Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

CALLERLAB—How Did Flippo Take Part?

Flippo & Neeca at a CALLERLAB banquet
Flippo & Neeca at a CALLERLAB banquet

CALLERLAB came to life because the future of square dancing looked bright! All over the United States this dance craze exploded during the 50s and 60s. But with no organization in place, dancers faced mayhem if they traveled just fifty miles away from home because there was no standardization of calls. So, at home one call meant one thing; over there, something totally different.

Bob Osgood, being a futuristic thinker, caller and the editor a popular national square dance magazine, saw a gigantic need and provided an answer. Producing his square dance magazine provided him contact with callers from all over the United States, and this same problem kept cropping up.

Something of this magnitude took time. Organizational meeting started in 1964, and Bob used his magazine, Sets in Order, to report the progress of his group to the dance community. After organizing, they realized they had other issues to address in this group besides the standardization of calls.

In 1974, the first CALLERLAB convention occurred, with ten callers working with Bob to form this new organization, the international association of square dance callers. “Marshall Flippo was one of the eleven founding members of CALLERLAB.” They meet annually with banquets, training, calling and conversations.

Eleven Founding Fathers of CALLERLAB
Eleven Founding Fathers of CALLERLAB

The founding fathers were Bob Page, Marshall Flippo, Ed Gilmore, Lee Helsel, Arnie Kronenberger, Bruce Johnson, Joe Lewis, Bob Van Antwerp, Dave Taylor, Frank Lane, and Bob Osgood.

Flippo had a close association with Bob Osgood because he had worked with him at Flip’s favorite festival at Asilomar, California, and several of these callers worked there, too. Interestingly, Flippo had close relationships his whole calling career with all the founding fathers. He told hilarious stories about many of them and wanted them included in his biography.

Flippo’s Thoughts About CALLERLAB

When I interviewed Flippo for his biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller, he labored over his responses to my questions about this group he loved.

Flippo wondered about CALLERLAB, “See, we were getting great, huge, humungous classes at that time. I wonder if CALLERLAB hurt it, or did it? I believe it might have. It could have made the longevity longer, you know. Anyway, I thank, but it might have hurt it in a way like I go into a town and the guy following me, he called the same type of dance. So now you went in, at that time, you went in as a person, but now you go in as ‘He’s a Mainstream caller or Plus caller or, at best, caller.’ They still used your name, but it’s just incidental.”

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 223.

As he processed his feelings, he recalled specifics, yet still wavered about CALLERLAB’s influence on the activity he loved.

Flippo was on the Board of Governors for ten years, “but I got off it and decided I’d never get back on it. I had enough. I wasn’t much of a leader, Larada. I was just in thar, and I’d be real quiet. Sometimes I wouldn’t say anythang the whole meeting.” Flippo never envisioned himself as a leader—he helped get this organization off the ground and running but didn’t want to participate in the governing anymore; however, he was a regular attendee right up until the 2018 CALLERLAB Convention, the year he died.

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 222.

How Did CALLERLAB Standardize Square Dance Calls?

CALLERLAB’S standardization divided the square dance calls into separate lists at five different levels, with each level becoming more difficult. It started with Basic and then Mainstream. Originally, they had Plus1 and Plus2 but consolidated into Plus. Then they had A1 and A2 with the A standing for Advanced. The last level was Challenge divided into five levels. Today we still dance and teach these levels.

This topic was hard for Flip. “Geez, this is tedious.” So, when the list came out and everybody was teaching the same things, it became easier for a caller to go some place and they say, “Now we want Mainstream.” Then he knew they could probably dance Mainstream pretty well.

Pretty soon they were hiring callers for the level they could call, and a lot of the festival were all Mainstream, and then Plus got in there and most of them now are Plus. “So, damn, I can’t say it the way I want to say it.”

But once the list came out, it seemed all the callers began to call the exact same things. “Basically, if you hired one caller, the next caller you hired would call basically what the other caller called. Do you see what I mean? Before . . . it seems like they hired callers for their name and how they called . . . so pretty soon, they were hiring them for their level instead of for their name.”

After the lists came out, Flippo remembered that he was to call over in Lubbock, Texas. “Man, I knew those guys over thar were good dancers, so I made up a whole dance of stuff that I wanted to call. Well, when I got over thar, I started calling. Well, I thought they could do what I had written down, but every time I’d try somethang, it would go under. I knew the first tip that they weren’t going to be able to dance what I had written down and what I thought they could dance, so I had to kind of fall back on really what I thought they could do. It was tedious for a caller in a way to go somewhere without the list.”

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 227-228.

Finally, to end our discussion

Flippo’s statement, “We took ten lessons, and we were square dancers” demonstrated the evolution in square dancing. Today’s weekly lessons average four and a half months—a far cry from ten weeks.

He responded, “Yeah, that’s about all you had to do. You know, Betty [Casey, one of his mentors] taught four or five classes a year because if you just did ten lessons, you had two and a half months. She could teach another class, and that’s what I did when I first started calling. I’d teach a class, and two weeks later, I would start a new class. So that way, I thank, we got too uppity, uppity or somethang.”

Looking back, CALLERLAB came up in fourteen interviews with Flippo, a topic he loved to talk about yet wrestled with often. No matter what, he loved it!

Larada Horner-Miller, “Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo,” (2020): 229.

CALLERLAB Today

CALLERLAB continues to be a major influence on square dancing and has endorsed a new program, “Social Square Dancing” which can be taught in twelve weeks. Interesting how similar its length is to Flippo’s original experience of lessons so many years ago. The pandemic has affected our activity, so hopefully this new mindset will provide a movement that makes Flippo’s word come true, “I thank it’s going to survive it.”

For more information about CALLERLAB, visit their website: https://www.callerlab.org

Did you know about CALLERLAB before this blog? For more information about square dance history, here are two other books to look at:


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Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? CALLERLAB

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

Join me at my Zoom Launch Party for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? on September 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Go to my Facebook Event to RSVP, and I will send you the meeting info: https://www.facebook.com/events/596181948062057

Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

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

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

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

family · Mom · My Thoughts

Cars—Does One Rank As Your Favorite?

Hands on the steering wheel - cars

Cars—do you have a favorite one? I say 100% yes! I’ve loved two cars, especially, in my lifetime: my first one and my mom’s last one—two extraordinary adventures.

My First Car

1966 Dodge Coronet 440 - cars
1966 Dodge Coronet 440

            In 1971, Dad bought me my first car—a bluish-green 1966 Dodge Coronet 440—to go to college. He bought my brother a light blue 1966 Dodge Coronet 500 at the same time and paid $1000 for both cars. They don’t make cars like them anymore. The sleek lines of that Coronet 440 created a beautiful picture. I was 18 years old and felt like a queen driving that car. I had fun in it at Trinidad State Junior College, but my brother’s roommate borrowed it often for his dates, promising never to leave Trinidad. One night I was twenty miles away in Raton, New Mexico with friends and saw my car sail by. That ended the roommate’s use of my car.

            The mechanics at our garage thought my brother and I shared one car because the colors were so similar. They kidded me when I brought my car in to be serviced, saying, “Why don’t you make your brother bring it in?” Repeatedly I had to explain we each had our own car, and what’s funny is Dad bought the two cars from the owner of that garage.

            As lovely as that car was, it didn’t have air conditioning, so I used what Dad called “Larada’s air conditioning” in warm weather—rolled down all the windows, especially the wing window and drive like hell.

            In 1973, I took that car into my first marriage, still loving everything about it. Because the upholster inside was shot, we redid that, matching the color outside, and it really looked sharp. As newlyweds, we bought a 1974 Dodge Dart off the showroom floor in Trinidad, but that was my husband’s car.

Many years later, driving in Windsor, Colorado, I stopped at a light, and a guy pulled up beside me and offered me a sizeable sum for my striking car. I laughed off the offer—it wasn’t for sale!

Somehow, we inherited a dilapidated Ford from my ex-husband’s grandmother when she passed, and then we had too many vehicles. Without my permission and before I had any gumption to say anything, he sold my car. I was heartsick, but I didn’t stop him. The crushing blow came a few months later when we divorced, and he left me with that lousy Ford.

I have never connected with a car since my first one—maybe the young woman and the mystique of my first can’t be captured again.

Mom’s Last Car

Fast forward to 2004—Mom was coming home from the post office in our small rural town and got hit by a semi-truck, totaling the car she had. It did not hurt her, thank God, but this accident stranded her. Being fifty miles from the nearest grocery store, doctor and everything, she needed transportation, so we went searching.

We found a 2003 Chevrolet Malibu and a Toyota Camry in Raton, New Mexico, fifty miles away. She test-drove the Camry and because of her petite size, she couldn’t see over the steering wheel, so that took the Camry out of the running.

Mom and her Malibu in 2004 - cars
Mom and her Malibu in 2004

Both of us fell in love with the Malibu and what made it more enticing is the owner lived in Cimarron, New Mexico. I called his niece, and we talked to him to learn about the car—it was a good fit.

So, Mom bought it and we have had no trouble with it at all mechanically. She absolutely loved her car and drove it to Trinidad weekly for her shopping needs. Mom’s driving history fascinated me. She married my dad at twenty-three years old and didn’t know how to drive, so he taught her. While we were at home, she drove very little. As Dad aged, his inability to drive sometimes forced her to drive, but she didn’t enjoy it, especially when she had to take over the wheel in Santa Fe, New Mexico once. After Dad died, she had no choice, so she became proficient, not venturing farther than her safe trips to Trinidad or Raton

Mom and I enjoyed several trips to western destinations, ending up in California to visit my brother and his family. When we were together traveling down the road, I drove and we talked endlessly. On one major trip we took to California in 2009, we had the radio on once for our three-week trip. The rest of the time we spent talking and laughing. That car held so many precious memories of those special times with her.

