Have I Discovered?

What have I discovered during these months of shelter-in-place? It may seem like a strange question, but never before in my adult life have I had the opportunity to slow down my pace for four months straight and look spiritually at my life. That always takes on a physical aspect.

My physical life often run parallel with my spiritual life. A deep cleaning and cleansing in my spirit coincides with actual activity in the physical realm.

During the March, April and May, I worked feverishly on finishing my new book project and getting it published then, I promoted it like crazy. The coronavirus pandemic raged in the world—death and disease the focus. I needed to focus on life, my life during this crazy time.

June gave me the opportunity to attack on item on my “To Do List” that had haunted me for nine years—cleaning out a storage shed.

Nine years ago, in November, Lin and I married and we had the daunting task of combining two households. Lin’s solution: he bought a storage shed and I put a lot of my stuff in there.

About five years ago, I tried to start the sizable job of going through it. I got bit by a spider the first day and had quite an ordeal, so I stayed away from it for a couple years.

Another year, I went through my teaching library and gave that away, and last year, I had a niece becoming a teacher, so I gathered up more, but the Flippo biography monopolized my time.

Monday of this week, I started on that dreaded task and have worked off-and-on all week and am nearing the end. Lin already took one load to Goodwill, and he ended up taking another!

What a time I’ve had looking at my life! I’ve had a couple serendipities that have blessed my heart!

Here’s the poem I wrote about this experience:

I Found More of My Life!

June 17, 2020

Nine years ago,
            My life went into storage
                        Precious artifacts
                                    Of fifty plus years!
 
Not enough room
            In my new home.
I moved into
            Lin’s house
                        When we married.
 
Not enough space
            Many of my things relegated
                        Outside
                        Out-of-view
                        Insignificant
 
Nine years
            My soul pined for me
                        For familiarity
                        For my things
 
Consciously, I did not 
            We were happy
                        Surrounded by Kathi’s things (Lin’s deceased wife)
                                                Lin’s things
                                                            And a parcel of mine
 
I squelched the soft pleas
            The gentle clamors
My De Grazia collection of paintings
            My blue ceramic miniature Nativity set
                        My chicken dance hat
 
I ignored me
            Once again
Time ticked away
 
Once, I tried
            About five years ago
                        But I got bit by a spider
So I stopped
            Listening
            Caring
So disconnected
 
Then last year,
            I started again
                         With my teaching supplies
                                          Books
                                          To give to Cheryl, my niece
Not to reclaim my life!
 
This week
            I retrieved my life
                        I threw out garbage
                                    I recycled treasures
                                                Not needed
                                    I laid hands on
                                                Precious treasures forgotten!
 
Not forgotten
            Detached
            Dissociated
            Dislodged
 
I rescued more
            Of me!

During the cleaning process, I organized over 150 “Morning Pages” into four boxes. In 1994 I started this practice, suggested by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist Way. The suggestion is to write 3 pages everyday on whatever you want. I’ve been faithful in the practice. I’m currently on notebook #157, but my organization of these notebooks was helter-skelter until now! I love the line-up of boxes! You can see on the last two boxes I had to fix the information! In my organization process, I couldn’t find the 80s and a couple others. On the day I was finishing up, I found the box hid on the bottom shelf in the corner, so I had to renumber the last two boxes! It felt good to solve a mystery!

My four boxes of Morning Pages Notebooks!

Another serendipity I will note. I discovered the rest of the blue ceramic Nativity set I bought in Mexico years ago. Recently when I was dusting the living room, I saw Mary, the Madonna, but where was the rest of it? In one of the boxes, I found it and answered this strange question. Why was Mary in the house and not the rest of the set? I feel a short story brewing there, yet another mystery solved!

Whew!! I discovered old treasures. I threw out stacks of papers kept for years. I recycled select times. I organized, organized, organized! I think it’s a spiritual experience cleaning out the old yet celebrating it all in a new way!

How about you? Is cleaning a time of discovery for you, too? If so, how?


Discover Flippo

~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I received the paperback shipment, bu I am experiencing a delay from the publishers on the hardback copies—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                   Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US)  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

My Poetic View: The Wait for What? Caution?

Caution still loomed in the back of my mind even though I took about a month off from writing poetry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. My life’s demands took priority because I self-published a book I had been working on for two and a half years, it neared completion. The final requirements side-tracked me, but I returned to my poetic view of my experience of the pandemic and what was going on at the time with caution still being a main concern!

During my poetic slowdown, the coronavirus pandemic continued. People tired of the shelter-in-place restrictions. Michigan exploded with protests against the restrictions set in place by governor Gretchen Whitmer.

On April 15, 2020, USA Today’s headlines were, “Thousands converge to protest Michigan governor’s stay-home order in ‘Operation Gridlock’.” Thousands of cars equipped with bull horns and protest flags stymied traffic around the capitol.

On April 30, 2020, Fox News headlines stated, “Michigan protesters storm state Capitol in fight over coronavirus rules: ‘Men with rifles yelling at us’.” The media shared pictures (I will not show) of protesters on the capitol’s steps with assault weapons and rifles—no masks and social distancing and guns!

One photo seared into my memory was a lineup of six masked protesters inside the capitol with a variety of rifles and assault rifles standing in front of a door—what an eerie feeling that picture conjured up! Why the rifles?

The Guardians headlines said, “Armed protesters demonstrate against Covid-19 lockdown at Michigan capitol.” It sited a picture of a brazen mask-less protester screaming inches away from the policeman standing guard, doing his job!

After a couple weeks of mulling over these images and these stories, I wrote the following poems:

Waiting for caution
The Wait for What?

May 13, 2020

Since March 9
            I self-quarantined
                        For two weeks
            I stayed put!
 
Then it stretched
            To May 15!
 
March
            April
                        Half of May
 
Drastic
            Maybe
Wise and cautious
            For sure
 
I obey
            I wear a mask
                        I adhere to six feet
                                    In social distance
                                                I apply hand sanitizer
                                                            After each necessary outing!
Yet the battle rages
            Some say it’s a hoax
                        Protest
                        Violate the restrictions
 
In the name of the first amendment
            Free exercise of religion
            Freedom of speech
            Freedom of the press
            Right to peaceably assemble
            The right to petition the government
                        For redress of grievances.
 
In the name of the second amendment
            A well-regulated militia, being necessary
            To the security of a free State,
            The right of the people to keep
            And bear arms shall not be
                        Infringed.
 
The right to bear arms
            because of the coronavirus?
            Really?
 
Can you shoot this enemy?
            A minuscule virus particle
Why guns?
            Why assault weapons?
                                    A AT4 rocket launcher?
 
Why Confederate flags?
            Swastikas?
 
As this continues,
            Confusion mounts!
As the unrest continues,
            My confusion soars, too!

A virus
            Killing thousands
                        Demands denial and protests?
 
Why do you deny it?
            Ill-advised?
            Ignorant?
            Stupidity?
 
Why do you clamor
            About socialism
                        And your rights?
 
Selfish
            Self-centered
                        ME, Me, me!
 
What about compassion?
            Caring for others?
It’s not about you,
                        you,
                                    you!

The wait for normalcy 
            logic
                        and
                                    compassion to surface
may be a long time in coming!

For some!

For others
          it never left!
Caution
I Disagree! I Have That Right, But Can We Talk?

May 15, 2020

I want caution
            You throw caution
                        To the wind!
 
I want safety
            Six feet apart
            My mask
            My gloves
 
You brandish your rights
            Invade my space
                        Bare faced
                        Bare hands
                                    Smug in your beliefs!
 
Absolutely two world views
            Mine conservative
                        Yours liberal
            Mine concerned
                        About me
                                    And you
            Yours driven
                        About you
                                    Only!
 
Can we talk?
            Is there someplace
                        To agree?
            Or
            Are times of agreement
                        Gone?
 
Will you honor me
            With a mask and gloves
                        Not judge me
                        Not invade my space
            With my vulnerable spirit?
 
Will I honor you?
            Maskless
            Belligerent
            Defiant
 
Here's the problem
            I don’t understand
                         Your recklessness!
 
Why?
            Explain your reasons
                        For your actions
                                    Or
                                                Lack?
 
I need assurance
            This is life or death!
                        My life
                        My death
 
Therefore
            I’ll follow my convictions
                        I have that right
            You follow yours
                        You have that right too
Hopefully
            We’ll both
                        Make it through!
 
But I still disagree!

Over a month later and the argument over masks, social distancing and caution continues as the case numbers surge, and I still don’t understand!

I still don’t understand!


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                        Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                      Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                     Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                    Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                   Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8         Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US)  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Do You Need a Hug?

Do you need a hug? Has the isolation of sheltering-in-place taken its toll? As a human being, I relish social interaction. I heard someone say this week, “I’m suffering from hug deprivation!” Me, too! That describes it perfectly!

Yes, I get ample hugs from my dear husband daily, but I’m accustomed to hugs from a variety of people: we hug when we square dance, we hug at recovery meetings, we hug at church. My family hugs a lot! I’m used to an abundance of hugs, so the social distancing has been a real trigger for me! Yes, I agree a necessity, but my spirit and soul thirst for a hug, and this lack has zapped me!

On top of the restrictions, I filled my March and April with the final production of my newest book project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. I focused on it and was able to add some special features I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had rushed the production. But the consequences: I felt drained!

Women sitting
Come Back Tomorrow and I’ll Have More

April 17, 2020
 
I’ve run out
            Empty
                        No More
 
But come back
            Tomorrow
There will be more!
 
