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!

Last week I talked about the dogs in my life. Click here to read it!

This week I introduced my cat, Jesse to you. Dog or cat—to me it doesn’t matter! I just need a pet because it adds so much to my life!

Jesse, my cat, reaches over and lays his paw on my hand!
Jesse, my cat, reaches over and lays his paw on my hand!

How about you? Dog? Cat? Both?


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Cats · Dogs · My Thoughts

Dog or Cat? What’s Your Preference?

Dog and Cat

Cat or dog? Strong feelings about one or the other? Which is the best pet? For many, a strong opinion prevails—I’m not one of them. I like them both and see the advantage of each. Here’s my pet history in two parts: my dogs this week and then my cat next!

When I was growing up in a rural country town, Dad felt dogs belonged outside, so we lost many of my early childhood dogs to people running over them—you know how dogs like to chase vehicles! Then my uncle gave us Kimo, a Chihuahua, and Dad finally agreed to an inside dog. This little one won all of our hearts. He didn’t last long though because he got hit by a semi-truck right in front of our house!

My half-sisters and half-brother lived in Denver, Colorado and brought a stray cat with them any time they came to visit. Dad counted at one time, and we were responsible for about 35 feral cats roaming our little village. Dad didn’t want cats inside either.

Nameless

Nameless, my last childhood dog, had a fun-loving personality and roamed our town freely. He loved to follow us everywhere we went. On a hike to Brown Springs in the mesa above our town, he tangled with a porcupine. I ran to the nearest house and told our family friend, Fred Smith, “Nameless got quilted!” He immediately knew what I meant.

To deal with this disaster, Dad took the front gate off of its hinges and placed it on top of Patches so he could remove the quills. This wasn’t Nameless’ first meeting with a porcupine. The first time, Dad tried to just kneel on him and pull out the quills, but Nameless bit Dad, so the gate served as protection.

Nameless had a bad habit of raiding the neighbor’s chicken coop, so our angry friend shot our dog, and Dad couldn’t defend him. I still felt bad with this loss!

For the majority of my adult life I have had dogs.

Windy, my dog
Windy & a young me! Notice the color of Windy’s eyebrows!

Windy

My first husband’s grandmother raised miniature poodles, so she gave us Windy as a puppy—a black haired ten pound ball of energy. Really that’s the reason she gave him to us; he was too much for her to handle. What a joy he was to us, and no, he was not a “yappy poodle.”

When my husband and I divorced, we each made a list of what possessions we wanted, prioritizing them. Windy topped my list; my husband wanted our water bed as his first choice.

Windy loved to travel with me, so when we went to Branson, he curled up in the seat and slept until we neared home, then he whined and barked, knowing we were close. He enjoyed going out on the ranch with Dad, Mom and me with his head out the window and his ears blowing in the wind.

When I moved to Raton, New Mexico and lived in a mobile home, I didn’t have a fenced yard, so when I let Windy outside, I had to put him on a chain I had attached to the steps. One morning, I let him out like usual, but he didn’t scratch at the door as quickly as he normally did.

I opened the door to see if he was okay, and he was hanging from the chain unconscious—I thought he was dead, so I called my folks sobbing. He came to before I arrived at the vet’s. He seemed to be okay, but within a couple weeks, my all black poodle’s eyebrows turned white. The vet thought it was because of lack of oxygen.

Windy lived seventeen years. I made the choice to put him to sleep because he had become senile and couldn’t control his bowels anymore. Mom went with me when I took him to the vet. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’s buried in the backyard in Branson.

Patches, my dog
Patches – notice the color of his eyes!

Patches

While I had Windy, my second husband and I rescued an Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix puppy who had one blue eye and one brown. When we got Patches, ticks covered his body, so we had our work cut out for us.

I remember a funny experience with him. Even as a pup, Patches exhibited his natural herding instinct. We had a big backyard in our home, and one afternoon, he herded Windy and a friend’s Great Pyrenees clear to the back of the yard. We watched him do the work systemically. He didn’t care he was a third the size of the Great Pyrenees!

Patches never wanted to be an inside dog except when the thunder and lightning crashed. He required little care but gave so much love.

My mom volunteered often to take care of him when my third husband I traveled, so they had a special relationship.

At the end of his life, Patches faced numerous cancerous tumors, and we agreed to spend the money to treat him, no matter the cost. He died in April 2003 in our living room between us. I cut a piece of his multi-colored fur and still have it stashed away in an envelope in my desk. What a gorgeous dog he was!

Kita

We waited until November 2003 to look for another dog because we had a big square dance festival commitment for Labor Day that required lots of travel during that summer. After several visits to the Humane Society, we had identified three dogs as our future possible pet, but we ended up with Kita, who was supposed to be an Akita/Chow mix.

On our final visit, a volunteer noticed a yappy puppy had caught our eye and redirected us to Kita. She said, “That puppy will drive you crazy. Look at this quiet one.”

Kita laid silent and almost blended into the concrete with his coloring. With big solemn eyes, he just looked at us. We took him outside to see how he would be with us, and he attacked a leaf and entertained himself easily, so we went home with our new pet.

As Kita grew, we realized he had been misclassified. On a trip to the wolf sanctuary in southeastern Colorado, they confirmed our suspicions. Kita was a wolf hybrid. We became aware afterwards that the Humane Society couldn’t identify him as a wolf. We took him to another wolf sanctuary in New Mexico and they agreed with the other one—we had a wolf on our hands.

Kita demanded a lot of attention, so my ex-husband wrestled with him nightly. Once, I watched Kita drag a lounge chair around our back yard—he needed activity. He demanded a daily walk and lots of rough-housing!

Losing Kita in the divorce devastated me, but I couldn’t manage him, so I let him go. Yet I yearned for a pet.

Next week, I’ll tell you about my change over to the cat world and how that went! So dogs or cats? Which is it for you?


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

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Facebook · My Thoughts

“Shame on You”—Bullying or Not?

Innocent couple by the bay
Image by Bingo Naranjo from Pixabay

And they felt no shame.”

Genesis 2:25 NIV

Bullying or not? At age 67, someone commented on a Facebook post of mine this week, “Shame on you.” Now, that’s amazing to me! I don’t think anyone has said that to me since elementary or middle school. It wasn’t an accusation my parents used at all. This current attack caught me totally off guard. I knew I had to talk about it, and what better place than my blog. I’ve vowed not to fight on Facebook, but here I can do a thoughtful consideration of a toxic topic so destructive.

