Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 9 – Holyhead & Conwy Castle: Exciting to See!

            Lin and I woke up on July 28, 2019 to a rainy day of drizzle and clouds. It wasn’t that bad but set the atmosphere for the day. This was our only port in Wales, and we were headed to Conwy Castle!

            I loved the drive through the countryside and the small towns, and again we had a fantastic tour guide, Sara. The roof lines in the cities fascinated me with chimneys and angles, and then what did I see—a McDonald’s sign! Again, sheep grazed lazily in luscious verdant pastures in the countryside.

A unique sight on the drive along the coast caught my attention, a beautiful cottage on an island,

“Ynys Gorad Goch, Private Island Coastal Cottage, Menai Straits, Anglesey.

: http://www.walesdirectory.co.uk/holiday-cottage-s/S8425.htm

            Back at home, Lin and I had researched and made Conwy Castle was our first choice for this port, but when we booked our excursions, it was sold out because of its popularity, so we went ahead and booked a tour to Penrhyn Castle & Gardens. Our Norwegian cruise line agent told us to go to the Excursion desk as soon as we got onboard to see if we could change tours. To our amazement, they created another tour to Conwy Castle, and we made it easily!

As we came into Conwy, the street views captivated me—so I took several photos. Sailboats drifted lazily in the bay along the road.

First View of Conwy Castle

As I first saw Conwy Castle, it didn’t look the same as the pictures on the Norwegian excursion website, but quickly I saw the beautiful setting. The touring of Conwy castle was awesome. When I wended my way up one of the towers, the small steps and dark staircase concerned me about possibly falling. A wonderful young man from Florida helped me by using the flashlight on his iPhone. I never thought of using mine because I had trouble accessing it on my iPhone 7. With his help, I didn’t fall.

We went through the many parts of the castle: West Barbican, the Northwest Tower, Great Hall, Prison Tower, and Inner Drawbridge. We saw a well 91 feet deep that still has water in it.

A seagull with an attitude

On top of the towers, we had breath-taking vistas of the castle, the city and the bay. Three bridges connect Conwy Castle to the city: a highway, a walking bridge and a suspension bridge. The seagulls entertained us on one tower with their insistent nature.

When we finished the castle tour, we enjoyed part of a walking tour Conwy with Sara. We stopped at St. Mary’s & All Saints church and saw an unusual grave sign, “We are seven” which referenced a Wordsworth poem:

http://www.greatorme.org.uk/conwy7.html

At one point on the tour, Lin and I quit to stop at an ice cream shop, the Parisella Ice Cream Parlor. Lin loves his ice cream and had to sample Welsh ice cream. I had Welsh Honey and Honeycomb ice cream that was beyond delicious. We had a delightful break visiting with a multi-generational family from Florida and enjoying our treat.

Street view of Conwy

Conwy’s streets fascinated me!

After the ice cream parlor, we stopped at a souvenir shop, Conwy Gift Shop. Our time was running out. Lin still had part of his double or triple scoop of ice cream, so he couldn’t go inside, so I went into the shop and scouted out possible souvenirs. I ended up buying bright red polo shirts with the colorful Wales’ flag on it for both of us.

Leaving Conwy, I took this picture of the Llewellyn the Great statute:

“This is a statue of Llewellyn the Great, grandfather of Prince Llewellyn, the last native Prince of Wales, who led the people of the mountains of Snowdon against Edward the 1st of England and swept the English from Wales in 1256. This statue stands in the town square of Conwy, North Wales.”


https://www.flickr.com/photos/bmott/1386358542/

On the trip back to the ship, we went through the city with the longest name, the tour guide said, Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch

 After researching it, I found:

“The long form of the name, with 58 characters split into 19 syllables, is the longest place name in Europe and the second longest official one-word place name in the world.”

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanfairpwllgwyngyll

            Here’s the translation of the name:

When we got back to the Holyhead pier, we looked for shops to continue our souvenir shopping but didn’t find much. Boarding the ship was quite a trick: the tide was way down, so we had to crawl onboard! Being short, it wasn’t that difficult for me, but the taller people had quite a time!

Then we had fun taking promotional photos for our 2020 New Mexico Square and Round Dace Association festival. First, we tried to take one from our cabin through the window, but it didn’t work, so I went out to the pier and took one.

When we got back on board, we ate a light lunch, took a nap, woke at 5:00 pm, dressed up for once and ate dinner at Windows, one of the nicer restaurants. After dinner, we went to the Excursion desk to talk about our next port—Dublin. Also, I bought two deposits for future cruised and saved $250 off of my onboard bill.

We had some time before the 9:00 pm show, so we gambled in the casino and had a fun time—not winning millions but I stayed ahead. The evening show was the “Beatles Invasion” and it was great!

Our next port excited both of us—Dublin which is our favorite city! Lin and I had spent several days there two years ago and were looking forward to our two day return on this trip! So, next week it’s Dublin!


~$500 Black Friday Giveaway from November 4-26! Hey, here’s a chance to win a $500 Amazon eGift Card just in time for BLACK FRIDAY from The No. 1 Site for #Reader Giveaways~~The Kindle Book Review. Just click the link and enter (everyday if you want). It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, enter now; giveaway ends Nov. 26, 2019. Click here for details ~> https://buff.ly/2NDNtRQ

~BLACK FRIDAY SPECIALS! Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft


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

~I HAVE OVER 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

It’s Been a Year Since We Lost Flippo!

            Monday, November 4 will be a year since Marshall Flippo died! When he passed away, I was in shock. I wasn’t ready for our conversations to end. I knew he was in the hospital and not doing well, but he had bounced back before. I had endless questions to ask: to clarify, to expand and to enrich the forty interviews we did.

            We had talked weekly for over a year—40 hours of laughter, memories and stories. I felt honored and privileged for Flip to share his intimate life details with me. Yes, several of the stories will not be published in his biography, but I laughed at his bawdy humor and deep joy for living.

           I wasn’t ready for our weekly dates to end–for the end of “us”!

            An interesting situation transpired around his death. His life-long friend, Frank Lane, died on October 31, 2018—just four days before Flip. Flippo’s son suggested Flip might have died of a broken heart.

            Yes, Flippo’s health was failing—three times in the hospital in three months with pneumonia–and his 91-year-old body wore out, but I wonder about that possibility. . .

“Being the last person standing” was something my husband, Lin, questioned Flip about and here he was. Frank and Flippo were the last of the “original 11” who formed CALLERLAB. After Frank’s death, Flippo truly was the last man standing of his peers.

            The one person Flippo referenced the most in his stories and recounting his calling life next to Neeca, his ex-wife, was Frank Lane.

            Flippo said, “I worked with Frank Lane two weekends a year for 36 years. I got to know him pretty well.” In reality, they worked together more often than that!

Frank and Flippo worked together at Asilomar’s week event for 35 years. Frank and Flip were two of the original members that started CALLERLAB and were active throughout their careers with this organization. Frank owned the Dance Ranch outside of Estes Park, Colorado and Flip was a regular there every year in July for decades. Flippo and Frank worked together at Kirkwood Lodge for decades. There they worked together, and they played together water skiing.

            Bob Osgood started an interview series called DIALOG in Sets in Order magazine in February 1968 and stated, “This month we inaugurate a new series of dialogues directed to those people who have a desire to call square dances.”

Bob Osgood, Sets in Order (February 1968): 12.       

In 1968, Flippo and Frank teamed up with Arnie Kronenberger and did two interviews on “How Does One Go About Learning to Call?”, answering different questions in each interview about this gigantic topic.

            In 1969, this duo teamed up with Bob Page, longtime friend who Flip called with at Asilomar’s weekend event yearly for many years, to do two DIALOG interviews titled “Leadership In Square Dancing” and “Building
Dancer Reaction.” Both Frank and Flip were respected leaders in the square dance world.

Here’s an ad for a dance they did together!

They started out calling about the same time and their paths crisscrossed over the United States where they teamed up at numerous festivals and events for decades.

The stories Flip told on Frank were priceless centering on the fun they had golfing and Flippo pulling tricks on Frank. Flippo created enduring relationships with people that lasted his lifetime and did things to nurture those relationships like regular phones and visits. In mid-2018, when we spoke of Frank last, I wanted to call him to get his side of some of Flippo’s stories.

         Flip readily shared Frank’s phone number with me and said, “Well, he’s pretty bad off, so. . .. Sometimes Barbara answers, so. . .. Let it ring a good while. I don’t know whether he’s got answering (machine) or not. The last time I talked to him, Barbara picked up pretty quick, about three rings. I don’t know.”

         I did call, and Barbara answered the phone, telling me that Frank couldn’t talk on the phone because of his hearing, so I never had the opportunity to get his side. I also missed a prime opportunity to see the Lane’s in personal during the summer of 2018 when Lin and I went to Loveland, Colorado to visit a friend—Estes Park is just one hour from Loveland, but I wasn’t thinking!

         All of this talk about this pair reminds me of one of Flippo’s favorite Frank Lane stories. Here’s a partial exposure of Flippo’s side of the story, “I probably told you that Asilomar was my favorite, favorite weekend and week to go to, right? Frank Lane and I were doing the week, and he was, of course, the leader.”

         With a chuckle, Flip added, “He was a born leader. At that time, there’s a thing come out called a Barge Thru. If you said, ‘Barge Thru,’ it’s kinda like square through four and then Trade By. So, at that time, you said, ‘Barge Thru,’ then you sung the words of the song as they were doing the Barge Thru. Jerry Haag had a call, I don’t have an idee what the name of this call was, but he had a call out at that time that had Barge Thru in it.”

         “Star Thru came out at the same Nationals as Snaparoo in one hall. At the same time, somebody was calling, I think it was Les Gotcher, and he called it Star Thru in the other room. I think it might have been Red Warrick, introduced it as Snaparoo. So thar became a good big ole debate about that, and finally we all decided we’d stick with Star Thru.”

         Frank Lane said, ‘That’s ruining all your Star figures when you call it Star Thru.”

         Flip added, “And he was absolutely 100% correct. It hurt a lot of our Star figures. And so, he stayed with Snaparoo. He’d tell people at the dance, ‘Now when I say Snaparoo, it’s the same as a Star Thru. Don’t let it bother you.’”

         The story continued with lots of bantering back and forth about Flippo’s favorite call, Barge Thru, and Frank’s renaming of a call, Snaparoo.  This exchange had a hilarious ending (find it in Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller, In the CALLERLAB chapter). You can see how they interacted!

