My Thoughts · Nature · poetry

Nature Speaks Through Poetry

Nature speaks through poetry—a tree, a butterfly, and a blackbird! Sometimes gently, other times it screams at me, in a loud attention-getting voice I have to listen to! Notice me, it says! Here’s a poem I wrote about that topic. Enjoy!

Along the Way, Nature Screams at Me!

May 1995

Along the way, nature screams at me—

look and see me here—

A butterfly, orange and black

dancing in a circle

sucking sweet nectar and life.

A red rock half buried

but screaming at me to see

its bright color,

its lasting character.

A woodpecker pecking hard

at life.

A pine cone, dry and brittle

once the hope of new life.

A stick, simple

dry and cracked

wanting to be noticed–

to be touched and admired.

A bone—life given up

dry and bleached.

A coyote, killed its prey,

cleaned it of meat and                                                   



Artifacts, pieces of life

things here in the woods

no value

trash to some people,

but to me–

life as it is–

colorful, dry and lifeless at

times, yet teeming with life.


Tall trees bow to the earth,

the weight of their existence

dragging them down,

the pain,

the misery,

closer and closer to the earth,

mother earth

who nurtures and gives life.

A silent stance of prayer

of renewal, commitment

yet deadly–pulling

the life out of them–

pulling, dragging, relentlessly

and death

a cycle of life

strength and overkill

too much though

much like life.

The light through the trees,

shines bright,

but it’s the shadows that call me.

The long profile of trees melt into one

and shadows take over–

dim, dark, cool,

blackening the view.

Like feet the roots of a tree grow down–

supporting and balancing its

tall counterpart.

Sounds abound

the quiet, gentle breeze whispers

come see, come hear, come listen.


A pesky fly bothers me–

at my elbow, my thigh,

my wrist, my ear,

my hair

buzzing, circling,

demanding then gone.

The sun peeks through the top of the tree

Just a minute ago shining full force

on me.

Now only a hint–like a light slowly

going out.

A mosquito bite on my hip itches,

demanding attention and care.

Bird racket echoes in the quiet–

someone’s not happy.

She’s demanding her way.

Her children are late in coming home,

and she wants her male partner to form

a search crew. He refuses to listen, so

she continues to screech.

Wind, swaying the tops of the trees,

in a gentle rhythm to and fro–

a soft hand moving through them.

The sound is gentle yet strong.

A power moves them

but only the tops.

Pine cone, rock, bone, tree

connected to life and earth.

All a product of–

laying there ready to be seen.


Energized with power and strength.

Self-confident and knowing who you are–

but what about  the trees

no question,

no doubt.

Strength connected to your creator.

The busy insane life I left

melts into peace and serenity.

I want to be a tree,

standing firm in a forest,

serenaded by the birds, bees, insects,

the rocks and leaves.

The serenade of the forest–

a tune that ears can’t hear–


Yes, you can hear the birds

the dirt,

the grass,

the leaves.


A sweet melody of love,




A jazz beat, a samba, a slow luxurious waltz.

All these sounds unite in nature

and play if you’re listening,

not with your ears,

with your heart!

The smells touch me–fresh and clean and green.

Not artificial, contrived,

but powerful,






a sharp contrast.

Deep meaning–

This is peace–

this is serenity!

Void of structure


letting my heart listen,

receive the message

and  alter my negative energy!

I feel it–

I’m being altered

right now.

The lump in my throat is gone,

that anxious twitch in my stomach

that dry, cotton mouth

the urge to run and do something–


Nature heals,

but I have to be here,

sitting outside

away from cities,



And I have to leave that behind!

Then nature heals!!

Nature screams at me sometimes igniting my soul. I must listen. And poetry comes out!

News, News, News!

Just Another Square Dance Caller meme - nature
Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy Flippo!

~FREE TO YOU! A Fifty minute audio recording of “Highlights of My Conversations with Flippo.” Learn how he started calling, how he recorded “The Auctioneer,” and a bonus: which caller did he sleep with? Click here for easy access!

family · God · My Thoughts

Parents’ Death: Tough Topic #1—Dread?

Parents and family - parents' death

For years, my parents’ death loomed in front of me as they aged. I dreaded losing them and wondered how I would cope. I had intricately woven my life into theirs, never living over four hours away.

It’s been almost ten years since losing Mom and twenty-six in losing Dad. The pain has subsided but never goes away. Here’s how I have coped.

In 2017, a few years after Mom’s death, I wrote a book, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, dealing with my grief over the loss of both parents, and how I handled each differently.

These excerpts from my book show the difference in how I handled their two deaths.

Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party. Parents' death
Dad and me dancing at his 75th birthday party.

