family · My Thoughts

Why Garden?

I write; my husband, Lin, gardens. My passion is words and stories; his is flowers and gardening. And a timely event happened today, we had a summer mountain hailstorm threatening his precious garden, but the damage was minimal.

Before we married, Lin had a couple of roses but that was it, and they died. Lin and I married October 22, 2011, and he didn’t do much with the garden the first couple of years of our marriage because we spent the month of July in Pagosa Springs, Colorado with another couple.

After a while, I missed my rose garden in my townhouse in Albuquerque. I had lived in a couple places there and had beautiful roses, so I suggested trying roses.

He lamented, “Roses don’t do well in the east mountains,”  thinking of his earlier experience. See Albuquerque is like Denver, Colorado, a mile high—5,280 feet. Tijeras is 6,322, and we are higher at above 7,000 feet, so my success with roses in Albuquerque didn’t necessarily mean they would grow in Tijeras.

So as luck would have it, Lin talked to a sales’ clerk who lived in the east mountains and gave him the success formula for growing roses in higher elevation, and it worked. So, Lin’s success with the roses encouraged him to try other plants.

Lin continued to study, bought magazines galore and gathered information on this newfound hobby, always fine tuning his floral explorations within our zone. I’ve come to learn there’s hardiness zones which identify your location and the plants that will grow there. We’re between zone 6-7 in the east mountains, but Albuquerque is zone 7, so there’s a major difference. Zone 6 can go down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit; zone 7 only goes down to the 0 degrees. That’s understandable! Because of our elevation we get more snow than Albuquerque. Also, Lin has to be cautious about his plant selection and check carefully on its zone.

If you’re wondering, here’s a place to put in your zip code and see what zone you live in:

https://shop.arborday.org/content.aspx?page=zone-lookup

In 2013, Lin experimented more with gardening possibilities. He had a few plants in pots and some in the ground, but life happened, and he put the beginning of a new passion on hold for a few years.

In 2016, Lin got bit by the gardening bug, and it has grown into a full time commitment he loves. See the pictures above of how he began.

At first, he had roses, then Lin’s circle of interest enlarged. He added New York Asters, a variety of lilies, Shasta daisies, salvia, lavender, sage, delphinium, coreopsis, peonies, alum and the list goes on.

Lin had criteria when he first started his expansion from the roses. He wanted to attract more hummingbirds to our large flock every year. He also wanted to provide for butterflies and bees, so any plant he put in this thoughtful garden had a purpose. His gardening interests piggybacked on his love of birds, butterflies and bees!

When he began, Lin added a variety of annuals which added a rich color to the landscape yet bloom once and die, but he decided over the years to add more perennials so they bloom over and over again. Now he just adds a few colorful annuals to spice up the color.

Each year he expanded after hours of research, trying his hand at a variety of new plants. Some succeeded and some went by the wayside.

Anytime I suggested a plant, Lin tried to add it. I had an amazing Butterfly Bush out my back door in Albuquerque that attracted butterflies and had a delicious fragrance, so he researched for a couple years trying to decide if one would grow up here. He planted one last year, and it has flowers this year. My Mom had red hot pokers in her front yard that were her mother’s plants. Lin never transplanted from Mom’s collection, but he did add some to his garden, and they are blooming this year.

The rabbits posed a possible threat to his lovely garden, so he put up a specific fence to keep them out, burying the chicken wire inches in the ground, and it’s worked. Lin has installed a watering system, relieving him of having to water by hand and also allowing him to leave and not worry about his garden.

Lin loves to use unusual items in his garden: he has a bathtub, a toilet and an old file cabinet as planters. He’s added several raised flower beds which help make weeding much easier. He has a whole flower bed (the outline of it is really the head board and foot board of an old bed from our ranch) full of sassy spring flowers: tulips, daffodils and crocus. To date, Lin’s rose garden has expanded to more than twenty bushes in a variety of colors. Here’s a video of his garden this year:

Last year, Lin created a side garden to the southeast of the big garden we call “Serenity Garden.” He transformed an ugly, unkempt space into a tranquil retreat to sit and enjoy God’s glorious creation. See what the Serenity garden looks like:

So why garden? For Lin, it has given him a venue to express his creativity. He doesn’t see himself as a creative person, but just look at the pictures and videos and you will disagree I’m sure.