Melton Luttrell, Tom Miller and Marshall Flippo at CALLERLAB, 2018

         During his lifetime, Flippo loved people—many people over the past two years have repeated this phase to me as being one of his sterling characteristics. He created relationships that lasted a lifetime—Melton Luttrell was one of his best friend for six+ decades. Whenever he mentioned Frank Lane, he had a deep love for this man and he always had a laugh to accompany that name.

         So, did Flippo die of broken heart that day a year ago thinking about life here without his dear friend? Who knows?

         I ponder the possibility of them reading this blog post. Are they still arguing good-heartedly about Snaparoo and Barge Thru? I doubt it! I believe they’re calling one heck of square dance festival to our dance friends gone from this earth who are enjoying those two callers once again!

         And yes, I was not ready to lose this man—who was?

         Here’s a recording of Flippo sharing a part of the Snaparool/Barge Thru debate—enjoy!

Flippo’s side of the Snaparoo/Barge Thru Debate!

~$500 Black Friday Giveaway from November 4-26! More details in next week’s post!

~Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

~I HAVE OVER 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

God · My Thoughts

Does God Hate Anyone?

Does God hate anyone? A Jesuit priest, Fr. Tom Weston, often said in recovery retreats I attended, “We create God in our own image, and he loves who we love and hates who we hate.”

Again this week, I veer off the British Isles travelogue to address a current issue. I frequently post pictures on Facebook because I’m a visual learner and I believe a good picture says more than words. The above photo had words, too, and it elicited some reactions this week which caused some deep thoughts for me.

Searched the Scriptures

During my quiet time this morning, the reaction to this photo sent me to my digital Bible, and I searched the Scriptures and found answers like I always do.

“How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalms 82:2–4 NIV) These words should direct my actions in this world today.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV), so I see an invitation to any weary traveler.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16, 17 NIV) My Jesus has a world view, the whole world, not excluding anyone.

St. Paul wrote, “Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,” (Romans 3:29 NIV)

“The term refers to a person who is not a Jew.”

https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-Gentile.html

So, my God is for all men and women.

Look at the Text on the Photo

 “Jesus wasn’t neutral. He sided with the poor, sick & immigrant. Be like Jesus” posted on a church board.

My Jesus is not neutral on what many call social issues today. He loves the poor, the sinner, the immigrant. If that is political, then my suggestion is choose the side that “DWJWD” (do what Jesus would do). It shouldn’t be a political issue–it should be a person helping person issue.

“He sided with the poor, sick & immigrant.” The Scriptures above confirm that, and many today active in social action reach out to these three entities.

“Be like Jesus.” Quite a daunting task in this twenty-first century, but I must try!

My Higher Power

As a person in recovery, “my Higher Power” or “the God of my understanding” is a loving God, and to me his name is Jesus. I love the imagery of a shepherd and sheep–probably from my ranching background. The idea that my Jesus cares for me the way my cowboy Dad cared for his calves is precious!

My Jesus hates no one and invites all to His feast. God, the Father, hates no one—He hates sin.

My Jesus was a rebel in his time, ignoring what it meant to be politically correct and got in the face of those in power in the Jewish world. He rebuked the Pharisees. He questioned the establishment and hung out with notorious sinners.

My Jesus has open arms, embracing anyone in need whether they are on the border of the United States, living desperate lives on the streets of many of our cities or monetarily comfortable but living a life in quiet desperate.

Each political party says God is on their side, but really? My God doesn’t hate Republicans or Democrats or Independents or Green Party people. I think he applauds honest involvement focused in his goals: serving the poor, the needy and the immigrant.

My Father God especially doesn’t hate brown people—He sent His Only Son as a brown man.

If My Jesus Were at the Border Today

If my Jesus were at the southern border of the USA today, would He support snakes and alligators as a deterrent? Would He support separating a crying eight-month-old baby girl from her loving scared mother? Or would my Jesus be detained and imprisoned?

My Jesus had brown skin and long cobalt black hair with no possessions. His body smelled of sweat, dirt and grime. His calloused sore feet, caked with mud from his travels, needed the care of Mary Magdalene, her loving touch and her oils.

If the border patrol stopped Him, His searing stare would say, “I’m a man of this world—I claim no country. The world Is my home!”

My Conclusion

Yes, I know this photo has political overtones, but it’s time I face that head on. It is my duty as a God-fearing Christian to stand up for what I believe my God meant in the Scriptures. This controversy became religious when many like those who responded to my Facebook page twist and turn everything to support their political views!

When a Pharisee asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 36-40 NIV)

I must not be neutral. I must love the poor, sick & immigrant. And if I do this, I will be like Jesus. How can you argue with that?

I encourage your thoughts!


Fall Giveaway: Here’s a chance to win a $200, $100, (2) $50 Amazon eGift Cards from The No. 1 Site for #Reader #Giveaways~~The Kindle Book Review. Just click on the link and enter the Rafflecopter on the giveaway page. It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, enter now; #giveaway ends October 31st.

Click here and enter every day ~>

https://buff.ly/31shCYZ

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

I HAVE 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 7 – Belfast, Northern Ireland – We Saw Giants!

Day 7 – Belfast, Northern Ireland—We Saw Giants!

            Back to our British Isles 12 Day Cruise and up to Northern Ireland and the capitol of Belfast! We ended up spending little time in Belfast and more in the countryside on our way to the Giant’s Causeway. I walked in the footsteps of giants!

Port at Belfast, Northern Ireland

            Our day started early with breakfast, and I made a quick clothing change from leggings to jeans because a woman warned me in the elevator that it was cool outside—I was glad I did! The port was right next to the ship and disembarked on Deck 5, a boon for us because our room was on that deck.

            Again, we had an exceptional tour guide on our excursion, Kathleen, who entertained us with her vast knowledge of the area and the folklore. We wove our way through the edge of Belfast to the countryside and beside the sea. I took lots of photos.

            We drove through Ballycastle, “. . . a small seaside town in County AntrimNorthern Ireland. It is on the north-easternmost coastal tip of Ireland, in the Antrim Coast and Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballycastle,_County_Antrim

            Dunluce castle loomed majestic on the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. As we drove by, I wondered about the remains and found this out!

  “Dunluce Castle (from IrishDún Libhse)[3] is a now-ruined medieval castle in Northern Ireland, the seat of Clan McDonnell. It is located on the edge of a basalt outcropping in County Antrim (between Portballintrae and Portrush), and is accessible via a bridge connecting it to the mainland. The castle is surrounded by extremely steep drops on either side, which may have been an important factor to the early Christians and Vikings who were drawn to this place where an early Irish fort once stood.”

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

“The romantic remains of Dunluce Castle lie teetering on the craggy headland. This 14th-century stronghold was abandoned in 1641 after part of the kitchen collapsed into the sea during a storm. Small wonder this place is said to have inspired C. S. Lewis to create Cair Paravel in The Chronicles of Narnia. Is that epic enough for you yet?”

       
https://www.ireland.com/en-us/destinations/northern-ireland/county-antrim/articles/a-giant-journey/
Our First Glance at the Giant’s Causeway!

            When we arrived at the Giant’s Causeway, we decided to walk and didn’t take the shuttle. The walk was downhill and gorgeous. Plus, we each received an audio tour of the Causeway, and the stories told by the narrator were priceless, entertaining and hilarious—so much Irish blarney for sure! The narrative added to our hike!

            The brochure we received spoke of the stories: “The Giant’s Causeway is steeped in myth and legend. Carved from the coast by the mighty giant, Finn McCool, who left behind an ancient home full of folklore.”

            It also said about the science: “It’s not surprise this place is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A geological wonder with over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the Giant’s Causeway is the result of intense volcanic and geological activity.”

            We marveled at the sight, took pictures and enjoyed the sight. Lin hiked farther up the coast, and I opted to stand in line for the shuttle—walking up the hill wasn’t an option for me. Again, he timed it right and arrived just as I climbed onto the shuttle and joined me.

            We shopped in the souvenir shop and boarded the bus to return to the ship.

            On the way back, my camera’s battery died, so my photo of the Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge isn’t great.

“Carrick-a-Rede Rope bridge – suspended across a 20-metre chasm, this precarious bridge was initially erected by salmon fishermen, but is now one of the highlights of the Causeway Coastal Route.”

http://www.laterlife.com/travel/visit-irelands-causeway-coastal-route.htm

            When our excursion ended, we decided not to go into Belfast butto eat instead. We had a delightful fish and chips lunch talking football to another Philadelphia Eagles’ fan (my husband is a life-long fan) and other football enthusiasts. Lin and I played Cribbage and I won, then we napped.

            I woke up first and worked on a couple of ongoing projects of mine. We went to the late show and saw a violinist. Afterwards, we went upstairs to Raffles, the buffet, for snacks, and here we had one of those memorable experiences!

            Seated at a table next to us with her parents, a little Italian girl greeted us enthusiastically, and her mother told us she spoke no English yet talked to everyone. She spied two little American girls several tables away and ran to greet them with a hug. She scooted back to her parents, seeing a little black boy eating with his Dad. She stopped to hug him on her way back to her table.

            After her greeting, the black boy played peek-a-boo with through a chair and scared her. She squealed with delight and gave him a kiss.

            Her mother explained her daughter had been in daycare all day with the three other children, and she pleasantly described her daughter, “She’s always like this.” What I saw was friendship across the world! Skin color didn’t matter.

            My husband talked to this friendly little lady as we left, telling her Mom to translate, saying, “you have a wonderful life ahead of you!”

            What a glorious ending to a great travel day–the Giant’s Causeway and scenic northern Ireland and an international ambassador who demonstrated what true diplomacy looks like! I went to bed with a smile on my heart! Have you had a travel day like this? I’d love to hear your stories!


   

Fall Giveaway: Here’s a chance to win a $200, $100, (2) $50 Amazon eGift Cards from The No. 1 Site for #Reader #Giveaways~~The Kindle Book Review. Just click on the link and enter the Rafflecopter on the giveaway page. It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, enter now; #giveawayends October 31st.

Click here and enter every day ~>

https://buff.ly/31shCYZ

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

I HAVE 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · square dance

Huntsman Senior Games—Our Third Year!

Gold Medal Winners banner with three pictures of dancers

Lin and I just returned from our third Huntsman Senior Games, and we had a fabulous time winning three gold medals in square dancing—yes, square dancing!  We had a set square with three couples from Albuquerque, New Mexico and one couple from St. George, Utah. As a square, we won gold medals for the Mainstream category and the Plus.

My three gold medals
My Three Gold Medals

            Then, Lin and I won a gold medal for the Random square competition. We were lucky in the random square to have Aaron and Kathy Beans, a caller and her husband from Utah and two Japanese couples! What a square we had!