Dad’s Death

“On January 6, 1996, my dad died. Losing my first parent left me reeling. This loss changed my life forever. At Dad’s death, I was eight years sober. I had feared his death for years because of our close relationship. How could I survive without him? I wondered.”

A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter's Grief Memoir meme. Parents' death

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvi.

When my dad died, I didn’t write poetry to get clarity, to heal myself, or to see the events of my life as a part of my process. I wrote but not to deal with my loss.

I focused on Mom—that’s what I did, and I danced and worked.

We talked often about Dad, our loss, and our grief. I realized these conversations were important for both of us to heal. I learned that from her and relished her wisdom—I listened. Her tender care of herself demonstrated to me how to do this mysterious thing so many don’t understand how to do: grieve.

Time healed Mom. She managed her grief and lived seventeen years without Dad, in relative comfort and happiness.

I wanted that for myself when she passed.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): 11.
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad. Parents' death
Mom and me in one of our Christmas outfits bought by Dad.

Mom’s Death

On March 23, 2013, Mom died, but this time was different and so very difficult. Both my parents were now gone, and I felt alone, an “adult orphan.” My recovery and faith in my Higher Power helped me survive losing her, but my major relief came through writing—I wrote poetry and lots of it. When I wrote a poem, tears of relief flooded me—a major healing tool. I read them to my therapist, and she cried with me. One particular night, she asked me to publish them so her daughters could read them after she died.

It also helped that I was older and more aware of my personal means of handling life’s hard knocks. I had seventeen more years in recovery and had learned more about grief in watching Mom and how she handled the loss of her beloved husband of forty-three years.

Relief also came from new activities that unfolded in my search for healing and in many familiar activities I had done for years.

Larada Horner-Miller, A Time to Grow Up: A Daughter’s Grief Memoir, (2017): xvii, xviii.

Resources In This Book

As I wrestled with what I wanted to share in this book, my teacher-side came out and I added appendices galore to help the struggling wounded hearts who read this book deal with their grief.

The appendices I included are:

  • Appendix A—It’s a God thing!
    • I listed the many God incidents that occurred during those three months from Mom getting sick and dying:
  • Appendix B—Activities I did
    • I listed the activities I did after Mom died. Notice I focused on grief, but mostly the activities were a part of my normal life.
  • Appendix C—Books and websites that were helpful to me
  • Appendix D—Workbook
    • Healing from grief requires active participation if you want to get past the pain and the loss to the other side—to thrive more than just survive. I listed a few questions and activities to get the juices flowing after reading this book.


In a unique twist, I didn’t write when Dad died—I focused on Mom. I wrote poetry and prose when Mom died. After Mom’s death, the poetry came in torrential waves! With every outpouring, more and more of me healed.

We must face our parents’ death—it is inevitable, but how we handle it is our choice. Originally, the title for this book was “I Grew Up to Be the Woman I Always Wanted to Be,” but that didn’t go with the subject, so I changed it. I wrote a poem with that title and will leave you with it by downloading it. (Download here!)

Have you lost a parent? Both parents? If both, do you feel like an adult orphan? How did you handle the loss?

News, News, News!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?
Read, reflect and respond!

~I heard yesterday that my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? is a finalist in the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Winners will be announced in a couple of weeks.

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

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo
Grab your SmatPhone & read this hilarious book!

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

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

Baby boomer · Memories · My Thoughts · poetry

Why Write Poetry? It’s How I Relate!

Why write poetry?

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

Screen door

The Slam of a Screen Door

July 16, 2020


            A screen door

                        Not today’s version

                                    But a relic from the 50s and 60s.

It bounced a couple times

            When shut

                        No latch to hold it


                        Pesky mosquitoes, flies and other

                                    Bothersome pests

                                                Escaped inside.

Sharp, resonating sound!

Not as protective

            As the 21st century!

But the slam

            The sound

                        Echoes through

                                    My childhood!

Running outdoors


                        Afire with life

                                    My brother chasing me

                                                With a water gun

Summer’s sound

            Of freedom


            Close with a bang!

Mom’s repeated shout,

            “Don’t slam the door!”

            Never heeded!

We didn’t do it in anger

            Only in haste

                        In urgency

                                    To get outside

                                    To start the adventure


            Too active

                        And driven

                                    To catch it!


            On other priorities

                        Other possibilities     


A hike to Brown Springs

            To discovery

A bicycle ride

            To freedom

A secluded time in our treehouse

            To dream.


            Close noisily

A new day

            A new adventure

A door opened to the world



Let’s Go!

Why write poetry?

You May Think You Know Me, But . . .

August 9, 2020

As I ponder a topic

            Old yet new

I marvel at the thought:

            Daily Honesty!





            Freedom from deceit or fraud

To be honest

            Is to be vulnerable

                        To risk exposure

                                    To lay bare my insides to you.