I do believe the statement, “Shame on you,” qualifies as a bullying technique, and bullying has become rampant in our world over the last few years. Whether I’m the target or witness, it aims to injures my soul. I saw a bully’s harm repeatedly as a middle school teacher, so I do think those who use it might be locked into that age mindset.

Then, what did I do to spurn this rebuke? I took my own advice from last week’s blog and created a positive post about the vice-presidential candidate of my choice. Shame on me for what? Having a different opinion? Being a woman? Using the brain God gave me to think independently? What?

Others who disagreed with me politically joined in with their reproach and misinformation, but I had friends who supported my post. What began as a simple positive post ended up a political battle field—exactly what I was trying to avoid!

Stop bullying

So, I plan to use this teachable moment—once a teacher always a teacher even though I’m retired. The dictionary defines shame as:

  • to cause to feel shame; make ashamed: His cowardice shamed him.
  • to publicly humiliate or shame for being or doing something specified (usually used in combination): kids who’ve been fat-shamed and bullied; dog-shaming pictures of canines chewing up shoes.
  • to drive, force, etc., through shame: He shamed her into going.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/shame?s=t

From the definitions listed, this person tried to do publicly humiliate or shame me (bullying me), but guess what? It didn’t work. This new attempt at shaming me took me back to my teaching days witnessing bullies trying to dominate someone on the playground. It took me back to my childhood when some bully tried to one-up me! But its power evaporated!

As I pondered the word, shame, I remembered where I’ve heard it talked about often— in my recovery groups. We have a great slogan to defuse it: Guilt says I did something work; shame says I am wrong. I’ve spent years dealing with toxic shame that debilitated me.

One source that helped me early in recovery was the work of John Bradshaw and one book specifically, Healing the Shame That Binds You. John’s website describes this book: “Toxic shame limits the development of self-esteem and causes anxiety and depression, and limits our ability to be connected in relationships. This book is for those seeking the one great thing that is missing in their life–WHOLENESS and WELLBEING.”

https://www.johnbradshaw.com/bookstore

Bradshaw says, “. . .shame as a healthy emotion can be transformed into shame as a state of being. As a statue of being, shame takes over one’s whole identity. To have shame as an identity is to believe that one’s being is flawed, that one is defective as a human being. Once shame is transformed into an identity, it becomes toxic and dehumanizing.” Healing the Shame That Binds You, Page vii

When I walked through the doors of recovery rooms many years ago, I suffered severe depression and low self-esteem. As I faced my alcoholism and deep injury caused by incest through doing step work and adding individual therapy, I moved beyond the shame that bound me. It took years!

Recently, a recovery friend suggested a daily devotional, Shine the Light of Truth on Shame: Daily Reflections by Santa Fe author, Barb Tonn. I’m always open to going deeper. This book is described as “. . . a refreshingly unique book that provides an honest, thorough, easily understood, and insightful program to release us from the pain of shame. Author Barb Tonn shares from a deep well of tools she developed working as a psychotherapist, who for over thirty years specialized in healing shame.”

Tonn says, “Shame is a profoundly hurtful way of gaining control. It damages relationships and trust. It tears down and does not build up again. Shame is NEVER the way to attend to problematic situations.”

Shine the Light of Truth on Shame: Daily Reflections, Page 16

I love Tonn’s practical advice and tools on dealing with shame today, and reading it prepared me.

So the Genesis verse referenced at the beginning tells us that Adam and Eve felt no shame in the sinless beginning of this world, and I long for that perfection to return! When this attack came, my years of recovery prepared me not to react, but it has shown bullies still exist in this world, no matter what our age!

Will I stop posting positive information? No, because I won’t quit! I refuse to let the bullies win.

No to bullying

What do you do when bullied or shamed? Let’s hope that our discourse on the topic will help those of us who want a better world, a world without toxic shame and bullying.


Book 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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

My Thoughts · Politics

I’m Stupid, I’m Satanic Because of Our Political Disagreements!

Two specific political memes on Facebook this week caught my eye and rumbled around in my head all week, demanding I address what this meant to me. One implied half of the country and I are too stupid because we disagree with one party’s assertions. I don’t agree with you; therefore, I’m stupid! The second claimed that it’s their candidate versus Satan which would include me because I support that person. I am a Christian and appalled at that supposition. Does the person posting this type of political memes ever think by saying, “(Fill the party name) is stupid or satanic,” they might be talking about his/her hairdresser, cousin, or best friend?

The logic behind these vicious memes escapes me, and I’m offended by these statements.  I don’t comment on Facebook with everything I disagree with because I don’t feel it’s my place to argue with someone’s post. Maybe that person doesn’t realize how divisive and ugly this kind of political campaigning is, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt, talk about my feelings about this issue and offer a possible solution!

Recently, the month or so before an election, many people choose to stop participating on Facebook because of this sort of rhetoric! She innocently posts something political and positive then gets attacked by the other side, with dear friends throwing insults and verbiage she can’t imagine. So, the solution is to walk away and take a break, hoping all is healed after the election. I understand that tactic; however, I propose a positive alternative.              

Disagree agreeablly

I love this quote from Bob Ehrlich, “Thoughtful people of different political philosophies can disagree, but in a very agreeable manner.”

Here’s more information about Bob:

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

So, can we disagree in an agreeable manner? That’s the question. Yes, I understand this election seems larger than life with both sides saying it’s the election of a lifetime, but can we dial back the accusatory posts?

People have noted that the current division in our country has torn families apart in a way like no other election. Personally, I abhor arguing politics because my Dad and I often screamed nose-to-nose, red-faced and veins popping, clearing a room anytime the topic came up. Neither of us won! Neither of us changed the other’s mind—wasted energy and wounded spirits!

The last big fight we had we were driving down in our canyon after the election, a beautiful fall morning. His candidate didn’t win. Up until this point, we enjoyed a light jovial conversation, then Dad stopped the pick-up in the middle of the road, glared at me and repeated this question, “Are you one of them?” (A member of the opposite party).

When I replied, “No, I really don’t like either party. I’m an independent,” that wasn’t a satisfactory answer. Then he wagged his finger in my face as if I were a little girl and hurled, “Did you vote for him?” (The opposite candidate)

I pulled myself up in my seat to my full height of five foot three inches and declared, “Yes, I did!” He lost it then with every insult he could think of! Did he really think that behavior would change my mind? After that I avoided any political battles with him. Often, he tried to lure me in, but I refused!

