My Thoughts · Patriotism · poetry · Politics

Did Democracy Win? Hell, yes!

I heart the American Flag Democracy Won!
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

I cherish and respect our long-held democracy in the United States of America, but then on January 6, 2021, my heart dropped as I watched domestic terrorists breach our Capitol. I’ve spent the last couple weeks mulling over the the bizarre start to 2021. Insurrection has become an often-repeated word. Really? Pertaining to the United States of America? Oh, my God! For other countries, other angry people, yes, but here? I thought we were immune to this sort of rebellion.

So, I turned to poetry to process my feelings.

Words-Democracy Won!
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

Insurrection, Not a Part of My Vocabulary

January 11, 2021

Definition, “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/insurrection

The word, insurrection

            Has never been

                        A daily word in

                                    My vocabulary.

Never

Until January 6, 2021

            Invoked its repetition

                        Over and over

                                    Again.

I witnessed

The invasion of our Capitol

            By a blood thirsty mob.

Shocked

Spellbound

Disgusted

Violence

            Planned

                        To take over

                                    Our Capitol,

                        To take hostage

                                    Certain congressmen and women

                                    Our vice president

                        To execute them!

Gallows with a noose constructed

            Within view of the Capitol.

                       

Elected officials heard

            Their names screamed

                        As they feared

                                    For their lives!

For months,

            I’ve heard rumblings

                        Of a Civil War

                                    From conservative and liberal

                                                Friends

                                                            And family.

I knew they were planning something.

            Facebook knew.

            Twitter knew.

Why didn’t the government know?

            A question that needs answered.

Insurrection in the USA!

            I’m 67 years old,

                        Never before

                                    In my lifetime.

An anger that has raged

            For years

                        Spun

                                    Out of control

                                                In

                                                            that insurrection.

What’s coming?

            On January 20, 2021

                        Inauguration Day

                                    Threats of massive protests

                                                All over the country.

The Civil War could be here!

            What do I do?


The two weeks before the Inauguration I wondered. I checked news’ source repeatedly. The FBI actively arrested the leaders of the insurrection which totally changed the atmosphere at the Inauguration.

The military presence of 25,000 National Guardsmen in Washington, D. C. sent a strong message to the disruptors—we will not let it happen again!

Here’s my poem after the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris:

Insurrection or Democracy? Who Won?

January 22, 2021

On January 6, 2021

            Insurrection raised its

Bloody head

            Stood armed

                        And

                                    Dangerous.

Fear constricted my throat.

            A breached Capitol

                        Desecrated with

                                    Angry urine

                                    A Confederate flag

                                    Unfulfilled dreams

                                    The threats of death

                                                And

                                                            Execution

                                                                        Of

                                                                                    Legislators

                                                                                    Our vice president.

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

Our legislators counted the votes!

Insurrection did not stand in the way!

Two weeks we waited

            As a country,

                        Holding our collective breaths

                        Multiple arrests

                                    Family members turning in protesters

                        More video of the vile carnage.

Rumors abounded—

            More violence

                        More threats

                                    For January 20, 2021

                                                Inauguration day.

Democracy Won!
Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

But democracy won!

            A civil exchange of leadership

            A warm presidential speech

                        Overflowing with calm,

                                    A call to unity.

Musical interludes

Patriotic celebrations

Then my heart exploded!

Amanda Gorman - Democracy Won!
Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman spoke,

            The young black poet

                        Crowned her black braids

                                    With festive red ribbon.

My poet’s heart soared.

            Her words captured

                        unquestionably

                                    A much-needed positivity.

            Her presentation,

                        Clear and precise!

Don’t let your political party affiliation

            Stop you! Listen to her words!

They expressed

            A positive spin

                        Of our wounded nation

                                    “The Hill We Climb”

                                                with multiple alliterations

                                                            and strong imagery.

Amanda’s words

Healed my heart

            Healed my fear.

I pray deeply, “If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

            The light

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

As an English teacher, I printed Amanda’s poem and marked it up, circling the numerous alliterations and images. The repeated sounds created a poetic rhythm that soothed my soul. She made two references to the award-winning play, Hamilton, in her poem. https://bookstr.com/article/amanda-gorman-references-hamilton-in-the-hill-we-climb/

Poetry, above any other genre, needs to be heard, and there’s a magic if it’s in the poet’s voice. Reading it is good, but hearing it is so much better. Be sure and listen to Amanda’s presentation of her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

If you’d like a copy of Amanda’s poem, download here:

As we move forward in 2021, insurrection no longer needs to be spoken or thought about. I choose to focus on peace and the spirit of Amanda’s intriguing poem.

How about you?


Flippo's Book Cover with Book Excellence Awards Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogging · My Thoughts

What Does Seven Years of Blogging Look Like?

Seven years of blogging

Seven years! Thank you to any reader who took the time to read what I deemed my priority for that week. I so love thinking about my weekly blog post. Topics tumble around in my head, percolating. I usually spend Sunday afternoon writing my weekly post.

Since 2019, I’ve evaluated my year of blogging during the early part of January. I believe this type of deep assessment has helped me grow my exposure.

During my first few years, I adopted the suggestion to do a blog but posted sporadically and had no commitment to it. My first year I posted seven times—obviously not a priority in my life! Something happened in 2018, and it’s grown ever since.

As I faced 2020, I planned to write about the following:

  • Our Travels
  • Square Dancing
  • MAJOR FOCUS: Marshall Flippo and promoting my new book
  • Personal life stories
  • Being 65 and fully alive
  • Holiday highlights
  • Ranch life in southeastern Colorado
  • My 16-year-old cat, Jesse

Little did I know, that the coronavirus would affect much of my writing for the year. Yes, we had two amazing trips. In January, we spent twelve days in Costa Rica, and I wrote about that amazing trip in six posts. My readers loved my travel blogs, and February 2020 showed a marked increase in views—2511 for the month. That month ended up my biggest month of the year!

At the end of February, we traveled to Spain, and I had the same plan—blog about our trip featuring each day in my weekly blog. Then the coronavirus hit! I did feature the nine day Spain trip in four blogs, but the pandemic changed my plans for the year.

As a poet, I turned to writing poetry to process my feelings generated by the pandemic, so I featured those poems and my narrative in twenty-seven posts. And as an offshoot of those posts, I collected those posts in a book I’m publishing in the next couple months that will be available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book titled Bitter or Better: My Coronavirus Journey.

2020 saw a marked increase in views and visitors by almost 5000 each. My blogs about our trips and the coronavirus stimulated that increase. Look at the growth my blog has had over the last seven years:

Here’s how many posts I have published in seven years:

  • 2014 – 7
  • 2015 – 16
  • 2016 – 6
  • 2017 – 22
  • 2018 – 54
  • 2019 – 66
  • 2020 – 64

For a total of 235! Wow! That’s a lot of words!

Seven years of blogging--the world

My audience continued to span the globe. I advertised worldwide on Facebook last year, until recently when it made that option not available. That concerns me for future growth worldwide.

The United States continued to be my biggest market, followed by countries with the most to least visits: Myanmar, China, Algeria, India, Ireland, Nepal, Laos, Philippines, and Bangladesh.

Other visitors came from Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Canada, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Iraq, Turkey, United Kingdom, Australia, Bhutan, Vietnam, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mongolia, Tunisia, Libya, Japan, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Honduras, Sweden, France, Brazil, Morocco, Cote d’lvoire, South Africa, Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia, Maldives, Venezuela, Congo – Brazzaville, Paraguay, Armenia, Suriname, Ecuador, Cambodia, Senegal, Jordan, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Samoa, Denmark, Mozambique, Fiji, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Peru, Nigeria, Lebanon, Congo – Kinshasa, Guinea, United Arab Emirates, Palestinian Territories, Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka, Italy, Tanzania, Albania, Timor-Leste, Spain, Romania, Chile, Angola, Russia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Guyana, Mauritania, Thailand, Georgia, Chad, Liberia, Cape Verde, Belgium, Netherlands, Kyrgyzstan, Belize, New Zealand, Malaysia, Kenya, Djibouti, Togo, Macedonia, Switzerland, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Brunel, Serbia, Singapore, Ghana, Gambia, Vanuatu, Jamaica, Israel, American Samoa, Bulgaria, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Uruguay, Solomon Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Moldova, Benin, Northern Mariana Islands, Comoros, Finland, Caribbean Netherlands, Greece, Gabon, Burundi, Taiwan, Hungary, Martinique, Guinea-Bissau, Curacao, Mauritius, Panama, Czech Republic, European Union, South Sudan, Lesotho, Zambia, Poland, Niger, Micronesia, South Korea, Equatorial Guinea, St. Lucia, Oman, Central African Republic, Palau, Rwanda, Yemen, Madagascar, Namibia, Cook Islands, Lithuania, Tonga, Kosovo, St. Pierre & Miquelon, Zimbabwe, Norway, Aruba, Bahrain, Marshall Islands, ­­Kiribati, Barbados, U. S. Virgin Islands, Kuwait, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sint Maarten, French Guiana, Anguilla, Reunion, Uzbekistan and Guam.

In 2019, visitors came from 154 different countries to my blog. This year it expanded to 176 countries! That is so amazing to me, and it shows the worldwide accessibility to the Internet.

So, I’d like to share the take-aways from this in-depth look at my blogging history:

  • Blogging has become a major focus of my writing.
  • Readers especially like my blogs about our travels.
  • Readers emailed me about my blogs about the coronavirus.
  • I love the worldwide audience I have created with my blog!

Seven years of sharing my thoughts! I continue to want more interaction with my readers. Respond, like, let me know what you think. Let’s have a dialogue!


Flippo's book

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christianity · God · My Thoughts · Politics

Epiphany 2021: Light & Darkness Collide

Epiphany: Light and Dark Collide
Light and Darkness Collide

On Epiphany 2021, January 6th became a day in USA history. Light and darkness collided with not many even aware of that fact. Most years this ecclesiastical day goes unnoticed except for those who celebrate it. I will never forget this year.

So, what is Epiphany to me, as an Episcopalian? “. . . the church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, which marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas each year on January 6. Epiphany is a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “appearing.” At the Feast of the Epiphany we celebrate Jesus being made manifest or appearing as Christ.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/files/bi010613half.pdf

The Episcopal church says: Epiphany is “. . . the manifestation of Christ to the peoples of the earth. The day was called “The Feast of Lights.”

https://episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/epiphany

Epiphany: The three wise men

“On the Feast of the Epiphany, the Wise Men, or Magi, arrive bearing gifts and present the Christ child with gold (recognizing him as king), frankincense (recognizing him as a priest) and myrrh (an anointing oil for burial).”

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/asking-clergy-what-does-the-epiphany-celebrate-1.25264739

Normally, I have mixed feelings with the arrival of Epiphany because it marks the end of Christmas, and I love the Christmas season and everything about it. I do love Epiphany, though, because of its focus: Jesus, the light of the world. I wait to take down my Christmas decorations until then. In its own way, Epiphany is a celebratory time.

This year, I dreaded this day for weeks ahead of time because I knew it coincided with the certification of the results of the election by Congress, and I knew protesters planned an event in Washington.