Are you safe?

            Can I trust you?

At this moment,

            I feel compelled

                        To do so.

I’m a country girl

            You know.

I grew up embarrassed

            And ashamed!

Not sophisticated,

            Like the ladies on TV

            Like the ladies in town.

I’m religious

            A Christian to the core

                        But unorthodox!

I’ve dabbled in

            Native American

                        Savored the peaceful sweat lodge ceremony

            Buddhist beliefs

                        Became a silent observer

                                    Valuing the art of listening

            Jewish wisdom

                        Honored the roots of Christianity.

I’ve divorced three times.

            One heartbroken

                        But necessary for my sanity

            One victorious

                        Because I stood up

            One heartbroken

                        But a major turning point.

I’m a political

            Independent for years

                        Raised Republican

                                    But moved on,

                                                Caused by disillusionment

                                                            With both parties.

I hate arguing politics.

            Remember many hurtful conversations

                        With my dad.

                                    We didn’t change each other

                                                In the process

Just bitter memories!

Saying that,

            I’m a liberal!

That’s not a dirty word.

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

                        I can live with those!

I yearn for equality

                        For all!

I’m a talker

            Love sharing my thoughts

            Love heart-to-heart conversations

                        On spiritually real topics,

                                    Not head stuff.

I hate gossip,

            Yet I get sucked in!

I love people

            All colors


                                    And sizes!

            Young and old

So much to learn!

My heart has been broken!

            I’ve faced despair


                        Suicidal thoughts




                                    Yet survived.

Recovery gave me my life back!

I was an English major

            I have book shelves lined with

                        Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets

                        Hemingway’s short stories

                        T. S. Eliot’s poetry

                        Hillerman’s southwest novels.

I’m a poet

            At heart.

                        Words inspire me to life

                        Words create images

                        Poetry gathers words and motion

                                    And creates life.

I’m a writer

            The voice of the plains

                                    Of my heart


                                                            Marshall Flippo.

I’m a dancer

            When the music starts

                        It sets me free!

                                    The movement

                                    The rhythm

                                    The connection to the universe!

I’m a computer geek!

            The magic of technology

                        Captivates me

                                    And I want to create!

I’m fragile


I’m strong


I’m the baby of five.

            My daddy’s little girl

            My mom’s “baby girl!”

Adored by my parents!

I’ve feared obesity

            My whole life

I watched my mom struggle

            And her mom

                        And many of the women

                                    On that side of the family.

I make friends

            I keep friends!

I’m a paradox.

            So, my honesty jumps

                        From here to


I’m an expansive spirit

            Today a soul on fire

                        A God-driven energy


                                                A sleeping cat,

                                                            All rolled up into one!

That’s me!


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

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

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

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

~NEW PODCAST to be released Thursday, March 17, 2022, discussing my new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? : Live on Purpose Podcast at

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

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

Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo

~Buy a copy of Flippo’s biography on my website: or at Amazon.

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

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? mem

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

Blogging · My Thoughts · poetry · Ranching

How I Record Life? Poetry

Man record life in a journal

How do you record life? Today I wandered through a journal dated August 1, 1999 to August 29, 2004 and found some poetry gems. It’s a large sketch book I dragged around with me those five years, writing poetry, taking notes and wondering about my life. I haven’t revisited it in years, but as I prepared for this blog post, something deep inside nudged me, “Look, browse! Be surprised!”

So, I did, and I am!

As I look at this chronicling of my life, I see a twenty-year time lapse. Yet, I recorded what was going on it the time, what I thought important! I have a stack of journals I’ve filled out over the years. I thought I had typed up all the poetry that had meaning, but my spirit knew treasures awaited me in this journal. That makes me wonder about those others on the shelf.

A Sampling of My Early Poetry

These three poems address attitudes of life and a specific life experience—branding.

Experience Life Totally

July 24, 2000

Anticipate the joy
	Toes on the edge
		Lingering ever so slightly 
Life in its fullest
	Step up to bat
	Step into the swimming pool
		No dive in head long!
	Step out of the crowd
	Step into the crowd

I must participate
	I can’t watch
		Wasn’t made to watch,
			To be a spectator

I want my hands dirty
	My neck sweaty
		My feet wet

I want to experience life totally!

The Sound of Her Voice

August 24, 2002

The sound of her voice
	Saying my name,
Reverberates back to
	The very first time.

The time she held me in her arms
	For that first time
	And said my name.

No fruit tastes sweeter,
	No bell rings clearer.
Nothing soothes my soul
	Like hearing my mother
		Saying, “Larada.”

That Smell I Will Never Forget

August 29, 2004

Burnt hair
	Burnt skin
A tradition
	A part of our work.