More of me
            My humor
            My expertise
            My talents
 
I’ve used up
            Everything today
            Ran desperately out!
I spilled me
            Wide-open
            Nothing left.
 
But I rejuvenate
            Refresh
And start again
            With a full tank!
 
So don’t ask me
            When I’m on empty
                        To give more!
That’s selfish!
 
Ask me about
            The level of
                        Availability
Ask me if I’m full
                        Or empty
Don’t assume!
 
I know me!
            I can tell
                        The meter’s hanging
                                    Dangerously low
                                                Near empty
 
I’m zapped
            Nothing now
                        Today!
 
But come back tomorrow,
            And I’ll have more!
 
More of me
            More joy
                        More compassion
                                    More energy!
Totally more!

I did get the book done, but the publisher has delayed the delivery of the paperback and hardback copies, so I’m waiting impatiently right now. I want to get my book into the hands of readers everywhere!

I currently focus on promoting Flippo’s book on Facebook and have assembled a gigantic database of over 600 square and round dance Facebook pages for groups and clubs with a count of 176,000 contacts. I realize many people “Follow” several Facebook pages, but what an amazing number of dancers!

So at this point, my hugs are of the virtual variety from contacts all over the world.

The coronavirus continues to attack people across the world. Lin and I watch the daily numbers increase and worry about the outcome.

I continue to wrestle with the lack of hugs! I’ve heard it said in my recovery years it takes ten hugs a day to stay centered, so needless to say, I need a hug or ten!

All this combined makes me wonder about the future!


Indefinite Future

April 20, 2020
 
Always
            The future looms
                        In front
                                    Of me
 
Full of intrigue
            Mystery
An unopened present
 
It lures me forward
            Beckoning me
                        To come
                                    To participate
                                                To enjoy
 
As I gaze on
            What’s to come
My heart clenches
            My throat constricts
 
Dread fills every cell!
            What does it hold?
 
The uncertainty now
            2020
Scary
            Horrendous illness
                        Rampant
                                    Across our world
 
Death cries swell
            In volume
Bodies sit in stacks
 
Never have I seen
            Anything of this size
 
So do you plan?
            Will June arrive safely?
                        What about the annual Branson-Trinchera Reunion?
                                    Its 62th event
                        Will July 4th be cancelled?
                        Will our summer be tainted
                                    By the smell of
                                                Rotting corpses?
 
Projection
            Fear
                        Alarm
                                    All color the future!
 
Will we get a respite?
            Will it stop?
                        Will it return
                                    If we open back up?
 
The uncertainty
            The drama
                        The insanity
                                    The horror
                                                Pain
Suffering
 
Can we ever have
            Normal again?

The future holds the key!                                          

Today, the future continues to look dim! Over the last several days, the Covid 19 case world count has been well over 100,000! Several states have seen a surge in cases here in the United States. My husband and I still choose to limit our exposure by staying close to home and only going out for the essentials. We will not participate in any group activities this summer.

Besides the horror of the coronavirus, over the past few weeks, the murder of George Floyd has influenced an awakening for the need for an honest look at racial prejudice in our world. It reminds me of the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, but here we are sixty years later with some of the same injustices present. We need a major overhaul.

So, can we return to normal? I doubt if that ever happens. 2020 has been a year of major disasters and major changes. I yearn for a hug from you, a hug from you and a hug from you! The future truly holds the key to a new normal.

Will you participate or hold on to the old?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW. Apple Books (US) – https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id151164203                              Kobo (US) –  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-another-square-dance-caller                                                                    Apple Books (CA) – https://books.apple.com/ca/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                                 Apple Books (UK) – https://books.apple.com/gb/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                              Apple Books (AU) – https://books.apple.com/au/book/just-another-square-dance-caller/id1511642036                         Amazon Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/Just-Another-Square-Dance-Caller-ebook/dp/B088QS9RH8             Amazon Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088QS9RH8                                                                                                   Barnes and Noble Nook (US) – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/just%20another%20square%20dance%20caller

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s My Definition of Safety Now?

During our coronavirus self-quarantine, I felt safe at home. My definition of safety expanded—it meant being home, staying home, away from anyone else who might expose me to the virus. After the quarantine ended, I faced how my safety was threatened because now I could go out into the world. I had to face the unsafe world! My safety net of seclusion evaporated.

Lin and I had completely controlled who entered our home during this time. We only allowed the furnace repairman to come in for a short duration. Our furnace went out, and he needed to check the thermostat. No one else. We relished the safety we felt in our home—barricaded in the east mountains among the trees, away from people and the dangers they possibly held for us.

Then on April 8, I finally could relax after our month-long self-quarantine, but that meant I could go out in the world—what would that bring? With a poetic view, I celebrated my liberation.

Today I Breathed—It is a Month!

April 8, 2020

Hallelujah!
            We made it!
 
Thirty-one days away
            From Madrid
                        The airport
                                    Now I remember many workers with mask on
                                                Did they know?
                        A bustling restaurant downtown
                                                Jovial waiters served our meal
            From Toledo
                        Crowded busy streets
                                    Shoulder-to-shoulder
                                    Naïve about the possibility
                        Lunch in a crowded café
                                    Again, our meal served
 
We flew out on March 8th
            The coronavirus exploded there the 9th.
 
I feared the worst,
                        but it didn’t happen!
 
Thirty-one days passed
            With
                        Self-conscious
                                    Staring
                                                How do I feel now?
                                                            How about now?
                                                                        NOW!
                                    Repeatedly
 
A cough,
            A sore throat
                        Diarrhea
Oh, no!
            Am I sick?
                        Is it the virus?
                                    Is it psychosomatic?
 
Two weeks
            Of self-quarantine
I didn’t want
            To take a chance
            To infect you
            To spread it
                        If I had it.
 
 Third week
            Our self-quarantine over
                        I ventured out
                                    Cautious
                                                Fearful!
 
Today I breathed deeply
            For the first time
                        In a month.
            Exhale!
                        Inhale!
            Exhale!
                        Rhythm
                                    Relief!
 
Habitually I shallow breathe
            As it is!
But this last month
            I deeply held my breath
                        Worried,
                                    Afraid
                                                Apprehensive 
We were in a hot spot!
 
Today I believe strongly I’m okay
            We dodged a bullet!
Today my husband kissed me
                        Hugged me
                                    For the first time!
 
I ached
            For his touch
                        His lips!
 
Thirty-one days behind us
            Safe so far
                        But still vigilant!

But then, I had to face the unknown in this new world the coronavirus created. In New Mexico, shelter-in-place became the standard, therefore I didn’t even think about frivolous shopping—just the necessities of food and medicine. But that meant being around people and the possibility of being exposed.

Somehow, we had dodged a bullet coming home from Madrid, Spain where the virus exploded the day after we left. Would I be so lucky in the grocery store? On my first excursion out, I went to Albuquerque and picked up a prescription at Walgreen’s and felt safe. But my next stop was Smith’s grocery store, and it shocked me. At Walgreen’s people respected social distancing and kept their distance. I hit the grocery store late afternoon, and the frantic crowd stormed the place, wanting toilet paper and other survival supplies. The scene overwhelmed me, and I got out quickly.

I describe my next grocery store experience below through poetry:

My Newfound Fear of the World

April 13, 2020

As I walked into
            The grocery store
Panic gripped my throat
            My stomach clinched!
 
Would I pass someone
            Unknown
And get the dreaded
            Coronavirus?
 
I eyed each person
            Many donned masks
                        And gloves
It was Senior time
            Early
            Before the rush
 
So conscientious a group!
            But still I worried!
 
This deep fear upset me!
            Where’s my faith?
                        My trust in my God?
 
It almost felt like
            A panic attack!
Not full blown
            But close!
 
The safety of our home
            Comforts me!
                        A fortress
                                    Against this
                                                Invisible enemy!
No fear
            No dread
                        Safety in our diligence!
But today
            The world is scary
                                    Unsafe
                                                Dangerous!
 
The enemy lurks
            In a cough
                        A sneeze
                                    Getting to close
                                                To someone else!
 
My safety
            My first priority
My health
            Top of the list!
My happiness
            I must respect!
 
Therefore
            I don’t want to shop
                                    To be near you
 
Stay away, please!
            Never in my life
                        Have I wanted that
                                    Felt that way!
 
I love hugs
            People
                        Touch
                                    But the world changed in
                                                                        2020
Stay away, please!
Safety for the last couple months

As I write this blog post, I surveyed the changes in the last couple months. On Friday morning, I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. to go to the grocery store in Edgewood, New Mexico, a small community closer than Albuquerque. I don my mask and gloves and usually finish before 8:00 am. This has become a weekly ritual which will probably continue.

What rituals have you started because of the coronavirus? How has it changed your normal life?


Flippo's Biography cover

~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What Is Self-Care?

Two more poems reflect my feelings about the coronavirus and self-care and how we narrowly escaped Spain’s outbreak about a month ago! We could still be there!

In recovery, we talk often about self-care: measures we do to take of body, mind and soul. For me, usually I enjoy regular routines of dancing, exercising and associating with people. I also find alone time, my Quiet Time, to recharge my spirit and soul.

This coronavirus pandemic has disrupted my social and active practices and has taken self-care to a new level, adding unusual routines to my life: shelter-in-place and follow our governor’s guidelines and more. As I pondered this early in April, self-care took on a different meaning.

