Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

What’s My Definition of Safety Now?

During our coronavirus self-quarantine, I felt safe at home. My definition of safety expanded—it meant being home, staying home, away from anyone else who might expose me to the virus. After the quarantine ended, I faced how my safety was threatened because now I could go out into the world. I had to face the unsafe world! My safety net of seclusion evaporated.

Lin and I had completely controlled who entered our home during this time. We only allowed the furnace repairman to come in for a short duration. Our furnace went out, and he needed to check the thermostat. No one else. We relished the safety we felt in our home—barricaded in the east mountains among the trees, away from people and the dangers they possibly held for us.

Then on April 8, I finally could relax after our month-long self-quarantine, but that meant I could go out in the world—what would that bring? With a poetic view, I celebrated my liberation.

Today I Breathed—It is a Month!

April 8, 2020

Hallelujah!
            We made it!
 
Thirty-one days away
            From Madrid
                        The airport
                                    Now I remember many workers with mask on
                                                Did they know?
                        A bustling restaurant downtown
                                                Jovial waiters served our meal
            From Toledo
                        Crowded busy streets
                                    Shoulder-to-shoulder
                                    Naïve about the possibility
                        Lunch in a crowded café
                                    Again, our meal served
 
We flew out on March 8th
            The coronavirus exploded there the 9th.
 
I feared the worst,
                        but it didn’t happen!
 
Thirty-one days passed
            With
                        Self-conscious
                                    Staring
                                                How do I feel now?
                                                            How about now?
                                                                        NOW!
                                    Repeatedly
 
A cough,
            A sore throat
                        Diarrhea
Oh, no!
            Am I sick?
                        Is it the virus?
                                    Is it psychosomatic?
 
Two weeks
            Of self-quarantine
I didn’t want
            To take a chance
            To infect you
            To spread it
                        If I had it.
 
 Third week
            Our self-quarantine over
                        I ventured out
                                    Cautious
                                                Fearful!
 
Today I breathed deeply
            For the first time
                        In a month.
            Exhale!
                        Inhale!
            Exhale!
                        Rhythm
                                    Relief!
 
Habitually I shallow breathe
            As it is!
But this last month
            I deeply held my breath
                        Worried,
                                    Afraid
                                                Apprehensive 
We were in a hot spot!
 
Today I believe strongly I’m okay
            We dodged a bullet!
Today my husband kissed me
                        Hugged me
                                    For the first time!
 
I ached
            For his touch
                        His lips!
 
Thirty-one days behind us
            Safe so far
                        But still vigilant!

But then, I had to face the unknown in this new world the coronavirus created. In New Mexico, shelter-in-place became the standard, therefore I didn’t even think about frivolous shopping—just the necessities of food and medicine. But that meant being around people and the possibility of being exposed.

Somehow, we had dodged a bullet coming home from Madrid, Spain where the virus exploded the day after we left. Would I be so lucky in the grocery store? On my first excursion out, I went to Albuquerque and picked up a prescription at Walgreen’s and felt safe. But my next stop was Smith’s grocery store, and it shocked me. At Walgreen’s people respected social distancing and kept their distance. I hit the grocery store late afternoon, and the frantic crowd stormed the place, wanting toilet paper and other survival supplies. The scene overwhelmed me, and I got out quickly.

I describe my next grocery store experience below through poetry:

My Newfound Fear of the World

April 13, 2020

As I walked into
            The grocery store
Panic gripped my throat
            My stomach clinched!
 
Would I pass someone
            Unknown
And get the dreaded
            Coronavirus?
 
I eyed each person
            Many donned masks
                        And gloves
It was Senior time
            Early
            Before the rush
 
So conscientious a group!
            But still I worried!
 
This deep fear upset me!
            Where’s my faith?
                        My trust in my God?
 
It almost felt like
            A panic attack!
Not full blown
            But close!
 
The safety of our home
            Comforts me!
                        A fortress
                                    Against this
                                                Invisible enemy!
No fear
            No dread
                        Safety in our diligence!
But today
            The world is scary
                                    Unsafe
                                                Dangerous!
 
The enemy lurks
            In a cough
                        A sneeze
                                    Getting to close
                                                To someone else!
 
My safety
            My first priority
My health
            Top of the list!
My happiness
            I must respect!
 