            While there, we participated in all the fantastic events connected with this event! Check out my post from last year—October 15, 2018–for the specific fun activities.

            This year was different because the Japanese contingency was there, and we reconnected because we met some of them three years ago! We also made new Japanese friends, too!

            As we traveled home, I wondered about all the rewards of participating in this activity, so my answer is within a poem:

Man with trophy

Is Winning Everything?


Our square just competed in
            The Huntsman World Senior Games,
                        A friendly contest
                                    Amongst dancers,
                                                Many personal friends.
 
We won two gold medals
            As a set square.
 
Then, Lin and I won
            Another gold medal
                        In the Random squares competition.
Ben and Monica from Albuquerque
            Won silver.
            This event revered
                        By many!
                                    The luck of the draw!
 
As we celebrated our victories,
            I pondered,
                        “Is winning everything?”
 
Yes, I am competitive
            To the bone!
 
Dad’s often repeated mantras
            Have guided my life
                        “Winners never quit
                                    and
                                                quitters never win!”
                        “Stay in there
and
            drink a lot of ice water.”
 
We, as a set square, are competitive!
We participate to win!
                        Positive talk fills
                                    Our conversations!
 
But as I thought about it,
            A quote a speaker said
                        At the Awards Brunch
                                    Caught my attention,
                                                “Be satisfied with
                                                            your performance.”
 
I can honestly say
            We were! No matter what!
So, before we did our traditional
            Screaming and hollering
                        When the first names were called,
                                    We were winners!
 
We won because
            We participated
            We reconnected with Japanese dancers
                        From two years ago
            We made new friends
                        Locally and from Japan
            We laughed
            We danced
            We encouraged others
            We hugged
and
                                    Danced more.
 
We arrived at the event
            With our winning ways!
It wasn’t housed in a medal.
 
Yes, we came to win medals!
And we did
            But we left with
                        So much more!
 
Full hearts
Happy souls
            Rich
Memories of a time
            Where language barriers
                        Didn’t exist!
We were one (WON)
            In the dance!

What are the rewards of competition? Have you ever felt this way?


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

Fall Giveaway: Here’s a chance to win a $200, $100, (2) $50 Amazon eGift Cards from The No. 1 Site for #Reader #Giveaways~~The Kindle Book Review. Just click on the link and enter the Rafflecopter on the giveaway page. It’s easy & fun. If you love #reading, enter now; #giveawayends October 31st. Click here and enter every day ~>

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

I HAVE 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Blogs · My Thoughts · Writing

Who Sits Beside You?

            As I look at the current statistics on my weekly blog, I’m amazed at its geographic reaches and have pondered the reasoning. People from around the world drop by weekly to taste my words. Today I veer off of my travelogue of our 12 Day British Isles cruise to a poem about this phenomenon and envision us sitting around an international table.

A joyful time together!


We sit at a joyful table
                        Across from each other
            My words dancing between us.
                        We laugh, you point
                                    I nod and we brush shoulders.
           
Hungry eyes from all over the world
             Sit with me and view me through my words!
                                    View my blog
                                                View my thoughts

People I don’t know;
             People who don’t know me!
 
But they come
              To my sumptuous table
                                    Filled with enticing flavor in each word.
They look at the title
               And
                                    Make the choice to partake.
 
Wonder
            Curiosity
                        Spirit speaking to spirit
                                    Deep food nourishes your soul.
I have to admit—
            Your visit to my table surprises me!
                        I serve up words
                                    And you eagerly slurp them up!
           
My blog surprises me!
            Personal topics
                        Ideas
                                    Events
            My life happenings
                        One day at a time
A 66-year-old country girl
            Who loves words and stories
 
Weekly the topic comes.
            I let it percolate for days,
                        Then I write.
 
What surprises me is
            You accept my invitation
                        And come.
                                    You are interested!
 
Why, I wonder—
            Some from
                        Iraq & Indonesia
                        Egypt & Denmark
                        India & China
Yes, mostly from the United States
            With its melting pot of ethnicity.
 
But a spattering
            From around the world
                        A LARGE SPATTERING!
 
Again, I ask
            Who sits beside you
                        as you read my words?
                                    A Christian
                                    A Muslim
                                    A Jew
                                    A Buddhist
 
Who gently nudges your elbow?
            A Caucasian?
                        A Hispanic?
                                    An East Indian?
                                                An African?
 
At this universal table, a cacophony of smells explodes.
            Green chili from New Mexico
                        Curry
                                    Sage
 
I invite all to participate!
            All are welcome
            To sup on my words
                        To feed on my thoughts
                                    To bask in our communal experience
            Because
                        It’s common
                                    Every day
                                                Universal!
 
Welcome!


The round table in Branson, CO
The round table where I heard so many stories!

I have so many memories sitting at our round table in Branson listening to my Dad tell his fascinating stories. Join me here in your mind any time you read one of my blogs–I will be waiting for you!


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

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

I HAVE 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 6 – Greenock & Stirling Castle–Unicorns Everywhere!

My musings about our 12-day British Isle cruise is a joyful time. As I look back at the pictures and the journal I kept, I get to relive this wonderful trip all over again. I hope you enjoy this sixth day of our adventure!

On July 26, we slept in a little and had breakfast in Windows, one of the specialty restaurants, and had Salmon Benedict, sitting by the windows enjoying the ocean side view.

The View on Deck 12

After breakfast, we went to Deck 7 and took pictures, then up to Deck 12 and took more pictures—clouds hanging over the hills! The ship moved inward to the dock with land on both sides and a wonderful morning of picture taking. We docked at about noon.

My stomach flared up in before we left and didn’t feel good all day—I just continued!

We were welcomed by a bagpiper and this big Scottish friend. Also we laughed at the welcome sign at the terminal at the door of the terminal—what fun!

Lin Shopping to Add to His Kilt Outfit!

The terminal had great shops and we left the ship early enough to have time to shop before our excursion. Lin added to his kilt outfit: a beautiful black vest, white shirt and long white socks. I joined the shopping spree and bought a beautiful jewelry set made of heatherwood: a necklace, bracelet and earrings. Lin ran our purchases back to the ship and we left.

We boarded our bus to drive to Stirling Castle, our excursion for the day. Ian, our guide, shared his Scottish knowledge for one and half hour—lots of information! We drove through Glasgow, a city’s name I knew from an Abba song, “Super Trouper!”

Stirling Castle, located in Stirling, is one of the largest and most important castles in Scotland, both historically and architecturally. The castle sits atop Castle Hill, an intrusivecrag, which forms part of the Stirling Sill geological formation. It is surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs, giving it a strong defensive position. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification in the region from the earliest times.

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

The castle was well-worth the wait! We toured several spectacular areas inside the castle with numerous fireplaces & decorative unicorn shields and/or tapestries over the fireplaces.

We craned our necks to see amazing ceilings with wooden carvings.

We went through the Great Kitchens with life-sized figurines working at their tasks, and a beautiful green view of the surrounding area. The cloud-covered day added to the mystique.

We wandered around the walkaway at the top of the castle, seeing the cemetery near by and the grand vista of the area!

Lin and I in Queen Anne’s Garden

My favorite part was Queen Anne’s garden. We wore our 2020 New Mexico Square and Round Dance Association Festival t-shirts and took pictures in the garden. The array of flowers was beautiful!

We crammed as much as possible into the allotted time at the castle: Chapel Royal, the Great Kitchens and walking around a walkway around the top of the castle.

So when I got to the gift shop, it was closed. I opened the door and begged the clerk to let me in for just a few minutes. She reluctantly agreed, so I ran through the shop and ended up buying a small unicorn—in memory of all the unicorns displayed throughout the castle!

Bridge at Glasgow, Scotland

The ride home through Glasgow was delightful, and I took a great picture crossing a bridge there. When we returned to the terminal, we checked email. Once we boarded the ship, we ate dinner quickly, so we could see the musical production in the Stardust Theater, “Rockin Nights,” a lively tradition to Soul music!

We chalked up another delightful day in Scotland, wandering around a lovely castle, loving the mysterious unicorn interest at Stirling castle and admiring beautiful wooden carved ceilings!

Have you ever had a castle experience? Do you get a sense of history when you step into a castle? Then add unicorns to it! What an experience!


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

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

I HAVE 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts

Apple, I Want My Company Back!

Steve Jobs was a visionary!

I want my Apple company back—the Steve Jobs Apple Company where the products were exceptional and innovative and the customer service outstanding. I’ve been an avid Apple supporter since 1986—36 years! I love Apple products and the visionary that Steve Jobs was, but something has gone wrong!

I am frustrated! I just spent 45 minutes on the phone trying to get a box to send back my old iPhone 7 for a rebate on my new iPhone 11 I bought last week.

In mid-September, like a crazy person, I pre-ordered my iPhone 11 online. I got caught up in the iPhone hysteria , thinking I could return my old phone when I picked up my new one. Yes, an iPhone 7–I loved and it was working perfectly, but I worried about the technology future with the trade wars going on with China, so I decided now was the time!

Last week I witnessed the iPhone 11 hysteria head-on! I picked up the new one on Release Day after standing in line for nearly one hour. The tech that worked with me said I had checked a box online saying I would return my phone online and Apple would send me a box to return it in. That didn’t sound right to me then, but I didn’t challenge her—I ASSUMED she knew what she was talking about.

Fast forward a week—I realized this morning I hadn’t received the box, so I called the only number I had on my phone – Apple Care, but I was sure they could help me connect with the appropriate department.

After being put on hold for several minutes, the Apple Care tech asked me to look at the iPhone 11 box to see if there was a label on it so I could use it to send back my old phone—really?? So, I got the box out—NOTHING. Then he connected me with the supposed right department.

After making sure I was truly who I said I was, the tech checked and told me that my online application said I would turn in my old phone when I picked up my new one! Whew! I thought I was losing it. Wait a minute! The instore tech said the opposite. What’s going on there?

In a cheerful voice, then the Apple tech asked if I liked my new iPhone 11.

“No, it randomly discconects from the network, so I have to keep reconnecting. I have several old apps that won’t open with the new operating system, and you sound like you’re in water right now.”

Her response, “Well, maybe it’s defective and you need to replace it.”

My response, “What a horrible statement about a brand new Apple products!”

So, then she said I had to go the Apple store in Albuquerque to return it—that she couldn’t send me a box. I begged, cajoled and demanded she send me a box. I’m not feeling well today, and I didn’t want to have to drive 18 miles to town to do this, plus navigate a parking spot and the hassle to get to the store. She kept repeating I had to go to the store to return it—THEY COULD NOT SEND A BOX!