Self-Care

April 3, 2020

A mask
            A Bandanna
                        Social distance
                                    Space
                                                Wash my hands singing the Doxology
                                                                  Stay home
 
Self-care for
            The coronavirus
 
But what about
            My spirit
                        My soul
 
A Quiet Time
            Solace
                        Time Alone with my God
Words exchange
            Thoughts shared
 
Prayer—
            Silence
                        Solemn
                                    Desperate today
 
An ancient tradition
            Praying the Rosary
                        Repetition
                        Veneration of
                                    Mary
                                    Jesus
                                    God, the Father
                        Meditation
                                    Staying in the moment
 
I yearn for my God
            I seek him daily!
 
Who am I
            Without Him?
Who am I
            With Him?
 
An obedient girl child
            A rebellious teenager
                        A maniac in my twenties
                                    Heart-broken
                                              Destroyed by my first divorce
 
A recovered woman
            A struggling middle-aged woman
                        A desperate 50-year-old
                                    A grief-stricken 60-year-old
                                                A serene 66-year-old crone
In love with my life
            Before the coronavirus!
 
Today
            I avoid crowds
                        I wear a mask
                                    And you can’t shame me out of it
                                                I move away from you
                                                            For social distancing
           
When I take care of myself,
            I take care of you!
                        Remember that when you see
                                    Me in a mask!

I’ve taken this shelter-in-place time to go deep inside and wonder about this world and all the possibilities. We left Spain on March 8, and the virus exploded there the next day. Had we left there a couple days later, we could still be there—think about that one! Here’s my poem dealing with that:

Tomorrow is a Month

April 7, 2020

 Thirty-one days
        Since we left
                        Coronavirus-stricken Madrid
                                    And Spain
 We left on March 8th;
            It exploded there the 9th.
 
Thirty-one days of
            Holding my breath
            Self-examination
                        By the minute
            Self-diagnosis
                        Daily
            Self-screening
                        Repeatedly
 
Washing hands
            washing hands
                        washing hands!
 
A throat tickle
            Sore throat
                         Diarrhea
            Cough
Is it the virus?
            Dread and anxiety gripped me
 
Two weeks of
            Self-quarantine
Desperate not to share it
            If I had it.
 
Dances cancelled
            CALLERLAB cancelled
                        Life cancelled!
 
After two weeks
            A sigh
                        Maybe we made it
Yet. . .
 
Incubation period
            2 — 14 days
                        maybe 27
 
Oh, my God!
 
Shelter-in-place
            Nothing new
                        No new symptoms
 
After two weeks,
            Out of the house for the first time
                        For a prescription and groceries
Panic and fear
            People six-feet apart
                        at the drug store
                                    Safe yet foreign
            People too close to me
                        In the grocery store
                                    Claustrophobic
 
Malted Easter Eggs lured me in
            Impulse buying
                        No, it’s Easter time
                                    I always buy them at Easter
                                                Normal routine
Two bags
            I wolfed down one whole bag
                        immediately
                                    And gained three pounds!
 
Remedy to grocery shopping
            Senior time slot
                        Early in the morning
                                    Safer
                                                Respectful of distance
                                                            Less people
Still washing hands
            disinfecting the bags
                        the Jeep
                                   the steering wheel
                                                the knobs
EVERTYTHING!
 
Watching my husband, Lin, closely
            Fear gripped my heart
Both of us have had health issues
            the last couple years
 
Three weeks gone
            Another sigh of relief
 
Yet in the back of my mind
            And heart
Will it happen?
            Will it sneak up and attack
                        when I least expect it?
 
Tomorrow I will breathe
            Celebrate
                        Relax
                                    Praise God!
 
But today,
            I am still apprehensive
                        Not sure
                                    Wondering?
 
God protect us!

Have you used this time allotted us to look inside and seek yourself and God in a new way? I’ve relished that opportunity, as sad as it has been. What are your thoughts about self-care and this virus? When will it end? Will we ever get back to normal?


~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Poetic View: The Future As I Saw It in April

What does the future hold for us? Here it is nearing the end of May, and I want to share two poems I wrote at the beginning of April, more than a month ago. Not a lot has changed. The death count continues to increase daily with it nearing 100,000 in the United States.

My world & the future?

In the midst of this pandemic, people’s reactions shock me! One person posted on my Facebook page that this virus isn’t dangerous. Tell that to the families mourning 99,031 deaths. Tell that to the world whose losses stand today at 345,554 at 2:00 pm this sunny Sunday afternoon. I shudder at this callous response to this tragedy—it is dangerous and heartbreaking! Today, I choose empathy and compassion for the losses, for the pain, for the struggle, and I continue to wonder about our collective future.

In my circle of family and friends, I know someone who was diagnosed with Covid 19 ten weeks ago and is still experiencing symptoms. So some say it’s just like the flu? I’ve never had a flu that lasted that long.

My first poem contemplated the new post-coronavirus future.

Are Masks a Part of the Future?
Are Masks a Part of the Future?
What Do We Face?

April 1, 2020
 
The future always felt
            Predictable!
Not now!
            Not post-coronavirus pandemic,
                        Not after the deaths
                                    The insanity
                                                The world in turmoil!
 
What’s coming?
            Social distancing
                        ‘til April 30
 
More cases
            More deaths!
                        100,000’s dead?
                        1,000,000’s sick?
 
The uncertainty
            No one knows
                        For sure
                                    But why?
 
Our tech age believed
            We could control
                        Order
                                   Orchestrate the world!
 
But no!
            Here we stand frozen
                                    Paralyzed
                                               Isolated
 
2020—
            with all its advances
                        can’t contain
                                    this small
                                                tiny
                                                            enemy
It controls us!
 
The USA
            Ill-prepared
                        So sad,
                                    But so true!
 
Trump, a part of the problem
            Yes,
                        But China lied!
 
Would he have acted differently
            If he knew the truth?
                        Not 81,000 deaths in China
                                    But possibly forty times that amount!
                                                3,240,000
                                                            Oh, my God!
We will never know.
 
Where are we headed?
            Done and recovered 
                                    At the end of April?
                                                May?
                                                            September?
 
I haven’t even a thought
            About our financial losses
                        Not in the wake of the deaths
                                               The sickness and trauma
                                                            The despair!
 
We’re all in the same boat
            Headed somewhere,
                        Destination unknown
 
God, help us!
LaLa Land vs. reality for the future
Living in LaLa Land

My second poem did a reality check. Reality—different to different people? I’ve struggled with reality my whole life, wanting to live in a LaLa Land of my own making, but adulthood forced me out of that imaginary land into the territory of the REAL The coronavirus catapulted me farther—into a stark face-to-face encounter with reality.

Reality Check

April 2, 2020
 
The sun keeps shining
            The world spins
                        Night follows day.
 
On the surface
            Normal is constant.
 
Yet the massive choirs
            Of heartbroken cries resound
                        Across the plains
                                     Down through the valleys
                                                 Atop the mountains
                                                                Through the deserts
 
Human kind is under attack
            A virus war zone!
People die
            The number mounts!
 
Doesn’t matter his color
                                   Her Ethnicity
                                                His Religion
                                                                No immunity!
 
The coronavirus kills
            Has no prejudices
                        Is not judicious in its target
 
The massive grief grows
            The weight of the pain stresses
                        This world to its limit
 
A mother
            A father
                        A Daughter
                                    Die alone
                                                Not a hand to hold
                                                            No last kiss and hug!
 
And it’s not just the virus’ victims
            But anyone unlucky enough
                        To die now
                                    Like my dear friend, Jan Steel
 
Karen, Joan, and Julian stood vigilant
            Outside Jan’s door
                        No kiss
                                    No touch
                                                No hug
                                                            Only death!
 
Hearts break in unison
            Too many to count—
                        Exponential pain multiplied
                                    By this devastation!
 
Yet the sun rises
            Days melt into weeks
                        Pain from this horror lingers
                                    Forever
                                                An acrid taste in my mouth
                                                            And
                                                                        Heart!

You may wonder why I keep posting my poems. I struggled so through this pandemic and recorded it. I wonder if you relate to my cares and concerns. Let me know.


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Christianity · Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

Poetic View: I Wrestled with God, Faith & the Coronavirus

As March 2020 ended, I pondered God and faith issues in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and sheltering in place. I seldom ventured out—only for groceries and prescriptions, but I ventured inward. As always, poetry helped me wrestle with deep emotions about this controversial time and face some spiritual reservations.

Wrestling with God

Do you question God and his presence in this world? I do because we talk regularly, and we have that kind of relationship. I don’t need to blame God about the pandemic because my God is good, but I challenged Him—where are you? What about faith and fear? Can I have both at the same time?

Through my poetic view, I labored over God’s absence and my struggle with faith and fear.

God's Angel looking over the world
Where is My God?
 
March 30, 2020
 
I see the coronavirus cases
                        Increase
            Where is my God?
 
Who will protect me?
            You?
                        People have died
                                   Are dying
                                               Will die
 
Screams of despair
            Reverberate across
                        The world
 
Mass mournings in the loss
            Of a son
                        A daughter
                                    A mother
                                                A father
 
Left to die alone
            No one familiar to hold a hand
                                                Wipe a tear
                                                            Whisper, “I love you!”
 
God, in your infinite mercy,
            Where are you?
 
"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."
            Disguised like Mother Teresa shared as
                        A doctor
                        A nurse
                        A LPN
                        A caring neighbor
                        A stranger’s smile in the grocery store
                        A phone call or text message to check-in
                                     With loved ones
 
I believe you’re in
            The midst of this
Oh, lover of souls!
 
I believe your heart
            Breaks
                        As you watch
                                    The loss
                                                The horror
 
Have you rallied the angels?
                        The archangels?
                                    The guardian angels?
 
