Life Lessons · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Ranching

What Should I Write About This Week?

Sorry, readers, I’m changing horses mid-stream! I’m in the midst of writing a travelogue of our British Isles cruise, but these last couple weeks have been full. I don’t know what the word “bored” means! So. . . here we go! The trip will have to wait a week.

Flippo and Me at CALLERLAB in Albuquerque, 2018

First and foremost—Monday, September 2 is Marshall Flippo’s birthday. He would have 92-years-old this year! Two years ago, Lin and I were with him in Paris, Texas at the annual Chaparral square and round dance weekend, and he was calling for the last time. Flip had called at this event for years! He was on his “Farewell to the Road” tour which would end up in Abilene, Texas to finish up his successful career where he started at the Wagon Wheel Square Dance Center. What a memorable time that was for sure!

I’m writing Flippo’s biography, and I had hoped to have him here to see the finished product, and he so wanted to do that! What a joy this project has been! If you knew Flip, you know he was a storyteller supreme, so I’ve had to drastically cut out some of his stories from the 37 interviews I did.

They are not lost though! I plan to put them on my website for people who buy his book to read, so stay tuned!

Happy birthday, Flippo! We miss your raspy voice, loving heart and quick wit!


On that same vein, yesterday I attended the funeral of John Clark, a dear 98-year-old neighbor, who lived across the street from me in Branson, Colorado. I witnessed my rich heritage in being a part of a loving ranching community that remembers and honors its own.

Yes, 98-years-old is quite elderly, and John had seen the world change unbelievably, but he was ready “to go”—to be with his Lord and loving wife, Betty who passed a couple years ago!

The gathering at his memorial touched my heart. Being a Navy veteran of World War II, two sailors in dress whites unfurled the flag ceremoniously, then refolded it and handed it to John’s youngest daughter with admiration and respect for John’s service to his country. Attendees listened as one of the sailor’s played taps on a bugle which brought tears to my eyes and many sitting around me.

John’s four daughters and their children celebrated his life with many friends from the surrounding ranching communities. I saw mostly cowboy hats held in hands or stashed under chairs and boots, cleaned up and proper to show respect for John.

During an open time to share memories of John, I heard platitudes about his rich, full life. One friend shared one specific story about John almost getting killed during the war if he had been standing where he normally was!

Others told humorous tales. Many honored the work he did for many ranchers in the area—John ran a bulldozer, fixing roads through dangerous canyons and moving miles of dirt from reservoirs. My Dad said watching him work was like poetry in motion!

Grandchildren, great grandchildren and nieces shared memories of a man who stood center in this fun-loving family. They talked of regular game nights when they were together in Branson; John didn’t participate but sat in his chair close by and enjoyed the activity, laughter and love that surrounded him.

It was a privilege to be present to see a man weep as he shared about his relationship with John–honest emotion that validated his loss.

After the service, I visited with friends I hadn’t seen for years—a great time to reconnect and remember.

What a heritage I have where I can hear a 91-year-old woman who went to school with my Mom tell an 89-year-old woman, “Say hello to my younger friend!” Laughter exploded at this statement, but it made me think about the reality here! A celebration of age and longevity!

I drove home, marveling at the spirit of unity and love present at John’s service. After Dad died, John and Betty helped Mom. When Mom died, they did the same for me. At night when I locked the front door and saw the light in their bedroom, I always felt safe and secure and knew help was close.


One last musing—my brother, my husband and I attended the 6th Annual Cimarron Cowboy Music and Poetry Gathering in Cimarron, New Mexico August 22 – 25. We have only missed the first year!

We love this event hosted at Philmont Boy Scout Ranch, a beautiful venue. Again, the poets and musicians entertained us Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night. We laughed; we cried. We enjoyed those we had seen before and celebrated new comers who brought a refreshing new flavor to the event.

There’s no way I can list all of my favorite singers/poets—I tried, and I was typing everyone’s names! One new entertainer I enjoyed was Barry Ward, who spoke to my heart with his song, “That Old Barn.”

It’s a relaxing weekend in a slow-paced community. On Friday before the Gathering started, we drove to Eagle Nest to the Flea Market and had a blast shopping and listening to music! They had a one-man entertainer there singing old time songs, so we sat and enjoyed the beautiful Moreno valley scenery and the live music.