Branding day on a ranch
	Is a day of celebration of ownership.

These are my cattle
	My property
	My destiny
	My life!

The smell stays with me
	Many years later
		The stench
			The smoke
				The bawl from the calf
					The wrestle to get free!

It was painful
	But necessary!

One day, I slept by the campfire
	Three or four years old
I couldn’t miss today,
	But I was sick!
Mom put me in a diaper
	And let me go
		To our special day.

I slept and smelled 
	The campfire
		The branding.

My approach to life stays the same today. I look at life and capture it in poetry to record the feelings, the nuances. These three topics still resonate in my heart.

How do you record life? Do you write poetry? If so, what do you do with it? Leave a comment below.

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme

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

My Books · My Thoughts · poetry · Writing

Future Possibilities & Poetry

what's possible? possibilities

Possibilities? As I face the future as a writer, I wonder about posts I read online, about authors needing inspiration. I don’t have that problem. I have five or six books lined up in the future. Three or four of them are poetry books! These pieces whisper to me often in the dark of night, begging me to breathe life into them.

I also have a couple of short stories I’ve played with, and I have a delightful collection of Christmas memories.

As a self-published author, I do all the work, so I have kept busy promoting my books, especially my last two. I’ve concentrated on my book business the last couple months, wanting to expand possibilities. I recently realized I need to focus on my e-book sales online and boost that in all the different formats.

So, along that line, I just finished training to create audiobooks, so that’s my next venture. The training is Audiobooks Made Easy by Derek I bought the training last December then got busy finishing up my new book. I started the training immediately last year. I bought all the supplies suggested: specialized mike for audiobooks, sheet music stand, recording microphone stand, ear phones and pop filter. Sadly, they have gathered dust in my walk-in closet (where I plan to record) until now, but I plan to start recording this week.

My plan is to start with my shortest book, Let Me Tell You a Story, to learn the process. Then I plan to record my current book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better?. Then I plan to continue with This Tumbleweed Landed and When Will Papa Get Home? Right now, I doubt if I will record my two longer books: A Time to Grow Up and Just Another Square Dance Caller.

Future possibilites

Future Possibilities—My Line-up of Books:

  • Three or four poetry books
    • Watch a Poet Grow: Where It All Began #1—my early poetry
    • Watch a Poet Grow: Look at Life Look #2—my later poetry
    • Watch A Poet Grow: Haikuin’ Life #3—haikus about my daily life
    • Watch a Poet Grow: The Death of a Marriage #4—poetry record of my third divorce
  • I Said, “Yes!”—how to write a biography or memoir
  • Eye Witness to Life—a fiction I wrote in 2016 during NaNoWriMo
  • This Tumbleweed Landed #2—continuation of my first poetry book

How about some Cinquains?

“The cinquain, also known as a quintain or quintet, is a poem or stanza composed of five lines.”

In 2002, I took a poetry class from the University of New Mexico’s Continuing Education, and I wrote the following cinquains. They are cinquains loosely-defined but have no rhyming pattern.


light playing on

my skin, a reminder

that life will go on no matter!

I shine!


fresh food ready

green cut aroma fills

the room and the space in my heart.


Land where?                                           

A tumbleweed

bounces against barbed

wire fence, gets caught for a moment!

Now gone!

My words 

my life caught in

a box, limited yet

real! I want to communicate.

Let’s talk!


touches the deep.

I move to the beat. My

soul reacts to the sound and moves!

How come?


childlike laughter,

like bells ringing in the

chapel — angels swinging their wings

out loud.

Life force

Sensual light

burns deeply in my heart,

ignites with any willing soul


Of what 

are my dreams made?

Fluff, a sprig of cedar,

Flesh and bone and sawdust sprinkled!

Gone soon!

As you can see, I’m not done! As I referenced yesterday, I’m a Baby Boomer with a purpose! I love having future possibilities to look forward to—that’s the only way I can live!


This week, look for poetry—a variety of it, ranging from my early poetry to some of my recent haikus. Recently, after my walks, I have recorded a couple of haikus that came to me as I enjoyed being out in nature. I believe in possibilities, and I see them everyday all around me.

What are your future projects? Do you plan ahead? Share your thoughts below!

Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? meme - possibilities

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

Books · My Thoughts

My Bookshelves: What Do They Reveal?

Stack of books - bookshelves

Bookshelves reveal so much about a person. All my life I’ve loved libraries and bookstores. The stacks of books, big and small, comfort my spirit, so I’ve created a mini version in our home. I have a very eclectic combination of titles, so I’d like to share my bookshelves with you.

