My Thoughts · Writing

How I Prepared for My Next Book

My Next Book
Photo by rikka ameboshi from Pexels

I had my next book in the back of my mind—a how to book on writing a biography after tackling the gigantic job of Marshall Flippo’s biography. Lin had suggested I keep a journal while interviewing Flippo and writing his book, so I did. I already have over 5,000 words towards that book. In writing that biography about a well-known figure, I learned so much in the writing and a lot after-the-fact. I even had a title picked out, “I Said Yes!”

            But life interrupted my plan! 2020’s coronavirus disaster sidetracked me because first, I wrote poetry to process my feelings about what we experienced. Then I shared them in my weekly blog posts for over thirty posts.

            After sharing my process in my blog posts, readers emailed me amid the craziness, thanking me for voicing the concerns and feelings in a way they couldn’t. Thus, my new book came to life, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, inspired by those blog posts.

            At first, I planned to just duplicate the posts with minimal revision and get a book out as soon as possible, while the angst echoed through people’s minds. Someone in my writing group asked after reading the first two chapters, “Are you going to combine these two and revise them before publication?”

            A resounding “No” came out of my heart and soul. That would take too long and I thought getting this book out the sooner the better would be a saving grace for its timeliness on the market.

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

            Then I added my professional editor to the mix. I did some revisions before sending the manuscript to her, realizing holes existed between the posts. After waiting a couple weeks past the date we had planned, she let me know she was doing more than copy editing. She was doing developmental editing, too, which took much more time.

COPY EDITING

            Copy editing “is the act of fine-tuning a book’s text, otherwise known as the ‘copy.’ A copy edit will generally address grammatical or punctuation errors, incorrect facts, anomalies, inconsistencies and glaring typos. Overall, the purpose of copy editing is to ensure that the language supports the writer’s intent — while also creating the most readable version of their book.” https://reedsy.com/editing/copy-editing

 DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING

As opposed to copy editing, developmental editing “is a thorough and in-depth review of your entire manuscript. It examines all the elements of your writing, from individual words and sentences to overall structure and style. In fiction, this edit will also address any issues related to plot and characterization.”https://reedsy.com/editing/developmental-editing

            I so appreciated her willingness to make my book the best it could be, and she had many suggestions to tighten it up and make a renewed version instead of a duplication of my blog posts. My blog posts inspired this book, but because of her suggestions, I have expanded it. So, I’ve spent the last couple weeks first going over and making the first easy initial changes. Then I went back over it in depth to make the voluminous revisions suggested. I will send it off to her in the next couple days for a final read-through to see if I caught all of her alterations, which I normally do.

            I deviated on one of her suggestions, though: I had questions at the end of each chapter for personal reflections. My vision of the book is the reader reading the chapter, then reflect and respond. She suggested listing the questions at the end of the book, but that didn’t fit with one of my objectives: I want the reader to reflect and respond. I felt if the questions were at the back, the reader might skip them.

MARKETING AGENT

            I hired a marketing agent with the Flippo book, finding her a valuable resource. So, I reconnected with her for this book. Again, I appreciated her many directions. Here are a couple of important ones:

  • Hire someone to write the book descriptions for the back of the book, an elevator speech (a short 30 second description) and then a lengthy one
  • Contact people to be Advanced Readers to read the book before release and then write a blurb to use for promotions
    • I had fun with this one. Because I classified this book as a spiritual self-help book first and then a memoir, I asked three people in the counseling field I know: a Christian life coach, a trauma-informed psychotherapist, a Catholic priest in recovery who has been my mentor for over thirty years and the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. Three of the four have read it and responded with a publishable blurb.

COVER

            I have always done the covers for my other books and cookbooks which I thoroughly enjoy. My desktop design passions have always driven me to do my own. I had one cover for A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memory done by someone else, then I had to correct too much of it, so it ended up being my design anyway.

Recently I have been reading a book, How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market, by Reedy’s Richardo Fayet, and in the first quarter of the book, if he said it once, he said it five times, “Hire a professional to create your cover.” So, I’m taking his advice and plan to hire a company, 100covers.com, to do this one.

COVER PICTURE

            Lin photographed the picture for my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, and we had a memorable evening taking pictures along the road going out to our ranch. We didn’t plan it, but he got a gorgeous picture of Mesa de Mayo in the background in one picture, so we used that one.

            I took the picture for my second book, When Will Papa Get Home?. I used a picture of Dad on his favorite horse, Rusty, for Let Me Tell You a Story. A friend took my picture with Saddlerock, a notable landmark near Branson, Colorado for my next book, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memory.

            For my last book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, I knew I’d use one of Flippo’s vintage photographs and love the one we ended up with. I had help from a couple of square dance friends on how to lay out the back cover.

            After a hearty conversation in the hot tub one night, Lin and I came up with the idea for the picture for my new book—a reflection of me in a mirror in his garden. We decided his garden a suitable location because I identified in the end of the book the surge of gardening during the pandemic throughout the world.

            So, for two evenings, we moved the mirror (a Mexican mirror about five feet tall on a stand) around the garden, trying different places, but after the second night we realized our peril: it wasn’t working!

            Then, I had a thought: how about me in Lin’s garden looking reflective? Lin loved that idea. The night we planned to do it, Lin watched an old rerun of The Doris Day Show with Denver Pyle as her dad. He instructed me to watch the intro, and he stopped it at a still profile picture of Denver with a reflective expression on his face.

            Lin directed me, “Channel Denver Pyle in the garden,” so that’s what I did. I’ll be interested to get your opinion when you see the cover.

            In conclusion, so much goes into publishing a book, and I love every facet. I also do the interior design of my book using a program named Vellum. I’m excited about my next book!

Did you have any idea about the process involved? If you have questions, don’t hesitate! (Scroll down below the information for the Comment section.)


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Flippo's Book cover - next book

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

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

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

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

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

~Drop by my Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B00LLQTXSM~VISIT MARY ZALMANEK, A FRIEND’S BLOG: Cooking in a One-Butt Kitchen | Eating Well in Small Spaces

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Flippo & Obstacles He Faced

Young Flippo—Obstacles he faced
Flippo as a Young Caller

To think the Flippo we knew faced many obstacles as a young caller! Square dancers all over the world know the refined quality of the program Marshall Flippo presented at any dance he called—smooth rhythm, wonderful choreography and a beautiful voice. It wasn’t always that way.

“Marshall Flippo’s calling career could easily have not happened. In fact, Flippo missed his first night of square dance lessons. Initially, he couldn’t connect with the music and find the beat. Being a shy man by nature, his temperament could have stopped him from becoming the well-known caller who’s so well- loved. Just one of these could have been fatal, but Flippo faced all three and over-came the challenge placed before him.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 81.

Flippo and Neeca and their good friends, Hub and Hazel Evans, arrived at their first square dance lesson late, so the guys refused to go in. The women made sure they were on time the next week. Thank God for Neeca and Hazel’s unflagging commitment. Once there, Flippo fell in love with what the whole activity offered: physical contact, friendly people and movement to music.

After their lessons, Betty Casey, their class caller and Flippo’s mentor, encouraged them to go out to a local dance at the YMCA. She assured these fledgling dancers J. C. Wilson, the caller, would be good to them. This time they took a complete square with them, squared up and the first call J. C. called they’d never heard. So, they tried to sit down, but J. C. noticed their evacuation from the floor, so he stopped the dance and separated the dancers.

“Flippo added with a laugh, ‘And God, strangers coming up thar and getting us. I never did see my wife again until the end of the dance, so they split us all up, and we had one hell of a good time, you know.’”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 82.
J. C. Wilson-Obstacles he faced
J.C. Wilson

What they experienced as beginner dancers at the hands of J. C. Wilson and those experienced dances exemplify true square dance hospitality. What happened kept these couples and a great caller wanting to dance.

Flippo and Neeca’s love of square dancing continued to grow, so his becoming a caller seems like a natural progression.

When I asked Flippo why he started calling, he answered,

“I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this in time.’ I loved to sing. I was out of lessons about a year before I ever started. Thar was two square dance clubs, and they were both full. They both had waiting lists for people to get in. The list wasn’t that long, probably ten to twelve couples. So, we put our names in for that one downtown. They could only dance twenty-five squares.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 83.

So, Ed Hall had a chicken coop in Wylie, near Abilene, that he offered to clean up for a small square dance hall. It would dance three squares. Twelve couples signed up, and they danced to records for a while and then had a live two-piece band, but they needed a caller.

“One night someone had a suggestion. 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.’

So that’s the way it started. Flippo remembered the first one he called. Singing calls didn’t appeal to him too much at that time, so he learned patter. First one he learned was ‘Dip and Dive.’ So, they all learned some kind of calls. “Some guys were good. I wasn’t one of the good ones.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 83.

After deciding to call, Flippo faced one of his obstacles as a caller: he couldn’t keep the beat. Would this be the obstacle that would block our world-renowned Flippo?

“At one point, Neeca told him, ‘You can’t stay on beat. What’s wrong with you? Can you pat your foot to the music?’

‘Yeah,’ Flippo explained. He had a ‘Turkey in the Straw’ record, and he would go in the front bedroom of their house because they had no furniture in there and he had a little record player.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, (2020): 83-84.

Neeca would listen to him practice and stand it as long as she could, then she’d question him about his ability to stay on the beat. She finally suggested to say something every time he pat his foot with the beat, and that seemed to help.

Recently I heard a long-time caller friend of Flip’s say that Flippo said more words in his calling than any other caller because of his problem with keeping the beat.

Flippo persistently worked hard at mastering his craft. He would not let this get him down. Feeling a little confident, he ventured out after a time. First, he made his calling debut in Abilene at the CrossTrail square dance club, one club that they had been on the waiting list. He made a mistake on his first try and had to restart—he saw Neeca duck into the bathroom.

Melton Luttrell-Obstacles he faced
Melton Luttrell

For his next calling adventure, Flippo and a group traveled out-of-town to Cisco, Texas, to dance to the legendary Melton Luttrell. Two couples that came with Flippo told Melton that he had started calling. The hospitable move then was to invite the visiting caller to the stage to call. So Melton invited Flip up to call (this was when he was having trouble staying on the beat). Scared to death, he didn’t share with me how he thought the evening went.

Before they left the dance hall to go home, Flippo had seen the two couples talking to Melton after he called, so Flip asked them what he said.

They said, “Melton told us to tell you, ‘Don’t quit your day job!’”

Instead of discouraging Flippo, he went home and continued his practice, working hard on keeping the beat. The next time they returned to Cisco, Melton again invited him to call a tip, but this time, Melton noticed a marked improvement and told Flippo.

Wagon Wheel Dance Hall-Obstacles he faced
The Wagon Wheel Dance Hall

From those early days, Flippo called locally in Abilene, first at the Hayloft and then helped build the dance hall, The Wagon Wheel. He faced adversities that might have made someone else quit, but that was not Flippo’s nature. Because he never faltered but persisted, his calling career exploded so the obstacles never stopped him, and we’re the luckier for it.

Did you know this about Flippo? I would appreciate any comments! Scroll down below the information for the Comment section.


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover-Obstacles he faced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

family · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

A Graduation Address to My Two Girls!

Graduation cheers!

Across the country, it is high school graduation time which takes me back to my graduation fifty years ago. There were four in my graduating class, and I felt grown-up, scared, and not prepared to face the world before me. Fast forward fifty years, and I have two graduating seniors I love, but I am sad to say I wasn’t able to attend one great niece’s graduation on May 20 in Floydada, Texas, and I will miss the other one’s in Yuba City, California on June 4. I love these family get-togethers filled with storytelling, laughter and love. I have had the pleasure of participating in my two great nieces, Kaylea and AnnDeeClaire’s lives for eighteen years, so I want to share a graduation address with you.