In the early spring, he starts his gardening preparation. When summer comes, he’s out in his beautiful space he created and at peace with the world. It gives him something natural and special to focus on, and the rewards of seeing his design come to life with color and vibrancy are priceless.

As a willing observer, I have the luxury of enjoying his creation every day—the perks of being married to a passionate gardener who takes gardening to a new zenith every year.

Are you a gardener? Why do you garden? I’d be interested to hear your comments.

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

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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/

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Dancing · family · My Thoughts · square dance

He’s a Winner!

Lin Miller, my husband, received a outstanding honor last night at the New Mexico Square and Round Festival in Roswell, New Mexico, They inducted him into the Hall of Fame for his work and support of square and round dancing in the state.

Lin’s Plaque and Badge

A friend nominated him two years ago, and I helped her put the paperwork together. Lin’s ex-wife contributed information about his dancing when they were together. We re-worked the application this year, because he wasn’t selected last year. My friend and I had secret meetings, telling Lin she had interests my books—he had no idea.

Just because someone is nominated doesn’t mean he or she is automatically in and in that year—sometimes it takes two years to actually receive this treasured recognition. I had won this award in 2007 and found out later that I had been nominated the year before, so it took me two times.

On top of that, the person in charge of the award this year didn’t let me know outright that Lin had won but hinted at it, so I wondered.

As we neared the festival, Lin and I ended up talking about the award some, speculating who might win, and I kept my reactions and tone as neutral as possible to not give it away.

This annual festival means a lot to me. It’s the one chance for our state square and round dance family to come together for a fun-filled weekend at various sites around the state. I always anticipate who’s going to be there and lament the loss of one of our dancers. I love our New Mexico state square and round dance members!

Greg Tillery calling with help from an Alien
Larada and Lin decked out the Alien Invasion!
Holly and Lin enjoying Roswell!

The theme this year for the festival, “Strangers Thing Happen,” ignited in a lot of us a frivolous, childlike celebration of Roswell’s claim to fame—the alien invasion. Many of us wore the festival’s lime green t-shirts on Saturday during the day with lights attached. Dancers played with the theme all weekend, and they talked about aliens, spaceships and other worldly matter—what fun! We blamed any mistakes made in the squares on “Aliens!”

The award ceremony was Saturday night. The anticipation mounted for me as the time drew closer. The Grand March started the evening’s activities, then it was time. The MC described the recipient without using his/her name, keeping us in suspense until it’s obvious who the recipient is. A dear round dance cuer received the first award, and my hands shook.

Finally the time came. I had told Lin before we arrived on Friday that I wanted to get lots of pictures this weekend, so he had my phone in his pocket. I didn’t want him to be suspicious when I needed my phone for the Hall of Fame awards. I had it out taking pictures of the first winner, so I caught him in total shock when he realized he was next.

Lin realized he won!

As he hugged me, he asked if I knew, and I had tears in my eyes when I nodded my head. His reaction was precious and priceless. In a rate moment of being speechless, he went on stage to receive a name badge and plaque.

Lin with his plaque and badge!

During the rest of the evening, dancers congratulated him. You may wonder what he did or does to receive this award.

For over ten years, he’s been the Promotions person for the Albuquerque Square Dance Center, sending out emails to notify dancers of up and coming events, so the state dancers knew what he does there. Also, he has been the treasurer for Hot August Nights for twelve years. But most recently, in 2013 Lin volunteered to be president of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles, when it was dying with only 27 members and no one wanting to take the leadership. In five years, he built it up to 92 active members. This changed the face of square dancing in Albuquerque because those 92 members went on to join other clubs growing square and round dancing across the city.