When the day came, initially I forgot it was January 6. I did my normal routine: my Quiet Time reading and writing in the morning, rousing Cribbage games with Lin, my husband, during breakfast and normal stuff. At 11:00 am, I had a Zoom meeting with my marketing agent and ten other authors.

After finishing that peaceful, supportive meeting, I headed downstairs. Lin came in the door, returning from a trip to Walmart. He had listened to a news station on Sirius, and said, “Turn on the TV. They’re storming the Capitol.”

I did; we ate lunch trying to digest the horrific activity before our eyes. Our Capitol had been breached by the protesters, no terrorists. I sat glued to the TV for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. Image after image exploded on the screen of these lawless invaders looting the Capitol. Darkness raised its ugly head.

As I watched, I cried! I posted my despair on Facebook and received massive support and one dissenter. What a dark day in our history! I realized that day stood as a turning point in my life for acceptance of the lies perpetuated over the last two months about the election and the results. It had been brewing for four years, so I set boundaries on Facebook with supporters of this sedition.

As the afternoon dimmed into night, I remembered Fr. Dan Tuton, the priest at my Episcopal church, had scheduled a Zoom Epiphany Service and I planned to attend. Should I? What new development would I miss? My hours’ long vigil had worn me out. I needed to refocus on God and love and light.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had shared with Lin I planned to attend this service, and he joined me. I want to thank Fr. Dan Tuton and Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church for a peaceful reflective Epiphany service in the midst of such a turbulent day. He read Matthew 2:1-12, recounting the Magi’s visit to the Messiah. Then he read Henry Van Dyke’s, The Story of the Other Wise Man.

How I did need that time bathed in the glory of Epiphany. God works in mysterious ways for sure. Right before we took an intermission at the mid-point in Van Dyke’s story, a dear friend messaged me with a personal prayer request, so I shared it with the group, and we prayed right then. I knew they would because my church is a healing community. Whew! My God in the middle of chaos!

The images from that infamous day whirl around in my mind still. Because I’m a historian and record keeper, I downloaded several images of the looters, the terrorists, the destruction, thinking I would use them in this blog, but no! I do not want to give them any more notoriety. Instead I want to provide a respite from the chaos.

Let’s focus on the light, the Christ Child who lights up my life. Fr. Dan helped me refocus that sad day to a commemoration of three wise men (or more or less. No one knows for sure) who traveled a long distance to confirm the birth of the Messiah as described in Matthew who witnessed the beginning of His life.

Then in Van Dyke’s story, The Story of the Other Wise Man, he revealed another possible wise man, Artaban, who touched my heart with his willingness to give his gifts intended for the Messiah to those in need. In doing that, he missed the Magi’s finding of the Christ Child but had a serendipitous meeting with Jesus later.

So, this sad day ended on a positive note, with a celebration of the Magi honoring the Christ child and the giving spirit of Artaban. I felt God’s light and love emanating from this Scripture, this tale and this service.

How can we refocus now? How can we identify the goodness of our country and its people? I would be interested in your thoughts!

Epiphany: Happy 2021 & Larada

~Visit my blog post from last week:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

~ BEGINNING OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

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

Coronavirus · Goals · Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts

What Does 2021 Hold For Us?

2021
Photo by Vladislav Murashko from Pexels

2021 is here! Yahoo! Happy New Year! Whew! I thought it would never come! Closing 2020 with a quiet bang, I look to opening up 2021 with enthusiastic gusto!

But like so many others, I reminisced about meaningful past New Year’s Eves, and one repeatedly came to mind. In 2017 many square dance callers and dancers met in Green Valley, Arizona to witness Marshall Flippo call at his last square dance on New Year’s Eve 2017.

Flippo’s Last Dance 2017

Many national callers came out to see their mentor and friend end a 60 year+ career. Numerous dancers traveled from far and wide to hear Flippo call one last time. I felt the magic in the air that night—sadness mixed with deep love and appreciation. I will never forget that evening nor my dear friends in attendance.

This year, we celebrated a quiet one. We watched “Bells of St. Mary” with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman and cried at the ending even though we had seen it before. After the movie, we prepped an elk roast and vegetables to cook in the crockpot overnight for our New Year’s Day dinner. Then we ended the year watching the celebration on the plaza in Santa Fe, NM—what a New Mexican party it was. I loved that they sang, “Las Mañanitas!” to bring in the new year!

So, let’s talk about this new year. 2021 is an empty book, a new chapter, today a blank page in my life! What will I do in 2021 with still so much uncertainty? Yes, we have the vaccine, but not many people have been inoculated yet. So, we need to be cautious and use those familiar safety suggestions:

  • Masks
  • Social distancing
  • Wash, wash, wash our hands

That just reminded me of a hilarious experience Lin and I had on cruises we have taken. Greeting us at the door of any restaurant onboard, two ship employees sprayed our hands with sanitizer and sang, “Washy, washy.” What made this so hilarious was the enthusiasm they did their task with—smiles and pure joy! I wish most Americans handled all the safety suggestions with such joy and enthusiasm!

So, as I ponder 2021, I think about a day in this year as being a blank page—the nemesis of many writers. I love the sight of a clean page, a new year, a new beginning. I choose what’s written there. I choose my attitude with which I face each day. I choose to be positive and proactive.

So, I spent part of yesterday and today reading book marketing ideas to prepare for this new year as an author. I jotted down several new ideas to incorporate into my plan for 2021. I also thought about how I want my life to be different, especially incorporating what I learned in my solitude in 2020.

2021 Goals
A Word Cloud of My 2021 Goals

So, here’s my list (more than book marketing stuff):

  • Publish a new book, Bitter or Better: My Year’s Coronavirus Journey
  • Do my daily Quiet time
  • Dance
  • Attend recovery meetings
  • Dance
  • Promote my books, especially the Flippo book at dance events
  • Dance
  • Exercise
  • Dance
  • Spend time outside in nature
  • Dance
  • Connect face-to-face or virtually with family and friends
  • Dance
  • Recreational Reading
  • Dance
  • Visit our family ranch in Colorado
  • Dance

As you can see, dancing tops my list of activities I want to add back this year.

As I face 2021, a year with possibilities, adventures and people, I wonder. I know I thought 2020 had all those possibilities. Will this year be different or more of the same? I’m sure the first part will feel very similar to 2020, but hopefully mid-year 2021 will take a turn towards normalcy.

What do you think?

I do want to end with some 2020 humor. This was shared our Next Door app before the end of the year, and I thought it was hilarious:

2020 – A YEAR IN REVIEW!!! I hope everyone can get a chuckle from this!

  1. The dumbest thing I ever bought was a 2020 planner.
  2. I was so bored I called Jake from State Farm just to talk to someone He asked me what I was wearing.
  3. 2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people.
  4. The world has turned upside down. Old folks are sneaking out of the house & their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 5. This morning I saw a neighbor talking to her dog. It was obvious she thought her dog understood her. I came into my house & told my cat. We laughed a lot.
  5. Every few days try your jeans on just to make sure they fit. Pajamas will have you believe all is well.
  6. Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands?
  7. This virus has done what no woman has been able to do. Cancel sports, shut down all bars & keep men at home!
  8. I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! 10. I need to practice social-distancing from the refrigerator.
  9. 11. I hope the weather is good tomorrow for my trip to the Backyard. I’m getting tired of the Living Room.
  10. 12. Appropriate analogy. “The curve is flattening so we can start lifting restrictions now” is like saying: “The parachute has slowed our rate of descent, so we can take it off now.”
  11. 13. Never in a million years could I have imagined I would go up to a bank teller wearing a mask & asking for money.
  12. 14. The spread of COVID-19 is based on 2 things:
    1. How dense the population is;
    1. How dense the population is.

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

~ END OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts

Good bye 2020, Hello ’21!

Good bye 2020, hello 2021

Good bye 2020, yes for sure! Hello 2021, welcome here! This afternoon, I wrote a couple poems to end this tumultuous year with my eyes on the next.

Standing on the Precipice

December 31, 2020

Stepping off - good bye 2020, hello 2021
Photo by @joagbriel from Pexels

Today I stand on a precipice

            2020 here

            2021 there

My heart yearns

            For the normalcy

                        Of

                                    2019

                                                2018. . .

2020 stopped me

            in my tracks

The world stopped

            turning

Ten months shut-down

            Shelter-in-place

                        Quarantine

                                    Words I wasn’t familiar with

                                                Before 2020

The new normal

            Masks

            Social distance

            Wash your hands often

The life we live now

            To protect us

            To protect you

Good bye 2020

            With your excruciating

                        Pain and loss

            With your deep lessons

                        Of spiritual changes

            With the coronavirus

                        Taking center stage

Hello 2021

            Can you be new?

                        The same?

                                    Normal?

                                                Just a little bit!

I stand here

            On the edge

                        One foot in 2020

                                    One foot reaching

                                                Stretching

                                                            For 2021

I extend my hands

            To the future

                        To the unknown

                                    To possibility

I still believe

            God is here

                        In this moment

                                    In the midst

                                                Of life

                                    In 2020

God will be in 2021

            Also

Today, He gently grabs my hand

            To jump into this next year

            To face the uncertain future

            To know the goodness of life

Yes, 2020 is over–Good bye!

            Thank God!

2021 is here! Hello!

            I’m ready!


We Get to Start Again!

December 31, 2020

Good bye 2020, Hello 2021
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

A new year

            A new beginning

Standing on the brink

            Of 2021

I revel in its newness

A new year

            With so many possibilities

Possibly more desirable

            Because it’s 2021

Hope abounds!

            A new day dawns

                        Upon a tired citizenry!

I smell anticipation in the air

            I taste joy in each bite

                        I hear hope in cheerful voices

                                    I feel kindness unfolding worldwide

Yes, we start anew

            2021

A fresh slate  

            To write my dreams on

            To sketch out my desires

            To scrawl and doodle my ambitions

It can happen

Yes, the coronavirus is

                        Still here,

The surge continues

            The cases and deaths mount,

But the vaccine provides a possibility

I must honor

            The place where I am,

Before I can move forward

But as I stand

            On the edge

                        Of 2021

For the first time

            In months

I feel different

A sliver of hope

            A dash of optimism

                        A smidgen of return to my old life

                                    A glimmer of hope

Join me

            Right now

                        In the universal

                                    Circle of hope!


Good bye 2020, hello 2021! Do take this time to be mindful of this year behind us and one ahead!

And here’s a little humor to start the new year!

Good bye 2020, Hello 2021

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

~ END OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Christmas · Coronavirus · family · My Thoughts

Did the Coronavirus “Stay at Home” Ruling Affect Your Christmas Plans?

All I Want For Christmas is you: Stay at home
Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

“Stay at home.” We’ve heard that mandate repeatedly over the last few months, especially over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. We had the choice, and continuing a conservative mindset we’ve embraced since the onset of the pandemic, we stayed home! My husband and I both have some health issues. He is 80, and I am 67, so we stayed home and enjoyed our traditions, our decorations and connections with people through Zoom, YouTube Live, and the internet.

Even though we made the choice to stay home, did this “stay at home” order affect my Christmas plans? In some ways, yes it did; in some no!

Zoomin': Stay at home
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Zoomin’ Through the Christmas Holiday

Throughout the stay at home orders, Zoom has connected me to a variety of important people in my life. It truly helped me fight the horror of the isolation we’ve all endured. I have met with family members I had never met before. We planned a face-to-face reunion this summer, but we had to cancel it. So, Zoom took its place.

Through Zoom, I have attended weekly recovery meetings continuing my work to keep sane. I’ve attended my regular local meetings but have also found meetings in other parts of the United States. How that has broadened my view of the world!

Leading up to Christmas, I set up several Zoom parties to connect with friends all over the world.

  • December 15: Normally, every year I have dinner with Bec and Rhonda, the two teachers I team taught with and then later worked with at another school. We usually buy $10 of scratchers and while we’re visiting, we see how much we won. So, I proposed a Zoom Scratcher Party. What a delightful evening we had catching up. We won a few dollars and have plans for another Zoom get-together in January to celebrate Rhonda’s retirement.
  • December 16: From January 7 – 20, 2020 we went to Costa Rica with a group of people that we really enjoyed. On October 27, we did our first Zoom meeting with this group we lovingly call, “The Dirty Dozen,” and had a great time. Even our guide from Costa Rica attended. So, we decided then we needed a Christmas get-together. We had such a blast seeing each other, catching up again and seeing each other’s house decorations.
  • December 17: Our square dance club caller, Jerry Gilbreath, usually uses Christmas songs for his singing calls for the whole month of December, so we really get the opportunity to enjoy his beautiful voice. As I was thinking about missing his holiday songs, I thought, “How about a concert on Zoom?” So, we did “Jerry’s Christmas Concert” and had over 50 people attend! We’re talking about doing another one.

I wanted to host a Zoom Family Christmas party. My nieces and nephew are tech-savvy, but my brother isn’t, so I couldn’t do it without him.

Buying online: Stay at home
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Online Shopping

Leading up to Christmas, because of the coronavirus restrictions, I did almost 100% of my shopping online. Most of it turned out great.

I had one mishap with Blarney.com in Ireland. I ordered Lin a sweater on December 1, and they tried to charge an old charge card they had on file instead of the current one I gave them that night, but they never let me know the order was declined. I checked back several days later to find that out. When I reconnected with Blarney.com, Lin’s first choice was sold out in his size, but we found one to replace it, and it arrived several days before Christmas! Wow!!

Another company duplicated the item I bought. I know I didn’t order two, so tomorrow I have to check my charge card and see if I was double charged.

Normally, I shop locally especially enjoying Southwest gifts from favorite Old Town Albuquerque shops. Otherwise, my Christmas shopping went without a glitch.

Flyer for Christmas Eve Service - Stay at Home

Christmas Eve Service Online

My church, Hope in the Desert Episcopal Church, has streamed online church services through Facebook Live since the beginning of the shutdown, then they added YouTube.

I dressed up in my Christmas Eve attire—a Santa dress, hose and heels. In fact, this was the first time I’ve had hose on since January. I also blew dry my hair and put on make-up. I went downstairs, and Lin and I attended a beautiful Christmas Eve service. Afterwards, we savored blue corn posole and watched Christmas movies.

Normally, when we are in Branson, we drive to Des Moines, New Mexico to go to church at Mom’s church, the Des Moines Methodist Church. My cousin and her family attend there, too, so it was a good time to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with relatives I love.

Round table in Branson, CO
The Round Table We Play Games on in Branson, Colorado

Location of our Normal Christmas Celebration

For several years now, I’ve gone home to Branson, Colorado to celebrate Christmas with my Mom and Aunt when they were alive, and recently with my niece, her family and my brother. We have spent many hours sitting around the round table playing games, laughing and enjoying each other.

I inherited my Mom’s joy in cooking and baking for big gatherings, especially Christmas. Since I was baking only for Lin and me this year, I did much less baking: only one batch of chocolate peanut clusters, peppermint bark, peanut brittle and popcorn balls.

Mom passed on to me a delicious pie recipe that our family doctor’s wife from Germany gave her in 1952 . I use that recipe anytime I make pies. Normally I make 3-4 pumpkin pies, 1 pecan pie and maybe a Hawaiian Fruit pie. This year I made one pie!

I did have fun with the one pie I made. Lin was diagnosed with diabetes a couple years ago. He immediately changed his diet. Since then he has lost 40 pounds and is no longer diabetic, but he still watches his sugar intake. Early on, his nutritionist, told us about Monkfruit sweetener, a natural sugar substitute. This year, I used it in my pumpkin pie—what a success!

Usually we attend several holiday dance events, and I make Christmas goodies for them too. The pandemic shut those down too, and I didn’t need to make any extra batches of goodies.

Lin and Larada on Christmas Eve 2020: Stay at Home
Lin & Larada, Christmas Eve 2020

How Was It the Same?

I had the pleasure of spending Christmas with Lin who makes any holiday special with his positive attitude and hilarious sense of humor!

No matter what’s goin on in the world, Jesus is the reason for the season any year, but I especially focused on it this year. Because I had extra time, I spent more time contemplating this special holiday and its importance to me.

Usually I’m rushed, splintered, and frantic. This year, I took the time to concentrate on Jesus’ birth and its importance in my life. I hope you did the same!

How did the coronavirus affect your Christmas plans?



~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover

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

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

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

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

~ END OF THE YEAR SALE: Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles & bundles. Good until JANUARY 15, 2021. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Christmas · Costa Rica · My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Lin and Larada’s Christmas Newsletter & Decorations

I love the idea of the Christmas newsletter! I love looking back over my year and reflecting on it. I also love decorating my home with familiar decorations. Two traditions I love! Every year for thirty-two years, I’ve written a Christmas newsletter to share with family and friends highlighting my previous year. Also I seriously enjoy Christmas decorations. So, enjoy Lin and my Christmas newsletter and decorations.

Lin and Larada's Christmas Newsletter banner

2020 Started Off Great!

Yes, 2020 started off with a bang! On January 7, 2020 Lin and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime—twelve days on a private tour of Costa Rica with Lin’s ex-wife, Victoria. She invited us and 7 friends on this delightful escapade. We invited two of our friends, so the “Dirty Dozen” was formed. Our tour guide, Enrique, led a square dance tour in 2001 that Lin and Victoria organized, so Lin was excited to reunite with his old friend.

We saw exotic animals—quetzal birds, iguanas, Jesus Christ lizards, monkeys and sloths—and spent time in gorgeous jungle areas. We sailed over the canopy of the rain forest on a zipline! What an experience! We ended our trip with some leisure time and a catamaran trip out to snorkel.  

The majority of the people on this trip didn’t know each other when we started, but we became friends by the end!

After being home a few days, I squeezed  in a trip to Branson, CO to do major revisions on my book project. We left on February 27 for Barcelona, Spain with a group of square dance friends. Lin and I fell in love with Barcelona! Our tour guide, Bradley Dick, entertained us with his extensive knowledge and humor. Again, I can only give you highlights of a jam-packed twelve days.

I loved La Sagrada Família in Barcelona, a cathedral beyond description—truly sensory overload—and Gaudi’s other amazing architecture throughout the city. We also visited Montserrat, an 11th century Benedictine monastery built on the side of a mountain. There we saw a fascinating black Madonna and Christ Child.

In Valencia we enjoyed delicious paella, the place of its origin. From there we headed to the Arabic Triangle of Spain: Granada, Seville and Toledo with Córdoba in the middle. In Granada, we visited the Alhambra and Generalife, marveling at the influence of the Arabic world on Spain. 

In Seville, after dinner, we had a carriage ride with high-stepping Andalusian horses, stopping for photos in front of the Plaza America. In the evening, we saw Flamenco dancers, a much-awaited event for me! Dazzling sweeping costumes, taps on shoes and snapping castanets! 

On our trip to Madrid, we toured a gigantic Mesquita (mosque) and Catedral (cathedral) at Córdoba. From Córdoba to Madrid, we drove through La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote! In Madrid, we explored a small section of The Prado then drove to Toledo and toured this scenic city built on a cliff.

We left Madrid on March 8, 2020 and Spain had 500 coronavirus cases. Our magical second trip of a lifetime ended abruptly on our arrival home.

Then the Lockdown!

On March 9, we woke up to Spain’s explosion of coronavirus cases to 1500 in one day, so Lin and I started a two-week quarantine. I was certain we would get sick because we spent the last two days in downtown Madrid and then at the airport, but thank God, we didn’t. And that’s the way spring, summer and fall went. All of our annual square dance events were canceled. Lin dedicated his extra time to his garden and he produced the most amazing explosions of color and foliage ever—hours upon hours of work.

Because of Lin’s work in the garden, he always has a gorgeous tan and is very wise about how he does it, so I adopted his method and did a lot of sunbathing and reading.

Immediately, I became a fan of Zoom and have used it weekly to connect with family and friends. I’ve lived here for nine years and finally cleaned out a storage shed Lin bought for my extra stuff when we married. I found some treasures I’d forgotten about!

We have watched lots of British TV series, and my cat, Jesse, assumes the position on the arm of the loveseat every night for our TV time—something so unusual at our house!

We had planned a square dance trip  to Germany in September, but it was canceled too! We moved it to 2021!

And the Release of Flippo’s Book

I spent my time finishing up my newest book,  Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo in the midst of the pandemic. I had planned to release it at CALLERLAB at the end of April, but that event was canceled, so I had more time to work on it. I released it May 8, 2020 and am so proud of the end product which took me nearly three years to complete. It was the project of a lifetime.

Because all square dance events were canceled, I have spent time promoting this book online and have enjoyed the connections I’ve made with Flippo fans all over the world.

If you are interested, visit my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Lin’s Wildlife Habitat Certification

Lin's Certified Wildlife Habitat - Christmas Newsletter
Lin’s Banner

In planning his garden, Lin plants flowers that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and we’ve seen the increase of visitations from these creatures over the years. He also puts out bird food that attracts birds at twenty-five feeders. The culmination of his efforts resulted in meeting the qualifications for certification by the Wildlife Habitat, and he received his certification in October.


Miller’s Christmas Decorations

I’d like to feature our decorations at our home. You can’t come visit our house because of the pandemic, so I’d like to bring my home to you!

Santa & angel collection: Christmas Newsletter
Our Santa Claus & Angel Collection
Small village - Christmas Newsletter
A small Christmas Village
Our Christmas Stockings
Nativity - Christmas Newsletter
Our Famous Outside Nativity

A Miller Christmas Eve tradition is Lin reads a Christmas poem, “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer,” from Tombstone Epitaph. Enjoy!


Christmas newsletters, decorations, the magic of this holiday! Yes, I do believe!

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Christmas · Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Charles Dickens’ Message for Christmas 2020

Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

Is it “Bah, humbug?” or “God bless us, everyone?” Last night my husband, Lin and I watched Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a tradition we enjoy each year. What message does Charles Dickens have for 2020?

As I watched it, I know the story by heart. I studied Charles Dickens as an English major. I taught it to my sixth-grade literature class each year. We’ve watched each year together. I love its message!

And how does it relate to 2020, the craziest year I’ve ever experienced?

Ebenezer Scrooge, the story’s central character, receives a visit from his former business partner, Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve. Marley warns Scrooge of what’s coming: visits from three spirits.