Have you thrown your power
            Into the wind
                        To bring a new day?
 
You hold me gently to your bosom
            Scared
                        Frightened
Yet knowing full well
You have the power
                        You are the power!
 
You are in control!

As you can see from this poem and last week’s, I believe God is in control of this mess, my mess, any mess that comes along. I wind my way through the caverns of questioning always to arrive at the same place!

As this pandemic has struck, many spiritual people wonder about their personal faith. Often, I hear people say either faith or fear, but I came up with a different answer.

God: Faith and Fear Not Faith or Fear
March 31, 2020
 
It’s not either or.
            I’m human—
                        Fear lurks
                                    Faith falters
 
But
            I can open my hands
                        Have faith in one
                                    And fear in the other
 
I can raise them up
            To my God!
 
I can release
            Both
                        To do what needs done.
 
Fear reminds me
            I’m vulnerable
Faith reminds me
            God is in control.
I need both.
 
Fear chokes my throat
            Strangling life out of me
Faith hugs me to close
            Saturating my heart with love
God extends his hand.
I need both.
 
Fear drives me to despair
Faith draws me to the Comforter.
Yes, I need both
            In balance.
 
Too much fear
            Paralyzes me
Too much fear
            Focuses me
                        On the problem
 
Then my faith comes
            And refocuses me
                        On the solution.
 
I want more faith
            Less fear
                        But I need both!
                                    A balance
                                                To stabilize me
                                                            To force me
                                                                        To look outside
                                                                                    
Myself to Him
           Who waits for me!
 
Faith is power
            So is fear
I yearn to be faith-powered!
God: Man and woman on two horses

I present a dichotomy in this poem—faith and fear, side-by-side and needed. What do you think?


Cover of Flippo's biography

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~WAITING FOR A KINDLE OR NOOK E-BOOK VERSION OF THE E-BOOK OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY? Hopefully, they will be available in three days! Sorry for the delay!

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Christianity · Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry · Recovery

Poetic View: Who Is in Control of this Mess?

I continue with a poetic view of my feelings and the coronavirus pandemic. I wrote two poems where I dealt with the question of control and prayer. As I faced these thoughts on March 28, I faced the reality of surrender which always takes me to “Let Go.” My recovery program has taught me the power of letting go of results and turning to a Power Great than myself that has everything under control. Then the next day I wondering about all my praying frenzy—who was I praying for in reality?

Let Go
Let Go—Surrender

March 27, 2020

Step three 
(Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.)      
            encourages me
            To view this world
                        And its trials
                                    Then let go!
Let go of
            Control
            Manipulation
            Power
            Authority
            Wisdom
            Rules
            Everything
As I let go,
            My hands open up
                        Palms face up to the sky
                                    Ready to receive
As I let go,
            Tension leaves my throat
                                    My stomach
                                    My chest
As I let go,
            I give God room 
                        to moving around
                                    in my life
                        Safety
                                    A container to work in
                                                A place to bless
Often, I scrunch my eyes shut
            Hold my breath
                        Clench on tight to
                                    False security
And try to control
            Only an illusion!

This closed-off space offers
No place to receive
                        No openness
                                    No receptivity!
If I let go
            And let God
                        Power is in the right hands!
                        I’m at ease!
                        God is in the control
                                    My fight is over!
A topsy-turvy world
of Today
Coronavirus pandemic explodes

The third step remains
            The same today
                        As always
                                    And God is in control!
Let Go!

My control issues fan out into all parts of my life, so I had to look at one of my personal private times—my prayers—and wonder deeply.

For Whom Am I Praying?

March 28, 2020

Stripped bare today, I wonder
            For whom am I praying
                        REALLY?
When I utter
            My prayers to my God
                        Stand naked
                                    Before him
Where is my heart really?
Does empathy reign?
            Does compassion cover
                        Me like a mantle,
                                    Rich green velvet shawl
                                                Draped over my shoulders
                                                and the world?
            Do my words
                        Include you
                                    Your needs
                                                The world's?
Or does selfishness rule?
            Does each sentence
                        Begin with I
                                    Dotted with me
                                                Sprinkled with my and mine?
I focus where?
            Inward
                        Outward
                                    Me?
                                               You?
As I turn these thoughts
            Over
                        In my mind,
                                    I know the truth!
Interdependence
            Not me, not you
                        But we!
Not mine, not yours
            But ours!

Deeply I feel that!
            Our world needs this
                        Whole-hearted unity
                        A healing alliance
                        Life-flowing love
The imaginary wall of
            Indifference melts
                        In golden droplets
                                    On the ground
Green Irish clover pops up
            Verdant and life-giving
Dutch tulips spring into action
            With lips reaching for the sky
A multi-colored, multi-cultural garden procreates
            From those drops
                        Those tears
New life forms
            And a new world begins!

All because I prayed for us!
            You prayed for us!
            The world opened its heart
                        To our kinship
                                    Instead of our differences!

These hard times offer possibilities, spiritual opportunities to see everything differently. Pause with me and pray for our wounded world and its people! I would love to hear how you are praying during this turbulent time!


~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry · square dance

What is Normal Today?

Normal to you, normal to me? Nothing alike, I’m sure! I want to share a poem I wrote a few years ago about why I dance, then I end with one I wrote on March 27, 2020, in the midst of our unusual world!

Normal life: Lin and I dressed up for our wedding and a square dance!
Lin and I dressed up for our wedding and a square dance reception!
Why We Square Dance—Why I Dance

It’s a Friday 
                  Or
                     A Saturday night
A dance night!
 
The week lasted for eons
                  grueling
I had my work face on for five days
                  and I kept going.
I finished this week
                  Exhausted!
 
My family needs drained me
I am wilted,
                  ready to dissolve into bed!
 
But it’s my dance night.
                  I breathe deeply,
                                    I know!
 
I select my square dance outfit.
                  What do I feel like tonight?
                                    Red or turquoise
                                                      Southwest design or frilly lace?
 
The familiarity of my weekly dance routine
                  takes over
 
Systematically I put on my outfit
                  As each layer goes on,
                                    my perspective and energy level changes!
First my hose
                  With a deep breath, I release part of my stress
Then my pettipants
                  Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath
my top and skirt
                  My goodness—a glimmer of hope
my belt
                  A smile slowly crosses my lips
Next my matching petticoat and shoes
                  Yes, I sigh with relief
Finally, my club badge
                  To identify who I am—
                 
                  A square dancer!
 

A spray to finish my hair
                  a touch of lip gloss
A final look in the mirror
A pirouette and a spin
                  crinoline flowing
                                    I am complete!
My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!
 
The drive to the dance hall
                  becomes a time tunnel
                                    a vacuum
                                              a timeless space
                                                            void of the demands of this world
                                                                                                    
                  stress free
                                                                                                                                relaxing
 
Either soft music in the background
                  or
                                  a compatible silence
                  or
                                  a casual conversation
 
A bridge between the world out there
                  with its demands
and the dance world
                  with its pleasures!
 
Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family
The music starts
I step onto the dance floor
                  and I am free!
The carefree child within me
                  spins round and around
                            claps her hands
                                           and
                                                Shouts for joy!
                                                                                                            I am free!
                                                                                                                              The tip starts,
                                                                                                            and I am safe
                                                                                                            to spend two hours
                                                                                                                              In sheer joy and ecstasy!
 
I drop the world’s cares and concerns,
                  at the door,
                                    kicking them out of view!
 
So if you have problems in your world, join me
                  and
                                    leave them at the door!
 
If you are angry or sad
                  The magic begins
                                    when you show up
                                                      and
                                                            dress up!
                  The music starts
                                    and
                                    I step onto the dance floor!
And then the real magic takes over!
 
Cares melt down my shoulders
                  and flitter away on a breath
                                    giving a lightness to my step
Sorrows cluster together
                  and ride away on an angel’s wings.
 
Music playing
                  I am surrounded by dear friends
I step onto the dance floor
                  It is a safe place
                                    and
                                      I am free!
 
That’s why I dance!
 
Copyright©2015 Larada Horner-Miller

As I juxtapose these two poems against each other, I realize the loss I’m experiencing. My husband and I have had a couple of years with limited dancing because of health reasons, but I remember in 2015 when I wrote the above poem, we would dance three times a week. Then we often went away to weekend events that started on Friday evening with a dance, dance all day Saturday and Saturday night and Sunday morning. We were dancing fools!

The world I face today in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic differs drastically from our normal life.

Dream about normal life. The word dream on green leaves
I Want Normal Again

March 27, 2020
 
I want to dance
            To laugh
                        To hug
                                    To live!
I want my life back!
 
This disruption has created havoc
             Distance
                        Isolation
 
I want my old life back,
            But not at the expense
                        Of loss
                                    Of risk
                                                Of stupidity
                                                            Of you
 
I love my normal life
            Lin
                        14 Asher Lane
                                    Jesse, my cat
                                                The richness of community
                                                            Friends
                                                            Family
            Branson
                        The ranch
                                     My brother
                                                And friends
 

Sixty-six years
            Full and rich

I count my numerous joys
            And I submit to the world’s needs!
                        To my elderly neighbor
                                    To my high-risk dancing friend
                                                With a double lung transplant
                                                            To the stranger
                                                                        I want to consider
I submit; I must or perish,
            But as I say this,
                        I yearn for my life back!
 
