Life Lessons · My Thoughts · square dance

Our Ten Year Anniversary—Really?

Lin & Larada - wedding picture - ten years ago
Lin & Larada, Wedding Day, 2011

Ten years of marriage—how time flies! On Friday, October 22, 2021, Lin and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. That number shocks me—it’s hard to believe it’s been ten years!

How We Got Together

In 2008, I divorced my third husband and adjusted to being single again. I jumped into Single Square Dancers USA (SSDUSA), becoming vice-president in 2009, president in 2010, and past president in 2011. When I signed on in 2009, I knew I had made a three-year commitment. My renewed involvement helped me handle my recent divorce.

In 2009, Lin’s wife, Kathi, died from reoccurring cancer. She was my best girlfriend in square dancing. She and Lin and my ex and I had danced, traveled and played card games together for several years.

After Kathi passed away in November, and in December, a friend of ours set Lin and me up to dance together at a holiday dance. After the first of the year, Lin called and asked if I’d like to dance with him at the weekly dances in Albuquerque. At this point, I was tired of dancing by myself round dancing (cued ballroom dancing) or dancing the guy part in square dances, so I agreed to it.

As time went on, we enjoyed the dancing and our time together, and realized there could be more. Cautiously, we moved forward and our relationship grew. So, Christmas Day 2010, Lin proposed to me in front of my mom and my aunt Willie, and I readily accepted with, “Yes!”

How We Scheduled Our Wedding

In 2010, I held the position of president of Single Square Dancers USA and faced being the recent past president in 2011. SSDUSA held their yearly festival and business meeting annually over Labor Day weekend. So, when we started talking about a wedding day, it had to be after Labor Day, 2011, so I could finish my three-year commitment.

To give us some breathing room, we set our big day for October 22, 2011, and it had to be a square and round dance event!

How We Ended Up with over 250 Attendees

So, for the entire year of 2011, after Lin proposed, Lin invited everyone to come to our wedding at any square dance we attended around the country. We did not know how many to plan for when we finally got down to ordering our cake and reception supplies. The Albuquerque Square Dance Center limits its attendance to 299. We hoped we would stay within that requirement, and we did!

How Our Wedding Unfolded

Lin, Marya (minister who married us), Larada, 2011
Lin, Marya (minister who married us), Larada, 2011

Lin and I both had been married before, so my Episcopalian priest couldn’t marry us, but he offered to do our pre-marriage counseling. So, we searched online and found the perfect person to do the ceremony, Marya. She encouraged us to help create the ceremony and our vows. I included some recovery verbiage, and it became our own. We wanted a brief ceremony, leaving the rest of the afternoon for the reception, party and dance time.

The Bridal Party, 2011 - Ten years ago
The Bridal Party, 2011

For Lin’s best men, he asked two dance friends who were like brothers to him. I asked eleven women to be my maids/matrons of honor, women from all the different areas of my life.

When it came to my dress, I wanted only one woman to make it—Mary Jo Smith who had made our catchy Hot August Nights’ outfits, and me several other outfits. I bought the material here in Albuquerque, sent it to her in Virginia and she did her magic!

We selected Pastian’s Bakery for our wedding cake, another “must.” What a gorgeous cake they made, and Sheri, the owner’s daughter and dear friend, helped create a fun sports focused groom’s cake.

Another friend, Nicole Tagart, took the gorgeous pictures for us, and Sharon McCafferty agreed to video-tape it at the last minute.

How Our Wedding Day Went

My brother, Lin, Larada & Mom, 2011
My brother, Lin, Larada & Mom, 2011

My mom and brother gave me away, and we walked in with Train’s song, “Marry Me” playing. I wrote a poem for Lin and shared it, and he played a George Strait song, “I Cross My Heart,” for me. Afterwards, we cut the cake and did the traditional cake eating and drink exchange. Then the dancing began.

Lin & Larada Round Dancing, 2011 - Ten years ago
Lin & Larada Round Dancing, 2011

During the reception/party, we had square dancing, round dancing and country western. What a grand party it was! We had three square dance callers: Jerry Gilbreath, Joey Solis and Art Tangen. Shirley and Don Underwood did the rounds for us, and Scott Amspoker played country and western dance music.

Afterwards, a group of us went out to dinner at Monroe’s on Osuna. We noticed the absence of Tom and Dottie Doherty, dance friends from Colorado, but figured they decided not to come. Afterwards, we brought the group up to Lin’s house in the mountains to see his mountain hideaway.

