family · My Thoughts

Why Garden?

I write; my husband, Lin, gardens. My passion is words and stories; his is flowers and gardening. And a timely event happened today, we had a summer mountain hailstorm threatening his precious garden, but the damage was minimal.

Before we married, Lin had a couple of roses but that was it, and they died. Lin and I married October 22, 2011, and he didn’t do much with the garden the first couple of years of our marriage because we spent the month of July in Pagosa Springs, Colorado with another couple.

After a while, I missed my rose garden in my townhouse in Albuquerque. I had lived in a couple places there and had beautiful roses, so I suggested trying roses.

He lamented, “Roses don’t do well in the east mountains,”  thinking of his earlier experience. See Albuquerque is like Denver, Colorado, a mile high—5,280 feet. Tijeras is 6,322, and we are higher at above 7,000 feet, so my success with roses in Albuquerque didn’t necessarily mean they would grow in Tijeras.

So as luck would have it, Lin talked to a sales’ clerk who lived in the east mountains and gave him the success formula for growing roses in higher elevation, and it worked. So, Lin’s success with the roses encouraged him to try other plants.

Lin continued to study, bought magazines galore and gathered information on this newfound hobby, always fine tuning his floral explorations within our zone. I’ve come to learn there’s hardiness zones which identify your location and the plants that will grow there. We’re between zone 6-7 in the east mountains, but Albuquerque is zone 7, so there’s a major difference. Zone 6 can go down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit; zone 7 only goes down to the 0 degrees. That’s understandable! Because of our elevation we get more snow than Albuquerque. Also, Lin has to be cautious about his plant selection and check carefully on its zone.

If you’re wondering, here’s a place to put in your zip code and see what zone you live in:

https://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=zone-lookup

In 2013, Lin experimented more with gardening possibilities. He had a few plants in pots and some in the ground, but life happened, and he put the beginning of a new passion on hold for a few years.

In 2016, Lin got bit by the gardening bug, and it has grown into a full time commitment he loves. See the pictures above of how he began.

At first, he had roses, then Lin’s circle of interest enlarged. He added New York Asters, a variety of lilies, Shasta daisies, salvia, lavender, sage, delphinium, coreopsis, peonies, alum and the list goes on.

Lin had criteria when he first started his expansion from the roses. He wanted to attract more hummingbirds to our large flock every year. He also wanted to provide for butterflies and bees, so any plant he put in this thoughtful garden had a purpose. His gardening interests piggybacked on his love of birds, butterflies and bees!

When he began, Lin added a variety of annuals which added a rich color to the landscape yet bloom once and die, but he decided over the years to add more perennials so they bloom over and over again. Now he just adds a few colorful annuals to spice up the color.

Each year he expanded after hours of research, trying his hand at a variety of new plants. Some succeeded and some went by the wayside.

Anytime I suggested a plant, Lin tried to add it. I had an amazing Butterfly Bush out my back door in Albuquerque that attracted butterflies and had a delicious fragrance, so he researched for a couple years trying to decide if one would grow up here. He planted one last year, and it has flowers this year. My Mom had red hot pokers in her front yard that were her mother’s plants. Lin never transplanted from Mom’s collection, but he did add some to his garden, and they are blooming this year.

The rabbits posed a possible threat to his lovely garden, so he put up a specific fence to keep them out, burying the chicken wire inches in the ground, and it’s worked. Lin has installed a watering system, relieving him of having to water by hand and also allowing him to leave and not worry about his garden.

Lin loves to use unusual items in his garden: he has a bathtub, a toilet and an old file cabinet as planters. He’s added several raised flower beds which help make weeding much easier. He has a whole flower bed (the outline of it is really the head board and foot board of an old bed from our ranch) full of sassy spring flowers: tulips, daffodils and crocus. To date, Lin’s rose garden has expanded to more than twenty bushes in a variety of colors. Here’s a video of his garden this year:

Last year, Lin created a side garden to the southeast of the big garden we call “Serenity Garden.” He transformed an ugly, unkempt space into a tranquil retreat to sit and enjoy God’s glorious creation. See what the Serenity garden looks like:

So why garden? For Lin, it has given him a venue to express his creativity. He doesn’t see himself as a creative person, but just look at the pictures and videos and you will disagree I’m sure.

In the early spring, he starts his gardening preparation. When summer comes, he’s out in his beautiful space he created and at peace with the world. It gives him something natural and special to focus on, and the rewards of seeing his design come to life with color and vibrancy are priceless.

As a willing observer, I have the luxury of enjoying his creation every day—the perks of being married to a passionate gardener who takes gardening to a new zenith every year.

Are you a gardener? Why do you garden? I’d be interested to hear your comments.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

SUMMER SAVINGS UNTIL JULY 15, 2019: 25% off of both paper and digital copies of my book, A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

BACK TO SCHOOL SAVINGS UNTIL AUGUST 16, 2019: 50%off of ALL MY DIGITAL BOOKS at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

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 to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? 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

We Took a Wrong Turn in Española!

“We Took a Wrong Turn in Española,” I shared at a meeting tonight, and the whole room exploded in laughter. I must have had a surprised look on my face at this response. Afterwards, a well-meaning friend came up to me and explained, “A lot of good stories start with ‘We took a wrong turn in Española.’”

So, this is our story. My husband, Lin, and I planned to meet my brother and his youngest daughter and her family in Red River, New Mexico, on the Wednesday before the 4th of July at 3:00 PM. Lin did his due diligence and googled the length of the trip and factored in time to eat lunch. When we got to Española, he was driving, and I managed the GPS on my phone. We arrived at a junction, and he shot through the intersection before I exclaimed, “The GPS says we should turn left here for a faster route.” So, he did a quick U-turn and we turned. Neither of us questioned the turn; the GPS said to turn!

When we made the next right turn, we realized our favorite restaurant was on this road, Socorro’s Restaurant, in Hernandez, New Mexico. We relaxed and enjoyed some delicious Mexican food. Lin had enchiladas and I had Frito Pie.

I started driving after lunch so Lin could watch the women’s soccer match on his iPad. Quickly the GPS told me to turn right and we passed Ojo Caliente, a favorite mineral springs spa we love, but something kept nagging at me, “We’re not following the Rio Grande river up that awesome valley.”

We continued, and I asked Lin if this felt right. He answered me, “Yeah, just kept straight,” distracted by the soccer game and the sporadic reception on his iPad. We came to some rolling hills, but they weren’t in the right place. I watched our movement on the GPS screen, but we lost connection, so we were standing still. Our relationship to Taos was wrong, and I knew we had to go through Taos. On the GPS screen we were moving away from Taos!

We came to Tres Piedras, and that really felt out of place, but Lin assured me we were OK. A few miles out of town, I saw a mountain on the left side of the road, and as I saw it and realized our error, Lin looked up from his iPad and exclaimed, “We’re headed to Colorado!”

I did a quick U-turn and turned left at Tres Piedras, seeing a sign that said we would go over the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and I laughed. We had never crossed the bridge coming from the Albuquerque area. Also going this way put us beyond Taos, so we missed the city completely and we both enjoy the city of Taos.

I called my brother to let him know our mistake and we’d be about 45 minutes late. He chuckled as he hung up. Lin and I spent the next 45 minutes laughing about our mistake, making joke after joke. Frequently during the next couple days, we referenced our side trip and laughed more. We have gone to Red River numerous times, but we go to Colorado also off of this back road, so we understood the confusion.

I’m glad to say we didn’t let it ruin the day or our 4th of July celebration. We arrived 45 minutes late; no one was hurt or maimed—it was a simply mistake. We enjoyed the holiday festivities in the Red River and Eagle Nest area.

Lin and I enjoying the ski lift.

We took the ski lift up the mountain for thirty minutes, walked around on top, and then the thirty minutes down. I ended up with a nasty sunburn on my legs because of this ride, but we enjoyed the spectacular scenery!

On our journey to Eagle Nest about 8:15 PM the evening of July 4 to see the fireworks over the lake, we saw a massive herd of elk and heard their strange sounds—what a serendipity! Enjoy the video below.

 On July 5th, we came home the usual way, winding our way alongside the Rio Grande where numerous rafters enjoyed the thrill of white water rafting. We made several stops: Taos to shop, Velarde at our favorite store which features beautiful items made in Mexican, and our favorite fruit stand for fresh fruit.

After this holiday trip, a phrase has been added to our family story, “We’re headed towards Colorado,” and when it is mentioned in the future, Lin and I both will smile at our unexpected side trip and also at how we handled it. Neither one got mad at the other; we just laughed at our mistake.

So, many stories start with “I took a wrong turn in Española.” What’s your story?

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

SUMMER SAVINGS UNTIL JULY 15, 2019: 25% off of both paper and digital copies of my book, A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

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 to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? 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

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

Marshall Flippo – A Success Formula That Worked

As I continue to write Marshall Flippo’s authorized biography, I ponder his life and how it unfolded. Flippo’s success as being the most famous square dance caller in the world didn’t just happen. He had friends galore across the United States and internationally, and he treated them fairly and returned to square dance clubs and festivals for decades for repeat performances at numerous places. How did he engineer such a successful career?

He always credited Neeca, his first wife, with his business success. Early on his career, she planned out a successful tour after people became acquainted with him at Kirkwood Lodge at Osage Beach, Missouri where he spent six months of his year. From the clientele that visited there, Neeca lined up a tour across America and the world, and the clubs and festivals were so pleased with Flippo’s performance, that he was repeatedly asked back—some places over thirty to forty years of continuous visitation.

Imagine that—an annual six-month tour filled to the brim with dancers who were anxious for his return every year. Marshall’s supreme memory compelled people to love him dearly because in many cases, he called them by name after his year absence. This can’t be explained or identified at face value—his people skills endeared him to the dancers.

So, what made him so successful? When asked, Flippo said it was luck and being at the right place at the right time, but there was so much more.

He was committed to his craft of square dance calling and practiced extensive hours—Melton Luttrell, his longtime caller friend, remembered him practicing singing calls while he was driving down the highway. Being on the road for six months of the year gave him ample practice time.

Another caller noted Flippo refusing to participate in an after party at a convention so he could practice his calls before the next day’s events.

Flippo’s talent of unique choreography and his wonderful singing voice won him many fans—he was a star in the square dance world to many. To hear him sing “The Auctioneer” which was his first recording and became highly successful, his clear voice and choice of popular music shines through.

Check out a snippet of Flippo’s famous singing call recorded in 1958:

https://squaredancehistory.org/items/show/160

He connected deeply with other callers who helped him. One caller mentor was Betty Casey of Abilene, Texas who had studied with Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw in Colorado Springs, Colorado and influenced Flip with Shaw’s teachings. She is the one who taught Flip to call.

Flip received more of Shaw’s dance philosophy from another mentor, Bob Osgood, the editor of the highly successful square dance magazine, Sets in Order.

Another mentor from Abilene, Texas was J. C. Wilson who took the young Flippo under his wing and help him with his rhythm and shared something unique—Burma Shave jingles that were popular at the time. J. C. used the jingles as fillers as dancers did certain calls or moves. Flip became known for his selection of these jingles and other callers followed suit and “borrowed them” from Flip.

Flippo’s career started in the late 50’s and early 60’s during a time that square dancing flourished, so he had events with record numbers outrageous in size compared to ours today. The large number of dancers increase Flippo’s popularity worldwide and the number of fans increased.

Success formulas are hard to analyze—as Flippo said being at the right place at the right time did have a impact, but his personality, talent and well-planned tour with its connection to Kirkwood put him in a place to become one of the most successful square dance callers in the world.

And, I promise you, as I continue writing this amazing book, I will continue sharing my musing with you!

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

SUMMER SAVINGS UNTIL JULY 15, 2019: 25% off of both paper and digital copies of my book, A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

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 to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? 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

Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Sexual Abuse

I Confess . . .

I confess—I am a workaholic, and I’ve dealt with it for years. I just kept moving, busy, busy, busy and thought that was normal.

Here’s a definition in case you’re wondering:

workaholic is a person who works compulsively. While the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also alternately imply that they simply feel compelled to do it. There is no generally accepted medical definition of such a condition,

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

It all started in 1982 when I went back to Colorado State University to get my BA degree in English, my minor in Spanish with an Education concentration. Sounds pretty normal—four-year goal to finish it! Sounds reasonable!

But I was 28 years old, recently divorced and working full time as a beautician. I did get financial aid in the form of grants and loans, but I worked part time at the beauty salon to supplement my income the first year. I did try to do some babysitting that year, but having never had children, parents thought I should know what to do with their babies, and I didn’t, so that fizzled out quickly, thank God!

At the end of my freshman year, Dr. Smith who became my favorite English professor, asked me if I’d be interested in being a mentor in the English department computer lab. I was asked because of my grade point average. I had never touched a computer before in my life. The interview went well–we had a lot in common, both had rural backgrounds—me ranching and him farming. So, I got the job!

So, for rest of my three years at the CSU, I went to school full-time, worked at the beauty salon three days a week and as a mentor in the computer lab, except for my last semester when I did my student teaching, I only worked at the beauty salon on Saturday’s that semester and I stopped the mentoring position.  Wow!! And the semester I carried 18 credit hours, I had a 4.0 grade average!

It all started then—working all the time became natural.

Then as a new teacher in Denver, Colorado and then Raton, New Mexico, it was easy for me to continue this lifestyle: I taught English and regularly worked until 10:00 each night, grading papers and preparing for class the next day.

Then as the years unfolded in Raton, I became the cheerleading sponsor which demanded I attend basketball and football games after work. I also was the Student Council sponsor which required more after school meetings and my time.

When I moved to Albuquerque, I chaired the Technology committee for five years at the first school. This was the time that local area networks were coming in and we did the work ourselves. Often, I was teased that my committee was the hardest working one.

At another school, I had a computer club after school. At this time, I got really active in square dancing and volunteered whenever asked.

Over the last twenty-eight years in Albuquerque, my volunteerism in the square dance world rocketed: chairman of a national convention, published a quarterly newsletter, published a booklet of national square dance events, chaired two square dance festivals off-and-on, a board member for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, ad nauseum!

In 1992, I volunteered to be on the committee that ran the yearly reunion for the small school I attended in southeastern Colorado and continued to do it.

The point is I’ve overdone it for years! For several years now, I have lamented regularly to friends that I was a workaholic and didn’t know how to stop! I didn’t want to quit any of my pet projects—I loved them all equally. So, I just kept going—I didn’t know how to quit.

But last year, I finally realized I needed to quit some of my obligations, so I let the reunion committee know that this year would be my last. Many of my friends at home don’t believe I’m really quitting, but I am!

With that resignation, I realized something: I could do it. All I needed to do was do it.

Since then, I have given up the chairmanship of one square dance festivals, so I’m whittling away the list.

What helped me finally face the reason for my constant activity was a revelation. I am an incest survivor, and my little girl believed if I kept moving, no one could get me again—that’s pretty amazing! The hypervigilant constant frenzy felt comfortable and safe in the midst of the chaos it created in my life.

 As I let go of these commitments, today I celebrate all the work I did. Workaholics are the type of people you want on any committee you’re on—we love to do our work and yours too! I met wonderful people all over the United States doing what I did, but today I want to be able to say, “I’m a relax-aholic instead!”

I’m afraid my current health issues may be the result of the many years of stress I’ve placed on myself. I’ve had a stomach problem since March, and I’ve had to step back and say, “No!” often. We’ve missed several family functions and dance events, and I hate that! I’m so used to going, going, going, but I can’t right now!

 The results of that have been many nights at home with my dear husband, Lin, watching TV, soaking in our hot tub and not doing much—in some ways it feels so foreign, yet we’ve gotten into a routine and even my old cat, Jesse, loves it. In the evening after our hot tub time, Jesse perches up on the arm of the loveseat on my side, ready for the TV to go on and the two of us to sit there all evening with him! Usually we dance three to four times a week. We’ve been lucky to do one night currently.

I hope this information helps you if you share my concern about this problem. Here’s a list of seven criteria to assess the likelihood that an individual possesses a work addiction from Forbes:

1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of your work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
If you answered with “often” or “always” to any of these points, you may be a workaholic. The study concluded that about 8.3% of the Norwegian workforce is addicted to work – other studies have suggested about 10% of the average population in other countries are workaholics.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/09/18/7-signs-you-may-be-a-workaholic/

            Forbes also shared:

People identified as workaholics often ranked high in terms of these three personality traits:
Agreeableness – Workaholics are more likely to be altruistic, compliant and modest.
Neuroticism – Workaholics tend to be nervous, hostile, and impulsive.
Intellect/imagination –Workaholics are generally inventive and action oriented.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/09/18/7-signs-you-may-be-a-workaholic/

My parents taught me to work hard, but even my Mom worried about my excessive commitments. Don’t wait until you’re 65 to get this right! Start today, and I’d love to hear your comments.

*******************************

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS GOOD UNTIL JUNE 24, 2019: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. The men in your life would love these two books. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

SUMMER SAVINGS UNTIL JULY 15, 2019: 25% off of both paper and digital copies of my book, A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read snteresting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · Holidays · My Thoughts · Ranching · square dance

Why Celebrate Father’s Day?

The Last Time I Danced With Dad!

Having just returned from the Colorado State Square Dance Convention in Pueblo, Colorado, I choked back a tear or two and felt a little nostalgic about the influence my Dad had on my life. Father’s Day is a day to celebrate our dad’s, so I wanted to share some of my fond memories.

My cowboy Dad loved his wife, his children, his ranch and friends. My brother and I inherited the ranch my grandfather put together—the place my Dad worked his whole life. I just returned from a drive around the ranch with my brother in the early evening looking for wildlife. I feel a special connection to Dad any time I’m standing on a ridge overlooking the canyon or eyeing a windmill he put in many years ago. Dad is everywhere on that ranch for me, and it happened again tonight.

Dad left a small souvenir all over the ranch—wrapped up baling wire for hay bales that he tied in a certain way and pitched out the truck window. We have tried to gather them up over the years, but a stray one appears, and I smile.

Yes, Dad loved this ranch, but another couple of his passions were dancing and storytelling, and I inherited both of them!

Dad and Mom met dancing, and it continued to be their main hobby until he couldn’t dance anymore. They danced to many of the big bands in Raton, New Mexico—a Catholic priest brought these famous bands to town, and the folks were on the dance floor—the cowboy donned a suit and boots and danced the night away. They glided across the floor as smooth as any other couple. During this time, they danced to the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Glen Miller for sure, but I bet there were others.

It wasn’t until I took round dance lesson after Dad died, I learned that he did the Foxtrot instead of Country two step—that was so surprising to me, but he loved big band music, and he danced many a mile to them, so they influenced his dance style.