Lin ignites any event he attends with his high energy and positive attitude, and because of his friendly nature, he loves to visit with old and new friends during the breaks. His sense of humor and jokes keep people laughing, so he is an asset to this activity for sure.

The state honored this hard-working man this weekend, and he truly deserved it! You’re welcome to give Lin congratulatory comments here!


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Albuquerque · My Thoughts

An English Garden in New Mexico

Today, Lin, my husband, and I celebrated spring! For several weeks now, my husband-gardener has anticipated the opening of the Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse yesterday, April 6, but we had to wait until today because we had a prior commitment yesterday.

In fact, in his excitement, sometime this winter we drove by Parker’s to check out the day they opened so Lin could be ready!

Today was the day! We left home at 9:00 am, had a delicious breakfast at Denny’s in Edgewood, and then we joined a steady stream of garden enthusiasts into an oasis in the high desert outside of Edgewood, New Mexico—Parker’s Farm and Greenhouse.

Several years ago, Lin’s sister-in-law had told him about Parker’s, but he didn’t check it out until his British plumber asked him if he’d seen the English garden in Edgewood. Lin had shared his interest in gardens and specifically English gardens with this plumber after we got back from England and Ireland two years ago, so his plumber friend thought we would enjoy seeing it.

After that referral, we drove by Parker’s too late in the season two years ago. They are only open from April until July, but last year Lin started early and took a solo trip up to scout it out, then I joined him for a wonderful flower shopping trip and a visit to the gardens.

Last year we saw the garden later in the season, and all the summer plants were in full bloom. When I walked through the gate, it was a step out of the desert of New Mexico into a truly breathtaking Formal English garden and more. We wandered around the center part that is dubbed the Formal English garden with roses, hedges and meticulous trimming. Then we went to the right and meandered our way around the outer garden seeing a nice assortment of Native Grass and Evergreens. We came back and headed towards the lily pond with a wonderful array of flowers, trees and shrubs along the way.

The Lily Pond, June 2018

The setting of the lily pond shocked me again. Huge trees provided ample shade, and it truly felt like an oasis. We lingered near the pond in a shaded area and drank in the quiet beauty there.

A large frog statue graced the sitting area with an umbrella and some humor keeping a watch over the lily pond!

We marveled at the sculptured bonsai tree area that felt Zen to the max. As we drove away last year, we agreed on a return trip this year.

Today, our visit began in one of the greenhouses. We were warned not to buy any of these starters if we didn’t have some place to keep them inside for a couple weeks. We live at about 7400 feet elevation in the east mountains above Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the plant zone is between 5 and 6. We still can get a heavy freeze and snow. Lin smiled as he told the owner he had a place to keep them. I chuckled to myself because last year we built an add-on greenhouse to the house for Lin’s plants which he calls “the solarium.”  

As we worked our way through the greenhouse, we had to bend down to see the names of the plants because they were on the ground—a wonderful array of plants and herbs. I loved the smell of the mint, but we left it behind. Lin did buy Beard’s Tongue, three varieties of Sedum, Blue Flax and Dianthus.

Outside, we wove our way through the plants that are ready to plant and picked a variety of plants: colorful columbines, Jupiter’s Beard, McKana Giant Hybrid Columbine, and Aurinia.

Thinking we were finished, Lin purchased his new wonders and we headed to the car. Neither one of us have been feeling well lately. So, as we were unloading the plants, Lin asked if I wanted to go through the gardens.

I assured him I did and would be OK and away we went. It was a different experience this year seeing it in the spring. Many of the summer plants are not in bloom yet, but the spring flowers were gorgeous: a delightful variety of daffodils and more.

One of the owners greeted us at the entry to the gardens and gave us their URL for their web site. They have a wonderful addition to it: the perennials and the trees and shrubs are tagged by number and identified easily on sheets on their web site. This technological advance beat the hassle of shuffling through three or four pages of paper—a great addition.

We leisurely strolled through the garden and looked up a variety of the plants. We both liked the Donkey’s Tail, a fascinating ground cover, and found out they will have it for sale in a couple weeks.