The visits from the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come forced Scrooge to face the life he had lived, full of “Bah, humbug,” monetary rewards, and negativity since the death in childbirth of his sister, Fan. This reflected Scrooge’s own life because his mother died in childbirth with him and compounded his pain.

This story has strong implications for 2020: redemption and change.

Our Round Table in Branson, Colorado

Christmas Past

Year after year, my family met at our family home in Branson. I traveled there often in my adulthood. The attendees changed over the years. Years ago, Mom and Dad hosted Mom’s parents, Aunts and Uncles, cousins, and me.

Recently, my niece and our family joined Mom, Lin and I with Aunt Willie and my cousin and her family.

Throughout the years, we ate delicous meals, played lots of games around the round table, laughed and shared gifts. We caught up with each other’s lives—a memorable time.

Our family had its moments where we all didn’t get a long, but the people faced the adverse effects, offered forgiveness and we stayed connected.

Christmas Present

Lin and I will celebrate a memorable quiet Christmas here at home alone because we strongly support all the suggestions the CDC has issued about holiday gatherings. We will play Cribbage, open gifts and celebrate our lives together. It will be good because we have accepted the change we have to do to keep everyone in our family safe.

Many families face drastic changes this Christmas with a strong suggestion to not gather together. Sacrifice yes! Change, for sure! Can you do it?

The Future
What Does the Future Hold?

Christmas Yet to Come

I trust that next year we will again gather in Branson, sit around the table and play games with loved ones. We will visit the ranch we all love, looking for wildlife and reminiscing about all those special places we love. And I will relish next year more than ever because of the loss of time together this year! After this year, I will value my familial relationships more because of the stark lack of time with dear ones this year.

So much is different in 2020! Can we collective embrace Dickens’ lessons from the Christmas Carol?

If you’ve battled the mandates, could you change from “Bah, humbug masks” and rethink this and vow to wear a mask for your granddad or grandma’s sake? Your grandchild’s sake? To alleviate the load on our health care workers? Can you change to Tiny Tim’s prayer, “God bless us, everyone?”

If you’ve railed about everything that was canceled this year like your favorite square dance festival, could you say a quiet prayer for forgiveness and then pray for the families who lost someone to the coronavirus?

If you’ve put yourself in the center of this drama called life in 2020 and been so negative and selfish, could you bow your head and honor the health care workers who have placed their lives on the line for many every day in a selfless way?

Yes, change is possible! Redemption is possible, but the process is awareness, acceptance and action. The action is in the doing!

A Christmas Carol reflected Charles Dickens’ life. Because his father was imprisoned for debt, his life changed drastically, and his writing highlighted the brutal changes in his life. Can we take a breath and learn from Ebenezer Scrooge this Christmas? Not “Bah, humbug” anymore, but Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, everyone!”


~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Cover for Just Another Square Dnce Caller

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

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

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

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

Christmas · Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Memory?

Create a Favorite Christmas Memory
Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

Favorite Christmas memory—I have so many, but one stands out that has affected my whole life in different two ways. It’s about a white dress!

When I was four or five years old, my Mom made me a beautiful white dress with red embroidery on the top for Christmas. I remember her laboring over it because sewing didn’t come naturally for her.  I tried it on, and the gathered waistline with the fitted bodice just didn’t please her. It didn’t lie the way it should, so she ripped it out several times. She didn’t have one of those fancy sewing machines they have today that gathers easily—she did it all by hand. She so wanted to complete it for our Christmas Eve get-together, so her efforts continued, and I continued to try it on, hoping this time it worked.

I felt so special in her choosing to sew this for me. I anticipated wearing it Christmas Eve to the Horner family celebration at my grandparents with a multitude of relatives in attendance.

After all her hard work, Mom finished my special dress. I donned my miracle dress and saw the relief in her eyes! She took me to the mirror. I saw Cinderella in my reflection! I loved it!

When Dad got home from the ranch, I had to model it for him and he oohed and aahed over it, solidifying the fact I had been transported into a magical princess!

Larada at the age of my favorite Christmas memory
Me about the age of this Favorite Christmas Memory

I don’t remember any gifts that year, but I do remember Mom’s efforts and tenacity, that precious dress and the feeling I had when I walked in the door at my grandparents’ house and the reception I received! That’s a gift you can’t wrap! This is my favorite Christmas memory!

One way this dress event affected me

As an adult, I have made many Christmas presents, whether I knitted a stocking or a sweater, painted a plaster-craft cowboy statute or crafted a family calendar. The joy for me is the giving. I learned this from my mother’s wonderful dress project.

I love to knit a favorite Christmas Memory
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

This year I knitted twenty+ dish clothes during the pandemic and gave them as gifts to my family—therapy while I knitted a rhythmic simple pattern that soothed my soul in the movement. Those dish clothes blessed me and hopefully will bless the recipient.

One of My Favorite Square Dance Outfits
One of My Favorite Square Dance Outfits

Another way this dress event affected me

As a square dancer, the moment I don my gorgeous square dance outfit, I’m transported back to that moment as a child when I put on my beautiful Christmas dress Mom made. I am Cinderella ready for the ball.

If you look at the square dance attire for women and think how crazy, let me tell, once I put on my outfit and petticoat and twirl in front of the mirror, I am transformed. My feminine side comes out, and I love it!

So, a delightful Christmas memory that touched me deeply as a child and continues every time I dance and every Christmas gift I create. You can’t bet that!

Do you have a favorite Christmas memory that has affected your whole life? How old were you? How did it affect you?


~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Book Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Christmas · Coronavirus · family · My Thoughts

Christmas Shopping During the Pandemic?

Christmas Shopping the way it used to be!

Christmas Shopping Coronavirus-Style, has it been different for you? In New Mexico, we have restrictions limiting the number of people in a store, so if I do go shopping, I have to wait in the queue outside in the cold. I have to be near people who could be infected and so far, my husband, Lin, and I have been spared from this virus. So, for me, the answer is simple—stay home and shop online!

Over the last few years, I’ve bought many gifts online whether for my husband, my brother or the rest of my family, so I’m not new to this concept. One holiday tradition I’ve loved though is going to Old Town Albuquerque for regional gifts. I won’t be doing that this year.

So, for this year’s Christmas shopping, I’ve ordered online 99%. I did buy one gift while at Walmart this week.

Calendar - Christmas Shopping
Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

When thinking about Christmas gifts, I love making them and have done it for years whether it was a hand-knitted garment or a photo gift. This year I have had to cancel my favorite gift I have given my family for 23 years—a family calendar featuring photos from the previous year. We weren’t together in 2020, so I have none. Also, recently, I’ve had an eye problem with blurry vision which would make this project difficult, so no Horner Family Calendar 2021!

Here’s where the calendar idea came from! A couple years after my Dad died one of my team teachers, Rebecca Betzen, connected with my mom, wanting twelve pictures from my life. That was a sad Christmas, missing Dad, so Mom and I flew to California to spend the holiday with my brother and his family. Rebecca had been specific, “Don’t open my gift until Christmas Day,” so I did!

What a surprise! Mom had selected a variety of pictures from my childhood all the way up to my graduation dinner for my masters’ degree! Several pictures highlighted favorites posts on our family ranch.

This project thrilled me so much, I decided to do one the next year for Mom and me. We took a memorable trip to Eastern Europe, so I featured that trip in my first calendar. My ex-husband loved it so much, I made one for his family the next year, continuing the whole time we were together.

When we were just doing three or four, my ex and I printed the calendars ourselves. It was quite a job, but we mastered the process. When the number of calendars increased, I decided to outsource them to OfficeMax, and they have always done a great job!

At first, I put one picture on the page above the month, but after a few years and a large array of pictures to choose from, I created a collage of several pictures for each page and tried to highlight different people on each page. The time-consuming part was going through all of my photos and selecting which ones to use.

I first added my brother to the list of recipients, and the list has grown over the years. Last year I gave calendars to thirteen family members.

Several years when I first gave a calendar to my Aunt Willie, my Mom’s sister, I laughed at her response. I asked her if she liked it, and she answered, “Yes, especially November.” I spotlighted pictures of her on the November page because that was her birthday month.

So, yes, I take lots of pictures anytime we’re together as a family, and my family has come to understand that.

Horner Calendar 2011 Cover
Cover for Horner Calendar 2012

Each year I highlight whoever has shown that year like graduations or weddings. If a family member died the previous year, I featured him or her on the cover. I also highlighted our family ranch on the cover of some calendars. My second cousin married in England in 2017, and Lin and I attended, with me taking lots of pictures. Her new husband said, “I bet we make the calendar next year!” And they did!

A page from a calendar - Christmas Shopping
Photo Collage from 2020 Calendar

My joy came when my family members opened this gift and leafed through the pages, laughing at certain pictures and make heartfelt remarks. These calendars have become a historic family document of our year together.

So, Christmas shopping did change in 2020, but I’ve stayed focused on the joy and celebration of this precious holiday.

How has your Christmas shopping changed this year? What have you done differently?


~Visit my last three blog posts from last week:

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Christmas · My Thoughts

When Do You Put Up Your Christmas Tree?

Christmas tree

Many families have traditions that dictate when to put up the Christmas tree. Is earlier better? Right after Thanksgiving? How about Christmas Eve? When do you do it?

As a child, we put up our live tree we’d cut down off of our ranch around December 10th. As a family, we hunted for deer in October, walking the canyons and eyeing any possible tree and scoping them out. We always debated the size: Dad, my brother and I always wanted a big one. Mom wanted one to put on the coffee table.

Mom's size Christmas tree
Mom’s Size Christmas Tree. Photo by Oleg Zaicev from Pexels

When we moved into our new home in 1967, my brother and Dad selected the tree. This house had a higher ceiling, so they went for big—REALLY TALL! When they brought it into the house and the top curled over, they had to cut it off! What I remember is the delicious smell of a fresh cut tree!

As an adult, any time I came home for Thanksgiving, we would cut down trees the weekend after Thanksgiving. I love live, fresh trees! So, I decided the earlier I put it up the better! I usually put up my tree the first week of December. That gave me more time to enjoy it and all the decorations.

Photo by Nick Collins from Pexels

For several years I spent Thanksgiving away from home, so I bought live trees off of lots in Albuquerque. It shocked me how dry they were! To my horror, I found out they had been cut down months before. I realized I couldn’t put up that dead tree and be safe for a month, like usual. That forced us to buy an artificial tree!

Then, I returned to putting it up the first week of December and that has been my habit ever since! And yes, we have an artificial tree. I miss the smell of a piñon pine and the fun of cutting down a tree off of our family ranch, but we have decided artificial is the way to go for now.

Our Christmas Tree
Our Christmas Tree 2020

For certain, it’s a personal choice! I love everything about a Christmas tree! Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie. Turn off the lights and turn on your favorite Christmas music. Soak up the warmth of a lit Christmas tree! And make memories!

When do you put yours up? Is yours live or artificial? Why?


~Visit my two blog posts from last week:

Book Cover of Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Christmas · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Holiday Greetings From the Flippos and Who Else?

Holiday greetings

I love history so here’s a square dance history lesson about annual holiday greetings featured in Sets in Order magazine! From 1948 – 1985, Bob Osgood, the editor of Sets in Order, published a square dance magazine which dancers and callers waited for each month. He jam-packed each issue with pertinent information about this pastime and career that so many loved.