In my nightly dreams,
            I spin off of Lin’s hand
                        We promenade around the square
                                    I hoot and holler on an allemande left
                                                I relish each hug in the "thank you" circle
 
When it is safe,
the next time we dance,
           I will hug you
                       From the depths of my soul
            And will be made new
                        In your touch
 
But for today,
            I kiss my husband
                        We hug and snuggle
                                    We touch
                                                And it keeps me alive
 
Those dreams
            Sustain my spirit
                        Today
 
And I wait for the day
            For normal to return!
 

As I compare these two poems, I mourn the loss of dance right now–the movement, the activity, the music and our friends! And I’m going to be oh, so careful on the return! How do you keep six feet apart when square dancing? How can you wear gloves and masks and dance? Do you change gloves after every tip? And no hugs? Hugs are a big part of it for me!

What does your normal life look like? I’d love to hear about the activities that feed your soul.


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  Visit my web site and you can order a book on the homepage:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s One Person’s Value in this World?

I embrace a poetic view of life—that’s me. I grew up in a ranching community where we valued and celebrated life, babies, the elderly and rain! We valued older people and children equally! We also placed value on life in any form, and in the spring, a rancher’s delight centered on spring time calving season and the birth of the new calf crop.

I watched my dad labor over a cow struggling to give birth, and if she died, then I witnessed his tender care for an orphan calf, bottle-feeding it to keep it alive. Each season offered a reason to celebrate life and nature and respect death and loss, so the environment fostered a deep yearning in my soul to look at this world in a different way. It also encouraged me to wonder about the good and the bad—the heavy summer thunderstorm that filled the reservoirs and the loss of that momma cow. Life offers me opportunities to look, to see, to wonder and that’s what I’ve done in our current world situation.

So, it was a natural reaction for me to write poetry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Over a month ago, I wrote this following poem pondering the value of human life. As the numbers have increased, I can’t become immune to the horror. Thousands of people have died daily because of this pandemic, and it forced me to think about the value of each of those lost.

            In this past month, I’ve watched bizarre behavior on the news and wonder, “what about empathy first for the dying? For those who have lost someone in this tragedy?”

What’s One Person’s Value?

March 27, 2020
 
How do we value one person’s worth?
            How do you gauge a life?

Do we honor each other?
            Treasure each other?
 
One individual’s death
            Sends ripple
                        Across the sphere!
Angels celebrate
            With cheers and tears
Humans lament
            Their loss
These two worlds collide
 
How do we value one gone?
            You had a life
                        A family you loved
                                    Who loved you
                        A spirit
                        A soul
 
Your color doesn’t matter
            Your ethnicity
                        Your religion
                                    Your gender
 
You mattered
            To someone
Their hearts broke at your death!
Mine did, too!
 
Instead of becoming
            Immune to loss
                        During this pandemic,
My heart hurts
            Wide and deep
                        For loss
                        For disruption
                                    For you.
 
Chances are
            You died alone
No loved one held your hand
            Kissed your brow
                        Whispered sweet memories
                                    Into your ear.
 
The horrors
                        The Aloneness
The deaths
                        The losses
Gone
            Never to return!
 
What did we as a world lose
            When you died?
                        What contribution?
                                    What impact?    
          
We will never know!

What do you think—do we value the individual? Does our behavior match our words? I would love to hear your thoughts!


~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

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

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

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: mid-May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Can Worry Paralyze You?

Woman worrying at computer

Do you worry? I have a worrier’s heart! My journey with worrying has had bumps a long the way. Genetically wired to worry, both of my parents had this trait, and I picked it up. Historically, my strongest positive characteristics worked: a goal-oriented person, an A-type who accomplishes every job given! My strongest negative trait paralyzed me: worry! The worry struggle has haunted me my whole life—I’ve overcommitted it once more! I kept going and worked through its insidious power it had over me! My current book project became one of my teacher!

I’ve been working on my current book project for three years. I started thinking about the possibility of writing Marshall Flippo’s biography in April 2017. But somehow recently my process changed—I had to trust the process. Worry has kept me awake nights and consumed my waking hours quietly in the background. I am not in control, thank God!

Flippo died in November 2018, so I focused on releasing his biography at the National Square Dance Convention in June 2019 but I couldn’t make that because I had a horrible stomach problem came up, and I had to deal with it. Then I moved my targeted release date to Revco Square Dance Festival in Indio, CA, in November 2019. Flippo had called there for years and many dancers would want to read about his life and his hilarious stories but that didn’t work—postponement again. I still needed to revise, edit and cut the massive verbiage of 258,00 words to a manageable size. Also, I got deathly ill in October, unable to work on it for a couple months, so we missed the dance altogether.

Then the perfect venue appeared in the future—CALLERLAB Convention in Reno, NV at the beginning of April 2020. All through these months of working, I worried and fretted about how to get it done—we had two international trips planned and I couldn’t imagine how I could do it! Many mornings I woke early before the alarm went off, listing in my mind everything I needed to do on the Flippo book, and the list grew, not shrunk. How could I do it? But, I’m the eternal optimist and have historically pushed myself relentlessly! I could do it!

At the end of January 2020, we went to Costa Rica, and the timing of this trip worked out. Breathing a sigh of relief, I sent the manuscript off to my editor in late December, so she had ample time to look it over and emailed me the results a couple days before we left Costa Rica. I left worry at home and really enjoyed this trip.

Her email shocked me! She wanted a basic rewrite—I had interviewed Flippo for over 40 hours, and in writing his biography, I relished his words and comments, so the majority of the book was his dialogue. Her comments stung, “A great script, but I need more of you in the book.” In my mind, I argued with her comments, but how smart is that—I hired her to be my editor. Now, was I going to take her advice or not?

So, when we got home, Lin suggested I take a two-week writing retreat at my home in Branson, CO away from all the local distractions, and that’s what I did. My dear friends there knew my mission and respected my need for privacy. I worked hard for those two weeks and added me to the book which was fascinating.

The timing on the next trip to Spain worked also! I saw a pattern emerge here! On both flights, I worked on revisions then enjoyed the trip. Worry looked over my shoulder occasionally but I stopped its thunderous voice. My editor’s final revisions waited for me when I got home. She loved what I had done—whew!

So, when we got home from Spain on March 9, I had prepared myself for about three weeks of long days of revisions from the final edit and all the other requirements to get the book published. You see, I self-publish, so I do it all. I could do it—I’ve always thought I could get more done in a day than is physically and mentally possible!

The saga continued. We left Spain on March 8th; the coronavirus exploded there the 9th, so my husband and I self-quarantined for two weeks, afraid of possible exposure to the virus. We had spent our last two days in Madrid, where the virus took off. Now I would have dedicated time to work, and work I did!

book cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

Before leaving for Spain, I had solicited help from some friends on the cover of the book. I had a basic mockup done, but I valued their artistic talent and opinion. It ended up they couldn’t do it but gave me valuable suggestions on how to do the back cover. A major part of any book project happens to be the cover, so a couple days after we got home, I woke up at 3:30 a.m., worrying about the cover and did it—the creative juices flowed!

Worry word cloud

As the coronavirus pandemic worsened, Lin and I respected the shelter-in-place request, and I have been home basically for seven weeks finishing the book. The worries continued: which pictures to include, don’t forget to change the ISBN for all three versions, new to Ingram Sparks and cover questions, indexing woes, ad nauseam!

The CALLERLAB Convention cancelled—oh, no! The perfect venue for selling this book gone, but what I’ve found out in this process amazed me! I ended up with extra time to do a much better, more precise, more involved revision and finish.

I created a step-by-step list I have to do sequentially in the publishing of this book. Each phase, like adding pictures I thought I could do in a couple days—NOT! It took me a week and a half to do that, so I had to move out the release date—possibly April 17, then the 24th!

Then I realized I needed to do a final read-through before anything else. Somehow, mistakes escaped me in the final revision, and it really paid off, and I had the time now to do it! During this extra time, I’ve culled more interesting information from notes I had and found interesting details in emails to include. I’ve communicated with numerous callers and cuers—the extra seven weeks have been a Godsend.

Usually, I keep worry inside, not sharing it with anyone— but today I decided it had to be put out there! To date, I’ve postponed the release date several times—not my norm, but my new normal now is freeing! New release date: the first part of May—be ready!

So, my message is this! I make plans, and God laughs! Road blocks appear; I worry, fume and fuss, and it all works out better than my original plan! I must trust the Master Planner, and it’s not me!


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

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

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 234 PRE-ORDERS!  Release date: beginning of May! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s Biography: How Many Pictures to Include?

That is the question! At this point, I have nearly 300 pictures in Marshall Flippo’s biography and have six more chapters to go! Luckily some of those chapters will have no pictures, so I have about four chapters that do.

To explain the major source of the pictures, during our interview time, Flippo and I roamed through three photo albums/scrapbooks that Neeca made for him. Originally, she made the first one as a Christmas gift and then she continued her thoughtful collection of memorabilia of his career throughout their marriage. She said, “I had enough for the second one and then later enough for the third one.”

So, you will see numerous references to these three albums/scrapbooks throughout the book—basically a walk down memory lane. Included in these albums/scrapbooks are photos, articles and reviews of Flippo’s newly released songs. I used all the resources I could out of these three albums/scrapbooks and much of his biography’s information came from Flippo is in response to viewing these.

Stan Jeffus scanned the albums/scrapbooks for a major presentation he did at the Chaparral weekend in Paris, Texas dance in 2016, Flippo’s last time to call at this event. Stan and I met then, and when this book project came up and Flippo lent me the albums, I wondered if Stan had already scanned them because I realized several of the photos in the albums/scrapbooks were in his presentation. He had scanned them and sent me a CD.