He had a special step he did in his jitterbug repertoire; he said he stumbled one night when he was drunk and liked it so much, he kept it. Mom and I tried to reconstruct it after he died, but we couldn’t, so that dance move died with him.

When I was growing up, Dad was our 4-H club square dance caller, and he loved to teach people how to square dance. For a couple years we took two squares to Fort Collins, Colorado for the state competition. We never won, but we had a lot of fun.

He also liked teaching folk dances. Dad and I did the Jessica Polka to any polka played at a local dance. He taught us “Put Your Little Foot” or the “Varsouvianna,” the “Lily Marlane,”  the “Schottische,” and many others.

In this video, Cal Campbell explains the origin of the “Varsouvianna.”

This is the music I grew up to doing the Schottische:

Because of my family’s interest in dancing, I learned to country swing in the 80’s. One time, I came home with my newest move—the snake. Dad and I moved to the kitchen, I grabbed his hands and whipped him around, and his old shoulders shouted at him and then he at me! He couldn’t move like that anymore, but he wanted to, more than ever.

My Dad’s other passion was storytelling and he was an expert. Many guests sat around the round table in our dining room at gatherings and listened to his tales. He told stories of growing up in a small country town in the 1920’s, the depression with the lack of tires and life as a rancher during the World War II. He had asthma, so he couldn’t go to war, but he told about working on ranches around the area for cattlemen whose sons did go. Dad got to know the parents of his buddies during this time by working with them–what stories!

Dad told stories of a time and an era long gone—helping Mose Russell drive a herd of horses from southeastern Colorado to Cimarron, New Mexico. He often talked of horses; he had two horse accidents to share. The life of a rancher never has a dull moment, so he spoke of cattle incidences and the wonders of his life—mother nature was his God, and he told of glorious sunsets and miracles with a hard birth for one of his favorite cows.

Dad’s health declined, and death came quickly—in August 1995 things changed, and by January 1996 he died.

“. . . he progressed to the point of not being able to talk—his lips moved to form words but they just wouldn’t come out, and his left hand curled up in a ball.
His intense, frustrated glaze locked in on me. His frightened eyes searched mine for the words. Sometimes I finished his sentences; other times I had no idea what he wanted to say. He struck the table with his clenched fist, more desperate each time it happened.”

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir

Yes, he could no longer speak, and his stories ended; the last time he danced at our school gym to celebrate his 75th birthday, he gasped for air and couldn’t finish a complete circle around the floor. Every once in a while still, when the music is right, I can almost do his favorite move, but I haven’t yet!

When I come face-to-face with Dad in the hereafter, I’m sure the first thing we do after shedding a few tears and a bear hug is a glide around the celestial dance floor, doing his move once more and laughing and enjoying the beat of the music! And then he will tell me his favorite story once more, starting with “remember when . . .”

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS GOOD UNTIL JUNE 24, 2019: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. The men in your life would love these two books. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Read snteresting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts

Why Listen?

Are you listening?

How do you rate yourself as a listener? Is it important? Is your listening muscle atrophied because you’ve never exercised it? Have you ever even thought about the importance of listening before? Is it a learned skill?

About fifteen years ago, I realized a key to relationships—listening. Whenever I was with friends, we would exchange the normal niceties, and I began experimenting. I hesitated after asking them how they were and heard their rote response of “Fine.” What I found out: if given time, space and interest, they shared extensively about what was important to them. I felt like I had uncovered an important fact: people like to talk about themselves, and it’s better to listen than list your life’s joys and woes. I experimented with this concept for several years, and it worked. I knew more about key areas of interests of my friends, and I felt closer to them. They appreciated my interest in them and their lives. I saw a depth in relationships I had never seen before this practice.

After I had this realization, I did a major career change: I moved out of the middle school classroom and became an Instructional Coach. Now my focus would be to support teachers in their classrooms. It felt big and overwhelming, but my interest in listening prepared me for this support role.

At the first gathering of new Instructional Coaches, I made the conscious choice to hang back and listen—not fill the air with my talking. Again, this focus on listening paid off—I watched the dynamics of the group, and immediately I saw I needed to listen to the experienced Coaches and learn from them.

I received amazing training as an Instructional Coach called “Cognitive Coaching” which focused a large part on open listening to someone. I learned the importance of my stance, posture, position of my arms and eye contact and how these affected how people communicated with me—basically active listening.

In our training, we had ample practice time, and repeatedly, I saw these techniques pay off in the exchange with someone. It confirmed what I had been experimenting with for years—the importance of listening, but I added to my repertoire tools that have assisted me over and over again.

This focus on listening was different posturing for me—my dad identified me as his “Talking Daughter.” I had talked my way through most of my life. His favorite story about me talking happened on our family trip to California when I was ten. This was in the early 60’s—pre-air conditioning in cars. We arrived in Phoenix, Arizona in June in the extreme heat and wondered how we would make it through the desert ahead of us in this horrible heat.

The desert landscape!

Dad decided to wake us up early the next day and go through the desert in the cool of the night–yeah, right—driving through Gila Bend in June. My mom, brother and sister quickly fell back asleep, but I was wide-eyed and excited about California looming in the distance. I sat between Mom and Dad up front, straining to see the desert as it passed by. Dad said I talked non-stop, and I can still remember seeing the desert etched in the darkness and then the early morning light. I had never seen saguaro cactus before and their silhouettes stood ominous in the dawn. He often said my talking kept him awake and alert, so it was a Godsend.

That became a favorite memory of Dad’s, and I loved his retelling of it and his nickname for me, so I continued most of my life talking your leg off!

As I matured and realized the power of listening, I consciously gave up the “Talking Daughter” stance and moved to become an active listener.

Another place I’ve learned about listening is in twelve step meetings. For an hour, we listen to other’s share their life stories. If we get the opportunity to talk, it’s usually between two – five minutes, so the majority of my responsibilities at a meeting lay in my ability to listen and take in what someone else is sharing and feeling and relate to their pain and growth.

Often, I’ve heard, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk.” As a result of these meetings, I’ve realized the importance of listening and paying attention to what people say.

Today we are bombarded with information overload and outrageous visual stimulus. Often, I see a family sitting around a table in a restaurant with eyes glued to the screen of whatever electronic gadget they have. Not only are they not talking—no one is listening!

My Dad on His Favorite Horse, Rusty!

As I look back over my life, I realize I received listening training early, but never thought about it before. Often our after-dinner activity centered on storytelling.  With a cigarette and a cup of coffee in hand, Dad entertained us with stories of his childhood, driving a herd of horses to Cimarron, New Mexico with Mose Russell and other delightful tales that mesmerized me. My only job then: sit in awe and listen to his stories and soak up a history that I love to recount today.

So, what do you think? Is listening an important skill? What are your listening skills like? Do you ever think about the power of listening? Or are you rehearsing your response to someone in your mind and lending half an ear to what people are saying? Let’s talk about listening!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. The men in your life would love these two books. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · poetry

Hyphenated Me

Lin and I enjoying our lives together!

Two last names
            One since birth
            One since 2011
 
Horner-Miller
            Is it a dash?
            Is it a hyphen?
            A space between me
                       
That woman
            Who needed
            Who wanted
                        BOTH!
 
I may be small
in stature
but I need a big name
          to contain me.


Every time I write my name
          I embrace its length
                      And celebrate.
 
I live in that space between
          A spectrum
          Or
          A continuum
 
Horner is my heritage.
          Rancher stock
Adventurers
          Who chose the plains
                      Of Colorado and New Mexico
                                  To heal their
                                              Son’s tuberculosis
          Who chose something
                      Different than            
                                  Tulsa, Oklahoma
                                              And family close
          Who chose the ranching life
                      A radical difference
                                  Than their
                                              Oklahoma life
 
 
Miller is my choice.
          My dear husband
                      Whose name covers me
                                  With his love and shelter
                      Whose name aligns my
                                  Scattered parts together
                      Whose name sounds
                                  Like life to my aching heart
 
A marriage at 59 years old
          The one to my soulmate
                      Friends before the vows
 
Today I live between
          Horner
                      And     
                                  Miller.
 
A large name for
          A large life
 
I didn’t plan
          When I hyphenated!
Three other marriages
          Taught me to hold
                      Onto me!
I just knew it was right
 
The space between
          The link between
                      Two worlds
Horner
          Ranch
                      Country Girl
Miller
          New Mexican
                      Writer
 
I’m complete!
          Hyphenated!
 
 
 
 


Copyright©2019 Larada Horner-Miller – www.laradasbooks.com
Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Marshall Flippo’s Success–Luck or Not?

A Young Marshall Flippo

In one of our last interviews for Marshall Flippo’s biography, I asked him, “I have a question: if I was to ask you to describe yourself, how would you describe yourself?”

His short response, “Don’t ask me!” His humorous response made me laugh again, like so many times during these interviews. His sharp sense of humor caught me off guard regularly.

After a moment, he answered with a chuckle, “A little short squirt with lots of luck! That’s about it!”

         This topic tickled him and he added, “A little short squirt—after all, a lot of people didn’t know me when I had hair, but, anyway, a little short squirt with lots of luck!” I complimented him on his concise description but wondered about it. I have mused over it for months now.

         Flippo often referenced this thought about how lucky he was in relationship to all his life, not just his calling life and added, “I was at the right spot at the right time!”

         When Flip shared about his Navy assignments, he felt he was lucky to a “Baker and Cook” in the first couple years, and then to play baseball his last two years. When Flippo described his hitchhiking experiences between San Diego and Abilene after Basic Training, he felt it was luck that got him considerate people who picked him and his friend, Thurman Curry, up and helped them out so much.

         He often referred to himself as “the luckiest man in the world” to marry Neeca and praised her frugal nature and scheduling genius to make his calling career so successful.

         Standing back and looking at Flippo’s successful calling career, the threads of cause and effect weave their way through, but was it all luck?

         Neeca and Flip started square dancing in 1951, and he began calling in 1952 in a chicken coup, at a time there wasn’t much recorded calling. So, he agreed to be one of several dancers to memorize a song and call it. From this agreement, his career sprung and he started calling regularly.

         Calling careers, though, aren’t made overnight, so Flippo persisted. In 1957, two callers from Houston stopped by his dance in Abilene and heard him do “The Auctioneer,” a popular song at the time recorded by Leroy VanDyke. They suggested he connect with Norman Merrbach in Houston who owned Blue Star Records to record this song.

         So, he called Norman. When Norman heard the title of the song, he told Flip that callers wouldn’t like it because it had too many words to say. Flip let it go, and a few months later received another phone call from Norman saying, “Let’s record it!” They did and were able to do it on the first take, and his career took off from that one lucky phone call and visit from two strangers.

Kirkwood Lodge in Osage Beach, Missouri

         His luck continued that year. A bus driver who happened to drive graduating seniors to a resort in the Lake of the Ozark’s area, Kirkwood Lodge for their senior trips, stopped by one night in Abilene. Flip and Neeca were told: “Throughout the season, they square danced as the majority activity at this resort,” and the bus driver suggested Neeca and Flippo go.

         This was a turning point in Flip’s square dance career: they were getting burned out on square dancing and considered quitting, but this vacation became one of the luckiest trips they ever made. They went and had a great time, and returned for several years. In 1961 Flippo became the resident staff caller at Kirkwood Lodge for six months out the year. He did this for 42 years—a solid career choice and quite lucky, wouldn’t you say?

         His 42-year tour schedule became the next lucky piece of the puzzle. Visiting dancers coming to Kirkwood would ask Flippo to come to their hometown and call a dance or festival. Neeca managed this growing list and sizeable schedule and put together synchronized tours after Kirkwood’s six-month season that began in October. He went north, east, south and home for Christmas. After time home in Abilene, Texas, Flippo started the new year going through the Midwest, then back home, west, and back to Kirkwood to start the new season there in April.

         The backbone of these tours and his success lay in repeated weekend and week-long festivals that continued for thirty and forty years! At one time in his career, it took a club nine years to have Flippo call for them!

         Also from Kirkwood, Flippo became an international success, gaining fans across the seas. He toured Japan, Germany, Spain and England because of foreign dancers’ time at Kirkwood with Flip. Again, they wanted dancers back home to experience square dance Flippo-style!

         Another piece of the puzzle for Flippo’s success stemmed from the network of friends he made in the calling and dancing worlds. He treated people fairly which made him a Godsend to dance organizers. He connected deeply with many callers—so many that when we started this project of his biography, he wanted to tell stories on all his caller friends, and he dictated a list to me—he named 67 callers he wanted to tell a story about for the book. I’m sorry to say that we can’t include all of them because of size restraints.

Flippo’s calling career spanned sixty-four years. He recorded 100’s of records for several recording labels and he traveled extensively!

         Luck? Being at the right place at the right time? I don’t know about you, but I disagree with Flip. Yes, luck did have a hand in it. He flourished at a time when square dancing was in its heyday—he recalled easily that an event had 40 or 50 squares! But I’ve danced to him for years, and I enjoyed his choreography, his Burma Shave jingles he interwove in the patter and his friendly nature.

         All of our lives are about choices we make and how this choice today affects what happens tomorrow and the next day, unfolding into a life time. Flippo succeeded because he made some choices which like a domino effect, tumbled to the next success which tumbled to the next one! Yet, at the core of his success: he was in high demand because he was who he was–Marshall Flippo!

family · Holidays · My Thoughts

Memorial Day or Decoration Day?

            As a child, we went to the cemetery in Des Moines, New Mexico and met my Mom’s parents on Decoration Day many times. The adults decorated the graves of family members, and we raced around dodging headstones and graves playing with friends. Many families brought picnic lunches and this allowed more play time for the children and more visiting time for the adults. This trip to a familiar cemetery meant the beginning of summer because school was over, and we headed to Amarillo, Texas to spend a week with my grandparents.

            Fast forward to my adult life. I watched my Mom and Dad religiously decorate family graves in Trinidad, Colorado and back to Des Moines. It was a family tradition, and their commitment to caring for deceased family members and their graves spoke deeply to me.

            When my Mom died six years ago, my cousin said she’d take care of the graves in Des Moines and I would do the ones in Trinidad, so faithfully I followed my family’s tradition for the last five years. I decorated my parents’ grave, my grandparents’ grave, and my Aunt’s all in Trinidad. I also decorated my sister-in-law’s in the beautiful quaint cemetery outside of my hometown of Branson, Colorado.

            This year I failed. I have been sick for the last three months and haven’t visited Colorado yet to decorate the graves. I will, but it will be late. This made me think about this tradition, its importance and the history behind it.

            What is Memorial Day anyway?

Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, it marks the beginning of the summer season.

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

This is what I remember as Decoration Day! But it changed.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2019 occurs on Monday, May 27. 

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

            I celebrate both of these commemorations: my family and friends that have passed and anyone in the military who has given their life so we can keep our democracy safe and sound.

Some of the soldiers I have known who have passed:

  • Uncle Tanky Doherty
  • Marshall Flippo
  • Leroy Ellis
  • Excel Smith
  • Donald Berg
  • Fred Buhr
Mom and Dad’s Headstone

Those major family and friends I have lost over my 65 years:

  • Harold and Elva Horner – Dad and Mom
  • Laurence and Pearle Horner – paternal grandparents
  • Virgil and Tresia Dickerson – maternal grandparents
  • Hughie and Willa Urbanoski – Uncle and Aunt
  • Gay and Helen Waldroup – Uncle and Aunt
  • Fred Horner – Half-brother
  • Jason Talley – nephew
  • Reu and Helen Waldroup – parents’ best friends
  • Millard Warner – Dad’s best friend
  • Millie Sheldon – childhood babysitter
  • Kathi Raver – best girlfriend in the square dance world
  • Lela Kaye Horner – sister-in-law
  • Candy Vargas – lifelong best friend
  • Gene and Carol Champion – square dance friends
  • Joel Walton – Square Dance Friend

Whew! That’s a lot of losses! I just heard today if you grieve many losses, that means you’ve loved a lot! What a comforting thought!

How do you celebrate Decoration Day/Memorial Day? What are your traditions? Make it more than just another day off. How can you make it memorable? Please share your ideas in the Comments!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

He’s a Winner!

Lin Miller, my husband, received a outstanding honor last night at the New Mexico Square and Round Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, They inducted him into the Hall of Fame for his work and support of square and round dancing in the state.

Lin’s Plaque and Badge

A friend nominated him two years ago, and I helped her put the paperwork together. Lin’s ex-wife contributed information about his dancing when they were together. We re-worked the application this year, because he wasn’t selected last year. My friend and I had secret meetings, telling Lin she had interests my books—he had no idea.

Just because someone is nominated doesn’t mean he or she is automatically in and in that year—sometimes it takes two years to actually receive this treasured recognition. I had won this award in 2007 and found out later that I had been nominated the year before, so it took me two times.

On top of that, the person in charge of the award this year didn’t let me know outright that Lin had won but hinted at it, so I wondered.

As we neared the festival, Lin and I ended up talking about the award some, speculating who might win, and I kept my reactions and tone as neutral as possible to not give it away.

This annual festival means a lot to me. It’s the one chance for our state square and round dance family to come together for a fun-filled weekend at various sites around the state. I always anticipate who’s going to be there and lament the loss of one of our dancers. I love our New Mexico state square and round dance members!

Greg Tillery calling with help from an Alien
Larada and Lin decked out the Alien Invasion!
Holly and Lin enjoying Roswell!

The theme this year for the festival, “Strangers Thing Happen,” ignited in a lot of us a frivolous, childlike celebration of Roswell’s claim to fame—the alien invasion. Many of us wore the festival’s lime green t-shirts on Saturday during the day with lights attached. Dancers played with the theme all weekend, and they talked about aliens, spaceships and other worldly matter—what fun! We blamed any mistakes made in the squares on “Aliens!”

The award ceremony was Saturday night. The anticipation mounted for me as the time drew closer. The Grand March started the evening’s activities, then it was time. The MC described the recipient without using his/her name, keeping us in suspense until it’s obvious who the recipient is. A dear round dance cuer received the first award, and my hands shook.

Finally the time came. I had told Lin before we arrived on Friday that I wanted to get lots of pictures this weekend, so he had my phone in his pocket. I didn’t want him to be suspicious when I needed my phone for the Hall of Fame awards. I had it out taking pictures of the first winner, so I caught him in total shock when he realized he was next.

Lin realized he won!

As he hugged me, he asked if I knew, and I had tears in my eyes when I nodded my head. His reaction was precious and priceless. In a rate moment of being speechless, he went on stage to receive a name badge and plaque.

Lin with his plaque and badge!

During the rest of the evening, dancers congratulated him. You may wonder what he did or does to receive this award.