After being put on hold for several minutes several times more, she returned reading to me from a document saying that since I didn’t turn it in at the time of the purchase when I was supposed to (I WANTED TO, BELIEVE ME! I DIDN’T WANT TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS!!), I couldn’t return it to the store, and Apple would send me a box!

REALLY!!! After 45 minutes!!! The tech really tried to help but her incompetence frightened me! I asked for a phone number to make a formal complaint, and she delayed and fumbled not finding it. I easily found the number on the Internet. So, I politely thanked her, hung up and called to complain.

The Apple representative at Customer Service listened quietly to my rant and rave and profusely apologized. I was so angry and was going to go down the “Angry Customer” path, then decided on a different route.

“I want my company back, the company of Steve Jobs. You are not going to run me off with your incompetence! If I was a new customer and they experienced what I just did for 45 minutes, you would have probably lost her. I will be bugging the hell out of you from now on! I WANT MY COMPANY BACK!!”

The Apple rep accepted my statement, we hung up and here I am.

I am!

I’m stubborn and will never leave Apple, but I am so disgusted with what just happened! I have an appointment with an Apple Tech to straighten out my iPhone woes—I’m sure they’ll fix it.

Is there another Steve Jobs-like person out there? PLEASE, WE NEED YOU!

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 5 – Kirkwall & Orkney Islands – A Serendipitous Day!

Surprised cute woman
This Serendipitous Day Surprised Me!

A DISTURBING MORNING

Day 5 turned out to be a serendipitous day, but it’s beginning was harsh! Up at 4:45 AM because of our early excursion, I had trouble sleeping. We received a text from AT&T the night before warning us of a device usage on the cruise that had already exceeded $100. The text also had a phone number to call at no charge, so I did in a panic.

I talked to Josh from AT&T, and he tried to sell us a cruise package. He assured us there would be no charge after I explained that it was a mistake. Somehow my husband, Lin’s iPad had Airplane mode turned off. Also, LIn had trouble getting on the network on the cruise ship. Apparently, he thought he was on the cruise ship network, and he was using AT&T’s data. After thinking about it, I’m pretty sure the network tech was the culprit because he took Lin’s iPad away from him and was fiddling with it trying to get it to go online. It was after that the charges started!

We’ve all heard horror stories of travelers who had gigantic phone charges. When we traveled to Ireland and England in 2017, Lin found AT&T’s International Day Pass plan, and we activated it on my phone then. It’s a great plan: $10 for a 24-hour period of unlimited calling and texting. I used it sparingly and it was great—exactly what they said.

So, for this trip, we set it up on my phone again before we left. We hadn’t used it yet on this cruise, so this whole problem with the charges seemed crazy to me. My stomach flared up in the midst of this, but I was able let it go—I didn’t want this to ruin our trip!

We got ready and took our tour stuff to breakfast, planning to leave from there, and was at the Stardust theater at 6:45 AM. The ship docked at 7:00 AM and would be leaving early in the afternoon at 1:00 PM. The Norwegian travel agent entertained us with fun-filled activities while we waited. Our cruise ship was docked away from land, so we caught the first tender available.

SOUTH ISLAND PANORAMIC EXCURSION

Cattle Graze with the Ocean in the Background
Cattle Grazed with the Ocean in the Background

Seated in the back of the bus, we traveled through checker board farm land so rich and green! As I looked at all the green pastures and abundance of water, my ranching background kicked in and I marveled at it. Our southeastern Colorado family ranch has a horrible water shortage right now with all our reservoirs empty!

Churchill Barrier

As our travels continued, we passed over the Churchill Barrier. Our guide told us that the Barrier was built because of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in 1939.

“Four barriers were built during the Second World War to protect the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow, the home of the Royal Navy during the conflict, from enemy attacks. Construction of the causeways was ordered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill after the sinking of HMS Royal Oak in October 1939 by a German U-boat.”


https://www.orkney.com/news/churchill-barriers

Water surrounded us as we traveled through this chain of islands—water, water, everywhere! Cattle and sheep fed in green fields.

Catholic Chapel on Lamb Holm Island

Our first stop on our tour was a picturesque Catholic chapel.

“The Italian Chapel is a highly ornate Catholic chapel on Lamb Holm in the Orkney Islands. It was built during World War II by Italian prisoners of war captured in North Africa, who were housed on the previously uninhabited island while they constructed the Churchill Barriers to the east of Scapa Flow. Only the concrete foundations of the other buildings of the prisoner-of-war camp survive. It was not completed until after the end of the war, and was restored in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. It is now a popular tourist attraction,”

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

As always, we didn’t have enough time to linger, but the inside of this chapel took my breath away. Admiring the ingenuity of these prisoners to use what they had available, they used a Quonset hut for the building, light holders made out of corn beef tins, and the baptismal font created from the inside of a car exhaust.

From there we traveled to St. Margaret’s Hope.

St Margaret’s Hope is a town in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland. It is known locally as “The Hope” or “The Hup”. With a population of about 550, it is Orkney’s third largest settlement. . .”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Margaret%27s_Hope

I had a delightful time shopping there at a Craft Workshop, buying a wool/cashmere blend yarn. I love to knit and plan on making something beautiful out of this. Lin found the local ice cream shop.

It was back to Kirkwall on the bus, and the line for the tenders to get back to our cruise ship was long, so I immediately got in line. We were leaving at 1:00 PM, and I didn’t want to be one of the casualties of not managing our time appropriately and getting left behind. Lin always pushes it to the limit, so he shopped and found a beautiful new Scottish beret. Our trip back to the cruise ship on the tender was pleasant and we were back on time!

ONBOARD THE SHIP

We ate a quick lunch and napped the afternoon away, sleeping four hours! Later, we ate dinner up on Deck 12 at Raffles because I needed a small meal–the restaurants served such big meals. Then we gambled in the casino our obligatory $20 limit, but I left the slots with $15! After that, we went to the 9:30 PM Danielle Williams show, a woman singer, and it was great.

What a delightful day we had in a remote area of Scotland where peaceful rural life was the norm. The serendipities of the day surprised me: the chapel so loved by the Italian prisoners of war and a lovely small village so welcoming and warm.

Have you ever had a serendipitous day! on a trip? What was it? I’d love to hear about your experience!


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

Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

I HAVE 199 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY! Be the 200th to pre-order! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · square dance

The Roller Coaster Ride of Last Week!

SORRY: Another side trip away from our British Isles Cruise. I will resume it next week with Day 5: Kirkwall in Orkney Islands, Scotland!

We just returned from a square and round dance vacation week at Fun Valley RV park at South Fork, CO, and the week was an emotional roller coaster ride for me!

Lin with 4 scoops of ice cream and a brownie!

The weekend started off with dinner Saturday night with a group of 25 dancers at the Firehouse restaurant in South Fork. We connected and reconnected with friends anticipating a great week. Lin had his traditional oversized ice cream treat!

Sunday morning started off with our annual potluck brunch—another gathering of friends, giving us time to visit. I talked with a friend I’ve known for years but really didn’t know her history—it was a precious sharing time.

Sunday evening dinner started the official week’s activities. After dinner, Lin and I sought out a Colorado couple we had invited to this week. I signed up with the enthusiastic wife of this couple to do the horseback trail ride on Monday morning at 11:00. Ever since I had heard the horses would be there this year, I had been so excited. In previous years, the horses were already gone when we arrived because we’re the last week of the season at this RV park.

We dressed casually for Sunday night’s dance, laughed and twirled. I squealed often as I saw friends from Utah, Colorado and Texas who I hadn’t seen in a year. A great evening of square dancing to Gary Shoemake and Jerry Gilbreath and round dancing to the cues of Steve Harris with his lovely wife, Lori, supporting him on the sidelines.

Monday morning, I ate breakfast and donned my boots for the ride. Lin drove me to the stables, and my friend was there with her husband. They had 5 horses saddled and ready after they finished the 10:00 ride, and this ride was going to be a blast because I knew all the riders.

I had wondered if I could even get up on the horse—I haven’t ridden in 20 years! I was so proud of myself that I did, with a little struggle for sure!

The ride was glorious—clear blue Colorado sky, the Rio Grande beside us and aspen trees still dressed in green leaves. I kept taking pictures with my iPhone as we rode–which confused my horse because I kept drawing his head over to the right! It was perfect—until that moment happened. First behind me, one horse kicked another which caused the kicked horse to buck and its rider hit the ground. Then the loose horse galloped past all of us which stirred our horses up. One rider galloped off to try to catch the loose horse, then my friend’s horse jumped into a gallop like a bullet, and she was gone.

I realized I had about 5 – 10 seconds before my horse jumped in with the other horses running back to the barn. His ears went straight up, and his eyes focused on the three racing horses; quickly, I turned him in the opposite direction. He jumped up and down, revving up to take off, but I kept him turned the other way and kept his head tight, then I circled him and circled him, and he calmed down.

When my friend’s horse took off, I thought, “Wow, she’s a good rider,” but she lost her stirrup when she was startled, and she fell off and was severely hurt. I applaud the care and concern the EMT’s showed her—they gently worked with her to move her into the ambulance. The wrangler and I stayed with her, then I rode to Del Norte in the ambulance with her.

When I got out of the ambulance, her husband was already there, so we went to the emergency room waiting room, and I filled him in on all the facts of the accident. We spent a lot of the afternoon there with her being x-rayed and tested. When we were finally brought back to her room, her sense of humor prevailed. She held up her mangled, bruised left hand and said, “Oh, Larada! I broke a nail!” Lin joined us at the emergency room to support our dear friends during this stressful time.

I was able to offer objective suggestions to my friend’s husband because, thinking back now, he was in shock! At first, he was going to drive back to Denver and they were going to airlift her; I strongly suggested his wife needed him with her in the plane, and we would take care of their car and possessions in their room.

So, they were flown to a Denver area airport and transported to a hospital. Lin drove their car back to Fun Valley, and I drove our car. I called my brother for assurance after such a horrible day, and his supported helped me. Lin and I packed up their room and got their car to another Denver dancer to drive home on Saturday.

Finally, when we were alone, I cried—so heart broke for my friend’s severe injuries! We didn’t square dance that night, but I did one round dance with tears in my eyes, and Gary Shoemake helped me out!

Needless to say, this incident affected me the rest of the week. Tuesday is blur to me—we did some of the activities, but our attention was on our phones and any messages from my friend’s husband. Her diagnosis dribbled in—cracked ribs and some dislocated which punctured a lung, a concussion and fractured vertebrae.