Therefore
            I don’t want to shop
                                    To be near you
 
Stay away, please!
            Never in my life
                        Have I wanted that
                                    Felt that way!
 
I love hugs
            People
                        Touch
                                    But the world changed in
                                                                        2020
Stay away, please!
Safety for the last couple months

As I write this blog post, I surveyed the changes in the last couple months. On Friday morning, I set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. to go to the grocery store in Edgewood, New Mexico, a small community closer than Albuquerque. I don my mask and gloves and usually finish before 8:00 am. This has become a weekly ritual which will probably continue.

What rituals have you started because of the coronavirus? How has it changed your normal life?


Flippo's Biography cover

~DO YOU WANT AN PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?   It’s available NOW! I am experiencing a delay from the publishers—sorry about that! Go to my website and pay for it there: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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

~ RELEASE PARTY of Flippo’s biography streamed on Facebook Live — TBA! Be ready! Door Prizes, the inside story, Flippo song bytes & interview clips and more!

~Visit my web site for all the information you need about me and my books:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

~Whitey & Gladys Puerling, playful friends of Flippo’s, 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/

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · square dance

How Did Flippo’s Biography Begin?

Flippo and Larada at the New Mexico State Festival in 2017
Me with Flippo at the New Mexico State Square Dance Festival, 2017

            So how did this book get started? In reality, I said, “Yes!” In March 2017, a group of square dancers were sitting around after a dance weekend and Flippo’s name and age came up. One enthusiastic fan said, “Someone should write his biography.”

My husband, Lin, looked at me and said, “You’re the writer in the group. What do you think?” Nothing more was said, but the thought tumbled around in my mind.

Lin has a different memory of how this happened, but I’ll stick with my version.

Then we prayerfully considered the possibility.

In April, I called Flippo and proposed the project to him, and his quick response was, “Larada, no one would want to buy a book about me, but I do have a book you should write—a collection of stories of all the thangs that happens to traveling callers over the years. Wait a minute—that would be R rated.” Another Flippoism!

            At that point, I had no definite decision from Flip.

            At the New Mexico Square Dance Festival, May 2017 in Albuquerque, Marshall fulfilled his last calling contract in New Mexico. Early Friday night while a group stood around him, Flippo brought up the topic, “Larada wants to write a book about me.”

            He continued with a humble air, “Who would want to buy that book?”

            “I would,” said a longtime friend and caller, Greg Tillery.

            “Me, too,” replied Jim Martel, another local caller.

            “Put me on the list—I want a copy!” Ted Clements, a caller from southern New Mexico, chimed in. The chorus continued and everyone standing there raised their hands. He turned to me and said, “Come over to my room about 1:30 a.m. and we’ll talk about it.” The group laughed at his flirtatious nature, but he agreed to do it that weekend.

            Lin and I met Flippo at the Texas Roadhouse for dinner on Friday, October 27, 2017, in Tucson, Arizona to start our research. We were supposed to meet on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, but the Houston Astros were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, and Flippo wanted to watch the game, so we changed nights.

            When we met, he immediately started with a saucy story, “Mama said, ‘If you play with it, it will fall off.’ Ninety years later, it still hasn’t.” I had to grab my notepad and start taking notes.

            The waitress hadn’t taken our orders, and Lin started the questions. Flip immediately jumped into relaying his life with the exact addresses for the multiple homes he lived in Abilene as a child. In fact, he had trouble with only one address. I still wonder why he forgot that one address.

After dinner, we moved from the restaurant to his home to finish the first interview. We muted the TV, and he watched the game over my head as he talked. One minute he’d be sharing his life stories, the next he’d catch me off guard with a comment on a batter, “Knock the hell out of it.”

He amazed me how he could be telling a Navy story about a destroyer tender he was on, then comment on what a player on TV should have done. We took short breaks when the game took its twists and turns. During one break, he lamented, “I can’t get my mind going again.” Lin and I both assured him that his memory was exceptional.

            Within that short evening, he covered many of the major topics of his life: his childhood and family, his Navy experiences, and he ended the night with how he met Neeca, his first wife. With the flair of a master storyteller, Flippo moved his hands like when an umpire signals the runner is safe and said, “Let’s leave it,” and we watched the rest of the Series together.

            He sent me home with seven photo albums busting at the seams with memorabilia, precious stories, and the assurance that we had embarked on an adventure.