For over ten years, he’s been the Promotions person for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, sending out emails to notify dancers of up and coming events, so the state dancers knew what he does there. Also, he has been the treasurer for Hot August Nights for twelve years. But most recently, in 2013 Lin volunteered to be president of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles, when it was dying with only 27 members and no one wanting to take the leadership. In five years, he built it up to 92 active members. This changed the face of square dancing in Albuquerque because those 92 members went on to join other clubs growing square and round dancing across the city.

Lin ignites any event he attends with his high energy and positive attitude, and because of his friendly nature, he loves to visit with old and new friends during the breaks. His sense of humor and jokes keep people laughing, so he is an asset to this activity for sure.

The state honored this hard-working man this weekend, and he truly deserved it! You’re welcome to give Lin congratulatory comments here!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · Grief · Life Lessons · Memoirs · Mom · My Thoughts · poetry

Does Your Heart Break on Mother’s Day?

Here it is six years after my Mom’s death and Mother’s Day smacks me in the face with fresh grief—I miss buying Mom a card and flowers and calling her up. I miss her infectious laughter and her practical jokes. The pain never goes away.

Many people face grief on this celebratory day—the graphic above shows those affected most. For many years before Mom died, I dreaded this day. Why? Because I am not a mother, and that hole in my heart pulsated to an overwhelming size on this annual day of remembrance.

I remember going to church one Mother’s Day many years ago (not to my present church for sure), and they had all the mothers present stand and gave them a flower. Again, I stifled tears being reminded of my lack.

Today my church gave every woman present a chrysanthemum and said a prayer for “Mothers, Potential Mothers, and Women Who ‘Mother’ in Any Way.” Today I stood, satisfied for sure.

Yes, I have mothered many people’s children. I was a middle school teacher for twenty years. My brother and his wife knew my deep longing for a child—I had a miscarriage about the time they got pregnant with the first of their three children. They share their children with me in a deep meaningful way, and I am close to them and their children.

After the miscarriage, my first husband and I sought help from a fertility specialist in Denver, Colorado—the famous Dr. Bradley who pioneered a natural child method. We started with fertility tests with my husband and went no further because he had aspermia, a disease of weak sperm.

So we thought about artificial insemination. The thought thrilled me because finally I could get pregnant, but my husband didn’t agree. So we planned to adopt a child and were within six months of getting our baby. I had knitted booties, baby blankets and put together a nursery. We went through Lutheran Social Services in Denver, Colorado, and they did the work-up on the couple a few months before placement instead of at the beginning. They felt if a couple lasted the four year wait; they were a sure bet. We had waited our four years to get our baby, but as the great day drew near, the tension in our marriage increased and he walked out. I later found out he had unsavory skeletons in his closet, and I was heartbroken in my double losses!

My mother especially grieved with me over the loss of a child—I had been raised to get married, live happily ever after and have 2.4 children. The Horner’s celebrated children and grandchildren. After my divorce, Mom talked about artificial insemination—she even offered to help me pay the hefty price of $10,000 for it! (Remember, this was in the early 1980s.)

The battle raged inside me—I could finally have the baby I always wanted, but I labored over the fact of being a single Mom. In the end, I chose not to do it which looking back; I realized was a wise decision for me.

The next few years I drank away, numbing my broken heart and acting out! God’s mercy won in the choice I made. I would have injured a child with my crazy lifestyle at that time.

The years have healed that profound ache, and I am satisfied with my childless life today, but I will always be indebted to my Mom and her undying support of the need she knew I had!

Here are two poems I wrote in 1996 and 2005 while I was still lamenting the lack of a child in my life:

Childless – 1996

The pain of being without a child!  Eternally alone!
No child has burst forth from my womb
nor sucked at my breast.
Barren cavity deep inside waiting to be filled with life.
Waiting, waiting, waiting!

I have no child to pass my stories on to, my history, our history,
how Grandad created our ranch,
how special Branson Christmas trees are
because we cut them down from our ranch, our land,
how to do the Jessie polka and waltz,
how I was almost named Jessie.

My name, Larada, that should pass on to my granddaughter,
like my grandmother passed it on to me, 
every other generation for 7 generations.

Cheated, robbed, failed!

Not woman, not mom, nothing!  Does a child define woman? 
Does the lack of them define me?

Names and faces dance in circles in my mind
Lael Marie
Patrick Lawrence
Curly blond hair, blue inquisitive eyes.
Bright red hair, changeable hazel eyes.
A mixture of him and me.

I have no daughter that has my smile nor a son with my Dad’s red hair.
No one to call me, “Mommy.”

The empty cavity waiting to be filled has grown larger
no longer just my womb,
but now my whole being,
my every thought,
ME!

Aching, lonely, pulsating to the beat of life
missing what never was!

****************

Childless at 51 – 2005

I am childless
51
single!
Reality hit yesterday as life in
My 50’s sheds light on my life’s fact.

Who will carry on the stories I have –
A lifetime full of
Traditions?

Who will recall that
Grandma Horner demanded
I have a set of sheets
With yellow roses?
Her mark of innocence for me, her namesake.

Who will name their child Larada?
Will that meaningful name
Die with me?

Who will remember that Dad
Called me Shorty?
Who will share my travel escapades?
My love for the Mayas!

Who will know the story behind
Each Christmas decoration
Hanging on my tree?

Who will understand the
Spiritual voyage I took
By looking through my
Personal library of life?
Will you be able to stitch together
The words that formed the
Frame that I draped
My life over?

That gave me closure to
The search through
The pages, the beliefs,
The heart-wrenching self
That examined herself
Through various beliefs
and concepts.

Who will look at all
My belongings
And be able to define
The complex mystery
Of Larada?
No one, but me!


Are you sad this Mother’s Day? If so, tell me your pain so I can share it and lessen your burden.


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL UNTIL MAY 14, 2019: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir—digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada‘s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

Yes, I Always Think I Can—How About You?

When you’re asked to volunteer to do something, what’s your first response: I can or I can’t? If I can’t do the big thing someone asked me, can I contribute in a small way? Or is my answer immediately, “I can’t.” It’s all in the attitude.

I just finished a weekend square and round dance festival, Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling, and yes, I’m exhausted, but in a good way. I’ve been the chairperson of this event since 2013, was the chair from 1997 to 2000, and I have taken part on the committee for 24 years. Why?

Today when I looked around at the sheer joy on happy dancers’ faces as they twirled and spun around the dance floor, all my hard work was worth it! The rewards resounded. That’s why I volunteer!

In 1994, I attended my first Fling (that’s what we called it then) as a dancer only and caught the square dance fever. In 1995, the chairperson asked me to help on advertising, and I failed miserably because I didn’t know what I was doing. But that was a learning experience—ask questions when you don’t know!

In 1996, our club took over this festival, and I agreed to be the co-chairperson, again not knowing what I was doing. The next year I moved up to be the chairperson! People believed I could do the job, and their belief confirmed I could. I had no idea what I was doing but someone needed to step up, and I said, “Yes, I can!” The previous chairperson had put together a manual for running a festival, so I followed that for many years until I got my system in place.

 My involvement with this has gone on and on. Why continue doing it or why do it at all, you may ask. Volunteering has been core to my life for the last 25 years. I don’t hesitate; I jump in and worry about the specifics later.

I have volunteered for other activities besides square dancing, and I love the connections I’ve made with people over the years and the rewards from those activities.

My square dance outfit for the National Singles Square Dance Convention in Albuquerque, 2003

After being involved in this festival for years, three square dance girlfriends asked if I would chair the National Singles Square Dance Festival for Singles in Albuquerque in 2003. They said they would help if I headed it. They had worked with me on our local festival and liked the results. Again, I didn’t flinch, and again I had no experience at chairing a national event, so I took my time-tested knowledge from our smaller event and applied it, and we had a smashing success.

So why volunteer? Someone has to do the work—the event won’t happen without you, without me! Is it time consuming? Yes! Will you have to work with disagreeable people? Probably! But what else in life offers deep connections with people which we all crave?

I have a wealth of wonderful memories that became a byproduct of volunteering. Several women dancers sat around a table and hand painted our square dance outfits one year. We laughed and shared our lives as we painted. Our hostess dropped her paintbrush on her vest and remarked, “That’s a bird,” and it worked out fine. Today when I wear that outfit, my heart glows with those moments.

My friend, Kathi, and I stayed up until 3:30 AM one Saturday because one of our talkative club members distracted the band who was trying to put up their instruments and equipment and get home at one of the Flings. We watched this talker and tried to get him away from the band but back he went repeatedly! Whenever we recalled this, we joked about who would sit on him next year so we could get home earlier, but what a memory!

At this talkative friend’s funeral, I shared this story with his family with a laugh and a lot of love in my heart. 

I sprayed a caller in the face with Silly String at our National Square Dance Convention for singles which started a war of Silly String the whole weekend. I ended up being the biggest target. What rich memories!

Because of my involvement in this national organization, I have dear friends all over the USA—because I volunteered years ago at our local event. See what happens? The opportunities grew and grew from volunteering, and I became self-assured about my talents in organizing an event like this.

I’m tired tonight. Each year when the Spring Fling is over for another year, I look into the faces of the committee members and my co-chair and marvel at their commitment, their willingness to take part and am so deeply touched. The success unites us together as a force, and immediately the thought moves to next year’s events and what we needed to do.

Believe me, the rewarding answer when someone asks you to volunteer is “Yes, I can,” and you will never know where it will take you!

Do you volunteer? If so, where? What have been your rewards?


Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

What To Do With 258,490 Words?

           Thousands of words! Forty hours plus of interviews! I have a dilemma! I’m realizing I have to make some decisions quickly on the Marshall Flippo biography. I have 258,490 words from the forty hours plus of interviews. I will edit the interviews as I create the chapters and shrink the word count considerably, but. . .

In the first six sections, I have edited it down to 42,000 words, so I know the final version will be much less than almost 260,000 words. If I stay at that number, the book would be 650 pages which is too way long.

As I thought about a possible tool to help me get organized, I created a database and divided the book into sections:

  1. Front Matter
  2. Childhood
  3. Navy
  4. After the Navy
  5. Abilene
  6. Kirkwood
  7. Tours & Festivals
  8. CALLERLAB
  9. Divorced
  10. Tucson Years
  11. End of Career
  12. Flippo’s Stories about Callers
  13. Stories About Flippo
  14. Letters & Notes
  15. Awards
  16. Photographs
  17. Recordings
  18. Epilogue
  19. Appendix A – Chronology of Flippo’s Life
  20. Appendix B – References
  21. Appendix C – Glossary

In this database, I also did a word count and realize now the largest section is “Flippo’s Stories About Callers” at 72,924 words, Yes, it is rough interview material that hasn’t been edited yet, but it’s the biggest section, and it’s not about him.

Flippo shared stories about many of these callers!

He told hilarious stories about 86 different caller friends because they played key roles in his calling career, and he wanted to share his favorite stories. As I have put together the first six sections of Flippo’s biography, I can see the importance of people in his life, so it’s understandable that he spent so much time in our interviews talking about his caller friends.

Early on in the interviews, Flippo listed 67 callers he had known or called with over the many years of his calling career. We used that list as the guide to all his stories and added to it. When we returned to the list for the stories, some names from this list we crossed off because he couldn’t think of a “funny” story—that ended up being the criteria for including someone. He had to have a funny story about that person.

        Flippo really wanted these stories included in his biography. He asked if we could have a section in the book named, “Callers I Have Known or Have Worked With.” He described the chapter as, “We’ll start out with each caller. I’ll have something about each one. It would make a pretty good chapter, I think. Different stories. I’ll try to tell a funny story with each caller. Let’s do that then. That whole section will be about callers.”

         What he didn’t realize was all the stories he told would total up to be over 70,000 words. I was shocked myself when I realized the length of this section.

What should I do?

        Therefore, I have a hard decision to make: have Flippo’s biography be super-lengthy, and he was emphatic about the size of his book, “It couldn’t be as thick as Bob Osgood’s book, As I Saw It.” Or. . . So, what do I do?

        My husband, Lin, came up with a possible solution: write two books—his biography which would be longer and then a shorter book of his stories about callers. Lin laughed, “His biography will be fun, but the stories about the callers will be funny!”

         I could keep a few of the stories in his biography to honor Flippo’s wishes of having stories about his caller friends in his biography, especially the ones about the callers who helped him in his early career.

        As I have gone through Flippo’s interviews and told his story in the early sections, he wanted to tell stories about his Navy friends, the callers he knew, the employees at Kirkwood and the owners of Kirkwood. These stories were a part of his DNA, but I have to make sure that his biography is about him! So, this is a balancing act.

         I’ll keep you posted on my final decision. What do you think I should do? I need your suggestions!

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Albuquerque · My Thoughts

An African Violet Easter

Easter, the high holy holiday of all Christendom, is here! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Families celebrated this day in a variety of ways across the world, so I’m going to share how I spent the day—one traditional activity and one not so traditional.

For my religious observance of Easter, I attended church this morning at Hope in the Desert Episcopal Cathedral and witnessed a joyous celebration of our Risen Lord. The music set the tone immediately. Fr. Dan Tuton’s thoughtful sermon connected today’s Scripture readings to the horrific fire at the Notre Dame Church in Paris. His powerful words encouraged us to see beyond the fire that destroyed the famous spire to the brilliant Cross that remained untouched. He shared that President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to rebuild the familiar spire and reminded us of the purpose of the spire: “To cast our eyes upward towards heaven!” What a beautiful message after such a tragedy!

The comparison for me really embraced the Easter message: the tragedy of Good Friday and the crucifixion of Christ, the silent interim of Saturday filled with waiting and wondering about that horrible event, and the glorious news the women shared that first Easter morning, “The tomb is empty.”

Yes, the fire was horrible at Notre Dame, but faithful followers sang hymns and prayed and have set their eyes on what didn’t burn and the future. This positive attitude is the true essence of the Christian faith. Out of the tomb, Jesus arose—Notre Dame will rebuild and survive, even prosper.

For my family celebration of this special day, I joined my husband, Lin at the African Violet show at the Albuquerque Garden Club for an afternoon of enjoying a colorful collection of African Violets and meeting his new friends in the club. Both of these activities were pleasing to me.

Lin’s newfound interest in African Violets surprised me at first, but not any longer. He has become an accomplished gardener with an additional interest in house plants that deck our home. too. This interest is a natural progression to me from the love of his garden.

Yesterday, he connected his interest in African Violets to his grandmother. As he shared this intimate piece with me, I remembered my grandmother had African Violets too. I tried my hand at a plant or two over the years but killed them easily and gave up.

Lin’s African Violets are gorgeous and he recently joined the Albuquerque African Violet Club and added to his collection, so a visit to the African Violet Show on Easter afternoon was a natural segue. I love flowers and plants but am not as consistent in their care as Lin, so I have the advantage of beautiful house plants and a luscious garden and don’t have to do the work!

So off to the African Violet Show I went and what a delight! Tables of winning plants lined the room. I had no idea the variety of African Violets. Lin had brought home some different colors; my grandma had only purples ones. Today the colors overwhelmed me: I saw purple, lavender, pink, white, purple and white—amazing.

The members of the club greeted me whole-heartedly. Sharon Shannon, the president, shared her passion for these beautiful plants.

My husband, Lin, identified one woman from the club as being quite the expert. Her name is Jo Ellen Bowden and has won the Rosalie Doolittle Award for Best Standard African Violet Plant fourteen times from 1994-2018. Add to that she has won the Louisa Sando Award for Best Standard African Violet Runner-up twice from 2011-2018. See in the picture above, she really knows her stuff and demonstrated to Lin how to repot an African Violet of his, so giving of her knowledge, experience and expertise. The president, Sharon, helped him repot this plant at the end of the day.

The attendees of this show could purchase an African Violet to take home. The club started the show off with 300 plants for sale on Saturday and ended up with 23 left today! So, lots of people took one or more home to enjoy.

I enjoyed watching the visitors that came as they eyed the plants, usually talking to a companion. People walked out of the rush and hurry of their busy lives into a peaceful quiet room teeming with colorful African Violets. I talked to some people—friends from our square dance world came and wandered from table to table, oohing and aahing at the colors and the variety of plants.

How do you decide which one to buy? I saw people wander back and forth around the sales’ table, comparing this plant to that one, and then finally making a decision. Some focused on one plant but others walked out with a hand full.

This is a new experience for Lin and me. He volunteered to work today then invited me to come to the show after church and then a special Easter dinner.

The show is over and I’m sitting out in the hallway working on this blog while Lin and the other industrious club members fold up tables and clear out the room. It’s been a great show.

Yes, an African Violet Easter—Our Creator God celebrated by a dedicated group of flower enthusiasts through their beautiful plants. Lin and I shared a delightful afternoon learning about African Violets, talking to club members and working his shift. As I looked at these delicate plants, I again marveled at the mystery of God and this world He created. Nature has always been a conduit to God—so it seemed fitting to spend this Easter day in the midst of flowers, African Violets. It doesn’t get any better than this!

This event was at another hidden jewel in Albuquerque at the Albuquerque Garden Center at 10120 Lomas Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87112. If you are interested in the Albuquerque African Violet Club, visit:https://www.facebook.com/AlbuquerqueAfricanVioletClub

This show is usually the third weekend in April, so put it on your calendar for next year.

Are you an African Violet fan? Did you spend Easter afternoon doing something unususal? Let me know how you spent Easter 2019.

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Christianity · My Thoughts

What is Holy Week?

Holy Week may have no significance to you. I’m an Episcopalian, rooted deeply in the Anglican tradition, and we celebrate Holy Week, starting today, Palm Sunday. I’d like to share my thoughts with you about the events of Holy Week and the participants who stand out.

“From early times Christians have observed the week before Easter as a time of special devotion. As the pilgrim Egeria recorded in the late fourth century, Jerusalem contained many sacred places that were sites for devotion and liturgy. Numerous pilgrims to the holy city followed the path of Jesus in his last days. They formed processions, worshipped where Christ suffered and died, and venerated relics. From this beginning evolved the rites we observe today on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These services provide a liturgical experience of the last days of Jesus’ earthly life, as well as the time and events leading up to his resurrection.”https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/holy-week

In my tradition, we separate out these events from the Easter celebration. Some of Christianity focuses only on Easter and the Resurrection. I like our way of honoring all the events beforehand that set the stage for Easter.

Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, not in full Royal regalia but on the back of a donkey colt. His entry defied what the world thought the King of the Jews would do!

Maundy Thursday, we give the willing the opportunity to have their feet washed, again taking Jesus’ actions to heart of “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  (John 13:64) The act of feet washing is an act of love and service.

            “The Thursday in Holy Week. It is part of the Triduum, or three holy days before Easter. It comes from the Latin mandatum novum, “new commandment,” from Jn 13:34. The ceremony of washing feet was also referred to as “the Maundy.” Maundy Thursday celebrations also commemorate the institution of the eucharist by Jesus “on the night he was betrayed.

