Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s in the Navy Now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He interrupted me with a resounding, “No!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USS Lander - Navy destroyer tender
USS Lander

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

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

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

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

USS Piedmont

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

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

USS Wiltsie

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

USS Dixie

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holidays · My Thoughts

How Do You Celebrate Easter?

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

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

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

Celebrate Easter, 1960
Larada dressed up for Easter, 1960

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate Easter - dying eggs
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

Capulin Volcano

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

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · Writing

Three Vital Apps for the Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are in-depth looks at each program.

ProWritingAid Logo--Three Apps

ProWritingAid Website and App

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

How to Use

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

Resources:

Scrivener-Three Apps

Scrivener 3.2.2

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

How to Navigate

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

Resources:

Vellum--Three Apps

Vellum

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

How to

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

Resources:

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · square dance

Will Square Dancing Survive the Pandemic?

Lin and Larada square dancing
Lin and Larada Square Dancing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry Junck: Nebraska & Arizona:

Jerry Junck, square dance caller
Jerry Junck

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

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

*****

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

Jon Jones & Deborah Carroll-Jones – Texas:

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

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

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

*****

After 2020, we all need a fun activity.

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

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

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

Daryl Clendenin – Oregon:

Daryl Clendenin, square dance caller
Daryl Clendenin

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

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

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

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

*****

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

Noah Siegman – Wisconsin:

Noah Siegman, square dance caller
Noah Siegman

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

*****

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

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

Tom Manning – Iowa:

Tom Manning, square dance caller
Tom Manning

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

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

*****

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

Mike Seastrom – California:

Mike Seastrom, square dance caller
Mike Seastrom

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

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

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

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

I’m excited!

*****

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

*****

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

How Do You Start a Biography?

Cover of Flippo - start a biography

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

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

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

Laughter - start a biography
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Flip - start a biography

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

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

Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Can I Recapture Spain?

Flamenco Dancers in Seville, Spain
Flamenco Dancers in Seville

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

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

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

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

Thankfully, no one in our travel party became sick!

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

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

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

Enjoy the magic of this haunting country:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Waiting for the Vaccine?

Photo by destiawan nur agustra from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting for the vaccine
Photo by Serkan Göktay from Pexels

I Hate Waiting!

February 28, 2021

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

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

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

So I will wait!

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


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

Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Costa Rica · My Thoughts · Travel

Remember My Extreme Costa Rica, 2020 Trip?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Holidays · My Thoughts

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

Valentine's Day
Photo by alleksana from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Should Write a Foreword to a Biography?

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

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

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

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

FOREWORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Flippo June 5, 2019

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

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

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


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

~My Agony of Waiting

~Did Democracy Win? Hell, Yes!

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

family · Grief · My Thoughts

My Agony of Waiting

Woman waiting
Photo by Felipe Cespedes from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman holding a baby
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman waiting
Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels
 

Childless
  
 The pain of being without child!  Eternally alone!
 No child has burst forth from my womb
 nor sucked at my breast.
 Empty cavity deep inside waiting to be filled with life.
 Waiting, waiting, waiting!
  
 I have no child to pass my stories on to, 
 my history, 
 our history,
 how Grandad created our ranch,
 how special Branson Christmas trees are
 because we cut them down from our ranch, our land, 
 how to do the Jessie polka and waltz,
 how I was almost named Jessie.
  
 My name, Larada, that should be passed on to my granddaughter,
 like my grandmother passed it on to me, 
 every other generation for 7 generations.
  
 Cheated, robbed, failed!
  
 Not woman, 
 not mom, 
 nothing!  
 Does a child define a woman?  
 Does the lack of them define me?
  
  
 Names and faces dance in circles in my mind--
 Lael Marie
 Patrick Lawrence
 Curly blond hair, blue inquisitive eyes.
 Bright red hair, changeable hazel eyes.
 A mixture of him and me.
  
 I have no daughter that has my smile 
 nor a son with my Dad’s red hair.
 No one to call me, “Mommy.”
  
 The empty cavity waiting to be filled has grown larger
 no longer just my womb, 
 but now my whole being,
 my every thought, 
 ME!
  