So, why did I tell you that? Today I do believe that we can “agree to disagree” in a respectful manner. I have witnessed intelligent conversations where opposing beliefs were shared, listened to and honored, and everyone walked away the better off for having participated. I believe in the two-party system of our country. We need both parties and their ideals to balance each other. Neither are Satanic or stupid. I believe in energetic and passionate involvement, but I also believe we have to be kind and loving, more than anything. On November 4, 2020, I want to retain friendships with those who disagree with my politics. I want no relationship fatalities!

Let's agree to disagree!

            So, I present my Facebook challenge, starting today over the next thirty days—a halt to the ugly propaganda-style posts hurling insults at the “other” candidate. I encourage thoughtfulness instead. How about a post about the positive characteristics of your candidate? Celebrate your nominee with his attributes, his successful track record and his accomplishments.

            I know that some of you are shaking your heads at me and saying, “This is pie-in-the-sky, Polly Anna mentality.” That’s okay.

            To support your pessimistic stance, before an election several years ago, a friend of mine tried to have a positive forum on her Facebook page asking people to only share positive traits of their candidate, no bashing of the opponent. It lasted a short time before someone got on his/her soapbox lambasting the other opponent. Okay, I get it—that’s the easy way out!

            But what I offer here might be difficult and unusual in these times, but I believe doable! It’s called a challenge because of its difficulty! I dare you to dig deep and think of me when you’re posting something questionable.

A Challenge

            So, will you take the challenge? I commend you if you do. Maybe we can make the Facebook world a kinder, gentler world over these coming weeks and be proud of our effort.


Book 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

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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

My Thoughts

“Easy Does It!” But How Do You Do It?

Red-headed woman relaxing on a lawn
Photo by Natalie from Pexels

“Easy Does It!” Sounds simple but really? This slogan stands as one of recovery’s many: First Things First, Think, One Day at a Time, Let Go and Let God and Easy Does It. This week “Easy Does It” continued to surface in my mind, so I thought, “what does it look like?”

Historically, I know what it doesn’t look like! I’ve been a workaholic my whole adult life, driven to overproduce! It started when I worked towards my Bachelor’s degree at 28 years old at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. During my first year, I attended classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I worked part-time as a beautician on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and did some babysitting on the weekends.

From my second year until I graduated, I dropped the babysitting and worked part-time as an English mentor in the computer lab where every Freshman had to use it for their English class. This work study job helped finance my degree but demanded more of my precious time.

As I added each additional commitment, I revved up more energy, more determination even though I had less time to do all of this. These four years of intense requirements set in motion a lifestyle I continued for the next 40 years+!

During my teaching profession, I worked hard at school and late in the evening, preparing for the next day or grading papers. I added committee work at my schools to this already busy schedule.

After I joined the square dance committee, I jumped in with several volunteer commitments locally and nationally—still working full time and chairing annual festivals.

Before I retired, many friends had already retired and I heard several say, “I’m busier now than when I worked.”

I uttered this curt response to my husband any time I heard that, “Shame on them! They’re in control of their lives.” Those words came back to haunt me.

My Mom became ill in December 2012 and came to live with Lin and me. I became her primary caregiver, still working full time as support staff for two departments at the district level of Albuquerque Public Schools. My boss allowed me to work remotely at home or the hospital as much as possible, so that helped, but I still had face-to-face training responsibilities.

When I retired in May 2013, my Mom had just died in March, and I became the executor of her will, dealing with probate in two states, New Mexico and Colorado. Now I had some open time, so I needed something to focus on—to fill the void. So, I pulled out a collection of poetry I had written thirty plus years earlier and published it. It fed my aching heart.

So, this ignited another phase of my working life in retirement: I have self-published five books and three cookbooks in the seven years of my retirement. Doesn’t sound like “Easy Does It,” does it?

Each book had its specific demands: the actual writing, research, formatting and publishing, promoting and marketing. But my last project went over the top! I wrote the biography of the most famous square dance caller in the world. It ended up being a nearly three year commitment from start to finish. I recorded forty hours of interviews, then I had to transcribe them all. The work continued with production of a paperback, a hardback and e-book and covers for all of them, collaboration with an editor and a total rewrite, lots of research, and final publication preparation. Currently, promoting dominates my time.

Whew! But for the last couple months I’ve exhaled and finally felt retired! Being home so much with the coronavirus pandemic has also eliminated our hectic square dance schedule and given me extra time.

Lady enjoying a field of sunflowers

As I pondered what “Easy Does It” looks like, I’ve finally figured it out:

  • Leisure morning
    • Get up about 7:00-7:30 am
    • Read the national news
    • Do my Quiet Time of reading and writing
    • Eat breakfast
    • Play a couple games of Cribbage
    • Sunbathe
      • Enjoy Lin’s Garden
      • Read my current favorite book
  • Leisure meal
    • Eat lunch
    • Watch one of our favorite TV shows
  • Focused afternoon
    • Check email
    • Do computer tasks
      • Promote Flippo’s book
    • Exercise (Lin has helped me with this because he has a rigorous exercise plan, so I do mine when he does his.)
  • Leisure meal
    • Eat dinner
    • Watch one of our favorite TV shows
    • Go to the hot tub
    • Shower
    • Watch one of our favorite TV shows
      • Promote Flippo’s book
      • Knit
      • Play on iPad

Repeat daily!

So, what changed? The change for me has come through years of recovery work, facing my workaholism. I knew I had to deal with it—Mom and my brother often voiced their concern about the unrealistic schedule I kept.

Recently, a fleeting thought flashed in my mind—this is what retirement/Easy Does It looks like? I felt calm with no major demand forcing me to work. I chuckled and thought, “So, this is what it looks like!” After that moment, I questioned my conclusion—is this for real? Then it happened again, and I realized I had set something in motion.

What do you think? Do you know how to “Easy Does it?” Tell me your experience!


Just Another Square Dance Caller book 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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · Mom · My Thoughts · Recovery · square dance

A Safe Birthday Celebration Today—How?

Birthday candles
Photo by fotografierende from Pexels

During the coronavirus, how do I safely celebrate my husband’s 80th birthday in a special way? I have wrestled with this problem as soon as the quarantine began. I had thought about an open house, a square dance in his honor, and a variety of other possibilities. Then the pandemic hit, and I realized I couldn’t do any of these.

I had been raised to go all-out for birthdays and have ever since my Mom did that for me repeatedly as a child and an adult. She felt a birthday had to be celebrated, and I have continued that idea, but the pandemic created a major obstacle.