One of my bookshelves
One of My Bookshelves

As an English major, I collected Norton’s Anthologies at Colorado State University, books three to four inches thick, forty years old, and I still can’t let them go. They feel like good old friends. While at the university, I added to that collection Milton and individual Shakespeare plays I studied in my upper level classes. I have one Louis L’Amour book, Sachett, which we read in my Shakespeare class when we were reading Julius Caesar, comparing the two characters. I’ve revisited the Shakespeare’s plays over the years when I’ve wanted to renew my acquaintance with a specific play. Also, I have kept The Iliad of Homer and The Odyssey of Homer.

Because I studied the classics, I added Ernest Hemingway’s short stories, Walt Whitman’s poetry and T. S. Eliot’s poetry. This summer, I focused on Hemingway’s writings after watching the Ken Burns’ document. I read The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast to sample one of his novels and his memoir, but I’ve labored long on his short story collections. It fascinates me how he can take a single moment in time and write it to the fullest. At the university, I studied Charles Dickens, and I’ve stored his books in our storage shed.

My other bookshelves
My other bookshelves

I love poetry. On my poetry shelf, I have several books by my favorite current poet, Mary Oliver. I also have several poetry collections, and a slim Emily Dickinson book highlighting her special poetry. I also have a local Mexican poet, Jimmy Santiago Baca’s book, Martín & Meditations on the South Valley.

Being in the Southwest, I love reading books about Native Americans. I have two classics, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Black Elk Speaks. Surprisingly, you won’t see my favorite author, Tony Hillerman’s books on my shelf because my husband has them on his. Several years ago, I collected the Don Coldsmith’s Spanish Bit Saga series with rich stories about the Plains Indians dating back to the Spaniards coming here.

One of my favorite educational professional development workshop was the Latin America Database Workshop, and I gathered a nice collection of Latin writers like Eduardo Galeano and Rigoberto Menchú.

Over my years in recovery, my bookshelves dedicated to this vital part of my life have grown, but my mainstay is Alcoholics Anonymous. I have many other books addressing alcoholism, codependency, family of origin issues, and incest.

Because of my wide reading in recovery, I met Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, and stockpiled several of her books on my bookshelves. My favorite is When Things Fall Apart. I also learned about Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, in my recovery wanderings and have a collection of his poetry.

One of my largest collections is my religious books. I have an assortment of Bibles, commentaries and study aides. My favorite commentary is the William Barclay’s The Daily Study Bible Series on the New Testament. I read one of these daily.

Included in my religious collection is C. S. Lewis’ The Narnia Tales, which I reread last summer after a forty-year break. How delightful that was to revisit Narnia and get reacquainted with Aslan.

As a middle school English teacher, I collected so many books over the years to have available in my classroom for my students, but I have given most of them away. I kept limited books from teaching years like Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl and books about her life. Also, I have all the Harry Potter books, but they’re in my husband’s library. I will never forget seeing a small sixth grader carrying around his copy of one of the Potter books and it was almost as big as he was!

My professional library of books addressed class managing and other education topics, and you guessed it—writing! But I gave most of them away, except for Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequality, a book telling the sad tale of the inequality of education across the United States.

As a writer, I’ve gathered writing books for many years. Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones heads my list of Nat’s, but I have several of her books. I used that book in teaching writing to my middle school students, changing my attitude towards writing. It freed me up to see myself as a writer, and many of my students did the same. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way changed my life many years ago with her tool, Morning Pages. I still do them every morning.

To date, I also have an extensive digital library on Kindle, iBooks and Kobo. I joined the digital world with reluctance at first. But now, I enjoy using my iPad to read a book, especially when we’re traveling.

Recently, as I looked at my bookshelves, I saw several books I bought, put on the shelf and never read. I decided it was time to read them, so I’m working my way through those titles right now.

In conclusion, I hope you’ve enjoyed your travels through my personal library. What you see here is a wide range of interests and flavors—that’s me! I believe in diversity and a multitude of possibilities.

What do your bookshelves look like if you have a personal library? What are your favorite books?

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Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? Bookshelves
Read, reflect and respond on the beach!

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My Thoughts · poetry · Travel

Haunted by a Favorite Poem of Mine

Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991 - Haunted by Coba
Larada at the top of Uxmal, 1991

Thirty-five years ago, I wrote a poem after my memorable adventure in Cobá, Mexico, in the summer of 1985. Laying solemnly unattended in a folder on my computer, it has haunted me over the years. Today, I recalled my surreal experience when I wrote the poem, remembering the physical parts of the Cobá experience, and then the magic I added.

 In 1986, also, I was finishing up my coursework at Colorado State University. We studied magical realism in my Spanish classes, looking at the works of Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel García Márquez. This genre fascinated me—reality with a dash of magic.

 So, what is magical realism: 

 Magical realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic or fantasy. Magical realism is a part of the realism genre of fiction.