As last year, the finale of the garden is a lily pond and shady spot to sit and relax. We eyed gold fish in the pond of varying sizes and marveled at their movement.

We also liked the Mugho Dwarf pine, so Lin bought one on our way out. We plan on visiting again in a month or so to see the summer flowers in bloom. The Parker family’s hospitality sets the tone for the visit. Their dedication to this amazing hidden spot is to be commended. If you are in the area, put this on your list to see, but remember it’s open April – July only.

Here’s their web site: https://parkersfarmandgreenhouse.com/

To visit the gardens, it’s $5 per person with complimentary coffee, water or soda pop. Take a book and camera, schedule enough time to be able to stop and enjoy the serenity that fills this place.

Here’s a map of the grounds today:

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25% off of When Will Papa Get Home? — digital & paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

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family · Grief · My Thoughts · poetry

How Do You Mourn the Loss of A Loved One?

Program

Grief is a topic that many people turn their backs on–I challenge you to answer the question because I will!

My Aunt Willie Urbanoski died on Friday, October 12, 2018, and because of family circumstances, we didn’t have her memorial service until yesterday, November 10. We did have a private family burial on Thursday, October 18, 2018.

Yesterday, the service was full of stories, pictures, laughter and tears–a real celebration of a woman who lived to be 98 years old–almost 99 because her birthday was Wednesday, November 7.

A second cousin stationed in England couldn’t attend to service, so her sisters did a live feed to her, so she and her husband could attend virtually–a 21st century way to handle loss.

How do YOU mourn the dead? For family? For friends? We all do it differently. My Mom’s sage advice: do it your way. I have a strong need to attend the memorial, view the body and get closure to the relationship. My best friend, Candy, died in 2012, and I was sick and couldn’t attend her service, and I have regretted it for years–no closure for me.

I wrote my aunt a poem for Christmas, 2012, and a week after my Mom died in March, 2013, Aunt Willie asked me if I would read that poem at her funeral. I said I would, but I’d cry all the way through it. She said she didn’t care because she wouldn’t be there!

So yesterday, I mustered my strength and read it–I got almost to the end before the tears came. Here’s the poem–I hope you enjoy it!

La's Poem & John
Presenting My Poem–Some Humor for Sure

My Aunt Wee Wee

By: Larada Horner-Miller

December 25, 2012

Revised: November 9, 2018

You will always be Aunt Wee Wee!

As a child, Bub couldn’t pronounce “Aunt Willie,” so it came out

“Aunt Wee Wee,” and it stuck.

As I look back through my life,

You have always been there,

Aunt Wee Wee!

When I became an Aunt,

I followed your lead!

I wanted to touch my

nieces and nephews’ lives

the way you touched mine!

I have valued all the wonderful times

we spent together over the years.

You grace so many

of my memories!

As a toddler

I can remember

when I looked into your eyes, I saw a playful sparkle

saying,

“Yeah, Larada,

I love you!”

In my childhood,

at Branson dances,

I remember watching

you and Uncle Hughie dance,

and the fun you had.

I remember 4th of July picnics and fireworks

Bub and I couldn’t wait until you arrived with Black Cats!

You came all the way from Albuquerque!

As a family, we went to Albuquerque.

You shared your beautifully decorated cakes.

We went on shopping sprees to the mall.

Delicious Thanksgiving dinners shared!

Our fishing trips

Our time together at Springer lake

You sat religiously by the lake, pole in hand.

While Uncle Hughie and I set up our poles

and roamed!

My week stay with you in Albuquerque-

A visit to Old Town

The Tram and dinner on the top! I felt like a princess!

As a young adult

You attended all of my major life events:

My 8th grade graduation

Princess at the TSJC tournament

My high school graduation

My TSJC graduation

We’ve continued that

precious relationship into my adulthood.

My weddings

You attended my first 2 weddings.

No one attended the third.

Lin and I knew you were with us in spirit at ours.

As our second anniversary approached, Aunt Willie repeated often,

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?

Yes, Lin and I celebrated our second anniversary

with you in Pueblo— pictures, cake, laughter and love abounded.