Each year in the December issue, Bob went above and beyond by featuring many callers with a greeting in the footer on many pages. Dancers searched the holiday magazine to see a seasonal greeting from their favorite caller and spouse. This idea personalized that magazine.

From 1964 – 1985, Bob had a greeting from Flippo each year. He repeated other callers throughout the years, but Flippo was the constant for twenty-one years! See Flippo & Neeca’s holiday greetings and listen to Flippo’s Texas holiday song. “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://buff.ly/2VhFtKk

So, who besides Flippo and Neeca did Bob spotlight for these holiday greetings? After looking through several past issues, I decided to feature one from the 60s, the 70s, and the 80s. Just an aside—the one from the 80s was the last issue of Sets in Order.

Here are lists from 1965, 1975, & 1985. The names underlined & bolded repeat more than one year.

Sets in Order December 1965 Cover & Holiday Greeting
Sets in Order December 1965 Cover

From December 1965:

  • Bob & Becky Osgood
  • Frank & Ethel Grundeen
  • Joy Cramlet
  • Merl & Delia Olds
  • Betty & Marvin Franzen
  • Barbara Stringer
  • Polly Abraham
  • Chuck & Dottie Jones
  • Roy & Jane McDonald
  • Arnie & Jan Kronenberger
  • Bill & Julie Royston
  • Ross & Phyllis Reeder
  • Jay & Ruth Orem
  • June & Walt Berlin
  • George & Mary Kay Elliott
  • Willie & Vonnie Stotler
  • Bob & Nita Page
  • Joe & Barbara Fadler
  • Frank & Carolyn Hamilton
  • Ken Collins
  • Bob & Roberta Van Antwerp
  • Forrest & Kay Richards
  • Jack & Ann Jackson
  • Tommy & Donna Cavanagh
  • Earle & Jean Park
  • Jack & Darlene Chaffee
  • Earl & Marion Johnston
  • Joe & Claire Lewis
  • “Dude” & Thena Sibley
  • Ed & Dru Gilmore
  • Lee & Mary Helsel
  • Frank & Barbara Lane
  • Johnny & Marjorie LeClair
  • Manning & Nita Smith
  • Marshall & Neeca Flippo
  • Don & Marie Armstrong
  • Bob and Babs Ruff
Sets in Order December 1975 Cover & Holiday Greeting
Sets in Order December 1975 Cover

Ten Years later, from December 1975:

  • Joy Cramlet
  • Bob & Becky Osgood
  • Ray & Elizabeth Jensen
  • Ken & Sharon Kernen
  • Henry & Mary Mayor
  • Walt & June Berlin
  • Manning & Nita Smith
  • Sandie Sanders
  • Marshall & Neeca Flippo
  • Chuck & Betty Pratt
  • Bob & Babs Ruff
  • Orphie Easson
  • Zabby & Lorraine Zabaro
  • Lee & Mary Helsel
  • Jim & Clara Mayo
  • Jerry & Kathy Helt
  • Frank & Barbara Lane
  • Lee & Jeanne Myers
  • Johnny & Marjorie LeClair
  • Bob a& Phyllis Howell
  • Bob & Roberta Van Antwerp
  • Masaru & Yumiko Wada
  • Ken & Dottie Collins
  • Dick Houlton
  • Tommy & Donna Cavanagh
  • Bob & Nita Page
  • Charlie & Bettye Procter
  • Curley & Ruthie Custer
  • Harry & Clara Lackey
  • Bob & Shirley Dawson
  • Ken & Doris Anderson
  • Vaughn & Jean Parrish
  • Elmer & Margie Sheffield
  • Ernie & Lani Kinney
  • Martin & Terry Mallard
  • Bill & Betty Peters
  • Harold & Li Bausch
  • Ed & Phyllis Fraidenburg
  • Chris & Ruthie Vear
  • Max & Margaret Neumann
  • Warren & Marilyn Rowles
  • Frank & Ethel Grundeen
  • John & Lorraine Melrose
  • Al & Jean Brownlee
  • Shelby & Laura Lee Dawson
  • Bob & Shirley Wickers
  • Dick & Susan Leger
  • Joe & Barbara Fadler
  • Jack & Carolyn Lasry
  • Don & Marie Armstrong
  • Jack & Thelma Murtha
  • Bruce & Shirley Johnson
Sets in Order December 1985 Cover & Holiday Greeting

Ten Years Later, from December 1985

  • Milt & Lorraine Zabaro
  • Joy Cramlet
  • Bob & Becky Osgood
  • Henry & Mary Mayor
  • Dawn Draper
  • Evelyn Koch
  • Nikki Campbell
  • Chuck & Betty Pratt
  • Charlie & Betty Procter
  • Frank & Barbara Lane
  • Daryl & Yvonne Clendenin
  • Mike & Gail Seastrom
  • Bob & Roberta Van Antwerp
  • Wade Driver
  • Harmon & Betty Jorritsma
  • Bill & Betty Peters
  • Gene & Thelma Trimmer
  • Carolyn & Jack Lasry
  • Ray & Donna Rose
  • Bill & Bobbie Davis
  • Cal & Judy Campbell
  • Ed & Barbara Butenhof
  • Max & Margaret Neumann
  • Johnny & Marjorie LeClair
  • Frank & Ethel Grundeen
  • Bob & Babs Ruff
  • Ray & Margaret Orme
  • Joe Fadler
  • Herb & Erna Egender
  • Marshall & Neeca Flippo
  • Bruce & Mary Johnson
  • Ken & Sharon Kernen
  • John & Freddie Kaltenthaler
  • Jay & Ruth Orem
  • Walt & June Berlin
  • Cal & Sharon Golden
  • Marvin & Lillian Franzen
  • Rusty & Barbara McDonald
  • Stan & Cathie Burdick
  • Jim Spence
  • Frank & Carolyn Hamilton
  • Manning & Nita Smith
  • Arnie & Anne Kronenberger
  • Santa Barbara Square Dancers
  • Charlie & Don Dillinger
  • Don & Marie Armstrong
  • Rip n’ Snort

If this has piqued your interest, to see all the issues from Sets in Order issues, go to: http://newsquaremusic.com/sioindex.html

If you would like your own set of this fascinating historical collection, to buy the two CD set, go to https://lloydshawfoundation.weebly.com/books.html

The price is $18 for non-members & $20 for members of the Lloyd Shaw Foundation.

History buffs, do you recognize the callers? To how many did you dance? Who was your favorite? Let me know how many you recognize.


~Visit my two blog posts from last week:

Book cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFS&IA1220INDIV

Christmas · My Thoughts

Enjoy Three New Mexico Christmas Traditions!

A traditional New Mexico Christmas differs from the rest of the world with three amazing traditions: tamales, bisochitos and lumanarias. The first two add delicious flavor to any meal, and the last one lights up our towns!

Tamales

“Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with a corn based dough mixture that is filled with various meats or beans and cheese.  Tamales are wrapped and cooked in corn husks or banana leaves, but they are removed from the husks before eating. Try them served with pico de gallo on top and a side of guacamole and rice.”

https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/mexican-tamales/

I’m lucky because I have a dear friend in Branson, Colorado who usually gives us tamales when she makes them. When I grew up, I had a delicacy: sweet tamales that had fruit inside instead of meat. Growing up, I had these more often than the meat-filled tamale.

My husband’s Costa Rican ex-wife gives us each Christmas Costa Rican tamales, wrapped in banana leaves and some secret additions that are yummy!

When I went to Mexican as a young married in the 1970s, we ate dinner at a buffet featuring Mexican food. I saw “tamale” on one dish and grabbed one not reading closely, remembering the sweet tamales I had as a child. I choked as I swallowed the first bit of the tamale, thinking it would be sweet, but it had meat inside! So be prepared! There are two types: meat-filled or fruit-filled.

If you’re interested in fixing your own, here’s a YouTube video on how to do it:


Bisochitos

One of the Three New Mexican Traditions: Bisochitos
https://www.pastiansbakery.com/biscochitos

Bisochitos became the official state cookie of New Mexico in 1989, and if you’ve had one, you will know why! They melt in your mouth!

“There are several variations of this recipe, but the flavors are the same… cinnamon sugar and anise. Some people use shortening instead of lard. Some people use anise oil instead of the real thing. Some people use brandy or rum instead of white wine.”

http://www.tortillasandhoney.com/2012/04/biscochitos-new-mexicos-official-state.html

Albuquerque’s own Pastian’s Bakery tops my list for bisochitos: absolutely scrumptious! We square dance with Sheri Pastian, and normally we have the pleasure of eating Pastian’s bisochitos at any holiday dances.

Visit Pastian’s Bakery for the best and tell them Larada sent you: https://www.pastiansbakery.com/biscochitos


Lumanarias

Albuquerque and any town in New Mexico lights up at Christmas like the rest of the world, but traditionally we enjoy a different type of lights, lumanarias.

“The glowing brown sacks that adorn Albuquerque walkways, churches and homes each holiday season are called luminarias and date back more than 300 years. The New Mexican tradition began when the Spanish villages along the Rio Grande displayed the unique and easy to make Christmas lanterns, called luminarias to welcome the Christ child into the world. A traditional luminaria is a brown paper bag, which has been folded at the top, filled will a couple cups of sand and a votive candle.”

https://www.visitalbuquerque.org/about-abq/culture-heritage/holiday-traditions/luminarias/

Starting December 1st, we see big displays in many stores of stacks of paper sacks and votive candles to make our own lumanarias. Then all is needed is sand to put in the bottom of the sack to stabilize the bag.

If you don’t want to do it yourself, Boy Scout troops offer great deals and deliver luminarias by the dozen to your home.

Traditionally we put lumanarias out on Christmas Eve. In fact, there’s a great lumanaria tour to do around the Ole Town area and surrounding neighborhoods. I love the golden glow created by the lumanarias all lined up a row.

In 2008, my Mom and I drove down to Old Town on Christmas Eve and saw lumanarias decorating the plaza and the church, San Felipe de Neri Catholic church. The church also provided a live nativity scene. Here’s a chance to visit this inspiring church: https://sanfelipedeneri.org/

Tamales spice up a meal. Bisochitos end any holiday meal with the delicious anise and cinnamon flavor! Lumanarias light our path! Yes, a New Mexico Christmas enjoys these three local traditions.

I’m sure I’ve missed a favorite New Mexico Christmas tradition of yours? Let me know if I did. What are your local unusual holiday traditions? Share them with me!


~Visit my blog post from last week:

Merry Christmas - Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFSANDIA1220INDIV

Coronavirus · Holidays · My Thoughts · Thanksgiving

How About Pizza for Thanksgiving?

Photo by Ponyo Sakana from Pexels

Yes, it was pizza for Thanksgiving! We knew it would be a different holiday because of Covid-19 restrictions, but I had an eye procedure on Monday of Thanksgiving week, and my recovery didn’t go well, complicating the food preparation.

I had the same eye procedure two years ago, so I dreaded it, but I didn’t think anything about doing it on Monday before Thanksgiving. Last time, I recovered quicker. They drastically changed the procedure on my second eye which made it more painful and invasive. So, I spent much of the week in bed. I took serious pain medication, so I also had the effect of that to deal with, but I stopped it on Wednesday.