Tuesday afternoon, we did participate in a practice session for the skits our group would put on at the Wednesday night After Party. The highlight of Tuesday night was the skit the calling/cuing staff did at the After Party. The five of them danced to “Pretty Woman” in a unique manner. Check out my video below! This video has been blocked because of Copyright infringements, so I had to mute the song. Sorry viewers!

“Pretty Woman” Skit

Wednesday was a free day and many of the dancers traveled to Creede, CO to square dance in the unique fire house cut out of the side of a mountain, but we stayed at the RV. Lin had volunteered to make 2 batches of homemade ice cream, and my stomach problems flared up, so I spent the afternoon in bed—I couldn’t shake the tragedy or the stomach pain! The ice cream social was a new addition and it was a smashing success—four dancers made different recipes and all were delicious!

Wednesday night I came out of the funk some. It was theme night, “Pajama party,” so we participated. I enjoyed the skits put on by other dancers at the After Party, then we did our skit. I should have known that Lin would do something to shock me, and he did! He changed the punch line and totally caught me off guard—the audience loved the affect it had on me!

Daily, we got updates about our injured friend and it was up and down!

By Thursday, I felt better and enjoyed the dancing. The week’s schedule provided lots of round dance teaches and square dance workshops all day, then we had a dance each evening.

One of my favorite parts of this week is the horse racing Thursday afternoon where people buy a horse, choose a jockey for their wooden horse and the race is on. This year we had a hilarious addition—a Utah dancer dressed up in a pony costume and did the first race! With lots of laughter and fun, friendly competition prevailed.

Every year at the Thursday night dance callers and cuers in attendance are invited to call a square dance tip or cue a round dance. Lori Harris talked to me last year about cuing, but we ran out of time to practice. This year I practiced a favorite, “Could I Have This Dance?” a couple times with Steve’s professional advice and encouragement. Steve and Lori danced it while I cued and continued to give me helpful hints about this new endeavor. I was really nervous and wanted to get it over quickly, so I did the first round of the night—what an experience! It went well, and what a thrill to be able to stay ahead of the dancers, stay on beat, and see dancers smiling! It was fantastic! I plan to continue this new activity when I finish the Marshall Flippo biography.

Thursday’s theme was “Country and Western night,” so dancers donned jeans, hats and boots. This festive night ended with Jerry Gilbreath singing many good ole country tunes we all love and us two-stepping the night away.

Friday was the famous “Miniature Golf Tournament.” Lin was asked again to be a caddy, and he did a exceptional job because of his exuberance and sense of humor. All the caddies successfully fulfilled their task: distracting the other golfers with their zany costumes and make-shift drums (pot lids and spoons). The caddies for the women golfers outdid themselves, as you can see!

Part of the 2020 NMSRDA State Festival Committee

The dance week ended Friday night with a festive evening of dancing and trophies given out to the winners of the different competitions. Our group from Albuquerque dressed in our 2020 state festival outfits—colorful and delightful!

Yes, the start of the week broke my heart, but I was able to regroup and first participated and then enjoyed the rest of the week. I rose to the occasion to help in the emergency room and kept calm and collected. Getting myself out of a funk isn’t easy, but I knew that my injured friend and her husband would want me to! Life certainly contains both tragedy and joy–it’s important how we handle both!

How do you handle tragedies? What’s your success secret? Do you have a horse story?


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

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

I HAVE 199 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY! Be the 200th to pre-order! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways!  https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Scotland · Travel

Day 4 – Inverness, Cawdor Castle & Loch Lomond: A Day of Intrigue and Mystery

            Lin and I woke up to rain on July 24, 2019, day four on our British Isle cruise and visit to Scotland. We docked at Invergordon. Lin had created a weather spreadsheet before we left and the prediction for most of our trip was RAIN, so here we were! But after our showers and breakfast, it cleared and proved to be a beautiful, cloudy day.

Farms Along the River Ness

            We caught our tour bus and met our tour guide, John, a very knowledgeable man who shared his wisdom of Scotland and the Scottish Highlands. He described Cromarty Firth, the Black Isle, as we traveled through the countryside. The patchwork green fields fascinated me with checker board farm land and beautiful rock houses, rolling hills and green for miles. Sheep grazed in the fields and there was recently mowed hay. I love the green of Scotland. We headed to our first stop, Cawdor Castle.

            Cawdor Castle is unique as a castle in Great Britain because the government doesn’t own it.

“Originally a property of the Calder family, it passed to the Campbells in the 16th century. It remains in Campbell ownership, and is now home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor, stepmother of Colin Campbell, 7th Earl Cawdor. “

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

John, our tour guide, called her “Angelica.” In fact, John and some people on our tour saw her. She funds Cawdor Castle herself and from revenue the castle brings in.

Famous Hawthorn Tree in the castle

            Intrigue and mystery permeated Cawdor castle with its rich story of how it was built:

The legendary tale says that the Thane of Cawdor, who had a small castle about a mile away, decided to build a new, stronger tower. Visited by an oracle in his dream who instructed him to load a chest of gold onto the back of a donkey. The spot where the animal rested would be a safe haven to build a Castle for his family. Finally resting at the foot of a Hawthorn Tree, the Thane built his tower. The tree exists to this day, standing at the heart of Cawdor Castle.


https://www.cawdorcastle.com/welcome-to-cawdor-castle/a-living-home/

            The major claim to fame for Cawdor Castle is the reference in Shakespeare’s play, MacBeth

“The name of Cawdor still connects the castle to Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. However, the story portrayed by Shakespeare takes extensive liberties with history. In the play, Shakespeare has three witches foretell that Macbeth, then Thane of Glamis, would become Thane of Cawdor and King thereafter. Duncan almost immediately makes Macbeth Thane of Cawdor, after which Macbeth and his Lady plot the murder of Duncan in order to fulfil the prophecy. Duncan is killed in his sleep, at Macbeth’s castle in Inverness, an act that leads to Macbeth’s ultimate downfall.
The historical King Macbeth ruled Scotland from 1040 to 1057, after his forces killed King Duncan I in battle near Elgin. Macbeth was never Thane of Cawdor, this being an invention of the 15th-century writer Hector Boece. Moreover, Cawdor Castle did not exist during the lifetimes of Macbeth or Duncan, and it is never explicitly mentioned in the play. The 5th Earl Cawdor is quoted as saying, “I wish the Bard had never written his damned play!”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cawdor_Castle#Gardens

Motto over the Entry Way

            Any time I stand outside a castle, I feel overwhelmed with the rock work, size and history of it—Cawdor castle was no exception. The motto, Be Mindful, hung over the entryway to the castle and set the tone for the place.

Living room in the castle

Because this castle is actually a home, the inside felt comfortable and lived in. Bright green and blue Highland Tartan rugs ran throughout it. Huge tapestries hung on all the walls that didn’t have paintings on them.

            Lin and I enjoyed the famous gardens at Cawdor castle but ran out of time, not getting to spend any leisure time there–one of the downfalls of being on a tour.

            In our drive to Loc Lomond, we drove by the battleground of the Battle of Culloden where red and blue flags still wave to identify the two forces that met that day. John gave us a rousing description of this famous battle.

The Battle of Culloden (/kəˈlɒdən/;[3] Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

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

            I had been looking forward to seeing Loch Lomond all day–of course to the Loch Ness monster! The weather held out with beautiful sunshine overhead and rain clouds hovering at the far end of the lake. It’s a big lake! Of course, I strained my eyes for any trace of Nessie—I was sure I saw her or at least a part of her!

            Back on the bus, we traveled through the city of Inverness at the end of our tour and went by the Tomnahurich Cemetery. Inverness means “Mouth of the River Ness.”

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

Scottish Highland Bull

As the daughter of a Hereford cattle rancher, all day I had been looking for the shaggy red-haired Scottish Highland cattle in the fields, and as our day neared the end, we saw a bull in a pasture—not up close and personal, but I did get to see one!

From there we returned to Invergordon, and I loved John’s parting words to us, “Hasty back!” Lin and I shopped around town. We found an ice cream shop with free Wifi, so we checked our email and had ice cream. It was fascinating to watch the locals gather in this little shop and listen to them share their news–a true neighborhood gathering spot! We bought souvenirs and returned to the ship.

Bagpipes and Drums Sent Us Off

A bagpipe and drum group sent us off! What a great day we had in Scotland!

When we got onboard, we decided to go directly to the Garden Room for dinner, not thinking about the baseball cap I was wearing. This is one of the nicer complimentary restaurants onboard, so they forced me to remove my hat. It certainly was a bad hair day after wearing a hat all day, but I decided it didn’t matter.  I patted down my hair and was seated. After dinner, we saw the “World Beat” show in the Stardust theater with lots of singing and dancing. It was an exceptional show.

We showered and got to bed early because we had an early departure the next day for our excursion to Kirkwall.

Have you ever visited a castle? Strained to see the Loc Ness monster? Traveled to Scotland? Share your comments with me. I’d love to hear about your trip!


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

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Life Lessons · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Ranching

What Should I Write About This Week?

Sorry, readers, I’m changing horses mid-stream! I’m in the midst of writing a travelogue of our British Isles cruise, but these last couple weeks have been full. I don’t know what the word “bored” means! So. . . here we go! The trip will have to wait a week.

Flippo and Me at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque, 2018

First and foremost—Monday, September 2 is Marshall Flippo’s birthday. He would have 92-years-old this year! Two years ago, Lin and I were with him in Paris, Texas at the annual Chaparral square and round dance weekend, and he was calling for the last time. Flip had called at this event for years! He was on his “Farewell to the Road” tour which would end up in Abilene, Texas to finish up his successful career where he started at the Wagon Wheel Square Dance Center. What a memorable time that was for sure!

I’m writing Flippo’s biography, and I had hoped to have him here to see the finished product, and he so wanted to do that! What a joy this project has been! If you knew Flip, you know he was a storyteller supreme, so I’ve had to drastically cut out some of his stories from the 37 interviews I did.

They are not lost though! I plan to put them on my website for people who buy his book to read, so stay tuned!

Happy birthday, Flippo! We miss your raspy voice, loving heart and quick wit!


On that same vein, yesterday I attended the funeral of John Clark, a dear 98-year-old neighbor, who lived across the street from me in Branson, Colorado. I witnessed my rich heritage in being a part of a loving ranching community that remembers and honors its own.

Yes, 98-years-old is quite elderly, and John had seen the world change unbelievably, but he was ready “to go”—to be with his Lord and loving wife, Betty who passed a couple years ago!