After Mom died in 2013, I inherited her car and drove it back and forth to our family ranch monthly. After my last trip to Branson, the air conditioning stopped as I pulled into my home in New Mexico—absolutely nothing. A trip to our mechanic cost us a lot. See, we live in the mountains east of Albuquerque and we don’t have a garage to store it in. A squirrel built a nest in the engine and chewed up the cables to the air conditioning, so that costly adventure made us decide to sell it. Because we don’t have a garage, this costly event could happen again and again.

As I cleaned it out preparing for the sale, I choked up several times, reliving the trips, the fun, and the laughter we shared. Yesterday we sold it to the son of a dear lifelong friend. I cried when they drove off.

Yes, I know cars don’t last forever, but their memories do! I will always have the special times Mom looped her left arm over the back of my seat, laughing at whatever our topic was and enjoying our time together in her car.

Do you have cherished memories attached to any cars? Do or did you love a car? Tell me your memories—I’d love to hear them. (Scroll down below to the Comment section to respond.)


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Join me at my Zoom Launch Party for my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? on September 22, 2021 at 7:00 pm. Go to my Facebook Event to RSVP, and I will send you the meeting info: https://www.facebook.com/events/596181948062057

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover
Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

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

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

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

family · Mom · My Thoughts

Clothesline—A Thing of the Past?

Towels on a clothesline

Clothesline and laundry day were a part of my childhood. Mom hung out the clothes weekly on our clothesline until her dying day. She loved the smell of sheets that had blown in the breeze all day, and I inherited the love for that sweet fragrance. Are clotheslines still a viable part of today’s world?

In the past, a walk through a neighborhood on laundry day showed so much about the families living there. Just an inventory of the clothes blowing in the wind told if a family lived in that house or a single, if the children were boys or girls. It depicted what taste in clothes the wife had or what kind of work the husband did. So, those people strolling by could glean much in a scrutiny of the clothes on the line.

In our small country town, jeans and cowboy shirts filled the clotheslines on wash day, which was usually Monday. The women wore dresses and aprons, so they blew freely in the breeze. The boys dressed like their dads and the girls like their moms, so miniature similar outfits identified children lived there. We didn’t have any exotic characters in our town, so the lines didn’t shock any of the passers-by.

What brought this topic up for me right now? I had some work done on my house in Branson, Colorado, a couple of weeks ago. The worker called me up and asked if he could take down the clothesline because he needed to get mechanical equipment into the yard. The line was in the way.

“Go ahead,” I responded quickly, but then I have been mulling it over for the last couple of weeks. Yes, it was okay to do, but it’s a part of my history I cherish. The many memories I have came rushing back, a real mixed bag, though!

One of the stories Mom told us growing up worried her as a young mother. She had heard a story about another family who had a newborn and a thirteen-month-old like my brother and me. I was the youngest. The mom was outside hanging out laundry (probably diapers with two little ones like us), and she heard the baby crying. Nearing completion, she finished her chores before going inside. Before she could get there, the thirteen-month-old had grabbed the newborn out of the crib and drug it outside to his mom, killing the baby.

So, Mom told us repeatedly the fear she had anytime she spent time outside hanging up laundry on the clothesline. She said she ran inside every few minutes to check on us and worried about it constantly. As an adult in hearing this tale, I could hear Mom’s anguish and concern still, years later.

Wringer washing machine - clothesline
Vintage Washing Machine with Squeezing Rollers – path included

As older children, about four and five, we loved to help Mom on laundry day. She had a wringer washing machine which fascinated us. Mom’s didn’t look like the image above—it was porcelain and a newer model. My brother, Bub, liked to help Mom push the clothes through the wringer, and she often cautioned him to be careful. I was young enough to be just his cheerleader and observer.

One summer day, Mom did the laundry outside like so many other days, and Bub neglected to be careful and pushed his hand too far into the wringer with the clothes. His hand got caught in the wringer. He screamed, trying to pull his hand out but he couldn’t; I screamed in unison with him. Mom panicked and ran next door to our neighbor, Edna Fry. They came running over, and Edna immediately hit the release and Bub’s hand fell out. The area around his thumb suffered the most damage, but he didn’t need stitches.

Here’s how a wringer washing machine works:

https://dengarden.com/appliances/How-to-Use-a-Wringer-Washing-Machine

Those early sad memories have stayed with me for years, but the smell of clothes hung out on the line—that’s what I remember, mostly! That luscious fresh air smell of sheets can’t be beat—marketers today can’t bottle that refreshing aroma. Also, white clothes sparkled after being outside bleached white in the sun.

As a young married woman in Denver, Colorado, I continued what I Mom taught me—hang your laundry out on a clothesline. One evening, after making my bed with clean sheets that smelled delicious, I sat down when I finished and got stung by a bee I had wrapped up in the top sheet—ouch!

In 1980, when we moved to a new house in Loveland, Colorado, the covenants didn’t allow clotheslines, so I got away from using one. That has continued for me after that, but Mom continued using hers until she died.

Clothespins for a clothesline

After she finished washing her clothes, Mom hooked her bag of wooden clothespins on the side of her little cart and wheeled it outside. Quite a feat in the dirt! Any passers-by visited with her as she worked and she with them. It was a community time. Often, I came home, welcomed with something waving to me on the clothesline, and it felt inviting.

So, when I return to Branson this next week, Mom’s clothesline has disappeared, so no welcoming committee, but the memories live on.

Did you use a clothesline? Do you have one now? Can you describe the smell? (Scroll below to comment)


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Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? promotion - clothesline

My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?, is now available:

Flippo on a coffee table - clothesline
Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

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

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

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

Book Production · My Books · My Thoughts · Writing

Writer/Author, Promoter—Which One Am I?

Inspired writer in a meadow

Writer/Author, promoter—roles I have to play as I self-publish yet another book! But which am I? As I pondered each one of these, I wondered, “can I do it all?”

Just last week, I released my current book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?—my sixth book. Several blog posts I wrote last year during the pandemic inspired this book. I had originally planned to just publish the posts with no revisions, but my editor said I couldn’t do that—that people wouldn’t buy what I gave away free. So, with her help, I enlarged the chapters, added a quote at the beginning of each chapter and sprinkled relevant photos throughout the book, and now it’s done.

As my promotional list grew and grew for my new book that faces a controversial topic, I wondered about each role and how I’ve learned to do each.

Yes, I am a writer and an author. In fact, that’s my favorite part of the process. Each book I’ve written has offered me a delightful experience in the writing process.

Collage of all of my six books - writer

I wrote the poetry and prose in This Tumbleweed Landed when I took part in the Rio Grande Writing Project in 1992, and I put it aside for twenty-one years. Often it spoke to me from its secluded place, but I was too busy living to do anything with it. Then I retired after Mom died, and I had plenty of time to dust it off and work on it. Originally, I wanted the book to be short poetry vignettes about the people, places and activities in my small country town, but after attending a writing workshop in December 2013, I added prose I had written about my country life that enhanced the book. In 2014, I received the boxes of my books. I will never forget opening the box of books and seeing my words in print for the first time—unimaginable!

I wrote When Will Papa Get Home? years ago, when the creatives juices flowed like never before and have never after. On a visit home to our family ranch, I found a blue marble at the Philly Place, an old homestead, and I wondered whose it was. As a teacher, I was on summer break and I had brought a clunky Apple 2E computer home to use. I went home to Denver, and wrote day and night, consumed with the story, letting it unravel as it would. I did not know the ending.

Again, I put this one away for twenty or more years. When I finally pulled it out and revised it, it needed more “meat.” I totally enjoyed researching homesteading in Colorado in the early part of the 20th century and details about life then. The creative process took over again, and I got lost in the words, the revisions, the possibilities, and I saw it in print in 2015.

It took me four years finally to write A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir. Mom died in 2013, and I published this book in 2017. I turned to poetry to deal with my grief, so I filled this book with reflective poetry and prose about both of my parents’ deaths. It deeply healed my heart.

In 2017, I started the biggest writing project of my life—Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized biography of Marshall Flippo, the most famous square dance caller in the world. I recorded forty hours of interviews with Flippo. After transcribing those interviews, I faced 258,000 words, so I had the daunting task of cutting, cutting, cutting. I also had to do research and make sure his memories of World War II were factual, and they were!

Flippo wanted to tell stories about sixty plus callers and cuers he had worked with, so I added a chapter of favorite stories from callers and cuers about him. What a mammoth task this was, but I feel I created not only a wonderful biography but a history book about square dancing.

Even though I work across several genres, I love the writing piece! I’ve written and self-published six books now (that’s shocking to me) and three cookbooks. I took each project all the way through the process and actually published them, so that’s much more than being a writer or an author. Whew!

Now we come to the promoter’s part. I have been a promoter for years in the square and round dance world. Because of my computer skills, I’ve created hundreds of flyers, emails and events on Facebook. My love affair with Desktop Publishing goes way back—my masters’ degree is in technology, and that’s where I learned many of my computer skills preparing lesson worksheets and projects for my students. Early on I bought an education bundle of Adobe programs and became familiar with Photoshop and its capabilities.