When my husband, Lin, turned 75, I treated us to an Amtrak ride to Winslow, Arizona and two nights at La Posada Hotel, a restored Harvey House. Many people asked us what in the world did you do in Winslow for two days, and we laughed! We toured all the souvenir stores and visited a remarkable museum. Lin and I spent hours on a self-tour of the La Posada, a Harvey House, enjoying its remarkable history. We savored delicious food in the Turquoise Room at La Posada, unique gourmet meals. Also, we basked in our gorgeous room and balcony.

How was I to compete with that memorable birthday celebration? About a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending a family reunion via Zoom, and that gave me an idea—how about a Zoom surprise birthday party for Lin?

So, I had my plan. I emailed, called and messaged friends about two possible ways to join the fun:

  1. Send birthday cards in the mail
  2. Attend the Zoom surprise birthday party

After that, I scoured a variety of email lists I have. I also went through my Contacts looking for people who don’t do email or Facebook. The list kept growing.

Successfully, I kept my secret. Lin started receiving cards several days before his birthday, and he kept saying, “Wow! I don’t normally get a birthday card from. . .” Then the stack of cards grew a couple days, and he eyed me, quizzing, “What did you do?”

I kept smiling, not disclosing the secret—how obvious it was!

During the week before the big day, we planned his birthday dinner: scallops, baked sweet potatoes and a vegetable. Saturday was his birthday, so I went to Pastian’s bakery in Albuquerque for his birthday cake on Friday afternoon, a delicious carrot cake. I had bought Pumpkin Spice Blue Bell ice cream in the morning.

When I got up Saturday morning, I gave him his cards and gift and looked at the cards he received the day before. He again questioned me about all the cards he received. I almost said, “Well, there’s more to come,” but I didn’t, thank God.

The bad news—I woke up Saturday with a bad stomachache, so I spent most of the day in bed when I wasn’t attending a Zoom Recovery Retreat for the weekend. We enjoyed Lin’s delicious birthday lunch, cake and ice cream. After the afternoon session, I showered and got ready for the evening.

I had put on our shared calendar an evening session for the retreat, so I had a good cover-up, and Lin had the Nascar game to watch. After a light dinner, I went upstairs to my desktop computer to prepare for the party.

I got onto Zoom early, and two people had already signed in. One of the early birds, a Nascar fan too, asked how I was going to pull Lin away from the race. I wheeled his computer chair in front of my desktop computer ready for the birthday boy. Then I waited for a commercial and asked Lin for some help on my computer.

Reluctantly, he came upstairs to our loft to my computer, sat down and truly enjoyed the party. People came and went, and the conversation continued! We had friends from a variety of our interest areas: square dancers, people from a football pool, and travelers we met on our Costa Rica trip. Also several family members joined in the fun.

When the evening ended, I had surprised Lin with a truly wonderful celebration of his special 80th birthday, using the technology available to us today during these crazy times. It was a smashing success, and I continued the Horner tradition of celebrating a birthday!

How have you celebrated birthdays this year during the pandemic?


~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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

During This Pandemic, Are You Zoomin’?

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

The coronavirus pandemic changed so much: shelter-in-place and no more face-to-face meetings. At the beginning, we had no idea how long the pandemic and the restrictions would last, but here we are six months later with limited access. So, early on, Zoom leapt to our collective consciousness as the answer.

            I had attended a couple of Zoom meetings before the pandemic for training for my book promotions, but now I feel like a pro having attended several meetings and hosted some. Here’s my experience with the amazing Zoom app and its connectivity to the world!

            Early in our isolation, the recovery communities jumped onboard and started zoomin’. So, this provided the opportunity to attend meetings all over the world any time of the day—truly taking advantage of technology.

            On April 3 – 5, I attended a Zoom recovery retreat with 450 participants, the first major recovery event during the pandemic for me. The organizers dealt with a few glitches, but what a boost that was! The attendees came from all over the world! Monthly recovery retreats have kept many people connected through Zoom, and I’m attending another one next weekend.

            Weekly I have attended two recovery meetings. I have so enjoyed seeing friends I haven’t seen for months and staying active in my recovery.

            Some of my regular meetings chose to do phone conferencing, but I didn’t like that as well as Zoom. It seemed people talked over each other more, and I liked seeing attendees. I do understand not everyone has internet at their homes, and I think that was reason for this choice.

            As a service for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, I have hosted monthly board meetings since April. I provided a tutorial for the first meeting for many first-timers, but I still felt some reluctance. So, I scheduled a practice session and several attended, getting their feet wet! Since then, those fearful first-timers show up easily and participate.

Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

            In the midst of the cancellation of all of our dance events, I faced doing a virtual book launch for my new book, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. At first, I thought I’d use Facebook Live for this event, but after research, I realized I could have a problem. We don’t have a reliable internet connection at our house, and that might cause an issue. Also, I wanted to interact with the attendees, and you can’t do that on Facebook Live.

            So, I decided to Zoom instead. What a memorable evening we had! About thirty-five people attended, and I relished their participation and stories! We had people from all over the United States and one from Japan.

            Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we canceled our annual square dance festival, Hot August Nights. To keep our supporters connected, I hosted a Hot August Nights Zoom Party. Again, we had great attendance. My husband, Lin, and I were on from 7:00 PM until 10:00 with people dropping by, visiting and then more would come. Many appreciated seeing so many dancer friends.

            Virtual square dances have taken the square dance world by storm during this crazy time. Lin and I attended a benefit dance for a caller who has been deathly sick. We hadn’t danced in six months and had never virtual square danced. We had to pretend we were dancing with another couple. At first, we struggled but improved over the evening.

Here’s a link to see a virtual square dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnRY_x_89FM&list=PLpOrf4KvYkjDwwsu0saQoJoYmvgbRDKnR

            Again, we saw dancers from all over the USA and the world. Dancers attended from Australia, China, Japan and England.

A Zoom Meeting
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

            There are so many possibilities with Zoom. I reconnected with a roommate who I haven’t seen in thirty years with a Zoom meeting. Then we added another friend we used to hang out with, and we laughed and talked non-stop last Sunday. I had to cut us off after a couple hours to write my weekly blog. After such a successful time, we’ve decided to meet monthly during this crazy time.

            I made another connection with a cousin who contacted me after I did my DNA on ancestry.com last year. We had talked about a face-to-face family reunion in Arizona this summer, but that went by the wayside with all the restrictions.