 Aching, lonely, pulsating to the beat of life
 missing what never was! 
Classroom with teacher - Waiting
Photo by Arthur Krijgsman from Pexels

In a way, it’s strange that this came up now; I’m 67 years old. God gave me lots of children in my classroom over the years. My brother and his wife shared their three children with me, and now they have shared their children, too. My cousin shared her three daughters, so God filled the void.

I ultimately believe my childless life speaks of God’s mercy and love. For many years after my first marriage, I had an unsettled life which would have been hard on a child. As I waited for the answer I wanted, God in his infinite mercy gave me different response to my prayer for a child and said, “No!” and I understand why today.

So, don’t take having children for granted. Many women’s hearts break every day for the lack of a baby suckling at their breast. If you have children, be grateful!

Did you have trouble getting pregnant? If, not, why are your children a blessing to you today?


Last week’s blog post:

~Did Democracy Win? Hell, Yes!

Just Another Square Dance Caller Meme - Waiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · Patriotism · poetry · Politics

Did Democracy Win? Hell, yes!

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

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

So, I turned to poetry to process my feelings.

Words-Democracy Won!
Photo by Edgar Colomba from Pexels

Insurrection, Not a Part of My Vocabulary

January 11, 2021

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

The word, insurrection

            Has never been

                        A daily word in

                                    My vocabulary.

Never

Until January 6, 2021

            Invoked its repetition

                        Over and over

                                    Again.

I witnessed

The invasion of our Capitol

            By a blood thirsty mob.

Shocked

Spellbound

Disgusted

Violence

            Planned

                        To take over

                                    Our Capitol,

                        To take hostage

                                    Certain congressmen and women

                                    Our vice president

                        To execute them!

Gallows with a noose constructed

            Within view of the Capitol.

                       

Elected officials heard

            Their names screamed

                        As they feared

                                    For their lives!

For months,

            I’ve heard rumblings

                        Of a Civil War

                                    From conservative and liberal

                                                Friends

                                                            And family.

I knew they were planning something.

            Facebook knew.

            Twitter knew.

Why didn’t the government know?

            A question that needs answered.

Insurrection in the USA!

            I’m 67 years old,

                        Never before

                                    In my lifetime.

An anger that has raged

            For years

                        Spun

                                    Out of control

                                                In

                                                            that insurrection.

What’s coming?

            On January 20, 2021

                        Inauguration Day

                                    Threats of massive protests

                                                All over the country.

The Civil War could be here!

            What do I do?


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

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

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

Insurrection or Democracy? Who Won?

January 22, 2021

On January 6, 2021

            Insurrection raised its

Bloody head

            Stood armed

                        And

                                    Dangerous.

Fear constricted my throat.

            A breached Capitol

                        Desecrated with

                                    Angry urine

                                    A Confederate flag

                                    Unfulfilled dreams

                                    The threats of death

                                                And

                                                            Execution

                                                                        Of

                                                                                    Legislators

                                                                                    Our vice president.

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

Our legislators counted the votes!

Insurrection did not stand in the way!

Two weeks we waited

            As a country,

                        Holding our collective breaths

                        Multiple arrests

                                    Family members turning in protesters

                        More video of the vile carnage.

Rumors abounded—

            More violence

                        More threats

                                    For January 20, 2021

                                                Inauguration day.

Democracy Won!
Photo by Jill Wellington from Pexels

But democracy won!

            A civil exchange of leadership

            A warm presidential speech

                        Overflowing with calm,

                                    A call to unity.

Musical interludes

Patriotic celebrations

Then my heart exploded!

Amanda Gorman - Democracy Won!
Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman spoke,

            The young black poet

                        Crowned her black braids

                                    With festive red ribbon.

My poet’s heart soared.

            Her words captured

                        unquestionably

                                    A much-needed positivity.

            Her presentation,

                        Clear and precise!

Don’t let your political party affiliation

            Stop you! Listen to her words!

They expressed

            A positive spin

                        Of our wounded nation

                                    “The Hill We Climb”

                                                with multiple alliterations

                                                            and strong imagery.

Amanda’s words

Healed my heart

            Healed my fear.

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

            The light

Did democracy win? Hell, yes!

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

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

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

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

How about you?


Flippo's Book Cover with Book Excellence Awards Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogging · My Thoughts

What Does Seven Years of Blogging Look Like?