The gathering at his memorial touched my heart. Being a Navy veteran of World War II, two sailors in dress whites unfurled the flag ceremoniously, then refolded it and handed it to John’s youngest daughter with admiration and respect for John’s service to his country. Attendees listened as one of the sailor’s played taps on a bugle which brought tears to my eyes and many sitting around me.

John’s four daughters and their children celebrated his life with many friends from the surrounding ranching communities. I saw mostly cowboy hats held in hands or stashed under chairs and boots, cleaned up and proper to show respect for John.

During an open time to share memories of John, I heard platitudes about his rich, full life. One friend shared one specific story about John almost getting killed during the war if he had been standing where he normally was!

Others told humorous tales. Many honored the work he did for many ranchers in the area—John ran a bulldozer, fixing roads through dangerous canyons and moving miles of dirt from reservoirs. My Dad said watching him work was like poetry in motion!

Grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces shared memories of a man who stood center in this fun-loving family. They talked of regular game nights when they were together in Branson; John didn’t participate but sat in his chair close by and enjoyed the activity, laughter and love that surrounded him.

It was a privilege to be present to see a man weep as he shared about his relationship with John–honest emotion that validated his loss.

After the service, I visited with friends I hadn’t seen for years—a great time to reconnect and remember.

What a heritage I have where I can hear a 91-year-old woman who went to school with my Mom tell an 89-year-old woman, “Say hello to my younger friend!” Laughter exploded at this statement, but it made me think about the reality here! A celebration of age and longevity!

I drove home, marveling at the spirit of unity and love present at John’s service. After Dad died, John and Betty helped Mom. When Mom died, they did the same for me. At night when I locked the front door and saw the light in their bedroom, I always felt safe and secure and knew help was close.


One last musing—my brother, my husband and I attended the 6th Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering in Cimarron, New Mexico August 22 – 25. We have only missed the first year!

We love this event hosted at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, a beautiful venue. Again, the poets and musicians entertained us Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night. We laughed; we cried. We enjoyed those we had seen before and celebrated new comers who brought a refreshing new flavor to the event.

There’s no way I can list all of my favorite singers/poets—I tried, and I was typing everyone’s names! One new entertainer I enjoyed was Barry Ward, who spoke to my heart with his song, “That Old Barn.”

It’s a relaxing weekend in a slow-paced community. On Friday before the Gathering started, we drove to Eagle Nest to the Flea Market and had a blast shopping and listening to music! They had a one-man entertainer there singing old time songs, so we sat and enjoyed the beautiful Moreno valley scenery and the live music.

Look at a couple photos taken at past Gatherings:

Here’s the website for the Cimarron gathering in case you’d be interested next year: https://www.cimarroncowboygathering.com/

So, you can see—I have a rich, full life where I witness and celebrate life where I can which can be in the midst of death and loss. My country blood rages through my veins, directing me to slow down and enjoy this moment, these people, and this place.

Join me on the front porch!

So, join me on the front porch with a glass of ice tea for a chat! I would love to talk!


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

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 3 – On Our Own in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle front
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh was our first stop in Scotland! When we were making our excursion plans at home, Lin and I decided to do Edinburgh on our own. We mainly wanted to see the Edinburgh Castle. He found some information that said they sold limited amounts of tickets each day, so that was our focus—also the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in W M Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), “…with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between”, and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920.[1]

From the Castle gates to the Palace gates the street is almost exactly a mile (1.6 km) long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the royal history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, hence its name. 

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

When I woke up the third day of our cruise, I was so excited–my first time to Scotland. The ship anchored away from the shore, so, we had to ride a tender to get to Newhaven to catch a bus to Edinburgh. Our tender was scheduled to leave at 11:15 am, but we were lucky and left earlier. On the tender, we enjoyed a friendly exchange with a couple from San Diego who were adventuresome, too and doing the city on their own. We rode bus #15 to go into Edinburgh and had a delightful tour guide, Barbara, but she wasn’t much help until we asked for it. She warned us that we needed to be back to the bus by 6:15 pm because the ship was leaving at 6:30 pm.

We had some concerns because on ship we were told the last tender would leave Newhaven at 6:30 pm. Because of our late departure from Southampton, the first couple day’s itinerary had been adjusted, but apparently our tour guide didn’t get the news. Everyone on the bus seemed worried.

Barbara did hand out maps, so away we walked searching for the Royal Mile and the castle.

Bagpiper on the Royal Mile!

The Royal Mile is quite distinctive with quaint shops selling kilts, tartans and souvenirs. Bagpipers dressed in bright tartans played and entertained us!

I needed a restroom, so we stopped at one place that was like a chamber of commerce. They steered us up to the castle where I found one downstairs in a café. Waiting in line was hot, and I felt faint, so we took a break and had water. Lin had a sweet treat, and I had a banana. That helped.

St. Margaret's Chapel in Edinburgh Castle
St. Margarets Chapel

We toured the castle—a massive structure on the hill with St. Margaret’s Chapel dating back to 1130 being one of the sights we visited. Down in the bowels of the castle, we saw the prison where prisoners slept on hammocks. We went through the Royal Scots Dragoon Museum.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum is a regimental museum displaying the collections of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and its predecessor regiments. It is based in the New Barracks (built between 1796 and 1799) at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.

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

View of our ship from Edinburgh Castle

There was absolutely too much to see in a day, but we thoroughly enjoyed the view from the castle. One attraction I hated missing was the Royal Jewels, but the line was way too long to wait with our limited time.

From there we wandering down the Royal Mile, stopping at several shops to buy souvenirs. I spied a Starbucks, so we took another break and had a Latte and Frappuccino and enjoyed a high-speed Internet connection. I bought one of my favorite souvenirs there—a coffee travel mug with the Edinburgh castle on it.

From there we continued shopping, and I found a store that sold a variety of handbags in a wide range of Scottish tartan colors—reds, blues, and purples! A young Scottish man, Liam, adopted us and told us that the red tartan I like was the Lowland tartan. 

While I bought my bag, Lin took Liam next door to shop for a kilt! Lin liked the navy blue and green tartan which is the Highland tartan, so Lin ended up buying a kilt and sporran.

A sporran which is Gaelic for purse, is a pouch worn with the male traditional Highland dress. The kilt has no pockets and so the sporran was designed for that function.

http://gaukartifact.com/2013/03/19/what-is-a-sporran/

Lin and Liam, our host in Edinburgh!

Lin and I so enjoyed Liam and his hospitality—a true ambassador for Scotland. We exchanged our Facebook information and are now friends. Any time I think of our Edinburgh experience, I think of Liam and his smile!

Lin proudly wore his kilt the rest of the afternoon, enjoying comments made by passersby. We laughed about what Liam and the sales’ clerk told him about what’s traditionally worn under a kilt–NOTHING!

Lin and I walked back to the bus early which my idea. Lin always has to be right down to the wire, but I like to be back early. I was also still wondering if our tour guide had given us the correct time to return. He couldn’t stand being early, so we took off up the hill, enjoying the walk and the scenery. I turned around before Lin did and went back to the bus and visited with Barbara, our tour guide. Lin made it back at 6:10—I was already on the bus and nervous!

When we left the bus and started down the walk towards the tenders, Lin walked in front of me, and one of the workers at gate grabbed me and whispered in my ear, “Tell him to go traditionally when he wears a kilt!” I laughed and shared this bit of advice with Lin.

On our tender ride back to the ship, we saw a seal on a buoy! I so enjoy the ocean and its serendipities! We made it back in time. Exhausted, we ate up on Deck 12 at Raffles, the buffet. We saw the evening entertainment at the Star Dust and headed straight to bed. What a day we had in Edinburgh and Lin had a kilt!

This cruise differed so much from previous ones. Usually we have sea days in-between ports, but on this cruise, we had one sea day, and then it was port-after-port-after-port which for Lin and I was either an excursion or outing each day! Whew!!

Have you visited Edinburgh? What was your experience? Do you own a kilt?

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

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Travel

Day 1 & 2- Flight Day & First Day at Sea

Lin and I left Albuquerque on Friday, July 19 and flew to Denver. On Saturday, July 20 we flew to Toronto, Canada and started our flight to London. We arrived at Heathrow on Sunday, July 21 at 11:50 AM! Whew! If you didn’t read my blog last week, you need to catch up and read that harrowing experience.

When we got off the plane (in travel lingo, is that deplaned?) and gathered our luggage, we had trouble finding the Norwegian Cruise Line representative to catch the shuttle to Southampton. As you actually enter the Heathrow airport, multitudes of travel companies, tours, etc. stand with signs designating their company on each side of a walk-way that passengers must pass through. We experienced this two years ago trying to find our transport to our hotel.

So, I stopped with our four cumbersome bags, and Lin wandered around one area and had no luck, then he went the other direction—again no luck. I asked someone standing near me, and they pointed out where NCL (Norwegian Cruise Lines) reps usually stand, so we crossed over to the other side of the walk-way and still no NCL rep.

Again, I asked someone standing near the walk-way, and the woman said, “He’ll be right back!” So, we found him. Overwhelmed the NCL rep rushed in like a whirlwind and let us know he was short-handed and many flights had been delayed, so he was doing the best he could. Lin and I were just relieved to find him. The responsibility of transport was on Norwegian now, so we could relax.

I found some snacks for us. We hadn’t come prepared on this trip with foreign currency, and it just now dawned on both of us! We came with American dollars and would be in places in countries that didn’t accept our money! They did accept it at Heathrow though, so I returned to Lin, and we waited patiently.

Finally, the NCL rep herded our group out the door to the bus. At this time, it had grown to a sizable crowd. We found our bus, boarded and headed towards Southampton. I was so exhausted from our flight but so excited to be back in London again!

Yahooooooo! We made it!

The one hour and a half trip went smoothly, and we arrived at the Norwegian Star at 4:30 PM. Usually when we board the ship, the terminal overflows with people and activity—only one or two Norwegian people worked behind the desk. That was it! No picture of us boarding the ship!

One thing they did that was strange: they took our passports and said they would stamp them and return them to us later. Really?

Lin and I boarded the ship, found our room–#5078–and relaxed a moment but heard an announcement that we had to attend the “Emergency Training” in the Stardust theater on Deck 7! We took a breath and ran up to the training. The review of what to do in an emergency reminded me of the danger of sailing on a ship, and interestingly enough, we learned on this trip that the Titanic sailed out of Southampton on its fateful voyage, just like us! We found our designated spot to go to in case of an emergency and went upstairs to the buffet, Raffles, for our first meal of the day.

When we got back to our room, we unpacked and relaxed until the entertainment show at 7:30 PM, fully aware we hadn’t left port yet. We were supposed to leave at 5:00 PM, so we thought the cruise director would explain our delay at the show—she didn’t.