            So, my cousin invited me to a Zoom Family Reunion last month. Only four attended that meeting, but I loved seeing my cousins. The cousin who organized this fun event entertained us with stories of our heritage, sharing maps and other documents via Zoom with us.

With it being so much fun, we scheduled another session for yesterday, and I invited my cousins and my 92-year-old aunt to participate. We ended up with nine participants this time. I could see how much my aunt enjoyed this celebration of her mother’s side of our family, and she repeated a couple times how much my mom would have enjoyed this. During the 70s, my mom researched both sides of our family’s genealogy—she would have thoroughly loved all the new information and connections to add to her data!

In the future, I have more Zoom meetings planned—I so much more enjoy seeing people’s face instead of being on a joint phone call. If you have any reservations about doing a Zoom meeting, don’t!

To prepare for a Zoom meeting, download the app to your desktop, laptop, iPad or Smart Phone. Then when you receive the invitation for the meeting from the host, it includes all the connection information you need. You have two choices to connect on a computer: the easiest connection is a URL, so click on it and it activates the website and the app. The second option is a Meeting ID and password you input on the Zoom website after you select “Join a Meeting” on the menu bar.

If you’re using a phone, the invitation provides several phone numbers to access Zoom.

Once you arrive in a meeting, you can use the video showing you and your surroundings or you can choose not to show the video but you can still participate.

One caveat when you’ve entered the meeting is muting or unmuting yourself. There’s a button on your window or down on the left of the menu bar at the bottom of the computer’s screen.

I enjoy another Zoom feature, a Chat window where you can type in communication to everyone at the meeting or select individuals.

As you can see—it’s straight-forward. After a couple Zoom meetings, celebrate your newfound skills and partiicipate!

Have you zoomed yet? If so, how do you feel about zoomin’?


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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

My Thoughts · Patriotism

Where Were You on September 11, 2001?

September 11, 2001—This day is etched in my memory forever—the horror of being an eyewitness to this tragedy! Our world has never been the same since. Three thousand lives lost! Many injured and maimed. Families torn apart. Fear injected into the hearts of all Americans across our country on that day. Air travel interrupted with people strained helter-skelter.

            My Mom had just flown to my brother and his wife’s a couple weeks early to take part in preparing for my nephew’s wedding on September 22.

            My ex-husband lay in bed watching the morning news on the TV. I could also see the TV from an adjacent bathroom as I prepared for work, putting on my makeover and blowing my hair dry.

            We both rushed nearer the TV as we saw the replay of the first plane crash into one tower of the World Trade Center. Trying to grapple with what we had just seen, the second plane crashed into the second tower, and we fell limp on the bed, trying to take this all in.

World Trade Center before September 11, 2001
World Trade Center Before Attack

            I raced to finish dressing and went to work. When I got to school and settled in my room, I turned on the TV to see that both towers had collapsed. Children streamed into my room silent, unusual for lively six graders. Shock permeated the room.

            Military helicopters flew around Albuquerque, concerned about more attacks across the country because by now, we had learned another plane had cracked in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the terrorists had flown another plane into the Pentagon.

            I taught no classes that day. The TV and the news became the focal point in my classroom. Later administration admonished us for letting the students watch such horror. I had faced nothing like that before. I wanted to keep up with the news of the day, and so did my students. No one cared about learning.

            Several of my students had parents at Kirtland Air Force Base and feared for their parents’ lives. Cell phones rang, and I ignored the no cellphone policy, knowing parents needed to connect with their children.

            The horror of that long day drug on—anticipation of the unknown. The United States had never faced a terrorist attack like this. Finally, school ended, and I sped home.

            During the 6:00 PM news, Peter Jennings gave an emotional report and ended with, “Connect with your family, near and far, right now!” So, I called my brother and talked to him and Mom. Her voice cracked but as we talked, she reassured me she was safe, but I shuddered at the thought: what if she had traveled a couple days later to California? She could have been stranded somewhere alone amid this craziness, scared to death, instead of secure with my brother.

            On this September 11, nineteen years have passed, yet the memory and the trauma linger. Children have grown up without a parent. That fateful day splintered families. Those of us who watched the planes crash into the towers, then saw the towers collapse and people running for their lives will never be the same. I live thousands of miles from New York City, but I felt like I was there. Time eases the pain, but the memory still lingers.

            I shudder and sob today for our loss! I hope you do, too!

Here are some resources:

September 11 attacks

Kirtland Air Force Base

Where were you on that fateful day?

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · poetry

Coronavirus Reflection: Bitter or Better?

Bitter or better? Life hands us a curve ball every once and a while. Then we have the option of how we respond. I have had several of those opportunities in my life, and sometimes I grew bitter, but more often than not I became better because of the difficulty.

Bitter over when it ends

The coronavirus’ impact continues to affect our lives six months later. Normal life activities came to a screeching halt. Yes, it’s been horrible for those 193,000+ who have lost their lives or families who have lost loved one. Also, people have lost jobs, and businesses have suffered extreme losses. For many, it’s been a psychological affront causing depression and anxiety. I have been one of the fortunate ones, not experiencing the extremes of the pandemic.

But many, like me, who have not experienced the dire side of this catastrophe have been impacted in our own ways. It seems people have reacted in two ways.

Some have become bitter over mandated requirements like social distancing and/or masks. People dubbed as “Karens” or “Kens” have violently erupted at various store clerks asking compliance to safety measures.

Bitter about wearing a mask

Many worldwide bitter rebels have actively protested like one organized event on September 15, “World Antimask Protest.” Others continue to believe this is a hoax and vehemently denounce the virus and any of the safety requests.

Others have decided to look at this respite as a time to stop the crazy pace of a busy 21st century life, slow down and go deeper on a spiritual quest. That’s what I decided to do early on. Because I was fearful and anxious, I processed my feelings through poetry. I became proficient at Zoom and participated in and hosted a multitude of Zoom meetings which helped ease the isolation.

As the pandemic has lingered, I’ve written more and more poetry, and a friend specifically asked me to address the positive outcome this slow-down provided for me, so here it is:

Reflections on Coronavirus
Coronavirus Reflection: Bitter or Better?

September 5, 2020

For six months
            The coronavirus rages
                        Ebbs and flows
Never have I faced
            Anything like this!
I remember
            The polio-scare
                        As a child
                                    But nothing like this.
 
Quarantined
            Deaths
                        Shelter-in-place
                                    Fear
                                                Confusion
Who do you believe?
 
My life style drastically altered
            NO dancing
                        NO traveling
                                    NO interaction
                                                With people
But the good news:
            I’ve stayed healthy
                        My family has, too!
 