Now, as I face the following list of promotions, I muse over what I have to do to advertise my new creation:

CREATIONS

  • Create iBook
  • Create Nook  
  • Create Kobo 
  • Create page on website
  • Add thumbnail to sidebar in website
  • Order proof copy from KDP
  • Order 25 paperbacks

PROMOTIONS

  • Create ad on Kobo for September 9 – 19, 2021 for Australia & New Zealand at discounted price
  • Create a new Kindle Countdown Deal – September 21 – 28 – 9:00 am, starting at $1.99
  • Posted on bookois.com & upgraded to Gold at $50
  • Created new release on Kobo
  • Listed on Alignable
  • Buy 15 Kindle e-books for giveaways
  • Use Buffer to send out weekly emails to post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Instagram
  • Add book & e-book to my Etsy Shop
  • Create giveaway on Goodreads
  • Create giveaway on Librarything 
  • Create ad on BookBub when I have e-book listed on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble & iBook
  • Create ad on Amazon
  • Email two lists I have
  • Create campaign on MailChimp
  • Have Launch Party
  • Post on Facebook pages
  • Connect with guy on Instagram who messaged me about this book a couple months ago
  • Email Sue Ready to post review on Amazon
  • Email ARC readers to post review 
  • Search for spiritual/religious book Facebook pages
  • Amazon-30 days after launch important for rating
  • Add to Reedsy Discovery
  • Send paperbacks to 4 ARC Blurb readers
  • Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories.
  • Online Book club listing – https://onlinebookclub.org/submit-book.php – Requested review bit won’t be available for 2-3 months
  • Get Kindle link to Fiverr promoter

Yes, the promotional part of this job seems overwhelming. But after seven years, I’ve found the places I need to focus on. What’s time sensitive is that some of these tasks depend on the completion of one before the other. For example, I have created e-books at Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble, but I had trouble with the iBook e-book, and I need links to all four popular e-book formats for the BookBub ad.

Many years ago, I created my first e-book on iBook when I was a support staff for Albuquerque Public Schools. This time, it took hunting for the correct app to upload the file—I had an outdated one. Also, I had trouble with the app accepting my password for my Apple ID which was bizarre. I use that Apple ID all the time, but finally it accepted it. So, I’m waiting, but the minute I get the okay for my iBook, I’ll launch that ad on BookBub.

As I look to this next week, I will attack this list, promoting my new book as many ways as I can. Writer/author and promoter—I have to do all these jobs to make my book a success.

Do you struggle with writer/author and promoter roles? Do you like one of the roles over the other? (Scroll down below my promotions and make a comment.) I’d love to hear from you.


Recent Blog Posts You Might Have Missed:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? ad - writer

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is now available:

Just Another Square Dance Caller
Add Flippo’s Biography to Your Library!

~HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY? 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:

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

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

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

Costa Rica · Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Scotland · Spain · Travel

World Explorer—Why I do it!

World traveler

World exploring and its wonders! Souvenirs, pictures, reminisces of fun-filled travels remind me daily of my experiences in this big beautiful world. Because of the pandemic, we canceled our travel plans for later in 2020 and have nothing planned for 2021. So today, I wondered why I love to travel so much. The packing and planning put many people off, but I enjoy every part of a trip.

I grew up in a small rural ranching community fifty miles from the nearest doctor and grocery store. I lived in a small town though, but the world out there seemed so big and unattainable, beyond the prairies and canyons of southeastern Colorado. Granddad Horner subscribed to the National Geographic magazine, and I thumbed through each issue, mesmerized by that world out there and its mysteries. I blushed at the foreign women’s bare chests, yet yearned to see that world.

Granddad and Grandma Horner took annual vacations touring the United States, and I relished their slide show of pictures from places I dreamed about in the United States—the Grand Canyon, Bullhead City and so much more.

My dad, a high school graduate and world thinker, read voraciously and kept educated about world matters so much so I gave him a globe for Christmas one year so he could find that faraway country he’d read about.

Little girl pointing at a world globe
Little girl holding index finger on Earth globe

So, I inherited a large worldview, bigger than Colorado, bigger than the United States. My first husband and I discovered Mexico: Mazatlán and the Yucatan peninsula in the 70s, when tourist hadn’t discovered both areas yet. When I saw my first Mayan Indian ruin, I felt captivated by the mystery, and I was hooked.

After we divorced, I traveled with a girlfriend back to the Yucatan peninsula to see many more Mayan Indian ruins and then on to Tikal in Guatemala, the Mecca of Mayan Indian ruins to me.

Then in 1999, Mom and I took our first European trip to do an Eastern Europe tour, basically to find her lost grandfather who had immigrated into the United States, but we had no record of his entrance here. That trip opened me up to a larger world—the wonders of eastern Europe with so many historical sites and cities.

In Berlin, we looked in a phone book for Mom’s granddad’s last name, Ulbig, and found several names listed. Neither of us spoke enough German to call any of our possible relatives. So, we tore that page out of the phone book, and that became Mom’s favorite souvenir of our trip. I cried during our tour of Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp, a horrible example of man’s inhumanity against man. I will never forget that sight.

In 2001, my third husband and I drove the Can-American highway in our RV to Alaska. What an adventure that was! We saw Denali, Alaska’s tallest mountain, usually shrouded in clouds. We took a small airplane ride up to a glacier and walked around on it, surrounded by absolute white.

During our years together, we toured the United States in an RV, dancing and sightseeing all over the United States. We went up the west coast in 2003, promoting a national festival. We traveled to the Midwest and east—so many adventures.

In 2007, I joined the cruising world doing an inside passage tour to Alaska on a square dance cruise. I feel in love with cruising.

My present husband and I love to travel and see the world. We have taken several cruises—what a relaxing vacation they are. On one, we went through the Panama Canal and marveled at that amazing engineering feat.

In 2017, we traveled to England and Ireland. Lin drove in both countries and we had a delightful time. In Ireland, we saw the Cliffs of Moher, enjoyed dancing in Irish pubs and enjoyed staying in bed and breakfasts. While visiting England, we based ourselves in London, alternating between a tour one day and a free day the next. In London, we visited the British Museum, realizing we could have spend days there. We saw Stonehenge on a tour but were so rushed; I didn’t buy one souvenir there. We saw a Broadway play, Les Misérables, on the West End, and Lin vowed never to attend a play in the USA again since the production was so outstanding.

In January 2020, we went to Costa Rica with my husband, Lin’s ex-wife who is Costa Rican. The group was small, only twelve! She knew everyone in the group; we knew her, her husband and one other couple. Lin had told me repeatedly he wanted me to see Costa Rica. We had stopped at a Costa Rican port on one of our cruises, but his ex-wife shuddered when he told her where. She said it wasn’t a great example of Costa Rica. On our tour with her, we saw animals galore, ate delicious food and saw many gorgeous sites. I saw a quetzal bird in the jungle, a bird I had heard about thirty years before on the Yucatan peninsula.

At the end of February 2020, we went to Spain with twelve square dance friends and fell in love with Spain. We saw several major Spanish cities, starting in Barcelona and ending up in Madrid. We traveled through Don Quixote land, and I could see him mounted on his trusty stead, Rocinante, a long side his trusty companion, Sancho Panza.

So why do I enjoy traveling so much? I love seeing that world Granddad and Dad introduced me to so many years ago. When I stand at a site like Strafford-on-the Avon, Shakespeare’s home, I can’t believe this little country girl is there. The tour guide hugged me there as I cried. She remarked, “I wish all people responded like you.”

In my travels, the big world has shrunk, because I now know people in Scotland, Ireland and England. We sat and chatted, and I realized we have the same hopes and dreams—we’re really all the same.

In March of this year, Lin got a little cabin fever and had received several brochures promoting cruises next year. So, we signed up for two cruises in 2022 and one for 2023. The first one next year is a Transatlantic cruise going from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Barcelona, Spain. Our next one goes through the Mediterranean. And in 2023, we travel to Japan.

In conclusion, I travel to discover what’s out there—my dad used to look at a side dirt road going up over a hill and out of view. He always commented, “I wonder where that goes!” Obviously, I inherited his wanderlust, but he never traveled outside the United States, so I do it for him.

Do you like to travel? What is your favorite travel memory? Why do you travel? (Scroll down below to make a comment!)


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Flip for Flippo!

~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:

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Book Production · My Books · My Thoughts · Writing

Self-Publishing—How Difficult is it?

Woman looking at books—self-publishing

As a self-publishing author, I usually do most of the tasks to publish a book. It isn’t easy, but I love it. I write the book. Next, I have always hired a professional editor because I know it’s impossible for me to distance myself enough from my work and not make mistakes. Because of my computer skills, I love laying out the cover, and I have done four of my six books. In self-publishing A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, I paid someone to do the cover, but I suggested the total layout and added to it.

Also, I do the interior layout with Vellum, a Mac program that creates the print version and four e-book formats. I also enjoy this part because it lets me express myself creatively in how the book’s interior looks.

See how my current book has gone! My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? has been hanging on the edge of being published for several weeks. After reading and studying many marketing books, I decided this time I would pay to have the cover done, and that’s been the hold-up. They asked me to send all the parts for the cover in one email and here’s what they required:

  1. Trim size/page size (5X8, 6X9, etc.)

2. Paper type (cream or white)

3. Exact page count of your fully finished formatted manuscript (to determine spine width)

4. Back cover text (the book description usually works for this)

5. Short author bio and picture (this is optional, and please make sure any picture you send for the back cover has a resolution of 300dpi or higher)

6. Your publishing venue (Ingram Spark, KDP, both… if Ingram Spark, please also send the ISBN)

6.5. If you want an Ingram Spark hardcover, would it be a case laminate, dust jacket, or jacketed case laminate?

Normally, when self-publishing, I do everything for the book and am in total control. Then I have total control of the timing. The book cover company I hired for this book finished the e-book cover about three weeks ago, and I liked it.