Have the courage to follow

Your heart and intuition.

They somehow already know

What you truly want to

Become. Everything else is

Secondary.

-Steve Jobs

My two lovely graduates of 2021, you just experienced one of the worst tragic years we have ever faced, and here you are. You survived seeing the tumultuous end of one phase of your life and the joyful beginning of another.

Behind you are twelve years of education at the hands of many teachers, principals and educational assistants who helped form you. Both of you actively took part in extracurricular activities that broadened your perspective and enriched your lives. Remember to thank as many of the major people who influenced you as you can.

Graduation - tools
Photo by Adonyi Gábor from Pexels

Now, before you is your world! It might be daunting at this moment, but you have an arsenal of tools to help you get started now and for the rest of your lives. You come from a family who loves you dearly—parents who have stood beside you through thick and thin. You have extended family support from grandparents, aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, and cousins galore! Also, you are supported every day you live by those who have passed away. Never forget your family.

On that note, a couple wise sayings from your great granddad who would have been so proud of you two. I’m sorry he died before you were born, but his advice is timeless:

  • “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
  • “Stay in there in and drink a lot of ice water.”

I’m so glad you knew, my mom, Grannie Horner and her quick wit and love of jokes. You were about ten years old when she died, but I know you have fond memories of her in California, Branson, and on the ranch. You may not have known a deep spiritual gift she would have passed onto you, so I’m sharing it with you: an acceptance of all ethnicities and beliefs, enjoying the diversity gifted you with a variety of friends. She grew up in Raton, New Mexico when it was a melting pot of immigrants working in the coal mines, and she celebrated the multicultural life she lived. When she was in high school, she worked for a Greek family at the Sweet Shop and often spoke of their dancing and food—adopt an open, loving heart like Grannie’s.

You two have faced loss and difficulties in your short eighteen years but have chosen to not let that hamper your dreams. Often, hard times make you bitter or better, and the choice is yours. I see you have both chosen the positive route and am excited about your choice of study.

You lost your grandmother, Grandma Lela, when you were young, and she cherished her grandbabies. I remember her infectious giggle and twinkle in her clear blue eyes. She had a deep religious faith, so I know she prays for you daily.

Your Poppa loves sharing our family ranch with you any time you come, and he celebrates the uniqueness of each of you.

So, here’s Auntie Mato’s (for AnnDeeClaire) advice to you today from my life experiences:

Graduation advice
  1. Spend your lifetime looking for you. Trust yourself—sometimes I hide from myself and it takes a conscious effort to keep looking, but look you must. The world tells us happiness is finding a partner. First, find yourself and then you will have something profound to share with a life partner. One of my favorite quotes about this topic is from Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
  2. Find a spiritual home to grow in. Lucy Prichard, my first mother-in-law and spiritual mother, told us newlyweds, “Find a church, any church. Hang your hat somewhere.” Find a place where you can flourish spiritually and life will unfold much easier for you. In doing that, you will create a support system and have wise counsel if you need it (I guarantee you will need it).
  3. Be curious. Don’t be afraid to question the status quo. The curious mind sees possibilities everywhere instead of problems. In being curious, you become a part of the solution instead of the ongoing problem. Wonder and be in awe of what this world offers you.
  4. It’s never too late to embrace your passion. When I was in high school, Uncle Tanky read an essay I wrote and encouraged me to pursue my writing. Margie Miller, one of my teachers, told me in my late twenties at one of the Branson-Trinchera reunions on Mom’s front porch, “I want a copy of your first book.” Thirty-plus years later, I published my first book at 60 years old and sent her a copy. I loved teaching, but writing feeds my soul. Chase your passion for all you are worth, either now or later. It doesn’t matter, just identify it and go for it.
  5. Spend time in nature—the ranch. I know both of you have an attachment to the Horner ranch, and I thank you for your interest. It’s one of the best places to connect to God and myself. How can anyone look at Saddlerock silhouetted against a purple sky and not stand in awe? How about a laughter-filled ride around the ranch in the Bronco during the evening to celebrate being alive? A bumpy ride in the Mule and the chance to drive it, even when you were too young to drive? Obviously, I would recommend nature anywhere, but the trick is to be mindful of it—the birds, the trees, the horned toads and a Creator God who gifts us with such treasures.
  6. Ask for help. I wish I could guarantee you two lovely ladies a life free of pain and stress, but that doesn’t happen, as you already know. When troubles come, remember all the people who love you, pick up the phone, send a text or call, because we are all perched, ready to help.
  7. Failure to cry is a failure to live. As emoting human beings, we feel and sometimes feel strongly. A wise friend once told me that tears are liquid prayers, so don’ ever be ashamed of your tears.

This morning I asked Uncle Lin for his words of wisdom for you two, and this is what he said, “It is ALWAYS in your power to eliminate negative forces from your life, and my hope for you is that as you go through life, you are successful in doing that, as it will enhance your life experience immensely.”

In conclusion, I leave you with one of my favorite sayings which includes one of my passions:

Graduation message - Lin and me dancing

Dance

As though no one is watching you,

Love

As though you have never been hurt before,

Sing

As though no one can hear you,

Live

As though heaven is on earth.

-souza

Congratulations, Kaylea and AnnDeeClaire on a job well done, and I look forward to the futures you created! I will be a witness to your endeavors, one of your cheerleaders for life. World, get ready for these two!

Graduation - I'll cheer you on!
Your cheerleaders are ready!

Do you have someone graduating this year? What is your best advice? (Scroll down passed the items below to the Comment section.)


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · poetry

Haiku—A Trip Down Memory Lane

Walking down memory lane to haiku
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

Haiku, an ancient Japanese form of writing poetry in three lines, has become one of my rediscovered loves. Since I took part in Natalie Goldberg’s “The Way of Writing” Workshop in March and April, and she instructed us in haiku writing, I have become enchanted anew. When I taught writing to middle school students, I included haiku as one of their poetry assignments, but I forgot this. As I remember now, I loved teaching haiku. I enforced the rule of syllable count for each line, which helped my students understand syllables. When writing one, they would tap out the syllables on their desks—and finally they understood syllables.

As I remembered my beloved poetry unit, what my students wrote blew me away! They loved the strict format of haiku, forcing them to focus. Also, it didn’t have to rhyme, and that freed them considerately.

This afternoon, I needed to see my students’ haikus again, so I just ran out to my storage shed, open up a box I have kept treasured “Teaching material,” in and rummage through certain assignments I’ve kept for decades. As I moved through the stack of papers, I held my breath. First, I found one folder named “Haikus.” Delicious short poems about middle school life in English and Spanish from my students—I taught Spanish so my students wrote haikus in both languages. I would love to share them with you, but I better not because of privacy issues, but once again I read haikus six-graders wrote in heartfelt three line poems about their lives. Still precious as ever.

Then I found my beloved poetry unit and read through the various poems I shared so any years ago, wanting to ignite the fire of poetry in them, and often I did! Because I guided them carefully with examples and then subjects to write about, many shared their deep hearts’ concerns and loves. I felt privileged to witness their poetry.

When I taught my poetry unit, I read them a large variety of poetry to whet their appetite. The haiku example I read them was one of Sonia Sanchez. I probably picked a Hispanic poet to connect my students to her because the majority were Hispanic.

Haiku by Sonia Sanchez

 

Today I participated in a three-hour writing workshop with Natalie, entitled “Write Your Pandemic Story—Three Lines at a Time,”—that’s what stirred up my reminiscing about my students and haiku writing. We delved in deeper with her, giving more instructions on writing haiku. She read premiere haikus from the ancient Japanese greats, then also haiku from more modern Japanese poets. After listening to these great poets, we wrote our own, divided up into breakout rooms of five and read some we just wrote. What a rewarding experience. We repeated going to the breakout room a second time after another teaching from Natalie and read again after writing more.

Traditionally haiku is written in three lines: five syllables for the first line, seven syllables for the second and five for the third. Natalie was first introduced to haiku by Allen Ginsberg in 1976 at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. He discouraged his students in adhering to the syllable count, because we have words in English that have less importance, like articles of speech (the, an, that).

“The only real measure of a haiku, Allen told us that one hot July afternoon, ‘is upon hearing one, your mind experiences a small sensation of space’ — he paused; I leaned in, breathless — ‘which is nothing less than God.'”

Natalie Goldberg, Three Simple Lines: A Writer’s Pilgrimage into the Heart and Homeland of Haiku (2021): 4.

In Allen’s introduction, he identified four famous haiku men poets: Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki. In her book, Natalie added a woman, Chiyo-ni.

For more information, here’s a website that talks about the four men poets: Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki: https://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-haiku-poems.html

Here’s one about Chiyo-ni: http://www.earlywomenmasters.net/chiyo/

So, what’s the attraction? For me it’s the brevity, the crispness, the focus. It’s like taking a picture of something valuable in words then ending with an emotion. Also, I realized as I wondered back to my teaching days how much I loved haiku then and that love spurred me on to take this workshop today.

Since my workshop in March and April with Natalie, I’ve tried my hand at writing haiku. Let me know what you think.

March 22

 Life so wonderful
 So deeply charismatic
 A jingle daily! 

 One foot here on earth
 Gather deceived loved one near 
 One foot there with you!

March 23

 I hate politics
 Republicans, Democrats
 Families divided!  

 Eight years ago, Mom
 Left here, entered a new sphere
 Relief in her eyes. 

March 24

 Mom’s unique fragrance
 Covered my heart yesterday
 Thanks for the visit.

March 25

 Spring snowstorm blankets
 The piñon trees in white shroud
 Green, white and blue skies.
  
 Can square dance survive?
 We love to dance and connect
 Celebrate the beat! 

March 27

 Words hurt; words can heal
 Like a bomb or like a salve.
 Today I chose health. 

Simple, direct! Haiku poetry began in the thirteenth century and has gained momentum recently. I wrote many of these poems during my daily walks—the words, the themes and imagines came. I beat out the rhythm of the syllables with my fingers like my students did so many years ago, ran home and jotted them down before I forgot them.

How about you? Three simple lines to describe something specific in your world! If you craft one, share it with me. I’d love to know I’m still a teacher of haiku! To make a comment and/or share your haiku, scroll down below the following information.


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Vaccinated: Short, Sweet & to the Point

Asleep after being vaccinated

Finally, I got vaccinated on Friday morning for my second Covid-19 shot. I got the Moderna, and I’ve heard more people have reactions to it. My husband received the Pfizer vaccine and had no reaction at all. I wasn’t so lucky. The rest of Friday I felt okay, but my arm hurt where I was vaccinated. Yesterday and today have been a different story. I’ve slept the days away.

Yesterday I had a slight fever, chills, aches like the flu but nothing too bad. I just slept! Today’s the same. The endless sleeping has been strange—lots of images, not dreams and noise in my ears! During my sleep, I felt inundated with images, and when I wake up, I’m tired and exhausted, ready to go back to bed. My brain feels fuzzy.

For this A-type personality I am, this has been hard on me! I’m usually going ninety miles an hour! I have things to do, people to see, life to live!

Jesse, my cat
Jesse, my seventeen-year-old cat

My seventeen-year-old cat, Jesse, didn’t like me being inaccessible to him, so he made it upstairs twice yesterday to sleep outside our bedroom door. He doesn’t easily make it upstairs anymore because of his arthritic back legs—you can’t tell me cats don’t love!