It’s reflection time
            Has this focused time
                        Made me
                                    Bitter
                                                Or better?
 
Stripped
            Of normal life
                        And activity,
I sat quietly
            Listened
                        Breathed
 
I watched my husband
            Gather his strength
                        In his garden
                                    Working with his hands
                                                            His mind
                                                                        His soul 

Lin and I shared Cribbage games
            Numerous TV nights
                        Watching mysteries
                                    Each trying to solve them
                                                           Comparing our suspects
I celebrate this man
            Who I was quarantined with.
 
I focused on
            The Flippo biography
                        Which helped alter the horrible state
                                    Of our world
 
I gathered strength
            In words
                        Working with my hands
                                                            My mind
                                                                        My soul
 
In this forced respite
            I reconnected with
                        My God
                                    In a time of needed solace
                        Myself
                                    Exploring reactions and feelings
                                                To this fearful situation.
 
                        My husband
                                    A good person to
                                                Be quarantined with
 
I cleaned out age old belongings
            I connected with people on Zoom
                        I wrote poetry
                                    Diving deep!
                        I had weekly phone dates
                                    With hurting friends
 
Yes, I missed
            Monthly visits to our ranch
                        And my brother
            Family gatherings
            Square and round dances
            Travel
            Friends
 
But today, I relish all of those much more
            Hungry for their return
I savor what they
            Brought into my life,
                        How they enriched me.
 
I had moments of bitterness
            Hot August Nights weekend canceled
                        So, I scheduled a Zoom party
            Labor Day square dance weekend
                        So, I scheduled a Zoom meeting
                                    With long time friends.
I have flirted with bitterness
            The vile taste of bitterness
                        Discourages
                                    My lingering there long.
  
When this time of trial is over,
            I will step up and say
                        It made me better!
                                    And that feels good!
 
I savor this capsule of time
            That I used to benefit
                        My growth
Bitter or better
            The choice is yours!

Yes, I do have a choice anytime life deals me a blow—will the experience make me bitter, resentful and angry? Or will I take advantage of the opportunity present and plunge into a deeper relationship with myself and my God?

I choose better!

Here’s a poem to end on that is light, frivolous and courts with a genre of literature I love, magical realism, “. . .a style of fiction and literary genre that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements.”

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

Salmon-Colored Rose in Lin's Garden
I Sunbathed in the Roses

September 5, 2020
 
A petal floated on the breeze
            Slowly
                        Settling on my forehead
Another landed on my stomach
            Bright red in color
                        Matching my sunburned skin
 
A plush cushion of white rose petals
            Gathered as my supple pillow.
Ivory-colored roses climbed
            The trellis
                        Near my feet
                                    And tickled my toes.
 
Salmon-colored roses
            Guarded my heart
                        And created a
                                    Vibrant crown for my brow!
 
Bright golden ones kissed
            The sun
                        As their next-of-kin
                                    And brushed my cheek
                                                With their satiny lips.
 
Peach roses danced
            In the gentle wind
                        A soft waltz
                                    In a lavish gown
 
To sunbathe
            In the midst of roses
                        Soothes
                                    Every ache
                                                Every pain
                                                            A galaxy of color
 
These flower friends lift me
            To the heavens
                        A multi-colored celebration
                                    Of life and love
                                                Surround me by a deep connection
 
Hummingbirds dive bomb my head
            Enchanted with the color
                        And the nectar
                                    I’ve invaded their sanctuary.
 
Lay still!
            I can’t!
                        I feel the prick of. . .
Yes, thorns
            Slightly
Careful where I lay
            But one foot strays
                        A little
                                    And I jerk it back
 
A reminder
            Sometimes pain hides in beauty
                        But mostly
                                    A restful soul
                                    A quiet spirit
                                                Surrounded by
                                                            A circle of roses
                                                                        My friends!

Did you giggle? Absurd—sunbathing in a rose garden! Let loose and laugh!

I hope I leave you better today for the reading of this than when you came!


~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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · Ranching

Where is Your Childhood Home?

Because of the coronavirus’ restrictions in New Mexico, I haven’t been to my childhood home in Branson, Colorado since the end of February. Finally, I decided I could come, and it has refreshed my soul.

My Home in Branson, Colorado

Currently, my husband, Lin and I live in a beautiful wooded area in the east mountains above Albuquerque, and I love it there, but my childhood home of Branson touches a deep part of me.

My time here has been filled with seeing friends (I social distanced and wore a mask) and reconnecting. I saw a 93-year-old friend who still lives by herself and is a live wire for sure! Finally, I met her five-month-old great-grandson and marveled at this little sweetheart.

My brother knows how much I like to visit our parents’ graves in Trinidad, so one morning we drove there and put out new flowers. It’s always a solemn event but so heartwarming.

Home - Looking at water in a reservoir & Mesa De Mayo
Looking at water in a reservoir & Mesa De Mayo

During my stay, my brother and I have visited our family ranch each day—a couple days in the morning and one day in the evening. We’ve seen a plethora of wild turkeys, a few deer and antelope. What we’re looking for is elk and bear! I take my camera, and we search the prairie and canyon land for wild life on any trip out.

Home - A Storm Brewing Over Saddle Rock
A Storm Brewing Over Saddle Rock

Memories of so many years here with dad, mom and granddad flood my mind as we drive along the rutted dusty road.

“Remember when. . .” starts many statements, then we are whisked away to a time long ago:

  • Our horse herd got struck by lightning one summer day, and it killed one mare and damaged two.
  • We watched a rain storm on a beautiful summer evening then jump in the pickup and drove out to the ranch to see how much it rained. We always celebrated rain!
  • Those good ole Branson dances where we all learned to dance to Eloy Gonzales & the Troubadours or Bob Jeffreys & the Nightriders.

So many good memories. Sadly, I leave on tomorrow, Monday—I arrived on Thursday afternoon. It’s never long enough!

I’d like to leave you with a couple poems I wrote in my first book, This Tumbleweed Landed, about my childhood home and life.

This Tumbleweed Landed book cover
Horse Herd Struck by Lightning

One summer afternoon
after a severe thunderstorm,
Granddad, Grandma, and I
found several horses struck by lightning.
It killed Flicka, Sue’s mare,
by throwing her into
the barbed-wire fence,
wrapped up in the wire.
 