Then I had a delay with the book description for the back cover of the book which I never write. With my first book, someone advised me to never write my own book description—that I was too close to the work. So, I always hire someone to do it. Recently I was traveling, and she was too, so we had delays because of that. Then she missed the meaning of the book at first, so we had several rewrites. So, this delay held up the cover getting done. Finally, she got the message from the book and wrote an acceptable description.

Then, off to the book cover layout company with all 6.5 items listed above. I provided pictures I wanted used, so I created a Drop Box shared folder. When they did the first paperback cover, the front was easy—it was the e-book cover. They had lots of trouble with the back cover.

I shared a picture with them in Drop Box of Lin’s gorgeous garden for the back cover because I loved the whole idea that so many people adopted gardening and an appreciation of nature during the pandemic. This book addresses a hard topic, so I wanted that positive result reflected in the cover.

After waiting and waiting, I emailed the representative of the company, and he said he emailed it to me three days before—I never received it. So, he resent it. First cover they sent me to approve had no picture on the back cover—it was a bland back cover with only the book description, my picture and a super-short bio.

Then, we started the revision process that took several days—much longer than necessary. When they added the garden picture to the back cover, they overlaid a green shade over it, so you couldn’t see the garden clearly.

So, I asked them to fix that, and they did after several days. Finally, they sent me three choices. Here are two of them. My husband, Lin liked one; I liked the other. Help me select the cover for this book by responding in the Comments section below.

TWO BOOK COVER CHOICES

Choice #1 has the green overlay of the garden. Choice #2 has a colored picture in the background of the Lin’s garden. Vote for one!

Choice #1 – Green overlay
Choice #2 – No green overlay—Colorful

In my future of self-publishing, I don’t know if I will hire someone else to do the cover. If I don’t, I would avoid the frustration of working with an outsider and the expense. But I like the two choices provided for this book, because it looks professional and they did creative things I would not have! What a dilemma!

Are you self-published? How do you handle the stress of self-publishing? AND BE SURE TO VOTE ON WHICH BOOK COVER I SHOULD USE—#1 OR #2? (Scroll below to the Comment area and respond about which cover you liked and your self-publishing experiences.)


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Flippo in the sand—self-publsihing
Flip for Flippo!

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~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:

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~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

Did You Dance at Kirkwood with Flippo?

Kirkwood Lodge
Kirkwood Lodge

Kirkwood Lodge and Flippo became synonymous to square and round dancers for many decades. Kirkwood Lodge, in the Ozarks at Osage Beach, Missouri, played a gigantic role in Flippo’s success as a caller. How did this love affair start? Again, Flippo would say, “I was at the right place at the right time.”

Kirkwood played such a key role in Flip’s life, I dedicated three chapters in Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo:

  • Chapter 9 – Kirkwood Lodge
  • Chapter 10 – The Pride of Flippo’s Life, John
  • Chapter 11 – Life at Kirkwood & More.

Also, in the Members Only section of my website, I have four additional items I couldn’t include in his already sizeable biography:

  1. Origin of the Kirkwood name
  2. Flippo’s Stories About Kirkwood Employees
  3. Picture of Kirkwood Employees
  4. Picture of Kirkwood Employees

I never danced at Kirkwood Lodge, but I know many people who did. For many, the memorable experience focused on Flippo and the fun he brought to their vacation experience. Flip entertained the dancers with hilarious after party skits and routines. He wowed them with his calling and the guest callers and cuers he hired there. And finally, if you were lucky, he taught you how to water ski, one of his many athletic skills he seldom bragged about.

HOW FLIPPO ENDED UP AT KIRKWOOD LODGE

During our interviews, Flippo returned to the topic of Kirkwood Lodge and Bill Hagadorn often. Kirkwood Lodge and Flippo’s subsequent yearly tours shaped his life and calling career. For forty-two years, he called at Kirkwood, a vacation spot in the Lake of the Ozarks at Osage Beach, Missouri, then for six months, he traveled on the road with dance engagements booked from dancers he met at Kirkwood. Bill Hagadorn, the owner, hired him. As we talked one day, Flip requested, “Now we got to have a whole damn section about Kirkwood Lodge.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 107.

In 1957 Flippo and Neeca took a square dance vacation at Kirkwood Lodge, a place suggested to them by a greyhound bus driver and his wife, who came to one of his Saturday night dances at the Hayloft in Abilene, Texas. This driver described Kirkwood and the dance program provided. He drove high school seniors there from all over the Midwest.

Flippo felt burned out on square dancing, so he planned this square dance vacation to be the end of their square dancing, but a serendipity happened. It rejuvenated them, having the time of their lives. They enjoyed it so much; they returned in 1958 and ’59. In 1960, they joined Les Gotcher, a caller they met at Kirkwood, at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, as a part of the staff.

Flippo back at Kirkwood

With the success of “The Auctioneer” in his pocket and his winning personality and voice, in 1961, Bill Hagadorn asked Flippo to become the staff caller at Kirkwood Lodge and the rest is history. Flip often said that Bill was the best boss he ever had! Flippo continued calling there for forty-two years, enlarging the senior week program and the square dance program for families.

Flippo kept up a rigorous weekly schedule [at Kirkwood] but each season differed.

Neeca described his schedule, “Flip called six nights during square dance season, every night during high school seniors, and four nights during family season.’ He kept up that pace for the six months he was at Kirkwood for forty-two years!”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 119.

KIRKWOOD BECAME THE BASE FOR HIS TOURS

“Flippo shared, “What happened was Neeca helped me a lot because guys would come to me [at Kirkwood Lodge] like from West Point, Iowa and Minneapolis, Minnesota and they’d say, ‘Hey, can you call for us?’

Neeca remembered, “We had received several booking dates, mostly from guests at the Lodge. Some were several miles apart. We were made welcome in many homes; many of these people became dear friends. Word of mouth spread quickly, and we kept getting more dates. We never in all my years found the need to write and ask for a booking.

We soon received more request than we had dates open. It was difficult to write people back and tell them he could not make; we had to turn down more than we accepted. It took some time to accept dates that would make it easier to travel. In order to accept some dates, he would only go to that area every other year. Flip was always quick to refuse full pay when the crowd was small because of the weather or some other reason. He called many dances for no pay at all.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 163-164.

THE PRIDE OF HIS LIFE, JOHN

While the Flippos lived there, John Flippo, their son, was born, and this monumental addition to this couple made Kirkwood a special place to them.

“Neeca returned to Abilene to have him, ‘so he’s a pure Texan. They’re just thar a few days, and they came on back to the lake. He’s not enough Texan to move down thar. He’ll never leave that lake, I don’t thank.’”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 124.

And John didn’t leave. In fact, Flippo moved back to live with John at the end of his life, across the street from his beloved Kirkwood Lodge.

WHAT FLIPPO LOVED ABOUT KIRKWOOD LODGE

Flippo’s association with Kirkwood continued for four decades with a rich variety of national callers and cuers. He loved everything about Kirkwood: the dancers, the employees, and the calling and cuing staff he worked with over the years.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 115.

The Hagadorn Era at Kirkwood Ended

Flippo and Neeca and Pat and Joyce Munn bought Kirkwood in 1973 from Bill Hagadorn.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 146.

They owned it for twenty years, but trouble arose, so they parted ways. But Flippo only remembered this pivotal place in his life with fond memories.

When Flippo lived his last months with John near Kirkwood Lodge, he enjoyed time with lifelong friends who were dancers and callers coming across the street to see their dear friend. So, from 1957 until 2018—sixty-one years, Kirkwood Lodge played an instrumental role in his life!

I’m sorry to say that we saw Kirkwood Lodge torn down this summer—a sad end of an era!

FINALLY

To see many historic pictures from Kirkwood Lodge, join this Facebook group: Remembering Kirkwood Lodge-Square and Round Dancing.

To read about Flippo’s experience at Kirkwood in more depth and to see all the extra resources in the Members Only section on my website, buy a copy of Flippo’s book. Then email me at Larada@icloud.com and I will get you into the Members only section!

Did you dance at Kirkwood with Flippo? Share your experience—how many years? What was your favorite memory? (Scroll down to the Comments section and please share!)

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Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo - Kirkwood

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My Thoughts · poetry

Coyote Encounter in My Poetry

Coyote

Coyote in Native American folklore is a trickster, and I had my experience with this illusive scoundrel and recorded in a poem. My ex-husband and I lived near a Native American burial ground where we walked.

Coyote is a major mythological figure for most Native American tribes, especially those west of the Mississippi. Like real coyotes, mythological coyotes are usually notable for their crafty intelligence, stealth, and voracious appetite. However, American Indian coyote characters vary widely from tribe to tribe. In some Native American coyote myths, Coyote is a revered culture hero who creates, teaches, and helps humans; in others, he is a sort of antihero who demonstrates the dangers of negative behaviors like greed, recklessness, and arrogance; in still others, he is a comic trickster character, whose lack of wisdom gets him into trouble while his cleverness gets him back out. In some Native coyote stories, he is even some sort of combination of all three at once.

http://www.native-languages.org/legends-coyote.htm

This poem came after my personal sighting of a coyote one morning.

Spirit Coyote

Larada Horner

September 20, 2000

One velvety quiet dawn

I see you and my heart knows.

We know each other deeply,        

beyond time and space.

                        Where did we first meet?

On the prairies in southeastern Colorado?

Your eyes haunt me

            following my every step.