Within a work of magical realism, the world is still grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered normal in this world. Like fairy tales, magical realism novels and short stories blur the line between fantasy and reality.

For several years, the Mayan culture and the Yucatán peninsula captured my attention, so I visited many Mayan Indian ruins there: Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Tulum, and Cobá. During tours at each ruin, I took copious notes. I bought several books and read about the Mayans, their culture and beliefs and absorbed details.

During our 1985 trip to Cobá, much of it lay overgrown with heavy jungle vegetation. Lynn Hafer, my travel companion and I stayed at a Club Med hotel nearby, but it wasn’t a “Swinging Singles’” Club Med infamous at the time but a research facility with a full library and a quiet, somber setting. Because of its remote location, the Mexican government had not commercialized Cobá yet, so what a raw jungle experience we had!

In 1991 I continued my Mayan treks. To celebrate my completion of my master’s degree, Lynn and I went to Guatemala to one of the largest Mayan Indian ruins, Tikal, a dream come true for this Mayan ruin lover. However, my experience, noted in this poem at Cobá, regularly surfaced and haunted me, so I thought I’d share it with you. In looking at it today, I felt the call to revise!        


Cobá—I Was there!!

Written – March, 1986

Revised – July 25, 2021

The year was 1985.

Walking down an overgrown jungle path with my friend,
	toucan birds squeak above my head
                nestled in the canopy.
A turn in the road, thick over-growth blocks the sun 
        for a minute.
		Shadows, sounds, smells--
			transported me back to 900 A.D.
A shiver pierces my soul.
I stare at crumbled ruins
        while an iguana lazily poses on a low step,
	       large but approachable.
Colorful in dress, Mayans step out 
        of the past and the bushes,
	       brush my arm.

I strain to see their faces 
               to hear their voices.
Is it real?

The bees buzz in the tops of the
        Trees among the orchids that
	       Decorate the canopy
		        With their color.
The bees’ hum above
	Joins the voices below.

Where am I?  
       With whom?
               A step back in time, yet caught between
                        Two worlds—then and now!

Had I been here before?
       At this spot,
       Centuries before,
              Standing at the foot of this Temple, 
                        surrounded by my fellow Mayans, 	    	    	        
              Worshipping the god "Chac" and 	   	    	    	    	
              Listening to the familiar
	    	    	Squeak of birds
                               and the laughter of howling monkeys.
The smell of Copal, sweet incense, fills the air
      The mingled 
             Odor of honey and grain,
                       My sacrifice to my god.
A bright fire illumines the scene
      With reflections and smoke.

The drums beat—beat—beat a familiar steady cadence.
      Draw me to them.
The Mayan priests chant—chant—chant soft sounds that join the 	    	    		
      Bass beat of the drums.   
The Mayan language a mystery to me,
      Yet I know it’s deep meaning.
I sway to the beat—the chant.
      It vibrates in my soul calling me forth
              Through the ages,
                      Past time’s illusive barrier!

Dark bronze skins glisten in the firelight.
      Brown eyes search our faces for safety.
             Flat heads surprise me with their symmetry.
I marvel at the feathery headdresses with multiple colorful gowns.	  
      I join the celebration,
             The ceremony!  

Small sturdy people crowd around me, 
      Greet me in a soft rhythmic tongue.
            Gently, friendly—a spark shines in
                     Their eyes with recognition!

THEY KNOW ME!  I'm among my own.  I'm home!!!

But it can’t be!
      I grew up in Colorado
            Not Mexico
	    Not centuries ago
	    Not Mayan

"Did you hear that?  What was that?" my friend grabs
      My arm.

            TO REALITY, or is it?  
I'm back—1985.
The summer's heat presses in,
     The sun's scorching heat
           Eerie sounds and hums flow 
                   Through the air.
Eerie, yet familiar.

I strain to hear it better
     To hear the beat of the past
          To see those familiar brown eyes.
I want to return!
     But can I?

Déjà vu? A poem capturing my experience or a fictional treatment? I can’t explain what happened that day so many years ago, but I know it was surreal. My poetry helped me express what I felt, not exactly what I saw. When I wrote the poem, the total experience happened. For years, this poem haunted me with its expression of possibility. I believe there’s unexplainable mystery in this world. Maybe that’s why I am attracted to the genre of magical realism and the chance that I witnessed a Mayan ceremony so many centuries ago.

A mystery happened this afternoon. I planned to use pictures from that 1985 trip to Cobá, but I couldn’t find my photo album. I found pictures from our second trip to Cobá 1986. Historically, I take lots of pictures on any trip—what happened to that album? Another puzzle added here—I wonder?

Have you ever had an unexplainable experience like mine? What happened? How did you honor it and record it? (Scroll below to make a comment)

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Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry

My Poetic View: The Wait for What? Caution?