So, no cooking happened. I’ve baked homemade pumpkin pies for the last ten years, so that’s what I missed the most, but we enjoyed our pizza dinner and store-bought pie!

For most of my life, Thanksgiving has been a family-filled holiday with delicious food, lots of people and games. Gradually, it’s changed over the years as family members pass away and people moved away. After Mom died, it’s been mostly Lin and me.

Last year, my brother joined us, and we had a festive celebration. He loves football too, so we spent our day eating a traditional turkey dinner and watching non-stop football. On Friday, we ventured out to the new Cabela’s in Albuquerque to witness a massive amount of hunting enthusiasts out ready for the sales. We didn’t stay long.

This year, we started Thanksgiving morning with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and punctuated the day with eye drops for Lin and me. Lin is recovering from his second cataract surgery and had a great experience with both but still needs eye drops.

Lin & Larada wish you a Happy Thanksgiving after pizza
Lin & Larada with her sore eye!

After our pizza—really cheese breadsticks shaped like a pizza—I snuggled down on the sofa in my favorite handmade afghan—a rainbow-colored creation from my Mom’s nibble fingers. A content time of relaxation with Jesse curled around my feet!

Larada Relaxing on the Sofa with Jesse Warming Her Feet!

We watched the two football games, cheering on our teams we’d picked in a football pool Lin runs. It felt really strange not to have the third game in the evening, but we survived!

After a light dinner, Lin called me out to see the Christmas lights he’d put up a couple weeks ago on the garage—the Christmas season officially started at the Miller’s house. We also began another holiday tradition we love: we started watching Christmas movies on Amazon Prime. We both enjoy the predictable plots and the celebrations of regional traditions.

As I look back over the day, it truly was a blessed Thanksgiving Day! Yes, we didn’t have all the trimmings we normally have, but we enjoyed each other and our crazy traditions.

Jesse helping me Type!
Jesse Helping Me Type This!

As I worked on this blog post, my cat, Jesse, sat partially on my lap as I typed this out on my laptop. I didn’t think I would be able to do this post this morning. I had a horrible setback with my eye. When I got up and walked into the bathroom, the sunlight hit my eye, and I recoiled with the pain, but I couldn’t get away from it quickly enough because of the wide window and the location of the sun. By the time I grabbed a Kleenex, I had some blood in my tears—not good! I have had major pain in my eye all day.

So after this mishap, I spent the morning very low-keyed and with limited technology, but I couldn’t miss communicating with you.

I’ve thought a lot about how much the coronavirus changed this holiday for so many—the sacrifice many people made for the safety of others and themselves. My family followed suit and celebrated separately. Yes, it was different—pizza and lots of eye drops, but it’s onward to Christmas!

How did you spend your Thanksgiving this year? Was it different? The same? Let me know!


~Visit my blog post from last week:

Merry Christmas from Flippo

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

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFSANDIA1220INDIV

Holidays · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Thanksgiving

What’s Your Favorite Thanksgiving Memory?

Pictures of Thanksgiving
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Restrictions, stay-at-home suggestions, don’t travel! This year continues to alter our reality with the danger of a traditional large family gathering at Thanksgiving becoming a super-spreader!

I have a possible remedy for what we face this year for Thanksgiving! How about a trip down memory lane to happier times? I’ve had so many wonderful ones, it’s hard to identify my favorite.

During my childhood in my country town, family surrounded me on Thanksgiving Day. We enjoyed the traditional fare of turkey and all the trimmings at noon time. Dad and other sports enthusiast watched whatever football game that came on. Usually the Dallas Cowboy played on this holiday. Dad hated them and rooted for Dallas’ opponent, no matter who they were!

Thanksgiving at this table often
Our Round Table in Branson, Colorado Has Seen Lots of Games!

The rest of us gathered around the round table in my parents’ home for an afternoon and evening of unending games, laughter and fellowship! At times, three to four generations gathered there for some of my favorite holiday memories. My family has always taken pictures, anytime we were together, so that was a part of the ritual, too!

As a young married, I offered to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner in Denver, Colorado with both of our parents in attendance. My parents came up early and stayed with us. I woke Thanksgiving morning sick as a dog, so Mom stepped in and finished the preparations! I wonder if it was nerves? My mom and mother-in-law were cooking giants!

Waiting for Thanksgiving guests

A few years later, my first husband and I moved to Loveland, Colorado and again we invited both parents for the big holiday. A massive snowstorm hit, starting on Monday of Thanksgiving week, and it came down for days. We had feet of snow, and my parents canceled because of the four-hour drive north. My in-laws and sister-in-law braved the hour and half drive from Denver, and we celebrated the holiday with no game playing but an enjoyable time. It was my first Thanksgiving without my parents, so it was hard for me!

After I divorced and while I was going to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, I spent all of my Thanksgivings with Mom and Dad, at my home. We started a new tradition. Dad and Mom drove to Loveland or Fort Collins, Colorado (I moved to Fort Collins later), and we had our holiday meal at different restaurants in the area. “The Old Farmhouse” became our favorite with seating in the various rooms of an actual old farmhouse. Then the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, we drove to Boulder to attend the Boulder Dinner Theater. My dad was this old cowboy who lit up with live music and performances! We did this for the four years I attended the university.

After graduation, I taught in Denver, Colorado my first year, then I moved to Raton, New Mexico, and another tradition began for my four years there. Dad, Mom and I drove to Alamogordo, New Mexico to share Thanksgiving with my half-sister and her family. We had memorable times of good food, laughter and lots of games.

When I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, I returned home for Thanksgiving yearly, but the gatherings were smaller. We still enjoyed delicious food and fun game time around Mom’s round table with my aunt and my cousin’s family. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we would go out to our ranch and cut down Christmas trees for Mom, my classroom or friends and me. Our fresh cut trees lasted so well throughout the holiday season. We also cut fresh cedar boughs—I love their delicious smell!

Dad’s last Thanksgiving was memorable yet sad. My nephew, Andy, had come to help Mom with Dad’s care after his recent hospitalization. On the Friday after Thanksgiving and a snowstorm, we drove out to our ranch to cut down trees as usual. As we faced a sizable drift to get to the trees, I told a young Andy, “See where you need to get. Punch it and drive like hell!”

His eyes twinkled with my permission to speed and with a giggled, we plowed through the drift easily, cut down our trees and created a memory we reference often!

When Ted and I got together, he had a Thanksgiving tradition I adopted, with a heavy heart at first. He regularly attended a round dance festival in Dallas, Texas that began the Monday of Thanksgiving week with the local round dance cuers cuing each night and workshopping during the day. The official festival began on Friday and lasted through Sunday. On Thanksgiving night, Ted and I would dance with a square dance club we both loved instead of round dancing.

No family, my Mom alone—the first one I felt horrible, but she consoled me and said you have to live your life! I grew to love the festival but hated missing time with Mom.

After Ted and I broke up, it was Mom and me. We shared the holiday with my cousin and her family. On Friday morning after Thanksgiving, Mom and I drove fifty miles to Trinidad, Colorado early in the morning to take advantage of the Black Friday sales. She absolutely loved the crowds and the craziness!

Then Lin and I married, and the three of us started a delightful tradition: Thanksgiving dinner out at the High Noon Restaurant and Saloon in Old Town Albuquerque. We booked our reservation for dinner around Lin’s tradition of watching football games all day. This restaurant provided a complete meal at our table for our size party then sent us home with all the leftovers! Mom loved this special place.

After Mom passed away, Lin and I continued that tradition for a couple years, but then I decided to cook our meal the last couple years. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and football dominated the day.

As, I stood at the counter to prepare the crust for my pumpkin pies, Mom joined me in my heart because I used her remarkable pie crust recipe given to her by our family’s doctor in 1953! Instead of grieving the loss of so many of my family as I moved around the kitchen, I remembered them all and the great times we’ve had.

Last year, my brother joined us for Thanksgiving, and we had a delightful time, our first Thanksgiving together in a long time.

This year, it’s Lin and me with the restrictions in place. So, yes, I’ve wondered about Thanksgiving 2020, but as I’ve remembered my previous celebrations, I am grateful for my family and the memories I will have forever!

So, my suggestion to you is take the time these next couple days before Thanksgiving, to walk back in time and remember those special celebrations and especially the people who made them so.  Then share them with me!


~Visit my two blog posts from last week:

Cover of Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFSANDIA1220INDIV

Coronavirus · Dancing · Gratitude · My Thoughts · Recovery

Grateful Now? Why?

Grateful

Why grateful now? The coronavirus has ruined plans for most of 2020, and now threatens to affect Thanksgiving plans! Many have died or lost family or friends. Irreparable losses! Cancellations, shelter-in-place, a world turned upside down! Is gratitude even possible in 2020?

For me, gratitude changes everything, but I’m not talking about an unrealistic Pollyanna attitude. Gratitude is a paradigm shift—a fractional shift one direction or the other off of the coronavirus to a larger, more glorious world.

So why is gratitude important now? For me, it’s an attitude that changes my perspective. I can focus on the negative, an easy choice. So the chaos and horror of the pandemic take over, and I obsess about today’s totals. Seeing what’s wrong comes naturally. Gratitude asks me to dig deeper and take a different route. Personally, I’ve had minimal losses, yet it has taken its toll on me but nothing like many with gigantic losses.

So what’s the power of gratitude? I concentrate on the positive, what’s right with the world, what I love about my life and suddenly I feel different!

The best way to be grateful: write a gratitude list. I learned about this tool in recovery. How do you do that? List two, five, ten things I’ve grateful for. Start small and increase as you practice this. In doing this, I take the focus off the problem and celebrate the solution.

Gratitude list

On November 19, 2020 here’s my gratitude list:

1. My sobriety

2. My God

3. My husband, Lin

4. My brother, Bub

5. My health

6. My family

7. My friends

8. My cat, Jesse

9. Our family ranch

10. My love of dancing

Today I sit in the waiting room at my husband, Lin’s eye doctor. He sits in an adjacent room, having his second cataract surgery in a month or so. The success of the first one prepared him for today’s ordeal. His natural grateful spirit often shows me the power of gratitude for the seemingly small things. His positive attitude contributed to the success of the other surgery, so I know the same thankful attitude will affect the outcome of this one.

Okay, it’s your turn! For what are you grateful? If you name someone specifically, be sure and tell he/she made your gratitude list today! I’d love to hear what you are grateful for during these hard times.


~My other current blog post, “Poetic View: Nine Months Later,” faces life after nine months with the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

Poetic View: Nine Months Later

Nine months later—exhausted

Nine months later! The world stands in disbelief of this current coronavirus’ surge! Is it the second wave or the third wave? I’ve lost count. Life continues but nothing is the same. I’ve changed my hairstyle. Covid-19 fatigue has become a reality for many, and as I contemplate my old life, I wonder?

Before coronavirus pandemic (BCP), I visited my favorite stylist every six weeks, and I loved his magic—a very sculptured hairdo, but I haven’t seen him since February. Why? For fourteen years before becoming a teacher, I was a beautician, so with my skills, I have trimmed the hair around my face and spiked the top, but I can’t cut the back easily.

After all this over, am I going back to my BCP hairstyle? Read my poem to find out.