This evening has been better—I’m not sound asleep. Today my brain is still fuzzy, and it’s hard to concentrate, but I’ve been able to do this blog so that’s progress. Hopefully tomorrow will be better! The good news is I’m vaccinated! After a couple weeks, I can return to some normalcy—a trip to our family ranch in southeastern Colorado. I haven’t been there since February because of my cataract surgeries.

And soon, I hope to be dancing!

What I learned these two strange days from being vaccinated is that you have to listen to your body! I went to bed; I slept, and that was probably the best medicine for me.

Did you get vaccinated? Did you have a reaction to the vaccine? If so, what? (Scroll down below the information below for the Comments section!)


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover of Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

family · Mom · My Thoughts

How Many Mothers Does It Take?

Two women loving teach a youngster to night - mother and grandmother

Happy Mother’s Day to all today. As I’ve pondered this subject, faces and names of many influential mother figures from my past surfaced this week, so I’d like to offer a thought here. The famous African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” states the importance of a community of loving people to raise a child; therefore, it takes several mothers to raise a child.

my cheerleaders- my mother figures

Meet the many cheerleaders I had throughout my life who helped me become the woman I am today!

CLARA WARNER

As a child, my other mother was Clara Warner, our next-door neighbor who had three boys. She could fashion long curls so beautifully Shirley Temple’s stylist would have been jealous. My mom could not! So, Clara became my surrogate mother and hair stylist, and we all won. Clara enjoyed playing with me as her “little doll,” I enjoyed the stylish long curls, and Mom loved what Clara did so effortlessly.

Clara lived close and was married to Dad’s best friend, so we spent a lot of time together. During the 50s and 60s, smoking cigarettes had a totally different connotation. I remember watching her smoke cigarettes and thinking she looked so elegant and sophisticated. Mom didn’t smoke. So, I bought candy cigarettes (yes; they had candy cigarettes), and I’d pretend I was Clara smoking! I never became a smoker, but I still remember how I admired Clara!

MILLIE SHELDON

Another childhood mother came softly to mind this week—Millie Sheldon, our babysitter. Until the day she died, she called me “Laredo,” emphasizing the “O” at the end, and I thought nothing of it. My parents danced often on Saturday nights. Sometimes we went with them when it was appropriate, but other times Mille stayed with my brother and me. She joined us in watching our traditional TV shows for a Saturday night: Lawrence Welk and then the weekly boxing matches. I remember her as strict but loving.

MARGIE MILLER

In high school, one of my teachers/mother figures was Margie Miller. She taught typing, journalism and PE. She also was the cheerleading/pep club sponsor, so we spent a lot of our free time with her on long bus trips all over southern Colorado for the sport of the season: baseball in the spring and basketball in the winter.

During my school years, she said nothing about my writing (I was on the staff of our school newspaper for several years and was the editor for two years). Many years after my graduation, Margie and her husband, Lonnie, returned for one of our school reunions during the summer. They came up to our house during a break in activities, and she said she wanted a copy of the first book I published. This comment shocked me because I hadn’t thought of writing during this part of my life. Many years later in 2014, when I published my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, I sent her an autographed copy.

LUCY PRICHARD

In 1973, I married Dave Prichard and inherited a wonderful mother-in-law, the woman who became my spiritual mother. She worked at their family’s church, St. Philip and St. James Episcopal Church in Denver, Colorado, as a counselor and Sunday school teacher. She took me under her wing and raised me up in the Episcopal church. I quote her still today, forty-eight years later.

I loved her God, a forgiving God, and her view of Jesus. She saw Jesus as a personal friend and spent daily time with Him, reading her Bible and daily devotionals. I have continued that practice to the present.

We spent a lot of time together as a family, and I couldn’t get enough of her. When Dave and I divorced, Mom and I stayed connected for years, but time and distance ended that amazing relationship.

BETTY DAUNT

In 1992, another mother-in-law came into my life, Betty Daunt, when I married her son, Mike. We hit it off immediately. She introduced me to the healing power of massage, being a massage therapist. So quickly, I set up a monthly appointment with her and kept it up after Mike and I divorced until just a couple years ago when she had to stop because of health issues.

In 1993, I suffered a horrible virus which attacked all my major organs. The western medical world couldn’t diagnose my problem. They sent me home with a list of diseases it wasn’t, and I think to die. Betty stepped in and scheduled weekly massage appointments for me for free. That coupled with acupuncture and herbs, done by my brother-in-law’s partner, I recovered. I don’t think I would have survived that horrible episode without the massages and the acupuncture.

After Mike and I divorced, Betty and I continued our relationship, and it carries on still to today.

A friend I worked with who went through all my marriages said once, “Larada, you know how to pick out mother-in-laws, not husbands!” And I would agree!

MY THREE AUNTS

Throughout my life, I had aunts who touched me deeply! Dad’s sister, Helen, showed me how a woman could balance family and work. I enjoyed her enthusiastic personality, and my brother and Mom often said I reminded them of her. Helen died way too young in her mid-50s, so I lost many valuable years with her.

Mom’s sister, Willie, played a pivotal role in my life, taking part in all my major life events. I giggled often at her sense of humor and mischievous twinkle in her eyes. After Dad and Uncle Hughie died, Mom and Aunt Willie spent as much time together as possible. After Mom died, I visited Aunt Willie in Pueblo, Colorado monthly and relished her fun story-telling talent. She died at 98 years old—I miss her daily.

Dad’s youngest sister, Joan, is nearing 93 years old. She has been a strong cheerleader of mine my complete life. I grew up near Aunt Joan and spent holidays and much of childhood with her and her family. She stands on the edge of many of my childhood memories.

MY GRANDMOTHERS

Teresa Larada Horner-Miller—I carry both of my grandmothers’ names. Dad’s mother, the Larada in my life, lived in the same town as us, so I saw her daily, and she became one constant in the fabric of my life. Mom’s mother, the Teresa in my life, lived away from us during my childhood, so we had the joy of visiting her. They moved close later in my life, so she became another steadfast woman.

MY MOTHER

Mom & I together at Christmas. My mother
Mom & I dressed alike for Christmas one year!

Finally, I saved the best for last—my mother! Mom loved to play with my brother and me as children. She celebrated our lives through birthday parties and holiday. Throughout my entire life, we were close and did so much together! After Dad died, I visited her often, and we traveled together enjoying several major trips. I loved her sense of humor and fun-filled attitude towards life. When she died, I felt like I not only lost Mom but my best friend.

So, how many mothers does it take to raise a child? As you can see, many mother figures played an important part in my complete life. Did you have other mother figures in your life? If so, who were they and what did they do? (Scroll down a little farther below to make comments!)


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Flippo cover with yellow flower

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

~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00—9:00 PM Email me at larada@icloud.com if you are interested!

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

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

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

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

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

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

One Year Later! Let’s Celebrate Flippo’s Biography!

One Year Celebration!
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Let’s celebrate one year since I released Flippo’s biography!! So much goes into publishing a book! Here’s what I did with Flippo’s. On May 3, 2020, I uploaded three formats of Flippo’s biography to Ingram Sparks’ publishing company. Flippo wanted hardback copies available, so that’s why I selected Ingram to publish his biography. I also published the paperback and Kindle e-book version through KDP on Amazon with the publication date of May 8, 2020. Whew! A year ago, I met myself coming and going for sure!

One year—that’s hard to believe! Because I self-publish, I do all the work to prepare a book to be released: create the cover and the interior. What made this an outrageous task is I had three covers to make: the hardback, paperback and e-book formats. Then I had to format the interior for each also, making sure each version had its own unique ISBN number! I really worried about messing up on that!

COVERS

Dust jacket for Flippo's hardback book
Hardback Dust Jacket with Template from Ingram Sparks

The hardback version required a dust jacket, which is a much larger space than a paperback cover, so I had to alter it considerably. (See image above.) I battled with the layout, making sure the title stayed on the spine and the text didn’t run over on the folds of the dust cover—tricky for sure!

Previously, I had laid out paperback and e-books covers for my other books, so I had less trouble with these two, and their dimensions were similar, so that helped!

But prior to the actual layout of these, I had to come up with the design. John and Neeca Flippo and I wanted the picture of Flippo calling as a young man with a live band. What a wonderful picture depicting Flippo calling as a young caller! It needed to be the focus point of the cover. Then I searched for the background graphic, and I wanted something that looked like a dance floor and found that.

Then, I experimented with the font and the color of the title, arriving at the one I felt stressed the title and went with the color scheme of the picture and the background. I love all these parts of design work!

Bryan and Kenta Swift helped me with the back cover. I wanted to feature Flippo’s favorite places he called, and they suggested I cluster them around the edges. I first added the four on the top: Asilomar, Kirkwood Lodge, Wagon Wheel, and Chula Vista. Flip had identified those four as his favorites. Then I knew I had to add Japan! He loved his trips to Japan and the Japanese people.

Early in my self-publishing career, advisors encouraged me not to write the book description on the back of the book, so I paid to have someone do that.

INTERIOR OF THE BOOK

Vellum app - One year later

For the interior layout, I used an app, Vellum, which is only available for Mac computers, and I love it. That took time too, though, doing the three formats! Then I decided because this was a history book of square dancing and people might be interested in looking for a specific person or places, it needed an Index. I found an app to help index the keywords, but what a grueling experience that was!

UPLOADS

Finally, I was ready to upload the covers and the interiors for each format. Before this book, I’d only used createspace.com which has become KDP, and I knew their upload process. Ingram Sparks was totally different. It required the .pdf documents for the covers and interiors to be in a specific format, PDF/X-1a:2001.

Adobe’s InDesign app is the publisher’s standard and creates that format, but I don’t have it because of its expense. So, I researched every nook and cranny on the Internet and found a solution—I outsourced my covers and interiors to fiverr.com and someone there converted my files.

So, after I successfully uploaded the documents to Ingram Sparks, I uploaded them to KDP, as well. Each of these publishers provided me with a “eproofs” to look over and give my final approval.

SALES

Stack of books - One year later
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

After that, the sales poured in from the pre-order list, word-of-mouth and my advertising on the Internet, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, I had a heck of time getting the shipment of books. After several weeks’ delay, I’ll never forget opening the box of hardbacks and holding that precious book in my hands for the first time. I think Flippo would have been proud!

Also, because of the pandemic, CALLERLAB was canceled, and I had planned to release the book there. So, the travel restrictions forced me to have the release party online with Zoom, and we had a fabulous time swopping Flippo stories that night.

With the continued restrictions and no dancing, the sales have dropped off, but I keep Flippo’s biography in front of the dance world on square dance Facebook pages and through emails to possible interested parties.

ONE YEAR LATER

Release party for one-year anniversary of Flippo's biography

Here we are one year later. I know the sales will spike once we dance again. Also, I’m having a Zoom celebration on May 10, 2020 7:00 PM MST to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the release of Flip’s biography, so join me for a fun-filled night. Go to the Facebook Event page and click you are going or email me at Larada@icloud.com

A year later—so much has happened! Have you ever self-published a book? If so, how did it go?

Have you bought your copy of Flippo’s biography yet? If not, now’s a good time!

(Scroll down a little farther below to make comments!)



Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover one year later!

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

~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00—9:00 PM Email me at larada@icloud.com if you are interested!

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

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

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

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

~ Give Mom a gift for reading this year! Visit my Etsy Shop for a Mother’s Day sale of 20% off select titles and bundles:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

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

Albuquerque · Coronavirus · My Thoughts

April—Powwow Time in Albuquerque!

Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012
Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012

When I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1991—thirty years ago—I was told about local events not to miss: the Hot Air Balloon Festival in October and the Gathering of Nations at the end of April. I would agree whole-heartedly.

            “The Gathering of Nations is the largest powwow in the United States and North America. It is held annually on the fourth weekend in April, on the Powwow Grounds at Expo NM, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over 565 tribes from around the United States and 220 from Canada travel to Albuquerque to participate.”