Caution still loomed in the back of my mind even though I took about a month off from writing poetry in response to the coronavirus pandemic. My life’s demands took priority because I self-published a book I had been working on for two and a half years, it neared completion. The final requirements side-tracked me, but I returned to my poetic view of my experience of the pandemic and what was going on at the time with caution still being a main concern!

During my poetic slowdown, the coronavirus pandemic continued. People tired of the shelter-in-place restrictions. Michigan exploded with protests against the restrictions set in place by governor Gretchen Whitmer.

On April 15, 2020, USA Today’s headlines were, “Thousands converge to protest Michigan governor’s stay-home order in ‘Operation Gridlock’.” Thousands of cars equipped with bull horns and protest flags stymied traffic around the capitol.

On April 30, 2020, Fox News headlines stated, “Michigan protesters storm state Capitol in fight over coronavirus rules: ‘Men with rifles yelling at us’.” The media shared pictures (I will not show) of protesters on the capitol’s steps with assault weapons and rifles—no masks and social distancing and guns!

One photo seared into my memory was a lineup of six masked protesters inside the capitol with a variety of rifles and assault rifles standing in front of a door—what an eerie feeling that picture conjured up! Why the rifles?

The Guardians headlines said, “Armed protesters demonstrate against Covid-19 lockdown at Michigan capitol.” It sited a picture of a brazen mask-less protester screaming inches away from the policeman standing guard, doing his job!

After a couple weeks of mulling over these images and these stories, I wrote the following poems:

Waiting for caution
The Wait for What?

May 13, 2020

Since March 9
            I self-quarantined
                        For two weeks
            I stayed put!
Then it stretched
            To May 15!
                        Half of May
Wise and cautious
            For sure
I obey
            I wear a mask
                        I adhere to six feet
                                    In social distance
                                                I apply hand sanitizer
                                                            After each necessary outing!
Yet the battle rages
            Some say it’s a hoax
                        Violate the restrictions
In the name of the first amendment
            Free exercise of religion
            Freedom of speech
            Freedom of the press
            Right to peaceably assemble
            The right to petition the government
                        For redress of grievances.
In the name of the second amendment
            A well-regulated militia, being necessary
            To the security of a free State,
            The right of the people to keep
            And bear arms shall not be
The right to bear arms
            because of the coronavirus?
Can you shoot this enemy?
            A minuscule virus particle
Why guns?
            Why assault weapons?
                                    A AT4 rocket launcher?
Why Confederate flags?
As this continues,
            Confusion mounts!
As the unrest continues,
            My confusion soars, too!

A virus
            Killing thousands
                        Demands denial and protests?
Why do you deny it?
Why do you clamor
            About socialism
                        And your rights?
                        ME, Me, me!
What about compassion?
            Caring for others?
It’s not about you,

The wait for normalcy 
                                    compassion to surface
may be a long time in coming!

For some!

For others
          it never left!
I Disagree! I Have That Right, But Can We Talk?

May 15, 2020

I want caution
            You throw caution
                        To the wind!
I want safety
            Six feet apart
            My mask
            My gloves
You brandish your rights
            Invade my space
                        Bare faced
                        Bare hands
                                    Smug in your beliefs!
Absolutely two world views
            Mine conservative
                        Yours liberal
            Mine concerned
                        About me
                                    And you
            Yours driven
                        About you
Can we talk?
            Is there someplace
                        To agree?
            Are times of agreement
Will you honor me
            With a mask and gloves
                        Not judge me
                        Not invade my space
            With my vulnerable spirit?
Will I honor you?
Here's the problem
            I don’t understand
                         Your recklessness!
            Explain your reasons
                        For your actions
I need assurance
            This is life or death!
                        My life
                        My death
            I’ll follow my convictions
                        I have that right
            You follow yours
                        You have that right too
            We’ll both
                        Make it through!
But I still disagree!

Over a month later and the argument over masks, social distancing and caution continues as the case numbers surge, and I still don’t understand!

I still don’t understand!

~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:

ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW.  Apple Books (US) –                        Kobo (US) –                                                      Apple Books (CA) –                     Apple Books (UK) –                    Apple Books (AU) –                   Amazon Kindle (US) –         Amazon Kindle (UK) –                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) –                                                                                       Barnes and Noble Nook (US)

~ 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:

~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.

Coronavirus · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · poetry

Do You Need a Hug?

Do you need a hug? Has the isolation of sheltering-in-place taken its toll? As a human being, I relish social interaction. I heard someone say this week, “I’m suffering from hug deprivation!” Me, too! That describes it perfectly!