Your home, a sacred Indian burial ground,

separated from the world by a chain link fence.

Ancient ones honored!

I walk by daily on the outside—

you and them today on the inside.

Are you coyote?  Are you spirit?  I can’t be sure!

            This is Albuquerque,

                        The city

                                    People everywhere.

I question as you mesmerize me.

            You turn away from me, and        

                        I recognize your lean frame.

You are coyote!

Death has captured them

            and you, too.

Are you captured?

Are you free?

You follow my action,

            you sneak towards me.

I gulp worried you will charge,

            but your movement stops towards me.

Now you progress with me, alongside me.

I feel comfortable in your presence–

            no fear,

            a companion that knows my heart.

You rise up on a small mound

            then you’re gone—gone forever!

A chain link fence separates us.

            You locked in with the dead

                        me alive outside,

                        walking free,

            yet skirting you and death everyday.

At times, I hear the chains in the fence rattle in the breeze,

            yet I know it’s not the breeze–

                        the sound is too severe.

            I know it’s spirits, like you caught in that place,

                        that place between the unknown,

                                    a place I know so well!

We are one; I see it!

Death, spirit coyote and me

            roaming through this life!

Those ancient ones inside me clamor to be

            free, to be put to rest!

Your spirit sought me out

            with a message.

Some Natives see you as the trickster,

            the predator by ranchers.

Others see you as the tourist symbol of the Southwest

            and place a red bandana around your neck.

What a shame!

Your spirit is larger, filling the arroyo

            and canyon of my heart.

You roam free—

            So, take me along!

I yearn to roam free with you,

            to howl at the moon,

                           at my loneliness,

                           at my aloneness,

                           at the other spirits walking my same path.

This surreal experience happened twenty-one years ago, and magic realism took over my poem—wondering about mysterious disappearance of that coyote. So what do you think? Where did it go? (Scroll below & make a comment about this mystery!

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

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

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

My Thoughts · poetry · Travel

Haunted by a Favorite Poem of Mine

Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991 - Haunted by Coba
Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991

Thirty-five years ago, I wrote a poem after my memorable adventure in Cobá, Mexico, in the summer of 1985. Laying solemnly unattended in a folder on my computer, it has haunted me over the years. Today, I recalled my surreal experience when I wrote the poem, remembering the physical parts of the Cobá experience, and then the magic I added.

 In 1986, also, I was finishing up my coursework at Colorado State University. We studied magical realism in my Spanish classes, looking at the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez. This genre fascinated me—reality with a dash of magic.

 So, what is magical realism: 

 Magical realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic or fantasy. Magical realism is a part of the realism genre of fiction.

Within a work of magical realism, the world is still grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. Like fairy tales, magical realism novels and short stories blur the line between fantasy and reality.

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-magical-realism#what-is-magical-realism

For several years, the Mayan culture and the Yucatán peninsula captured my attention, so I visited many Mayan Indian ruins there: Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum, and Cobá. During tours at each ruin, I took copious notes. I bought several books and read about the Mayans, their culture and beliefs and absorbed details.

During our 1985 trip to Cobá, much of it lay overgrown with heavy jungle vegetation. Lynn Hafer, my travel companion and I stayed at a Club Med hotel nearby, but it wasn’t a “Swinging Singles’” Club Med infamous at the time but a research facility with a full library and a quiet, somber setting. Because of its remote location, the Mexican government had not commercialized Cobá yet, so what a raw jungle experience we had!

In 1991 I continued my Mayan treks. To celebrate my completion of my master’s degree, Lynn and I went to Guatemala to one of the largest Mayan Indian ruins, Tikal, a dream come true for this Mayan ruin lover. However, my experience, noted in this poem at Cobá, regularly surfaced and haunted me, so I thought I’d share it with you. In looking at it today, I felt the call to revise!        

                

Cobá—I Was there!!

Written – March, 1986

Revised – July 25, 2021

The year was 1985.

Walking down an overgrown jungle path with my friend,
	toucan birds squeak above my head
                nestled in the canopy.
A turn in the road, thick over-growth blocks the sun 
        for a minute.
		Shadows, sounds, smells--
			transported me back to 900 A.D.
      
A shiver pierces my soul.
I stare at crumbled ruins
        while an iguana lazily poses on a low step,
	       large but approachable.
Colorful in dress, Mayans step out 
        of the past and the bushes,
	       brush my arm.

I strain to see their faces 
        and 
               to hear their voices.
Is it real?

The bees buzz in the tops of the
        Trees among the orchids that
	       Decorate the canopy
		        With their color.
The bees’ hum above
	Joins the voices below.

Where am I?  
When?  
       With whom?
               A step back in time, yet caught between
                        Two worlds—then and now!

Had I been here before?
       At this spot,
       Centuries before,
              Standing at the foot of this Temple, 
                        surrounded by my fellow Mayans, 	    	    	        
              Worshipping the god "Chac" and 	   	    	    	    	
              Listening to the familiar
	    	    	Squeak of birds
                               and the laughter of howling monkeys.
   
The smell of Copal, sweet incense, fills the air
      The mingled 
             Odor of honey and grain,
                       My sacrifice to my god.
A bright fire illumines the scene
      With reflections and smoke.

The drums beat—beat—beat a familiar steady cadence.
      Draw me to them.
The Mayan priests chant—chant—chant soft sounds that join the 	    	    		
      Bass beat of the drums.   
The Mayan language a mystery to me,
      Yet I know it’s deep meaning.
I sway to the beat—the chant.
      It vibrates in my soul calling me forth
              Through the ages,
                      Past time’s illusive barrier!

Dark bronze skins glisten in the firelight.
      Brown eyes search our faces for safety.
             Flat heads surprise me with their symmetry.
I marvel at the feathery headdresses with multiple colorful gowns.	  
      I join the celebration,
             The ceremony!  

Small sturdy people crowd around me, 
      Greet me in a soft rhythmic tongue.
            Gently, friendly—a spark shines in
                     Their eyes with recognition!

THEY KNOW ME!  I'm among my own.  I'm home!!!

But it can’t be!
      I grew up in Colorado
            Not Mexico
	    Not centuries ago
	    Not Mayan

"Did you hear that?  What was that?" my friend grabs
      My arm.


TRANSPORTED
     BACK
            TO REALITY, or is it?  
I'm back—1985.
	    
The summer's heat presses in,
     The sun's scorching heat
           Eerie sounds and hums flow 
                   Through the air.
Eerie, yet familiar.

I strain to hear it better
     To hear the beat of the past
          To see those familiar brown eyes.
	    	    	    	    
I want to return!
     But can I?


Déjà vu? A poem capturing my experience or a fictional treatment? I can’t explain what happened that day so many years ago, but I know it was surreal. My poetry helped me express what I felt, not exactly what I saw. When I wrote the poem, the total experience happened. For years, this poem haunted me with its expression of possibility. I believe there’s unexplainable mystery in this world. Maybe that’s why I am attracted to the genre of magical realism and the chance that I witnessed a Mayan ceremony so many centuries ago.

A mystery happened this afternoon. I planned to use pictures from that 1985 trip to Cobá, but I couldn’t find my photo album. I found pictures from our second trip to Cobá 1986. Historically, I take lots of pictures on any trip—what happened to that album? Another puzzle added here—I wonder?

Have you ever had an unexplainable experience like mine? What happened? How did you honor it and record it? (Scroll below to make a comment)


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

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My Thoughts

Can You Live Without Your Cell Phone?

Apple Cell phone

Since June 24, 2021, I have been pondering this question because I have had to live without mine off and on. I felt totally isolated and helpless. So, what happened to my precious cell phone?

Lin and I were happy Verizon customers for several years when we first got married, but every time we went to Branson, Colorado, no reception. In fact, Lin used to call Branson “The Black Hole” for cell phone reception. If he went to the front bedroom at Mom’s house on the right side of the bed and held the phone up at a certain angle, he could get minimal reception. Or if he went to the dump down over the hill or drove a couple miles to the New Mexico state line.

To solve that dilemma, we changed to AT&T and spent five or six years with reliable reception in Branson or anywhere we went. In fact, we enjoyed their promotional for traveling abroad — $10 a day with unlimited data and phone service.

But Verizon kept sending us advertisement to come back, and they lured us back. So, a couple weeks before that fateful day, I checked the map online on their website. It appeared that they had improved their reception in southeastern Colorado.

On June 24, after my doctor’s appointment with the current advertisement in hand, we dropped in to a Verizon store.

My first question to the sales agent was, “Is there coverage in southeastern Colorado?”

He pulled up the map and southeastern Colorado was red, depicting it had coverage. He solemnly affirmed we had coverage there, so we took the gigantic leap and changed cell phone carriers.

Map Showing Coverage in Branson, Colorado

Hindsight is always 20-20. I should have called a local friend and asked if the coverage had changed, but I didn’t. Caught up in the moment with all the promotionals, I upgraded my iPhone11 to a 12. I also bought a new iPad—that was one of the major reasons we went there was to do that! I had dropped my old iPad on a tile floor in Costa Rica last year and had a definitive crack on the corner.

Lin upgraded his iPhone7 to an XR10 because they offered a great deal. He didn’t see a need to go to a newer phone. Excited, we left with our new equipment.

As we were leaving, the sales agent specifically said if it doesn’t work, you have a two-week window to cancel your service. What he neglected to say was that all “the deals” we got on the new equipment disappeared!

Immediately Verizon started emailing me to send my iPhone11 to them for the upgrade offer, so I did.