My Hairstyles Before and After the Coronavirus Pandemic

November 10, 2020

BCP—Before Coronavirus Pandemic

            My stylish haircut

                        Manicured and neat

                        Six weeks regular appointment

                                    Worn spiked and short for seventeen years

The same stylist for years

            Slowly moved me into an isometric style

                        Super short on the left side

                                    Cut over my ear

Longer on the right side

                        Cropped close in the back

                        A strand of hair left longer on the left side

                                    In the back

At first I said, “No way!”

            But I gradually changed my mind.

I love this drastic statement!

            Stark

            Sharp

            Shouting,

                        “I’m different!”

Add to this

            Hot tamale red hair color

                        Started seven years ago

            Another strong statement

                        Extreme

                        Bright

                        Vibrant

NOW

ACP—After Coronavirus Pandemic

            No formal haircut

                        For eight months

            No visit with Mark, my stylist

                        No laughter

                        No exchange of heartfelt topics

I am a beautician

            Have been since 1973!

So, to compensate, I’ve cut my own hair

            Around my face

            I’ve spiked the top

            Combed the longer hair

                        In the back

                        Up to my spiked top

                                    Like so many years ago

                         For Farrah Fawcett’s long shag,

                                    Popular during the 1970s.

Hair—I now have hair!

            Nine months later

“My tail” has grown

            shoulder length

I catch myself fiddling

            With it,

                        Repeatedly!

My reflection in the mirror

            I see curls

                        Naturally

                                    Lots of them,

                                                An abundance!

Yes, the coronavirus changed

            Everything!

This last nine months

            Forced me to stop

                                    To slow down

                                                To change

So, I want my hair

            To reflect the change!

I’m no longer short-haired and manicured!

I’m still spiked

            But curly

                        Unmanaged

                                    Lengthy

                                                Not manicured

                                                            Mindful

                                                                        Different!


Also, these nine months of the stress and strain of the coronavirus pandemic has caused a phenomenon called “Covid-19 fatigue” for many. Here’s my thoughts:

Nine months later

Suffering from Covid-19 Fatigue

November 10, 2020

I’m tired!

            Exhausted!

Days of endless counts

            Record cases

                        So many deaths

                                    Serious, critical cases

Multiple concerns

The world

The United States

New Mexico

Swings, dips and dives

            On this rollercoaster ride

                        We’re on!

An apparent low

            After the first wave

                        A respite

                                    An optimistic view

                                                Of the future

Is it over?

Then the next wave

            The surge

Then the next

            I’ve lost count!

I’m tired

            Exhausted!

                        Worn out!

Personal choices

            For safety

                        Self-isolation

                                    No dancing

                                                No face-to-face interaction

                                                            With friends

                                                No travel

                                                No break

Just the constant

            Staying home!

During the summer

            Lin’s garden provided

                        A respite

                        A paradise

                                    To distract

Luscious time outside

            Sunbathing

            Working

            Enjoying the warmth

                        The flowers

                                    The birds

The cold weather forced us

            Inside

The mundane repeat of

            Every day

                        Not bored; I have too much to do

                                    Just tired of the same,

                                                Bone-tired!

One trip to our family ranch in late August

            Since March

Restrictions stopped that!

Cancelations of

            Favorite square and round dance festivals

The virus surges

Winter and colder temperatures crowd in

            On me.           

                        I’m tired

                                    Weary

An ah-ha moment

            I’ve held my breath

                        For nine months:

Lin and I have not gotten it

                        We’ve stayed healthy

                                    So far.

Yet, I’m tired of

            The stress

                        The fear

                                    The unknown

                                                The stupidity of

                                                            Naysayers

Will it end?

            Will we be able to resume life as usual soon?

                        When can I breathe normally again?

                                    In a month, two, or four?

                                                I’m tuckered out for sure!


In response to the duration of this pandemic, I stated to friends, “I want my old life back.”

One woman’s wise answer surprised me, “I don’t! I want to take what I’ve learned during the pandemic and make a lasting change!”

Here’s my thoughts:

Stop the rush nine months later

Do I Want My Old Life Back?

November 10, 2020

“I want my old life back,”

            I voiced to friends.

A response of one thoughtful woman

            Dazed me,

                        “I don’t want my old life back.

                                    I want to savor what I’ve learned and apply it.”

Her answer jarred me!

            Do I really want my old life back?

I miss my rich life

            Dancing

            Traveling

            Friends

            Activity

                        A positive lifestyle I’d chosen.

Looking back, I realized more

A life of

            Hurry

            Set schedule

            Rush

A life of

            Demands

            Commitments

            Craziness

A life of

            Travel

             But

             Extensive preparation

             Cat sitter for Jesse

             My travel list checked and rechecked

                                    Then the return

A life of constant

                        Going

                        Coming

                        Movement

A life of. . .

These nine months

            Stopped me

                        In my tracks

                                    A total change!

Now my life is

            Daily Cribbage games

                        During breakfast

            Three shared meals

            Simple evenings

At home

Now my life is

            Leisure mornings

                        Lingering over my daily Quiet Time

            Finishing books

                        Repeated readings

                                    And

                                                New discoveries

            Finally finishing

                        Long-standing To dos!

Now my life is

            Lin, my husband

                        Laughter

                                    Conversations

                                                Hot tub time

                                                            Deepened love

            Jesse, my cat

                        Daily brushings

                                    Daily lap time in front of the TV

                                                Constant presence

Now my life is

            Relaxed

            No pressure

            Finally feels like

                        I’m retired!

So, what I want to do

            When we return to our more normal life

Bring my relaxed atmosphere and attitude

            To my new life

Give up our hectic lifestyle

Keep closer to home!


After nine months, coronavirus surges.

Nine months and my life has changed forever! How has your life changed? Have you realized something special? Do you want to return to your life as it was or something different?


~Visit my blog from last week about Marsahll Flippo and Día de los Muertos: https://laradasbooks.com/2020/11/08/marshall-flippo-gone-for-two-years-but-not-forgotten/

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFSANDIA1220INDIV

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Marshall Flippo: Gone for Two Years but Not Forgotten

Marshall Flippo
Marshall Flippo

Yes, it’s hard to believe! Marshall Flippo died November 4, 2018, and here we’ve lived two years without him. Hopefully for those who bought his biography, you’ve been able to keep his memory alive and celebrate his life.

Lin and I watched Disney’s “Coco,” to add to my celebration of the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in my blog from last week. What a precious story that is! One of the premises in the movie is Miguel’s father, Hector, abandoned the family, so for several generations they banned music in their homes, and they cut Hector’s photo out of the picture celebrated on Día de los Muertos. So, on the Día del los Muertos, Hector came to the gate to cross over to join his family’s celebration, and the gatekeeper denied him because no one posted his picture—Hector’s retribution!

As I thought about this story line and the loss of Flippo and so many dear friends and family, I wondered what Flippo, Frank Lane, Lee Kopman, and many others were doing right now, so here we go!

Frank Lane died on October 31, 2018, Flippo on November 4 and Lee Kopman on November 13—within three weeks, three major square dancers lost to this world. Unlike the movie, “Coco,” the inhabitants of the Great Beyond look young and vibrant. When Flippo passed away, Frank greeted him warning him about the smoking policy in their new place. To Frank’s surprise, Flip stated, “I don’t want a cigarette!” Miracles do happen!

Then Flippo added, “Frank, have you played ‘Petals Around the Rose’ recently?” Frank laughed and said, “I’ve played it several times up here.” Soon the two of them greeted Lee—a heavenly reunion. Square dancers rejoiced and have enjoyed many festivals since this trio arrived.

Dia de los Muertos 2020 arrived and many of our deceased loved ones crossed the bridge and joined us on this memorable day whether we saw them or not, so obviously we remembered them with photos and reminisces.

Bob Osgood
Bob Osgood

After their return across the bridge before dawn, dancers donned their festive square dance attire and participated in a gigantic dance with this powerful threesome calling on the biggest celestial stage with live music similar to our amazing Ghost Rider Band. This heavenly band included Pancho and Marie Baird and the Git-fiddlers Band playing with Earl Caruthers and his Hoedowners. Bob and Becky Osgood and Lloyd “Pappy” and Dorothy Shaw organized this big event with workshops on dancing and style. They reminded the dancers about smooth dancing. And was it smooth!

Flippo kept elbowing Frank saying, “Listen to that band! The best I’ve ever heard!” And Frank agreed.

Bettye and Charlie Proctor
Bettye and Charlie Proctor

Favorite cuers like the Manning and Nita Smith, Charlie and Bettye Proctor joined in, providing rounds between tips. The multiple round dance circles filled the whole dance floor.

My dad and mom sought out Flippo and made a strong connection through me. I can imagine the smile on my dad’s face as he danced to these historic callers and cuers!

Neeca Flippo and Barbara Lane sat at the back of the stage, clapping and enjoying their husband’s music and friendship. Norman and Nadine Merbach sat beside them, proud of their star, Flippo.

Lee Kopman wowed everyone with a variety of new moves he’s created in that other world with unfamiliar names and calls I can’t even imagine!

The highlight of this special dance came when this trio invited other callers to join them. The crowd went crazy when their favorites took the stage, yet it appeared the dancers loved all of the callers. Flippo honored his mentors from Abilene, Texas to be the first on the stage during this part of the dance: Betty Casey, J. C. Wilson, Bob Sumrall and Owen Renfro. When they finished, they circled Flippo and celebrated his successful career and their part in it.

Bob Fisk
Bob Fisk

As always, Flippo enjoyed the breaks between tips, socializing with friends. He teased Bob Fisk about his full head of hair. Beryl Main reminded Flippo of his lost suitcase and all the fun they had being “The Chaparral Boys.”  When that topic came up, Jerry Haag joined in the reverie, and Flippo recalled Jerry’s Brenda Flea after party routine.

The Chaparral Boys
The Chaparral Boys

A cluster of callers gathered around Ed Gilmore, an icon in the calling world. Joe Lewis stood near Ed, and Flippo joined them. Flip had always been in awe of Joe Lewis as his hero.

Arnie Kroenberger
Arnie Kroenberger

When the music stopped, Flippo heard a familiar voice and saw a crowd of dancers huddled around Arnie Kronenberger, and immediately he knew Arnie was telling his favorite joke—cleaned up for sure.

Dave Taylor
Dave Taylor

As he surveyed this collection of callers, Flip eyed Dave Taylor and moved towards him.  As they hugged and reconnected, they remembered their countless dances they worked together, especially their trip to England and Dave’s driving on “the wrong side of the road.”

Al "Tex"Brownlee
Al “Tex” Brownlee

After the next tip, Al “Tex” Brownlee shouted, “Flippo, come on over here!” He waved a pair of handcuffs at Flip and began laughing at that hilarious trick he pulled on Flip. Flippo wondered how Tex could tell any of his jokes here, but Tex assured him that he had clean versions.

Bill and Phyllis Speidel
Bill and Phyllis Speidel

Flippo relished his dancer friends as much as his caller/cuer friends. He approached Bill and Phyllis Speidel with a laugh. Bill had his magician outfit on, and he grabbed Bob Fisk to remind him about his cowboy hat that appeared to be ruined so many years ago.