The show was an overview of the talent we would see on this cruise and they all were exceptional! Lin and I especially like the magician.

After the show, we slipped back to our room quickly and went to bed—exhausted from this marathon day.

On July 22, I slept until 8:00 AM. When I’m onboard a ship, I always look out the window first thing to see what I can see—we were sailing. We found out later Norwegian crew worked in scuba gear for hours, and the cruise was almost canceled, but we finally left port about 4:30 AM. Lin and I were so exhausted we never heard the ship pull away from the port. Lin was gone when I woke up—out walking the deck and enjoying the sea. I never heard him leave!

When he returned, we had a leisurely breakfast in Raffles, the buffet on the deck 12, one of the complimentary restaurants on the Star. In wandering around deck 12 and getting oriented again, we found the Game Room, so we played a couple Cribbage games, and Lin won. We continued our tour of the ship and had a delightful lunch in Windows, one of the complimentary restaurants onboard ship.

Lin’s $20 Chocolate

Anyone who knows Lin knows he loves chocolate. We went by the Tourist Shop onboard, and Lin bought a HUGE bar of Lindt chocolate. Shocked after he bought it, it cost $20. He rationed it out the whole trip, and we finished it in the airport in London waiting for our flight home.

At about 2:00 PM, we participate in one of our favorite onboard ship activities: Deal or No Deal. Neither one of us was chosen to play, but everyone who participates has a chance to be a winner, and Lin won a free 8 X 10 photo.

Afterwards, we went to the Excursion desk to put our names on a waiting list for Conwy Castle at Holyhead, Wales. It was sold out when we booked our excursion, so we signed up for Penrhyn Castle & Gardens as a second choice. The agent told us they would create another tour if enough people asked—we both really wanted to go to Conwy Castle because of the pictures we saw, and it all worked out!

After all this activity, Lin and I retired to our room, and he napped. I experimented with getting on the Internet and had some problems. I also worked on my current book project: the authorized biography of Marshall Flippo. Yes, I took Flippo with me on this cruise.

We ate dinner at Shogun’s, another complimentary restaurant for certain dishes, then went to the early show and saw Danielle Williams—energetic pop music singer!

Lin had heard they had coconut ice cream up at Raffles, so we ventured up to see. They didn’t have it, but they had a piña colada that was delicious. We went by the lounge for a short time and listened to the band, Hot Wire.

When we got back to the room, we tried the Internet again. Lin had a lot of trouble, and it was slow for me, so we gave up and went to bed.

The next day we had our first experience in Scotland—Edinburgh and the castle! We were both excited about the four ports in Scotland! Also, the next day started our marathon of ports and excursions—ten ports, ten excursions and no at-sea days in-between to catch up and rest! None of our previous cruises had this intense schedule!

So, next week I will share our Edinburgh adventures! Stay tuned!


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

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

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

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Why Is It So Hard to Travel to London?

Two flights to London in my lifetime: once in 2017 and now again in 2019–each time a nerve-wracking experience!

On July 19, 2019, Lin, my husband, and I started the first leg of our trip to London for a twelve-day cruise of the British Isles and flew from Albuquerque, NM to Denver, CO. We got our flight through Norwegian cruise lines, and the one catch was that it had to be through a major airport, so that’s why we had to go to Denver.

We live in the east mountains above Albuquerque and the drive to the airport takes about thirty minutes. Most of our travel is on I-40, and there was an accident in front of us, but –thank God—we saw the slow down and ducked off the Interstate at a nearby exit. If we had been further down the highway, we would have been caught there and possibly missed our flight. After breathing deeply, we both sighed and realized a near miss.

We both flew to Denver on Southwest Airlines for free which always makes the flight sweet. Also, we flew at 5:50 PM which meant no getting up at O’Dark Thirty to start our adventure.

We arrived in Denver at 7:00 PM, wondering if we needed to eat at the airport before finding the shuttle to the Microtel Hotel near the airport. So, I called the hotel and got a strange response when asked if there was a restaurant within walking distance.

 “There should be!” Lin and I both laughed and decided to take our chance there because food is so expensive in an airport. We maneuvered our bags to level five, island three to wait for the shuttle.

The warm Colorado evening invited us to sit and enjoy the beginning of our travels. It took the shuttle over thirty minutes to arrive, but we relaxed and anticipated our trip. We had originally planned a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands in November but had to cancel it because of the death of a dear friend. We reveled in the fact that nothing could go wrong this time—Norwegian cruise lines had booked our flights and they were professionals. They would allow enough time between flights–nothing to worry about!

When we arrived at the hotel, we saw a restaurant within walking distance, so we registered at the desk. I peered at the guy who had given me such a strange response, and he told the person in front of us that there was a restaurant within 10 seconds of the hotel. I laughed to myself at both responses. We ditched our bags in the room, ate dinner, and had a relaxed, restful night. We had come into Denver a night early so we could catch our flight easily the next day.

When I got up the next morning, I planned on wearing the same clothes, but I could smell BO on my top, so I hand-washed it and then dried it with the hair dryer.

The night before we had reserved a shuttle back to the airport at 12:30 PM and went downstairs to check out about noon, and the shuttle was already there, so we took it. We grabbed lunch at Pandora Express and enjoyed the leisure atmosphere.

Lin and I aboard the Air Canada Flight for Toronto–Excited about our adventure ahead!

Our flight to London started with the first leg to Toronto, Canada leaving Denver at 5:25 PM. Yes, we were early, but we found our gate, and I used the time wisely to work on my current writing project of the Marshall Flippo biography. Great uninterrupted time to work!

Before leaving home, Lin had checked the weather in Toronto, and thunderstorms threatened the area, but no one from the airlines had said anything, so we let it go.

We boarded the Air Canada plane and then sat and sat. For thirty minutes,  a flight attendant walked through the cabin counting the passengers, then one came and asked the person sitting across from us to move at takeoff to distribute the weight more evenly—I had never heard that before.

Awhile later, the pilot announced that they needed to check the air in one of the tires—oh, no! Here we go again! We just lost over thirty minutes!

When it finally took off, I relaxed and worked on my book project. We were to arrive at 10:29 PM and the flight to Heathrow took off at 11:50 PM—plenty of time, I thought. I hadn’t done the math. Lin kept his eye on the flight monitor on the TV and kept calculating and recalculating our arrival time, getting more nervous the farther we went. He shared his concern with me, and we talked to the flight attendant about our possible peril. She assured us there would be plenty of time.

When we got to Toronto, we had to go through customs. Then we had no idea where to go, no idea of the gate number for our flight, and no signage to point us in the right direction. We walked down a hall desperate to find help.

Then we found an Air Canada employee who told us to go to level three to security, so we found level three but had trouble finding security. The lights were dimmed and the only people there were the cleaning crew. Somehow, we found security. He let us through a back door and all I saw in front of me was a long corridor.

The corridor went on and on!

Lin started walking, half-running down the corridor, and I had to run to keep up with him. It went on and on. I tripped once and almost hit the ground, but I steadied myself and kept going. Now he was nearly out of sight rounding a corner. So it was a full-out run now.

When I caught him, we stood at an intersection; only two people were there. Lin ran over to a counter and asked where to go.

“Gate 75.”

The other two people yelled, “Go straight through there and turn right.”

So, we did, and the workers at that gate waved and yelled, “Are you the Millers? They are closing the door right now!” We sprinted over; they checked us in and we walked on the plane and they closed the doors behind us!

The plane had been delayed ten minutes because of a rain delay—oh, my God! That’s what saved us!

We found our seats, sat down and breathed. Sweat dripped down my back and I panted now because of the race we just did. Trembling, I said to Lin, “Why is it so hard to get to London?”

We did make it, and I will take you on our twelve-day adventure cruising around the British Isles over the next few weeks in my blogs.

Have you ever had a travel experience like this? Share yours in the Comments section below.

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

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

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

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

My Books · My Thoughts · Prejudice, Mistreatment, Mexican, immigrant

Can You Speak English?

            Because Papa and his family could not speak English, he was doomed. Hatred and prejudice could have destroyed his future and Maria’s. Is that still true today? Read what happened to Papa that broke Maria’s and her Momma’s hearts.

CHAPTER 8

            Papa and I finish our daily chores and head for the house, hungry and ready to eat. Papa spots a five-point buck and three does. Their movement is slow and graceful. They are in no hurry to travel to the water hole east of our house. He signals me to be quiet and grabs my hand. We ease down the ridge to watch these free, beautiful animals water and graze in the cool of the evening. Their silhouettes stand out as the last rays of sunshine etch their forms against the ground.

            Papa squats down on a sandstone rock ledge that overlooks the watering hole, and his rough hands encircle me as I squat in front of him. I can feel his heavy breathing on the back of my neck and smell the familiar aroma of his sweaty clothes mixed with horse and leather. I so enjoy these special times together.

            He surprises me with a tight squeeze, stands up and walks towards the house in front of me. He drags his feet and the dust stirs up in small clouds. I see the nape of his neck, tanned by long hours in the sun. Tonight, it is tense and tight with the load of his world.

            We sit down to supper with an unusual silence hanging over our table. We try small talk about Papa’s trip to Trinidad and what happened here in his absence. Each of us jumps at any strange sound outside during the meal, fearing the unknown. Mama lights the kerosene lantern, placing it in the middle of the table to illumine our dark kitchen. The anxious mood lingers in the dim amber light.

            Usually the yellow light from the kerosene lamp comforts me in our long evenings inside our house. The shadows dancing on the walls have become good friends and playmates, but tonight it is so different. The dark, forbidding forms on the walls add to the suspense, feeling evil and scary.

            Halfway through our delicious, but modest meal, the much-feared event happens. Horses approach our house in a rush of noise from men and animals. The dreaded moment arrives and catches us all clustered together in the dark corner of our small kitchen. Three unfinished meals cover our deserted table.

            Several loud men on nondescript sweaty, panting horses ride up with shouting and cussing. A brisk pounding at the door sends us further in the corner. Before Papa can open the door, this mob forces the door open. What a violent invasion of our home! Six gringos fill our small, modest house of stone and adobe with their foreign language and foreign smells. One of these invaders is the sheriff of Las Animas County.

            Peering from behind Mama’s protective full skirt, I see the sheriff, now our enemy, argue with Papa in English. Papa pleads. I don’t understand the words, but I do understand the tone of his voice and theirs. Grabbing the sheriff’s hand, he begs, pleads, and cries! And then, they laugh, a communication that crosses all languages. Their laughter overflows with power, ridicule and anger. And all this is aimed at my Papa, my hero! That laughter bounces off of our adobe walls and crashes into my head.