The following week I went to Branson, Colorado (within the two weeks), and to my dismay, the reception was worse than it had been five or six years before. So, I spent a week in Branson with no cell phone service. Panic gripped me. What if someone needed to contact me? I had a landline at my house, but oh, my!

After this disconnected week, I returned home on July 6 and called Verizon to start the switch back to AT&T. The Verizon customer service person said I should receive my iPhone11 back from them on Friday. He also said we had to send the new phones back to them by the end of Friday. Very stressful trying to orchestrate this timeline.

 Afterwards, we had a delightful call with AT&T on returning to them, and they gave a great discount for coming back.

So, on July 8, Lin and I went to an AT&T store in Albuquerque. The sales agent put SIM cards in our two new phones and my new iPad. My iPad worked but our two phones didn’t because Verizon had locked them.

Then we returned to the scene of the crime, the Verizon store where we had been deceived. The manager said we had 30 days (not the stringent timeline the customer service person told us on July 6) to return the phone because the map on the internet showed marginal coverage. She also told my husband they would lock his XR10 for sixty days, so he plans to send it back. 

Believing what we were told, on Friday, July 9, we looked repeatedly all day for my iPhone11, and it never came.

In the meantime, Lin bought an XR10 from Apple who gave him a better exchange for his old phone, so I used his old cell phone with an AT&T SIM card; otherwise, I would have been without a phone this whole time.

Because my iPhone11 didn’t show up when they said it would, on Tuesday, July 13, I called Verizon and waited 30 minutes. I worked with a customer service person who tried to help. The previous person I talked to on July 6 did not create an order number or location code attached to the file. So, this person created both and shared them with me. Also, she created a rush on the order with one day shipping because of the urgency. She said it should arrive on Thursday by FedEx. 

Again, being optimistic, my husband and I looked repeatedly all day on Thursday, July 15 for my iPhone11, and it never came.

So, on Friday, July 16, I called Verizon and talked to a third customer service person and was on the phone for 3 hours and 43 minutes waiting to talk to a manager because they all were in a meeting. (What if a major world event had happened?) She looked up the order number and location code given to me from the previous customer service agent and found nothing.

While we were waiting, she said she talked to others who do her job, and they told her Verizon never sends a phone back to a customer but sends it to the vendor. She said she could put in a ticket for “an early unlock” on the iPhone12 I upgraded to because of the marginal coverage if I decided to keep it. At 4:13 pm MST, she said a manager would call me back today to resolve the issue. The manager never called me back. 

I have filed a complaint with the BBB and FCC, so hopefully we’ll get some action done.

This has turned into a nightmare, all because this cell phone carrier knows how important a cell phone has become to us, the consumer. Tomorrow I plan to call one more time to talk to a manager, then I will have to send back the iPhone12 or get charged for it, but the insane part is if I keep it, they will lock it for sixty days, so I can’t keep it!

Finally, I will buy a phone from Apple, and we will send Lin’s old iPhone7 to Apple for his upgrade, and we will have learned an expensive lesson! Don’t believe a sales agent or a coverage map!

When I first got a cell phone years ago, I thought a cell phone was a luxury; today it has become a necessity! Whew!

Have you ever had an experience with a cell phone carrier? If so, how did you handle it?


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Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

How Did “The Auctioneer” Affect Flippo’s Career?

"The Auctioneer" received a Gold Record Award in 1967 for selling 500,000 records

The recording of “The Auctioneer” became a decisive moment in Marshall Flippo’s square dance calling career. How it unfolded supports his often-repeated motto: “I was at the right place, at the right time.”

LEROY VAN DYKE RELEASED “THE AUCTIONEER”

            First, Leroy Van Dyke released “The Auctioneer” in 1956.

Van Dyke was inspired to write the song from his own experiences as an auctioneer and those of his second cousin, Ray Sims.

He wrote it while stationed in Korea during the Korean War, and first performed it to troops on the same bill as Marilyn Monroe. After finishing his service, Van Dyke entered the song in a Chicago talent contest. It gained him a record contract with Dot Records. “The Auctioneer” subsequently topped the pop music chart, selling 2.5 million copies.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Auctioneer#:~:text=Van%20Dyke%20was%20inspired%20to,his%20second%20cousin%2C%20Ray%20Sims.&text=%22The%20Auctioneer%22%20subsequently%20topped%20the,chart%2C%20selling%202.5%20million%20copies.

            Then because of its popularity, Flippo must have heard this hit repeatedly on his favorite country and western radio station, wondering to himself if it would make a good singing call. All the words in the song made this unlikely—lots of words because of the auctioneer’s chant, but its popularity outweighed that difficulty to Flip. Can’t you see him memorizing all the words then experimenting with the choreography.

HOW FLIPPO CHOREOGRAPHED “THE AUCTIONEER”

When asked how Flippo choreographed “The Auctioneer,” he chuckled. One person, all eight parts! He did it in the living room at 1918 Marshall in Abilene.

That shocked me, so I asked him, “So you danced all the parts?”

Flippo walked through the whole thing. “It’s a terrible figer [figure], the first one [in] the first Auctioneer. Of course, we didn’t have a lot of Basics they got now, so I had six Basics. It’s not too good of a figer [figure]. Nowadays, you have to walk people through it two or three times before they get it, but back then, people, I don’t know .”

His laughter continued as I commented about the feat of him walking through it, one person doing all eight parts.

People tended to memorize singing calls because there weren’t that many basic calls. Now, if Flippo went into their town and called “The Auctioneer,” and changed the figures, “they flat-ass knew it. They knew it. They memorized that— they did better than you did!”

I asked Flip if it was unusual to take a pop song like Leroy Van Dyke’s “The Auctioneer,” and it became popular then in the square dance world. Was that going on or did he kind of pioneer that?

“No, I don’t know what happened thar. I know I went to Houston after he had recorded it, about six months. I don’t know how come it to hit. Callers bought it big.”

Norman [Merrbach from Blue Star Records] didn’t think it would go. Flippo was surprised, and Norman was surprised, too, that it took off like it did, but the reason for that big sale back then was the dancers were buying records, too, and callers. So, callers were buying, and dancers were buying them. “I’s putting ’em in the garage! Breaking ’em!”

Flippo chuckled. “No, I wouldn’t [break ’em].”

Later, “The Auctioneer” was re-released, and Flippo put different figures (calls) to it, and it never did sell like the first one.


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 95-96

FLIPPO RELEASED THE SINGING CALL, “THE AUCTIONEER”

            So, Flippo started calling in 1952 and released his first singing call, “The Auctioneer” in 1958, just two years after Van Dyke’s release, so the song’s mystique still held over. Several serendipitous events made this monumental event happen.

The turning point in his career happened in the Hayloft in Abilene. It was 1957, and Flippo was calling “The Auctioneer.”

One night Flippo was at the Hayloft in Abilene, and he was calling “The Auctioneer” before it was recorded. Two callers from Baytown near Houston had been to Colorado at some square dance and were going through town. They decided to come to Flippo’s dance. One of them had a French name that Flippo couldn’t remember, and the other one was Andy Lyons.

They came up after Flippo called “The Auctioneer” and congratulated him. “That’s pretty damn good.” They encouraged Flip to call Norman Merrbach in Houston, who was the producer of Blue Star records.

They repeated, “Call him.”

Flippo responded, “I’ve never thought anythang about recording it.”

“That’s pretty good. You ought to do it.”

After that, Flip forgot about it. Then he got a phone call from Norman. Norman asked Flippo to send him the words to that song.

So, Flip sent him the words. “Thar’s a lot of words.”

Norman called Flippo up, “I believe I’m going to pass on that ’cause callers want one with not too many words, and they don’t have to learn all the words.”

So, Flippo understood that, and he continued calling for a couple months. Then Norman called him up again and asked him to come to Houston “and do that thang.’”

Flippo answered, “Well, I’ve got to work Monday. I’ve got a dance Saturday night in Abilene, here. How far is it?”

“It’s three hundred and sixty-five miles.”

He stalled a little, “I don’t know.”

Norman persisted, “Well, I’ll tell you how you can do it. After that dance, start driving down here.”

“What you mean—at night?”

“Yeah, drive down here and get here early morning and we’ll do the thang. You can drive back and be ready to go to work Monday.”

Flip’s humor prevailed, “Wait a minute. You must be talking about my brother, and I don’t have a brother.”

Norman encouraged Flip to think about it.

So, Flippo asked Neeca, “You thank we could cut this? Go down?”

“Oooh,” she exclaimed, “I bet Momma and Daddy would go with us, and they can both drive. I can drive. We’ll take turns about sleeping.”

There were three sitting up in the front seat, one in the back seat trying to sleep. They drove down to Houston and got there about nine in the morning, just in time for Flippo’s appointment. “We had breakfast at a Sambo’s, which they don’t have anymore. I remember Fred trying to pay for it. Fred was Neeca’s dad.”

Flippo told his father-in-law, “No, you drove down here. Let me get it.”

Fred answered, “You don’t have any money. I have your billfold right here. You left it up on the table last night at the dance. Bless your heart!”

They went to Norman’s place, Norman and Nadine Merrbach, the owners and producers of Blue Star Records. “He was really a good guy and a good engineer.”

They did the recording in the studio, and “the studio acoustical stuff was egg crates.”

“I can see the studio from my mind right now. We went in and when they played it, I called it at the same time. Well, I remember one time we had trouble. I’d make a mistake and we’d have to start over, and then somebody else would make a mistake. It wasn’t one of those days that everythang went well.”

But now “The Auctioneer” went really well. Flippo hit it the first time, and of course he had been calling it with a band for a long time, so he was lucky to get out of there, and they headed back to Abilene. They got back in time to get a little sleep and go to work the next day.