So Flippo and I finished the first album/scrapbook the Wednesday of the CALLERLAB Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2018, then I sent them home with him. From then on, whenever we had our weekly interview time, he viewed the physical album and I looked at the digital album—it worked out great. As Flip went from page to page, it sparked one memory and then another—exactly the bonus I had hoped for in viewing them. He laughed and chuckled and then told another story and another. Then one story would spark another totally not associated with the picture or the ad he saw. I don’t know how many stories would have been lost without the aid of those three albums/scrapbooks.

And it was the photos that fascinated me most and his unbelievable memory for a ninety-year-old man.

After Flippo died, I needed to fill in some information gaps, so I spent countless hours researching all the back issues of Sets in Order and American Square Dance magazines, searching for any reference to Marshall Flippo. In Sets in Order and American Square Dance (previously American Squares), they both first mentioned Flippo in their November 1958 issues. From that point on, Marshall Flippo appeared regularly—reviews of his recordings, interviews, ads for festivals he did, and articles he wrote.

After Flippo died, people sent me photos, so I have an abundance of them, so how do I decide which to use? The selection process has been simple—include as many as possible!

Preparing and importing the pictures has taken a lot longer than I thought it would—I’ve been working on this phase of the book production for about ten days. The process requires that I increase the dpi (dot per inch) of each picture up to 300—the book production computer program won’t allow anything less. Some have needed to be cropped; others needed smears and marks erased. I learned how to do that task and am proud of the results. Here’s one example of the fix.

I’ve enjoyed seeing all the pictures again. As I have looked at them, I can hear Flip’s comments about different ones and laugh—he had a story for each, and some stories can’t be printed! Many people have helped with naming people I didn’t know and Flippo didn’t identify, so this has been a group effort!

My evening ended last night with me importing pictures into Chapter 24, A Calling Life Revered, where I recognize all the awards Flippo received. As I looked at the pictures chronologically and thought about going through this book once more, I marveled at the handsome young caller selling thousands of records, but as I ended the selection of pictures for this chapter, my heart saddened to see the elderly statesman. The words are powerful in the book revealing a humble man who clearly made his mark in the square dance world, but the pictures expand the words as you look at his life visually—the youthful Texas, the young Navy man, the budding young caller, the maturing caller and the elderly man. So yes, the reader will see many pictures of Flippo, his friends and illustrious career events.

This three-year project has grown to a close, and the book will be out by the end of April. It has been a labor of love!

I had originally planned to release this book at the CALLERLAB Convention this year in April in Reno, Nevada but couldn’t because it was cancelled because of the pandemic. I have worked diligently for this month to fine tune all aspects of the book. I will have an online Facebook Live Stream Release Party, so keep your eye out for the date.

Do you have a favorite Marshall Flippo picture? Tell me about it!


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

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

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 232 PRE-ORDERS!  It will be published by the end of APRIL! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry · Words Matter

POETRY: Dare I Breathe—Tomorrow is a Month!

I’m a writer, a poet! So what do I do when stressed out? WRITE POETRY! Poetry is the way I have processed life—no different during the coronavirus pandemic. Read the first in a series of poems I’ve written! What a long month! Since we got back from Spain a month ago, I’ve processed my fear and anxiety about the possibility of getting the coronavirus through words, thoughts and poems.

Here’s a poem I wrote a couple days ago, and I will be sharing more in the next couple days.

Not Today #COVID19
By: Larada Horner-Miller
April 7, 2020
 
Thirty-one days
            Since we left
                        Coronavirus-stricken Madrid
                                    And Spain
 We left on March 8th;
            It exploded there the 9th.
 
Thirty-one days of
            Holding my breath
            Self-examination
                        By the minute
            Self-diagnosis
                        Daily
            Self-screening
                        Repeatedly

Washing hands
            washing hands
                        washing hands! 
 
A throat tickle
            Sore throat
                         Diarrhea
            Cough
Is it the virus?
            Dread and anxiety gripped me
 
Two weeks of
            Self-quarantine
Desperate not to share
            If I had it.
 
Dances cancelled
            CALLERLAB cancelled
                        Life cancelled!
 
After two weeks
            A sigh
                        Maybe we made it
Yet. . .
 
Incubation period
            2 — 14 days
                        maybe 27
 
Oh, my God!
 
Shelter-in-place
            Nothing new
                        No new symptoms
 
After two weeks,
            Out of the house for the first time
                        For a prescription and groceries
Panic and fear
            People six-feet apart 
                        at the drug store
                                    Safe yet foreign
            People too close to me
                        In the grocery store
                                    Claustrophobic

Malted Easter Eggs lured me in
            Impulse buying
                        No, it’s Easter time
                                    I always buy them at Easter
                                                Normal routine
            Two bags
I wolfed down one whole bag
            immediately
                   And gained three pounds!
 
Remedy to grocery shopping
            Senior time slot
                        Early in the morning
                                    Safer
                                                Respectful of distance
                                                            Less people
Still washing hands
            disinfecting the bags
                        the Jeep
                                   the steering wheel
                                                the knobs
EVERTYTHING!
  
Watching my husband, Lin, closely
            Fear gripped my heart
Both of us have had health issues
            the last couple years
 
Three weeks gone
            Another sigh of relief
 
Yet in the back of my mind
            And heart
Will it happen?
            Will it sneak up and attack
                        when I least expect it?
 
Tomorrow I will breathe
            Celebrate
                        Relax
                                    Praise God!
 
But today,
            I am still apprehensive
                        Not sure
                                    Wondering?
 
God protect us!
 
 
 
Woman hugging a pillow, relieved.

We live in uncertain times, staying home when I’m used to being with others, dancing, traveling and hugging. I haven’t been able to visit our ranch in southeastern Colorado and be rejuvenated by open prairies, a magnificent evening sunset silhouetting Saddlerock or an evening ride around our ranch with my brother looking for wildlife and sharing favorite memories!

I’m an extrovert, so I need you and your hugs! However, we can cope with this insanity—we just have to find the best way that works for our individual personalities!

I hope my words comfort your heart—take them as a virtual hug! Let me know how you have felt during this sad time! And there will be more!


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

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

~ I HAVE 232 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  It will be published by in APRIL! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Cathedrals End Our Trip to Spain!

Flamenco dancers, more cathedrals, a cathedral within a mosque, and a walled city filled the end of our fabulous trip to Spain.

Flamenco Dancer

In our first five days traveling, I had already seen Flamenco dancer souvenirs in many gift shops. I thought I’d seen “Flamenco Dancers” on our itinerary, but I asked a couple knowledgeable travelers in our group when that was. They both looked at me like I’d lost my mind.

I went back through all of our paperwork and couldn’t find it but rejoiced when Brad, our tour guide, said we would have dinner and see a Flamenco dance group in Sevilla (Spanish spelling) or Seville (English spelling) on March 5. My excitement and anticipation grew!

Day 6: March 5, 2020

We started the day in Sevilla with our tour guide telling us about the many buildings we passed that had been built for the Iberian-American Exposition in 1929. The Exposition affected the growth of Sevilla much like the Olympics did Barcelona.

“The Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 was a world’s fair held in Seville, Spain, from 9 May 1929 until 21 June 1930. Countries in attendance of the exposition included: Portugal, the United States, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, the Republic of Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Each Spanish region and each of the provinces of Andalusia were also represented.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibero-American_Exposition_of_1929

Plaza América

We ended at the Plaza América, where we had stopped on our amazing carriage ride back to the hotel the night before. See last week’s blog post for that.

“The Plaza de America (Seville), located in the Parque de María Luisa, is flanked by the Museum of Popular Arts (Neomudéjar style) to the north, the Archaeological Museum (Neo-Renaissance style) to the south, and the Royal Pavilion (Gothic style) to the east. These three buildings were built by the architect Aníbal González between 1913 and 1916 for the future Ibero-American exhibition in 1929, each with a different architectural style. Also form Part of the roundabout of Miguel de Cervantes, adorned with the works Ceramics Recalling Most Famous, as Rodriguez Marin.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaza_de_Am%C3%A9rica

Next we stopped at the Plaza España, built in 1928, for the Exposition in 1929.  The stunning size of the half circle structure overwhelmed me at first sight. Around the gigantic courtyard, each Spanish province had a kiosk with a map, mosaic tiles and a picture depicting the character of that province—colorful and amazing. During the Exposition, natives stood in the kiosk and described it to their guests.

Group Picture

Our group had our picture taken by the fountain there. Brad handed out beautiful Spanish fans to each of the women in the group—so thoughtful!

From there we went to the Sevilla Cathedral, seeing the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Lin and I had lunch at Mateos and shopped. I bought me a beautiful creme-colored shawl to wear to the Flamenco dance that night.

From there we went to the Alcazar, “. . . a royal palace in Seville, Spain, built for the Christian king Peter of Castile. It was built by Castilian Christians on the site of an Abbadid Muslim residential fortress destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alc%C3%A1zar_of_Seville

Again, I saw the influence of the Moors.

All over town we kept seeing a symbol “NO 8 DO,” and our guide told us the story behind it. Literally it means, “Never abandon me!”

NO8DO is the official motto of Seville, popularly believed to be a rebus signifying the Spanish No me ha dejado, meaning “She [Seville] has not abandoned me”. The phrase is spelled with an eight in the middle representing the word madeja “skein [of wool]”. Legend states that the title was given by King Alfonso X, who was resident in the city’s Alcázar and supported by the citizens when his son, later Sancho IV of Castile, tried to usurp the throne from him.