            The sheriff and one man get on each side of Papa and push him outside towards the corrals. The others move back to their horses, light cigarettes and stand talking. Mama and I move closer to the closed door, listening and trying to understand what is happening. I don’t understand their words but I know they feel they have won.  

            In a loud voice, Papa continues to argue with the two men who take him to the corral where the horses are. I hear English words that I do know: “The Rose horse ranch” where we bought Smokey as a colt. From the conversation, I see in my mind the two gringos surveying our two horses, especially Papa’s horse. Papa continues his litany of innocence with his voice growing louder and shriller with each statement, but they ignore him. Laughter is their only response.  

            I hear Papa beg about something. The two ruffians bring him back to the house for our tearful good-bye. The last thing I remember hearing is his screams as they drag him from our house. “¡Mi hijita, mi esposa preciosa–esperame, esperame!” His screams for us to wait for him echo through my mind. I must have fainted because the next thing I remember is waking to Mama and our neighbor and friend, Pablo, standing over me with worried looks on their faces.

            “Where’s Papa? Where’s Papa? ¿Dónde está mi Papa?” I scream, demanding to know and trying to shake the cobwebs of uncertainty from my mind.

            Mama falls across me on my small bed, crying and sobbing out of control, “¡Papa, se ha ido! Papa’s gone! He’s gone. Se lo llevaron. They took him away.” The weight of her body and sound of her wails almost suffocate me.

            Pushing Mama aside, I scramble out from underneath her, search our two-room home and explode. Uncontrollable anger rages from deep within me and I attack and destroy anything I can get my hands on. My doll crashes against the hard rock wall; my marbles fly out the door in all directions.  

            Mama tries to console me in the midst of my savage tantrum, but I push her away. I shove open the front door and collapse on the front step. I scream, I cry, and I wail! Finally, I take a breath and open my eyes—Paco is staring at me a few feet away. He seems apprehensive about coming any closer. My tantrum has lost its power, so my little friend ventures near and I scoop him up in my skirt. I gingerly hold him in my hand while my sobs are subsiding. He seems to know that I need him close to me. I sit there with him consoling me.  

            I look around and see my marbles strewn around our front door; I don’t pick them up, but go inside, leaving Paco outside. Mama and Pablo stop their conversation, and I slide into my bed fully dressed. Pablo touches my brow with gentle rough fingers and whispers, “Adios.  Hasta la mañana.” I appreciate his good-bye and the hope of seeing him tomorrow. Mama walks to the door with him and says her good-byes.

            She returns to my bed and repeats what Pablo did; she touches my brow with her long slender fingers and whispers, “Buenas noches.” I sigh my response and turn to the wall, heart-broken because the most valuable person in my life has been taken away.

Maria changes through this heartless event. I won’t give away the ending, so go to Amazon and buy a copy:

Here’s a trailer for this heart-wrenching story:

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

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

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

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42s

My Thoughts

The Face of Immigration–Has it Changed?

The Philly Place–the homestead that inspired this story!

            The immigration topic is hot today—so much turmoil and hatred with a lot of it targeted at Mexican and Latin Americans. Many Mexicans ventured into the Southwest, where I live, during the 1920’s and 30’s, and enriched the communities they lived in, but some of the locals didn’t receive them warmly at all. They spoke a foreign language and had unfamiliar customs that frightened those US citizens.

            My historical fiction, When Will Papa Get Home?, deals with this topic during this time in southeastern Colorado where homesteaders laid their claim to a parcel of land and a dream! This story is told through the eyes of Maria about the injustice she witnessed in the treatment of her Papa.

            Meet Maria’s Papa in Chapter 2 and how they acquired a quarter of a section–160 acres:

Cover of When Will Papa Get Home?

Chapter 2

As soon as Papa arrived in the United States from Mexico, he filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen. Many of our friends that came to America before us passed on information to Papa about the importance of doing this. Papa couldn’t write, but information was passed around our small community of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  I had no idea what all this was, but I knew it was important. Papa and Mama talked a lot about it, and they worked hard to get it. In 1926 Papa and Mama gained citizenship while we were living in Branson, CO, and we all celebrated their accomplishment. 

            I was an American citizen by birth, which really seemed strange because I don’t speak any English, only Spanish, and in my heart I am a Mexican. How does that work?

             Now that Papa and Mama were United States citizens, they were able to acquire a homestead in Colorado.  Our homestead included a quarter section of land–160 acres. To get our new home, we had to live on the homestead for five years. Acquiring the homestead was a three-step process: first, Papa filed a signed application. Second, we would get the land if we improved it by building a house or something Papa called “containments” on it. I didn’t know what that meant, but Papa translated it to me to mean walls, fences, roads, paths or gates. It took a couple years before we built the house.

            First, we built a lean-to to live in, and then we added a small enclosure for our horses and our small herd of cattle. Our animals took precedence over our house. Papa said the corrals were containments too–oh, the English language. The third step of homesteading was Papa filing a deed for our property. We lived there for five years, so it was ours, truly a dream come true for our little Mexican family.

            When we were living in the lean-to, I made friends with a horny toad. I had never seen one before. His spiky body fascinated me. He looked like a miniature dinosaur. When he visited, he explored everything he could. Papa and I played with him and fed him, but Mama didn’t like him. We named him Paco. After that we looked for Paco every morning. At first he didn’t come by every day, but we continued feeding and playing with him, so his visits became more routine. He got comfortable enough with me to let me pick him up and hold him in my hand—he just fit in the palm of my small hand. 

            Our next building was an outhouse a few feet away from where Papa planned to build the house. He experimented on it and built it out of sandstone rock from the mesa and adobe mortar to seal the rocks. He liked the results. Later he used the same material to build our home. The big job for the outhouse was digging a deep hole for all the sewage to go into. Papa spent several days working on it, and he sweat a lot. It was hard work. I tried to help, but it seemed I got in the way more than helped. 

            I loved that outhouse with its seat to sit on. I had never mastered the art of squatting. With my long skirt, it was so hard to not pee all over the hem of my skirt and shoes. Mama loved it too; it didn’t matter to Papa one way or the other, so I think he built it for us two females.

            I can’t believe the three of us built our house. It is so beautiful. Papa and Mama were used to homes made of adobe bricks, but with all the amazing sandstone rocks in the canyon around us, Papa’s experiment on the outhouse worked, so he decided to make our house out of rocks and adobe. He had admired houses in Mora, NM built out of rock and thought they were beautiful.  He talked to men there about how to build one, so he was excited to be able to actually have his own rock house.    

            During the early spring, we carried the heavy rocks down from the rim rock across the canyon–about a half-mile south. We tied the rocks to our two horses and drug them to our house site. It was backbreaking work. Then we mixed mud from the river for the adobe mortar. I liked that part the best because it was like making mud pies, but Mama didn’t because I stayed muddy and smelly for days. Papa mixed straw and manure into this muddy mixture. “My secret ingredients to make it strong,” he chuckled!

            The adobe sealed the rocks and made it snug and warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Mama complained about the smell when we were working, but I didn’t notice it. I remember when the stone wall was only as high as my knees. Then when it seemed like magic that Papa put a little square in the wall and it became a window and a big square became a door. We had one window in the kitchen and two in Papa and Mama’s bedroom. 

            I loved the view out the kitchen window facing north and east. I could see Mesa de Mayo and the great open plains. I could see forever.

            Papa noticed that many of the residents in Mora, NM had painted the door frame and doors of their houses light blue.  After he got acquainted with the people there, he asked the reason for the blue doors. Many friends told him, “For safety!  It keeps out the bad spirits.” 

            So on one of Papa’s trips to Trinidad before we finished the house, he came back with just enough light blue paint. Papa and I painted the door and what fun we had! We ended up with as much paint on us as on the door and door frame. Mama wrinkled her nose and shook her head. She questioned him about this tradition at first but later grew to love it, especially when our neighbor’s wife, Rosa, commented on how nice it looked.

            Next we mixed more adobe and plastered the inside walls to give a smooth even texture—the straw stuck out here and there, so it never was completely smooth, but it made wonderful patterns.

            Finally we put on the roof. First we added the vigas, large, heavy support wooden beams we drug down from the mesa south of our homestead. The vigas span across the house, then we added ladrillas, smaller branches that crossed the vigas, then brush and dirt. Then we added the adobe mortar to tie it all together. When the roof was complete, we moved inside. That was a day of celebration because now we could sleep inside, out of the elements.

            When we moved into our new house, I wondered if Paco would find us or if Mama would let him in. Early the second morning when I opened the door to go outside, Paco sat sunning himself on our front step.

            I scooped him up in my skirt and took him with me to the ridge of the arroyo and he sat with me while I watched the sun rise and the scene before me come to life. Deer sauntered across the arroyo to drink. Long eared jackrabbits hopped around them, darting between bushes. A coyote skirted us, wary of getting shot. Paco just sat, observing our world. 

            A little later, Papa came from the corral and joined us. He burst out laughing when he saw Paco.

            “Has this become a trio?” Papa whispered so he didn’t disturb our wild guests. I nodded my head with a grin. The three of us enjoyed this ritual many days.

            “When will Papa be home? ¿Cuándo regresa mi Papa a mi casa?” This has been the longest day yet.

Maria’s wait for Papa ends and the tragedy unfolds. I won’t give anymore away—next week I’ll share what happened to Papa at the hands of a vigilante racist group. If you’d like to read the whole book, it’s is available at Amazon in paperback and e-book:

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

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

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

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · My Thoughts

Why Garden?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

My Thoughts

We Took a Wrong Turn in Española!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lin and I enjoying the ski lift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

Marshall Flippo – A Success Formula That Worked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Sexual Abuse

I Confess . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Forbes also shared:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

family · Holidays · My Thoughts · Ranching · square dance

Why Celebrate Father’s Day?

The Last Time I Danced With Dad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts

Why Listen?

Are you listening?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The desert landscape!

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Dad on His Favorite Horse, Rusty!

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

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


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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · poetry

Hyphenated Me

Lin and I enjoying our lives together!

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


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


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

Marshall Flippo’s Success–Luck or Not?

A Young Marshall Flippo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kirkwood Lodge in Osage Beach, Missouri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

family · Holidays · My Thoughts

Memorial Day or Decoration Day?

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

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

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

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

            What is Memorial Day anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the soldiers I have known who have passed:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

He’s a Winner!

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

Lin’s Plaque and Badge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lin realized he won!

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

Lin with his plaque and badge!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Does Your Heart Break on Mother’s Day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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