Then Flippo rushed to Whitey Puerling and hugged him close. With tears in his eyes, he recalled their trip to Spain and the Easter parade they never found. Another couple nudged Flippo, Joe and Cricket Young. He left Whitey and visited with them. As happened so often for Flippo when he was at a square dance event—he didn’t have enough time to spend with each friend!

Cal Golden

When Cal Golden took the stage in his glittery costume, the dancers roared. Other callers made their appearance: Bob Page with his wife Nita, Bob Van Antwerp, and Bill Castner. I love it when multitude callers sing together. Later Max Forysth and Johnnie Wykoff joined Bob Yerington and Johnny Davis on stage. Bob and Al Brundage also performed for the crowd. The night ended with C. O. Guest, Billy Lewis and Hotsy Bacon.

After the dance, Harper and Ray Smith organized the after party, the party after the dance, and they are created with its’ beginning. They featured Singing Sam Mitchell and Flippo applauded the loudest—he loved Sam’s singing voice.

This memorable celebration of Dia de los Muertos, square and round dance style, ended in the wee hours of eternity—remember, no time in heaven! As you can see, the beat goes on, and square and round dancing continues to flourish in the next world. Someday I’ll see you there!


~Visit my blog from last week about Día de los Muertos: https://laradasbooks.com/2020/11/01/dia-de-los-muertos-a-celebration-of-the-dead/

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFSANDIA1220INDIV

Albuquerque · Holidays · My Thoughts

Día De Los Muertos, A Celebration of the Dead!

Women dressed for Día De Los Muertos,

Have you heard of Día De Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead? Right now, today and tomorrow, this celebration features skulls, painted skeleton faces, candles, food and cemeteries. It’s a popular Mexican holiday that has migrated into the southwestern states of the United States. So many mysteries reside in the Southwest: gorgeous sunsets over purple mesas, delicious Mexican cuisine, red or green chili and the Día De Los Muertos observance.

The traditional American culture avoids talking about death and grief, much less celebrate it. I wrote a grief memoir a few years ago about the loss of my parents and my growth in the process, and many who supported my other books have shunned it—too serious, too sad!

This Mexican tradition is a fresh approach uniting the living and the dead, celebrating the departed in a visceral way. They share a meal with their deceased loved ones as if they were here!

Before I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1991, I had never heard of this celebration. I grew up in southeastern Colorado. I had studied Spanish at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado and received a minor in Spanish—never heard of it. When I arrived in Albuquerque, I worked at a school with mostly Hispanic students and soon learned about the importance of Día De Los Muertos to my students. They spoke of calaveras (skulls in Spanish) which is

“an ornately decorated representation of a skull, often featuring flowers, animals, and other decorations. During the holiday, this imagery is seen everywhere, from Ofrendas, to paper crafts, and even to cartoons on newspapers. In a way, the Calavera has become an embodiment of the holiday itself.”

https://dayofthedead.holiday/sugar-skull/

My students quickly identified another definition of calaveras with this celebration. When my students first mentioned calaveras, I only knew them to mean skulls in Spanish and they talked of eating them, so I knew I had something to learn. My students’ eyes lit up as they described this festive occasion, so I listened and learned first-hand. Calaveras are sugary candies eaten at this time. Obviously, as families and a community, they honored their dead in a much different way than I had ever seen.

After their introduction, I did my own research and became knowledgeable about this important event. As an Episcopalian, I knew about All Saints or All Souls Day, November 1, but this holiday took it a step further. Here’s some interesting information about this delightful holiday:

Día De Los Muertos skeleton statutes
Image by dat7 from Pixabay

“Families create ofrendas (Offerings) to honor their departed family members that have passed. These altars are decorated with bright yellow marigold flowers, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the one being honored. The offerings are believed to encourage visits from the land of the dead as the departed souls hear their prayers, smell their foods and join in the celebrations!”

https://dayofthedead.holiday/

Día De Los Muertos Traditions

“Day of the Dead is a unique tradition celebrated every year across Mexico. It is a festival aimed at honoring one’s dead ancestors on the date when their souls are believed to return to Earth.”

https://dayofthedead.holiday/traditions/

Día De Los Muertos skeleton singer

When is the Día De Los Muertos?

 “Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. It is sometimes confused with Halloween because of the symbolic skulls but is not related at all.

It is said that on November 1st the children who have passed come back to visit and celebrate as angelitos and on the following day, November 2nd, it’s the adults (Difuntos) return to show up for the festivities.

Family members prepare for several weeks in advance for the tradition by creating altars, decorating burial sites, and cooking specific Day of the Dead food.”

https://dayofthedead.holiday/history/

5 Movies You Need to See about the Día De Los Muertos

  1. Coco
  2. James Bond’s Spectre
  3. The Book of Life
  4. Macario
  5. Día de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead

https://dayofthedead.holiday/traditions/5-day-of-the-dead-movies-you-need-to-see

10 facts to know about Día De Los Muertos?

1.     Day of the Dead is NOT Mexican Halloween

2.     The holiday has a rich and ancient history, dating back over 2000 years.

3.     Mexican families place Ofrendas to honor their deceased relatives

4.     Day of the Dead isn’t somber, it is a celebration

5.     Humor has played an important role in the holiday

6.     It is customary to visit cemeteries

7.     Marigolds are a key component

8.     Pastries and sweets are central to the holiday

9.     Different traditions exist in different parts of the country

10.  The Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City is a very recent addition

https://dayofthedead.holiday/traditions/10-facts-to-know-about-day-of-the-dead

La Catrina of Día De Los Muertos
La Catrina Image by Jae Rue from Pixabay

Día De Los Muertos has become so popular where I live! Stop in at many souvenir shops in Old Town Albuquerque and multi-colored skeletons in a variety of forms fill the shelves. One character I see repeatedly: a tall slender woman topped with a hat with feathers. Her name is La Catrina and she has been given credit for the skeleton-like makeup so associated with Día De Los Muertos. Learn more about her at:

https://dayofthedead.holiday/traditions/who-is-la-catrina

Día De Los Muertos pickup
Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay

So, if you’re driving through a southwest city on November 1st or 2nd in the evening, look for a cemetery, lit up with candles placed around a grave and families gathered together to celebrate the lives of their departed. Think about how you remember your deceased love ones. Maybe, next year, don some bright skeleton makeup and join in this age-old tradition!

This morning, I went to the App store on my iPad, and it featured six Día De Los Muertos sticker sets!

Larada celebrating Día De Los Muertos!
Larada celebrating Día De Los Muertos!

A special thank you to Day of the Dead website for valuable information. Visit to learn about delicious recipes of food shared at this holiday and more about the Mexican culture.

https://dayofthedead.holiday/

Have you ever heard of the Día De Los Muertos? Have you ever participated in the Día De Los Muertos celebrations? How do you view death?


Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover

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

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

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

~ Visit my Etsy Shop for 25% off individual paperback titles. Good until December 20, 2020. Here’s the coupon link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft?coupon=25OFFSANDIA1220INDIV

~Visit my last week’s blog about my Siamese Silver Tip cat, Jesse: https://laradasbooks.com/2020/10/25/how-about-a-cat-for-a-pet/

Cats · My Thoughts

How about a Cat For a Pet?

Jesse, my cat
My cat, Jesse

How about a cat? My life took a major change after my divorce from having dogs my adult life to having a cat. What a life transformation!

When my ex-husband and I divorced in 2008, I couldn’t take our wolf dog hybrid, Kita because I couldn’t manage him. For the first time in many years, I faced life pet less which I didn’t like. I discussed with friends getting another dog, but I traveled a lot and knew that wouldn’t work.

As soon as I talked about the prospect of getting a new pet, a pro-cat colleague encouraged me to get a cat, but I had never had a cat. She reminded me anytime I mentioned buying a dog that a cat was a better choice.

One day away from my office at a staff training, my phone rang, and my pro-cat coworker exclaimed, “I found your cat. He’s a stray. I’ve fed him outside our office. Come and see him.”

So, I drove to the office and met her outside. A filthy Siamese Silver Tip cat hedged his way around us. Skeptical, he kept his distance and meowed his Siamese yowl.

“I heard him crying last night when I left the office after a training I facilitated,” I told her. It felt eerie in the dark.

“Take him home tonight!” she directed.

I refused and went home but dreamed of cats all night, so the next day she helped me gather all the cat supplies I needed and I took him home. When I closely examined Jesse, my new pet, after a quick clean-up, he looked much better than the day before which made me realize he probably belonged to someone.

So, I took him to a vet to see if he had a chip—he did. Then, the vet called the owners, and they turned him over to me. When I talked to them, they identified Jesse’s vet so I had access to his total history. The vet told me Jesse’s age: he was six years old when I found him.

When I first got Jesse, he was not a “lap” cat. He kept his distance but seemed to appreciate our shared home. I quickly adjusted to having a cat, and I realized leaving him was far easier than a dog. When my Mom and I went on extended trip to California in 2010, a colleague’s son watched him. I called home every few days and talked to him through the answering machine. Mom thought I was whacked, but I knew he’d recognize my voice and not be so lonely.

After Lin proposed, and we contemplated to a new life together, I had to face his dislike for cats. He suggested first for me to get rid of Jesse and get a dog. I couldn’t do that! So, he compromised by wanting Jesse declawed because he had a leather loveseat. I found a vet that did the laser surgery which was supposed to be more humane that the traditional declawing method, but Jesse still suffered with the surgery.

We moved in with Lin in 2011 and found a system that worked for all of us.

In 2012, I had shoulder surgery and Jesse instinctually knew I needed extra care and often sat in my lap. Now we both enjoy our nightly ritual.

Jesse absolutely loves Lin and responds to him anytime Lin comes into a room with a big meow. A couple years ago, Lin and Jesse started a morning ritual: meowing back and forth like they actually understood each other. I laughed at the connection they have made.

I’ve had Jesse now for eleven years, so he’s seventeen. At seventeen years old, Jesse’s human age is 84 years old, a Senior cat. https://www.purina.co.uk/cats/key-life-stages/ageing/cats-age-in-human-years

In 2016, Jesse got really sick, and I found out he had feline diabetes. When this happened, he might have suffered a stroke too because he started this bizarre pumping of his back leg whenever you touch his neck. At first, we managed the diabetes with special food, but that didn’t work. So, we added insulin and have increased the doses over the years. I now give him shots twice a day.

He has never fought me with the shots. In fact, sometimes he meows and stands by the refrigerator reminding me he needs his shot!

I found a fantastic pet sitter who comes to our house twice a day when we’re gone to give Jesse his shots and plays with him. He loves her dearly and I feel safe with her watchful care. She has texted me photos of Jesse to show how he has faired during our absence.

Now my husband and I laugh about Jesse being senile. He sleeps most of the day, searches for that shaft of sunlight to warm his aching bones, and meows often for food or just to let us know he is still kicking. Another part of being a senior cat, Jesse can’t hear very well anymore which surprised us because he used to have amazing hearing.

Jesse, my cat, on the arm of the loveseat
Jesse perched ready to watch TV

Jesse loves to join us nightly on the arm of the loveseat. First, he perches there, then he moves to my lap to spend the rest of the evening. I love his rhythmic purr, a wiggle up closer and a contented sleep!