The emblem is present on Seville’s municipal flag, and features on city property such as manhole covers, and Christopher Columbus’s tomb in the Cathedral.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seville#Motto

The busy day ended with dinner at the Flamenco La Catedral en Sevilla and Flamenco dancers, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The mystery and the drama captivated me with women’s long skirts swishing across the stage. The sound of the singers almost felt like cries and screams at times. The sound of clicking castanets and stomping feet filled the air—truly magical.

Day 7: March 6, 2020

The next day our end destination was Madrid with a stop at Córdoba to see the Mesquita/Catedral. This mosque wasn’t destroyed by the Catholic invasion. Imagine that—a cathedral built inside a mosque. Our energetic guide, Gema, led us through this massive building of over 800 pillars and burnt-orange arches. It is not used as a mosque today because the Catholic church won’t let the Moslem kneel.

The many orange-colored arches and pillars went on and on in every direction. The mosque part fascinated me—I had never been inside a mosque.. Again, another overwhelming cathedral with a golden altar and the strong influence of the Moslem people.

Our guide told us the city didn’t want the Catholic part added to the mosque, so the Bishop at the time went to the Emperor, and he agreed to it because “the Protestants were driving him crazy.”

When we left Córdoba, we drove through green fields in La Mancha, and I felt Don Quixote riding his stead, Rocinante, and Sancho Panza everywhere! I looked for windmills but saw none!

Again as we traveled, Brad entertained us, telling us about the different types of ham, jamón, in Spain. The jamón Ibérico comes from pigs that roam free and eat acorns in the mountains. He also shared how expensive it was. Families buy it for their holiday meals starting with St. Nicholas Day on December 6 eating it all the way to Epiphany on January 6. Throughout our travels in Spain, we saw many butcher shops with hams hanging up.

We arrived in Madrid late afternoon, got to our rooms and then went out for a group dinner and heard a musical group, La Tuna, which are traditionally university students singing to help pay education costs. We savored the delicious dinner and the outstanding entertainment .

Day 8: March 7, 2020

The next morning, first, we toured Madrid. Brad had told us about the division in the city: the Hapsburg section and the Bourbon section. Then we went to the El Prado Museum, another place I had anticipated visiting! We couldn’t take pictures inside, so I snapped the above picture of Lin in the lobby.

The highlight for me was seeing a Goya exhibit. I used this painting of Goya’s, Zeus Eating His Son, in my mythology unit when I was a middle school English teaching, and this gory drawing enticed my students immediately. Seeing the extreme emotions of the Goya paintings shocked me in person though. We only had an hour and half, but our guide made sure we saw the key artwork of Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez and El Greco.

Because I couldn’t take pictures, I concentrated on the paintings and the guide’s explanation, so I felt like I really saw and understood the artist, the painting, and its historical significance.

After this amazing tour, we drove about an hour with the same knowledgeable guide to Toledo, the walled city. Our bus driver stopped at a strategic spot across the river so we could get great cityscape pictures of Toledo.

Thank God for the numerous escalators up the hill to the walled city of Toledo. Lin and I had a delicious venison dish and Spanish potatoes for lunch. We shopped in Plaza de Zocodover and met back with the group.

Then our guide led us through the narrow streets to the massive Toledo cathedral. More golden altars, but here red hats hung from the ceiling—the hats of cardinals who had died. Our guide told us that the phrase “Holy Toledo” came from this city because of all the churches, synagogues and other religious sites.

On our way out of Toledo, we stopped at the Damasquinados Suarez store where we saw how the Damascene jewelry and steel swords was made.

“Damascene is the ancient Moorish craft of inlaying gold or silver on non-precious metals like iron or steel.” https://www.travelsignposts.com/Spain/shopping/damascene-shopping-in-toledo

After the demonstrations, I bought a bracelet, earrings and sewing scissors. In another shop, I bought mazapan Santo Tomé which Toledo is famous for and sampled it on the ride back to Madrid—Yum!

We got back to the hotel at 6:00 pm and left at 7 for our Farewell Dinner in downtown Madrid at the Espejo Restaurante and had a delicious dinner. Sad to see this magical trip end.

When we returned to the hotel, we did a square dance demonstration for our tour group, and then Jerry taught two squares some basic moves. It was so much fun. It’s a video of our group learning to square dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FITjSm0vfVo

At the end of this action-filled day, Lin and I packed our bags—always a chore I don’t enjoy because of all the souvenirs I bought. I felt like I have to push and shove to make it all fit! And then the weight! Lin brought a bag scale to check! No problem!

Day 9: March 8

The next morning Lin and I rose very early at 4:45 am to get our bags downstairs by 5:45 am. The hotel prepared sack breakfasts for us. We left the hotel before 6:45, our planned time to leave but had to return because we left one of our traveling companions.

The Madrid airport seemed quiet at that early hour. We checked in, went to our gate and waited. I bought a travel pillow at the Madrid airport—one that goes around your neck, and I could sleep on the plane much more easily!

Once again, I continued revisions of the biography I was working on and watched the Mr. Rodgers movie. We flew first to Atlanta and had a sizable lay-over, so we grabbed food and played Cribbage with the two Albuquerque couples traveling with us. Then we came on to Albuquerque!

After about thirty hours of travel time—we came home and went to bed to wake up to the news that the coronavirus had exploded in Spain and especially in Madrid overnight.

I fell in love with Spain, the Spanish people and all the wonder, yet I have felt so sad about how the virus has erupted. My heart goes out to a beautiful country I will remember forever in cathedrals, Moslem architecture, beautiful dances and wonderful people.


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

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

~THINGS ARE BOOMING! I HAVE 232 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  It will be published by MID-APRIL! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Just How Much Did the Moors Influence Spain?

Lin and I with Alhambra in background
Lin and I with the Alhambra in the background

Our trip from Barcelona to Valencia, Granada and then Seville expanded my knowledge of the Moorish presence in Spain. We headed south along the coast and drove a couple days. As we traveled, I marveled at the sights. My awareness of the Moorish influence in Spain grew as I saw their presence!

Day 3: March 2, 2020

Our day started out rainy in Barcelona, and we face a two-hundred-mile drive to Valencia.

We stopped for lunch at Peñíscola on the Mediterranean coast. The hilltop castle was used for the filming of the movie, “El Cid.” Some of us braved the cold windy day and walked up to the castle winding our way through the narrow streets. I bought an expensive souvenir there—a deck of playing cards for twelve dollars. Hard to explain!

As we drove, Brad entertained us with facts about Spain, specifically about Catalonia and the Catalan dialect. He told us about Franco winning the Spanish Civil War in 1939. Franco trained Juan Carlos to follow him, but when he died and Juan Carlos took over, he said that Franco was wrong and organized the states as they are known now.

Brad also explained why Catalonia wants to leave Spain. He shared an interesting comparison of Shakespeare and Cervantes and told us about the “anti-pope.” His narrative helped make the day go by quickly.

Our day ended at Valencia. It is noted for “The City of Arts and Science,” “a cultural and architectural complex” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Arts_and_Sciences

I didn’t feel well, so I napped while my husband, Lin, and friends toured the complex and took pictures. Valencia is also known for paella and we had an extraordinary dinner seeing paella made by a master chef at La Cigrona restaurant. I recovered in time to eat!

Another claim to fame for Valencia is the fallas—celebrations that last from March 1 – 19, “a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph. . .. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments burnt during the celebration. Each neighbourhood of the city has an organised group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the noted dish paella, a specialty of the region.”

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

Day 4: March 3, 2020

Because of the planned seat rotation, Lin and I sat up front on the right-hand side of the bus and had a clear view ahead—it was awesome because this was another drive day to Granada to see the Alhambra. Again, Brad shared his knowledge of the area we were traveling through.

In preparing for our time in Granada and the Alhambra, Brad shared that the Arabic world arrived in Granada in 711 and captured it in twenty years. Three faiths, Jewish, Christian and Islam, lived side-by-side here for many years.

The Moslem control was defeated in 1492 at the Battle of Granada, the “Reconquista.”

“The Battle of Granada was a siege of the city of Granada. It was fought several months and lead to the surrender of Granada on January 2, 1492. The forces of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile fought against the armies of the Muslim Emirate of Granada.

This relatively small campaign was of enormous consequences because Granada was the last outpost of Al-Andalus in Spain and its fall meant the end of 780 years of Muslim control in the Iberian Peninsula.”

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Granada

In 1492, the sultan gave the keys of the Alhambra to Ferdinand and Isabella. Brad talked about the Arabic triangle in Spain: Granada, Sevilla and Toledo.

When we arrived in Granada, we drove immediately to the Alhambra for a two-and-a-half-hour tour—exhausting but exhilarating! Our touring group split into two groups, and our guide was Elena, a knowledgeable and personable woman.

The Alhambra is “a palace and fortress complex. . . constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasridemir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition). . ..”

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

Washington Irving’s presence at the Alhambra

Washington Irving wrote his “Tales of the Alhambra” here.

I had no idea of the extent of the Moorish influence in Spain. This palace took my breath away. The mosaics inside and the Islamic calligraphy graced numerous walls. The sheer size spoke volumes as to the position this palace played throughout Muslim and Spanish history.

The Alhambra

Situated on a hill, the fortress’ protection and presence commanded the area.

As we were walking back, Elena told us to go to the Zara store not far from our hotel for great prices on women’s clothing, so I made note of that!