Following this, the altar is stripped and all decorative furnishings are removed from the church.”

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/maundy-thursday

Good Friday we provide a quiet solemn time at the church from noon until 3:00 PM doing the Stations of the Cross with ample time for reflection.

            “The Friday before Easter Day, on which the church commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. It is a day of fasting and special acts of discipline and self-denial.”

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/good-friday

Holy Saturday we have the Easter Vigil Candlelight Service celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

Easter Day is truly a day of celebration—He is risen, He is risen indeed!

So, what’s all the fuss? As I slow down this week and linger at these points along the way, I enrich my Easter experience with the details leading up to the most important day in all Christendom—Easter.

What fascinates me most in the midst of the events are the actual people who participated willingly or unwittingly:

  • Of course, Jesus is center stage. His behavior throughout the week varies. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey colt when many thought the King of the Jews would have a magnificent entrance letting all know of his power and authority. Instead, God wanted a man among men, not an authority figure similar to the Roman dictator and all his fanfare.
  • Jesus needed alone time before the insanity of the week took over, so he drew away in the garden at the Mount of Olives in the dark of the night to pray and anguish over what He faced.
  • The Twelve disciples joined Jesus, but they couldn’t stay awake and support him in prayer. They knew that something was coming and they feared the possibilities. Grief gripped their hearts in the dark of the night, and they drifted off to sleep out of emotional exhaustion.
  • Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He had been one of Jesus’ closest associates but was willing to sell him out for money. When did he stop loving Jesus?
  • Peter denied being a follower of Jesus three times, just as Jesus had predicted. The cock crowed, and at that moment, the eye contact between Jesus and Peter at his third betrayal must have been electric. Why did Peter change so quickly? In Jesus’ stare, Peter realized later a deep forgiveness.
  • Pilate and Herod, world leaders at the time, became mere puppets in the drama that unfolded: Jesus accused; Jesus’ silence enraged them; Jesus’ fate determined by an angry mob, not two world leaders who should have stopped it. Did they realize the position they put themselves in?
  • The angry mob shouted “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate succumbed to their angry words forcing him to sacrifice Jesus instead Barabbas. Did one person start the chant then it grew out of control?
  • Barabbas, a convicted criminal, guilty of insurrection and murder, released from facing this cruel death, and Jesus took his place, innocent of any crime and not guilty. The mob won. Did Barabbas suffer from survivor guilt?
  • Simon of Cyrene, an innocent countryman, forced to carry the cross behind Jesus. What did he think as he watched the wounded Jesus stagger and fall? Did he agree with the decision to crucify Jesus and not Barabbas?
  • Chief Priests hurled insults at Jesus, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God his chosen one!” How could these Godly men watch this horrific torture of another human being and not weep?
  • Two criminals crucified on each side of Jesus. One accused Jesus, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” The other one identified Jesus’ innocence. Jesus promised the repentant one, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
  • The centurion witnessed Jesus’ death, “Certainly this man was innocent.” Did he sob at what he saw?
  • Women followers stood at a distance in shock, not knowing what to do. We know there were three or four women, but we’re not sure who they were except for Mary, the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Were they able to sleep Friday and Saturday night as they grieved over the death of their Jesus?
  • Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the council and a good man who did not agree with what happened asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and he laid Jesus in a tomb. Did he think that Jesus would burst forth from this tomb?

 

            It took this whole cast of characters plus many others to put into action the events that happened during Holy Week. Some names we know; some unnamed, but yet they participated in a succession of actions that changed the course of history for all times.

            At church today, we sang a song, “Above All.” The last line of the chorus states: “You took the fall, and thought of me, above all.”

            At that moment on the cross when the suffering of Jesus seemed insurmountable, He thought of me, He thought of you, above all! That’s why he suffered and died—because he thought of you and me!

            Do you celebrate Holy Week? If so, how?

______________________________________________

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL: 25% off of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memois — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

 

 

 

Albuquerque · My Thoughts

An English Garden in New Mexico

Today, Lin, my husband, and I celebrated spring! For several weeks now, my husband-gardener has anticipated the opening of the Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse yesterday, April 6, but we had to wait until today because we had a prior commitment yesterday.

In fact, in his excitement, sometime this winter we drove by Parker’s to check out the day they opened so Lin could be ready!

Today was the day! We left home at 9:00 am, had a delicious breakfast at Denny’s in Edgewood, and then we joined a steady stream of garden enthusiasts into an oasis in the high desert outside of Edgewood, New Mexico—Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse.

Several years ago, Lin’s sister-in-law had told him about Parker’s, but he didn’t check it out until his British plumber asked him if he’d seen the English garden in Edgewood. Lin had shared his interest in gardens and specifically English gardens with this plumber after we got back from England and Ireland two years ago, so his plumber friend thought we would enjoy seeing it.

After that referral, we drove by Parker’s too late in the season two years ago. They are only open from April until July, but last year Lin started early and took a solo trip up to scout it out, then I joined him for a wonderful flower shopping trip and a visit to the gardens.

Last year we saw the garden later in the season, and all the summer plants were in full bloom. When I walked through the gate, it was a step out of the desert of New Mexico into a truly breathtaking Formal English garden and more. We wandered around the center part that is dubbed the Formal English garden with roses, hedges and meticulous trimming. Then we went to the right and meandered our way around the outer garden seeing a nice assortment of Native Grass and Evergreens. We came back and headed towards the lily pond with a wonderful array of flowers, trees and shrubs along the way.

The Lily Pond, June 2018

The setting of the lily pond shocked me again. Huge trees provided ample shade, and it truly felt like an oasis. We lingered near the pond in a shaded area and drank in the quiet beauty there.

A large frog statue graced the sitting area with an umbrella and some humor keeping a watch over the lily pond!

We marveled at the sculptured bonsai tree area that felt Zen to the max. As we drove away last year, we agreed on a return trip this year.

Today, our visit began in one of the greenhouses. We were warned not to buy any of these starters if we didn’t have some place to keep them inside for a couple weeks. We live at about 7400 feet elevation in the east mountains above Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the plant zone is between 5 and 6. We still can get a heavy freeze and snow. Lin smiled as he told the owner he had a place to keep them. I chuckled to myself because last year we built an add-on greenhouse to the house for Lin’s plants which he calls “the solarium.”  

As we worked our way through the greenhouse, we had to bend down to see the names of the plants because they were on the ground—a wonderful array of plants and herbs. I loved the smell of the mint, but we left it behind. Lin did buy Beard’s Tongue, three varieties of Sedum, Blue Flax and Dianthus.

Outside, we wove our way through the plants that are ready to plant and picked a variety of plants: colorful columbines, Jupiter’s Beard, McKana Giant Hybrid Columbine, and Aurinia.

Thinking we were finished, Lin purchased his new wonders and we headed to the car. Neither one of us have been feeling well lately. So, as we were unloading the plants, Lin asked if I wanted to go through the gardens.

I assured him I did and would be OK and away we went. It was a different experience this year seeing it in the spring. Many of the summer plants are not in bloom yet, but the spring flowers were gorgeous: a delightful variety of daffodils and more.

One of the owners greeted us at the entry to the gardens and gave us their URL for their web site. They have a wonderful addition to it: the perennials and the trees and shrubs are tagged by number and identified easily on sheets on their web site. This technological advance beat the hassle of shuffling through three or four pages of paper—a great addition.

We leisurely strolled through the garden and looked up a variety of the plants. We both liked the Donkey’s Tail, a fascinating ground cover, and found out they will have it for sale in a couple weeks.

As last year, the finale of the garden is a lily pond and shady spot to sit and relax. We eyed gold fish in the pond of varying sizes and marveled at their movement.

We also liked the Mugho Dwarf pine, so Lin bought one on our way out. We plan on visiting again in a month or so to see the summer flowers in bloom. The Parker family’s hospitality sets the tone for the visit. Their dedication to this amazing hidden spot is to be commended. If you are in the area, put this on your list to see, but remember it’s open April – July only.

Here’s their web site: https://parkersfarmandgreenhouse.com/

To visit the gardens, it’s $5 per person with complimentary coffee, water or soda pop. Take a book and camera, schedule enough time to be able to stop and enjoy the serenity that fills this place.

Here’s a map of the grounds today:

_________________________

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · square dance

Marshall Flippo’s Career Started in a Chicken Coop

Marshall and Neeca Flippo

            We have Neeca, Marshall’s first wife, to thank for getting him into square dancing! After arriving late to their first lesson, they decided not to go in but returned the next week to learn in ten lessons the basics of square dancing from renowned caller, Betty Casey.

Excerpt from Just Another Square Dance Caller, Biography of Marshall Flippo

         When asked about how and why Flippo started calling he said, “I thought maybe I can do this. In time, I loved to sing but to whistle? I was out of lessons about a year before I ever started. The square dance club downtown, and thar was two of them, and they were both full. You had to go on a waiting list. They both had waiting lists for people to get in. So, we put our names in for that one. They could only dance 25 squares.  The list wasn’t that long, probably 10 – 12 couples. But Ed Hall, who was in our class and I knew him, lived out at Wylie. And Wylie, Texas is where I went to school from the fourth grade on until I joined the Navy in my Senior year.”

         Ed said, “I have an ole chicken coop that would probably dance three squares.” Flippo continued, “He had a farm out thar at Wylie.” Flippo located Wylie, “5 miles south of Abilene (now in the Abilene city limits).”

            So, Ed said, “I’ll clean that thang out if ya’ll wanna come out thar, but I can’t take more than twelve couples.”

Flippo explained, “So twelve couples of us signed up to go out thar, and we danced out thar every Friday night. So, we were dancing to records, and thar weren’t many out at that time that were good to dance to. Joe Lewis had the best ones. Joe played an accordion, and he had it fixed up where he could put different musical instruments in it, or he could play a guitar. He had about three or four instruments that he could play out of his accordion. He lived in Dallas, Texas. And Les Gotcher had some that were really hard. He was a hash caller from California and toured the whole country—probably the tops in his time.”

            Flippo added more about square dancing at the time, “Jonesy had some, but thar was no way we could dance them. Come to find out, Jonesy played in a band in LA. He picked up the lingo and said I believe I can do this, so he just got up and called a whole bunch of stuff he didn’t even know what worked into what. He just knew the words he’d heard callers use. He put them on Capitol Records. Well, thar was no way we could do those. And later on, he learned to square dance and then to call and then became a very good caller.”

            Flippo added, “We danced to records for quite a while, and then we’d have a band come in. Most of the Fridays we danced out thar with him to a two-piece band. If you said, ‘Record! We’re going to have a record dance,’ nobody’d come. People liked live music. So, we’d have a two-piece band and the fiddle player.”

Flippo continued, “When we couldn’t get them, we’d use those ole records that had calls on them like Jonesy, Joe Lewis or Les Gotcher. I can’t think of anybody else at that time. Thar were very few people recording at that time.”

            And one night someone said, “Thar’s twelve of us here. Why don’t we all learn to call? And we won’t have to have a record or a band, so we’ll just be our own caller.” Flippo explained, “So that’s the way it kinda started. I remember the first one I started. Singing calls didn’t appeal to me too much at that time, so I learned patter. First one I learned was ‘Dip and dive.’  Let me think a minute. So, we all did some kind of little calls. Some guys were good. I wasn’t one of the good ones.”

            Neeca remarked, “You can’t stay on beat. What’s wrong with you? Can you pat your foot to the music?”

Flippo Started with a Califone

           Flippo said, “Yeah.” He added, “So I had a big ole ‘Turkey in the Straw’ record, and I’d get in the front bedroom of our house ‘cause we had no furniture in thar, and I had a little ole record player. I believe it was a Califone. So, I’d get in thar.

Neeca’d come in and she’d say, ‘Flip, you’re not on the beat. I know good and well you can pat your foot to the music.’”

            He’d say, “Yeah.”

            She’d answered, ‘Well, start patting that foot to the music. Don’t do anythang—just keep patting it. When it hits the floor, you say ‘Bow to your partner, corners all,’ and just stay on the beat.”

            Flippo remembered, “Well, I had a hell of a time with that. So, we danced out thar a long while. Then we got taken in by one of those clubs in Abilene. I believe that was the Abilene Crosstrails. Somebody set it up. At the time, all the clubs—thar wasn’t one caller calling a dance. If you were thar and wanted to call, you could call, so it was multiple callers all the time.”

            Flippo provided a glance into what square dancing looked like in the 50’s. After he became a national caller, he met Joe Lewis and has stories about him. He had a picture at the WASCA festival in the DC area with Les Gotcher. In his intervies, he shared his historical perspective of square dancing and a variety of callers.

Flip started small, but one “lucky event” turned this small-town caller into a national hit. I’ll share this turning point with you next month.

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life.https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Life Lessons · My Thoughts

I Have Stomach Pain! An Anti-Depressant?

After my Mom died in 2013, I got terribly sick, losing weight and having severe stomach pain. I was diagnosed with Celiac Compression Disorder—an artery to my stomach is compressed by 70%.

Since then, I have had some reoccurrences but nothing like what I’ve experienced in the last three weeks. On Monday, March 4, 2019, I was at a square dance promoting a festival we’re having in May, and the cramps started at about 7:00 PM on the drive to the dance hall. I kept thinking they’d go away, but they intensified. I hadn’t had a full-blown stomach problem for several years.

It only worsened during the evening, and I had to leave abruptly in the middle of making a promotional announcement about our dance. I had an eighteen-mile drive home and prayed the whole way, hoping the diarrhea would hold off until I got home. The cramps increased. Sweat beaded on my brow; I turned off the radio so I could concentrate on breathing and not exploding.

I called my husband, Lin, as I turned down our lane, and he had the garage door open. I turned off the car, jumped out and ran to the bathroom, and the diarrhea hit. It relieved the pain for a while, but the cramps/spasms came back with a vengeance until 3:00 AM. At one point, I thought I was dying the pain was so intense.

Tuesday morning I called my GI doctor and luckily scheduled an appointment for the next day with a Nurse Practitioner because my doctor was not available. To my surprise, my doctor followed the Nurse Practitioner in the exam room and was a part of the discussion. I shared the questions I had written out and they answered them, as best they could. We scheduled a CT Angiogram scan for that Friday. Again, I was able to get this much quicker than I thought possible.

The scan was done easily in the morning, and I received the results that afternoon on MyChart, the medical portal I have access to through Presbyterian insurance. I read the results, not understanding the findings. It all sounded good, but I wasn’t sure. I needed a doctor’s interpretation.

I had a long weekend, not feeling good and wondering about the results.

On Monday, a nurse called me from the GI office with the results, but still I wasn’t clear about the results and next steps, so I asked to have the Nurse Practitioner call me. She did call back on Tuesday, but my phone was upstairs and I was downstairs, so I didn’t make it. She never did call back.

I kept wondering—what are the next steps then? And I felt lousy!

On Thursday morning, I had another stomach attack that hit suddenly. I called the GI office, and they counseled me to go to the emergency room. Lin and I decided not to do that, so we spent the afternoon researching on the Internet—what could this be?

We both came up with an ulcer and the need for an endoscopy.

I spent most of Friday and Saturday in bed, but Saturday afternoon, I joined Lin downstairs to watch some TV, and it hit again. The pain doubled me over into the fetal position. This was different—two episodes in a few days. That had never happened before.

I spent the rest of the weekend in bed, miserable with the pain and fear of what was going on.

On Monday, again I called the GI doctor for another appointment, and I was able to see her on Tuesday. Lin accompanied me. We walked in, armed with a list of questions, and we requested an endoscopy, so she scheduled one. I was afraid it would take a while, but there was an opening on Friday—again, my God intervened.

Our conversation took a strange twist during this appointment. The Nurse Practitioner asked if I had any stress in my life which I could understand with stomach pain. I answered yes, and she asked me how I handle it. I told her I write. Then she told me that many people come to their office with stomach pain, do the testing and end up with normal test results. She suggested I see a therapist for stress management at their Behavioral Science department, and she prescribed an anti-depressant, Amitriptyline.

I was so sick that day, I filled the prescription without thinking—Medicare and my supplemental insurance didn’t cover it, but it was inexpensive. I brought it back to the car and read the warnings to Lin. We both gasped at “Suicide, depression, etc.”

Here’s what shocked me even more when I researched this drug on the Internet:

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.
Amitriptyline can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults. People of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be watched closely for signs of changes in behavior or worsening depression.

https://www.healthline.com/health/amitriptyline-oral-tablet#warnings

The Nurse Practitioner called me after I filled the prescription and said to not start it until I got an EKG because I didn’t have one on file. I think that was my God intervening here to stop the process.

When I got home, I received a call from the stress management office; they have no openings and put me on a waiting list.

I did the endoscopy on Friday, and the doctor there was really concerned about the compressed celiac artery, saying it could be causing all the problems. We’re waiting for the biopsy results.

I’m having the EKG tomorrow, Monday, March 25, but I’m not going to start the anti-depressants. I know what depression feels like—been there, done that; I am not depressed. Lin said she didn’t prescribe it for depression; she prescribed it for pain. Why not use Tylenol?

Besides its alternative use as sleep aid, amitriptyline is also used to treat pain associated with a wide array of medical conditions.

https://www.insomnia.net/medications/amitriptyline/

I still don’t understand the prescription of this medicine. Is this how the opioid crisis happened in America? She took a sidetrack with me that day trying to prepare me for no new diagnosis for my severe stomach pain, forgetting about the 2013 diagnosis I received.

The doctor that did the endoscopy said the compressed artery could cause the severe stomach pain and could be fixed surgically by removing scar tissue. That seems like a solution—the anti-depressant doesn’t!

Have you ever had an experience like this? What did you do?

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts

An Angel Cat–Really?

In September 2008, my third marriage ended and my ex-husband kept our pet, a wolf hybrid named Kita that we raised from a pup. I have had a pet for most of my adult life, and these precious animals have fed my soul. After the split, I bought and moved into a townhouse, and by February of 2009, I was ready for a pet.

The women I worked with suggested getting a cat instead of a dog because I traveled often. They assured me that I could leave a cat easily and I wouldn’t have worry about a kennel. I had not had a inside cat since a tabby kitten when I was young and at home.

When I was growing up, we did have lots of cats running around my small country town because my half-brother and two half-sisters routinely brought a stray to us every time they visited. At one time, Dad counted 35 cats running around town he feared we had a hand in bringing there, but they were all outside cats.

Enough said, I was ready. At that time, I worked at the district office for Albuquerque Public Schools as support staff for teachers. We were housed at the Montgomery Complex and did workshops and training there.

I stayed late on a evening in early February for a training I was facilitating, and as I left my office, I heard a cat meowing outside in the bushes. It was a strange cry that I later became very familiar with–a Siamese cry! I made note of it but didn’t think anything more about it.