Yes, I get ample hugs from my dear husband daily, but I’m accustomed to hugs from a variety of people: we hug when we square dance, we hug at recovery meetings, we hug at church. My family hugs a lot! I’m used to an abundance of hugs, so the social distancing has been a real trigger for me! Yes, I agree a necessity, but my spirit and soul thirst for a hug, and this lack has zapped me!

On top of the restrictions, I filled my March and April with the final production of my newest book project, Just Another Square Dance Caller: Authorized Biography of Marshall Flippo. I focused on it and was able to add some special features I wouldn’t have been able to do if I had rushed the production. But the consequences: I felt drained!

Women sitting
Come Back Tomorrow and I’ll Have More

April 17, 2020
I’ve run out
                        No More
But come back
There will be more!
More of me
            My humor
            My expertise
            My talents
I’ve used up
            Everything today
            Ran desperately out!
I spilled me
            Nothing left.
But I rejuvenate
And start again
            With a full tank!
So don’t ask me
            When I’m on empty
                        To give more!
That’s selfish!
Ask me about
            The level of
Ask me if I’m full
                        Or empty
Don’t assume!
I know me!
            I can tell
                        The meter’s hanging
                                    Dangerously low
                                                Near empty
I’m zapped
            Nothing now
But come back tomorrow,
            And I’ll have more!
More of me
            More joy
                        More compassion
                                    More energy!
Totally more!

I did get the book done, but the publisher has delayed the delivery of the paperback and hardback copies, so I’m waiting impatiently right now. I want to get my book into the hands of readers everywhere!

I currently focus on promoting Flippo’s book on Facebook and have assembled a gigantic database of over 600 square and round dance Facebook pages for groups and clubs with a count of 176,000 contacts. I realize many people “Follow” several Facebook pages, but what an amazing number of dancers!

So at this point, my hugs are of the virtual variety from contacts all over the world.

The coronavirus continues to attack people across the world. Lin and I watch the daily numbers increase and worry about the outcome.

I continue to wrestle with the lack of hugs! I’ve heard it said in my recovery years it takes ten hugs a day to stay centered, so needless to say, I need a hug or ten!

All this combined makes me wonder about the future!

Indefinite Future

April 20, 2020
            The future looms
                        In front
                                    Of me
Full of intrigue
An unopened present
It lures me forward
            Beckoning me
                        To come
                                    To participate
                                                To enjoy
As I gaze on
            What’s to come
My heart clenches
            My throat constricts
Dread fills every cell!
            What does it hold?
The uncertainty now
            Horrendous illness
                                    Across our world
Death cries swell
            In volume
Bodies sit in stacks
Never have I seen
            Anything of this size
So do you plan?
            Will June arrive safely?
                        What about the annual Branson-Trinchera Reunion?
                                    Its 62th event
                        Will July 4th be cancelled?
                        Will our summer be tainted
                                    By the smell of
                                                Rotting corpses?
                                    All color the future!
Will we get a respite?
            Will it stop?
                        Will it return
                                    If we open back up?
The uncertainty
            The drama
                        The insanity
                                    The horror
Can we ever have
            Normal again?

The future holds the key!                                          

Today, the future continues to look dim! Over the last several days, the Covid 19 case world count has been well over 100,000! Several states have seen a surge in cases here in the United States. My husband and I still choose to limit our exposure by staying close to home and only going out for the essentials. We will not participate in any group activities this summer.

Besides the horror of the coronavirus, over the past few weeks, the murder of George Floyd has influenced an awakening for the need for an honest look at racial prejudice in our world. It reminds me of the Civil Rights movement in the 60s, but here we are sixty years later with some of the same injustices present. We need a major overhaul.

So, can we return to normal? I doubt if that ever happens. 2020 has been a year of major disasters and major changes. I yearn for a hug from you, a hug from you and a hug from you! The future truly holds the key to a new normal.

Will you participate or hold on to the old?

~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:

~ALL FOUR E-BOOK FORMATS OF FLIPPO’S BIOGRAPHY AVAILABLE NOW. Apple Books (US) –                              Kobo (US) –                                                                    Apple Books (CA) –                                 Apple Books (UK) –                              Apple Books (AU) –                         Amazon Kindle (US) –             Amazon Kindle (UK) –                                                                                                 Amazon Kindle (CA) –                                                                                                   Barnes and Noble Nook (US) –

~ 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:

~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.

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

            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
                                    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
                                                How do I feel now?
                                                            How about now?
A cough,
            A sore throat
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
Today I breathed deeply
            For the first time
                        In a month.
Habitually I shallow breathe
            As it is!
But this last month
            I deeply held my breath
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
And get the dreaded
I eyed each person
            Many donned masks
                        And gloves
It was Senior time
            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
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!
            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
                                    But the world changed in
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:


~ 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:

~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.