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

Here we are at the end of April, so the Gathering of Nations came up, and I flashed back to the last time I was there. I thought it was a couple of years ago, but you know how time passes—it was 2012! We met friends from Denver there and had a glorious time, as always.

I knew they had to postpone the powwow last year because of COVID-19, but I hadn’t kept up with what they were doing this year. In fact, I just assumed they postponed again it—NOT! They hosted a virtual event over this last weekend, so you can go to the link below and enjoy the results. https://www.gatheringofnations.com/

HISTORY

            “The Gathering of Nations began “unofficially” in 1983 at the University of Albuquerque, in ABQ, NM. In 1984, the event took on the name Gathering of Nations Powwow. . .  In 2017, the Gathering of Nations Powwow returns to the New Mexico State Fair Grounds, known as Expo NM, to be housed on the newly defined Powwow Grounds which includes Tingley Coliseum.” https://www.gatheringofnations.com/history/

MY EXPERIENCES

When I went last in 2012, the Gathering of Nations was still at the Pit, the University of New Mexico Basketball Arena. Being inside added to the overwhelming feeling for me. I loved hearing the chiming of the jingle dresses and the aroma of the sweet grass and sage.

When the dancers entered for the Grand Entry for the evening event, they came down all the aisles onto the floor filling it up. The colorful costumes overwhelmed my senses—feathers, slick braids, buckskin, and headdresses abounded!

Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012 Dancers Fill the Floor at the Pit
Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012 Dancers Fill the Floor at the Pit

            When I first went in the early 90s, they encouraged all attendees to come down on the floor for the Friendship dance, so I did. What an experience that was—surrounded by such beauty and sounds.

            Anytime I go, I always enjoyed walking around, shopping at all the vendors with the dancers right next to me, so I could see their costumes up close and personal. I could buy anything Native American from pottery to dried sweet grass braids and dried sage bundles to art work. I also looked forward to the Native American food, like mutton stew or Indian Tacos—delicious! A total sensory experience!

            Many times I attended, I focused on taking pictures. I would grab a seat as close as possible to the floor and shot one picture after the other. Usually I focused on one dancer and followed him or her around the floor. I didn’t want to move because I didn’t want to miss any of the competitions!

WHAT IS A POWWOW?

            “A powwow is a celebration of American Indian culture in which people from diverse indigenous nations gather for the purpose of dancing, singing, and honouring the traditions of their ancestors.”

https://www.britannica.com/topic/powwow

            The dancing is a competition with each dance style having a different colorful costume. For the Native people, it is a great social event.

      The dancers dance to rhythmic music created by huge powwow drums and ten to fifteen singers singing in their native language, and usually there are several drum groups in attendees with assigned times. One drum plays at a time, and people crowd around to record them!

Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012 Drum Group

DANCE STYLES

They divided the competition up into various styles:

  • Men’s Grass
    • “Once, a young man, lame in one foot, longed ever so much to dance. He took that longing out onto the prairie, praying for guidance as he limped up a small hill. On top of the hill, it came to him—he should develop his own style of dance. As he pondered this revelation, he looked down over the prairie with its swaying and swooping grasses. This, he realized, could be his dance.”
  • Men’s Northern Traditional
    • “Lavish bustles of long feathers, usually from an eagle or another raptor, burst from the dancer’s waist. In fancy dances, similar, often brightly colored bustles are carried at the shoulders as well. This is a time for the men to dance in the way of their fathers and grandfathers, and some of these outfit pieces are passed down through the generations. Some men’s regalia, in this and other dances, may include a red eagle feather, denoting a veteran’s injury in battle.”
  • Men’s Southern Straight
    • “Men usually wear cotton or buckskin pants, a shirt, a breastplate of bones (or lighter-weight plastic ‘bones’) that stops at the waist or the knees, and a comb-like headdress (roach) of porcupine-guard hair and deer-tail hair.”
  • Women’s Fancy Shawl
    • “Beautifully embroidered or decorated long-fringed shawls complement elaborately beaded capes, moccasins and leggings. The colorful outfits match the spirited twirling and prancing of this exuberant dance.”
  • Men’s Fancy Feather
    • “The youthful ages of the dancers and brilliantly colored outfits—with double bustles behind and sometimes small bustles on the arms—are hallmarks of this energetic dance. Outfits are color-coordinated, and the dancers are extremely coordinated, spinning through what is undoubtedly the most athletic of powwow dances. A friendly competition may develop between the singers and the dancers because stopping simultaneously with the ending beat can mean winning or losing points. The singers perform ‘trick songs,’ with unexpected final beats.”
  • Kiowa Gourd Dance
    • “This was originally danced by an organization of respected men, initially by warriors, then military servicemen, and now those who have done exceptional things in their lives. Kiowa men wear red and blue blankets commemorating the Kiowas at war; the red commemorates war against the Spanish and the blue commemorates war against the U.S. Cavalry. This dance is not a part of a competition and is performed separately from the other dances.”
  • Women’s Jingle
    • “According to the Ojibway, an old man, on what his family believed to be his deathbed, dreamed of his daughter and three friends dancing in a style of dress he’d never seen before—cloth covered with small metal cones. Spirits explained how to make the metal cones to be sewn to the cloth. Later, after a miraculous recovery from his illness, he instructed his daughter and her friends to make the special dresses, and dance was born. These dresses traditionally are decorated with rolled metal cones made from snuff-can lids.”
  • Women’s Northern Traditional
    • “This stately dance involves a slow-moving or no moving bouncing step, rhythmically dipping and swaying to the beat of the drum. The dresses of buckskin, wool or other material are heavily decorated with beading, quillwork, elk teeth, bone or antler, or shells. The colors for this dance tend to be more subdued than in other outfits.”
  • Women’s Southern Cloth/Buckskin
    • “This dance style is danced by women of the Southern Plains Tribes. The Southern Buckskin/Cloth style of dance is slowly rhythmic and elegant as the women move gracefully about the dance arena, dipping and swaying to the beat of the drum. The buckskin dress is decorated with beadwork and sometimes shells or silverwork. The cloth dresses may also have designs printed on the hem of the dress. The remainder of the outfit includes matching headbands or crowns, hair ties, purses, moccasins, chokers, earrings and shawls.”

Gathering of Nations Powwow Souvenir Program Book 2021, page 16

The competitions honor all ages with groups from Juniors to Golden Age/Elders. They raise up future dancers by having youngsters dance in full costume, and these young ones captured my heart. Then they honor the elders by having a competitio for them.

ANOTHER GREAT FEATURE

Each year, they crown Miss Indian World at this event, with contestants coming from all over the Native world. Each contestant wears a costume from her tribe. Again, the unique and colorful costumes and beautiful women are a breathtaking!

So, for 2022, mark your calendar for April 29 & 30, and come and enjoy one of Albuquerque’s most beautiful traditions.

Have you ever gone to a powwow? If so, where? Did you enjoy it? (Scroll down a little farther to make comments!)


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover of Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM Email me at larada@icloud.com if you are interested!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Did the Coronavirus Change the World?

Way to change

Change is the only constant we can depend upon. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the consistent year-after-year happenings lulled me into complacency, making me believe 2020 would be a duplicate of 2019, a little different but with unknown adventures and a lot of the same ole same ole!

         As you know, 2020 and even the first quarter of 2021 have been grueling. I now look at the world and my past as pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus. I’ve had over a year to labor long and hard over how I would allow this to affect me. Many others in the world have pondered this too.

         By now, you know me—a poem is brewing!

Growth & change

Growth and the Coronavirus Pandemic

April 18, 2021

Growth and 2020 in the same sentence

         Seems like an oxymoron.

                   Such contradiction

2020

         The worst year of my life

                   Yet growth?

                            Really?

I faced it

         I worked through it

Often I succumbed to outrageous emotions

         Fear

                   Anger

Then heartwarming feelings

         Empathy

                   Love

And went on.

So as I evaluate what happened,

         I can say,

                   “Yes, I grew! I’ve changed!”

                            Like so many of you.

Forced to stay at home, isolated

         I stopped my hectic schedule

                   I listened to life

                            I embraced nature

                                     In a deeper way

                                               I met me,

                                                        In a fresh way!

Yes, nature became the conduit of healing

         Lin’s luscious garden

         Birds attracted to his many feeders

         Jesse, my cat, and

                   His allegiance to me and our routine.

         A daily walk

                   Which feeds my soul

My God in all of this.

I didn’t want

         To grow

I didn’t ask

         For it

Thrust unknowingly

         On me

                   On our country

                            On our world

So what happened to me? What changed?

         I listened to

                   The meticulous flapping

                            Of the hummingbirds’ wings

                                     Hovering over bright red penstemon stem.

                   The hectic dinnertime feeding

                            At the bird feeders

                                     Wings fluttering,

                                               A storm of color and commotion

                   The quiet afternoon breezes

                            Singing through the piñon trees

                            Bouncing our chimes, creating a heavenly melody.

Yes, it happened.

         Did it happen for you?

*****

Let’s focus on the positive change from the pandemic. I found an article, “15 Reasons to Feel Positive about 2020” on the internet.

https://www.openarms.gov.au/about/news/2020/15-reasons-feel-positive-about-2020

Topping the list is “Nature is thriving—Sightings of wildlife have increased worldwide and a reduction in air pollution is giving the planet a chance to rejuvenate.” I love that because it coincides with my top idea—many people took up gardening, bird-watching, outdoor activity, and seeking refuge in nature.   

Look at how change occurred in our home!      

SpringWatch - our change in the world

SPRINGWATCH 2020

            Besides Lin’s gorgeous garden, we connected with nature when we found SpringWatch 2020, a TV show featuring wildlife and nature of Great Britain. Their 2020 version really focused on the effects of the pandemic on wildlife and encouraged people to find solace in nature. Originally SpringWatch airs on the BBC, but we watched it on BritBox.

            “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 series, starting on 25 May, did not come from a central base. Instead each presenter appeared from a location near their home, respecting government guidelines on social distancing.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springwatch#Series_16_(2020)

            We thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous photography, witty story telling from the four main naturalists who hosted each episode. But our favorite part became the Mindfulness Ninety Seconds, where they encouraged the viewers to put down any distraction and simply enjoy the scenery. Then, for ninety seconds, we heard nature sounds and saw beautiful landscapes with a variety of animals. So refreshing!

            The show weaved a variety of topics through the hour-long presentation. One particular episode focused on the healing power of nature. Chris Packham, the primary host, suggested a book, The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us by Emma Mitchell. Of course, I bought it and read it and learned a lot about nature’s curative powers.

            When SpringWatch ended, we didn’t want it to end, but we found out about AutumnWatch and WinterWatch. So we continued our celebration of British wildlife and nature.

GARDENING

            Chris Packham on SpringWatch2020 and the other Watch shows commented often about the uptick in gardening in the UK, but it was worldwide.

            “Within six months, the home garden industry saw a quantum leap in sales and new customers, with revenues magically levitating 60%, a seismic event in a tranquil nonindustrial industry.”

https://www.mcall.com/opinion/mc-opi-gardening-popular-2020-covid-20201215-xdo63kfl2jdpljbnjinstfnvda-story.html

         I’ve told you before about Lin’s gorgeous garden. Well, he has expanded his garden, a change against my wishes. He promised when he first started gardening that he would limit the size of it, but every year I watched him edge out more and more. This spring he made a decisive step and has enlarged it to more than double. How can anyone be upset with having more flowers to look at? And he loves it so.

