My Thoughts · Patriotism

Freedom Isn’t Free!

Freedom is never free. Maya Angelou

Freedom has a price! Happy 4th of July to everyone as we celebrate this day. I want to look at the price of the freedom we enjoy!

First, we need to see where this festival day originated.

“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

The price is enormous, but do we minimize it on this special day, overshadowed by our traditional celebrations and busyness? Over the years, many American men and women have fought to keep this dream of freedom alive for you and me.

My Family’s Experience

In my family, my dad didn’t serve in the military during World War II—his rating was 4-F because of health issues. Many of his young ranch friend served, so Dad found a way to help out. He worked on many of the ranches in the surrounding area, doing day work, to ease the shortage caused by the young men who fought in that war. He thoroughly enjoyed this time with the different families and told hilarious stories about ranchers I knew.

Both my half-brother and brother were drafted into the Army. I know little about my half-brother’s experience because he was ten years older than me. I know he served in Germany.

However, I knew more about my brother, thirteen months older than me. Drafted at the end of the Vietnam war, he saw no action overseas, but from this, I realized the stress on families. He had severe asthma, and we never thought they would draft him. He ended up staying for the shortest amount of time and regretted it and wishes today he had stayed in until he retired.

My third husband served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, yet had a remarkable experience in the Army Air Corps. He felt totally rewarded for his twenty-five years of service.

Your Experience

So many of you have had tragic losses and given up so much. In facing these, you have paid the highest price, and I honor that today. Thank you so much.

So, what am I saying? Men and women like these identified have provided the freedom we enjoy every day by making our world a safe place to live in. Our great country allowed me, a country girl from Colorado, to pursue my many dreams over the years, and I still chase them today.

Happy birthday America. Freedom isn't free!

In conclusion, this year, take the time to think about all the freedoms you have and maybe take for granted. The price for those freedoms came high—the loss of life, losing limbs, and/or losing time with loved ones. Yes, it’s America’s birthday, but please realize your freedom today to barbecue a hotdog or hamburger, to drink a cold beer and to watch a spectacular celebration of fireworks or a drone presentation, cost someone else something and be grateful.

Do you have military people in your family or know friends who served? If so, have you thanked them for their service? What freedoms do you enjoy the most as an American? What are you willing to give up for the next generations?


~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, from Friday, June 24, 2022. Join us for a lively description of all my books!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Baby boomer · family · Friends · My Thoughts

Sixty-nine tomorrow—It’s my birthday!

Happy birthday - sixty-nine

I turn sixty-nine years-old tomorrow and wonder about how quickly I got here! Let me ponder life at the end of my sixth decade.

At each major birthday in my life, I’ve advanced easily, without regret or any desire to be younger and go backwards. I have always felt age was an attitude and looked forward to the future with anticipation! Often, I still feel sixteen inside!

Turning Thirty

When I moved from twenty-nine to thirty, my family gathered together at my parent’s home in Branson and celebrated with a watermelon (crepe paper around it). Watermelons have always been my favorite fruit and my young nephew giggled as he presented it to me. They also gave me a survival kit for me that included a pair of my grandma’s underwear (see picture above) and a set of false teeth. And then my Aunt Willie added to the festivities and decorated a cake which said, “One foot on the grave and one on a banana peel!”

Turning Sixty

Sadly, when I turned sixty, Mom had just died, so my heart broke on my birthday because I found out she had big plans for my big birthday that year. But I enjoyed being with Lin, my brother and Aunt Willie. Mom always made birthdays memorable, and Lin continues to do that.

Turning Sixty-Nine

My beautiful birthday bouqet - sixty-nine
Beautiful birthday bouquet from Lin

Yesterday morning, Lin brought me a beautiful bouquet to start my birthday celebration; he said! Last night he forewarned me I needed to be dressed and ready to leave here at 5:15 PM for dinner tomorrow night—mysterious and so much fun!

At sixty-nine, I have had an amazing life, filled with much heartache and so much joy. Isn’t that what many people experience in this life? Last November, I came up with a resounding motto when I took part in a blog challenge where I posted blogs daily for the month of November. That motto is “a baby boomer with a purpose.”

You might wonder what that motto means to me. When it hit me so sharply last year, I felt deep down that described who I am. Yes, I’m a baby boomer, and just because I’m a designated “Senior Citizen,” I’m not done!

I’m not done with

  • Challenging myself—I continue as a lifelong learner.
  • Growth—My Christian beliefs grow daily. My spiritual life expands.
  • Adventure—In Lin, I have the perfect life partner to look at life as an adventure.
  • Writing—I’m working on my seventh book and have three poetry books and a fiction in the queue.
  • Traveling—Lin and I have two cruises planned for this year and more trips for 2023.
  • Dancing—I will dance ‘til I die because Harold and Elva Horner were my dancing parents!

So, as I face the end of my 60s, I look back and marvel. Yes, I have had several health issues over these last nine years, but I have had so many blessings. And I choose to focus on the blessings—my late-in-life writing career, my delightful, dear husband, my brother and family ranch and my exceptional family and friends. During these last nine years, I have hundreds of hilarious memories with each of these people and on our family ranch.

So, yes, as a part of being fully alive, I take part in a variety of sites in the social media world. On LinkedIn.com, I met another senior with a purpose, Idessa Toney, whose website, Seniors with a Purpose, and her YouTube channel, captured my attention. Idessa and I share a passion for living life now, no matter what age. Be sure and visit her website.

As much as I love my parents, I remember them so old at sixty-nine. Is that true or my perception only? My dad had breathing issues, and he started downhill about this age. He died at seventy-eight. At sixty-nine, my mom had been a widow for a year, burdened with the loss of her life partner. I had the privilege of being closely connected with her until her death at eighty-four. Yes, I feel much younger than I remember them to be!

Finally,

Tomorrow I age one year, but I look forward to my last year in my 60s. I trust my God to provide a memorable, fun-filled year. Then, look out 70s, because I know they offer adventure, life and surprises. I opt for it all!

How do you feel about aging? Do you dread a certain age? Do you have a motto?



~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, Friday, June 24 at 1:00 PM. Join us for a lively discussion of my books!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Christianity · My Thoughts · Recovery · Spirituality

My Spiritual Father: A Priest and a Friend!

Father dancing with little girl - Spiritual Father

My spiritual father? Does that sound strange? I would say it’s a man who contributes to the growth and nurturing of my spirit, someone who touched my life deeply. As I thought about Father’s Day this week, I knew I’d already written about my dad and other key men in my life. So, I wanted to share about my spiritual father!

I met Fr. Tom Weston, a recovering Jesuit priest, thirty years ago. Here it is Father’s Day 2022 and I want to honor his work in my life. He contributed to my spiritual growth over the last thirty years in a variety of ways. I attended many retreats in Albuquerque after the Mesilla retreat identified below. After hearing him the first time, I have bought eleven recorded cassette tapes then CDs of his teachings. Then, during the coronavirus pandemic, Fr. Tom offered monthly Zoom retreats since April 2020 (or that’s when I started).

My First Experience

In the spring of 1993, I attended my first Serenity Retreat for recovery. A new friend in the program invited me to go with her to Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla, New Mexico, outside of Las Cruces for the weekend. She had raved about Fr. Tom often, and I needed a shot in the arm. I had been dealing with some heavy-duty stuff.

So, we took off at noon—both of us taught our morning classes and away we went. From the first talk on Friday night, I saw Fr. Tom’s amazing talents. He had me laughing one minute and crying the next, then laughing again. He provided a refreshing picture of recovery and Christianity that I needed.

On the drive down, my friend forewarned me Fr. Tom held ten-minute private counseling sessions on Saturday and sign up early because he filled up quickly. She knew the woes I had been going through and felt I needed an extra boost, so I signed up.

When my time came on his packed Saturday schedule, Fr. Tom suggested we walk around the pecan orchard next to the retreat house. I shared my current trauma that had my life topsy-turvy.

Calmly, he said, “I have no experience with your issue, but how about finding a tree here to connect with and something might come up.”

So, I followed his instructions and parked myself under near a tree with my journal. Immediately, memories flooded my mind, and I knew Fr. Tom had known my God and the trees would help me. This became a pivotal point in a deep healing for me.

Fr. Tom Grew to become My Spiritual Father

From then on, I became a follower of Fr. Tom, attending multiple retreats at the Dominican Sisters Retreat House in the South Valley and then off of Coors Boulevard in Albuquerque. Every retreat, I signed up for the one-on-one time with Fr. Tom, keeping him updated with my current life, and I loved the connection we made.

Over the years, listening to his teachings, Fr. Tom expanded my belief in my God from a punishing, judgmental white guy sitting in robes on the clouds to a peaceful, accepting personal God I could talk to and have a personal relationship with. And he did this through a variety of instruments: through an inclusive Mass on Sunday at the retreats and reading part of the Mass in Hebrew to connect me to our Jewish roots, through Rumi’s delightful and resounding poetry, through simple Buddhist reminders to stay present, through Fr. Anthony de Mello’s humor and stories and through Mary Oliver’s nature-focused poetry and especially her blue iris poem about prayer, “Praying.” With each retreat, I looked forward to his literary references peppered throughout the weekend.

Once, while listening to one of Fr. Tom’s recorded retreats, on one of my hundreds of four-hour trips north to Colorado to visit my folks or my southern trip to return home, he shared a very risky prayer. Immediately, I pulled over and jotted it down, shivered at its possibilities and put it away for many years. I felt if I prayed that prayer, the world would turn upside down.

Then he shared it again recently on one of his monthly Zoom retreats, and I embraced its truth and now pray it daily. Here it is:

Father Robert Egan’s Come Holy Spirit (Pentecost) Prayer

  • Come, Holy Spirit! We pray
  • Rattle our cages
  • Break into our locked houses
  • Water our parched land
  • Undo our bends and twistedness
  • Awaken our hearts
  • Help us overflow with kindness and
  • Give us unending joy.
Marked up Bible - Spiritual Father

Fr. Tom gave me the freedom to open my heart up to a larger God than I had ever known before and, with that, I have returned to my Christian faith and my religion of choice with a deeper acceptance and renewal.

In conclusion, your spiritual father may be the father that raised you. Mine wasn’t. My dad had little interest in spiritual matters. My spiritual father came many years later in life, in God’s time, and I am so grateful.

Do you have a spiritual father? Was it your dad? If not, who was he? How did he affect your life?

Fr. Tom’s website: https://www.innerlightproductions.net/fr-tom-weston


~NEW INTERVIEW on Chat & Spin Radio, Friday, June 24 at 1:00 PM. Join us for a lively discussion of my books!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Age · Baby boomer · My Thoughts

Baby Boomers, Here’s A Must Read!

Older woman in orange flowers - Baby boomers

Baby boomers, how are we going to handle our 70s and 80s and beyond? Do those numbers strike dread and fear in your heart? If so, I have a book that might help! Garrison Keillor’s book, Serenity at 70, Gaiety at 80: Why You Should Keep on Getting Older, grabbed me because of the title. Serenity at 70? Gaiety at 80? My baby boomer heart knew he might have some answers for me.

On my next birthday, June 27—just a couple weeks away—I turn 69! Therefore, I face my last year in my sixth decade, and seventy looms ahead. My husband is 81, turning 82 in September, so we qualify for this book and the topics Garrison addresses with his usual sharp wit and consideration.

Why I Bought This Book

Lin and Larada Miller, 10th Anniversary Picture. We are Baby Boomers!
Lin and Larada

After purchasing this book for us, but before we read it, Lin and I had a heartfelt conversation about him buying a greenhouse. Sounds like a simple topic. Before this conversation, any time he discussed it with me, I responded positively. His garden graces our backyard, and it is gorgeous! So a greenhouse seemed like a logical addition!

One afternoon, he stated with strong yet controlled emotion, “We need to talk about the greenhouse.” I wondered about this because we had been talking about it off-and-on for months, but I heard something different in his voice this time.

“How do you feel about it? I’m 81 years old. What if I buy it and never get to use it?” he queried, looking start into my eyes.

I knew my response had to match the seriousness of his question.

“I think it’s a brilliant idea, because you’ve researched it for months. Also, you’re not the type of person to buy anything impulsively, so I know you will use it.” His hidden implication of his death caught me off guard.

He had more to say: “But what about Kathi’s greenhouse? She bought it and never got to use it. Is that an omen?” Kathi is his deceased wife who died of melanoma and a dear friend of mine.

Again, I knew my response had major implications!

“We can’t sit here, waiting to die just because we’ve hit a certain age that many think is over-the-hill. We have to keep pursuing our passions until we die. Buy it!”

From that conversation and an advertisement I saw for Garrison’s book, I bought this book, thinking he might have thoughts on the subject and he did!

Importance of “Prairie Home Companion”

When talking to Baby boomers, most connect Garrison Keillor with “Prairie Home Companion,” and to understand Garrison’s book, here’s an explanation:

A Prairie Home Companion is a weekly radio variety show created and hosted by Garrison Keillor that aired live from 1974 to 2016. In 2016, musician Chris Thile took over as host, and the successor show was eventually renamed Live from Here and ran until 2020.

The show is known for its musical guests, especially folk and traditional musicians, tongue-in-cheek radio drama, and relaxed humor. Keillor’s wry storytelling segment, “News from Lake Wobegon,” was the show’s best-known feature during his long tenure.”

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

While at Colorado State University from 1982 to 1986, one of my best friends followed this radio show religiously. I’m sad to say I never did, but she talked about it often, so I knew about Garrison’s humor and wit and the woes of Lake Wobegon.

Researching, I found his radio shows on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=garrison+keillor+prairie+home+companion

Enjoy! I plan to some forty-plus years later!

Several years ago, I bought a poetry collection book, Good Poems, that Garrison edited. I loved this lively collection, but didn’t remember the reason for the collection.

“Every day people tune in to The Writer’s Almanac on public radio and hear Garrison Keillor read them a poem. And here, for the first time, is an anthology of poems from the show, chosen by the narrator for their wit, their frankness, their passion, their ‘utter clarity in the face of everything else a person has to deal with at 7 a.m.'”

Fast forward to 2009, some friends invited me to see Garrison in a theater at the Popejoy Theater Complex in Albuquerque, and what an entertainer he is—songs, poetry and stories filled the evening with background music! Laughter, too!

Why, As a Baby Boomer, I Loved This Book

This short 96-page tome delighted me from the beginning with a seventeen-page preface—a sizeable piece for such a small book. Immediately, his response to our world today captured me, “Not My Problem,” or NMP. He added, “I’m no longer from here,” and later repeats he’s a tourist here now. What freedom, and that’s one interesting, continuous message throughout the book.

The simple format of four chapters adds to the mystery of the book: 1) The Deadly Precipice, 2) The Rules of the Game, 3) A Night in the ER and 4) Legacy Is Posterity’s View of Your Posterior and One Posterior Looks Much Like Another. In each chapter, Garrison addresses key age-related topics in a stream-of-consciousness manner, like we were sitting on the sofa with a drink and talking about aging.

Peppered throughout the book, he shares personal poetry and limericks. I just noticed one of his limericks decorates the cover of his book:

“Old folks like Lena and Ole

Choose to dance sprightly and slowly

And thus stay upright

But the gentle delight

They find is quite joyful and holy.”

Above all, I truly enjoyed how Garrison identifies key simple events in his life and how they changed everything: an insightful teacher directed Garrison out his class into another that matched his talents and moved him forward toward his life’s goals. I laughed at how he got into the radio business for forty years, which changed his life. Also, I marveled at how a trip to Nashville changed the direction of his radio show.

Throughout the book, he references his relationship with his wife and their major differences and wonderful compatibility and the influences of his hometown of Anoka, Minnesota, his family and the church.

While reading, I laughed often at this light-hearted book, full of wit about the age I am in and headed towards, then I would spin quickly because of a thought-provoking passage where I knew his truth about aging was my truth. “Old age is foreign territory and you should enjoy it as you would if you’d picked up and moved to Paris.” Garrison Keillor, “Serenity at 70, Gaiety at 80: Why You Should Keep on Getting Older,” (2021): 52.

Finally, Baby boomers!

In addition, Garrison’s book helped me laugh at this phase of my life, step back and be thoughtful and consider it with warmth and acceptance.

Let’s end with his humor:

“The five stages of aging are: nameless dread, the crisis of bad news, self-pity and disgust, a revelatory experience, and then contentment and maybe even happiness.”

Garrison Keillor, “Serenity at 70, Gaiety at 80: Why You Should Keep on Getting Older,” (2021): 42.

So, Baby boomers, what do you choose? I choose happiness.

What are your thoughts on aging, Baby Boomers? Garrison Keillor?


ADVERTISEMENTS:
Favorite child meme

~Need a Father’s Day gift for your dad or granddad? How about a bundle of my books about ranch life? Go to my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for 25% discounts on three bundles!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Marshall Flippo · My Books · My Thoughts · square dance

Are You a History Buff?

Collage - history pictures

History fascinates me—I love to read about what has happened in the past with well-known characters and events. When I wrote Marshall Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, I knew without a doubt; it stands as a history book of square dancing and so much more.

When I first interviewed Flippo, I heard stories about his growing up in west Texas in Abilene. He enjoyed his teachers and his education and had a favorite story about ink wells and the ink used in them. Family meant the world to Flippo.

World War II

Marshall Flippo in the Navy. History
Marshall Flippo in the Navy

Laced into those first few interviews, Flippo identified his patriotism with World War II raging in the background of his teen years. His older sister, Helen June, had already enlisted, so it seem natural for him to join up, but he was only seventeen years old. That felt so young as he described the process.

When I referenced his enlisting in the navy, I had a major misunderstanding about that event. Originally, I thought he said they had faked his enlistment papers, but he vehemently corrected me. His dad had to sign for him; patriotism ran strong in the whole family.

So, World War II became a significant topic in his biography, with him spending four years in the navy. He spent two years at the end of the war, going to Japan twice. He described being onboard ship, observing Iwo Jima as an eyewitness.

When Flippo described his last two years in the navy, I laughed out loud in amazement. No one could have guessed what he did those last two years. He enjoyed a dream post—playing baseball for the navy overseas and then in San Diego, California.

Square Dance Caller Career

After the service, Flippo returned to Abilene, Texas, married Neeca and embarked on a career that would change his life forever—square dance calling. He stood as a bridge in the history of square dance calling between an influencer like Dr. Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw, the person credited for the square dance explosion in the late 30s and 40s, and all those who followed him. Flip never met or trained under Lloyd Shaw, but Bob Osgood and Betty Casey did and, in mentoring Flippo, Shaw’s influence carried over to him through those two people. Learned more about Lloyd Shaw at https://squaredancehistory.org/exhibits/show/lloyd-shaw

With his career spanning sixty years, he followed those influencers and became a mentor to many callers over the years, carrying on Shaw’s legacy. As one of the original eleven founding fathers, Flippo helped start CALLERLAB, the international organization for callers that changed the direction of square dancing in the 70s. He continued attending this annual convention throughout his career, going to his last one in 2018 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I spent 4-5 hours with him, interviewing him for his biography.

In organizing this book, Flippo immediately let me know he wanted to tell stories about callers and cuers who influenced him. He so much wanted to honor those who were deceased; we created a tribute to them at the beginning of the book. Then the book ends with stories he told about other callers and cuers. I added stories callers wanted to tell on Flippo. Flippo’s humility prevailed throughout the book, and I had to ruin him in, reminding him this book was supposed to be about him!

Sadly, Flippo died in 2018 before we finished what he wanted to share. When he passed away, I had 258,000 words to transcribe from his interviews—so much information. Flippo totally involved himself in the production of his biography. Before he passed, Flip commented about the thickness of Bob Osgood’s biography, As I See It. We saw it at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque. He demanded his biography not be that thick, so I found the word count of Bob’s biography and made sure Flippo’s was less!

However, yes, this book is thick, but the following features liven it up.

Added features to this book—

  • Footnotes explaining square dance terminology—interactive in the e-book formats
  • Period pictures of Flippo, callers, cuers and dancers from Neeca’s three scrapbook/photo albums
  • Pictures from a war book about his time on the USS Lander Flippo referenced often
  • An Index at the end of the book, simply because of my commitment for it to be a history book. I wanted readers easily to cross-reference any topic identified in the book.
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A–Chronology of Marshall Flippo’s Life
    • Appendix B–Itinerary of USS Lander (one of the destroyer tenders Flippo was assigned to)
    • Appendix C–More Burma-Shave Jingles
    • Appendix D–International Tours
    • Appendix E–Chek-A-Kaller Legend
    • Appendix F–Flippo’s Recordings & Reviews
    • Appendix G–List of Callers who Attended Flippo’s Last Night, December 31, 2017
    • Appendix H–Festus Article & Letter
    • Appendix I–Glossary of Square Dance & Round Dance Terms
    • Appendix J–Additional References: books, URLs, Marshall Flippo Song Bytes, News & Websites
  • Additional resources on my website for those who buy the book in the “Members Only” section

Finally,

If you’re a square dancer, this book has so much information for you about the activity we love and the inside story of Flippo’s life. If you’re not a square dancer, the historical aspect might capture your heart about a time in our history rich with stories and people of a time gone by.

Do you like history? Do you like stories about World War II? About life in the 20s in Texas? Let me know what you think in the Comments section.


Favorite child - Happy Father's Day

~Need a Father’s Day gift for your dad or granddad? How about a bundle of my books about ranch life? Go to my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for 25% discounts on three bundles!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo Meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Thoughts

Another School Shooting: A Teacher’s View

Classroom teacher - school shooting

Another school shooting has happened this past week with nineteen students dead and two teachers. I gasped at the losses in this small Texas town and gulped down tears, not as a parent but as a retired teacher. Each repeated school slaying brings back my memories of Columbine. No, I did not have a child there; my best friend’s son was soon to graduate from there.

COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING

Broken hearted - school shooting

On April 20, 1999, I had just completed a busy school day at Washington middle school in Albuquerque, New Mexico and hadn’t listened to the news all day. We didn’t have Alerts pestering us all day with news and the such. As I left the building, a warm spring afternoon greeted me outside. I exhaled and enjoyed the warmth, walking out the front door with a peer.

As we gathered our belongings, she asked about my day. Then she queried me, knowing I grew up in Colorado, “Did you hear about the horrible school shooting in Colorado?” At just the mention of Colorado, some foreboding deep inside came to life.

“No, it was a busy day. Where was it?” We stopped near the street.

“Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado,” she replied. As my knees almost buckled, I steadied myself.

I shrieked, “Oh, no! My best friend’s son goes there. He’s graduating in a month. I’ve got to go!”

I left my friend standing there and ran to my car. I grabbed my clunky old cell phone and called my best friend and got a notification from the operator, “All lines are busy in Colorado. Call back later.”

Then I called my retired ex-husband to see if he had any news because he watched the early Evening News. His response was grim! That killing spree killed twelve students and a teacher and wounded twenty others.

On the twenty-minute drive home, I called my friend repeatedly, to no avail. When I got home, I fell sobbing into my ex-husband’s arm. No news yet from my friend, and of course, the national news wasn’t releasing any names yet.

After settling down some, we grabbed a quick dinner, glued to the TV. I kept calling my friend and finally, about nine o’clock I got through–her son was safe, but she shared an eerie story.

Habitually, her son ate lunch in the cafeteria at Columbine, which is where the two killers left “two duffel bags, each containing a 20-pound propane bomb set to explode at 11:17 a.m. The teens then went back outside to their cars to wait for the bombs to go off. When the bombs failed to detonate, the two shooters began their shooting spree.”

https://www.history.com/topics/1990s/columbine-high-school-shootings

That day, of all days, my best friend’s son went home for lunch! That saved his life from that horrible school shooting.

As we talked, my best friend sobbed through the conversation with gratitude for her son’s life and grief for those killed.

AFTER THE COLUMBINE SCHOOL SHOOTING

As a teacher, I was never the same after Columbine. We found out later that the first 911 call came from a teacher under her desk with a cell phone. I vowed from that time forward to always have my cell phone close and available. No longer did the “Active Shooter” drill feel rote but necessary, and I explained why I felt so strongly to my classes after that.

COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL’S GRADATION THAT YEAR

On Saturday, May 22, 1999, a short three weeks after the school shooting, Mom and I attended my best friend’s son’s graduation. What should have been a joyous celebration of the culmination of twelve years felt overlaid with sorrow. I remember a heavy presence of the police force that day, fearing the unknown.

“Three of Columbine High School’s seniors left hospitals to graduate with their class Saturday. One rolled on stage in a wheelchair.”

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-may-23-mn-40182-story.html

One mother, grieving the loss of her daughter, “held up her daughter’s gown and gold collar, signifying her membership in the National Honor Society. The graduate’s sister and two brothers accepted her diploma. . .”

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-may-23-mn-40182-story.html

What pain yet resilience we witnessed that day!

A YEAR LATER

I moved to a new school in Albuquerque which didn’t have a dress code. One day, after being there just a few weeks, I stood at my door during passing period and saw an eighth grader coming towards me in a trench coat. I panicked—the two killers at Columbine wore trench coats to hide their guns and get them inside the school. Nothing happened that day at my new school, but I still remember that feeling.

2022 & THE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS CONTINUE!

Now it’s 2022 and another school shooting has happened! Names like Sandy Hook and Parkland have become familiar across the United States associated with school shooting, but nothing has changed since the Columbine shooting!

As many of you, many reputable news sources have bombarded us with data the last few days about school shootings and gun violence. Because of my experience with the Columbine school shooting, the Uvalde, Texas school shooting has gripped my heart deeply, now so many years later. In researching, I found support for some data I saw this week.

“The gunman in the deadliest school shooting in Texas history bought two AR-style rifles legally just after his 18th birthday — days before his assault on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. The gunman bought 375 rounds of 5.56-caliber ammunition. . .”

https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/25/uvalde-shooter-bought-gun-legally/

Questions I have today:

  • Why is it legal for an 18-year-old to buy not one but two AR-style rifles in any state in the United States with our track record?
  • Why is it legal that he bought that much ammunition for that style rifle?
  • After all these years, why are we still contending with this horrible evil?
  • Still, why do children have to die in 2022 in the United States of America in insane school shooting sprees?

To answer my last question, look at some stunning statistics from across the world:

19 Countries with the Most School Shootings (total incidents Jan 2009-May 2018 – CNN):

  • United States — 288
  • Mexico — 8
  • South Africa — 6
  • India — 5
  • Nigeria & Pakistan — 4
  • Afghanistan — 3
  • Brazil, Canada, France — 2
  • Azerbaijan, China, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kenya, Russia, & Turkey — 1

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/school-shootings-by-country

Leading this list worldwide should shock me, but it doesn’t!

Finally,

Broken-hearted with a child's hands - school shooting

Being a ranch girl, I learned to shoot as a child, but we didn’t have AR-anything. We had hunting rifles to provide food for our table. I respect guns, yet know the harm they can do. My childhood playmate was accidentally shot in the face with a pistol and endured a scarred face for a large part of her life.

Being a Christian, I agree with the power of prayers, but those words of prayer ring hollow from our legislators because they have done nothing since 1999 and Columbine to stop this horrendous epidemic. Yes, they have done something—taken money from gun lobbyists who encourage their customers they need AR-style rifles. School shootings have to stop. School safety must become a priority with everyone in our country—mostly those who make legislative decisions.

Being a retired schoolteacher, I remember those precious middle school students who entered my classroom, believing I would provide a safe environment for them. School shootings have shattered that safety. I don’t know how teachers survive today! Please, we must do something! I’m broken-hearted—once again!


Happy Father's Day from your favorite child! meme

~Need a Father’s Day gift for your dad or granddad? How about a bundle of my books about ranch life? Go to my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, for 25% discounts on three bundles!

~NEWEST PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Life Lessons · My Thoughts

Shingles: The Result of Procrastination!

Asleep on the couch - shingles

I have shingles, diagnosed seven weeks ago and the pain, itching and burning continues. I meant to get the vaccine many times, but kept procrastinating. So now I suffer!

On Friday afternoon, April 1, Lin and I colored my hair, getting ready for our first square and round dance festival in two and a half years. I wanted to look good, and I hadn’t colored my hair in several months.

After Lin rinsed the color off, I jumped into the shower to rinse more thoroughly and take my shower before the evening dance. In drying off, I noticed some red bumps on my forehead, but I didn’t notice they were only on the right side. I wondered if I had gotten allergic to the hair color!

We had a delightful time at that festival (I wrote about it on April 3 for my blog), but I didn’t feel right—just off. We danced Friday night, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday morning. After the festival on Sunday afternoon, I attended the funeral of the wife of a dear friend and met another friend from out-of-town there, then we spent the rest of the afternoon together. As time went on, I felt sicker.

When I got home, I slept for two hours. After that nap, I looked in the mirror and the rash on my forehead had worsened. Deep in my heart, I feared it was shingles because my dad had them in 1988 when he turned 70 years old, and it looked similar. Now I noticed it appeared only on the right side.

Back then, the medical world thought Dad needed to be in isolation because shingles were highly contagious. So, we had to don medical clothes, and it was horrible. He looked like someone had painted half of his bald head red! He suffered with his eyebrow hurting until he died.

You would think that experience would have convinced me to get the shingles vaccine, but no, I kept thinking, “Next month, next year!”

The other reason I didn’t rush to get the vaccine is I thought I had not had the chickenpox, and I had read you had to have chickenpox to get shingles. I had never broken out with chickenpox; however, when my mom’s best friend’s baby got chickenpox, Mom put my brother and I in her crib so we’d get them as children. They did that back then as preventive measures—children suffered less with the childhood diseases than adults did.

I never broke out! However, during my teaching career, we had a chickenpox epidemic at one school I taught at, and I never got them. I always thought that curious! So, I probably had the chickenpox as a baby and was asymptomatic (I’ve learned the meaning of that word since the pandemic).

On Monday, April 4, I went to Urgent Care, and the doctor confirmed what I feared—I had shingles on the right side of my face: my scalp, forehead, eyelid and under my eye. He prescribed ValAcylcovir, an antiviral medication. When I got home, I messaged my primary care physician about the location of the shingles and he immediately responded, “Get to your eye doctor this week!”

So, I saw my eye doctor on Wednesday to make sure my eye was okay and it was, but he prescribed another week of the ValAcylcovir. Lin got his first shingles vaccination that day because he didn’t want to go through what I was!

For the first few weeks, I used calamine lotion on the rash—it helped so much with the itching and burning. Then a friend on Facebook suggested using CBD oil because her husband had been relieved when he used it when he had shingles. I had so many suggestions on Facebook, but I couldn’t try them all.

During the first four weeks, I had a leisure morning, tried to work on the computer for a couple hours in the afternoon, then I had rested for a couple hours—so unlike me!

Last week, I saw my primary care physician for a checkup for the shingles. He prescribed Gabapentin for my pain. The Tylenol didn’t help with the pain anymore. As I faced the fifth week, my doctor said I had postherpetic neuralgia, a complication of pain, burning, and itching that can last an indefinite amount of time.

Then I faced chairing a square and round dance festival the second weekend in May, so I did it last weekend, but it took its toll on me. I tried to catch up this whole last week. Then I helped minimally at another festival this weekend. I just didn’t have the energy to take part the way I’m used to.

Last night, I suffered with severe stomach cramps when I got home from the dance. I slept with a heating pad and went to sleep, but the severe stomach pain woke me at 4:00 am and continued relentlessly until 6:00 am.

I’m afraid my pain medication is clashing with my stomach medication and that may cause the stomach cramps! What to do???

Shingles are horrible, and I didn’t break out as severely as many people, primarily because I got the antiviral medicine so quickly.

This is my personal PSA (Public Service Announcement): if you are 50 or older, get the vaccine even if you don’t think you had the chickenpox! After seven weeks and facing my eighth, I do not know when this will end. I had many plans canceled (an audiobook put on hold, my seventh book put on hold, life put on hold!). Don’t take a chance!


~NEWEST PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Coronavirus · My Thoughts

A Reality Check, Two Years Later!

Globe with mask - reality check

A reality check: two years later, the coronavirus death count just reached one million, and I had to look back. So many lives lost and so many families have changed forever—a favorite aunt, a precious grandma, an inspiring mother, taken from this earth too early. And yes, reality continues to be questioned today with Congress stalling for two months on future COVID funding. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/covid-19-funding-and-congress-no-clear-path-forward.html

So has our reality changed that much in two years?

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? to see where we were in 2020 and let’s step back in time.

Chapter Nine

WHOSE REALITY TODAY IS REAL?

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.”

Leo Tolstoy

Finger pointing on globe - reality check

May 24, 2020

What does the future hold for us? It’s the end of May 2020, and not a lot has changed—the coronavirus rages. The death count continues to increase daily, with it nearing 100,000 in the United States.

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

In my circle of family and friends, I know someone who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-March and is still experiencing symptoms ten weeks later. Some say it’s just like the flu. I’ve never had a flu that lasted that long.

Masked group - reality check

What Do We Face?

April 1, 2020

The future always felt

Predictable.

Not now!


Not post-coronavirus pandemic,

Not after the deaths,

The insanity,

The world in turmoil!

What’s coming?

Social distancing

’til April 30,


The whole month.

More cases

More deaths!

100,000s dead?

1,000,000s sick?

The uncertainty

No one knows

For sure,

But why?

Our tech age believed

We could control,

Order,


Orchestrate the world.

But no!


Here we stand frozen

Paralyzed

Isolated.

2020—


with all its advances

can’t contain

this small

tiny

Enemy.

It controls us!

The USA

Ill-prepared

So sad,


But so true!

World leaders, a part of the problem,

Yes,

But China lied!

Would the authorities have acted differently

If they knew the truth?

Not 81,000 deaths in China


But possibly forty times that amount!

3,240,000


Oh my God!

We will never know.

Where are we headed?

Done and recovered

And back to normal


At the end of April?

May?


September?

I haven’t even a thought

About our financial losses

Not in the wake of the deaths,

The sickness and trauma,

The despair!

We’re all in the same boat

Headed somewhere,

Destination unknown

God, help us!


The coronavirus catapulted me farther into a stark face-to-face confrontation with reality. Reality—different to different people? I thought I knew what reality was. I’m an intelligent human being, but the polarization of our country over wearing masks and the coronavirus has me reeling. Who do I believe? Is it a hoax?

I find myself defending my stance of believing in the severity of the coronavirus and adhering to the mandates set in place nationally by the CDC and locally by our state government. Depending on which news source you subscribe to, friends and family members appear to me to be out of touch. Or is it me?

I’ve struggled with reality my whole life, wanting to live in a LaLa Land of my own making, but adulthood and recovery forced me to grow up, move out of that imaginary land into the territory of the REAL.

Woman floating under the moon - reality check

Reality Check

April 2, 2020

The sun keeps shining.

The world spins.

Night follows day.

On the surface,

Normal is constant.

Yet the massive choirs


Of heartbroken cries resound

Across the dusty plains


Down through the fertile valleys

Atop the snow-topped mountains

Through the quiet deserts.

Human kind is under attack

A virus war zone!

People die;


The number mounts!

Doesn’t matter his color

Her Ethnicity

His Religion

No immunity!

The coronavirus kills,

Has no prejudices,

Is not judicious in its target.

The massive grief grows.


The weight of the pain stresses

This world to its limit.

A mother

A father

A daughter

Die alone

Not a hand to hold


No last kiss and hug!

And it’s not just the virus’s victims,

But anyone unlucky enough

To die now


Like my dear friend, Jan.

Her two daughters and grandson stood vigilant

Outside her door

No kiss


No touch

No hug


Only death!

And FaceTime

On an iPhone!

Such sterile technology

At a time

When she needed familiar touch.

Hearts break in unison,

Too many to count—

Exponential pain multiplied

By this devastation!

Yet the sun rises.


Days melt into weeks.

Pain from this horror lingers

Forever

An acrid taste in my mouth

And

Heart.


I know our realities might differ. Hopefully, somehow, some way, our realities meet and merge.

You may wonder why I keep posting my poems of struggle and uncertainty. I grappled so through this pandemic and recorded it. It certainly helped me; I hope it helps you.

YOUR REFLECTIONS:

At the end of May 2020, how did you handle all the conflicting information thrown at us?


Looking back after two years, my heart aches for where we were and all the losses in between. And reality still is questionable, so we needed another reality check now.

Dare you look back to 2020 and what you were feeling in mid-May 2020? Do a reality check today and think about how you have grown better, not bitter over the last two years.


~NEWEST PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

family · My Thoughts · Recovery · Sexual Abuse

Confusion About My Womanhood? A War Raged!

Confusion about my womanhood

I experienced major confusion about my womanhood for many years. A silent war raged inside me, yet I didn’t understand why. Many women suffer from this same silent killer, and I feel my story is appropriate as the USA again becomes divided over yet another issue—Roe vs. Wade.

You may wonder why I choose to talk about my internal battle on this Mother’s Day. In 1993, my mom played a key role in healing my heart over this tumultuous experience, and her response changed my life.

Let me state my position early so you can decide whether to read on. I am ProChoice. Two family members molested me as a child, causing this stance. I do not support abortion as a means of after-thought birth control, but I support it for mother’s health reasons, rape and incest cases.

As an incest survivor, someone damaged my femininity, confusing me about my womanhood, at an early age. With one perpetrator, this abuse started when I was about four and continued until I was eight or nine. It began with him touching me inappropriately and it ended with him forcing me to touch him. God protected me when the government drafted him, which magically took him away and ended the abuse. I’m sure the next step for him was the rape of an eight years old!

I just did the math and realized he stopped when I was eight or nine. I had always thought it lasted until I was twelve. It seemed to go on forever!

As I’ve read similar stories this week—one little girl pregnant at eleven by her uncle, I had to respond. I’ve spent this week pondering this subject and its effect on me. Specifically, I wondered what would have happened to my family if that person had raped me.

We lived in a small rural ranching community. Everybody knew everybody. At eight or nine years old, I was in the second or third grade, more interested in riding my bike, doing well at school, talking to my girlfriends, and playing with dolls.

Because I would have been so young, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. But had the rape happened to me, me and my family would have been destroyed. Yes, the molestation damaged me, but I kept it secret for thirty-five years. The rape would have been a different story, with immediate outrageous repercussions.

Why do I open this dark curtain to one of my deepest pains? Incest and rape wound little girls, grown women, whatever their age, setting them up to be the victims of rape. If forced to keep the pregnancy of a rape, every day the victim would face their perpetrator, looking at that child and the rape would happen again and again. We can’t let that happen.

Women in a line Confusion about my womanhood

Women, we must unite and stand up for our sisters whose lives have been so damaged by the violent act of rape and incest. We cannot punish the victim of this hideous offense by demanding she keep a baby, the result of violence against the mother.

This message seems especially important and poignant on this day, set aside for mothers across our country. We need not force motherhood upon a woman who is the victim of a crime against her.

Let me share the gift my mom gave me and why I want to honor her today. After I got out of CoDA treatment in 1988, when I first confronted my parents about what had happened to me at the hands of family members, they sat shocked. It totally affected how we met together as a family from then on.

Later, I mustered up the courage to ask Mom about a time I remembered her coming into my bedroom, and I was being molesting and she turned around and walked away. She said she didn’t remember.

In 1993, my confusion of my womanhood, caused by my incest/molestation issues, raged out of control, so I went into Sexual Trauma treatment. The counselor gathered information from the clients about key areas that needed discussion during the family week for healing. So, during that special week, my second husband, Mom and Dad attended. I talked to each about pressing issues. When I got to Mom, I told her about her denial of that incident in my bedroom. She sobbed and sobbed, and said, “I am so sorry.” Her admission healed something so deep inside of me, and our relationship zoomed to a different level after that.

My confusion about me as a woman placed me in many compromising situations. I suffered domestic violence at the hands of my first husband. During my drinking days, my confusion put me in many risky situations, doing things I never thought I would do. Luckily, no one raped me, but after I sobered up, I wondered about my promiscuity. It all tied back to being a little girl robbed of her precious identity as a female and wounded until I sought healing. It has taken decades to resolve this issue for me.

Many wounded women, victims of incest and molestation, aren’t as lucky as me. They fall prey to predators that rape them and leave them to face the choice of what to do with the results of that violent act. Roe vs. Wade gave them an option. With it gone, they have no options.

Finally, I share my intimate story to, hopefully, open your eyes to whom many rape victims are—woman confused about their womanhood, possibly wounded at the hands of a childhood predator and then once more, attacked and victimized as a rape victim. I pray my story makes you think differently about the repercussions for these women with the loss of Roe vs. Wade. We need to protect these women, not victimize them once again.

I want to provide some resources for incest, rape or domestic violence victims:


~NEWEST PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story. I’m working on Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? but have gotten stalled with shingles.

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flipp meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Thoughts

Positive Affirmations: Powerful or Not?

Just start positive affirmations

I have used positive affirmations for years to help me in my recovery and spiritual life. Is there really any power in them? In this blog, I’m going to get vulnerable about this and share mine and my experiences. Some people may say it’s New Age and I’m not interested. I also give scientific research to support the use of them.

When I began my recovery in 1988, I was open to anything that might alter the way I had been heading. I dove into attending meetings regularly and surrounding myself with recovery people. I lived in a place where there were only three – four sober women, so I did little step work then. We women co-sponsored each other and I mainly attended meetings.

Here’s a definition from PositivePsychology.com

“They are positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts.”

I needed to replace the negative thoughts circling around and around in my head because they had influenced me and gotten me to my knees.

Scientific Research from PostivePsychology.com

“There is MRI evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016). If you want to be super specific, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—involved in positive valuation and self-related information processing—becomes more active when we consider our personal values (Falk et al., 2015; Cascio et al., 2016).”

That sounds powerful!

My Start with Affirmations

When I moved to Albuquerque in 1991, I jumped into recovery more so with both feet, got a sponsor, started working the steps and listening to what I could do to help myself. When I read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron in 1992, I started with a short list of affirmations and it’s grown to this list:

  • I will love. I will laugh.
  • I will live a rewarding, creative life.
  • I will write. I will dance. I will walk.
  • As I create and listen, I will be led.
  • My creativity heals me and others.
  • I nurture my artist.
  • I have no enemies.

Over the years, as I faced my incest issues and continued to heal, I added:

  • The incest and rape hurt, but I don’t have to shout, shut up, shut down or shame anymore. I will protect myself now differently by pausing.
  • I promise to protect my little girl from the perpetrators. I must!

For many years, I have used Louise Hay’s positive affirmations from her book, You Can Heal Your Life. She has a list at the end of the book identifying Problem, Probable Cause, and New Thought Pattern. So, over the years, I have used a variety of Hay’s new thought patterns (positive affirmations) for my health woes.

Currently, I use:

  • Sinus—I declare peace and harmony indwell me and surround me at all time. All is well.
  • Allergies—The world is safe and friendly. I am safe. I am at peace with life.
  • Hip—I am in perfect balance; I move forward in life with ease with joy at every age.
  • Osteoporosis—I stand up for myself, and life supports me in unexpected, loving ways.
  • Shingles—I am relaxed and peaceful because I trust the process of life. All is well in my world.

Other positive affirmations I use are:

  • I surround to my Higher Power today.
  • I celebrate Larada today!
  • May all events today contribute to my spiritual awakening.
  • “Called or uncalled, God is present.” Carl Jung
  • “Rouse yourself up and look to God.” Oswald Chambers
  • No one dies, including me!
  • It’s on its way!
  • Everything I need now is here!

Over the years, I collected these in my reading and when someone shared their affirmations.

Also, I have added Biblical verses:

  • We are God’s poem! Ephesians 2:10
  • Search me God and know my heart, test and me know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
  • Do everything in love. I Corinthians 16:14
  • I have chosen you. John 15:16, 19
  • “O hush the noise and cease your strife and hear the angels sing!” It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • Maranatha—Come, Lord Jesus!

The last few years, I added these Bible verses and Christian messages to my daily affirmations because they really feel like affirmations to me.

After all is said and done, post positive affirmations on the refrigerator door to see when you open it every day or on your mirror to read while you are brushing your teeth. Daily, I read my positive affirmations out of my journal, and they have directed me out of the dark sadness of addiction and pain into a world of positivity and possibilities. I truly feel these short phrases have turned my life around in a different direction. Powerful—yes!

Do you use positive affirmations? If so, share your favorites with me! I’d love to hear from you.


~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Have you bought a copy of Flippo’s biography yet? Believe it or not—it’s been two years. Go here for your hardback or paperback: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better/ meme

~Don’t wait another day! Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Baby boomer · Memories · My Thoughts · poetry

Why Write Poetry? It’s How I Relate!

Why write poetry?

Why write poetry? During the pandemic, I wrote lots of poetry and included many in my latest book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? about how I processed the pandemic. But during that time, I wrote other poetry on other topics. That’s how I relate to life. Here’s a couple poems spanning a screen door and do you really know me:

Screen door

The Slam of a Screen Door

July 16, 2020

Slam

            A screen door

                        Not today’s version

                                    But a relic from the 50s and 60s.

It bounced a couple times

            When shut

                        No latch to hold it

                                    Tight

                        Pesky mosquitoes, flies and other

                                    Bothersome pests

                                                Escaped inside.

Sharp, resonating sound!

Not as protective

            As the 21st century!

But the slam

            The sound

                        Echoes through

                                    My childhood!

Running outdoors

            Giggling

                        Afire with life

                                    My brother chasing me

                                                With a water gun

Summer’s sound

            Of freedom

Slam!

            Close with a bang!

Mom’s repeated shout,

            “Don’t slam the door!”

            Never heeded!

We didn’t do it in anger

            Only in haste

                        In urgency

                                    To get outside

                                    To start the adventure

Slam

            Too active

                        And driven

                                    To catch it!

Focused

            On other priorities

                        Other possibilities     

                                    Outside.

A hike to Brown Springs

            To discovery

A bicycle ride

            To freedom

A secluded time in our treehouse

            To dream.

Slam

            Close noisily

A new day

            A new adventure

A door opened to the world

            And

                        Possibility!

Let’s Go!


Why write poetry?

You May Think You Know Me, But . . .

August 9, 2020

As I ponder a topic

            Old yet new

I marvel at the thought:

            Daily Honesty!

Honesty

            Truthfulness

            Sincerity

            Frankness

            Freedom from deceit or fraud

To be honest

            Is to be vulnerable

                        To risk exposure

                                    To lay bare my insides to you.

Are you safe?

            Can I trust you?

At this moment,

            I feel compelled

                        To do so.

I’m a country girl

            You know.

I grew up embarrassed

            And ashamed!

Not sophisticated,

            Like the ladies on TV

            Like the ladies in town.

I’m religious

            A Christian to the core

                        But unorthodox!

I’ve dabbled in

            Native American

                        Savored the peaceful sweat lodge ceremony

            Buddhist beliefs

                        Became a silent observer

                                    Valuing the art of listening

            Jewish wisdom

                        Honored the roots of Christianity.

I’ve divorced three times.

            One heartbroken

                        But necessary for my sanity

            One victorious

                        Because I stood up

            One heartbroken

                        But a major turning point.

I’m a political

            Independent for years

                        Raised Republican

                                    But moved on,

                                                Caused by disillusionment

                                                            With both parties.

I hate arguing politics.

            Remember many hurtful conversations

                        With my dad.

                                    We didn’t change each other

                                                In the process

Just bitter memories!

Saying that,

            I’m a liberal!

That’s not a dirty word.

                        Dictionary says, “tolerant, unprejudiced, unbigoted, broad-minded, open-minded, enlightened; permissive, free, free and easy, easygoing.”

                        I can live with those!

I yearn for equality

                        For all!

I’m a talker

            Love sharing my thoughts

            Love heart-to-heart conversations

                        On spiritually real topics,

                                    Not head stuff.

I hate gossip,

            Yet I get sucked in!

I love people

            All colors

                        Shapes

                                    And sizes!

            Young and old

So much to learn!

My heart has been broken!

            I’ve faced despair

                        Depression

                        Suicidal thoughts

                        Alcoholism

                        Promiscuity

                        Incest,

                                    Yet survived.

Recovery gave me my life back!

I was an English major

            I have book shelves lined with

                        Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets

                        Hemingway’s short stories

                        T. S. Eliot’s poetry

                        Hillerman’s southwest novels.

I’m a poet

            At heart.

                        Words inspire me to life

                        Words create images

                        Poetry gathers words and motion

                                    And creates life.

I’m a writer

            The voice of the plains

                                    Of my heart

                                                And

                                                            Marshall Flippo.

I’m a dancer

            When the music starts

                        It sets me free!

                                    The movement

                                    The rhythm

                                    The connection to the universe!

I’m a computer geek!

            The magic of technology

                        Captivates me

                                    And I want to create!

I’m fragile

            Sensitive

I’m strong

            Resilient

I’m the baby of five.

            My daddy’s little girl

            My mom’s “baby girl!”

Adored by my parents!

I’ve feared obesity

            My whole life

I watched my mom struggle

            And her mom

                        And many of the women

                                    On that side of the family.

I make friends

            I keep friends!

I’m a paradox.

            So, my honesty jumps

                        From here to

                                    There.

I’m an expansive spirit

            Today a soul on fire

                        A God-driven energy

                                    And

                                                A sleeping cat,

                                                            All rolled up into one!

That’s me!


Finally,

why do I write poetry? I love expressing what I feel in words, lines and imagery! A slamming screen door, honesty and looking at me. Poetry opens the door to all possibilities—I can write about whatever! That’s delicious!

What do you think of poetry? Do you write poetry? If so do you share it? Let me know!


~If you missed my post from the two weeks with an Easter flair:

~Celebrate spring with 20% off select book bundles at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft until April 30!

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? mem

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Christianity · God · My Thoughts

Mary Magdalene: First Eyewitness!

Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb

So many characters take part in the Easter story. Mary Magdalene has captured my attention this Easter. Happy Easter to all and here are my thoughts:

Mary rose early this Easter morning hundreds of years ago, before anyone else did. It had been a restless night for her—she still had trouble believing that Jesus was dead. She stood at the foot of the cross and witnessed him breath his last. She wept uncontrollably and the other women surrounding her collapsed into each other in their sorrow.

For the last two nights, the disciples and followers had slept together, scattering around the room on mats where they had shared the Last Supper with Jesus, frightened with what they faced in the future. The Sabbath (Saturday) had drug out endlessly. They couldn’t return to the tomb because of the Passover celebration, so they hung out in that hollow room, wondering what they faced.

Dawn breaks for Mary Magdalene

Quietly, as the darkness faded away, she closed the door behind her and headed straight to the tomb where they had buried Jesus. Dawn crept over the horizon—even the birds seemed to be stunned by the recent events.

The disciples had told Mary that Roman soldiers would be guarding the tomb, but she desperately had to be near Jesus. Mary wondered, “What will I do when I got there?” Freely weeping as she went now, Mary had to stifle her sobs during her sleepless night because she didn’t want to keep the others awake. It felt so good to sob deeply out loud! Her heartbreak echoed through the hills. Exhausted and nerves strained, she didn’t care who heard her on this sad morning.

Stone rolled away from the tomb - Mary Magdalene

When she came around the corner and started the incline to the tomb, Mary saw no soldiers—that caught her by surprise. Where were they? The next surprise took her breath away. Someone had moved the stone covering the tomb—massive stone that had taken several to place, rolled away, and she faced a gaping hole it had covered previously.

At that point, Mary went no further. She turned on her heels and ran back to tell Peter and John about her discovery. In her confused state, she thought someone had taken Jesus’ body and told the two faithful disciples that. They quickly latched on their sandals and sprinted to the gravesite. Younger John outran older Peter, and John arrived first. They measured the situation, then returned home in a confused state. What was going on?

To her credit, Mary lingered outside the tomb, weeping about the disappearance of Jesus’ body. Curiosity urged her to look inside the tomb once more—maybe they were wrong, maybe it was an illusion. Maybe Jesus’ body was there. But what she saw again surprised her—it had been a morning of surprises.

Two angels sat where Jesus had been and questioned her about her tears. She answered their questions directly, then a third person appeared behind Mary, who she thought was a gardener. She didn’t look at him but quizzed the angels and him about where they had put Jesus.

It wasn’t until this third person simply said her name, “Mary,” that she turned around, shocked, and recognized his voice. It was the risen Jesus. After a short discourse where Jesus told her what to do, she returned to the disciples. As she ran, her hair tangled with her scarf. Mary’s heart raced. She threw open the door to their lodging and exclaimed, “I have seen the Lord!”

Source: John 20:1-18

What an amazing revelation! In her lingering at the tomb and not rushing off, Mary Magdalene became the first eyewitness to Jesus after the crucifixion. A woman—imagine that!

“In all four Gospels, she is the first to witness Jesus after his resurrection.”

https://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/marymagda.html

I just spent forty days in a Lenten study using Fr. Richard Rohr’s book, Wondrous Encounters, with four other women from all over the world. Daily we communicated on WhatsApp after reading the day’s reading, then we commented and shared our lives. I’m sure these strong, spiritual women (my sister disciples) inspired me to connect so deeply with Mary Magdalene this Easter.

Mary Magdalene’s faithfulness as a follower gave her the privilege of being that person who Jesus first appeared to. I love the fact it was in saying her name that she recognized him. Before that, he appeared and Mary focused on the two angels and her questioning them. She didn’t turn around because she knew these two angels had all the answers she needed. Jesus spoke to her, but in was in saying her name that she recognized him—how powerful our names are when said by a loved one!

Finally, Mary Magdalene, a woman, became the first eyewitness of the risen Lord. She lingered, didn’t rush off in a hurry. I wonder what encounters with Jesus I’ve missed in my life by always being in a hurry—busy, busy, busy.

To many, the Easter story is familiar and maybe has lost its luster. By focusing on one person this year, it made this wonderful story rich and alive for me differently.

Have you ever focused on one character in the Easter story? Peter? John? Jesus? Judas? If so, what was your experience?

It's OK to be a Christian - Happy Easter!

If you missed my post from last week with a New Mexico flair:

~Celebrate spring with 20% off select book bundles at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft until April 30!

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo Easter meme

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Easter meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Thoughts · New Mexico

A Pilgrimage to Chimayó —A New Mexico Tradition!

El Santuario de Chimayó
El Santuario de Chimayó

Many New Mexicans take part in a pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó on Good Friday. Mostly are Catholic and here’s my experience with this amazing tradition.

In the late 80s, I moved to Raton, New Mexico, to teach. I had grown up on the northeast border of New Mexico, but had toured little of the state. When I moved to Raton, I spent many weekends doing day trips to different parts of the northern part of the state. I fell in love with Taos and visited whenever I could.

As I talked to many locals, I learned about the Good Friday pilgrimage to Chimayó. Yes, people as far away as Raton knew about the pilgrimage, and some took part. I’m Episcopalian and share some traditions and rituals with the Catholic church, so it appealed to me. That Lenten season, I sought a unique experience during Holy Week and went to El Santuario de Chimayó, which was the goal of the Good Friday pilgrims.

So, I had the day off from school. I loaded up my ten-pound poodle, Windy, in the car, some snacks and water, and off we went. It was a 200-mile trip, taking us about three hours. I left early in the morning so I would have ample time to look around—before that trip I had only been to Chimayó once with a girlfriend, and we stopped at Ortega’s Weaving Shop, but we didn’t stop at El Santuario de Chimayó. At that time, I did not know the significance it had in New Mexico Christian heritage.

Inside the gate at El Santuario de Chimayó
Inside the gate at El Santuario de Chimayó

“El Santuario de Chimayó is a Roman Catholic church in Chimayó, New Mexico, United States. (Santuario is Spanish for “sanctuary”.) This shrine, a National Historic Landmark, is famous for the story of its founding and as a contemporary pilgrimage site. It receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and has been called “no doubt the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States.”

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

I remember enjoying the early spring morning ride up I-25 to Santa Fe, knowing this part of the road from trips to Albuquerque to visit my aunt and uncle when they lived there. Then I turned off I-25, and the world changed.

As soon as I drove through Santa Fe, the pilgrims appeared—some with large wooden crosses on their shoulders, many in a small cluster. Then I turned onto Road 503, which is the “High Road to Taos.” I had only been on that road once before, with my girlfriend on our previous trip to travel the High Road and go through Truchas, New Mexico, where The Milagro Beanfield Wars was filmed. Before the release of the film in 1988, I had read the book by John Nichols, howling at some of its hilarious situations and crying at its message about land and water rights. We had a great time on that trip.

The further I went with sage and pinon pines covering the mountainside, the number of pilgrims increased. As I motored by in my car, I glanced at serious faces on a mission. At one point, I felt a little ashamed of being in a car, but then I stopped and applauded myself for the effort.

When I arrived at the small village of Chimayó, I immediately knew the direction of the church. The masses walked towards it. I parked off on the side of the road, rolling down the windows for Windy and providing him with water.

I joined the crowd as it moved towards El Santuario de Chimayó. As we neared the gate in the adobe wall, a line formed and waited. Many people had told me about this part of the attraction to this place: holy dirt that heals.

The Gate into Sanctuario de Chimayó - pilgrimage
The Gate into Sanctuario de Chimayó

So, I waited in line, marveling at the size of the crowd and the age of the attendees—many faithful people ready to receive something special this holy day at this sacred place. Upon entering the church, it had wooden ceiling beams, white-washed walls, with a few pews. The altar area captured my eye—a wooden depiction of Jesus and the crucifixion.

How respectful the people in line were—a reverent silence canopied the church as we made our way to a door on the side of the sanctuary where the holy dirt was. When I entered the small room tucked away, crutches lined the walls from healings. I saw the hole in the ground where the dirt came from. Then I grabbed my bag of holy dirt and left. As I walked out, pictures lined the walls of people who had been healed. I have kept some dirt from Chimayó in my home in a variety of spots ever since.

When I got outside, I returned to my car, put Windy on a leash and we wandered around the area. I soaked up the peaceful, reverent atmosphere and found a shady spot under a tree to relax. Windy curled up next to me and we noticed blissfully the pleasure of being with worshipping people. I hadn’t gotten into the habit of carrying a journal with me yet, so that day never got memorialized in a poem, but what I took away from it has lasted for over thirty years in my heart. Today, I still feel the serenity in that church’s courtyard.

In the following years, I returned once during Holy Week on Good Friday in the early 90s when I moved to Albuquerque and on other occasions to share this New Mexican treasure.

In the summer of 2009, I returned to Chimayó after a divorce. After moving into my townhouse, I remembered the holy dirt and realized I had misplaced it. I knew I needed some to heal my broken heart. This time I went alone because Windy had passed away. Again, a line formed but shorter and wove its way through the church. I gathered a bagful of dirt and brought it home, placing it around my townhouse, believing in its power to heal. This time I spent time with a notebook in the courtyard recording my experience.

Lin leaning against the gate into Santuario de Chimayó - pilgrimage
Lin leaning against the gate into Santuario de Chimayó

In 2015, Lin and I vacationed in the Santa Fe area in the spring, and I showed him around Chimayó and El Sanctuario. We had a delightful time and the grounds surrounding it had changed a lot during my absence. We brought home a fresh bag of dirt to replace the old. All the pictures included here are from this trip.

As I face Holy Week this week, I remember my pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayó from Raton—every year I am reminded of my experience, still savoring the time there. It still blesses my heart in a special way!

If you are interested, here’s this year’s Holy Week schedule there: https://www.holychimayo.us/holy-week. Have you visited Chimayó? If so, what was your experience? Have you ever done a pilgrimage or something special during Holy Week? I’d love to hear about it!


~Celebrate spring with 20% off select book bundles at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft until April 30!

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Thoughts · square dance

Measure the Success of a New Festival

Gary Shoemake, Jerry Gilbreath & Ken Bower at April Showers Festival
Gary Shoemake, Jerry Gilbreath & Ken Bower at April Showers Festival

How do you measure the success of a festival? I just attended a new square and round dance festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico—April Showers, and I know beyond any doubt it was a success. Why?

My feet ache, my face hurts from laughing so much and my heart sings! All these signs indicated a smashing success. In a post-COVID world, numbers of dancers are smaller. Some people are still wary about coming out to dance. The Albuquerque Square Dance Center requires dancers to be vaccinated, so that kept some at home. But many came out to forget the worries of this world and dance!

We found out this morning during some story telling, Ken Bower, Gary Shoemake and Bob and Sally Nolen started their calling and cuing careers in Albuquerque in the early 70s at Summer Sounds, a successful square and round dance festival that continued for nearly twenty years and was the predecessors to Hot August Nights, a festival I help run that is still going today. So, Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath thought up the idea of a new festival and the other four agreed wholeheartedly; thus April Showers was born.

During the weeks before the event, I wondered if we’d get enough dancers to have it. The registrations trickled in, but I continued to promote it and other upcoming festivals on Facebook, hoping to stir up interest.

Finally, Friday came, and it was a go—our first festival in over two years. After showering, I blew my hair dry and put on my makeup, which has become quite a chore after not doing it for two years. I donned my beautiful square dance outfit, dressing in matching outfits to promote our next festival. I added matching pettipants and a fluffy slip that makes my dress stand out! Square dance outfits overflow with energy in their beauty, swirling with every movement.

The event began. When we arrived Friday night, I looked around the hall and choked up—I knew so many of the dancers from other events, especially Fun Valley RV Resort in Colorado and felt blessed to be back doing what I love—dancing.

Immediately, I noticed the high energy level—no sour faces, no negative words, just an amiable group celebrating life after two years of no festivals. Yes, the size of the crowd wasn’t as big as before the pandemic, but the dancers’ commitment to having a good time enlarged the size.

We danced Friday night away to our three favorite callers and two dear cuers. The evening was over before I knew it!

Here’s a video of dancing Friday night: https://youtu.be/OZ1MSbHDkgU

When Lin and I got home, we reviewed the night, laughing at the fun parts. I had trouble sleeping because of the heightened adrenaline level.

Saturday, we started again at 10:30 am although we missed the round dance workshop at 9:00 am. We live about twenty miles from Albuquerque and had to decide just how much of the weekend we could do, so we gave up the round dance workshop. We did the mainstream workshop and enjoyed the fun the callers did by workshopping some different moves.

For lunch, we joined two other couples and enjoyed the one-on-one conversation and exchange. I realized this is what we missed so much during the pandemic—the sharing of our lives and the laughter. These times over meals over the years have solidified relationships with so many friends from all over the country. After two years’ absence, I felt connected again.

Then we missed the Introduction to Round dancing but took part in the Plus workshop. Afterwards we drove home, enjoyed a brief nap and dressed and returned for the evening dance.

Again, I dressed in matching outfits to promote another square dance event coming up in Albuquerque. I had the surprise of my life when I walked in the dance hall and the cuer and his wife who taught me to round dance had come down to the hall for the evening with a square dance legend from years ago. What a joy to see these three precious friends from the past.

The Saturday night dance overflowed with laughter and energy again, yet more revved up than Friday night. Square dance dresses swirled around the floor. I saw so many smiles, so many people relaxed and enjoying themselves. Some square dance shenanigans happened like scatter promenades and one wild square where the original square was joined by many others walking through the square and joining in. I never laughed so hard. We ended the evening with ice cream sundaes and two-stepping to Jerry Gilbreath’s gorgeous renditions of some of my favorite country music standards.

As if that’s not enough, we returned this morning (Sunday) at 10:00 am for two more hours of dancing fun. Sunday mornings traditionally in Albuquerque are filled with a lot of insane scatter promenades and “Air Raids.” This morning continued the traditions.

So what is the measure of a successful festival? Does the number of squares determine it? We had seven to eight—small compared to pre-COVID standards. How about the smiles, the laughter, the total release from any cares or concerns? I measure the success by those things too, especially in today’s world.

Thank you Gary, Ken, Jerry, Bob and Sally for a successful first April Showers festival. I look forward to next year’s continuation of this wonderful tradition.

Finally, here’s a quote by Bell Hooks that caught my eye: “The choice to love is the choice to connect—to find ourselves in the other.” I felt so connected this weekend and that’s another measure of success!

How do you measure the success of a festival, pre-COVID? I’d be interested!


~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Cats · My Thoughts

Jesse, My Geriatric Cat: How We Love Him!

Jesse, playing with my shoe

Jesse, my 19-year-old cat (92 years old in human years) has become an elderly cat, or according to cat websites, geriatric. I watch him and wonder about how much longer I will have him with me. I have learned to treat an older cat has many moving parts.

How old is your cat in people years? Jesse is 19 years old!

Now, every morning when we get up, Lin and I wonder if Jesse has survived the night. If he’s asleep somewhere, we check to see if he’s still breathing—both of us know the evitable is coming!

As a Siamese Silver Tip, http://www.petplace.com predicts Jesse could live to 20 years old—one more year. https://www.petplace.com/article/cats/pet-health/average-life-expectancy-cats/#section5

That’s hard to think about!

I found out in April 2016; he had feline diabetes, so we tried to manage it with a special cat food. That worked until August 2017, but we had to start daily insulin shots because of his high glucose numbers. The outrageous cost of the insulin shocked me, but his veterinarian convinced me Jesse had to have it, and immediately his numbers decreased. Over the years, we’ve increased the shot to twice daily and to three units of insulin each time. It has been at that dosage for a couple of years.

Last year, Jesse’s veterinarian put him on Cosequin because he walked on his full hind legs, and it looked painful. Early in his diagnosis of feline diabetes, the vet thought the diabetes had caused a type of arthritis in his hind legs. What a difference that medication has made. In fact, Lin and I looked into taking it ourselves, but it’s expensive! After he takes it, Jesse immediately walks upright on his back paw.

So, Jesse had done really well for six years with the care I was giving him, but at the beginning of this year, his vomiting got out of control—eight times in a little over a week. Cats with feline diabetes have a problem with vomiting.

Jesse hates traveling now! He used to do really well and accompanied me to southeastern Colorado any time I went. When I took him to his vet in Albuquerque in November 2021, he vomited and had a bowel movement in his carrier on the way to the office, so what a mess we had when we arrived. Thank God for the assistant who cleaned him up and his carrier, but right then, I decided that was his last trip to town.

When Jesse saw the Albuquerque vet the last time, she asked me to monitor his food because he had gained too much weight—he was up to 18.4 pounds. We wanted him at 15—16. We both laughed about it because this weight gain came during the pandemic, like most people in the world. Before, I fed him whatever he would eat in a day—no measurement. So, I measured out 2/3 cups of food daily. Whine, whine, whine—meow, meow, meow! But I stuck to it, mostly.

So, I found a new veterinarian near us here in the east mountains. Again, he messed the carrier, but not as bad as the twenty-mile trip to Albuquerque. The new vet did a complete geriatric workup on him. He had a potassium deficiency, which she thought was causing the excessive vomiting, but his diabetes was under control. Whew! What I worry about is kidney failure because of the diabetes. So, the new vet prescribed a potassium gel to put on his food.

It worked well for a month or so, then he stopped eating the food with the gel on it. So, I tried spreading it around on his food, but the way I did it, the food clumped together, and he wouldn’t eat the clumps. I gave into his whining and meowing and gave him more of his allotted food for the day, just glad he was eating because he had stopped eating all together. The next morning, the clumps remained in his bowl. Frustrating for sure! And the vomiting started up again, so I worked harder at spreading the gel around and forcing him to eat the clumps. I was semi-successful.

Last week, I went to southeastern Colorado for ranch business, and Lin took care of Jesse. He came up with a fantastic system. First, he measures out about a third of the food into Jesse’s bowl in the morning. Next, he meticulously measures out a little more than ½ teaspoon of gel. Then he takes one piece of cat food and dips it into the gel. After that, he puts it in the bowl and spreads the gel around. He continues with individual pieces of cat food until the measured gel is gone.

A stand off between Jesse and Lin!
A stand off between Jesse and Lin!

Jesse rebelled at first, refusing to eat the food with the gel, but Lin outlasted his meow-fest. Each day, Lin would report to me with laughter about how upset Jesse was with this new system, but it has worked. When Jesse eats the treated food, then Lin gives him the rest of the food. He hasn’t vomited in eleven days!

So, now that I’m home, I’ve had to adhere to the plan and not cave in and give him more food when he refuses to eat the treated food. So far, so good!

Jesse has a loving spirit and looks forward to each night we watch TV. The pandemic spoiled him with us being home so much. He crawls up on the arm of my side of the loveseat, ready for the evening. After I sit down, he crawls into my lap and stays there for the rest of the evening—so satisfied.

Jesse assists me in my Quiet Time
Jesse assists me in my Quiet Time

In the morning, Jesse snuggles close to me during my Quiet Time reading and writing and sometimes tries to assist me!

In the morning, after his shot, he curls up in a favorite sunbeam somewhere nice and warm. During the last few winter months, Lin has kept a fire going in our wood-burning stove and Jesse sleeps either in front of it or beside it—the warmest place in the house.

Jesse investigates his toys!
Jesse investigates his toys!

Finally, a geriatric cat of 19 years is old, yet Jesse still likes to play with his toys and be with Lin and me. For now, we’ve figured out the moving parts, the system to take care of him. I love him dearly and look forward to more days, weeks and months with him—maybe years!

Do you have a cat? A geriatric cat? How do you deal with his treatment?


~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Memories · My Thoughts

Places from my Childhood

A little girl running - places from my childhood

Places from my childhood in Branson, Colorado, floated to my consciousness today. There are four places I loved: the store, the Community church, the jailhouse. I’m in Branson, visiting and took a walk today to a friend’s house. I passed the church and the jailhouse on the way. A smile crossed my lips as memories surfaced for each place.

On my return trip, I passed the foundation of the store. As I walked by, I marveled at the size of the foundation—as a child, the building looked so big. Today it looked so small! Memories overcame me! In my book, This Tumbleweed Landed, I wrote poems about each of these places. I’d like to share them with you!


Branson Community Church

Branson Community Church - places from my childhood
Branson Community Church
The Branson Community Church
small and quaint.  

People that touched my life
Maynard Bowen,
Walt Graham
Ministers of God, who took the time for me.  

The Loudens
The Gilstraps
The Smiths
The Warners
The Cummins
Mabel Survant
Mrs. Jamieson  

Sunday School teachers
and family friends who let me sit with them,
singing my songs out loud when I couldn’t even read.  

Beautiful old hymns and singing.
They loved me, taught me, and encouraged me.
A safe place to be on Sunday morning,
and a nice place to meet God.  

Youth group on Sunday night games
and talking about God
Youth group picnic and camp-outs at the Gilstraps
and the annual Christmas programs.  

One year, at the Christmas program
I was an angel
with the other young girls.
Donned in our white robes, wings, and haloes,
we walked in a straight line carrying lit candles.  

The girl behind me got too close
and caught my hair on fire!
Our teacher quickly handled the situation,
and I wasn’t burned.  

The program went on.

The Jailhouse

The Jailhouse
A landmark
That everyone wants to be pictured in.
Close the door, stand behind the bars
and smile.  

Two cells
A window in each
And also, a hard bed of concrete in each.

Numerous stories
about notorious criminals
who slept there and broke out!  

A special place for us!
Scott Warner would steal
cigarettes from his mom.
Bub and I would break
a piece of the salt lick
stored in Grandad Horner’s garage.
It was for our cattle.

We would meet at the jail.
Smoke then suck on the salt lick
to hide the smell of
the cigarette smoke.

I felt so sophisticated.
So grown-up,
So fashionable.
Smoking!  

Like
Dad
Clara and Millard
Reu
Uncle Gay and Aunt Helen
But I never liked
The taste of it.  

Years later Bub and I told Mom
About our clandestine adventure.
She said she knew what we were doing.
She teasingly said,
“The smoke billowed out of the jail’s window.”  
But she never questioned us
Or Disciplined us.  

A growing up safe adventure!

The Store

The Branson Store - places from my childhood
The Branson Store
Dust, hard wood floor; aisles of adventure. 
Goods for sale—
Eggs, milk, and beef;
all the regular staples of life.
The McMillans owned it— 
Roy and Mokey.

Oversized paintings on the walls— 
a gold miner,
wild animals images 
long forgotten; 
painted by Julian Hancock.

But my favorite part
the candy!
A big wooden display case,
taller than me.
Glistening glass windows separated me 
from the mouth-watering delights.So big, so
wonderful.
So many colors, sizes, shapes, and 
designs.

I had a quarter—
I could buy the moon!

My walk awakened memories of these three places—they flooded me with Candy’s laughter at the store, Scott and the adventures of cigarettes in the jail, and so many people who loved me in that beautiful quaint little church.

Do you have childhood memories of special places? Share them in the comment section.


~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Thoughts · poetry · Ukrainian War

Two Bags: That’s All She Took!

Immigration: two bags

Two bags of belongings are all a 68-year-old Ukrainian woman refugee took with her. I can’t imagine compressing all my earthly possessions into two bags. She is 68; so am I! I sobbed when I heard her interviewed. I’ve looked for this story on different new sources, but because of the explosion of Ukrainian immigrant stories, I couldn’t find it.

I have mused over this story for a week and ached for this woman. In her translation, she said, “It’s not about things. I’m 68 years old and this is all I have.”

You know me! So, this compelled me to write a poem which is all conjecture:

Two Bags—How Can I Choose?

Woman - Two Bags

For months, I’ve worried

A war

            A rumor of a war,

                        Then it happened.

The bombing

            In the distant east

                        Louder

                                    And

                                                Louder

What do I do?

I have lived a simple life

            For 68 years

                        Near Kovel, in a small Ukrainian village,

                                    Near the Polish border.

I have no family left here,

            Am childless.

My husband died two years ago.

My neighbors have taken care of me, a widow—

            Loving people,

                        Who bought our farm.

Yesterday, they came by with

            A heartfelt, life-changing offer.

                        Join us.

                        Let’s leave

                                    To Lublin, Poland.

As they spoke, I wept.

            My sister lives in Lublin.

                        Safety

                                    Security

                                                Shelter from what’s coming!

            My neighbors have relatives

                        There too!

A 169 kilometers car trip,

            2 hours and 40 minutes to escape.

The plan seems extreme—

            Leave by 2:00 AM

                        In the dark

                        Quietly

                                    Pushing the car down the lane

                                                Out of town

                                                            Not to wake anyone.  

We wonder about the possibility of

Russian sympathizers in the village,

            Caution for sure!

But I’m Ukrainian!

            Lived here my whole life.

Deep in my heart, I know I have to go,

As I look around our lovely home,

            Full of memories

                        Treasures

                        My husband

                                    And our life together.

Two bags

            That’s all I can take.

My neighbors have a car

            With limited space.

First, I packed bag number one.

 I grab the essentials

  • Toothbrush & paste
  • Deodorant
  • Hair brush
  • Soap

Next, my clothes

  • Underwear
  • Bras
  • Socks—five changes of each
  • Pants
  • Sweaters
  • Extra shoes

I cram extras into my clothes bag

  • Those minor items I have to have

Second, I packed my bag number two,

  • Jewelry
  • Cash
  • Financial papers
  • Passport
  • Bible
  • A small lap afghan I knitted

Third, in the space left in my second bag

My heart things

                        Our framed wedding picture

                        Mom’s secret pen

                                    From World War II

                                                When she was displaced like me.

As I look at her pen,

            I sob uncontrollably.

Why again?

            Why this horror?

I’m a simple woman

            Hurt no one

            Lived a simple Christian life

            Close to the land

            Helped my husband daily

            Good life

As I look around my home,

            One last time

I want to capture it all

            In my mind

                        Bring it all with me.

Will I be back—ever?

            Can this little house stand the bombing?

                        My heart breaks open at that thought.

To be prepared,

            I dress

                        In layers to protect myself

                                    Against the cold—

                                                Normally doesn’t get much above freezing

                                                            During the day,

                                                Then night time dives to down to 20 degrees.

            I must dress warm

                        Because I have no idea

                                    What’s ahead.

                        So layers,

                                    As many as I can handle.

Watching the clock fully dressed,

            Solemnly, I eat a hearty meal at midnight.

                        When will I eat again?

                                    I sneak some snacks

                                                In both bags

                                                            Just in case.

At 1:00 AM precisely, the soft knock on the door

            Tells me it is time.

As I grab my two bags,

            I shift the weight

                        To disperse the weight of my bags over my achy shoulders.

After one last glance,

            I shut the door and lock it,

                        Placing the key inside my purse

                                    As always.

With a set jaw, I walk towards the car

            Overflowing with my neighbor

                        And his family.

Walking with my back to my home, I choke back a sob.

            Such loving people.

To silently leave the village,

            It takes all of us

                        Pushing

                                    Shouldering

                                               Bearing down on

                                                            The car.

Safely out of town,

            My neighbor starts the car.

                        We jump in

                                    And head west

                                                Towards Lublin—

                                                            Safety,

                                                            And the unknown.

And me,

            Here I am with two bags!


Two Bags—What Would I Choose?

As I write this, I looked around my house at 68 years old. How would I choose? I’ve pondered this blog post all week and thought about what I would take if I had the two bag limit. Obviously, Lin would be with me!

This is what I decided on:

  • Jesse
    • Food
    • Insulin
  • Bible
  • Laptop
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Cables for technology
  • Mom’s genealogy notebook
  • Cash
  • Credit Cards
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Soap
  • Hair brush & comb
  • Clothes
    • Underwear
    • Bras
    • Socks
    • Extra pair of shoes
    • Changes of clothes
  • Priceless jewelry

How would I carry Jesse? I’m seeing my two bags have just grown.

As I scanned even just one room, what else? I’d sift through my belongings and despair like my Ukrainian counterpart over what I had to leave. What about Dad’s saddle and chaps? All of my beautiful square dance outfits?

How heart-wrenching! Millions of immigrants have left Ukraine, flooding Poland especially and all the other border countries. Displaced describes what has happened to them—forced to leave their homes!

Finally,

I get it that this is happening thousands of miles away from me, but when I heard that 68-year-old woman interviewed, I sobbed! Two bags—how do you fit 68 years of life in two bags?

What would you take if you faced the situation of having to compress your worldly good to two bags?

Pray for Ukraine - two bags

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at https://liveonpurposeradio.com/category/podcast/

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronarvirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Books · Dancing · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Recordings of Flippo: 14 Different Labels!

Marshall Flippo - recording king

In Marshall Flippo’s square dance calling career, he recorded over 222 records for fourteen different recording labels. He started with Blue Star Record Label, owned by Norman and Nadine Merrbach. During his illustrious career, he moved on and worked with many recording labels. Here’s how it went after Blue Star!

Move from Blue Star to Chaparral Records

Flippo’s loyalty to Blue Star records and Norman and Nadine Merrbach kept him there for twenty-seven years, but times changed. The move to Chaparral welded lifelong friendships for Flip with the callers at that record label: Gary Shoemake, Ken or Kenny Bower, Jerry Haag, Beryl Main, and Scott Smith.

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 257.

Flip and Neeca talked about the royalty issues with Blue Star Record. After much deliberation, he chose to move. His big concern was Norman and Nadine. Flippo was a people person—he loved people; they produced his first hit, “The Auctioneer” which rocketed his career. He didn’t want to hurt their feelings, and he commented to me how his move changed their relationship.

Flip retold many stories about the Chaparral callers, and once again, his connection with people affected his choices. The staff callers did various popular Chaparral weekends all over the country, with hundreds of dancers in attendance. Flip found his niche.

Years later, when I interviewed Flippo for his biography, his go-to guy was Gary Shoemake for any details he couldn’t remember, and he told multiple stories about each of the men listed above. These five callers became family to him.

Also, this rowdy gang traveled internationally, and some of his most hilarious stories told in his biography are about these travels and these men.

Sets in Order

“Then Flip did albums with Sets in Order with Bob and Becky Osgood. Flip never did do a single for Bob. He was always on an album with a bunch of other callers where each caller did one song. He was on quite a few of his long plays that he put out.”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.
2 Sets in Order Album Covers: 18 & Lucky 13th Jamboree. Source: Just Another Square Dance Caller
Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga
2 Sets in Order Album Covers: 18 & Lucky 13th Jamboree. Source: Just Another Square Dance Caller,
Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga

Flip did not know how many Sets in Order albums he did, but Mike Seastrom connected with Masaharu “Doc” Hiraga from Japan, and Doc sent me pictures of six album covers. Then Ted and Karen Clements sent me pictures of four more, and I found others. Last count: he recorded twelve Sets in Order Albums and twenty-five Blue Star Long Play Albums, enjoying every moment.

Other Recording Labels

As Flippo’s popularity grew, he expanded out to other labels. Some label owners were personal friends, and he only recorded a couple of songs with some of them.

When asked how many recordings Flippo did, he responded, “Exact number of songs I called, I have no earthly idee how many.”

 Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.

Flippo recorded for more than Blue Star and Chaparral. Rhythm Records is Wade Driver’s company, and Flip did a few here and there. Also, he did one on River Records. “I believe I just done one or two for Chinook out of Knoxville, for ole Ted Frye.” The Internet showed that Ted Frye was owner of Square Tunes and Pioneer Records.

When I listed the number of record labels he recorded with, he replied, “Holy mackerel! Good Lord a Mercy, some of them I don’t even remember. A bunch of old records. Well, the one from Knoxville—Ted Frye’s ole one. They’d call you up and say, ‘Hey, can you do this number for me? Will you do it?’ Of course, I usually did somethang. Some of ’em were terrible, but I did. I did one for Riverboat, I thank was. I hated for anybody ever to hear any. I don’t know whether he released ’em or not. But it was God-awful!”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 285.

The Fourteen Record Labels

Flippo’s popularity put him in high demand. Here are the fourteen labels who recorded with:

  1. Blue Star Record Label –
    1. Single song – 171 records
    1. Blue Star Long Play Albums – 25 albums
  2. Dance Ranch Record Label – 6 records
  3. Bob Cat Record Label – 1 record
  4. Chaparral Record Label – 24 records
  5. Desert Gold Record Label – 1 record
  6. E-Z School Record Label – 1 record
  7. ESP Record Label – 4 records
  8. Four Squares Record Label – 1 record
  9. Rhythm Records Record Label – 6 records
  10. Riverboat Record Label – 1 record
  11. Royal Record Label – 3 records
  12. Square Dancetime Record Label – 1 record
  13. Square Tunes Record Label – 2 records
  14. Sets in Order Record Label Albums – 12 albums

Notice that Flippo only recorded albums for Sets in Order, and that he recorded twenty-five long play albums for Blue Star.

Finally,

Flippo’s recording career fascinated me—I was more interested in how many records he recorded than he was. When I asked him which of his recording was his favorite, he surprised me. As a lifelong Texan and country boy, I figured it would be one of the country and western songs.

When asked about his favorite recording, Flippo responded, “Oh, geez! I have no idee. ‘Every Street’s a Boulevard’ is probably—you know .”

Larada Horner-Miller, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo (2020): 289.

If you are interested in perusing the lengthy list of songs Flippo recorded, be sure and buy this amazing biography!

In comparison with today’s square dance world, I can’t even visualize Flippo’s popularity during the heyday of square dancing. He said he’d take a stack of records to a dance, and they’d all sell out—imagine that!

What was your favorite Flippo recording?


~ Check out my blog post from last week. I usually advertise my blog on one of the social media platforms, and they rejected it because of the topic! Please, read!

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Meme

~Are you on a spiritual path? Do you want to heal from the horrible effects of the pandemic of 2020? Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Baby boomer · My Thoughts

War is Here! So, What Now?

Stop war in Ukraine

War is here. On Thursday, February 24, 2022, Russian troops invaded their neighbor to the east, Ukraine. I am sixty-eight years old—I was a child of the cold war and have witnessed several other warring events.

A Child of the Cold War

In 1962, as a nine-year-old child, I remember the tension the adults showed around The Cuban Missile Crisis. We were at my grandparents’ in Amarillo, Texas. I remember anxiety hung heavy over that entire visit. As a child, I registered the strong feelings, yet did not know the severity of the event.

https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/cuban-missile-crisis

My parents’ generation remembered the nuclear bombs in World War II, so they focused on keeping us safe from experiencing that horror. Being a child of the cold war, I remember drills at school to get to the bomb shelters, announcements on TV, and signage in many stores in Trinidad, Colorado, identifying where the bomb shelters were in their building. The threat of a nuclear attack from Russia lingered for years.

Vietnam War

Putin’s recent aggression brought me back to the Vietnam War era and my experience of watching it in our living room. I remember the death count mounting and the horror of jungle warfare nightly. It seemed to go on endlessly. The government drafted my brother at the end of the Vietnam War, but he didn’t have to go to Vietnam. Our family didn’t lose anyone in that war, but so many of my generation died!

Fast forward to my late twenties and early thirties after my first divorce—I often lamented I had lost my soul mate, killed in Vietnam. That idea haunted me during my drinking days. So, my heart has never embraced war, probably because of that experience.

Desert Storm

When Desert Storm hit in 1990, I remember seeing the newscasters with gas masks on, worrying about chemical warfare here in the United States. Being single, I went to bed many nights scared to death of the coming horror.

I taught at the middle school in Raton, New Mexico and we had just studied Dr. Martin Luther King during January, 1991. In studying King, we also looked at David Thoreau’s essay, “Civil Disobedience.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Disobedience_(Thoreau)

We talked about his sit-ins all over the South and King’s use of civil disobedience, and my students had listened more than I realized.

Then they queried me about what we could do in line with “Civil Disobedience” about Desert Storm. I talked to our principal, and he okayed a schoolwide assembly, not protesting Desert Storm, but war. My class organized this event, and we had it in the school gym. Several people (students and adults) spoke. We had pictures around the gym of National Guard members who had been called up. One of them, a janitor of ours, who we all loved, spoke from the heart, leaving all of us in tears.

No more war

When the students entered the gym, we ushered them to sit in the stands. At the end of the program, we invited anyone who was against war to join us on the gym floor as a sit-in against war. Everyone joined us—students and staff. We played patriotic music and just sat there on the floor together. I will never forget that day and how proud I was of my classes for becoming activists about their beliefs.

Now once again, war is here. . .

So Now, What?

Because of repeated warnings, the world knew Putin’s intentions for weeks. On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, I traveled south from southeastern Colorado to my home in Tijeras, New Mexico, listening for my four-and-a-half-hour drive to the newscasters trying to figure out what was coming! When would Putin strike? Were the sanctions tough enough? That listening didn’t relieve my doubts, fears, and anxiety, but I wanted to stay informed.

Will history repeat itself in Europe? Mom and I visited Eastern Europe in 1999 after the Berlin wall came down. It was an emotional trip going east from Germany into Poland. From Poland, we traveled south to Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. We then headed back west to Austria and flew out of Germany.

Being from the United States, I was shocked how we arrived in a different country so quickly on that trip! We are so spread out here in the USA, but within a short distance, we traveled through a couple countries in eastern Europe. That makes this war so much more intense, yet the consequences so threatening to all of Europe.

As I sit here thousands of miles away, I want to do something. Democracy allows me to share my opinion, and this blog works as a vehicle to do so. And you see—it’s because the United States celebrates our democracy I have the right of freedom of speech and share my opinion. I’ve seen many of the war protesters in Russia being hauled away to who knows where and what atrocities will happen to them.

Yes, democracy’s cost comes at a high price, but once again, we, who enjoy that luxury, have to protect the democracy of Ukraine. In protecting it there, thousands of miles away, we protect it here for me and you.

You might laugh at my question, “Will Russia invade the United States?” Don’t laugh, because it already has. Russian bots have filled Social Media with their propaganda and many Americans have fallen into their traps. Today, we have American sympathizers with Russia and Putin. Some politicians and newscasters lauded Putin as a genius, so the Russian invasion has happened to the USA—maybe not with boots on the ground, but with ideas and a division that Putin sees as a crack in our unity.

So, war is here. What now? What can I do? I offer two possibilities:

Silent Minute in World War I

During World War I, the Brits stopped and prayed for one minute each night at 9:00 PM, calling it the “Silent Minute.” They continued in World War II with an added dimension.

On November 10, 1940 at 9:00, all of Briton was gathered around their radios to find out how the war was going. The announcer explained that Big Ben chiming out 9:00 would be broadcast before the news from then on. The people of Briton were asked to take that one minute during the chiming to pray for, or visualize, peace. As everyone knew they were in for another night of bombing, there probably weren’t many who didn’t participate.

https://curiousrambler.com/big-ben-silent-minute-chimes-and-prayers-for-peace/

Join me nightly for a moment of silence and prayer at 9:00 PM to pray for Ukraine and their protection.

Pope Francis’ Appeal

See Pope Francis’ message appeal below to use March 2, 2022, Ash Wednesday, as a day of fasting for peace. Then I would encourage you to use this Lenten season ahead to continue to lift the Ukrainian people in prayer.