Look at a couple photos taken at past Gatherings:

Here’s the website for the Cimarron gathering in case you’d be interested next year: https://www.cimarroncowboygathering.com/

So, you can see—I have a rich, full life where I witness and celebrate life where I can which can be in the midst of death and loss. My country blood rages through my veins, directing me to slow down and enjoy this moment, these people, and this place.

Join me on the front porch!

So, join me on the front porch with a glass of ice tea for a chat! I would love to talk!


Check out my web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

Curl up with one of my books–either paperback or ebook format! 20% discount on all 4 of my book bundles until September 22, 2019. Visit my Etsy Shop for all my booksLarada’s Reading Loft

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

Be the 200th to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography! You can select which paper format or e-book format you would like. Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

family · Grief · My Thoughts

Aunt Willie Almost Made 99!

Can you imagine living to be 98–a few short weeks of being 99? Think about all the changes you’d see in nine decades.

Me, AW, Jan & Mom Branson
Larada, Jan & Mom Standing & Aunt Willie Sitting

On October 12, 2018, my dear Aunt Willie Urbanoski passed away at 4:20 am at 98 years old. She wanted to make 100 but her God had different ideas. Over the last few years, we referred to her as “The Ever Ready Bunny” because she had been on the brink of death several times and came back to us full of vim and vigor, but when I got the text this time from my cousin, something inside of me shuttered–it didn’t feel the same.

As a child, my brother, Harold couldn’t pronounce Aunt Willie, so he called her “Aunt Wee Wee,” and it stuck. That was her name my whole childhood.

At twelve, I spent a week with her and Uncle Hughie fishing and then on to Albuquerque. She toured me around town to all the sights. I’m sure my love for Albuquerque began on this visit.

The Urbanoski’s attended very major event in my life and my brother’s–graduations,  marriages and more. When I was princess representing Branson High School at the Trinidad State Junior College Tournament, they came and supported me–always they were there for us.

Aunt Willie’s delicious humor kept us laughing right up to our last visit on Sunday, October 7, 2018. I had the habit of talking to Mom every Sunday night on my drive to a meeting, so when Mom died, I asked Aunt Willie if I could call her; she agreed with a twinkle in her eyes.

We anticipated our weekly phone date. We’d catch up on our lives and seasonally, we talked about the success or failure of the Denver Bronco’s. Aunt Willie loved Peyton Manning and wanted the offensive line to protect him more. Other times we’d talk about the dancers on Dancing with the Stars and moan and groan if our couple got kicked off. She loved to hear about Lin and my travels and dancing adventures. She also loved to talk about her three granddaughters and two great grandsons.

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She was my Mom’s older sister by nine years. She had no trouble telling my Mom that she had it made in their family until Mom arrived–Aunt Willie was the only grandchild until then. All my life, they had a close relationship, but I loved to watch these two sisters together, especially later in life after they were widowed–they lived about 20 miles apart for several years and spent as much time together as possible. I marveled at their mutual support during this part of their lives.

Aunt Willie had a special love affair with my husband, Lin. It started the moment they met with lots of flirting and carrying on and lasted even until our last phone call with lighthearted bantering going back and forth between them.

Her life was full and rich–she grew up in northeastern New Mexico in a small community, Des Moines, which she loved. For many years, she organized a yearly reunion for classmates.

She married the love of her life, Hugh Urbanoski and they raised the joy of their lives, Janet, in Albuquerque, NM. Aunt Willie worked and retired from payroll office at Sandia Base. As soon as they could after retirement, Uncle Hughie and Aunt Willie moved to Folsom, NM to be close to their daughter and her family.

For the last few years, I visited Aunt Willie monthly in Pueblo, CO and asked lots of questions because I enjoyed hearing her retell her stories–how she met Uncle Hughie, how she played basketball in school and was accused of drinking alcohol once, how much she enjoyed being a waitress in Raton, NM and so much more.

Losing her has been really hard. As I viewed her body this last Wednesday, I was reminded again that our bodies are temporary homes for our spirits. She looked peaceful, but that lifeless form wasn’t my Aunt Willie–vibrant and giggly and so affirming of me. I will miss her terribly–Sunday nights won’t be the same.


Death is a part of our lives. How do you handle it? I would love to hear your comments!

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