WALKING

         I started walking January 1, 2021 because of my lethargy in 2020. Usually I’m physically fit because of all my dance activities and exercised, but I became a couch potato last year. One night after showering, I looked at my legs one day and saw bumps. Gasping, I thought, “Cellulite!” For most of my life, I have kept active, but the cellulite bumps sprung up overnight.

         What to do? My answer—I had to do something, so walking was my answer. I started slowly and increased my time. I have the pleasure of walking a country road, free of noise, pollution and people. Today my butt cheeks hurt after my daily walk. I’m up to 45 minutes a day and going over 9000 steps daily. I know the optimal number is 10,000 steps a day, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Zoomin’

THE WAY OF WRITING WITH NATALIE GOLDBERG

         March 6, 2021, I started an eight-week writing workshop online with one of my writing mentors, Natalie Goldberg. This was a dream come true! I first read, Writing Down the Bones, her first book in the late 80s then collected and read several more of hers.

         We met twice weekly—for three hours on Saturdays with Natalie and one hour on Wednesdays with her assistant. What a rewarding experience I’ve had.

         Natalie lived in New Mexico for many years, and I attended day workshops of hers, but I couldn’t afford her longer ones. This online class was very affordable and doable. Another change to my life from the pandemic and staying home.

MEETINGS

A big change came for all of my regular face-to-face meetings: recovery meetings and the board that runs the Albuquerque Square Dance Center. Zoom saved the day. I easily made the change to Zoom meetings and added some special ones like monthly chats with a roommate and friend from Colorado. The three of us hadn’t been together in thirty years. I’ve also had family reunion meetings and more. The sky is the limit with Zoom.

JESSE, MY CAT

Jesse, my cat, enjoying the change
Jesse, my cat, ready for a night of TV!

         When we danced and traveled so much, we had few rituals that Jesse knew. Now nightly, Jesse crawls up on the arm of our loveseat on my side, positioning himself for watching TV with us. Each morning he snuggles as close as possible to me during my Quiet Time. Daily at breakfast, he supervises our Cribbage game. Jesse has convinced Lin he knows who will win the game by where he lays—near my side or Lin’s.

         The world has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Too horrible to mention in many ways, but I wanted to highlight some of the positive changes.

         How about you? Have you had any positive changes this last year? If so, what were they? (Keep scrolling down to make comments!)


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM Email me at larada@icloud.com if you are interested!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s in the Navy Now!

Flippo, the young sailor in the Nay
Young Marshall Flippo, the Sailor

Navy and Marshall Flippo? Really? I never would have guessed that! Marshall Flippo had an amazing life with world experiences I would have never dreamed of for a boy from Abilene, Texas.

During our interviews, he quickly relayed how he volunteered to join the Navy at the end of World War II. It’s a poignant story.

World War II began on September 1, 1939 and ended on September 2, 1945. In 1944, the war was intensifying. Flippo’s sister, Helen, had already joined and was serving. Patriotism flourished across the country with Flippo experiencing his own version in his small west Texas town.

“I joined the Navy when I turned seventeen in 1944.” After Flippo shared this, he sat quiet—his thoughtful silence spoke volumes.

In reviewing the part in the first interview about him joining the Navy, I mistakenly thought he had falsified his records to join.

Quickly he answered, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!! What did you say about the records?”

From his tone, I realized I had made a mistake. “I thought you told me that you falsified your records when you were seventeen. That’s how you got into . . .”

He interrupted me with a resounding, “No!”

So he explained what happened. “Well, Dad had to sign for me, but we didn’t falsify it. I got in. Daddy signed for me, and I went in on my seventeenth birthday. I didn’t falsify anythang.”

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, p39.

Before he signed up, Flippo’s friend, R. H. ‘Hub’ Evans returned to Abilene in his Marine uniform and this influenced the young impressionable teenager—Flippo was ready to sign up!

In Flippo’s biography, I divided the Navy section, The Texan Becomes a Sailor, into three chapters:

  • You’re in the Navy Now!
  • USS Lander
  • Three More Ships and Baseball

Flippo’s easily made friends and connected with two men in boot camp, Thurman Curry and Harold Snodgrass. Thurman lived in Abilene, and Harold grew up in Tennessee. I loved his stories about hitchhiking with Thurman to Abilene from San Diego between boot camp and Amphibious Training. No one would dare do that today!

Then the three of them—Flip, Thurman and Harold—enjoyed Harold’s car driving around small towns around Abilene and a trip back to San Diego and then around San Diego.

USS Lander - Navy destroyer tender
USS Lander

After Flippo’s training, the Navy assigned him to the USS Lander, a destroyer tender. As he talked about his years in the Navy, he referenced his War book often. I regret that we never read it together, but I used it as a reference for his biography. The book’s title is USS LANDER 1945, so it had in-depth information about his time on that ship. What a treasure this was for Flip!

Interesting fact about the USS Lander: seventy-five percent of the sailors on the ship had never been to sea before! So Flippo fit right in! He looks so young in the pictures!

Young Navy man onboard ship
Young Flippo, the Sailor onboard ship

It was on the USS Lander, Flippo made his first trip to Japan which began a love affair he had with the country and people the rest of his life.

USS Piedmont

After the USS Lander was decommissioned, Flippo sailed on the USS Piedmont, another destroyer tender, and ended up at Yokosuka Harbor again, right back to Japan, right in the same harbor where he had left a month before.

Did you know Flippo was an athlete? Flippo’s sports career started on the USS Piedmont. They had a football team and baseball team, and he was on both.

USS Wiltsie

Then the Navy transferred him to the USS Wiltsie, another destroyer tender. So, the Navy decided they’d make a team: DesPac, standing for “Destroyers of Pacific.” They took two guys off of all the destroyers who had baseball teams. They selected Flippo as one of the two players from the USS Wiltsie to go the USS Dixie for the DesPac team. They played Navy teams or Army teams who had baseball teams. He ended his Naval career on the USS Dixie, another destroyer tender.

USS Dixie

Finally, the Navy wanted Flippo to reenlist, but he wanted to go home to Abilene—he was done! Laced throughout these three chapters in his biography, Flippo shared a bird’s-eye view of World War II and what it was like on a destroyer tender in Asiatic-Pacific Theater, providing support to the Marines on the shores of Iwo Jima and being a part of the occupying force in Japan.

These four years had a lasting impact on Flippo and his view of life. He entered the Navy a young naïve seventeen-year-old and left a seasoned sailor who had seen the world.

Have you read about World War II? Does seventeen seem young to go to war? Was it different back then? To make a comment, scroll down to the bottom of the page! I’d love to hear from you!


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

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

~One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Flippo’s Biography! Join me to celebrate on May 10, 2021 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM Email me at larada@icloud.com if you are interested!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holidays · My Thoughts

How Do You Celebrate Easter?

Celebrate Easter - bunny
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Easter eggs? Church attendance? A religious holiday? Chocolate eggs? Our secular world celebrates Easter in a variety of ways. How do you celebrate it?

As a child, I focused on the secular side of Easter—finding Easter eggs, my basket, and lots of chocolate. I attended church each year with a new dress, shoes and hat. Our family celebrated with a festive dinner and all the fun activities for children, but no focus on the religious significance. Here I am in 1960, all dressed up for Easter at seven years old.

Celebrate Easter, 1960
Larada dressed up for Easter, 1960

In 1966, one memorable Easter, I ended up with a broken nose. Our county 4-H group had a roller skating party in Trinidad, Colorado, the night before Easter, bringing together country children from all over Las Animas County. The owners of the skating rink decided to wax the floor before our big event, so we skaters had a terrible time standing up, much less skating., and we skated often, so it wasn’t new to us.

After I finally got the hang of skating on this slick floor, I skated with my cousin and a friend from Hoehne, Colorado, holding hands, laughing and enjoying our night of fun. Suddenly he fell first, and she fell over him. I flipped over the two of them and landed flat-faced on the floor, nose gushing with blood everywhere.

I had been looking forward to this big day for months, so I cleaned myself up and continued skating, cautious and careful, ignoring the pain in my face.

Next morning, I woke up with two black eyes and a swollen, sore nose. The unofficial diagnosis: a broken nose! Even though I hurt and looked horrendous, I proudly dressed in my new yellow seersucker Easter dress, white shoes and white hat that cradled my head. Here I am in 1966 at thirteen years old, but you can’t the black eyes or the swollen nose.

Celebrate Easter, 1966 with broken nose
Larada dressed for Easter with broken nose in 1966

Because I didn’t have children, I didn’t get into the egg hunts, baskets and such. I had a memorable time with my young niece, though, in 1974. At that time, my husband and I and my brother and his wife lived in Denver, Colorado as young married near each other. At nine months, my niece didn’t understand the whole egg dying business. Her mom and I prepared the multiple cups with the different dye in each one.

We wrapped a tea towel around the little one to protect her clothes from the dye and began our joyous adventure. We gently placed an egg in each cup of color and used a spoon to roll them around to deepen the color. The transformation from white to different colors captivated my niece: red, blue, green, yellow! She squealed with delight standing on the chair peering into the multi-colored cups.

Celebrate Easter - dying eggs
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Excited and before we could stop her, my nine-month-old niece grabbed an egg out of the cup with her hand—now her hand was red. We tried to stop her, but in her exuberance, we couldn’t. The red dye didn’t discolor her hand too much, or we didn’t notice it.

Then we moved on to the next cup and the blue dye had already darkened to a deep shade. Her mom held her back as I rolled it around a little to get a deeper blue, then my niece’s small pudgy hand darted past her mom and grabbed the blue egg!

Dripping blue dye from her fingers, I quickly snatched it from her chubby hand and giggled. I loved her enthusiasm! But now we had a problem: her hand with fresh blue dye with the red stain already present. We looked down at my niece’s hand and it had turned a horrible shade of murky blackish grey! My niece howled, shook her hand to no avail, and we laughed! She kept shaking it, but the color stayed!

Her mom and I laughed at this strange situation, scrubbed her hand with detergent. The unpleasant color stained her hand still. My niece would look at it and shake it repeatedly, whimpering. Finally, we returned to our task and finished the dying activity with the rest of the eggs dark and colorful. But my niece had lost interest in the whole thing and became a reluctant observer.

After my Dad died, I made it a point to celebrate Easter with Mom every year. One year, her Methodist church from Des Moines, New Mexico had a Sunrise Service at Capulin Mountain, which is a volcano. We drove to the Visitor’s Center, then rode up the mountain in a school bus. When we got to the top of the volcano, the group gathered in a sheltered area to keep warm, away from the wind. Deer grazed inside the volcano and peace filled the air. I remember little about the service or the sermon, but Fred Owensby had arrived early and walked down in the cone. At the end of the service, he played “Amazing Grace” on his trumpet, and I shivered with goosebumps, not the cold. It was glorious! Afterwards, we drove to Des Moines for a pancake breakfast and fellowship and fun—a memorable time for sure!

Capulin Volcano

After that fateful experience with my young niece, I didn’t have another notable Easter with children until 2013. My brother’s family gathered with me and my husband for my mother’s memorial service on April 1. Easter that year was the March 31, the day before Mom’s service. My niece in the story above now had her children there with us. Her brother and sister’s families joined us, too. My nieces and nephew did a remarkable job under dire circumstance to celebrate Easter for their children. They colored eggs, had baskets and made it fun! And it was!

During my lifetime, I have continued attending church on Easter, celebrating our risen Lord. This year, I felt a deeper meaning in the whole Easter story from Good Friday to the celebration of Easter. Today, as I attended my church on Facebook Livestream, I marveled at the wonders and the blessings of this day so many years ago. The Resurrection story still brings a tear to my eyes.

I hope you had a meaningful holiday this year—beyond the trifles this world offers and delved into the deeper meaning of the holiday.