I had several special visits while you

were in Logan, UT and now in Pueblo.

Some people I’ve known for a short time

and they only know me one dimensionally.

You have known me forever, and you know the many

sides of me.

You smile, and

you make me smile.

You know all about me,

and you make me feel good

about being me.

You love to laugh and enjoy life.

Often you catch me by surprise

with your witty humor, and we share a belly laugh.

In that laughter

I am no longer 59; You are no longer 93.

We are young again, frolicking on the floor.

My Aunt Wee Wee!

That’s the power you have always had–to make me smile

To make me laugh and

To make me feel good about myself!

What a gift!

I haven’t called you

“Aunt Wee Wee” for years,

but you always will be — my Aunt Wee Wee!

Copyright © 2018 Larada Horner-Miller


How do you mourn the loss of a family member? A friend? I’d love to see your comments. Remember–there’s no right or wrong way to do it!

Visit my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

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My Thoughts

Oh, Those Hummingbirds!

 

IMG_2722
Part of the line up of hummingbird feeders

Lin and I live in the east mountains above Albuquerque, New Mexico in the piñon pine trees at about 7100 feet and have had the pleasure of hummingbirds over the years, and this ones a good one.. Lin is the driving force behind our hummingbird attraction–he diligently fills and refills the feeders to attract these magnificent miniature birds.

Every season is different. A couple years ago, he fed 1000 hummingbirds a day, and they kept him busy filling the feeders, then last year we had hardly any.

This year started out slow but the crew finally arrived about a month ago and now he’s feeding between 600 – 700 birds a day, so we have a feeding frenzy at times.

Lin moved the feeders on our upper deck out the patio door of our bedroom because the bears love the sweet nectar in the hummingbird feeders. These little lovelies rise early, so the feeding frenzy in the morning often wakes us up to their squeaky sounds.

There’s nothing more relaxing than a break from the day and sitting quietly on this deck. They scatter when I first go out there but returned quickly once they feel safe, and then the show starts. The Rufus hummingbirds push and shove the others away from the feeders and scatter those gathered around a feeder, but they come back after a while to try again. They swarm, they drink and often one flies near me.

Lin has added hummingbird attractive flowers in his garden and I’m sure that’s the reason they have returned in droves.

Enjoy the hummingbird scenes from our house looking west towards the back side of the Sandia Mountains.

UPDATE: There’s been discussion about the species of hummingbird we have up here, so my husband thinks we have Rufus, black chin, and ruby red throat. What species do you have?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Do you feed hummingbirds? Wildlife? Let me know–it’s a quiet, refreshing joy to be a part of nature this way.



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My Thoughts · Travel

What Did You Do For the 4th of July?

The Horner family had a change in plans. Because of the Spring fire in southeastern Colorado, all the roads into Cuchara, CO were closed–Cuchara has been our Independence Day destination for years.

So I remembered I got an email about WestFest in Red River, NM and Michael Martin Murphey would be there–doing a concert/dance at the MotherLode Bar the evening of July 4. I checked it out and there would be lots going on in that little mountain town—-that sounded like a great alternative.

One sad part for me was that Lin, my husband, was sick and couldn’t join us, so I updated our shenanigans to him with photos and texts all day and evening.

The morning of July 4, 2018, my brother, niece, her husband, their two sons and I left Branson, CO about 9:00 am, making sure we had our holiday wares to wear with us. My niece and her two boys and I love to dress up in our patriotic outfits!

IMG_2651
My Niece and I All Lit for the 4th of July!

We stopped in Raton, NM for gas and refreshments. Our hearts broke as we drove through the fire-ravaged mountains above Cimarron, NM because of the fire there earlier in the year. It came really close to the city and destroyed so much of the natural beauty in the mountains near Cimarron, but the town was spared.

We stopped in Eagle Nest, NM at my favorite jewelry store, Eye of the Eagle, and I added a T. C. (Tommy or Thomas Charlie) necklace to my collection of earrings and bracelet. People already lined the streets already at 11:00 am for the 2:00 pm parade–talk about anticipation!