            During the next year, we spent many hours together talking over the phone, and we had one more face-to-face opportunity to compile this document—as you can imagine, it was a delightful, fun adventure.

It’s been three years in the making! Lots of hard work, research, emails and phone calls, but it’s coming together and will be out shortly, a true labor of love!


~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/

~I HAVE 211 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? 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

~Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for digital or paper copies of all my books: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

Albuquerque · Christmas · Holidays · My Thoughts

Why Celebrate Twelve Days of Christmas?

You hear this song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” every holiday season many times, and it’s a mystery what it means. Let’s look at a possible explanation.

The Christmas song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas, has strong liturgical ties to the Catholic and the Anglican church which is my church, the Episcopal church. I cherish the celebratory nature of stretching the Christmas season out for twelve days instead of one day only. I mean, we work so hard preparing for it, it should be more than twenty-four hours!

“The 12 days of Christmas is the period that in Christian theology marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day).”

https://www.vox.com/2015/12/25/10661878/12-days-of-christmas-explained

Another explanation for this song is based in the Catholic church: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith – a memory aid, when to be caught with anything in *writing* indicating adherence to the Catholic faith could not only get you imprisoned, it could get you hanged, or shortened by a head – or hanged, drawn and quartered, a rather peculiar and ghastly punishment I’m not aware was ever practiced anywhere else. ” https://www.catholic.org/advent/advent.php?id=2

I love this song and idea that Christmas lasts for twelve days, so when the rest of the world takes down their decorations and folds away their favorite Christmas leggings, I continue enjoying my decorations twinkling and wearing my colorful Christmas outfits.

Here’s the traditional words of this favorite song:

The 12 Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, 
My true love gave to me:
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas, 
My true love gave to me:
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas, 
My true love gave to me:
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas, 
My true love gave to me: 
Nine ladies dancing, 
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing, 
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing, 
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love gave to me:
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing, 
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings!
Four calling birds,
Three french hens,
Two turtle doves,
and a partridge in a pear tree. 

http://www.chiff.com/home_life/holiday/christmas/12-days-lyrics.htm

Listen to the traditional song for a moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fe11OlMiz8

I live in New Mexico, so here’s a regional humorous take on this familiar song:

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS LYRICS (NEW MEXICO STYLE)

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me….
A roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Red and Green chiles
And roadrunner in a piñon tree.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Four hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
5 turquoise rings!
4 hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
6 sopaipillas
5 turquoise rings!
4 hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
7 bowls posole
6 sopaipillas
5 turquoise rings!
4 hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
8 bright red ristras
7 bowls posole
6 sopaipillas
5 turquoise rings!
4 hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
9 margaritas
8 bright red ristras
7 bowls posole
6 sopaipillas
5 turquoise rings!
4 hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the 10th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
10 pork tamales
9 margaritas
8 bright red ristras
7 bowls posole
6 sopaipillas
5 turquoise rings!
4 hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
11 biscochitos
10 pork tamales
9 margaritas
8 bright red ristras
7 bowls posole
6 sopaipillas
Five turquoise rings!
Four hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
12 farolitos
11 bisochitos
10 pork tamales
9 margaritas
8 bright red ristras
7 bowls posole
6 sopaipillas
5 turquoise rings!
4 hot air balloons
3 lift tickets
Red and green chile
And a roadrunner in a piñon tree…

https://www.newmexico.org/nmmagazine/articles/post/12dayschristmas-79060/

Take this information to heart and keep celebrating Christmas until January 6 this year, and you will be in the real spirit of Christmas, then next year when you first hear this Christmas carol, remember my blog and plan on twelve days of celebrations.


NEW Christmas ChapbookA Colorado Country ChristmasFull color paperback chapbook or digital version. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft to purchase: https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~40% OFF END OF THE YEAR SALE–All Digital Copies of my books are yours at a reduced price. PRICE GOOD UNTIL JANUARY 5, 2020. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~30% OFF END OF THE YEAR SALE-All Paper Copies discounted until January 6, 2020. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LaradasReadingLoft

~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/

~I HAVE OVER 200 PRE-ORDERS FOR THE MARSHALL FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY!  You, too, can pre-order this amazing story? 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

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 · 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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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!

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My Thoughts

Oh, Those Hummingbirds!

 

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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?

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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.

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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?

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