How do you celebrate Easter? Did you gather with family this year? Did you go to church? How was it different to celebrate it this year from the past? The same?


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · Writing

Three Vital Apps for the Writer

Three Vital Apps - person writing with computer
Photo by Judit Peter from Pexels

As a writer, I have quite a toolbox of apps I use regularly as a writer/blogger. The three vital apps I return to are ProWritingAid, Scrivener, and Vellum.

When I begin a writing project, I start in Scrivener because it is the ultimate organizational tool to keep everything you need in one place. Here’s one delicious advantage of Scrivener. In researching for any of my books, I can add the URL of a favorite website into the program and keep it there. When I need, it opens up right there in Scrivener—no hunting or spending countless hours searching for a page I need.

Here’s another Scrivener feature I love! Last year when I was revising Just Another Square Dance Caller, we were traveling, and I bought the iOS version of Scrivener and worked on the document on my iPad on the flights going and coming. It synced perfectly with the desktop version.

Before I send it to the editor, I run each chapter through ProWritingAid (which is an app and a website) to catch any grammar and syntax mistakes. Usually, this handy tool finds those hideous errors I do repeatedly and can’t see! At first, the summary overwhelmed me, but now I focus on the Realtime errors identified.

When my manuscript is back from my editor, I then import it into Vellum for final print book and e-book layout. I add pictures and graphics and send it out to be printed. When I started publishing in 2014, I didn’t have Vellum, so I formatted my first couple books in Microsoft Word in templates provided by createspace.com (now KDP.com)—that was difficult.

So, when I found Vellum, I imported my first self-published books into the program and republished them. I love the final product Vellum produces. I love the ease of use as well.

Here are in-depth looks at each program.

ProWritingAid Logo--Three Apps

ProWritingAid Website and App

  • The Essential Editing Tool for Every Writer
  • Online & Desktop Editing Tool—interface the same
  • GREEN AREA Menu (Drop down menu): (FILE: New, Save, Save As, Upload, Export), EDIT: (Use Curly Quotes, Convert to Straight Quotes, Convert to Curly Quotes), REPORT: (Print, Email), TOOLS: (Word Explorer), YOU: (Documents, Profile, Settings, Edit My Dictionary, Edit My Snippets, Support, Plugins), OTHER: (Old Editor), LOGOUT.
  • PURCHASED ONLINE ACCESS & APP: Features on the Menu: Core (Realtime, Summary, Style, Grammar, Thesaurus, Overused, Combo, All Repeats), Repeats (Echoes, Structure), Structure (Length, Transition, Readability), Readability (Sticky, Cliches), More Reports (Diction, Pronoun, Alliteration, Homonym, Consistency, Acronym, Pacing, Sensory, House, Plagiarism)
  • LEFT MENU:
    • Writing Style: (General, Academic, Business, Technical, Creative, Casual, Web) and Language: English General, English UK, and English US.
    • GOALS FOR DIFFERENT GENRES:
  • The Summary can be printed, emailed, or opened in a new window. Note Key Actions
  • Cost: $20 – Monthly $79 – 1 year, $399 – lifetime.
    • FREE VERSION: Summary Report of Key Issues,19 Writing Reports (Does not have Acronym or Dialogue), Edit 500 words at a time, Use online only
  • Helpful Feature of website: Blog with articles. 5 Categories: The Writing Process, Blogging and Content Writing, Grammar Rules, Writing Apps, and How to Use ProWritingAid

How to Use

  1. Go to website: https://prowritingaid.com
  2. Sign up for free & identify what type of writer you are.
  3. Click on “Start Web Editor.” They offer a two-minute tour video.
  4. Copy and paste document in window
  5. Save – CAN NOT SAVE in Free Version, so
  6. Work your way across the Menu and make appropriate changes

Resources:

Scrivener-Three Apps

Scrivener 3.2.2

  • Writing organization app
  • Mac or PC – $45 – Free Trial
  • Tailor-made for long writing projects
  • Has Project Templates for Blank, Fiction (Novel, Novel with Parts, and Short Story),
    • Non-Fiction (Essay – Chicago Style, General Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction with Sub-heads, Paper – APA, Paper – MLA, Research Proposal, Undergraduate Humanities Essay), Scriptwriting (BBC Radio Scene Style, BBC Taped Dramas, Comic Script, Documentary Script, Screenplay, Stage Play (UK), Poetry & Lyrics and Miscellaneous (Persuasive Lecture and Recipe Collection). It has an Interactive Tutorial, User Manual and Video Tutorials.
  • Scrivener costs $49 for Mac OS & Windows and $19.99 for iOS

How to Navigate

  1. Download app – have Free Trial – and install.
  2. Open App and select Template
  3. Gives General Suggestions on Genre
  4. LEFT COLUMN MENU: Collections & Binder Info – Different for each genre
  5. TOP MENU: File, Edit, Insert, View, Navigate, Project, Documents, Format, Window, Help
  6. MENU ACROSS THE TOP OF OPEN WINDO: View: Binder & Collections Hide or Show, Search, Add: New Text or New Folder or Import, Trash, Insert, QuickRef, Quick Search, View, Compile, Bookmarks, Compose, Inspector
  7. INSPECTOR – RIGHT COLUMN—Synopsis, Bookmark, (General Metadata, Custom Metadata & Keywords), Snapshots, Comments & Footnotes
  8. Backups when you save and quit–QUIT APP EACH DAY TO CREATE BACKUP!

Resources:

Vellum--Three Apps

Vellum

  • Create Print Interiors & Beautiful Ebooks
  • Only on Mac – MacOS 11 or newer PRICES
  • COST
    • Vellum Press – Created Unlimited Ebooks + Paperbacks – $249.99
    • Vellum Ebooks – Create Unlimited Ebooks – $199.99

How to

  1. Download Vellum & install.
  2. Open – Immediately you have the choice to “Import Word File,” so click and import document.
  3. MENU IN OPEN WINDOW: Navigator and Preview
  4. LEFT MENU: Contents & Styles
    1. Contents – Places your document into chapters.
    1. Styles – Choices for Heading, First Paragraph, Paragraph After Break, Ornamental Break, Block Quotation, Verse, Photograph, Portrait, Caption, Header and Footer, & Body
  5. IN CONTENT, MENU ACROSS BODY (LEFT SIDE): Asterisk Pull-down Menu (Subhead, Ornamental Break, Image, Alignment Block, List, Block Quotation, Verse, Web Link, Store Link & Internet Link–PUT ALL TEXT WITHIN ONE OF THESE FOR FORMATTING).Bold, Italics and Underline text. Pull-down Arrow for Font Choices: Small Caps, Sans Serif, Monospace, Superscript Up, Superscript Down, Strike through. Right Margin Word Count: In Book, In Bodymatter, In Chapter, In Chapter/Book
  6. MENU ACROSS PREVIEW (RIGHT SIDE): Ebook Formats or Print, Move Forward or Back in Document, Generate Button
  7. TOP MENU: File, Edit, Chapter, Text, View, Window, and Help
  8. SAVE OFTEN

Resources:

Finally, do you want to write a book? Start with these three apps and you’re on your way!

Would you be interested in an online workshop on these apps, other writing apps and websites to produce a book or blog? Let me know!


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · square dance

Will Square Dancing Survive the Pandemic?

Lin and Larada square dancing
Lin and Larada Square Dancing!

To date, the coronavirus has taken 555,296 lives in the United States. Losses continue to mount; loved ones have died. In the wake of this horrible pandemic, will we lose square dancing too?

In my heart and in conversations over the phone with friends, I’ve lamented the future of square dancing. I’m a firm believer that square dancing with survive, but in what form is the question. Before the pandemic, we saw pockets of successful growth across the square dance world, but our numbers have fallen off in most places.

Many years ago, CALLERLAB, the international association of square dance callers, created levels of dancing: Basic, Mainstream, Plus, Advanced and C. Each level adds new calls to the level before, enlarging the calls at that level. The push for years has been to move up to the next level, then the next, then the next, leaving Basic and Mainstream to be introductory stop overs for Plus, Advanced and C.

I’ve seen big beginning classes come and go and the retention of the dancers at any level has statistically been sad.

Now change can happen, a strange opportunity because of this year’s interruption.

In preparing for this post, I canvased several square dance callers/leaders on the subject, purposing this question to them, “Will square dancing become another casualty of the pandemic?” and this is what they had to say:

Jerry Junck: Nebraska & Arizona:

Jerry Junck, square dance caller
Jerry Junck

I do not believe square dancing will be a casualty of the pandemic. It will be different, to be sure, but square dancing is too good an activity to come to an end because of Covid 19. There is no doubt it will be smaller, as we resume dancing again. To be sure, there will be clubs and callers who will leave the activity for other forms of entertainment.  

However, there are many dancers anxiously awaiting the opportunity to resume dancing, and renewing old friendships. The need for social interaction is strong, and something we have all missed. The pandemic may actually have given us an opportunity to reflect on what we have been missing during this hiatus. My hope is that we will resume dancing with a kinder and more gentle spirit. That we will be more appreciative of what we had and make a sincere effort to make everyone feel welcome.  

*****

People of all ages will hunger for any form of social interaction—square dancing fits the bill!

Jon Jones & Deborah Carroll-Jones – Texas:

Jon Jones & Deborah Carroll-Jones, square dance caller
Jon Jones & Deborah Carroll-Jones

I believe the square dance activity will come back real strong in the Fall of 2021. People have been staying at home for more than a year and will be looking for an activity they can get into that will be fun. Square dancing does just that and it is the very best mind changer for the dancers as they cannot think of anything else while dancing.

Deborah and I both believe the Social Square Dance Program (SSD) is the way to go. It is and easy program to learn and provides good variety in the choreography and it does not take very long for the new dancers to join a club. We believe this is a golden opportunity for the activity to grow. If the Associations, Clubs and dancers will advertise with demos and publications, we will see good participation.

*****

After 2020, we all need a fun activity.

To learn more about the Social Square Dance Program (SSD), go to the CALLERLAB website:

Also, visit the Social Square Dancing Facebook page for active back-and-forth conversations about the SSD program and its effect on square dancing’s future:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/319491818505954

Daryl Clendenin – Oregon:

Daryl Clendenin, square dance caller
Daryl Clendenin

“Will Square Dancing Become Another Casualty of the Pandemic?”

I certainly hope not. Will SSD become the activities “cure?” I have serious doubts. Actually, the patient was terminal long before contracting the pandemic. It was on a steady decline that in my recollection, began with the introduction of the Plus Program. That, in essence, not only divided the dancers, but the callers as well. 

The SSD Concept is not just a program, it’s a solution. Many folks think that following the SSD guidelines to the letter, is essential. I don’t agree. The concept, as I see it, identifies the problems, and leaves open a variety of ways to apply them.

The SSD concept is not new. The pandemic may have made it, to some folks, more acceptable. That acceptance in itself, is a positive. Square dancing is not a “goner” yet. It can be revived.

*****

I totally agree with Daryl that we can revive square dancing!

Noah Siegman – Wisconsin:

Noah Siegman, square dance caller
Noah Siegman

Square dancing (as we knew it pre-2020) will definitely be a casualty of the pandemic. In order to rebuild and get it started again, there will need to be a shift to a simpler, more easily attained style of dancing that doesn’t require 20 or more weeks of lessons. Coming out of the pandemic, many people are looking for something to do to be social again, and I believe square dancing is something that fits the bill perfectly to satisfy their craving for community!

*****

The social aspect to square dancing needs to be emphasized! Yes, we take lessons, learn to dance, and I’ve made lifelong friends all over the world through square dancing!

In Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, “Flippo’s statement, ‘We took ten lessons, and we were square dancers’ demonstrated the evolution in square dancing.” We need to return to that mentality.

Tom Manning – Iowa:

Tom Manning, square dance caller
Tom Manning

I don’t believe square dancing will be a casualty of the pandemic. Square dancing has been on the decline for many years, and I believe this is our chance to renew it. I have said publicly that square dancing would have to die to survive. Many of us in this activity, including myself, have been involved forever, 50 years last month, wanted something bigger and better from the activity. Wanting more of a challenge, more nights a week, more conventions and plus weekends. Now is our chance to get back to the basics of square dancing, fun and friendship. I can see by using the Social Square Dance program, we can bring new people into the activity, show them a good time, and have our drop-out rate diminish. Show the dancers a good time using the SSD program and not rush them to other levels.

I have been using this program for the last 3 years. Our group went from maybe having one square every Tuesday night to having four to six. Along with the program, it does take some promotion, arm twisting and begging to get people in the door. I have kept in contact with all these new dancers over the last year, and it sounds like they are all ready to return to dancing when this thing is over. I think square dancing will survive, but now is the time to make some changes.

*****

Sometimes change has to come to make something better. I love statistics and Tom’s movement from one square to four to six using the SSD program is exciting. If your club experienced the same ratio of growth from the SSD program as Tom’s, and prior to the pandemic you had four squares, you could have twelve to twenty-four squares! How about that for an increase! Even worst-case scenario, you could increase to double figures.

Mike Seastrom – California:

Mike Seastrom, square dance caller
Mike Seastrom

I’m excited about the future of square dancing after the pandemic. We have all been deprived of social connections during this pandemic, and square dancing is one of the best activities to socially connect.

It’s long been known that the key to happiness and to keeping from being depressed is the quality and quantity of our social connections. Square dancing is a perfect activity for being connected to people, fun, and exercise.

With our new Social Square Dancing Curriculum and the ability to start our new dancer programs 2-3 times a year, we can open our doors and make it easier for people to join us and bring their friends. 

This is a perfect time for our forward-thinking leaders and callers to seize the moment, reboot, and grow our activity!

I’m excited!

*****

Mike’s enthusiasm is contagious. He stresses the social connection of square dancing and how we can increase the frequency of classes because of the SSD program which means more dancers!

*****

What a variety of responses I received from these caller/leaders from all over the United States. Social connections, fun and the SSD program weave their way through many of them.

I’ll leave you with a parting comment: Are we as dancers more interested in saving our level of dance or saving square dancing? Or can we do both? As a person committed to the activity for years, I pledge my support to the activity, not to the individual levels I enjoy. I want square dancing to continue and flourish for generations to come.

What’s your thoughts on this? Do you have a favorite hobby/activity that the pandemic has threatened? What is it? What’s your prediction for its future?


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

How Do You Start a Biography?

Cover of Flippo - start a biography

After several hours of interviews, Marshall Flippo had definite ideas how to start his biography. He ended up with two unique pieces he wanted, so my dilemma became, which would it be?

His passionate interest in the intricacies of his biography fascinated me. Then I found out he had prior experience with book publication because he wrote a chapter in Bob Osgood’s book, The Caller Text. Flippo was one of the contributing callers, writing chapter 24: “Building and Maintaining a Repertoire.”

As we discuss the layout of the book, Flip stated, “I have a dirty joke a caller’s wife told me the first time I met her, and I want you to start my book with it. I’ll tell it to you, and then you clean it up so we can use it.” Then he told me the joke, and I howled because I loved Flippo’s outrageous humor. I assured him we could use it, but I wondered about starting his life story with a dirty joke.

Laughter - start a biography
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

But as I transcribed the interviews and relived our 40+ hours together, I realized that humor defined Flippo in a way I hadn’t realized. His practical jokes and stories about his caller friends showed the humorous life he lived!

Another reason for humor came up when I transcribed the first few interviews and Flip was still alive. I sent him a copy of the interviews so he could answer questions I had.

In his raspy Texas drawl, he stated, “Take the giggles out!”

I laughed and replied, “Flip, any time you giggled in the interviews, I put in the word “Giggle” to remind me when I wrote the actual text, I wanted to remember to add your laughter.” He accepted that. Yes, he laughed a lot in the interviews, reminding me how much he enjoyed his life.

Also, Flippo told me repeatedly he wanted people to laugh when they read his biography. So, I understand the reason to start with a joke.

Hs joke is hilarious about some hunters caught in a cabin in a snowstorm and nature calls—you’ll have to buy the book to get the full joke.

So, we went with that for a few months. Flippo often returned to the joke, chuckled and wrote a reminder to himself to phone the caller and ask permission from his wife to include her name in the book. Somehow, he never made that call, so I emailed the caller about this touchy topic. He said his wife would prefer not being named.

I felt good about the joke and the start of this book. After several months, during one of our weekly interviews, Flippo stated, “I have something else I want to start the book with.”

Not knowing what was coming, I sighed and wondered what it could be.

Flippo added, “I want a tribute to those callers who’ve gone and helped me get started.”

After this poignant request, I swallowed, and the lump in my throat expanded. I stopped the tears because I had to listen.

“Okay, we can do that, but what about the joke?” I asked.

Easily he figured, “Put the joke after this part,” so I did.

So, once again Flippo recited a list of callers’ names to me who he wanted in this part. The first part consisted of Abilene, Texas callers: Betty Casey, J. C. Wilson, Bob Sumrall and Owen Renfro.

Then he named Bob Osgood, Bob Page, Arnie Kronenberger, Bob Van Antwerp, Joe Lewis, and Bill Castner. Those men lived all over the United States. He told stories on each, and the gratitude he expressed about these people was palatable.

In my research, I found a picture of everyone but Betty Casey, so I added her signature. I loved adding the pictures to provide a visual to the name. Some names are historical callers in the square dance world.

Sadly, two callers died near Flippo’s death who he might have added to this list: Frank Lane and Lee Kopman. I added them here because of their gigantic contributions to square dancing over the years. Also, Flippo loved and admired both of them.

Honor those who go before you—yes, that’s the man Flip was!

Finally, how we started Flippo’s biography depicted him to the tee: a spicy sense of humor and deep gratitude to those who went before him and helped him get his start as a caller.

One last note: I started Flippo’s biography with an unusual piece we never talked about with the assistance of his son and ex-wife. Someone who preordered Flip’s biography asked before he died if she could get her copy autographed by Flippo. After he died, that question haunted me. How could I do it?

I emailed John and Neeca, and Neeca found this treasure on a card he sent her years ago—how appropriate it was to use because he truly loved all of his friends.

Love Flip - start a biography

How do you start a biography? I believe there’re hundreds of ways to do it, but the solution is in the person the book is about! What best portrays the subject?

What do you think? How do you think a biography should start?

Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Can I Recapture Spain?

Flamenco Dancers in Seville, Spain
Flamenco Dancers in Seville

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

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

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

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

Thankfully, no one in our travel party became sick!

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

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

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

Enjoy the magic of this haunting country:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Waiting for the Vaccine?

Photo by destiawan nur agustra from Pexels

Are you waiting for the coronavirus vaccine? I am but not very gracefully! I want it NOW! My nerves feel frayed. I vacillate between understanding the delay and wanting mine now, no matter what!

Because of a suggestion of an older friend, I registered at the New Mexico website and received my number several weeks ago. My husband drug his feet, thinking he’d wait for the Johnson & Johnson one shot treatment.

Then he had a phone call with his primary care physician on another issue, and the doctor quizzed him, “Have you gotten the vaccine yet?” He questioned him because Lin has been reluctant to take any of the vaccines until this doctor convinced him of the importance of the flu shot, specifically.

In response, Lin said, “No, I’m going to wait for the Johnson & Johnson shot.”

Our doctor responded sharply, “New Mexico has bought the two vaccines. There’s no guarantee they’ll buy the third one. Sign up!”

When he got off the phone, I signed him up. He’s eighty years old and within a few weeks he received a text to set up a time. He did and has taken the first shot at the Pit, the basketball court for the University of New Mexico.

When he went to get vaccinated, I rode with him, just in case he had any reaction. He didn’t and was really impressed with the efficiency of the operation there. They set up his second shot for mid-March, so he sees a light at the end of the tunnel!

As always, I turned to poetry to express my exasperated feelings:

Waiting for the vaccine
Photo by Serkan Göktay from Pexels

I Hate Waiting!

February 28, 2021

 Here I sit
             Waiting
                         Waiting
                                     Waiting
                                                 For the coronavirus vaccination!
 I’m 67 years old
             Old enough you’d think
                         But
                                     In a nebulous zone
 Caught between
             Not old enough
                         For the first priority group
             Not young enough
                         Not to worry
 
Shortly, we face a year’s anniversary 
             Since this pandemic started.
Quickly the talk of the vaccine began
             Questions arose
                         Too soon?
                                     Too quick?
                                                 Too everything?
 Tests held
             Thousands of willing guinea pigs
 More questions
             More waiting
 Then the day came!
 
 The vaccine roll-out started
             In the UK
                         December 14, 2020
             In the USA
                         January 14, 2021
 Yahoo!
             Yet I had some misgivings
                         At first
             Total acceptance
                         Now
 And I keep waiting!

 I’ve been obedient
             Watched my P's and Q's!
                         Social distance
                         Shelter-in-place
                         Mask
                         Wash hands religiously
                         Quarantine
                                     After trips to Colorado
                                                 To safeguard Lin 
At first,
             Obedient
             Patient
             Recluse
                         Against my gregarious nature
             Fearful
             Cautious
 Now,
             Impatient
             Questioning
             Tired and exhausted
 
 I see the vaccine
             As the pathway
                         To normalcy
             As the pathway
                         To perhaps
 
Instead I sit here
             Waiting,
                         Is it tomorrow
                                     I get the long-awaited text?
                         Is it this week?
                                     Or the next?
 Waiting to go back
             To go forward
                         To do something proactive
                                     To undo what’s been
                                                 Ongoing a year!
 I realize
             The vaccine is not a panacea!
 We still have to be cautious,
             But when we both are vaccinated
                         We can think
                                     Of possibilities
                         We can dream
                         We can stretch
                                     Our shrunken imaginations
                                                 To venture forth.
 Will the new world
             Demand I show
                         My vaccine card
                                     At dances?                 
                         For sure on airplanes
                         For sure to travel
                                     To foreign countries
 
 Is this new sought-after card
             My entry
                         Back into life?
 
 I’m waiting
             Waiting
                         Waiting
 
 A possible silver lining
             For my wait!
                         Maybe
                                     Johnson & Johnson
                                                 Will be available
                                                 When my time comes—
 That means one shot
             Instead of two!
 
 So, the waiting
             Once again,
                         As is so often,
                                     Maybe the reward!
 I’ll wait and see! 

Right now, in New Mexico, I have to wait for Phase 1A and 1B, because I’m in Phase 1C—60 years old and older. When I look at the list of people in the two phases above me, I shudder, because there’s many crucial people who should receive it before me. See the document: https://cv.nmhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/2021.1.28-DOH-Phase-Guidance.pdf

So I will wait!

In closing, my turn will come. My life will change when it happens. Will yours? Are you getting the vaccine? Have you got it? Are you impatiently waiting like me right now? I’d love to hear from you.


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

Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Costa Rica · My Thoughts · Travel

Remember My Extreme Costa Rica, 2020 Trip?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Holidays · My Thoughts

Valentine’s Day 2021! So Different Yet So Good!

Valentine's Day
Photo by alleksana from Pexels

Valentine’s Day 2021—a snowy frigid winter day in New Mexico! We’ve experienced a different celebration today yet so good! How have you spent your day?