It hurt two of our horses:
Rusty, Dad’s favorite cutting horse.
It looked like someone had taken
his neck and twisted it out of shape
and
Prince, my 4-H gelding.
He was stuck in his tracks,
and his eyes were glazed!
Prince was never the same!
 
A devastating disaster
to our horse herd.
Nature’s cruel hand!

Branding Day

Branding day began early
with rounding up the cattle,
the cows, and the calves.
We had a cow/calf crop operation.
 
First, we brought the horses into the corral,
brushed and saddled them.
Then we rode out after the cattle
And herded them into the corral.
A quiet time of communion
And community.
We separated the cows from their calves
to work the calves;
that created a lot of noise.
The calves bawled the whole time,
wanting their mamas!
 
Dad and Granddad worked
like a team;
Dad branded and castrated on one side;
Granddad vaccinated and earmarked on the other.
 
At the branding table
I was Dad’s little assistant.
The smell of singed hair and
the sound of the calf squalling
filled my senses.
I held the rope tightly
that held the calf’s leg up.
I took my job seriously.
 
At times,
Bub and I played—
heated up irons in the open fire
and branded our imaginary brands on
the wooden boards of the chute.
 
Once I got sick at the branding;
I wrapped up in a blanket
and slept by the fire—
warm and comforted
by the familiar smells and sounds!

A step away from routine to this quiet village and familiar faces and surroundings has recharged me. Can you still go to your childhood home? Do you? If not, where do you go to get recharged?


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

~On Wednesday, August 12, 2020 I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Age · Coronavirus · family · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

How Do We Age? How Did I Get Here?

How do we age? How did I get here? This last week, a phrase haunted me, “Age crept up on me.” I turned 67 years old this summer—not old in today’s world, but. . .. So, naturally, I wrote a poem.

Shadows of age

As I look back over my life, I remember my mom and dad in their late 60s, and I was in my 40s and 50s when they were my current age. They were active and full of life but appeared much older than I feel today—interesting.

Going back another generation to my grandparents when they were in their 60s, they seemed ancient. So, it’s all perspective, I guess.

I do know today, I have arthritic aches and pains and troubles with my stomach, but I don’t feel 67. So that begs to ask, what does 67 feel like?

I’ve seen 6 decades plus come and go—a multitude of advances. The TV was just coming in when I was a child, so I’ve always had a TV. We didn’t get a phone in our home until I was about ten years old, so I’ve had some sort of phone for most of my life. I touched my first computer in 1981 when I was a student at Colorado State University and have had access to one ever since—39 years!

And that phrase, “Age crept up on me” caused me lots of wandering through my life.

Shadow of age
Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels

Here’s my poem that came out of this week’s musings:

Age Crept Up on Me!

August 12, 2020

Only yesterday, I was 16
            It seems
 
You may laugh
            My age shows
                        In wrinkles
                        Years lived
                        Dyed red hair to hide the grey
                                    With white
                                                Escaping near my eyes
 
Something happened!
            An acceleration
                        Of time
                                    Of minutes
                                                Of years
                                                            Recently
 
Is it a side effect of the coronavirus?
            Too much time on my hands?
                        Pondering my existence
                                    In uncertain times?
 
I remember 18
            High school graduation
                        Four students in my graduating class
                                    Started kindergarten together
            Trinidad State Junior College
                        Fifty miles from home
            Anxious about my future
                        And how my dreams
                                    Would play out
 
I remember 20
            Newly married
                        With life and dreams
                                    Spread out before me.
                                                Hopeful and positive
 
I remember 30
            Divorced and devastated
            At the university as a student       
                        And
                                    Starting over
                                                With dreams of being a teacher
 
I remember 40
            In sexual trauma treatment
                        For incest
                                    Uncovering and recovering from
                                                Childhood pain
                                                            And dashed dreams
 
I remember 50
            Celebrated at
                        The National Square Dance Convention
                                    In Oklahoma City
            Serenaded at our After Party by
                        Jerry Junck
                                    Mike Hogan
                                                Lanny Weaklend
            Still dreaming
                        About possibilities
 
I remember 60
            Mom had just died
                        A feeble celebration in Branson
                                    With Bub, Lin and Jackie
            My dreams diminished by the pain
                                    The loss
 
Yes, you see
            I’m not 16
                        But 67!
 
I look in the mirror
            And recently
                        Somehow
                                    Age crept up on me
 
In that reflection
            I see years
                        Life
                                    Experiences
 
Received no warning,
            No alarm,
                        I see an older woman,
                                    A matured lady,
                                                A seasoned Larada
 
Where did the years go?
            Fast living
                        A rich life
                                    A multitude of adventures
 
Yes, age crept up!
            Quickly
                        Relentlessly
                                    Quietly
                                                Without warning
 
So be aware
            It can and will
                        Happen to you!
Photo by Edu Carvalho from Pexels

My hope and prayer is that I continue to age gracefully and with spunk! I hope to redefine any concepts you may have about older adults.

What are you thoughts on aging? Has it crept up on you, too? How do you handle it?


Flippo's biography

~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

~On Wednesday, I wrote my 200th blog post. Be sure and check it out here: 200th blog post

Blogs · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Two Hundred Blog Posts! Yahooo!

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

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


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


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

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

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

Dancing · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Spain · square dance · Writing

What’s Your Passion?

Passion—that activity that motivates me! It energizes me, animates my spirit and lights a fire in my soul. Does it have to be just one? No I have several passions!

During this depressing pandemic, I’ve been denied participation in my deepest passion: dancing, square dancing, round dancing and any other type of dancing there is.

So, what did I do? I’ve reacquainted myself with some of my other passions. Some might call them hobbies, but I like the word passion better because it resounds with emotion.

My personal list of passions/hobbies are:

  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Knitting
  • Sunbathing

Let’s look at each one.

My passion: Writing

Writing

Yes, I am a writer and have continued my weekly blogs during this crazy time. I featured many poems I wrote about the pandemic, and the poetry writing fed my soul. It provided me a means to process the insanity that hit initially with the shelter-in-place and the cancellation of so many dance events.

Also, I finished my current writing project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. The cancellation of events provided me extra time to add some novelties to the book.

Words and ideas flicker in my mind and must be recorded—definitely a passion for me!

My Passion: Reading

Reading

My husband, Lin, reads a lot, but I’ve felt too busy the last couple years to read during the day and limited my reading to bed time.

In our home, we have an extensive library, so at the beginning of the pandemic, he picked up Shadowlands, the heart-wrenching story of C. S. Lewis and his wife, Joy Goodman. He always shares about his current book with me, and that interested me. I have been a C. S. Lewis fan for years.

So, when he finished Shadowlands, he jumped into the legendary Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis and read the whole set. After doing some research on the Internet, he came up with a different reading order and read them chronologically instead of using the numbering system they used when they published the set.

Here’s the suggestion:

My Passion: Chronicles of Narnia

Chronological Order

  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

At that time, I was finishing up some books we bought on our trip to Spain in late February and early March. Also, I’m a long-time Jodi Picoult fan and wanted to finish leaving time, a fascinating novel with a shocking ending. I had, also, downloaded an e-book off of Kindle on a special, The Victory Garden, so I had that to read. What a delightful read!

After finishing them, I decided I wanted to end the summer with C. S. Lewis, so I started with Shadowland. I wept through the end of that book. Then I started the Chronicles of Narnia, following Lin’s suggested reading order.

What a treat! Originally, I read the Chronicles of Narnia about forty years ago, so with my memory, it has been like reading them for the first time. Right now, I’ve finished The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Currently, I’m reading The Horse and His Boy.

So once again, reading has taken a major place in my day, a long neglected passion with my hectic life prior to the pandemic!

My Passion: Knitting

Knitting

I’ve been a knitter since I was ten years old, and I’ve knitted hundreds of items: sweaters, afghans, dresses, socks, vests, dish clothes and more. I love doing it while we watch TV, and it is a true passion of mine!

So, during this time, I’ve knitted a special baby afghan for a baby born in May, but the majority of my knitting now has been dish clothes. In fact, I’m starting my 17th today. It’s a simple pattern, and I can do it without watching my hands or thinking much. In fact, some people consider knitting a type of meditation, and I would agree with that.

The one knitting project I’ve avoided during this time is a complicated sweater for myself. I’ve made that pattern three other time, but it demands concentration. Every time I look at that knitting bag, I shiver because I want to finish it, but I don’t want to have count every stitch right now—maybe it’s the result of the pandemic and the stress. I don’t know, but I know I will finish it eventually.

And I have many future projects to look forward to because on our travels over the past few years, I’ve bought yarn as a souvenir at various places. From Ireland, I purchased enough beige wool to make an Aran sweater.

On our cruise of the British Isles last summer, I bought smaller amounts at different stops to make a scarf or something small.

I love the rhythmic movement and sound of the needles and the product at the end.

Sunbathing

Sunbathing

For my whole adult life, I have been a sun worshipper, spending countless hours in the sun trying to get a tan. My frequent travel companion during the 80’s and 90’s would scold me for laying in the sun on our trips to Mexico and South America. The crazy part is she would sit in the shade and I’d be full out in the sun, and she always came home with a better tan than me! Probably has to do with my red-haired fair-skinned father!

Often, I burned and took extreme chances with the way I sunbathed: spraying water on myself, using baby oil, and staying out way too long!

In 2001, my ex-husband was diagnosed with melanoma and had surgery. At about the same time, one of my best friends had a reoccurrence of melanoma after twenty years. Shortly, after this, I ended my sunbathing. I finally realized I was flirting with danger for sure.

This summer, my husband has gotten a gorgeous tan working in his garden and showed me the sensible way to get a tan: no long exposure, gradual increase in exposure and thoughtful consideration of how long he was in the sun.

 So, with book in hand, I started sunbathing again. I have used 50 level protection suntan lotion and started out slow and gradually increased my time to thirty minutes on each side—that’s it! I won’t go beyond that.

The sun’s warmth does something to my spirit. Laying outside in Lin’s gorgeous garden, I have time to appreciate the numerous flowers blooming and all the time he’s dedicated to it. (Gardening is his passion!) I have a dedicated reading time, and I’m getting a tan, all at the same time.

When this coronavirus pandemic has subsided, and we dance again, my passion for dancing will be ignited. Until then, these others bless me deeply. Passion, fervor, enthusiasm—we need it in our lives to feed our hearts, our souls and our spirits! How about you? What are your passions?


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

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

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

Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Yes, It’s a Thick Book!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s some key findings about visual learning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?


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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Why Do People Avoid the Topic of Death?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talking about death
Are “The Dead” Dead?

July 8, 2020

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

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

I Want You Back! Or Do I?

January 27, 2014

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

©2017 Larada Horner-Miller

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

What do you think?


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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts · poetry

What is the Power of Metaphor?

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

Words create metaphors

What in the world is a metaphor?

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

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

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

See what you think. . .

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

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

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

July 3, 2020

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

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

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

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What Have I Discovered?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the poem I wrote about this experience:

I Found More of My Life!

June 17, 2020

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

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

My four boxes of Morning Pages Notebooks!

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

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

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


Discover Flippo

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

My Poetic View: The Wait for What? Caution?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting for caution
The Wait for What?

May 13, 2020

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

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

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

For some!

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

May 15, 2020

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

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

I still don’t understand!


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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Do You Need a Hug?

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

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

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

Women sitting
Come Back Tomorrow and I’ll Have More

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

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

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

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

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

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

All this combined makes me wonder about the future!


Indefinite Future

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

The future holds the key!                                          

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

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

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

Will you participate or hold on to the old?


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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s My Definition of Safety Now?

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

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

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

Today I Breathed—It is a Month!

April 8, 2020

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

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

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

I describe my next grocery store experience below through poetry:

My Newfound Fear of the World

April 13, 2020

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

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

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


Flippo's Biography cover

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What Is Self-Care?

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

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

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

Self-Care

April 3, 2020

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

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

Tomorrow is a Month

April 7, 2020

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Poetic View: The Future As I Saw It in April

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

My world & the future?

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

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

My first poem contemplated the new post-coronavirus future.

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

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

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

Reality Check

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Christianity · Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

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

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

Wrestling with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Cover of Flippo's biography

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poetic View: Who Is in Control of this Mess?

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

Let Go
Let Go—Surrender

March 27, 2020

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

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

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

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

For Whom Am I Praying?

March 28, 2020

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry · square dance

What is Normal Today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sixty-six years
            Full and rich

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

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

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


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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

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

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

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

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

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

What’s One Person’s Value?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Can Worry Paralyze You?

Woman worrying at computer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worry word cloud

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s Biography: How Many Pictures to Include?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry · Words Matter

POETRY: Dare I Breathe—Tomorrow is a Month!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Cathedrals End Our Trip to Spain!

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

Flamenco Dancer

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

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

Day 6: March 5, 2020

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

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

Plaza América

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

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

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