“Anyway, ‘The Auctioneer’ hit pretty good. Well, I’d say, you know, all of my career I just lucked out, being in the right place at the right time. I don’t know what it was, and ‘The Auctioneer’ hit really good.”

Flippo was pleased with the way it sounded, but he didn’t realize it was anything big. He would think about it from time to time. Then the square dance magazine started praising it. “The only thang I can thank of is a lot of dancers bought records at that time, and learned the singing call that was on the record.”

The records were only sixty-five or seventy cents apiece, and they were 78 records. You could take a pile of them into a dance and they’d just be gone in a minute. People were just hungry for some kind of records to play at home or listen to. And some callers started from listening to tape recorders and to records. “They picked up ideas, started calling, and some of them turned into really good.”

Flippo remembered calling with a band in Houston one time. He turned around and asked them if they knew “The Auctioneer.”

Their response, “Oh, yeah, yeah. We done that. We can play it for you if you want to call it. Ohhhh, that’s Norman’s big one!”

They repeated, “Oh, that’s Norman’s big one, big one.” Flip repeated their response and chuckled.

“Well, I thank I’ll call it next the tip.”

So they did a good job on it, and they said this is “going to make ole Norman.”


Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 93-95
Norman Merrbach congratulated Flippo for his first Gold Record Award for "The Auctioneer."
Norman Merrbach congratulated Flippo for his first Gold Record Award for “The Auctioneer”

What an amazing story! Little did that band know that this song launched Flippo’s career, skyrocketing him to become a legend in the square dance world. In 1967, Flippo received a Gold Record award for “The Auctioneer” selling 500,000 records, an outrageous number for the day.

Thinking back over Flippo’s story, have you ever had a series of events unfold in your life to create something unthinkable? Let me know. (Scroll down below to make a comment)


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Just Another Square Dance Caller cover - The Auctioneer

~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:

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Holidays · My Thoughts · Patriotism

A Country Girl’s American Dream

American Flag - Dream

“The American dream is not that every man must be level with every other man. The American dream is that every man must be free to become whatever God intends he should become.”

Ronald Reagan

AMERICA’S ORIGINS

Happy Independence Day! America offered me the dream. Looking back over my life, I have realized some of my dreams, but not all. I became a published author, so I am one of the fortunate ones. Not everyone sees their dreams come true. But I always wanted children, and that never happened.

First, we need to see where this festival day originated and see how I saw my dream come to fruition.

“On July 2nd, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.”

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th

MY DREAM

Celebrating the 4th of July - American dream
Me celebrating a few years ago

            I am a country girl who graduated in a class of four from a small rural school. My parents never asked about me going to college—I was going. Neither of them had college degrees and wanted a better life for me. Also, they demanded I go to Trinidad State Junior College for the first two years, so I became a beautician.

I thoroughly enjoyed that career for fourteen years. At first, it uprooted me from the country life and I moved to Denver, Colorado to face life in a large metro area. After divorcing, I became a middle school English and Spanish teacher, the first person in my family to receive a four-year college degree. Then I persisted and earned a master’s degree. I enjoyed that profession for twenty-seven years—my students, team-teaching and my creative projects, yet my writing called.

I enjoyed my two careers, but my dream came true in retirement when I published my first book. Publishing that first book took thirty years. While teaching, I wrote it and put it away. My busy teaching life left little room for writing. Also, I traveled and danced a lot, so my book took a back seat.

            After retirement, I dusted it off and published it and felt like I had finally found myself. Five more books and three cookbooks followed, and each one satisfied a deep need I had to share my voice with the world.

UNREALIZED DREAM

            My parents and culture raised me to marry and have 2.7 children, but having children never happened. My students fulfilled that need for many years, and I’ve come to terms with it. I accepted it and moved on.

American Dream

YOUR DREAMS

           Never let your dreams die. I was sixty years old before I published my first book. What are your dreams?


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family · My Thoughts · poetry

Let’s Celebrate My Birthday Today!

My baby picture - my birthday
My baby picture taken August 1953

Today is my birthday—I turned 68. Hard to believe! Will you help me celebrate?

Here’s a poem I wrote about the day I was born:

 
 “She Was Born Dancing!”
 On June 26, 1953, my folks left
 their thirteen-month-old son with Millie,
 the family babysitter,
 to go to a square dance in Trinidad,
 fifty miles away.
  
 Mom danced one tip that night—
 She was nine months pregnant
 with me.
 They left the dance early
 feeling something was about to happen.
  
 Early the next morning
 Mom had labor pains
 that made her stagger across the floor.
 It was time!
  
 The fifty-mile trip back to Trinidad
 and the hospital
 was made in record time.
  
 At 10:30 a.m. I was born.
  
 Dad went downtown
 and ran into a fellow dancer
 from the previous night.
  
 Dad announced his good news—
 a new baby girl!
  
 Remembering Mom at the dance
 the night before,
 the only comment the stunned friend
 had to make was,
 “She was born dancing!” 

            Whenever my mom was alive, she made my birthday a special occasion. When I was a child, it was a party with all my friends and family and a birthday cake she decorated. Just inviting my cousins and family made a sizeable get-together.

4th birthday - my birthday
I’m the smirky one to the left with long curls!

As an adult, she continued to celebrate me on my day, making every year memorable. In 1983, when I turned thirty years old, Aunt Willie decorated a cake with one foot on a banana peel. My nephew carried in a watermelon for a gift (my favorite summer food). Then they gave me a gift of survival tools for being over the hill: my grandmother’s dentures, underwear and other key helping aides.

In 2012, Lin and I were at the National Square Dance Convention for my birthday, so Mom left me a voicemail wishing me a happy birthday. I kept that voicemail and recorded it on my iPad. After she died in 2013, I’ve started each of my birthdays off with playing it just to hear her voice and her greeting.

            In 2017, my brother and his two daughters were in Branson, Colorado, for my birthday. They have their grandmother’s birthday spirit, so they provided the props, and we took these photos to celebrate.

Today I celebrate being 68 years old. My husband, Lin, made it a special day. He wrapped his gift a couple days ago and set it on the coffee table in the living room, enticing me to wonder about it.

Roses for my birthday
Bouquet Lin bought me for my birthday

            This morning a beautiful bouquet of roses and lilies greeted me when I came downstairs. Then he sang “Happy birthday” to me and encouraged me to open my gift immediately. He bought me a CD player to listen to during my Quiet Time. Mine died a couple months ago, and I was going to replace it, but. . .

            For breakfast, he fixed blueberry pancakes, and we played a couple games of Cribbage and I won—a gift he hadn’t planned.

My birthday cake today
Me with my birthday cake today

            Then after lunch, he put a “Birthday Girl” headdress on me and came in with lit candles on a carrot cake. He explained the lettering on the cake. He had bought a cake decorating tube and wrote my name in the middle but ran out of room, so the last A was underneath it. Then he successfully wrote “Happy” at the bottom, but he told me the tube malfunctioned so he couldn’t do “Birthday.” What a sweetheart!

Other family members helped me celebrate. This morning I received a text from my sister wishing me a happy birthday. This afternoon, I received a phone call from my niece and two of her children, my nephew and his two daughters, and my brother wishing me a happy birthday.

            Yes, today we celebrated in true Horner fashion. Lin, who celebrates so much like Mom, channeled her celebratory nature the whole day.

            Don’t stop celebrating birthdays, no matter how old you are—that special day when you were born! Do something outrageously fun and make it a day to remember! Lin and Mom always have!

            What do you do to celebrate birthdays in your family or with your friends? (Scroll down below to make a comment.)

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Flippo's Book Cover & pelicans - my birthday

~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:

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

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

family · My Thoughts

How Many Fathers Does It Take?

Fathers
Uncle Tanky is third from the left, top row.

Happy Father’s Day, a day to celebrate father figures in my life and all they have done for me. The famous African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” rings true. Being raised in a small country community, I had several influential men in my life besides my dad. As I pondered this idea, I realized the men were quieter influences than the women I identified in my Mother’s Day blog post. They still affirmed who I was and showed by example how to live life.

Millard Warner

Millard was Dad’s best friend from high school. We lived next door to each other until Millard’s death, and he influenced my life with his quiet demeanor and steady presence. We did lots of activities as families and he truly was a second father to me. After his divorce, he ate meals with us regularly. I remember his quiet sense of humor and constant interest in my life, even as a youngster.

Reu Waldroup

Reu was another friend of Dad’s and a continual influence on me. Another quiet man, I had to listen closely to his soft voice because I never wanted to miss his wonderful tales about his ranching experiences or shenanigans he and Dad got into in school. I saw deep love and acceptance in his eyes for me.

Mr. Teague

Mr. Teague taught my eighth grade English class with enthusiasm and a desire to challenge us. His assignments captivated my interest: I wrote a Matt Helm story following that series that was so popular in the late 60s. He had us group-write a play at his kitchen table with his help. I remember our outrageous junior high humor he didn’t curb at all. We performed the play at the monthly PTA meeting and felt successful as playwrights. I’m sure his adventuresome assignments ignited the writer within me, so I’m indebted to him for sure.

He also had a very playful nature. During one of our winter snowstorms, he attached a car hood to the back of his Jeep and used it as a massive sled, pulling us around our little town. We had a ball that day, slipping and sliding over town. After getting more daring, he went out of town towards Trinchera with Billy Mitchell alone on the sled. When we came down the hill by Warner’s stock tank, the sled slid back and forth across the road, and Billy almost crashed into the rock guard covering the culvert. What a memorable day we had with a teacher who loved his students.