Seven years of blogging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven years of blogging--the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Flippo's book

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christianity · God · My Thoughts · Politics

Epiphany 2021: Light & Darkness Collide

Epiphany: Light and Dark Collide
Light and Darkness Collide

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

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

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

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

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

Epiphany: The three wise men

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epiphany: Happy 2021 & Larada

~Visit my blog post from last week:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does 2021 Hold For Us?

2021
Photo by Vladislav Murashko from Pexels

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

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

Flippo’s Last Dance 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Goals
A Word Cloud of My 2021 Goals

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

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

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

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

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · God · My Thoughts

Good bye 2020, Hello ’21!

Good bye 2020, hello 2021

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

Standing on the Precipice

December 31, 2020

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

Today I stand on a precipice

            2020 here

            2021 there

My heart yearns

            For the normalcy

                        Of

                                    2019

                                                2018. . .

2020 stopped me

            in my tracks

The world stopped

            turning

Ten months shut-down

            Shelter-in-place

                        Quarantine

                                    Words I wasn’t familiar with

                                                Before 2020

The new normal

            Masks

            Social distance

            Wash your hands often

The life we live now

            To protect us

            To protect you

Good bye 2020

            With your excruciating

                        Pain and loss

            With your deep lessons

                        Of spiritual changes

            With the coronavirus

                        Taking center stage

Hello 2021

            Can you be new?

                        The same?

                                    Normal?

                                                Just a little bit!

I stand here

            On the edge

                        One foot in 2020

                                    One foot reaching

                                                Stretching

                                                            For 2021

I extend my hands

            To the future

                        To the unknown

                                    To possibility

I still believe

            God is here

                        In this moment

                                    In the midst

                                                Of life

                                    In 2020

God will be in 2021

            Also

Today, He gently grabs my hand

            To jump into this next year

            To face the uncertain future

            To know the goodness of life

Yes, 2020 is over–Good bye!

            Thank God!

2021 is here! Hello!

            I’m ready!


We Get to Start Again!

December 31, 2020

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

A new year

            A new beginning

Standing on the brink

            Of 2021

I revel in its newness

A new year

            With so many possibilities

Possibly more desirable

            Because it’s 2021

Hope abounds!

            A new day dawns

                        Upon a tired citizenry!

I smell anticipation in the air

            I taste joy in each bite

                        I hear hope in cheerful voices

                                    I feel kindness unfolding worldwide

Yes, we start anew

            2021

A fresh slate  

            To write my dreams on

            To sketch out my desires

            To scrawl and doodle my ambitions

It can happen

Yes, the coronavirus is

                        Still here,

The surge continues

            The cases and deaths mount,

But the vaccine provides a possibility

I must honor

            The place where I am,

Before I can move forward

But as I stand

            On the edge

                        Of 2021

For the first time

            In months

I feel different

A sliver of hope

            A dash of optimism

                        A smidgen of return to my old life

                                    A glimmer of hope

Join me

            Right now

                        In the universal

                                    Circle of hope!


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

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

Good bye 2020, Hello 2021

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas · Coronavirus · family · My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

Zoomin’ Through the Christmas Holiday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Shopping

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

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

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

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

Flyer for Christmas Eve Service - Stay at Home

Christmas Eve Service Online

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

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

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

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

Location of our Normal Christmas Celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Was It the Same?

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

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

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

How did the coronavirus affect your Christmas plans?



~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas · Costa Rica · My Thoughts · Spain · Travel

Lin and Larada’s Christmas Newsletter & Decorations

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

Lin and Larada's Christmas Newsletter banner

2020 Started Off Great!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then the Lockdown!

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

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

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

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

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

And the Release of Flippo’s Book

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

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

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

Lin’s Wildlife Habitat Certification

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

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


Miller’s Christmas Decorations

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

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

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


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

~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas · Coronavirus · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Charles Dickens’ Message for Christmas 2020

Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Round Table in Branson, Colorado

Christmas Past

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

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

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

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

Christmas Present

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

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

The Future
What Does the Future Hold?

Christmas Yet to Come

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Cover for Just Another Square Dnce Caller

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

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

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

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

Christmas · Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Memory?

Create a Favorite Christmas Memory
Photo by Nicole Michalou from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One way this dress event affected me

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

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

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

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

Another way this dress event affected me

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

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

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

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


~Visit my Christmas blog posts:

Book Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller