Friends · My Thoughts

Rose Ward: Another Woman to Celebrate!

Rose Ward, Today
Rose Ward, Today!

Rose Ward comes to my mind as I continue to celebrate National Women’s History Month, and focus on the women in my history. The other four women I’ve written about this month are gone, but Rose lives on at 94 years old! And she’s quite a woman!

Rose was born December 14, 1928, in a boxcar in Watervale, Colorado, a spot on the railroad lien between Trinchera and Branson, the town I grew up in. Her family lived in a boxcar there for many years because the railroad provided them for the workers. Often, she caught the train to Trinidad there to pay the family bills. Then, moving from the boxcar, they lived in a rock house owned by the Doherty’s for many years in Watervale.

This fascinates me because I have only known Watervale as a ghost town or small settlement.

Rose’s dad worked for the railroad—he started at thirteen and worked for fifty-two years. Watervale was a water stop on the line, a necessity for the railroad cars back then. She had two brothers and two sisters. I, not only grew up with Rose’s children, but her brother Hildo’s, too.

From Watervale, her family moved to Trinchera and bought a bar. She met Tom Ward, her future husband, at her parents’ bar there. She remembers he rode up on horseback, a real cowboy.

Tom asked Rose’s dad if they could marry. On December 20, 1952, Tom came for her, and her mom wasn’t even awake yet. Rose wore a beautiful black dress. As they drove to Raton, New Mexico, to be wed, the car stopped and they had to crank it. She worried about it stopping, but it finally started up and they made it to Raton and wed. The young couple had a second wedding at the Catholic church in Trinchera.

During their young married life, they lived out on a ranch where she had to haul water and use an outhouse. Rose had had enough.

“Take me home,” she told Tom. So, he gave her a sizeable check and took her to her parents.

When she arrived home, she told her dad, “I left Tom.”

He had a quick response, “Go back to Tom!” so away she went.

So, Tom changed ranches, and their next home had another problem—skunks! So, Rose left again to her mother’s. Then, Tom changed ranches again and found a wonderful spot with Tom and Jack Morrow.

Tom and Rose raised four children. Tom passed away on October 23, 2003. They have ten grandchildren, twenty great-grandchildren and two great great-grandchildren. You can see that Rose enjoys her large family by all of her pictures surrounding her in her home today.

Rose also gave foster children a home, so many she can’t count them!

­­Growing up, I remember Rose in my life mostly as the mother of my classmates and friends. I got more acquainted with her after my dad died in 1996. She had moved to Branson, and Mom and Rose became close friends. Yes, they were friends for decades before that, but these two widows became extremely close in the loss of their husbands. Rose helped Mom with her loss of dad. They had daily contact and helped ease the horrible loneliness of women who had spent decades with their husbands.

Rose enjoyed going to our ranch with Mom. Often, these two small powerful women sat on Mom’s front porch facing a busy county road, drinking beer or Tequila Rose and not acting like grieving widows. They both had rascally personalities and fed off of each other. Supporting small town life, they went to school activities together and just had fun together.

Since Mom died in 2013, I try to visit Rose anytime I’m in Branson. We laugh, have ice cream or any of her delicious desserts, and talk about Mom and the gossip of town. Any time Rose reminisces about her childhood or younger life with Tom, I sit back and enjoy the tale. What a different time that was! I can’t imagine Branson without Rose.

What a hard worker Rose has been as long as I have known her, whether it’s cooking up dozens of tamales or cleaning someone’s house. She just offered to clean my house this past week! Amazing!

My husband, Lin, loves to be with Rose, discussing their gardening interests. He also loves to dance with her, as shown in this picture at the Branson-Trinchera Reunion.

Rose and Lin dancing at the Branson-Trinchera Reunion
Lin and Rose Dancing!

Rose defies the stamp of what 94 years old looks like. She lives alone, cooks delicious Mexican delicacies like tamales and sopapillas and still takes care of herself. Each morning she starts her day off with a cup of coffee with her son, then her daughter checks on her in the evenings and provides an evening meal if needed. Her out-of-town family members visit often, and she has pictures up of all her precious children.

She still does embroidery work and likes to keep a jigsaw puzzle going. In the evening, I often catch her watching her favorite Spanish Telenovela, and she has bought each one of my books!

Her laughter, her mischievous twinkle in her eyes and her loving, giving heart makes me choke up here in writing this!

What women in your history make you smile? Tell me about her/them!

In collaboration with Rose’s daughter, Jackie Mock

If you missed my other National Women’s History Month celebrations of four amazing women, here are the links:

News, News, News!

All available at my website: or

~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”:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme - Rose
Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a chapter!

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet? Vist my website: or at Amazon.

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme - Rose
A relaxed time with a latte and Flippo!

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

family · My Thoughts

Celebrate Women This Month!

March—Women’s History Month! Did you know that? What a thrilling discovery! So, over the next four weeks, I plan on celebrating four women in my life and history. Some are dead; some are still alive! It doesn’t matter because they still have had an intact on me!

First, here’s a great resource with pictures from Dr. Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress to Sojourner Truth, three-quarter length portrait, standing, wearing spectacles, shawl and peaked cap, right hand resting on cane. What a wide variety of pictures of women in our history. Look at:

Now, more focused for me—where else would I start the celebration of women? My Mom—Elva Marie Dickerson Horner. Celebrating her this month has a poignant ring to it—she died March 23, 2013, ten years ago! In so many ways, that’s hard to believe! It seems longer; yet it seems like yesterday.

On March 23, 2013, at 5:10 pm, Dad and Jesus won—Dad had waited up there for seventeen long years to dance with the love of his life again. Jesus agreed with him, and the pull towards heaven won, and Mom passed from this world to the next.

Let’s Start at the Beginning

Elva Marie Dickerson Horner was born on September 24, 1928 to Virgil and Tresia Dickerson in Des Moines, NM. Mom joined her 9-year-old sister, Willa Lee.

Aunt Willie and Mom - women
Aunt Willie and Mom

Being the youngest child in the Dickerson home, Willa Lee tells a story about Mom: “when we went to the post office she would lie down on me—on the ground and throw a fit. I reached inside the fence and got me a switch. (Pause) She didn’t do that again.”

Living through the depression, Mom endured a hard life, living in a shack with dirt floors. Grandma would wet the dirt down and pack it hard, and Mom got in trouble for digging little holes afterwards.

Her Marriage and Family Life is Coming!

Mom loved to dance her whole life. A certain cowboy caught her eye at a dance. She noticed his unique dance style. At the Robin Hood Bar in Raton, New Mexico, he crossed the dance floor towards her. She knew he was going to ask her to dance. Then she panicked, and the romance of a lifetime started with Harold Horner, my dad. They dated; they danced!

Dad and Mom on their wedding day - women
Dad and Mom on their wedding day

Then, Dad and Mom were married on August 28, 1951 in Raton, New Mexico. Their married life that would span 45 years had begun. Mom immediately became stepmother to three small children and faced the trials of being a stepmom, but the children lived with their mom in Denver. They visited Mom and Dad regularly.

As newlyweds, they moved in with Dad’s parents in Branson, Colorado, and experience a small-town tradition—chevarier. Friends short-sheeted the beds, removed labels off all the canned goods, and Mom, the bride, had a wheelbarrow ride around town. Dad’s parents had the joy (and despair) of sharing this country tradition and all the effects.

Then Dad and Mom bought their own first home from the Stephenson’s a few months later—lock, stock & barrel. After the birth of my brother and me (thirteen months later), Mom’s family was intact! Her family grew with marriages, then nine grandchildren came, and then fifteen great grandchildren. She celebrated each addition to our family, so I witnessed a woman dedicated to her family.

Mom cherished family get-togethers and holidays. Her father-in-law, Laurence, loved to have family get-togethers at our house because of Mom’s cooking and hospitality!

Her Life in The Community

Lots of life happened in Branson through the years. Mom enjoyed not only her own children, but my brother’s and my friends in the community. She was happiest when her kitchen and adjacent dining room were full of young people. Mom maintained close relationships with many of these children into their adulthood.

After Granddad Horner died, Mom became Dad’s right-hand man, able to do anything on the ranch. She worked hard! In fact, in 1989, she fell off of a haystack and broke her wrist when I was teaching in Raton, New Mexico, right before shipping time. So, several rancher’s wives and I stepped in and helped cook and serve the meal to the shipping crew.

As Dad’s health worsened, I watched Mom lovingly cared for him until the end. What an example of dedicated love!

Mom’s Interests

Mom had a variety of interests:

She was an avid sports fan of all Branson sports. When Bub played, she yelled loudly at basketball games, drowning out other parents. For many years, Mom sat in the same place every game with a dear friend.

In the 70s, Mom got interested in genealogy and researched both the Dickerson and Horner sides extensively. In 1999, we traveled to Eastern Europe because of her genealogy interests, looking for connections to her granddad, who immigrated here as a castaway with no records of entry into the US. Today, I cherish her black ledger with all of her records. I joined her in this interest and have entered her data into an app on my computer, Family Tree Maker.

Girlfriends have been a part of Mom’s life forever: Ellen Berry in high school; Clara Warner, Nancy Salas & Mokey McMillan years ago; Helen Waldroup; Betty Clark and Rose Ward.

Learn More About Mom

Mom had an abiding faith and became baptized and a faithful member of the Des Moines, New Mexico Methodist church, attending every Sunday with her niece and her husband. She looked forward to the time after church when a group went to a local restaurant for lunch—and a little gossiping! Her faith lasted until the end.

All of us have evidence of Mom’s beautiful handiworks: afghans, quilts, Christmas ornaments and more.

I remember Mom as quite the prankster—she loved a good practical joke. If you fell asleep at her house in the living room, a good chance you would end up with whipped cream on your nose! That is just one of her many tricks!

Often when I was with Mom, I enjoyed the privilege of hearing her laughter, so rich and inviting, seeing her eyes twinkle and her joy for living.

Mom and I in our matching Christmas Outfits - women
Mom and I in our matching Christmas Outfits

As you can see, Mom touched my life and many others. She formed me and others to be the women we are today, and I will be forever grateful for my mom! So be sure to celebrate the women in your life this month by doing something special for them.

Mom’s Purple Bear

Recently my husband, Lin, went through our house collecting things for a rummage sale for the Garden Center in Albuquerque. I had a purple bear on the bed in our guest bedroom I gave Mom in her dying days. Somehow the purple bear ended up in a stack of stuffed toys, and he took it to the rummage sale to sell.

Afterwards we were in the guest bedroom, and I looked at bed and realized the purple bear had disappeared. Then I looked at the top of the bookshelf where the other various stuffed toys had ended and they were gone. I realized our house cleaners probably put the bear up with the others innocently.

When I told him where I thought the precious purple bear ended up, he returned to the sale before it started, went through bags and found it. He received cheers from the workers there because he had told them, “I have to save my marriage. I have to find that bear!”

Mom embrace that bear tightly in the hospital after I gave it to her, and we kept it near her until her dying day. Lin blessed my heart with his extreme effort to retrieve it!


What women are you celebrating this month? Have you even thought about it? Which woman has influenced you? Why?

News, News, News!

My five books meme - women
All available at my website: or

~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”:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme
Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a chapter!

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet? Vist my website: or at Amazon.

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo meme
A relaxed time with a latte and Flippo!

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

Christmas · My Thoughts

Give Away a Christmas Tree?

Christmas tree--giveway

Give away a Christmas tree? Why would anyone do that? When I first came to Albuquerque, NM in 1991 as a classroom teacher, I started a tradition in my classroom. Each year, I put up a Christmas tree, then gave it away to one of my students before our Christmas vacation. Early in December, I’d have them put their names in a hat, and we’d draw the lucky winner. I taught in a low-income school and many of my students’ families struggled with the basics. A Christmas tree was a luxury and a fresh cut one was a novelty.

In 1991 and throughout the time I taught, we had no problem putting up a Christmas tree in our classrooms and I dressed in my Christmas outfits, starting the first Monday after Advent. Today, I know that teachers can’t do this, which is really sad for me!

I will never forget that first year of seeing the lucky student whose name I drew. He was the winner! Several students helped me un-decorate the tree, and he convinced friends to help him carry the tree home. As I looked out the window, the smiles and excitement that the group exhibited warmed my heart. After that first year, I knew I had found a grand tradition to continue!

How did I come about having an extra tree each year to giveaway?
Cutting Down a Christmas tree--giveway

My parents had a family ranch in southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico. Growing up, we went out to the ranch and cut our own tree each year. What memories I have! My dad always wanted a tall one; Mom wanted one that sit on the coffee table! So, during the year, Mom and I scouted out where the “good” Christmas trees were. Then my parents filled the actual trip with lots of good-hearted bantering, but Dad won—always!

So when I moved to Albuquerque, I went home for Thanksgiving. During that weekend, we went out to the ranch and cut down two trees—one for my home and one for my classroom.

I loved those trips out to our ranch, cutting down a fresh tree. Dad, Mom and I made a great excursion out of it. On previous trips out there, we had already decided where the best pinon pine trees were. Dad started the sawing, but because of his breathing issues and his age, I usually helped. And yes, we always got sap on our hands—what a delicious smell, but sticky mess!


I felt privileged to giveaway a Christmas tree to one of my students. What a rewarding experience it was!

Is a Christmas tree giveaway something special? I thought it was, especially after seeing my students’ smiles. Have you ever given a Christmas tree away? If so, what was the effect?

News, News, News!

~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”:

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme - Giveaway

~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet? Vist my website:

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

~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: or at Amazon.

Colorado · family · My Thoughts

Colorado At Its Best: A Fun-Filled Weekend!

On Friday, July 29, I returned to Colorado for a fun-filled time with my brother. We took our cousin Lisa to Cuchara, Colorado, on Saturday. Then Sunday we rose early and drove to Denver to see the Colorado Rockies play the Dodgers. Then, Monday morning, we got up and went to the Denver Broncos Training Camp! We explored the beautiful Colorado mountains and then went on to Denver and a sports adventure! What fun we had!

Cuchara, Colorado with Lisa

On July 25, 2022, I received this text from Lisa: “Are you in Branson or back in Tijeras?”

I let her know I plan to go to Branson the next day and found out she would be in the area for a while, so we agreed to find some time together.

When I arrived in Branson on Friday, July 29, my brother and I put together plans for the next couple of days.

“How about we take Lisa to Cuchara tomorrow?” He asked. I texted her, and we made our plans.

I said, “Let’s go to the Bronco’s Training Camp on Monday.” My brother stated, “If we’re going to Denver, why not go to a Rockies’ baseball game on Sunday?” So the die was cast!

On Saturday morning, Lisa met us in Branson, we left Branson at 9:30 am and drove to Cuchara, a lovely drive west of Trinidad through the mountains. We stopped by Monument Lake, driving around the lake and marveling at the high level of water in the lake. Then we drove by North Lake and I reminisced about attending church camp at Camp Salvation near the lake.

From there we drove to Stonewall, Colorado and stopped at the store there, a favorite of ours for fun touristy items. It was on to Cuchara where we toured some stores. We ate lunch at the Dog Bar outside on the patio, enjoying all the dogs and their owners at this fun-loving bar.

After lunch, we continued our shopping tour and ended up at the Yacht Club for a drink and more conversation. My brother and I so enjoy any time we have with Lisa!

On the drive home, my brother saw a bear, but Lisa and I, heavy in conversation, didn’t see it, so we turned around to find this wildlife, but we didn’t. We hit a heavy rainstorm which we all celebrated because of the need for rain.

What a delightful time we had with Lisa in our favorite funky mountain town.

Trip to Denver & Colorado Rockies Game

On Sunday morning, we left Branson at 7:00 am, just in case there was any traffic issues on I-25 northbound. Because it’s a four hour drive, we cushioned the arrival time, just in case. It was a pleasant trip with no problems.

Once we got to Denver, finding Coors Field became a major task. My brother thought there would be signage up on I-25, but there was nothing. My Car Play app on my Jeep and iPhone weren’t working correctly, so that added to the confusion. After wandering around downtown, finally we found the Coors Field’s parking lot, parked and caught the shuttle to the field.

Because we arrived early, we had lots of time to walk around the stadium and enjoy the sights. We each bought a foot-long hotdog and delicious fries for lunch. After eating, we went to the store and looked around, but fans overflowed, so we got out quickly.

Then we went upstairs to the Rooftop Bar and took pictures. Up on that level, purple seats identify “A Mile High” in that level.

What a hot day! 90 degrees and we were in the sun for most of the game. I enjoyed the game, having bought a score sheet and pencil so I would watch it closer. When we were in high school, I kept a score book for my brother’s games and gave it to him as a graduation gift, but he had to help me with some notations—too many years away from baseball!

My brother is a San Francisco Giants fan, so he didn’t want the Dodgers to win, but they did and there were Dodger fans everywhere!

After the game we found our hotel, but it wasn’t where we thought it was going to be—within blocks of Dove Valley and the Bronco Training Camp the next morning. We had a delicious Mexican dinner at the Hacienda Colorado next door and spent the evening relaxing and watching TV.

Denver Broncos Training Camp, Denver, Colorado
Me and my brother waiting in line for the Broncos Training Camp, Denver, Colorado
Me and My Brother Waiting in Line for the Broncos Training Camp

On Monday morning, we again got up early, grabbed a ridiculously minimalist breakfast at the hotel and drove to Dove Valley. We arrived before the parking opened next to the training camp, so we parked some ways away and walked.

By doing that, we got in line ahead of those parking close to the camp. We waited in line from 8:00 – 9:00 am. When they opened the gate, the workers controlled the crowd, and we had front-row seats (on grass). Then, we had to wait another hour before it started. The Broncos provided free water and also had plenty of misters where fans could cool down.

Being avid Bronco fans, my brother and I have wanted to attend training camp for years, but it never worked out before. What an experience!

There we sat in the blazing, scorching sun—ended up being 94 degrees! I wore a bare shoudlers top—I have no idea what I was thinking! But I did have a light hoodie with me and I alternately draped it over my shoulders and then my legs.

The whole thing fascinated me with all the veteran players I love and the new players vying for a position on the team. When Russell Wilson, our new quarterback gained from Seattle, came on the field, the crowd exploded.

For most of it, we could clearly see the drills and the running backs were so close, it was exceptional. Onedrill they did farther away with the non-players standing between us and the action. That drug on and on!

Our kicker, Brandon McManus, entertained the crowd during one part. He got fairly close to us and kicked the football into the crowd. Fans threw it back to him, then he moved farther back and kicked again. This went on for quite a while.

At the end, some players came by all us crazy fans lined up for autographs and high fives. My brother still for the high fives but gave up for the autographs. I got a few.

Russell practiced with two receivers right in front of us for a long time after the autograph time began and regular practice ended. Then he took off his helmet and started autographs at the end of line to the right of me.

Hot, tired and not feeling optimistic he’d come as far as where I stood, I gave up and found my brother further up the hill. I went to the bathroom and talked to a woman in there who worked at the camp.

She said I shouldn’t have given up because Russell walks down the entire line and gives autographs to everyone he can! It devastated me! So close to getting his autograph!

On our trip home, we left the craziness of Denver and ate lunch in Castle Rock and drove home. All in all, it was a fantastic time for us, but we both decided we never needed to return to training camp.


Are you a sports fan? If so, which team? Which sport?

~NEW—Join me for my One-Year Anniversary of the Release of Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Celebration on Zoom Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 7:30 PM MST. Email me at for the Zoom meeting information.

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~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: 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”:

~Wish You Were Here: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors, deals with the COVID pandemic in fiction as opposed to my nonfiction book. Check it out! Interesting story!

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:

family · God · My Thoughts

Advice I’d Give the Teenage Larada


Wise advice to a receptive spirit can make all the difference! The bad news—teenagers think they know everything and rarely listen. My teenager, Larada, has a receptive spirit today and agrees to listen to the wisdom of the crone Larada. For the first time, I’m using the prompt suggested by the Ultimate Blog Challenge and feel it has lots of possibility.

First, my top advice

Be yourself! As a teenager, I got so consumed by the popular view of my friends. Our jeans had to be long enough to touch the ground in the back, and we had to wear Wranglers. Once Dad bought me Levis, and I hated them. I had to have long straight hair and wore it parted on the side. I had a little curl on one side, so mine never hung straight.

By being quiet and not being authentic, people never really knew the real me because I didn’t share her. It took years to find her, but the “me” I found is delightful, energetic and a strong leader. Trust yourself!

Second piece of advice

My social life isn’t everything! Almost every Saturday night found the Horner family at a local dance, so my normal was an active social life. Then, when a snowstorm hit and we had to stay home, I mourned the loss of not being out and about.

I continued this mindset for most of my adult life, but the coronavirus pandemic forced me to learn balance in that area. Balance provides time with others, then time alone to become acquainted with the most important person in the world, me!

Third nugget of advice

Teenager listening to advic

Not having a boyfriend is okay! AS a teenager, I obsessed about boys, boyfriends, not having one, having one but thought he was the wrong one!

After periods of being single, I realized the importance of being okay as a solo. Then when I remarried, I had lots to offer to the relationship. You are enough!

Fourth snippet of advice

Be proud of your heritage. I remember being ridiculed when we went to Trinidad, Colorado, to shop. The “towny” kids called us “Sh*t kickers” which embarrassed me. Over the last seven years, I have written six books and five of them celebrate my heritage and family. Embrace your history!

Fifth morsel of advice

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Younger Larada worried about everything, spending too much time focussing on the “what ifs?”

“Let go and let God” had become a mantra of mine today, a slogan from recovery.

Last bit of advice

Focus on your spiritual life! As a teenager, I believed in Jesus, but my faith took a backseat. Popularity and peer pressure ruled my life, causing me to make life choices not centered in my faith.

Today, I have a strong faith, seasoned over the years with lots of pain, disappointments, and struggles. As I processed all of this, I leaned in closer and closer to my God.


Teenager thinking about advice

The teenage Larada did as well as she could with her limited knowledge. As a crone, I offer my advice, Larada, for your best!

Do you talk to the younger you? If so, what do you say?

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:

Cyber Monday/Black Friday Sales

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

family · Friends · My Thoughts

Two Special Friends I’ve Lost: Part 1

Three friends -one with umbrella. Two Special Friends

Two special friends came to mind today as I pondered who to write about in all my friends I have across the United States. These two precious ladies came up: Candy McMillan Vargas and Kathi Raver Miller. Both have died from cancer, but their influence in my life lingers years after their deaths. They both helped me soar and succeed in ways I never imagined! Kathi died in 2009, and Candy died in 2011. Here’s how Candy touched me so deeply, and tomorrow I will tell Kathi and my story!

Candy McMillan Vargas

Candy was born on July 8, 1952, and my brother, Harold (Bub) was born May 25, 1952. Our mothers enjoyed being young pregnant women together, telling hilarious stories about getting their car stuck in the mud with their enormous bellies. Candy’s dad and my dad were best friends. So, we grew up together.

For many years, Candy and I were the only girls in Branson, Colorado, a small ranching town. So, I remember my early playtime with her—donning our mom’s dresses, hats, and shoes. Then we threw purses over our shoulders. Those female items transported us to be Ethel and Lucy for sure.

So much of my childhood memories center on Candy and her family. They owned the grocery store in Branson, so we visited often. Also, back then, people visited each other’s houses in the evening.

Candy moved away about the time she was twelve, but we didn’t lose contact. One morning she arrived at our doorstep at 6:00 AM, having just jumped off the train to come and see us. We felt like she was family.

We ended up going to Trinidad State Junior College together her last year, then she moved to Pueblo, Colorado. Candy was maid-of-honor at my first and second wedding. I think I exhausted her out for the next couple.

She married Michael Vargas in Pueblo, and I was her matron-of-honor. Then they moved to Denver, just a few short blocks from where we lived. I celebrated with her and Michael when their children, Sonia and Shane, were born.

When I graduated in 1986 from Colorado State University, Mom and Dad hosted a major shindig at a bar I frequented often, and Candy catered the delicious meal. She also partied like a crazy lady with me to celebrate my big day.

Candy listened to all my woes about my first husband and our marriage. After our divorce and my graduation from Fort Collins, Colorado, I lived with her and Michael for six months to get established in Denver. She always came to my rescue.

When I moved to Raton, New Mexico, she continued having me cut her hair every six weeks and lined up enough friends to get perms and cuts to make my trip profitable. (I was a beautician for 14 years before becoming a teacher.).

In 2005, when Lela, my sister-in-law died, we had the funeral and burial in Branson. Candy brought a tent to set up out in the backyard because of the hot July weather and helped Mom and I handle the meal after the service.

Mom and I with our Team Candy t-shirts on. Two Special Friends
Mom and I with our Team Candy t-shirts on.

Diagnosed with kidney cancer, a group of her friends bought these “Team Candy” t-shirts to support her. She loved the idea.

Candy died September 13, 2011, and I had been experiencing some strange health episodes. The night she died, I had one of the worst ones yet. Needing to call 911, I went to the hospital. They found nothing identifiably wrong, but my doctor strongly suggested I not go to her funeral on September 19. So, I didn’t, but I took the day off from work and had a private ceremony I prepared at home by myself. That broke my heart not to honor her by attending! I will always regret not saying goodbye formally to her and her family I love so much.

Larada & Candy, Cripple Creek for Larada's birthday. Two special friends
Larada & Candy, Cripple Creek for Larada’s birthday

Candy’s hilarious sense-of-humor, her delicious home-cooked meals and her deep friendship remind me daily of my dear friend. I still see her sparkling eyes and hear her contagious laughter and know that I am a better person for having known her and loved by her. Thank you, Candy, for everything you did.

Do you have a best friend? Have you thanked him or her lately?

Here’s the Gratitude Log again if you need it. I shared a couple days ago.

Visit my website to find out about my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? and my other five books and three cookbooks:

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! 40% off of select Individual books, 40% off of select bundles and 50% off of digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.

Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

“Born Dancing”: More Poems

Dancing at Texas Stampede, Dallas, Texas
Dancing at Texas Stampede, Dallas, Texas
“Born dancing” describes me to the hilt! So, I wanted to share two poems which detail my birth and my love of square dancing. Here I reveal more of myself to you, my passion!

“She Was Born Dancing!”

On June 26, 1953, my folks left

their thirteen-month-old son with Millie,

the family babysitter,

to go to a square dance in Trinidad,

fifty miles away.

Mom danced one tip that night—

She was nine months pregnant

with me.

They left the dance early

feeling something was about to happen.

Early the next morning

Mom had labor pains

that made her stagger across the floor.

It was time!

The fifty-mile trip back to Trinidad

and the hospital

was made in record time.

At 10:30 a.m. I was born.

Dad went downtown to buy cigars

and ran into a fellow dancer

from the previous night.

Dad announced his good news—

a new baby girl!

Remembering Mom at the dance

the night before,

the only comment the stunned friend

had to make was,

“She was born dancing!”

Larada Horner-Miller, This Tumbleweed Landed, (2014): 9.

As an adult, I returned to square dancing in 1994 after an almost twenty-year lapse in dancing. This poem relates why I love to square dance.

Larada in Dance-A-Rama 2003 outfit. Born Dancing

Why We Square Dance—

Why I Dance

May 31, 2015

It’s a Friday night


                        A Saturday night

A dance night!

The week lasted for eons


I had my work face on for five days

            and I kept going.

I finished this week


My family needs drained me

I am wilted,

            ready to dissolve into bed!

But it’s my dance night.

            I breathe deeply,

                        I know!

I select my square dance outfit.

            What do I feel like tonight?

                        Red or turquoise

                                    Southwest design or frilly lace?

The familiarity of my weekly routine

            takes over

Systematically, I put on my outfit

            As each layer goes on,

                                    my perspective and energy level changes!

First my hose

            With a deep breath, I release part of my stress

Then my pettipants

                        Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath

            my top and skirt

                        My goodness—a glimmer of hope

            my belt

                        A smile slowly crosses my lips

Next my matching petticoat and shoes

            Yes, I sigh with relief

Finally, my club badge

            To identify who I am—

            A square dancer!

A spray to finish my hair

            a touch of lip gloss

A final look in the mirror

A pirouette and a spin

            crinoline flowing

                        I am complete!

My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!

The drive to the dance hall

            becomes a time tunnel

                        a vacuum

                                    a timeless space

                                                void of the demands of this world

                                                            stress free


Either soft music in the background


                        a compatible silence


                        a casual conversation

A bridge between the world out there

            with its demands

and the dance world

            with its pleasures!

Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family

The music starts

I step onto the dance floor

            and I am free!

                        The carefree child within me

                                    spins round and around

                                                claps her hands


                                                                        Shouts for joy!

                                                                        I am free!

                                                                                    The tip starts,

                                                                        and I am safe

                                                                        to spend two hours

                                                                                    In sheer joy and ecstasy!

I drop the world’s cares and concerns,

            at the door,

                        kicking them out of view!

So if you have problems in your world, join me


                        leave them at the door!

If you are angry or sad

            The magic begins

                        when you show up


                                                dress up!

            The music starts


                        I step onto the dance floor!

And then the real magic takes over!

Cares melt down my shoulders

            and flitter away on a breath

                        giving a lightness to my step

Sorrows cluster together

            and ride away on an angel’s wings.

Music playing

            I am surrounded by dear friends

I step onto the dance floor

            It is a safe place


                                    I am free!

That’s why I dance!

Born dancing has been my motto for life—many types of dancing but especially square dancing. It truly is my passion.

What is your birth story? What is your passion? Share your comments below.

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family · Mom · My Thoughts

Clothesline—A Thing of the Past?

Towels on a clothesline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how a wringer washing machine works:

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

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

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

Clothespins for a clothesline

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

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

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

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Flippo on a coffee table - clothesline
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Holidays · My Thoughts

How Do You Celebrate Easter?

Celebrate Easter - bunny
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

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

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

Celebrate Easter, 1960
Larada dressed up for Easter, 1960

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celebrate Easter - dying eggs
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

Capulin Volcano

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

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

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

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

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Christmas · Christmas · My Thoughts

My Hair Was on Fire!

My childhood holiday experience included activities at our Community Church. Here’s a poem from my book, A Tumbleweed Landed, recognizing the place that church had in my life.

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 campouts 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.
Copyright©2014, Larada Horner-Miller

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