The next day I had just finished a training across town, and my phone rang with an anxious call from one of my co-workers, “Your cat is here!” She was a cat-owner and lover and had been the strongest voice urging me to get a cat instead of a dog.

“Where are you? Can you come back to the office NOW?” she queried.

I had just finished my presentation, so I agreed to return immediately. She took me outside through the door to my office, and there stood a skittish feline eating the food my co-worker had provided. This distressed cat kept one eye on me and one on his exit route. My friend informed me, “He’s a silver-tip Siamese,” and we oohed and aahed over him.

“Take him home with you tonight! Don’t you want to?” my friend urged me.

“I’m not taking it home tonight! I have to think about it!” I resisted. Needless to say, I went home that night and dreamed of cats all night, so with assistance from my cat expert friend, I bought a litter box and food and took him home the next day.

I named him “Jesse,” a name I was almost given. After going over Jesse with a fine-tooth comb, I realized how gorgeous he was–a silver-tip Siamese but skinny. I was sure he was someone’s pet, so on Saturday, I took him to VetCo and they wanded him to see if he had a chip. He did! They called the owners and the owners called me, giving me full possession of Jesse–I was now a cat owner.

His first big mess shocked me. I was conditioning my Dad’s leather chaps and had them spread out on the living room floor. In my absence for a few short minutes, he peed on Dad’s precious chaps. I was devastated and put them up in a safe place. There was a lot I learned about being a cat owner!

That was ten years ago. Jesse is sixteen years old now and suffers from feline diabetes, so he needs insulin twice a day. He travels with me monthly to Branson and loves to go once he realizes he’s not going to the vet.

My husband, Lin, is not a cat person at all, but he compromised when we married. I think he has grown to like Jesse–they have a morning ritual of a meow-fest. Jesse responds to Lin anytime he’s around, and they go and forth meowing at each other.

Jesse and I also share a morning ritual. I write and read every morning in our library, and he snuggles up close to me–a great way to start the day. In fact, if I don’t go immediately to the library in the morning, he scolds me and goes ahead of me.

For our first three years together, Jesse wasn’t a lap kitty, but in 2012, I had shoulder surgery. He must have sensed my pain because he crawled up into my lap then, and now it has become a nightly ritual if we’re sitting on the loveseat in front of the TV. In fact, Jesse often moves to the arm of the loveseat in anticipation of us joining him.

Jesse on one of his favorite perches!

As Jesse’s aged, I’ve marveled at his resiliency. When he was diagnosed in 2016 with diabetes, he was so sick and had lost from twenty pounds (big, fat cat) to 13 pounds. The disease caused a sad limp and he couldn’t jump anymore. He couldn’t go upstairs to the loft to join me when I worked on my computer. We worked hard to get him back on his feet, and he has stayed steady at 16 pounds now.

Today, I use his ability to go up the stairs as a gauge to his health–it’s a good barometer.

What a joy he has been to me! My Mom said early on, “He’s an angel sent from God! He’s so much company for you.” I agree with her–angels come in different forms and I’m convinced he’s one.

Christmas · family · Life Lessons · Mom · My Thoughts

Why Knit?

A skein of colorful yarn, two needles and a knitting pattern–life is good! Yes, I’ve been a knitter since I was about 10 or 11 years old. I saw a friend knitting and was mesmerized, so I asked my 4-H leader to teach me and the rest is history!

My Mom and maternal grandmother both crocheted, but I fell in love with knitting. I’ve made a variety of items. I started with slippers, and I remember the pride I felt with the first pair I made. Then my whole family wanted a pair!

I graduated to sweaters, ponchos, vests, socks, afghans, dish rags, dresses, and Christmas stockings. It was my habit to knit when I was watching TV growing up, and I have continued this habit. I loved giving a knitted gift to a family member or friend because spent the whole time I was knitting thinking about that person. I filled it up with good vibes!

Often, my Dad would tease me, saying the sofa bounced with the rhythm of my knitting needles. He used to chide me when I ripped out a huge chunk that had taken hours to complete, thinking I was a perfectionist. In reality, with an intricate knitting pattern, a mistake threw the whole design off, so I had no choice but to rip. This taught me ripping was a part of the process.

When I was in high school, I knitted my dream sweater for my last 4-H project. The project required more than one color and carrying the different colored yarn on the underside of the garment. I made my Dad a sweater with a Hereford bull on the back and his brand on the front. It was the most ambitious project I’d ever done. When I finished his, Mom wanted me.

My Dad’s Sweater

After high school, my life had gotten complicated—I was off to college and busy with my fun-filled college life, so I played a trick on Mom. The first Christmas, I gave her the back and two fronts because that’s all I had completed. The next Christmas, I gave her the sleeves. We enjoyed the craziness of that, and she loved it when I finished it and wore it proudly.

I took an evening class for advance knitting at Trinidad State Junior College and learned some amazing skills that took my knitting to a new level.

I took a break from knitting for several years after I was diagnosed with arthritis in all three thumb joints of both hands. The doctor put me in hand splints to save the joints, but they limited anything I did with my hands. I gave up on them and returned to knitting, and I have had less thumb pain now than then. The movement has helped my arthritic hands, not hurt them!

In 2013 after my Mom died, I returned to the hobby I love and made dish rags, a simple lovely pattern I could make without thinking. The rhythmic motion of the needles soothed my broken heart, and I ended up making more than 40 dish rags in the year after she died. I know it had a meditative quality for me with the repetition. It quieted in my mind and soothed my soul, and family and friends benefited from work.

Last year I had three family and friends having babies, so I made each one a baby afghan. Then for Christmas, I made them each a Christmas stocking with his name knitted into the stocking.

Recently I heard something that confirmed my belief that knitting has healing qualities. I listen to Dr. Bob Martin’s radio show driving to church each Sunday. On this one Sunday, he listed 10 ways to reduce stress and knitting was on the list. I chuckled as I heard him laud the hobby that had been a part of my life for over 50 years—what confirmation for me!

“According to new research by Knit For Peace, knitting could actually improve your health. The U.K. nonprofit organization published findings on the benefits of knitting based on extensive past research, as well as their own — and there are quite a few reasons to start stitching.
 
Health benefits were both physical and mental, and included lower blood pressure, reduced depression and anxiety, delayed onset of dementia. Knitting was deemed as relaxing as yoga, the researchers noted.”


https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2018/03/14/knitting-health-benefits_a_23385911/

One of the three sweaters I have knitted & I will use this pattern next!

My next project will be a rainbow-colored sweater made out of lamb’s wool and a fashionable pattern I’ve already made three times. I’ve had the yarn for a few years, and I’m anxious to get started!

After that—I bought several skeins of beige Aran yarn in Ireland at the Irish Store in Blarney two years ago, so I will be making an Aran sweater with all of its complexity! I love the history I found about the Aran sweater.

“From its origins, the Aran sweater has been intimately linked to clans and their identities. The many combinations of stitches seen on the garment are not incidental, far from it. They can impart vast amounts of information to those who know how to interpret them. Aran sweaters were, and remain, a reflection of the lives of the knitters, and their families. On the Aran islands, sweater patterns were zealously guarded, kept within the same clan throughout generations. These Aran sweaters were often used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea. An official register of these historic patterns has been compiled, and can be seen in the Aran Sweater Market on the Aran Islands.”


https://www.aransweatermarket.com/history-of-aran-sweaters

“As a craft, the Aran Sweater continues to fascinate audiences around the world. A finished Aran sweater contains approximately 100,000 carefully constructed stitches, and can take the knitter up to sixty days to complete. It can contain any combination of stitches, depending on the particular clan pattern being followed. Many of the stitches used in the Aran Sweater are reflective of Celtic Art, and comparisons have been drawn between the stitches and patterns found at Neolithic burial sites such as Newgrange in Co. Meath.
Each stitch carries its own unique meaning, a historic legacy from the lives of the Island community many years ago. The Cable Stitch is a depiction of the fisherman’s ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea. The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth. The Zig Zag Stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran Sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The Tree of Life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects the importance of the clan, and is an expression of a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.


https://www.aransweatermarket.com/history-of-aran-sweaters

I will finish my lamb’s wool sweater first. I have admired the Aran patterns for years but never attempted to make one because I knew it was a complicated pattern to knit. So, as you can see, the Aran sweater will take me a while to make, but I look forward to the day when I get to wear my two new creations!

Are you a knitter? What have you made? How do you feel when you knit?

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Marshall Flippo – a Navy Man!

“How’s the Flippo book going?” I’m asked regularly by curious friends. I appreciate the interest from many. Writing the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo is the project of a life time. I have completed the Prologue and Chapter One, Flippo’s childhood, but this carefree time of his life was cut short because World War II was raging in 1944 and many Americans’ patriotic focus gave them no option but to join up.

“During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. The Normandy landings have been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.


https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/d-day

Flippo is one of the best-known callers in the world, so, do you think you know him? Do you know that Marshall enlisted in the Navy? At what age?

A Young 17 Year-Old Marshall Flippo

On his 17th birthday, Marshall Flippo enlisted into the Navy with his parents’ consent—17 years old! That sounds so young today!

As discussions about Flippo’s choice of which branch of the service to join filled the Flippo home, Marshall wanted to join the Marines because his buddy, Hub Evans, had enlisted and returned in his dress uniform which dazzled the young Flippo. His Dad encouraged him not to join the Marines, so somehow, he ended up in the Navy.

After this discussion, Flippo recalled that his parents accepted readily his patriotic desires because his older sister, Helen, had enlisted before him and they were used to it!

He was inducted into the Navy in Dallas after an enjoyable train ride with a bunch of recruits from Abilene, then the train went back through his hometown, so Flippo said good-bye to his parents once again, bound for San Diego for boot camp.

Flippo went unnoticed in boot camp, so at the end of it, his superior commented that he must have done a good job because he didn’t know Flippo—I guess the rowdy ones are the only recruits he dealt with during that time.

A Young Marshall Flippo Cleaning a Colander

Flippo volunteered to go to “Amphib” training on Coronado island across from San Diego—he had no idea what that meant, but he volunteered anyway. His fate was set for the end of the war. He ended up on the USS Lander, a destroyer tender,  where he was a baker and spent two years. We do have a couple pictures of him on the USS Lander: cleaning a colander and on deck.

USS Lander

His wartime stories are unique through the eyes of a 17-year-old. He ended up at Iwo Jima at the end of the big battle there. Then on he went to Okinawa. From there, he had a surprise voyage to China crossed the equator, experiencing the initiation of a “Pollywog.”

A Young Marshall Flippo on the Ship

After decommissioning the USS Lander, Flippo landed on USS Piedmont, then the USS Wiltsie and finally the USS Dixie. The Piedmont, Wiltsie and Dixie were all after the war. All four of these ships were destroyer tenders:

A destroyer tender, or destroyer depot ship in (American) British English, is an auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships. The use of this class has faded from its peak in the first half of the 20th century as the roles of small combatants have evolved (in conjunction with technological advances in propulsion reliability and efficiency).


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

USS Dixie

He played baseball on the USS Wiltsie and was selected as one of two baseball players from the Wiltsie to transfer to the USS Dixie to play baseball in Des Pac, Destroyers of the Pacific team. He returned to San Diego on the USS Dixie and played baseball at David Field.

Flippo spent four years in the Navy, two years in the South Pacific at the end of the war and two playing baseball for Des Pac.

Flippo had a Navy book he referenced often—it chronicles the year 1945 and the USS Lander. I’m so sick I didn’t read it before Flippo passed away, because I’d loved to question him about the specifics detailed in the book. He refrained from describing some specific events because he thought we’d go over the book together. My regrets for sure!

This is just a short summary of Flippo’s Navy experience. I hope I’ve whet your appetite! His stories are rich and wonderful! I have more than 10,000 words from our interviews about his Naval experience, so there’s more!

Check out my NEW and IMPROVED web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · family · Hospice · Marshall Flippo · Mom · My Thoughts · Ranching · Retirement · Travel

What Does My Retirement Look Like?

Here’s the stereotype of what retirement looks like for many: an aged couple rocking chairs on the porch, relaxed, watching the world go by–no hustle, no bustle! Lots of people are retired and retiring, thanks to the Baby Boomers.

About 61 million people collect Social Security benefits each month, and they account for about one in five people in the United States.

https://www.nasi.org/learn/socialsecurity/who-gets

I’m 65 years old, retired and busier than ever, and I don’t fit that stereotype and many of you don’t either! I retired in 2013, so this is my sixth year of doing exactly what I want to when I want—that’s the luxury of retirement. I’ve always been a busy person and feared that I was a workaholic! I have to be busy. This goes back to my childhood. I started knitting when I was 10 years old and started the habit of knitting and watching TV. To this day, I have a hard time just sitting and watching TV—my hands have to be doing something.

Today my life is full and rich! My husband and my normal weekly dance schedule looks like this:

  • Wednesday – Round Dancing & Plus Dancing
  • Thursday – Advanced Dancing
  • Friday – Mainstream & Plus

Then, we usually attend an out-of-town square and round dance festival once a month that begins Friday night and ends Sunday at noon—lots of dancing! The dancing and friendships across the country feeds my soul!

When I’m home, I do Zumba two mornings a week. I love the movement to high energy Latin music–it feels like dancing to me!

I also am chairperson for two square and round dance festivals in Albuquerque:

  • Duke City Singles & Doubles Spring Fling in May
  • Hot August Nights in August

These festivals keep me busy hiring new callers and cuers for future events and planning the upcoming event. I’m so lucky to work with two great committees that make the work fun and effortless!

I attend Hope in the Desert Episcopal church and recovery meetings regularly when I’m home.

After my Mom died in 2013, my brother and I inherited our family ranch, so I visit our ranch and our small ranching community, Branson, once a month to check on things. I love staying connected to that part of my life and my dear friends there.

For the first couple years of retirement, I was busy as the Executor of Mom’s will, and probate kept me hopping.

In 2013, I volunteered to be treasurer of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles. Now that may not sound like too daunting a task for you, but I’m a “Word Person,” not a “Numbers Person.” I did it because my husband volunteered to be President and I knew his time would be dedicated to the club, so I might as well join him. The first financial statement took me eight hours to resolve, but the last one was about an hour, so I grew as a “Numbers Person.” I did that for four years and helped revived the club and grow it.

Since 2014, I’ve self-published four books and three cookbooks:

  • 2014 – This Tumbleweed Landed
  • 2015 – When Will Papa Get Home?
  • 2016 – Let Me Tell You a Story
  • 2017 – A Time To Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir
  • 2014- 2016 – From Grannie’s Kitchen: Volume 1, 2, & 3

I had two really positive experiences with hospice: when my best friend, Kathi Raver died in 2009, and when my Mom died. I knew that I would become a hospice volunteer, but I had to get some time and space from Mom’s death before I could handle it.

Last year, I started volunteering for Presbyterian Hospice, so I see a client once a week and have learned so much about the mission and importance of Hospice. My client is suffering from Alzheimer’s so it’s a roller-coaster ride of mood swings and communication issues, but what an education! My client’s daughter and husband so appreciate my time with her, and I love it. I’ve become part of their family.

I’ve also been a part of the committee that puts on the Branson-Trinchera Reunion every June in Branson. This is a celebration of the small country school I attended.

My husband and I love to travel, and we’ve done several cruises and trips in my retirement. My favorite was to England and Ireland two years ago for three weeks. What an adventure we had! (You can read about it here in my blog!) We have another cruise scheduled for this summer to the British Isle—back to England and Ireland and our first time to Scotland and Wales.

My current writing project has taken over my life! I’m writing the authorized biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world, Marshall Flippo, and I’m stressing out because I want to release it in September. As a self-published author, I’ve set up a timeline of production. Now I have to focus long hours to complete the writing by the end of April, to send it to a professional editor in May, to move the edited copy to a publication software and format it in June and July (our cruise is in July) and to order copies in August ready for distribution in September—WHEW!!!!

Someone said to me a couple weeks ago, “You’re not retired—you have two jobs: your books and your ranch. So, as you can see, I’m busy; I could never spend my days in front of a TV watching mindless TV. I may be retired; I may be 65, but I have energy and enthusiasm for life.

So, you may wonder why I’ve listed all I do in my retirement. I think many people have a skewed view of retirement. Yes, we anticipate the end of the grind—the 40 hours a week demands on our life and now the panacea at the end of the rainbow. I know many do retire and choose a much less active life than I have, but I wanted you to see the possibilities in retirement. You get to choose and the choices are limitless!

Curious about my books? Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount through the end of February – A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Ranching

Is a Windmill Important to a Rancher?

Windmills dot the southwest landscape. Their massive structure stands sentinel on the plains where I grew up. Dad and Granddad often spent hours fixing them, but I really had no idea of their value. How important are windmills to ranchers anyway?

My brother and I own a ranch in southeastern Colorado, and we have four windmills on the ranch. Three are operative, but last week in a furious wind storm, our main windmill in our summer pasture broke—the fan broke off and was hanging on the platform by the blades. It felt ominous for sure. With our raging drought, this windmill is a vital water source for part of the herd of cattle on the ranch.


Most windmills used in the Great Plains were of self-governing design. This means that they automatically turned to face changing wind directions and automatically controlled their own speeds of operation to avoid destruction from centrifugal force during high winds. 


http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.ii.062

I’ve seen this happen–facing one direction, then another; however, the wind storm that broke this windmill must have been a mighty one then!

Within a couple days, the windmill fixit man came from Folsom, New Mexico, and I had the treat of my life. My brother and I witnessed the crew of three fix the windmill.

We stood to the side, wrapped up in our coats and hoodies with a cold breeze cooling the February morning. Every phase of the work fascinated me. I grabbed my iPhone and captured as many pictures as I could.

They had a boom on their truck to lift the broken fan off of the tower. This magical operation took three men: one agile small guy up on the platform standing below the fan who hooked a chain around the fan, two men on the ground with one running the boom and the other ready to handle the fan as it came down.

The Agile Man Up on the Platform

Here’s a diagram of the parts of a windmill:

Then the work began. The young man on top took off the broken piece that the fan attached to, dropped it down unceremoniously, and they hoisted a new one up to him. The two men on the ground fixed any break to the fan, using lots of oil and elbow grease. After the two below fixed the fan, they sent it up the tower with the boom, and attached it to the new piece.

The Boom That Made the Fix Much Easier

Then they pulled out the sucker rod and the pipe it goes through. They measured the depth of the water, and the results were really sad to us. We’ve experienced a horrible drought the last couple years. We’ve received sufficient water to grow grass, but not enough to fill reservoirs and not enough deep water for the aquifer to fill the wells. A couple years ago, this well measure 17 feet deep; now it is 8.5!

Look at the size of the fan!