Pope Francis' Appeal - War in Ukraine

Finally,

War is here again—so what now? Even though I live many miles away, I choose to be a part of the solution, not the problem. I support Ukraine, our president, NATO, and our leaders in this stressful time. There are a variety of ways to support the USA’s stance: Red Cross donations, prayers, signs of solidarity behind our leaders, etc.

What are you feeling? How are you making a difference?


~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Meme

~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Thoughts

The Face of God—A Mystery!

New born baby - face of God

Do you know what the face of God looks like? Have you ever wondered? I heard the base of this story many years ago, enlarged it and wrote this brief story. It so touched my heart when I heard it—it resonated as true!

I Found My Answer

            She looks so familiar; I’ve seen her before—before I ended up here in this house with my parents. She has the answer I know to the question that has been haunting me for months. All I have to do is get her alone and ask my question, my one big important question. Any time I get close enough to her to ask, my parents throw their arms up to guard the baby and scream, “Don’t hurt the baby! Be careful! She’s fragile. You could hurt her.”

            You see—she’s a newborn. They just brought her home from the hospital. Her name is Ann. I’m Laurie, her three-year-old sister. I wasn’t that excited about her when she was in my mom’s tummy, but since I’ve seen her, I know she’s got the answer, if they will ever let me near her, alone! She’s oh so familiar. I know her.

            I try to outfox them—one time after another, I almost get to her—to whisper my question in her ear. She’s one of those who knows, and I know it. I recognize her and her spirit. But their stopping me frustrates me. What am I to do?

            I must get to her before she forgets, like I have. Or have I? I have a vague recollection. Cloudy images float through my mind that are a part of the answer, but I know she knows for sure!

            My deep desire for the answer only increases; my tactics change, but nothing seems to work. They’re set on protecting her from me, and I’m equally set on getting to her for the answer.

            I stand by my mom as she holds her—that beautiful cherub face ready to tell me, but I know I can’t ask this question in front of Mom. She would only get upset because I would need to get really close to Ann. I have to whisper right in her ear, then put my ear up to her mouth to hear her response, because she will speak softly and gently in words no adult can recognize. I think I still can understand. Before, I used to hear that language, but I haven’t since I’ve been here with my parents—they don’t speak it. I’ve seen that face before, I know. Since Ann has been with us, I’ve heard some of her sounds and they sound vaguely familiar—other worldly. I need just a little time, only minutes, but we need to be alone and quiet!

            I don’t give up, but my plans have changed. Now, I stop the outright frontal attack; I wait and watch for the opportune time, and my patience finally pays off.

            My parents baptize Ann at one month old and give a big party, inviting family and friends to show off their new child. This proves to be the distraction I need.

            The guests all “ooh” and “ah” over her and bring me gifts too, so I won’t feel left out. I’m not worried about gifts or sibling rivalry or stuff like that—I’m on a mission. My folks think I’m jealous of Ann, that I want to hurt her, but that’s not true at all. If only I could it explain it to them.

            Mom has lots of delicious food and drink. They enjoy good, light-hearted conversation with family and friends. For the first time since Ann arrived, my parents relax about me bothering my baby sister. The party atmosphere distracts them, so I’m on the move.

            Startled back to reality, Mom asks my grandma, “Where’s Laurie?”   

Everyone starts the search for me, but my time had come a few moments ago when quietly I slipped out of the living room, up the stairs into my baby sister’s nursery. She is sleeping, but that’s OK. Now, I can still talk to her anyway, and she’ll answer.

Youngster with new born baby - face of God

            Carefully, I pull a chair over to her crib and crawl up into it, not to wake or hurt her. Then I lay down next to her and begin whispering my question into her ear —

            “Tell me, what does the face of God look like? I have been here for three years away from Him, and I have almost forgotten what He looks like. I yearn for His familiar face.”

            A knowing smile crosses Ann’s lips, and her answer came through her spirit as I heard her response, “He looks like me.” Yahoo! I knew it! That’s why she looked so familiar! Something inside me knew it all along!! Every time I have seen a baby in the last three years, something fluttered deep inside me, seeing those precious faces. In seeing them, I got the urge to ask that question. I especially felt drawn to the newborn, but having a baby in my home really made the asking easy—after I got past Mom and Dad.

            Anne’s answer quiets my spirit, and I am peaceful at last. She reconnected me with my God. I gaze at her sweet face and sigh in relief. Now I can hold on to this truth for a few more years.

            Little did I know my Aunt Janey was sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of the room and had heard the entire conversation (my side only because she can’t hear babies.) My question touched her heart deeply.

            She didn’t move or try to stop me—she gulped and restrained herself because she had heard my parents’ frantic concern. Serenely, I fell asleep next to my little angelic sister, at peace with the answer about my God. My parents found me resting there after their mad search—my quest had ended moments earlier. I had found my answer.

Copyright © 2018 Larada Horner-Miller


Whimsical, maybe, but such a mystery! What does the face of God look like to you? Let me know!


~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?

~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

My Books · My Thoughts · square dance

Book Trailers—Flippo’s Life!

Flippo's young picture - trailers

Book Trailers—a promotional idea I enjoy! I created three book trailers of Flippo’s biography, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. What a blast that was!

I formatted each trailer the same: I used one of his singing calls for audio background and highlighted many pictures gleaned from the three scrapbooks Neeca made for Flippo.

I focused on major areas of Flippo’s expansive life:

  1. His life
  2. Amazing skits
  3. His Motto & travels

As you can see, I tackled some fun ones.

So here they are for your viewing pleasure!

His Life Trailer

I start with him growing up a Texan, then the Texan becomes a sailor. After the Navy, Flippo came back to Abilene, and to the love of his life, Neeca. He started square dance calling after a few pitfalls. His hit song, “The Auctioneer,” skyrocketed his career. The music background is a clip of “The Auctioneer.”

His Amazing Skits Trailer

At a square dance weekend or during a square dance week, after the evening dance came a fun-filled event, the afterparty. At an afterparty, callers organized skits to entertain the dancers.

Anyone who saw Flippo in one of his amazing skits will never forget it. At Kirkwood with Melton Luttrell, Gary Shoemake and Frank Lane, the shy Flippo entertained everyone with his antics. Also at Asilomar, he teamed up with Frank Lane, and I’m sure many others. At Paris, Texas, he shared the stage with Ken Bower, Mike Bramlett and Justin Russell. The music background is “It Do Feel Good.”

His Motto & Travels Trailer

Flippo repeated his motto often to me, “I was at the right place at the right time.” This attitude sent him traveling around the United States and the world. After traveling during his Navy career, Flippo loved to travel as a square dance caller and the dance world loved him. His extensive tour plan took him all over the United States for six months of the year. Then he added world travel when he could. Flippo traveled to Spain, Morocco, Majorca, England and Germany. He returned to Japan where he continued his love affair started with his Navy career at the end of World War II. The music background is “Sing, Sing a Song.”

Trailers summarize a book’s message and speak to the visual majority of people in the world today. In book marketing today, trailers lead the list of promotional ideas. The message of Flippo’s book was so large I had to do three! And I could probably do more.

Finally,

Do you enjoy book trailers? Make sure you liked my trailers on my YouTube channel.


~Valentine’s Day Special at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft. 40% off of “This Tumbleweed Landed” paperback until February 16, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com

Audiobooks · Books · My Books · My Thoughts

My Adventure Continues—Audiobook!

A young man joins me on my adventure!

My new adventure has taken over! On November 29, 2021, in my blog post, “Audiobooks—My New Adventure,” I alerted you about my new adventure of recording audiobooks. I don’t know if you’re a consumer of audiobooks, but this market is growing like crazy, so I’m jumping in with both feet!

Two months later, I have recorded and released my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story, the nonfiction booklet of how my granddad put our ranch together during the depression when many others were losing theirs. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and what a pleasure it was to reread this little gem!

Why I picked this one to be my first?

After finishing the audiobook training, I started with the shortest book I had, so this one won! It’s more the size of a chapbook. I didn’t want to do one of my sizeable books, in case the process became too difficult, but it was a breeze, thanks to good training I received.

What was the process like on this new adventure?

At first, I didn’t know whether to record everything and then take the audio through the editing and adding the effects process on Audacity, the app suggested. So, at first, I did a couple of recording and then did the editing and adding the effects. But I realized, once I started recording and got into “the zone,” I didn’t want to stop.

So, then I changed my plan—I finished recording the rest of the book and did the editing and adding effects. As I focused on the editing, I became more proficient at finding the places where I breathed and deleted them more easily.

I had such great instructions on doing the effects in Audacity. It really became a checklist of twelve steps to do for each recording, and it went quickly. I just wanted to make sure I did each step, so I took it slowly and methodically.

As a final run-through, I sat with the book in hand and listened to the audio to make sure it matched the book. It did!

How to get my audiobook out to the world?

My training taught me to put it out to two sites: acx.com and findawayvoices.com, and it warned me it could take three to four weeks for publication.

First, I tried acx.com, an affiliate of Amazon, and I had trouble because my book didn’t come up in my list of books. I spent several days and emails before that problem got solved—I could use the ASIN number (Amazon Standard Identification Number) off of the Amazon.com listing.

Each site had a different setup for uploading the files. Because we have a horrible internet connection, I saved each chapter as a file. You could save it as one file if you have a fast speed connection.

Each site warned the files had to be uploaded in the order you wanted them to be on the audiobook. I liked findawayvoices.com’s set-up for uploading because their system stopped any chance of uploading the files out of order.

For acx.com, it took about a week and a half to two weeks to go live! And how excited I was! I’m still waiting for any distributors from findawayvoices.com to go live.

What is my current audiobook project?

At the beginning of the year, I made a schedule for recording my books:

  • Let Me Tell You a Story—January
  • Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?—February

I was right on schedule for February, but recording Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? has gone much quicker than I thought it would. Today I finished recording Chapter 25, Christmas 2020 with Charles Dickens, so I’m way early. Last Wednesday, I recorded nine chapters! I couldn’t believe it!  

Since I have thirty-one chapters in the book, I only need six more chapters, Appendix A and the closing credits to finish the recording. I plan to finish the recording on Monday or Tuesday of this week. Then I can easily finish the editing and adding effects by the end of the month.

What are my future plans for this adventure?

Here’s the rest of the schedule I made earlier:

  • When Will Papa Get Home?—March
  • This Tumbleweed Landed—April

With my speed of recording so far and the length of both books, I might record both books in March. I don’t want to rush, but I do want to get as much done before the heat of the summer hits. I can’t stand recording when it’s hot outside in my closed in little recording studio (really our walk-in closet)!

What about my two longer books?

In my November 29, 2021 blog post, I wrote, “Two of my books—A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir and Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo are too long for the audiobook format.”

I’ve rethought that stance. A writing friend suggested I do a set for my longer books. What do you think? Would you buy an audiobook set of Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo, specifically?

What have I learned about this adventure?

Both the audiobook training, Audiobooks Made Easy, by Derek Doepker, and Audio for Authors: Audiobooks, Podcasts and Voice Technologies by Joanna Penn helped me initially. But here are some tips I learned in the actually recording:

  • Take off anything that can make noise while recording. The earphones fit snugly over my ears, so I took off earrings and the chain I use for my reading glasses.
  • Drink room-temperature water before recording. I drank some ice-cold water once and my voice crackled.
  • Use your laptop or iPad instead of paper to read from. When I first recorded, I printed up pages of my script. Then, when I shuffled through the papers, it added a noise I could easily eliminate.
  • Have a file system for your recording files. I created three folders for raw audio files: original recordings, and duplicated edited files, and effects files. Then I created another file for the mp3s to be uploaded to the different sites for distribution.
  • Use an external hard drive. My laptop has limited storage space, so I bought a 2 terabytes external hard drive and save to it.
  • Wear supportive shoes. After standing still in the same place for nearly an hour, I realized good shoes helped how I felt afterwards.
  • If you are going to offer a .pdf for your audiobook buyer, make sure you have the URL correct before recording. For my first book, I posted on my website all the pictures that were in the book so the buyer could go there and see the visuals included in the book. For the Coronavirus Reflections book, I have created a personal reflection journal the consumer can download to respond on.

Finally,

Elderly woman joins me on the my adventure

I love adventures and this is one for sure. I hope to have four of my six books on audiobooks by this summer, and then hopefully the other two finished by the end of 2020. Do you buy audiobooks? Audiobooks are for any age! If you’d like to sample my first audiobook, you can at https://laradasbooks.com/sample-my-audiobook/


~Valentine’s Day Special at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft. 40% “This Tumbleweed Landed” paperback until February 16, 2022.

~MY FIRST AUDIOBOOK IS AVAILABLE: Go to Audible to buy my first audiobook, Let Me Tell You a Story

~Do you listen to podcasts? Here are three podcasts with my interviews about my new book & some Flippo stories:

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: https://www.laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Bette? meme

~Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks: https://laradasbooks.com