Still we face coronavirus restrictions, so we had no choice of eating out to celebrate this day. Our marriage has spanned ten years, and Lin and I have been together for eleven. As the years rolled by, this celebratory day of love has changed.

Early in our relationship, Lin filled it with memorable times of special gifts and memorable nights. Now we comfortably celebrate in much less dramatic ways, yet know the depth of our love grows each year. Now, we exchange cards, flowers and nominal gifts.

As I pondered the whole impact of the holiday today, I found some really poignant and fun memes I’d like to share with you:

Valentine's Day
This is for Jesse, my cat!
Valentine's Day
That look!
Valentine's Day
Again those eyes!
Valentine's Day
Did it find you?
Valentine's Day
For my writer’s heart!
Valentine's Day
Another one for my writer’s soul!
Valentine's Day
The place where love is!
Valentine's Day
Oh, those precious memories!

Years don’t lessen the love in a relationship—it doesn’t have to grow stale. In fact, we have deepened our relationship, especially with the intense togetherness the pandemic forced on all of us. As we went through this unsettling time mostly 24/7, I found a deep-rooted respect for Lin and his work ethics. His humor delights me every morning when he serenades me and Jesse, my cat, belting out a rhyming ditty he created on the spot. His deep care and commitment to me still leaves me breathless!

The routine we created during this time together comforts my soul: a leisure morning of Lin reading his current history book and me doing my Quiet Time then Cribbage and breakfast. We go our separate ways then lunch together and a thirty-minute comedy series where we laugh together. We spend our afternoons separate on our own endeavors. Then after his workout and my walk, we head towards the hot tub for warmth and again a leisure time to talk over our world’s matters.

After a shower and dinner, we sit shoulder-to-shoulder watching our favorite British detective solve yet another crime. Before the finale, we share our choices of the villain!

Then off to bed we go! Quite a different routine for us than our usual busy lifestyle of constant dancing and traveling. And the benefit yielded—wow!

Right now, Lin naps on the loveseat downstairs waiting for the Nascar race to restart after a rainstorm. This last week, he has worked hard in the yard, preparing for spring planting, so he needs the nap and refreshment.

I write at my laptop in the loft and I hear only his soft snores—the heartwarming music of my Valentine’s Day with a dear, dear man for many years, still so, so good!

Finally, I love the reward of time together in a relationship, and I value Lin Miller as much today as I did ten years ago—maybe more because of what we have experienced.

What’s your routine? How has your relationship grown during the pandemic? How did you spend Valentine’s Day?


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

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover

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

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

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

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

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

~ HURRY! ENDS TODAY! Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books for a Valentine’s Day discount of 25% off select books and bundles:   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

 ~HURRY! ENDS TODAY! Enter the $400 Valentine Giveaway & WIN a $400 Amazon eCard! Only One Lucky Winner – Why not YOU? ~> http://ow.ly/L7Vn50DkYGN

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

Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

Who Should Write a Foreword to a Biography?

For quite a while, I wondered who Flippo would choose to write the Foreword to his biography. Before he died, I asked him a couple times who he wanted to write it. Each time we broached the topic, he lamented over the fact Betty Casey and J. C. Wilson, his two mentors from the Abilene, Texas area, were dead because they were his first choice. He made no decision before his death. I ended up with the perfect person: John Flippo, his son.

During our conversations, he kept evading the question. I would repeat, “Flip, who do you want to write the Foreword to this book?” Names came up, and his lack of commitment spoke volumes—so many had died already. So, we made no decision before his death.

After he died, I continued to muse over this vital part of the book. My husband, Lin, suggested John Flippo, his son. Immediately, I knew in my heart and soul I had found the right person, so I asked him, and John humbly agreed to write it. Any time Flippo talked of John, his voice softened, and his deep fatherly love shone through, using words like “my best friend“ and “good man.” What powerful words to describe the love and respect Flip had for his son.

In reading John’s Foreword, his words speak reciprocally of his father. Enjoy what John wrote:

FOREWORD

I remember my first-grade teacher going around the room and asking each of us what our fathers did for a living. There were lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, and the like, but when she got to me, I proclaimed my dad was a square dance ca!ler! The whole room busted out laughing.

Restraining her own giggles, the teacher informed me that square dancing was a hobby, not something someone did for a living, but I insisted, with only a hint of doubt in my young voice. She asked where he went in the mornings and what kind of uniform he wore. He wore a bolo tie and cowboy boots, but I was certain that if I mentioned that, I would have been laughed at again.

Being a square dance caller was the only job I knew my dad to have. He was one of the best in the world, but of course he would never say that. People who danced to his calls always made a point to tell me how much he meant to them and how much they loved him.

I never cared for school and didn’t plan on taking any more, so when I graduated high school, I was thrilled. Unfortunately, shortly after, my mom told me that instead of just working at our resort, Kirkwood Lodge, I was going to need to go out and get a real job. This was a responsibility I had never considered, nor thought to consider.

Noticing I was reeling from the revelation, my mom suggested that I go on tour with my dad. She has always been there to rescue me when needed. Going on tour seemed to me a great deal better than getting a real job or going to more school. The plan was to do three months out east, come home for Christmas, and finish with three months out west. Dad made room in the car for my boom box and a few dozen t-shirts, and we were off.

Dad loved everything about touring, and we loved being on the road. We reveled in making good time on a trip (we took this very seriously), getting “smokie” and “statie” reports from the CB radio, finding the cheapest motels in the best locations, and finding the best coffee and breakfast in town. The only thing he didn’t like was doing laundry. He taught me how to do it, and it was clear this was my main purpose in being on the trip. I am still using those skills today at FlipBack, our boutique resale store.

Dad made a point to introduce me right away at the dances. I was shy and tended to mumble, but no one cared about that. I was Marshall Flippo’s son, and that made me royalty and an instant friend of anyone that knew my dad. We both had great memories of that tour. I got to see another side of my dad, and I learned more on that trip than I could have ever learned in school.

When my dad told me Larada was planning on writing a book about him, I was ecstatic. I had always thought his life would make a great book, and I was immediately on board. He was a little harder to sell. He didn’t want the cover to mention square dancing, or have a picture of him on it, and he figured the book would be better if he didn’t talk about himself. Fortunately, Larada won him over. I could tell, the more they worked together, he began to look forward to their weekly interviews. He would even take notes during the week of things he wanted to go over or something he thought might be interesting. I hope you enjoy this book as much as he and Larada did in putting it together.

John Flippo June 5, 2019

When I read this Foreword for the first time, I choked up—what a precious tribute to Flippo from his loving son.

In 2021, I plan to feature monthly an excerpt from the book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, for your reading enjoyment.

In conclusion, if asked to write a Foreword for your dad or mom’s biography, how would it sound? How about if your children wrote yours, how would they describe your relationship? Something to think about.


Here’s a chance to see my blog posts from the last two weeks:

~My Agony of Waiting

~Did Democracy Win? Hell, Yes!

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

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

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for all my books for a Valentine’s Day discount of 25% off select books and bundles:   https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

 Enter the $400 Valentine Giveaway & WIN a $400 Amazon eCard! Only One Lucky Winner – Why not YOU? ~> http://ow.ly/L7Vn50DkYGN

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

family · Grief · My Thoughts

My Agony of Waiting

Woman waiting
Photo by Felipe Cespedes from Pexels

Waiting? For a dream to come true? Waiting a long time? No answer? The wrong answer? A reoccurring heartache in my younger life came up last week: waiting to get pregnant. After reading a Bible study program on waiting, back I went forty years ago.

I married my first husband in September 1973, and in December I stopped taking my birth control pills, hoping to get pregnant, and it happened easily. Around three months pregnant, I walked into see my gynecologist’s office pregnant, thinking I would hear the heart beat for the first time and walked out not pregnant. I had had something he called a “mis-abort.”

In Googling it, I found “A missed abortion is a miscarriage in which your fetus didn’t form or has died, but the placenta and embryonic tissues are still in your uterus. It’s known more commonly as a missed miscarriage. It’s also sometimes called a silent miscarriage.”

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/missed-abortion#:~:text=A%20missed%20abortion%20is%20a,is%20not%20an%20elective%20abortion.

After that life-changing experience, I have no memory of how I drove home to southwest Denver from downtown. At 20 years old, I had my heart set on having a baby. My brother and his wife had a baby; my friends had children. I had been raised to get married and have children, so it was in my DNA.

Monthly, waiting for my period became torture. When my period came, I sobbed and spent the rest of the month longing for it to happen. It had happened so effortlessly once. Why not now?

After a few more unsuccessful years and frustration, we decided to seek out the help of a fertility specialist, and we found the best—Dr. Bradley who started the Bradley Method of childbirth. “The Bradley method of natural childbirth (also known as “husband-coached childbirth”) is a method of natural childbirth developed in 1947 by Robert A. Bradley, M.D. (1917–1998) and popularized by his book Husband-Coached Childbirth, first published in 1965. The Bradley method emphasizes that birth is a natural process: mothers are encouraged to trust their body and focus on diet and exercise throughout pregnancy; and it teaches couples to manage labor through deep breathing and the support of a partner or labor coach.”

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

Woman holding a baby
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels

At this time, I felt encouraged after our first appointment with Dr. Bradley, and he invited us to his house that evening where women who had just given birth to their children through the Bradley Method showed them off. I reveled in the possibility.

Then he started fertility testing on my ex-husband first, simply because a man’s test is much easier than a woman—a sperm sample. After this test, we received the bad news. He had a disorder called aspermia, “inability to produce or ejaculate semen.”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/aspermia

When Dr. Bradley relayed this information to us, he also told my ex-husband that the miscarriage I had earlier was caused by weak sperm—hard news for a man to hear! He offered alternatives: artificial insemination or adoption.

Broken hearted, we isolated individually and grieved over this major loss. I toyed with the idea of artificial insemination until I found out it would be from a donor and not my ex-husband. He basically refused.

During a Christmas holiday during this heart wrenching time, my larger family unit met together to have the holiday with my grandmother on my dad’s side. Toddlers and babies abounded, and one proud cousin strutted around the house and repeated often throughout the evening, “Aren’t we a fertile bunch!” He had no idea what we were going through, but I cringed every time he professed our family’s fertility.

Being in our twenties, we continued to be surrounded by friends and family members pregnant with families growing. I ached to join the ranks.

After much thought and prayer, our only alternative became adoption. We decided on the Lutheran Social Services as the adoption agency to use. They handled the process differently than other adoption agencies. Instead of doing the deep investigation into our backgrounds immediately, they waited until it was closer to our adoption date. They felt if you waited three years or more, you had nothing to hide.

From then on, we attended meetings and learned about the process. We saw other couples see their dreams come true, so we waited, feeling positive about our chances.

After waiting three years, we finally received notification that we would receive our baby in six months. Excitedly, I started knitting booties and baby afghans. My Mom and I bought baby clothes and blankets. So did my mother-in-law. Everyone joined in our excitement. I just couldn’t believe it.

But with the notification of the baby coming, the adoption agency would start the background checks, and my ex-husband knew that. I knew my husband had a drinking problem and had been unfaithful to me, but I loved him and looked away. What I didn’t know was he had much more to hide than I thought, so he left me.

At the same time, we divorced and had to cancel the adoption, and that ended my hopes of having a child.

Over the years, I have grieved repeatedly the barren state of my life.  In 1995, I turned to poetry to express the pain:

Woman waiting
Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels
 

Childless
  
 The pain of being without child!  Eternally alone!
 No child has burst forth from my womb
 nor sucked at my breast.
 Empty 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 be passed 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 a 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!