My brother had witnessed windmill repair as a youngster, so this was not new to him. I stepped in closer to see the work. While they had the working parts apart, the young man offered to show me the workings of the guts of the mill and how a windmill works—I had no ideas.

The Inner Workings of a Windmill

We also wanted to see how many gallons the well pumped a minute, but there’s a strange quirk with this well—it’s not straight down, so the pump they tried to put down the pipe wouldn’t go.

I’ve always had an unusual attraction to windmills and taken lots of pictures. To me, a windmill silhouetted in a sunset makes a beautiful, peaceful photograph. For us on the plains and high desert, we depend on the successful operation of a windmill. We have no rivers or live water on our ranch—a windmill provides that much needed water for the livestock. My respect for these giant wonders has grown in leaps and bounds and the maintenance of them.

Have you ever been attracted to photograph a windmill? Have you ever wonder about how they work?

Here’s how a windmill works:

  1. The wind turns the fan at the top of the windmill.
  2. The fan turns a set of gears called the motor.
  3. The motor pulls a pump rod up and down.
  4. The pump rod operates a piston in a cylinder pump located in the well.  This piston contains one o more valves.
  5. As the piston descends, its valve opens to allow the piston to pass through a water column held in check by another, lower valve.
  6. When the piston ascends again, the piston valve closes to prevent the water from flowing backward as the piston pulls the column up the pipe.
  7. At the same time, the lower valve opens to allow water to enter the pump and fill the vacuum created by the upward motion of the piston.  This is the new water column.
  8. The cycle repeats over and over again, working the water up the pipe until it overflows into a tank. https://homesteadontherange.com/2013/08/27/the-old-fashioned-windmill/

If you’d like a visual of how a windmill works, go to https://web.archive.org/web/20121028095740/http://www.aermotorwindmill.com/how-a-windmill-works.html

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

Are You A Pantser, Plotter or Plantser?

When you write are you pantser, plotter or plantser? If you don’t know what that means, here it is:

Simply put, a plotter is someone who plans out their novel before they write it. A pantser is someone who, “flies by the seat of their pants,” meaning they don’t plan out anything, or plan very little. Some people, like me, call themselves “plantsers,” which means they’re in a little of both.”


https://thewritepractice.com/plotters-pantsers/

Normally, I’m a pantser and the story evolves as I’m writing, but I had to be super-organized with this book, so I wrote this outline.  I didn’t write it before interviewing Flippo; I wrote it after we talked and I saw the topics surface, so I guess I’m a plantser!

Here’s the outline for the book I’m writing. It’s organic and changes as I work with the material. The power of the outline is that it gives me direction and an organizational structure to follow—it will fun to see how it finally turns out!

Title: Just Another Square Dance Caller

Subtitle: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

  1. TO THE READER
  2. Prologues
    1. Larada’s
    1. Marshall’s – Blue Star Records, Kirkwood & Neeca
  3. Joke
  4. Callers That Have Passed You Who Helped Flippo

CHILDHOOD  & YOUNG ADULTHOOD SECTION

  1. Childhood & Family
  2. Volunteered for the Navy & War Years
  3. Baseball in the Navy
  4. Early Marriage & Life with Neeca

SQUARE DANCE LIFE SECTION

  1. Square Dance Life
    1. Abilene’s Where It Started
    1. Blue Star Changed Everything
    1. Kirkwood Changed More
      1. John’s birth
    1. Yearly Tours of the United States
      1. Came out of Kirkwood & Neeca organizing – From & to Kirkwood
        1. North
        1. East
        1. South
        1. Home – Christmas
        1. North
        1. West
    1. Yearly Festivals
      1. Asilomar – ahead of and before CALLERLAB
      1. Permian Basin Festival
      1. WASCA
      1. Chula Vista Resort
      1. Others that I will add
    1. CALLERLAB
    1. International Trips & Cruises
      1. Japan – numerous times
      1. Spain
      1. Germany
      1. Caribbean
      1. Hawaii
      1. See Album
    1. Special Weekends
      1. Alaska – 2 events
    1. Recording Companies & Life
      1. Blue Star
      1. Chaparral
      1. Others
    1. Choreography
    1. Tucson Years
  1. End Of An Amazing Career
    1. Celebrations
      1. Chaparral Boys Labor Day, 2016
      1. Farewell to the Road
        1. Abilene, Texas – Wagon Wheel
      1. Houston
      1. Albuquerque
        1. Last contract with ASDC – big celebration
        1. Last NM contract – State Festival – 2016
          1. Agreed for me to write this book
      1. Green Valley, AZ – December 31, 2017
        1. I’m Leaving Here a Better Man
    1. Asilomar Once More
    1. Last CALLERLAB
  • Stories From Callers & Friends About Flippo
  • Stories from Flippo About Callers That Helped Him
  • Letters & Notes from Callers & Dancers
  • Awards
    • Sets In Order Hall of Fame
    • Milestone
    • Texas Hall of Fame
    • Lifetime Achievement
  • Epilogue – Flippo’s Memorial Service

THE BACK MATTER

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Photo Album
  3. Appendices
    1. Appendix A – Chronology of Marshall Flippo’s Life
    1. Appendix B – Recordings
    1. Appendix C – Awards
    1. Appendix D — Reference Books
    1. Appendix E – Glossary of Square Dance Terms
    1. Appendix  F – URL’s of Videos and Audio of Flippo
  4. Copyright Permissions
  5. Endnotes – Any footnotes when I quote a book or web site
  6. Larada’s Reflections – I’m writing this as we talk. I think it will be throughout the book.
  7. About the Author

Flippo and I went over this outline the last time we talked, but he was struggling at that time, so I’m not sure it’s complete. If you’re a Flippo expert, am I missing anything? Let me know.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

11 Secrets to Transcribe Audio to Text

In today’s modern world of technology, you’d think that transcribing an audio file into text would be a cinch, a no-brainer. The computer would do all the work for you, and you’d sit back and sip on a cool drink and relax—not so! Transcribing audio to text is quite squirrely at best. I just finished transcribing 37 interviews—well over 40 hours of conversation with Marshall Flippo for his biography. Some one hour interviews took over seven hours to transcribe because of various issues. I’d like to share my frustrations, my pain and my process.

I have arthritis in my thumbs and right index finger so the transcription became a painful chore. I had lots of suggestions from welling mean friends along the way to help me, and I tried them all:

  • Have it professionally transcribed
    • I searched out several sites on the Internet where it could be done technically.
    • I hired a professional transcriber.
  • Google Docs has an audio to text capability, so I ran a couple interviews through it.
  • Microsoft Word has an audio to text capability. Again, I ran a couple interviews through it.
  • My voice came out loud and clear on the audio and worked perfectly on Google Docs & Microsoft Word, so I listened to Flippo then repeated back to these two programs—time consuming for sure.

I tried all of these obvious solutions, but Flippo’s soft spoken Texas drawl was impossible for a professional or a machine to understand. So, in the end, I transcribed over 258,000 words when I finished.

Now I feel like I know what I’m doing, and I’d like to share it with you.

What did I learn in the process?

  1. BACK UP OF AUDIOS: At the end of each interview, IMMEDIATELY, I exported the interview to DropBox. I also backed up my Marshall Flippo folder on DropBox and my laptop on a thumbdrive on a weekly basis. Lastly, I have asbackup program on my laptop that makes backups throughout the day.
  2. I bought Voice Recorder for an iPad. (FREE; Don’t remember what the upgrade price is) http://www.tapmedia.co.uk/voicerecorder-support.htm
    1. It would do a cursory transcription of the first 10 minutes. I used that on interviews from caller friends who told me stories about Flippo, but again it wouldn’t work on his soft voice.
  3. I bought ExpressScribe software for a Mac. ($40) https://www.nch.com.au/scribe/index.html
    1. ExpressScribe plays the audio and has a simple word processor to type the transcription in, all in one app.
    2. Whenever I stopped the audio, it rewound a few seconds to make it easy to find where I was.
    3. In the midst of this project, I had eye surgery on my right eye, so I had trouble seeing font size 10 in the word processor in ExpressScribe, so I learned to magnify the window on my Mac which was an easy fix: Hold down 2 Keys: Fn & Control and using 2 fingers on the track pad, move it up to zoom in and move down to zoom out.
  4. Any time I stopped transcribing, I copied and pasted text from ExpressScribe into Scrivener’s.
    1. In Scrivener’s, I created “Comments” on anything I didn’t understand in the transcription to return to later.
  5. When I finished each transcription, I exported the notes into a file in DropBox.
  6. Watch your laughter, responses and talking over the speaker. We truly had an ongoing conversation over the 37 hours. Flippo told a story; I laughed. I responded to his humor and his stories, but in my enthusiasm, I guffawed right over his next statement. Or we talked over each other. His words being the most important and the softest disappeared with mine being secondary and the loudest. Think about your laughter, responses and habitual talking habits beforehand to control them during the interview.
  7. Add Nuances—Whenever Flippo giggled, I put (Giggles), so when I was writing the biography later I would make sure to add is giggles and laughter to the story. He sang some of his responses, so I noted that. Be sure and note anything you hear in the transcription that you will want to add to the book later. Listen to his cadence, his pronunciation—his personality in voice and make note of it in the transcription.
  8. Hard to Understand Sections—Most of my audio was great, but there were times I had trouble understanding Flippo.
    1. Rewound and slowed the audio play down to 75% or increased it to 105%. Often this helped.
    2. In my transcription documents, I timestamped any spots that are hard to understand so I could easily return.
  9. Each time I stopped transcribing, I marked where we stopped in my notes of that interview with a timestamp.
  10. Organize your interviews beforehand by themes or topics.
    1. A friend told me before I started that Flippo would try to hijack the interviews, and he did quite often.  I didn’t organize all the interviews with a theme, and after transcribing, I realized I had made my job harder in the next step of putting the interviews into chapters.
    2. Granted the organic fluidity of conversation was important, and he told lots of stories he wouldn’t have if I’d been super-rigid about this, but some organization would have helped in the long run.
  11. BIG PLUS—I realized early into the transcribing process that it was to my advantage to hear Flippo’s voice again, go over the details again and submerge myself in his voice and personality in a different way. When I was recording him, I took notes and focused on capturing as much on paper as I could. In transcribing, I had the luxury of listening to him, his voice, and the nuances and made note of them in a different ways.
Flippo and me at CALLERLAB 2018 in Albuquerque

The work is done—whew! I love the interaction Flippo and I enjoyed in the interviews. The transcription, by far, has been the hardest part of this project. Now, I’m ready to actually write the book which is exciting and rewarding.

I hope my suggestions help you in transcribing any interviews you do.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book versions–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

What Happened at Hummingbird Hoedown This Year?

This Year’s Flyer

I created a schedule for my blog posts back in late November for 2019, and this Sunday’s topic is Hummingbird Hoedown, an annual square and round dance festival in Sierra Vista, Arizona with caller, Jerry Story. We weren’t able to attend this year because of my husband, Lin’s hip problem.

For the last couple days, I have vacillated back and forth on whether to write about an event I didn’t attend. I decided I would because I know what happens there–great challenging dancing with a fun-loving committee and dancers. It’s an unusual festival that has gained momentum over the years.

Hummingbird Hoedown is a weekend festival the last weekend in January: a dance Friday night, workshop all day Saturday and a dance Saturday night–sounds like a lot of dancing to the non-dancer but this is the usual format for weekend square and round dance festival.

It began five years ago. Harue and Slappy (Bryan) Swift started it with Jerry Story with a new format in mind: round dance party for one hour before the dance and then only one round during the evening dance, mostly mainstream dancing with a two minutes, two seconds break between tips. That program translated into an aerobic evening of dancing, attracting high energy dancers.

Immediately it was a success and has continued growing with this year’s record number of seventeen squares! Lin and I attended the first three festivals but weren’t able to go last year and sorrowfully this year.

The schedule has morphed over the five years, and this year’s alternated mainstream, plus, mainstream and two rounds during the evening.

Another innovative addition started at Hummingbird Hoedown by Lisa Wahl. During the round dance workshop on Saturday afternoon, Lisa taught a rhythm not a whole dance and was able to teach more moves per rhythm that way. During the evening’s dance, Lisa cued the moves taught instead of a song and many people participated. This has continued throughout the years.

Bob and Lin Van Atta have cued the rounds for the last couple years and make the rounds enjoyable for all!

The Hummingbird Hoedown’s lively committee has fun door prizes and schedules dinner out Saturday night at one of the Mexican restaurants in Sierra Vista, providing time to sit and talk and get acquainted. I love this special time to sit with dancer friends and talk about our lives.

Jerry Story, the featured caller, puts you through the drill the whole weekend. Jerry is the master of making mainstream dancing a challenge. Then during the workshops on Saturday, he teaches the dancers all the key items to dancing that are important to him–his emphasis helps dancers improve their dancing.

The weekend is fun-filled, and the committee welcomes you with open arms. Jerry makes the squares entertaining and challenging. After a tip at this dance, you run to the bathroom or grab a drink– you can’t do both, and you rush back on the floor for another tip full of great choreography and singing. It doesn’t get better than this!

Lin and I WILL be there next year ready to dance the weekend away with good friends, a great caller and lots of dancing!

Want to see what happened at Hummingbird Hoedown this year? Go to the Thunder Mountain Twirlers Facebook page for pictures: 5th Annual Hummingbird Hoedown

Have you ever attended Hummingbird Hoedown? What was your opinion of it? Share it here.

Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

50% Discount of A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir–both paperback and e-book version–at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft.

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want: https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Goals · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Time Flies! What Happened to January?

Here it is January 30 and where did the month go? Have you accomplished all you hoped for these past thirty days?

When I look at January on the calendar, I annually feel like cleaning out disheveled drawers, closets and file cabinets. I want to clear the clutter on my desk and get the year off to a good start.

I want to get tax preparation finished before it becomes a burden that haunts me in the wee hours. I yearn for organization, structure and clarity.

The sad news is life gets in the way, and here it is January 30, and very little of those desires have been achieved.

I have done a few things that I feel great about:

  • I did the tax preparation for our ranch.
  • I started my personal and business tax preparation.
  • I set an appointment to do a living will (that’s been on my To Do List for years!).
  • I created a weekly organizational sheet that has directed me on daily and weekly goals for my personal and writing life.

Last year, I would get a brainstorm and create a reminder on my iPad app to do some brilliant action for my book business. So often then, they went undone because I just clicked the alert off when it appeared, got distracted and didn’t do it.

With my weekly organizational sheet, I have check boxes for key areas and have more accountability right in front of me. To really use it effectively, on Saturday I review what I did the past week and notice what I didn’t do, and prioritize that for the next week.

I’m a checklist-type person. I’ve used several checklists to organize my current writing project, the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, world-famous square dance caller. I have 37 recorded interviews, 4 steno-note pads full of notes from the interviews, 100’s of pictures, and 6 photo albums/scrapbooks to keep track. Checklists have helped me organize and cross-reference all the support material for specific chapters in the book.

Facing this part of my life, the key words are MINDFULNESS & ORGANIZATION! Routinely I get busy with what is at hand instead of being mindful for the day and have specific activities to do. Being retired plays into that, too. It seems I used to get so much more accomplished when I was working and had to manage my free time. My organizational sheet helps me with that, especially when I start the day with a review of what’s pending for the day.

My husband is very organized; his desk is free of clutter. I’m organized in an unorganized fashion with clutter everywhere, so here’s a goal for me for the month of February:

A DESK THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS!

Yes, January puts me in the mindset of clearing out and starting fresh–the newness of a new year. Here’s to your new year and your new ways of being mindful and organized.

Are you organized? Do you have clutter? How do you deal with it? Let me know!

Two days left for 25% discount of all my digital books at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft

Visit my web site and see what’s new: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Albuquerque · My Thoughts

The Albuquerque Mystique–what is it?

I moved to Albuquerque in 1991; I’ve lived in the area for twenty-eight years ago and am still smitten with the mystique of this lovely high desert city. I wonder about the Albuquerque mystique. I tried to write prose to express my feelings but this calls for a poem.

The mystery about Albuquerque escapes me.

           I try to pin it down.

It’s the setting—the Sandia’s, the desert, the river.

            No, it’s the people.

It’s the offerings of the community,

            No, it’s the people.

It’s so much, so large, so elusive.

The watermelon red sunset over the Sandia Mountains.

            Spanish name for watermelon

                        named for the color splashed over the

                                    mountains at dusk.

Our spiritual Native ancestors who walked this land before us

            instilling their heart and soul into the very earth.

The ancient Petroglyphs stand sentinel to the west

            and Mount Taylor in the far distance west.

The gorgeous Sandia’s corral the residents on the east.

The Rio Grande weaves a thread through the scenic valley.

Sandia Pueblo borders the north,

and Isleta Pueblo hems in the south.

Albuquerque—surrounded, unique and mystique!

The people play a major role in its charm.

            As a child, I visited Albuquerque often because my aunt and uncle

             lived here.

                        Visits to the mall and the Thanksgiving Day parade downtown

                                    echoed through my soul as I contemplated re-locating

                                    here.

When I had the opportunity to move, I took it

quickly.

My first exposure as a working adult won my heart.

The faculty, parents and students of Washington middle school,

“La Washa” for those of us who love that south valley school,

welcomed me with open arms.

The connections there ran deep

fun collaborative projects that welded the staff together.

Many Friday afternoon after school

together in a local bar with memorable jokes

that still resonate with just one line remembered.

The staff was so tight the first couple years I worked there,

we had to have two Christmas parties.

One was not enough!

I still socialize with many of the “La Washa” staff member.

Other schools

Other faculties

            Other colleagues

                        continued deep connections.

Many cultures live side-by-side here,

celebrating their own heritage and each other’s.

Strong Spanish/Hispanic and Native American populations,

Caucasians, Blacks, Greek, Asians and Vietnamese, too.

The mixture gives me a strong respect for all ethnicities.

My recovery community saved my life

            and continues to each day.

My church community, Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church,

and its people loved and accepted me during a down time in my life.

A magnificent view of the Sandia’s out the window over the alter

each Sunday calms my spirit.

Fr. Dan’s soft-spoken words encourage me.

Today my focus is my square dance community.

 A tight-knit bunch that loves to dance and have fun.

A beautiful dance hall on the north side of town

probably the best in the country.

A lively group of people, an activity, and a place that finds my soul.

Add the Albuquerque weather to the mix and the mystery.

Mild winters and summers

Our snow accumulation is normally slight

The summer weather only goes over 100 degrees a few days,

otherwise, balmy, beautiful weather for most of the year.

Summers and fall are the best.

Often, I sit outside in the night time

listen to the serenades of the cicadas

loud and boisterous yet so soothing.

The desert moon’s light magnifies the stars strewn

across a black canopy of night.