After our tour through the Palace and the Generalife, a walk through gardens to the Summer Palace and walk back, I was exhausted. So we headed to our hotel and napped. We ate dinner at the hotel, then Lin and I walked to the square a few blocks away and took pictures of Queen Isabella and Columbus.

Day 5: March 4, 2020

During the morning, Lin and I chose to do an optional tour to the Albaicin neighborhood which used to be the Moslem Quarters of Granada that we could see from the Alhambra the day before. This fascinating walking tour wound us around through narrow streets with beautiful balconies covered with flowers and our guide, Elena from the day before.

Acorn – Welcome

She shared how many of the houses had acorn statutes as welcome signs to visitors.

“The traditional type of house is the carmen, consisting of a freestanding house surrounded by a high wall that separates it from the street and including a small orchard or garden.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albaic%C3%ADn

The beautiful doors fascinated me as we wandered through the narrow streets, so I took several photos.

Elena shared that one of the ways the Moslems showed they had converted to Christianity was the image of the Virgin Mary on their walls. They were desperate to show their conversion after the Reconquesta.

After this tour, our group stopped for a break and I bought Washington Irving’s book, “Tales of the Alhambra.” Next we visited the Royal Palace and saw five crypts: Isabella and Ferdinand, Prince Charles, the Handsome and his mother, Joanna, the Crazy and Miguel. We were not allowed to take pictures in the Royal Palace.

Gula con gambas
Gula con gambas

Afterwards, we ate lunch in a small street café and I split “Gula con gambas” with Mary Beth. It was a delicious shrimp and noodle dish. Then we shopped at Zara’s, finding some great buys.

We spent the afternoon traveling through olive country to Seville. We stopped for a break and bought olive oil souvenirs. Brad shared an English tourist joke. What’s ABC?  “Another Bloody Church.”

We settled in our hotel in Seville and for an optional excursion, we went out to dinner, sampling delicious Spanish food in a seven-course meal. A singer, a friend of Brad’s, entertained us, then we had a memorable end to the night—a carriage ride back to our hotel, stopping at the Plaza America for pictures.

One of the horses in a carriage next to us was a black, high-spirited Andalusian, beautiful prancing and gorgeous body!

We visited two beautiful cities and saw so much in three days, my head is still reeling! I’m glad I have this blog to go back and peruse my pictures and remember–ah!!!

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

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

~THINGS ARE BOOMING! I HAVE 227 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  It will be published by MID-APRIL! You, too, can pre-order this amazing story! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

~Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for digital or paper copies of all my books: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Barcelona, A Two Day Whirlwind Tour of the City of Mystery

Barcelona, a city of mystery and mystique! We had two glorious days in Barcelona to discover its hidden wonders. Lin and I explored narrow streets which looked like alleys, saw breathtaking cathedrals and learned about an architect with a dream. Two action-packed days in Barcelona officially started our “Insight Vacations” in Spain, and I fell in love with Barcelona!

Day 1 – February 29, 2020

On our first day of our official “Insight Vacations” tour, we woke up early at 6:15 a.m., adjusting to the time change. Our group planned to meet downstairs at 8:15 a.m. to buy Hop-On, Hop-Off tickets at the desk and tour Barcelona on our own. Everyone showed up and purchased their tickets, except our faithful leaders, Jerry and Mary Beth—they slept in. I loved the group’s response—total acceptance.

Again it was a walk to Diagonal Street, “Avinguda Diagonal (Catalan pronunciation), in Spanish La Avenida Diagonal is the name of one of  Barcelona’s broadest and most important avenues. It cuts the city in two, diagonally with respect to the grid pattern of the surrounding streets, hence the name.”

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

 But this trip was leisure stroll, and we caught the bus to go down to the port because Jerry and Mary Beth had been here thirty years ago and wanted us to see the area where they stayed. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus provided a Barcelona guide book and ear buds to listen to the recorded tour guide’s comments as we passed sights. Lin and I wanted upstairs on the top of the open-air bus. Initially I had some problems with the sound but figured it out.

The whole idea of the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus ticket was to see the whole city and then go back to the specific places that caught our eye—we ended up not doing that.

Our grouped stayed on the Red line until the port, passing many amazing sights, but then we left the bus about 11:15 a.m., agreeing to meet back at 12:15 p.m if we were going to continue with the group (who went on to have lunch together and tour the rest of the city on the bus). Lin and I opted to stay down by the port. We first took pictures of the Christopher Columbus (Colon) Monument.

Colon Monument ( Christopher Columbus)

“The Mirador de Colom, also known as the Columbus Monument, is an impressive pillar dedicated to the explorer Christopher Columbus in Barcelona with an observation deck at the top. It stands 197 Ft (60 m) tall and sits at the end of La Rambla, very close to the city’s port.”

https://www.introducingbarcelona.com/mirador-de-colom

Narrow street in the La Rambla Disrict

After that, a flea market caught our eye, and we wandered through it. From there we headed towards La Rambla and then down alley-like streets so charming and alluring. Bicyclists rode by us as we meandered down narrow streets with hanging flower baskets—so picturesque. Needless to say, we didn’t make it back by 12:15 p.m

One more narrow street tempted Lin, so I waited and watched people, one of my favorite pastime in foreign countries. People of all ages on bicycles surrounded me. Lin and I reunited and went shopping. Then we had a delicious lunch outside at the Casa Lola restaurant “in the heart of the La Rambla Catalunya”  in the brisk, cool air, sampling “tapas” which

“. . .are at the very heart of Spanish lifestyle and culture. Everywhere in Spain, you will find lively, noisy bars serving small plates of superb flavours and local delicacies.

It is essentially a style of eating rather than a form of cooking. Tapas mean sociability, friends and family.”

https://www.eyeonspain.com/spain-magazine/all-about-tapas.aspx

Lin Enjoyed La Tapas!

 Our lunch consisted of shrimped with garlic and pepper, patatas bravas (a potato dish but not like our potatoes), and a pasta salad with shrimp, crab and pineapple—can you tell Lin and I like shrimp!

After lunch, we hopped back on the bus and hopped off to see the Basilica of St. Maria del Mar “. . . a church in the Ribera district of Barcelona, Spain, built between 1329 and 1383 at the height of Principality of Catalonia’s maritime and mercantile preeminence. It is an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic, with a purity and unity of style that is very unusual in large medieval buildings.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Mar,_Barcelona

We paid the $7.50 to enter and what a delight it was! I had a big disappointment though. After our trip to Costa Rica, I took my Canon Rebel in to be fixed and thought it was, but at this point, it repeated the behavior from before—so frustrating. I could still take pictures but had to turn it off and on after each shot!

In this church, I started a tradition I tried to continue throughout our tour—I bought a candle and lit it for my loved ones. I had no idea how many churches or cathedrals we would visit!

Again, we hopped on the bus again and went to the Barcelona Cathedral where we only took pictures outside. I bought three precious bracelets there. It was here we realized we were running out of time, so we stopped for gelato and some relax time before we rushed back to our hotel for our evening activities. We were able to sneak in a nap!

 Our tour group met downstairs at the hotel—all 39 of us—with our tour guide, Brad Dick. He handed out bags and information, then we boarded our bus for the first time to go to dinner as a group. Our group split up and sat at different tables to meet our companion-travelers. We sat with a couple from Singapore and enjoyed a traditional Spanish meal with a wide variety of small plates. What a nice introduction to our tour group!

Lin and I ended the evening when we returned to the hotel with a walk to the neighborhood “farmacia” (drug store) to buy him Dramamine in case he got motion sickness when we moved around the bus from the seating chart.

What a fascinating first day in Barcelona!

Day 2 – March 1, 2020

Lin and I selected an optional excursion for the morning to Montserrat, an 11th century Benedictine monastery, 38 miles northeast of Barcelona. A local tour guide, Santiago—Santi for short—joined us and pointed out highlights on the trip in Barcelona and then in the countryside.

Montserrat is built up on the side of a mountain, so we took a narrow road that zigzagged back and forth to arrive at this breathtaking place.

Montserrat’s history has mystery to it: “It is not known exactly when Monks first came to Montserrat and began to build a Monastery. However, it is believed that in the ninth century four of the Chapels were built on Montserrat Mountain. . .”

https://www.montserrat-tourist-guide.com/en/attractions/montserrat-monastery.html

My Picture of the Black Madonna & Christ Child at Montserrat

Santi led us on a tour of the outside then we went inside to see the venerated Black Madonna. Afterwards we were given time to explore, shop or grab a bite. I went inside the church and zoomed in on the Black Madonna from the sanctuary, but I got a great close up when I walked by!

Gaudi’s La Casa Mila

We returned to Barcelona, picked up the rest of our tour group and Santi started a tour of Barcelona with a look at one of Antoni Gaudí’s houses, La Casa Mila. Before this trip, I had never heard of Gaudí—maybe that shows my ignorance, but after visiting Barcelona and his creations, I’m in awe of him and his vision.

Antoni Gaudí “. . .was a Catalan architect known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works have a highly individualized, one-of-a-kind style. Most are located in Barcelona, including his main work, the church of the Sagrada Família. Gaudí’s work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoni_Gaud%C3%AD

Also we drove by Gaudí’s La Casa Batlló, but I didn’t get a good daytime photo of it.

Our next stop was Gaudí’s most famous creation, La Sagrada Família, “. . .a striking example of Gaudí’s unique Art Nouveau architecture and is filled with religious symbolism and meaning. Eight of the intended 18 towers have been built, which rise to over 100 meters. The towers represent the Twelve Apostles and each one bears the name and statue of its apostle.”

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/barcelona-sagrada-familia