My Three Uncles

Throughout my life, I had uncles who touched me deeply. Uncle Gay, who lived in Washington state, always had time for me when they visited each summer, even though he had many other nieces and nephews to attend to. He always had time for me.

Uncle Tanky lived near me my whole life, and I had many interactions with him until he died. When I was in high school, he saw an essay I wrote and questioned me about my choice of studies at Trinidad State Junior College. He lovingly called me “Rada” which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Uncle Hughie entertained me my whole life with his fun-loving sense-of-humor. He lost a leg in a mining accident when he was eighteen and lived with a prosthesis, enjoying a normal life, dancing and doing activities like he had two good legs. Because my dad wasn’t a fisher, he taught me how to fish, and I spent many an hour with him beside a lake, waiting for a fish to bite and enjoying his tales.

My Grandfathers

Granddad Horner lived across town and was a daily father figure for me. Although he was withdrawn and quiet, he lavished me with affection because I resembled his beloved mother, Mattie Jessie. I worked with him on the family ranch and witnessed his dedication to the land, his cattle, and his family. He loved to get his family together, celebrating each one of his grandchildren.

Granddad Dickerson didn’t live close to us, but Mom made sure we saw them often. Granddad Dickerson was exactly opposite of my other granddad. He loved to wrestle on the floor and tickle us to death. He loved his grandchildren dearly, and I saw that lived out.

Don Ming

Don, another friend of Dad’s, helped me so much after Mom died. Whenever I needed his advice or help on what to do on our ranch; he stepped up. His affirming nature made me believe my brother and I could manage our family ranch and do a good job.

My Father

Dad & me dancing - Fathers
Dad & Me Dancing at his 75 birthday party, Branson, CO 1993

Finally, my dear dad, a real live cowboy! Dad loved his family, his wife, and his ranch. He was always available for a hug and a kiss. He called me “Shorty,” and I loved that. I relished the hours we spent together on the ranch, either working cattle, preparing our 4-H horses for the county fair, or just riding around enjoying the land.

Because I lived fairly close to my folks for my adult life, I had the pleasure of multiple trips around Colorado, California and the Southwest with Dad and Mom, and he was always up for an adventure.

I inherited his love for dancing, and anytime I’m on the dance floor, I can feel him near, encouraging me to pursue the hobby we both love.

Any time we were together, Dad entertained us with multiple stories about growing up, school life, cowboy life, and just life. I always drew near, hanging on each word, even though I had heard the tale many times before. He told his story with such exuberance; I felt I was there—a true storyteller!

He was always there for me, supporting me emotionally through my divorces, multiple moves, and any crises that came up.

Finally,

I know the importance of father figures in a child’s life, especially little girls, for our dads are the first men we fall in love with. I realized I was fortunate to have a dad who also loved me deeply. On this special day, I celebrate my dad and all the father figures who touched me deeply, helping to create the woman I became.

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller - Fathers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · Writing

How I Prepared for My Next Book

My Next Book
Photo by rikka ameboshi from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

PROFESSIONAL EDITOR

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

COPY EDITING

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

 DEVELOPMENTAL EDITING

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

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

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

MARKETING AGENT

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

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

COVER

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

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

COVER PICTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Flippo's Book cover - next book

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

Flippo & Obstacles He Faced

Young Flippo—Obstacles he faced
Flippo as a Young Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“One night someone had a suggestion. Thar’s twelve of us here. Why don’t we all learn to call? And we won’t have to have a record or a band, so we’ll just be our own caller.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melton Luttrell-Obstacles he faced
Melton Luttrell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller Cover-Obstacles he faced

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

family · Life Lessons · My Thoughts

A Graduation Address to My Two Girls!

Graduation cheers!

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

Have the courage to follow

Your heart and intuition.

They somehow already know

What you truly want to

Become. Everything else is

Secondary.

-Steve Jobs

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

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

Graduation - tools
Photo by Adonyi Gábor from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Graduation message - Lin and me dancing

Dance

As though no one is watching you,

Love

As though you have never been hurt before,

Sing

As though no one can hear you,

Live

As though heaven is on earth.

-souza

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover for Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · poetry

Haiku—A Trip Down Memory Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Haiku by Sonia Sanchez

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 22

 Life so wonderful
 So deeply charismatic
 A jingle daily! 

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

March 23

 I hate politics
 Republicans, Democrats
 Families divided!  

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

March 24

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

March 25

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

March 27

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

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

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


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Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Vaccinated: Short, Sweet & to the Point

Asleep after being vaccinated

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

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

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

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

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

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

And soon, I hope to be dancing!

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover of Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

family · Mom · My Thoughts

How Many Mothers Does It Take?

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

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

my cheerleaders- my mother figures

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

CLARA WARNER

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

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

MILLIE SHELDON

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

MARGIE MILLER

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

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

LUCY PRICHARD

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

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

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

BETTY DAUNT

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

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

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

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

MY THREE AUNTS

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

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

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

MY GRANDMOTHERS

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

MY MOTHER

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Flippo cover with yellow flower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

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

One Year Celebration!
Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

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

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

COVERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERIOR OF THE BOOK

Vellum app - One year later

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

UPLOADS

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

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

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

SALES

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

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

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

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

ONE YEAR LATER

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

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

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

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

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



Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover one year later!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albuquerque · Coronavirus · My Thoughts

April—Powwow Time in Albuquerque!

Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012
Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012

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

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

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

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

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

HISTORY

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

MY EXPERIENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHAT IS A POWWOW?

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

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

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

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

Gathering of Nations Powwow 2012 Drum Group

DANCE STYLES

They divided the competition up into various styles:

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

Gathering of Nations Powwow Souvenir Program Book 2021, page 16

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

ANOTHER GREAT FEATURE

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Cover of Just Another Square Dance Caller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

Did the Coronavirus Change the World?

Way to change

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

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

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

Growth & change

Growth and the Coronavirus Pandemic

April 18, 2021

Growth and 2020 in the same sentence

         Seems like an oxymoron.

                   Such contradiction

2020

         The worst year of my life

                   Yet growth?

                            Really?

I faced it

         I worked through it

Often I succumbed to outrageous emotions

         Fear

                   Anger

Then heartwarming feelings

         Empathy

                   Love

And went on.

So as I evaluate what happened,

         I can say,

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

                            Like so many of you.

Forced to stay at home, isolated

         I stopped my hectic schedule

                   I listened to life

                            I embraced nature

                                     In a deeper way

                                               I met me,

                                                        In a fresh way!

Yes, nature became the conduit of healing

         Lin’s luscious garden

         Birds attracted to his many feeders

         Jesse, my cat, and

                   His allegiance to me and our routine.

         A daily walk

                   Which feeds my soul

My God in all of this.

I didn’t want

         To grow

I didn’t ask

         For it

Thrust unknowingly

         On me

                   On our country

                            On our world

So what happened to me? What changed?

         I listened to

                   The meticulous flapping

                            Of the hummingbirds’ wings

                                     Hovering over bright red penstemon stem.

                   The hectic dinnertime feeding

                            At the bird feeders

                                     Wings fluttering,

                                               A storm of color and commotion

                   The quiet afternoon breezes

                            Singing through the piñon trees

                            Bouncing our chimes, creating a heavenly melody.

Yes, it happened.

         Did it happen for you?

*****

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

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

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

Look at how change occurred in our home!      

SpringWatch - our change in the world

SPRINGWATCH 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

GARDENING

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

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

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

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

WALKING

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

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

Zoomin’

THE WAY OF WRITING WITH NATALIE GOLDBERG

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

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

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

MEETINGS

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

JESSE, MY CAT

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

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s in the Navy Now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He interrupted me with a resounding, “No!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USS Lander - Navy destroyer tender
USS Lander

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

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

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

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

USS Piedmont

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

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

USS Wiltsie

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

USS Dixie

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller book cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holidays · My Thoughts

How Do You Celebrate Easter?

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

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

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

Celebrate Easter, 1960
Larada dressed up for Easter, 1960

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate Easter - dying eggs
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

Capulin Volcano

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

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts · Writing

Three Vital Apps for the Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are in-depth looks at each program.

ProWritingAid Logo--Three Apps

ProWritingAid Website and App

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

How to Use

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

Resources:

Scrivener-Three Apps

Scrivener 3.2.2

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

How to Navigate

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

Resources:

Vellum--Three Apps

Vellum

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

How to

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

Resources:

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coronavirus · My Thoughts · square dance

Will Square Dancing Survive the Pandemic?

Lin and Larada square dancing
Lin and Larada Square Dancing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jerry Junck: Nebraska & Arizona:

Jerry Junck, square dance caller
Jerry Junck

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

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

*****

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

Jon Jones & Deborah Carroll-Jones – Texas:

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

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

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

*****

After 2020, we all need a fun activity.

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

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

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

Daryl Clendenin – Oregon:

Daryl Clendenin, square dance caller
Daryl Clendenin

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

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

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

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

*****

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

Noah Siegman – Wisconsin:

Noah Siegman, square dance caller
Noah Siegman

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

*****

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

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

Tom Manning – Iowa:

Tom Manning, square dance caller
Tom Manning

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

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

*****

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

Mike Seastrom – California:

Mike Seastrom, square dance caller
Mike Seastrom

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

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

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

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

I’m excited!

*****

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

*****

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

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

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


Previous Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Just Another Square Dance Caller cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance · Writing

How Do You Start a Biography?

Cover of Flippo - start a biography

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

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

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

Laughter - start a biography
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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