We arrived in Red River, NM about noon and walked around the vendors in the park–seeing some unique handmade articles. We had a delicious late lunch at Texas Red’s Steak House.

Then we had fun shopping the stores and timed it to see the Cowboy Shoot Out at Frye’s Old Town. I loved the Native dancers from the Taos pueblo–I participated with the dancers and many others in the Friendship dance.

IMG_2591
Eagle Dancer from the Taos Pueblo

From that point, our afternoon became an adventure. During the Shoot Out and Native dancing, my brother spied the ski lift operating, so we headed that direction. We wanted to ride it up the mountain, but it closed just as we arrived. Change of plans again–we saw the Zip Ride and investigated that.

Four of us rode the ZipRide–my niece wasn’t too sure about it, but she did it anyway. She and I rode together, and her husband and oldest son rode together besides us in a separate ride. At the beginning, we screamed moving backwards up an incline, then it was full force forward with more screams and laughter. At the end, I felt like we were crashing through the building, but it stopped abruptly–whew! I loved it!! The price was reasonable at $10 each.

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The Zip Ride in Red River, NM–what a blast!

The two boys–one about eight years old and the other one about twelve-thirteen–were so patient with our shopping, so we turned the rest of the afternoon over to them at the Go Kart place. They had a blast there, and I got some really great photos.

IMG_2606
My Two Nephews Waiting to Ride!

We kicked back for a little while, and I had funnel cake and a corn dog–what a combination. We moved the truck closer to the MotherLode in case the kids wanted to crash early and investigated whether our two youngsters could go in–yes, they could. The bouncer at the door said, “It’s first come, first served,” but they had reserved almost all the tables around the dance floor for the VIP customers, people who paid more for the tickets. How disappointing! We ended up sitting on stools at the bar all night.

They had a bigger crowd than they anticipated, so they had to put 4 – 5 rows of chairs on the dance floor which made the dancing crowded.

Michael Martin Murphey and his band entertained us with old country and western songs and new ones–we enjoyed the old ones more. He had a Native flutist that resonated with my soul. Also a young singer sang and yodeled, “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” doing a fantastic job of the old standby.

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Michael Martin Murphey at the MotheLode in Red River, NM 

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A Close Up of Michael Martin Murphey 

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My Brother and Niece Doing the Horner Thing–DANCE!

 

We danced; we laughed; we celebrated the fourth of July like it should be–with family doing something you love!

And who knows–will it be Cuchara, CO next year or back to Red River?

flag of america
Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

What did you do for the fourth of July this year? I’d be interested. Do you have annual traditions on this holiday?

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

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My Thoughts · Retirement

I Turned 65 Last Week—Really?

Yes, I was born in 1953. Turning 65 has been a milestone. I celebrated the day with my nephew and his two daughters and my niece, her husband and their two sons and my brother and my husband.

We had a birthday lunch at Tony’s Diner in Trinidad, CO then we drove over Raton Pass to Raton, NM to the Aquatic Center and swam and played in the water all afternoon–it was sure joy and delight for me.

When we arrived back in Branson, Co, my husband, Lin, came from our home outside of Albuquerque, NM with gifts and a delicious cake.

We spent the evening playing games around our round table in the dining room at my house, laughing and enjoying each other. Zenga became the new favorite game that had us laughing and holding our breath.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day to enter the land of Medicare.

A dear family friend, Zita Louden, lived to be in her 90’s and she told Mom once, “Never, never think old!”

That truly is my motto. Lin and I lead a busy, action-packed life, dancing 3 – 4 times a week. I exercise 2 times a week. I have a fantastic retirement job of writing books. I visit our family ranch once a month and co-manage it with my brother. Lin and I travel all over the USA for square dance festivals and have dear friends all over the country.

There’s no stopping me, and I look forward to what this year will hold–adventure I’m sure because I look for it every day. I start each day with this simple prayer, “Surprise me today, Lord!” And He does!

What is your motto for life? What is your simple prayer to start the day?

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