And there’s so much more!

The University of New Mexico

The Balloon Fiesta

The Gathering of Nations

The Greek Festival

Old Town

Yes, I believe Albuquerque has a mystique about it!

For years before I moved here, I listened to

Jim Glasser sing about “The Lights of Albuquerque.”

Every time I heard it,

            My heart leapt,

                        My spirit soared.

                                    It has always had a mystique for me!

Have you ever been to Albuquerque? Share your comments. Check out my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com Until January 31, 2019, 25% Discount on Digital copies of my books at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft
My Thoughts

How Do You Start Your Day?

When we are home, my husband, Lin, and I start most days off with Cribbage games over breakfast. The winner for the day is the best of three games or two if someone gets skunked because a skunk is worth two games. I kept track of our games last year like a tournament, and Lin won the year. For Christmas, I made him a 2018 Cribbage Champion t-shirt as a prank gift.

It’s such a fun, peaceful way to start the day. We laugh and carry on as the games progress. We whine about our cards, our luck and losing. We laugh about the strange combination of cards we get. Lin often says the S word first (Skunk) as we watch the movement of the pegs around the board. We talk about our current plans and future plans and the dreams we have. We connect!

Lin has played and loved this game since the 70’s. He taught me how to play when we got married seven years ago, and I have gotten better each year. For a couple of years, we stayed in Pagosa Springs, Colorado for the month of July with a couple and moved around town to different coffee shops and cafes, playing Double Cribbage. People would stop, stare and ask what we were playing. Many responded, “My grandparents play that game.”

I was still teaching at the time we were playing in Pagosa Springs with our friends and often told them that they should teach Cribbage in school to help students learn math—what better way to learn counting than playing a fun game.

Lin often wisely shares one of his favorite Cribbage lines as we near the end of the game, “I like your position,” or “I like my position.” Then he explains his rationale for the comment on how many moves it will take to win. It’s usually the best-case scenario. We’ve had lots of laughter over that comment when it backfired.

To me this morning ritual is a sacred space of love, laughter and communication—a nice way to connect and begin our day.

Well, our daily ritual this morning took a surprise twist! It was a red-letter day for sure. We’ve both said for years that we didn’t care which one of us got a perfect score, but we just wanted one of us to get it. The score for a perfect hand in Cribbage is 29, and neither one of us had ever seen it.

On the first hand today of the first game, Lin got it! He had 3 fives and a jack of diamonds in his hand. Then when we turned over the card we share, it was a five of diamonds, matching the jack of diamonds in his hand. Yahoooooo! 29 points!

Lin’s enthusiasm was priceless. In a way, he was speechless which is hard to imagine if you know him–he couldn’t believe it. I photographed his perfect Cribbage hand and put it on Facebook for all to see.

And he went ahead and won that first game, I won the second one, and he won the day on the third game—to boot, he skunked me! A memorable day and time shared.

Have you ever played Cribbage? Let me know if you share this interest of mine.

If you’re interested, you need a Cribbage board and a deck of cards. Here’s the rules for Cribbage: http://cribbagecorner.com/rules

Check out my website and my 4 books and 3 cookbooks: https://www.laradasbooks.com

25% Discount on Digital Copies of my books until January 31 at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft

family · My Thoughts

DNA Testing—Why Do It?

I had toyed with doing the DNA testing on ancestry.com for years, but I didn’t know anyone who had done it, and I couldn’t see a reason to spend the money.

Lin and I with the driver of our bus on the Ring of Kerry Tour in Ireland, July, 2017

My husband, Lin, and I went to England and Ireland in July 2017 for my second cousin’s wedding in England. It was Lin’s dream to go to Ireland because of his Irish heritage, so we added the side trip to Ireland to this trip. I had no connections to Ireland, so I let Lin know before we left that the Irish side trip was for him; however, I enjoyed our trip through Ireland and loved the people.

When we returned home, we had a conversation with Lin’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law about genealogy. They oozed with enthusiasm over having just gotten their results from their DNA testing. As they described their experience, I grabbed my iPad, went to ancestry.com and ordered two DNA kits.

When they arrived, Lin and I did the tests at the same time—we each had to come up with enough spit to fill our individual container. As we continued, the vial seemed to grow bigger and my mouth dried up, but we finally finished it.

We had to wait for about six weeks, but finally, ancestry.com alerted us when the results were ready. I nonchalantly opened the file and deciphered the results. Lin did his at the same time—and mine shocked both of us!

I knew I had a strong English ancestry—my mom had done our genealogy for both sides of the family, and she had records for the Horner’s, my dad’s side, all the way back to our immigration from England.

I thought I had a strong German heritage. My Mom’s maternal grandparents were stow-aways from Germany, so I thought this would be the largest statistic.

No! My largest ethnicity group was England, Wales & Northwestern Europe with 36%, so that surprised me, but the big shock was the second largest group – Ireland & Scotland with 32%.

I shared my findings with Lin wondering what his were. Irish would be his biggest group for sure. His silence screamed his disbelief. I asked again. He hung his head and whispered, “I can’t believe this! You’re 32% Irish; I’m 25!”

My mouth fell open, then a belly laugh hit me hard! I was more Irish than Lin!

We have had lots of laughter about this new find, but I love the information I’ve received. We got our first results in August and then received an update in September—no the testing didn’t change. Ancestry.com came up with new data and refined our information.

There’s lots of new data. Ancestry recently announced that they have more than 10 million people in their DNA database. That large population allowed them to use 16,000 reference samples to develop their new ethnicity estimates (up from 3,000 reference samples from the previous estimates). This has allowed for refinements of the existing estimates, as well as the addition of new regions.”


https://www.legacytree.com/blog/6-things-you-need-to-know-about-ancestrydna-update

My DNA results changed from 36% to 70% England, Wales & Northwestern Europe, and but my Irish went down from 32% to 21%. My initial results cited Europe West (Germanic Europe, France) as 16%. The update lowered it to 9%.

Lin’s update erased any Irish heritage identified in the initial results. His original results listed twelve regions of ethnicity. Then his update did the same as mine. It shortened his list to four areas.; I had three.

I like the warning ancestry.com has, “Your results are up to date! Your DNA doesn’t change, but the science we use to analyze it does. Your results may change over time as the science improves.”

So, our laughter continued as we shared our new results. I playfully shared my newfound Irish heritage with family and friends any time I could.

Ancestry.com also chronicles the immigration of my families to the United States to two areas:

Central North Carolina, Southeast Missouri & Southern Illinois, more specifically the Carolina Piedmont Settlers, and Tennessee & Southern States, more specifically West Tennessee, Western Kentucky & Virginia-North Carolina Piedmont Settlers in 1700’s. Then our families migrated farther west over the years.

Another advantage to doing the DNA testing is I have had several new contacts with family members I didn’t know before.

On the original report, after the top three groups, I had 7% Scandinavia, 4% Iberian Peninsula, 2% Europe South, <1% Melanesia, <1% Europe East, and <1% Middle East, but these minor groups were eliminated with the update. Ancestry.com explains it this way: “More data and new methods of DNA analysis have given us a better picture of which DNA sequences are—or aren’t—associated with specific world regions. This means that some regions may not appear in your new estimate because:

  • a region has been replaced by a smaller region or multiple regions;
  • new data indicates that a region does not belong in your results.”

The updated report isolated my heritage to the three areas identified: England, Wales & Northwestern Europe, Ireland and Scotland and Germanic Europe.

All in all, I enjoyed the DNA testing and results. I look forward to how it might be updated and fine-tuned even more. I also anticipate finding new unknown relatives.

Have you done a DNA testing? If so, what happened?

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Christianity · Christmas · My Thoughts

Our Names Didn’t Matter; Our Mission Did! An Epiphany Story

“I’m not Jewish, and I’m not going!” I was shocked as the three of us were left seated looking at each other. To me, this has been the biggest event since I joined this auspicious group of seers or astrologers. We love the stars and study them in this group.

The others filed out in silence, sneering at our idea of seeking out this new King of the Jews and his birth. “Why?” they repeated throughout the meeting. Men of wisdom had studied Judaism and its prophecies, and identified this bright star in the East as a cosmic event. The three of us agreed on its significance and wanted to do a road trip!

That star in the East had haunted me the last few days, luring me in that direction, but we had to talk to the group and see what the consensus was, so I curbed my rash desire to just flee East with no plan nor explanation.

“Well, I guess it’s just us three going then.” Initially, I thought a sizeable group of us would go, but the dissenting majority walked out, leaving the three of us in shock.

We didn’t let their apathy affect our anticipation. We prepared to travel to Jerusalem to talk to Herod, a Roman appointed King of Judea. For sure, he would know what all this meant.

We gathered our travel gear and lined up our camels for the long trek. We talked to our families, warning them that we had no idea when we would return, because the rumor was that a powerful King was born somewhere in the East, and we needed to represent our country there with gifts and the appropriate protocol.

What kind of gifts should we bring? After much discussion about what was suitable for a King of this calibre, we decided on three priceless gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The plan was to leave in the morning, but the bright star in the East kept urging me on. Nervous and anxious, I didn’t sleep much that night, rose early and stood ready to go by my camel when the other two arrived.

We talked little on the trip and kept our eyes glued on the star. It hovered over a specific place, and we knew our mission was ordained.

Arriving in Jerusalem, my heart beat increased. We were close. Our talk with Herod confused me though. Our observation about the birth of a King shocked him, but why should it? He was a Roman appointed King of Judea and knew nothing of the Jewish prophecy. His counsels scurried around and gathered the information we needed. Our wise counsel did not have the specific prophecy–they did.

They told us that it had been predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem in Judea–I knew little about the Jewish religion and wondered why Herod hadn’t noticed the bright star and put two and two together like we did.

We didn’t linger there because the three of us felt an urgency to see this King we had traveled so far to find. The nine kilometer trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem took us two hours, but our pace increased as we neared our destination.

The brilliantly lit star hung over a house of meager means. My camel’s rumbling growl seemed to anticipate something. The other two camels joined in. We dismounted, dusted our cloaks off, and grabbed the gifts we brought.

Joseph met us at the door like he was expecting us. He ushered us into his home. All of a sudden, I felt divine a presence as I saw a young Jewish mother cuddling her new born baby son in her arms. An aura of love surrounded the duo as if the star above had anointed them.

I fell to my knees as I saw His face–I knew deeply that this child held power like I had never experienced. I looked to see where my two friends were and witnessed a miracle. Both had fallen to their knees, too, faces aglow with wonder and mystery.

Solemnly, we presented our three gifts at the feet of Mary. Joseph talked quietly to us, asking where we had come from. He seemed in awed of us, foreigners to his land.

Meekly, I stepped closer and ventured to touch his cheek–sweet and precious. I looked into his open eyes and saw the face of God and knew I’d never be the same. His attraction drew my friends to his side and they, too, wanted to touch him. In her serene manner, Mary nodded her head. They touched his cheek, too, and I saw a visible change in their faces as they witnessed him.

None of us wanted to leave, but I felt we had stayed long enough to be polite–any longer could be considered disrespectful. When we left, we camped near Bethlehem, thinking we’d retrace our steps back to Jerusalem because Herod had requested we report back to him about our find.

We sat around the camp fire, warming ourselves, mulling over our full day. The world had just changed, and we knew we had played a part in it. Finally, the fire burned down, and we snuggled into our bed rolls.

The last thing I remember before falling to sleep is the glow of the embers and the glow in my heart.

During the night, I saw a warning in my dreams–don’t go back to Herod. He’s dangerous and means harm to this new King, so we traveled home by a different route.

We could not get home quick enough. We convened our group and reported our findings. The mild reception concerned me, but I knew that my job on earth was set–God had come to earth through this baby, the King of the Jews, and he had opened the door to the Gentile world through our simple obedience.

You will never hear my name mentioned–it doesn’t matter. What matters is that my two friends and I traveled the distance, witnessed the birth of the Christ child and spread the news to our world!

My religion of choice is the Episcopal church, and we observe the twelve days of Christmas, ending at the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. In our observation, we celebrate the coming of the Wise Men to the Christ Child on this day. We believe that the Wise Men’s visit to the Christ Child opened access to the Gentile world and everyone.

What are you thoughts?

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Goals · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Make New Year’s Goals for 2019

Daily, I read The Language of Getting Go by Melody Beattie. I thought today’s reading was an appropriate way to start 2019″

Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.

Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level.

Goals give our life direction.

What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?

Whaat would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?

Remember, we aren’t controlling others with our goals–we are trying to give direction to our life.

What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?

What would you like to see happen inside and around you?

Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down–as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go.

Certainly, things happen that are out of your control. Sometimes, these events are pleasant surprises; sometimes, they are of another nature. But they are all part of the chapter that will be this year in our life and will lead us forward in the story.

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

Today, I will remember that there is a powerful force motivated by writing down goals. I will do that now, for the year to come, and regularly as needed. I will do it not to control but to do my part in living my life.

The Language of Getting Go by Melody Beattie

Let’s do it now for 2019, OK–write the chapter of my life titled “2019?” Happy New Year and Happy New You!

What are your thoughts?

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Christmas · Christmas · Dancing · My Thoughts

Straddling Two Years

Christmas, 2018 is behind me; New Year’s Eve and 2019 stare me in the face. Straddling two years during this time always makes me pensive. I remember past holidays–the people and the joy and the grief–and anticipate what’s coming with a brand new year!

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve has always been special to me. I remember being in high school and staying up ’til after midnight watching Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. Seated on the sofa besides my brother, we laughed and enjoyed the opportunity to stay up late. I felt so grown-up!

As a teacher, I loved being out of school during this time of the year, so again, I stayed up late and enjoyed movies, Jay Leno on the Tonight Show, and the time off!

One year stands out in my memory. I was attending Colorado State University so this was probably 1985. I spent Christmas in Branson, Colorado with my parents and had a great time. I had a month off and decided to spend New Year’s Eve and time afterwards with my brother and his family in northern California.

So, my girlfriend, Eloise, and I rode Amtrak out to California. She had a friend in Oakland, so we were basically going to the same area. We left the Denver Amtrak station about 3:00 pm on December 30. I packed lots of goodies to stay us on this 30+ hour trip to California, and we didn’t get a sleeper.

Eloise and I found our seats, settled in and started this amazing train trek. We decided it was time to explore, so off we went to the Club car, and it was the best place to be going through the beautiful Glenwood Canyon with its massive views. We bought our first beers and returned to our car.

I had brought homemade fudge and goodies, so we nibbled. We read, we drank, we laughed and met our companion travelers in our car. This group wanted to party early, and we did, too.

We slept in our seats that night, stretched out. I wrapped up in an homemade afghan I brought with me. In the middle of the night, we went through Reno, Nevada which looked like a winter wonderland with snow and the beautiful lit decorations out our window. The black world sped by us that night.

New Year’s Eve Day, we woke up in the party car. I rolled over, and I had smashed my fudge in a Ziplock bag during the night. Sheepishly, I shared my goodies with our newfound friends. The drinks began early and continued until we left the train. The camaraderie in our car was festive and celebratory. I got off in Sacramento near to where my brother lived, and Eloise went on to Oakland. My family was waiting for me and ready to continue the party!

Coming from a dancing family, most of my New Year’s Eves have been spent dancing, so dancing was the plan for the night.

It was a memorable New Year’s Eve out dancing with my brother and his wife. She and I dressed up with glitter hair spray in our hair, and the guys at the bar called us the “Glitter Girls.” We danced the night away at a local bar with their favorite band, so we knew a lot of the people there. Many Navy guys on leave came out to celebrate, so I had plenty of dance partners. I flirted; I danced and I enjoyed my brother and sister-in-law.

This memory always comes back this time of year. What does 2019 hold for me? for you?

I’m the eternal optimist and believe 2019 will be great! My newest book will be released in September, 2019 which is the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, a world-famous square dance caller. I have so much work to do between now and then, but I love this project!

Let me know what you think 2019 holds for you!

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Christmas · My Thoughts

Do You Know Mary? Do You Know Joseph?

A young Jewish girl humbly accepted a visit from God’s angel, Gabriel, and puzzled over his message that she would be the mother of the Messiah. At first, she couldn’t fathom the idea. The Jewish world had been waiting centuries for His coming. She was a teenager and single. What a shock!

Being single, Mary questioned Gabriel about how she could give birth to a child. Patiently Gabriel explained the mystery. Her humble response echoes through the ages, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Her answer was “Yes!”

Mary’s song in response is recorded in Luke 1:46-55 and is a celebration of her commitment to do God’s will–read it out loud and celebrate her obedience.

Imagine what those nine months after an angel’s visit were like. Some sort of marriage happened. Joseph protected Mary during this time, knowing that this child she carried was special. Pregnancy outside of marriage during this time in history was scandalous!

As her time neared, they had to make a rush trip to Bethlehem from their hometown of Nazareth. Caesar Augustus required a census, and Joesph belonged to the house and line of David, so they went to Bethlehem to register Mary.

Nine months pregnant, Mary faced a 160 kilometer trip. Did she walk part of the way and ride a donkey the rest? How long did it take? In today’s world, it’s a three hour trip, but their’s had to take hours, maybe days.

Each mounting step jarred this pregnant woman. As she neared Bethlehem, the birth pangs hit. Did her water break before or after they found the manger? As they moved from inn to inn, Joseph realized there was no place to stay–the census had overloaded the small Jewish city. What to do?

Thinking outside the box, he found an empty stable and tied his tired donkey up. Gently, he lifted Mary off of its back and nestled her in a soft bed of hay. The time had arrived. He delivered his child, the Son of God, alone there in their makeshift home.

Mary trusted his judgment and knew that they would be OK. Her screams echoed through the hills. Joseph wiped sweat from her brow, praying for God’s guidance. One last scream and a new sound was added to the quiet night–the cry of a newborn baby.

Joseph wrapped his newborn son in clothe they had brought with them and placed him in the manger. God directed him on how to cut the umbilical cord and tend to Mary’s needs. His heart burst with pride–a son to carry on his business, his own son, but wait! This was God’s son! What did that mean for Joseph and Jesus?

Mary’s eyes focused on the baby, Jesus–her baby. Tears welled up in her eyes as her heart burst with joy! Her baby boy was here! She savored the serenity of the moment. Then the quiet stable changed as the twosome noticed an angel appear. The trumpet blast from the angel announcing the birth of Jesus shattered the silence. The cows and donkey in the stable woke up and joined the chorus of angels in celebrating this birth. Shepherds with their sheep drifted in the door and bowed to the newborn King. They shed tears of joy in the fulfillment of the promise! They moved aside but lingered, as three wise men laid gifts at the feet of this amazing baby. This mixture of Jew and Gentile surprised Mary and Joseph.

Mary and Joseph looked at each other in amazement and smiled–it was true! The message from Gabriel nine months ago was true! They were now the parents of the Son of God!

Copyright ©2018 Larada Horner-Miller

These are my thoughts about a familiar story–have you ever thought about what happened that night so long ago in Bethlehem? I challenge you to do so this Christmas.

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Christmas · My Thoughts

Why a Baby?

A newborn baby coos and breathes a heavy sigh, feeling safe and warm. Mary rolls over and lays her arm across the baby to make sure he’s OK. Joseph stirs because of Mary’s movement–the trio connected deeply after a long trip and the eventful night of birth.

Tranquil animals surround these three in this stable in the little town of Bethlehem. A jersey cow moos softly and adjusts a hind leg that’s cramped. A donkey brays and twitches an ear with lazy eyes closing to rest! Sheep move like shadows around this enclosure, chewing the scattered hay and enjoying the warmth generated by the other animals and humans. The peaceful mixture of sounds in that manger so long ago echo through the centuries.

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A baby – why did God decide to come to earth as a defenseless, dependent baby 2000+ years ago?

The answer is easy:  the allure of a baby is magical, especially a new born. Just watch children and adults alike swarm to uncover a newborn, look into the face of innocence and joy and wonder at another miracle. Yes, a baby attracts most everyone to its side, and that’s what God wanted.

So this Christmas, make sure you take the time to really connect with the baby Jesus in that stable. Look into His eyes, touch His small round hands and marvel that you are staring at the face of God!

Several years ago, I wrote the following short story and it certainly connects at this time of the year–Enjoy!

Quesions-Answers.jpg

I Found My Answer

            She looks so familiar; I’ve seen her before.  She has the answer I know to the question that has been haunting me for months.  All I have to do is get her alone and ask my question, my one big important question.  Any time I get close enough to her to ask, my parents throw their arms up to guard the baby and scream, “Don’t hurt the baby!  Be careful!  She’s fragile.  You could hurt her.”

            You see, she’s new.  They just brought her home from the hospital.  Her name is Ann.  I’m Laurie, her three-year-old sister.  I wasn’t that excited about her when she was in my mom’s tummy, but since I’ve seen her, I know she’s got the answer, if they will ever let me near her, alone!

            I try to outfox them–one time after another I almost get to her–to whisper my question in her ear.  She’s one of those who knows, and I know it.  I recognize her and her spirit.  But their stopping me frustrates me. What am I to do?

            I must get to her before she forgets, like I have.  Or have I?  I have a vague recollection.  Cloudy images float through my mind at times that are a part of the answer, but I know she knows for sure!

            My deep desire for the answer only increases; my tactics change, but nothing seems to work.  They’re set on protecting her from me, and I’m equally set on getting to her for the answer.

            I stand by my mom as she holds her–that beautiful cherub face ready to tell me, but I know I can’t ask this question in front of Mom. She would only get upset because I would need to get real close to Ann.  I have to whisper right in her ear then put my ear up to her mouth to hear her response, because it will be spoken very softly and gently in words no adult can recognize.  I think I still can understand.  I used to be able to hear that.  I’ve seen that face before I know.  I’ve heard some of her sounds and they sound vaguely familiar–other worldly.  I don’t need much time, only minutes, but we need to be alone and quiet!

            I don’t give up, but my plans have changed.  I stop the outright method; I wait and watch for the opportune time, and my patience finally pays off.

            Ann is baptized at one month old, and my parents give a big party, inviting family and friends to show off their new child. This proves to be the distraction I need.

            The guests all “ooh” and “ah” over her and bring me gifts too, so I won’t feel left out.  I’m not worried about gifts or sibling rivalry or stuff like that–I’m on a mission.  My folks think I’m jealous of Ann, that I want to hurt her, but that’s not true at all.  If only I could it explain it to them.

            Mom has lots of delicious food and drink.  They enjoy good light-hearted conversation with family and friends.  For the first time since Ann arrived, my parents relax about me bothering my baby sister. The party atmosphere distracts them, so I’m on the move.

            Startled back to reality, Mom asks my grandma, “Where’s Laurie?”    Everyone starts the search for me, but my time had come a few moments ago when quietly I slipped out of the living room, up the stairs into my baby sister’s room.  She was sleeping, but that’s OK.  I can still talk to her anyway, and she’ll answer.

            I pull a chair over to her crib and crawl up into it, careful not to hurt her.  I lay down next to her and began whispering my question into her ear —

            “Tell me — what does God looks like?  I have been here for three years, and I have almost forgotten.”

            A knowing smile crosses Ann’s lips, and her answer came through her spirit as I heard her response, “He looks like me.”  Yahoo! I knew it!  That’s why she looked so familiar!  Something inside me knew it all along!!  Every time I have seen a baby in the last three years, I’ve gotten the urge to ask that question.  I felt drawn to the newborn, but having a baby in my own home really made the asking easy–after I got passed Mom and Dad.

            That answer quieted my spirit, and I was peaceful at last.  She did reconnect me with my God.  Now I could hold on to this truth for a few more years.

            Little did I know my Aunt Janey was sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room and had heard the whole conversation (my side only because she can’t hear babies.)  My question touched her heart deeply.

            She didn’t move or try to stop me.  I fell asleep next to my sister at peace with the answer, and my parents found me resting there after their mad search–my quest had ended moments earlier.  I had found my answer.

Copyright © 2018 Larada Horner-Miller


What does the face of God look like to you? Let me know!

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Christmas · family · Memoirs · My Thoughts

Are Holiday Traditions Important?

I’m a tradition-based holiday person–I love the familiar and the repetitious. As a child, our home-spun traditions centered on our family. We cut our own Christmas tree on our family ranch when we used to have lots of snow, so it was cold and messy but joyful and an adventure. I often had sap all over my hands.

Because we didn’t have a lot of money, presents were few and heartfelt. I wrote letters to Santa and dreamed about my gifts, looked at a Monkey Ward’s catalog and dog-earred pages so I could revisit it often.

I dressed up in my Christmas outfit, and we ate Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparent’s house across town. When we got to the car, often Dad forgot something and went back inside to retrieve it (later I realized that’s when Santa came!).

My grandparent’s house filled quickly with our family and my aunt and uncle’s family. Often our two great aunts from Tulsa, Oklahoma joined us and gave us $2 bills because one of them worked at a bank. The highlight of the evening was Granddad leading a parade of children from the front door to the back after he shouted, “I saw Santa Claus!”

We would return home after eating a savory dinner and opening our presents to see that Santa had visited our home, and I realized my dreams.

Christmas Day was low-keyed and filled with hours of playing with my new toys.

This scenario repeated itself most years, so you can see the deep family traditions I love.

As an adult, the magic of Santa changed, but Christmas continued to be a magical time for me with my new grown-up traditions. From my first husband, I added Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at an Episcopal church to my Christmas traditions, and church became a regular part of my celebration.

After my first husband and I divorced, Dad and Mom joined me in this tradition, and we drove to Trinidad, Colorado each Christmas Eve to the Lutheran church for Midnight Mass–some of our most memorable conversations happened on those late night 50-mile drives home.

As a middle school teacher for twenty-seven years, I put together a wild collection of holiday t-shirts, sweatshirts, pants and jewelry that I started wearing the Monday after Thanksgiving–I’m still adding to this collection today.

I love writing our Christmas letter that features what we’ve done for the year. This is my 30th year of writing this, and I enjoy the process of looking a back and summarizing the activity of the year.

I cherish baking Christmas candy and goodies because it reminds me of Mom and all the fun we had in the kitchen–I use a lot of her delicious recipes. And I love sending Christmas cards–I don’t receive that many anymore, but as I address each card, I’m flooded with memories of each person on my list, and it’s a celebration of my family and friends.

The last tradition I will share is one my Mom started in 1988. I was going to codependency treatment on December 22 and wouldn’t be home for Christmas. She put together ten Advent gifts–one to open each day before Christmas, starting on December 15th. I packed the remaining gifts to take with me to treatment but had the shock of my life. They went through my bags, opened each of the unopened gifts, thought a bag of potpourri was marijuana, and confiscated it.  Even though I lost the opportunity to open the remaining Advent gifts, I felt Mom’s presence in a special way that Christmas in those gifts.

We continued that tradition until she died, and I joined in the gift exchange and gave her little nonsensical gifts. We added Aunt Willie and Lin–they enjoyed this tradition.

For me, the various traditions have blessed me deeply and shaped me into the person I am during the holidays. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Are traditions important to you? Share your thoughts with me! I’d love to hear from you!

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Christmas · Memoirs · My Thoughts

My Hair on Fire! Oh, my God!

As a child, the Branson Community church played a big part of my life. As I remember, it was the people who loved and nurtured me that I associate with that quaint little church.

Each December, the Christmas program at the church was a big deal for our small ranching community–we anticipated it as a major part of our holiday festivities. We put on pageants, songs and plays.

For one of the productions, I was an angel–I felt heavenly for sure. Being an angel can be dangerous! Here’s what happened–safety wasn’t the focus back in the 50’s.

Historic photo of Branson Community Church


Branson Community Church


The Branson Community Church
small and quaint.
 
People that touched my life
Maynard Bowen,
Walt Graham
Ministers of God, who took the time for me.
The Loudens
The Gilstraps
The Smiths
The Warners
The Cummins
Mabel Survant
Mrs. Jamieson
 
Sunday School teachers
and family friends who let me sit with them,
singing my songs out loud
when I couldn’t even read.

Beautiful old hymns and singing.
They loved me, taught me,
and encouraged me.
A safe place to be on Sunday morning,
and a nice place to meet God.
 
Youth group on Sunday night
games and talking about God
Youth group picnic and campouts at the Gilstraps
and the annual Christmas programs.
 
One year, at the Christmas program
I was an angel
with the other young girls.
Donned in our white robes, wings, and haloes,
we walked in a straight line
carrying lit candles.
The girl behind me got too close
and caught my hair on fire!
Our teacher quickly handled the situation, and
I wasn’t burned.
The program went on.
 

Did you participate as a child in Christmas programs at your church? Any exciting happenings? Let me know.

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Christmas · family · Gratitude · Memoirs · My Thoughts · Travel

A Christmas Memory–Sad & Precious!

My sick brother cut wood to sell!

It was in the late 1960’s. My Mom, Dad, teenage brother and I arrived in Poway, California for a special Christmas celebration. My brother-in-law had recently been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and the future was bleak. This was only the second time we’d traversed to California for Christmas, and this trip had such a mixture of emotion.

As newlyweds, my sister and her new husband and two stepchildren came to Colorado a couple years before and we had a enjoyable time getting acquainted with my sister’s new family. Being from the city, the children delighted in a trip to our ranch to cut down our Christmas tree, and they enjoyed a truly country Christmas with snow.

My new brother-in-law immediately started picking on me, and we bonded deeply even though he forced me to try cranberries–I had never tried this dish before. With his humor and persistent influence, I grew to love cranberries!

My sister knitted beautiful Christmas presents!

Sunny California appeared gloomy and heavy. The festive atmosphere of Christmas felt tinged with a deep sadness and fear. My sister greeted us warmly, knitting like a crazy woman–she shared with me that all of their gifts this year were knitted.

The man we saw on arrival was a shadow of the man we met a few short years ago. The disease had ravaged his body, and he had lost so much weight, his clothes hung loose and limp on his frame.

But his spirit of love and laughter prevailed. Mom tried her hand at making homemade pie crusts, forgetting the affect of being at sea level on a recipe usually done at 6100 feet above sea level. She clamored about the gooey mess she kept trying to roll out, and my brother-in-law teased unmercifully. As he ducked out of the kitchen with his latest quip, she slung the ball of dough at him, hitting him in the eye–a magnificent bull’s eye. Our laughter filled the kitchen with joy in the ridiculous.

Christmas Eve morning came, and my brother-in-law slipped into our bedroom and whispered his plan for the day to Mom and me, “I’m going to go sell some wood so I can buy my loving wife some Christmas presents. Don’t let her know where I’ve gone. Can you help me wrap the presents when I get home?”

Mom and I both choked back tears, nodding our heads.

The impact of my brother-in-law’s health had destroyed their finances. He hadn’t worked regularly in months; my sister had a good job, but she was so busy and overwhelmed being a caregiver, too. Living in the wooded area of Poway, he did cut wood whenever he could and sell it to make some extra money and to keep active–this was not his nature.

Christmas Eve day went by uneventful except for my sister’s repeated refrain, “Where is my husband? What is he doing?” Her distress weighed on me during the day, but I couldn’t ruin his surprise. She continued to knit on the last project she was trying to finish.

Daylight slowly faded into darkness. Mom and I exchanged worried glances all day–Dad, my sister and brother kept wondering about the where-about’s of my brother-in-law.

Mom and I went to the bedroom to talk about what we should do–it was dark. He had been gone for hours. What if something went wrong? Quietly he opened the door of our bedroom with a couple bags of gifts in hand. He looked exhausted but pleased with himself. 

We wrapped the small collection of gifts–all kitchen utensils for my sister. We placed the gifts under the tree, and my sister was contrite in her reaction to her husband’s day-long absence.

I  knew deep in my heart that this was the most precious exhibition of love and gifting I’d ever seen. His generosity and spirit graced the rest of that holiday.

Forty-some years ago, and it still bring a smile to my heart as I remember his mission of love and the true spirit of Christmas.

Have you had a Christmas like this–sweet and bittersweet at the same time? I’d love to hear your experiences!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ME TO YOU! I have posted something from my 3 books. Download a free Christmas story or poem from my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for 25% off of two new bundles and 20% off of individual books–FREE SHIPPING! 

Christmas · family · Memoirs · My Thoughts

What are Your Christmas Traditions?

In my country childhood, we had many Christmas traditions: the fun and adventure of cutting down a tree from our ranch, hilarious Christmas programs at the church and school, and fun-filled Christmas caroling around our small town. Our family dominated this holiday’s focus.

My dad’s parents lived in the same town, so most Christmas Eve’s were spent at their house with family. See what a traditional Christmas Eve looked like at the Horner’s house!

Santa &amp; Reindeer Graphic

Christmas at the Horner’s

It was a big affair,
     especially when Granddad got all
     sixteen grandchildren together.
That meant a holiday house full.

Each year, my Christmas outfit was always special.
One year
     a white dress with a gathered skirt,
     trimmed in red,
     made by Mom.

Grandma, decked out in her festive apron,
      worried over the meal.
She made the best mashed potatoes,
     smothered in butter.
Granddad’s job came after dinner.

The table was set on the porch so
     we could all fit,
          a long line of smiles and laughter.

For those of us who knew the tradition,
     anticipation set in.
We tried to hurry the process,
     with no success.

Finally after a leisurely cup of coffee and a cigarette,
     Granddad would disappear to the front door.

His shout rang through the whole house!
     It had begun.

“I just saw Santa Claus fly over. Come quick.”

We’d race to the front door,
     and
he would race to the back door.

“No, no he’s out here now. Come this way.”

We’d race to the back door.
This would go on for
     what seemed like eternity,
     and I never did see Santa, a reindeer,
          or his sleigh.
               I was always a second too late!
But this also meant that it was time
     to open our gifts that had mysteriously spilled out from
          under the Christmas tree.

A traditional Christmas with the Horner’s meant
     cousins,
     aunts and uncles,
     sometimes great aunts
          from Tulsa, Oklahoma,
     good food,
     lots of laughter,
and
     traditions that filled my heart with joy and
          family connection!

Copyright © 2014 Larada Horner-Miller
from This Tumbleweed Landed


What was your favorite Christmas tradition? I’d love to hear from you.

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My Thoughts · Writing

My Memoir Wins Fourth Award

A Time to Grow Up FINAL COVERIndependent Press Awards is proud to announce the 2018 Distinguished Favorites in the Memoir category: A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. See the listing at the URL below;

http://www.independentpressaward.com/2018distinguishedfavorites

I’m so excited! This is the fourth award this book has earned!

The other three awards are:

~”Official Selection” for 2017 New Apple Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing in the Biography|Autobiography|Memoir category.

~Finalist in 2017 New Mexico-Arizona book awards in 2 categories: Biography (Other) and Ebook Nonfiction.

Have you bought your copy yet? Go to Amazon to get a copy now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0996614427/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1497309604&sr=8-4&keywords=larada+horner-miller

Have you read it? Would love to hear your comments about it!

 

 

 

 

Ireland & England · Travel

Day 20 Train Trip to Cambridge

Our family met at the train station in Bury St. Edmund’s and rode the train to Cambridge–about a 45 minute trip. I loved looking at the lush green countryside as we whizzed by.

IMG_4443 Train Station.JPG
Train Station in Bury St. Edmund’s

On the train ride, we passed by Newmarket, famous for “Newmarket has over fifty horse training stables, two large racetracks, the Rowley Mile and the July Course and one of the most extensive and prestigious horse training grounds in the world.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newmarket,_Suffolk

This was exciting for me to see–a country girl at heart!

After we arrived in Cambridge, a group of us walked to the main part of Cambridge and others rode the bus. Seeing all the beautiful buildings as we walked was awesome. Again as in Oxford, there were bikes everywhere.

IMG_4481 Bikes.JPG
Bikes–The Preferred Means of Transportation

Look at how narrow the streets are!

IMG_4489.JPG
Narrow Streets

Cambridge is made up of several colleges, like Oxford.

Here’s Trinity College:

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We continued our walk and saw other colleges along the way. Then part of our group decided go “punting.”

IMG_4524 Our group
Our Group Punting

“A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole. A punt should not be confused with a gondola, a shallow draft vessel that is structurally different, and which is propelled by an oar rather than a pole.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punt_(boat)

“The River Cam runs through the heart of Cambridge enabling you to enjoy fantastic views of the world famous Cambridge College ‘Backs’ from the comfort of a traditional Cambridge Punt.”

https://www.visitcambridge.org/things-to-do/punting-bus-and-bike-tours/punting-tours

While the group was punting, Lin, my cousin Meghan and I roamed around Cambridge and had a delicious lunch.

When the group got back together, part of us did a walking tour of Cambridge and saw more of the colleges: King’s College, Corpus Christi College, and Christ’s Church College. We were across the river from Christ’s Church College–what a spectacular view!

IMG_4578 Christ's Church.JPG
Christ’s Church College

The tour guide told us that Steve Hawkings was often seen around Cambridge, and I would have loved to see him, but we didn’t. We did see Claire College and Trinity College a second time.  We also saw St. John’s College. We ended the tour with the historic Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known as the Round Church, and was built in 1130.

IMG_4624.JPG
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

After a stop at a pub along the way for refreshment and relaxation, we walked back to the train station and made it back to Bury St. Edmund’s safely. What a memorable day in Cambridge!

My web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Have you ever been to Cambridge? If so, what was your experience? I would love to hear about your experience there!