We gathered our bags and drove to the Bottger Mansion, a bed-and-breakfast in Old Town, for our wedding night. What a memorable time we had. After a delicious gourmet breakfast the next morning, Lin drove me to my townhouse to see my brother off to the airport, and we planned to pick up my mom and go out to his house.

Suddenly, our plans changed. Tom and Dottie, who were supposed to join us for dinner, were t-boned in an accident, coming to the restaurant to join us the night before. Dottie’s injuries weren’t too bad, but Tom was severely hurt. So, we took my brother to the airport, then picked up Dottie and took her to the hospital to see Tom. Mom and I ended up staying at my townhouse for two weeks to help Dottie get to the hospital to take care of Tom and provide emotional support for her.

How We Filled Ten Years

After that glorious day, Lin and I filled the following precious ten years with dancing around the United States, traveling here in the United States and abroad on cruises, tours and with friends. At home, Lin created a gorgeous flower garden, dedicating many hours to it. I have self-published six books and three cookbooks. We savored our full rich life, and time quickly passed.

Ten Years Later—How We Celebrated our Tenth Anniversary

On Friday, October 22, 2021, the actual date of our wedding, we had photos taken to commemorate the day like we did for our fifth anniversary on our Panama Canal cruise. After the photo shot, we had dinner at Chili’s and came home and watched the video of our wedding—I shed a few tears.

Then on Saturday, October 23, 2021, because the Bottger Mansion was so special to us ten years ago, we spent the night there to celebrate our tenth anniversary. We wanted the 22nd, but it wasn’t available. To enjoy the area, we drove to Albuquerque about 2:00 pm to check in early. Then we shopped around Old Town, enjoying our favorite old haunts and seeing the sad effect the pandemic has had on restaurants and shops there. For dinner, we ate at the Church Street Café. A Mexican music group serenaded us while we ate. To end our time at the Bottger, we enjoyed a gourmet breakfast and came home.

Whew! Ten wonderful years later, we looked back and relished our time together. Now we look to the next ten and the adventures ahead of us.

How long have you been married? How do you celebrate those milestone anniversaries? (Scroll below to share your comments!)

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Albuquerque · My Thoughts · square dance

Hot August Nights, 2019 Sets Records!

2019 Hot August Nights flyer
Hot August Nights Flyer

            TRAVEL JOURNAL READERS—I had to interrupt the travel journal of our trip to the British Isles with this current event. We will go to Edinburgh next week!

I love square and round dancing and I love to attend festival, attending hundreds over the years. My favorite of the whole year is Hot August Nights in Albuquerque, and I am the chairperson of this delightful affair.

Tonight I’m an exhausted yet fully satisfied chairperson! We just finished the 13th Annual Hot August Nights square and round dance festival and what a success it was! This festival is a three-day event and draws people from all over the Southwest. Our usual supporters come from Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Utah. This year we had dancers from Nevada, northern California and Oregon.


This event started Friday afternoon, August 16, with a Welcome Dance from 2:00 – 3:00 PM with a local caller, Greg Tillery. We had five squares of dancers who anticipated a great weekend of dancing. Greg called a fun, energetic dance that help set the atmosphere for the weekend.

Friday night featured Tony Oxendine as our caller and Steve and Lori Harris as cuers. It has taken me eighteen years to get Tony to Albuquerque. We tried to have him as our featured caller for the National Singles Festival I chaired in Albuquerque in 2003, but it didn’t work.

This year we broke the Friday night record with 19 squares in attendance. We have a Beach Party theme, so most people dressed casually in fun beach attire. Tony rocked the place with high energy music and choreography. He wowed everybody with his beautiful voice and knowledge of music. We danced, we laughed and enjoyed the delightful evening of dancing. All of the round dancers enjoyed the round dancing with Steve and Lori Harris. We finished the evening with traditional root beer floats and time to socialize with old friends and make new ones.


Saturday morning is dedicated to round dancing—cued ball round dancing to those who might not know. The Harris’ introduced fifteen new round dance couples to the Two Step rhythm. It’s always a joy to see new round dancers on the floor. Then they taught a waltz and rumba to seventeen experienced round dance couples and three singles.

One of my favorite parts of the weekend is the potluck at noon. Ninety dancers sat and shared this meal together, laughing and enjoying a relaxing meal–another record breaker. During a festival, it’s hard to really become acquainted with other people on the dance floor because there’s really no time. This leisure meal provided the opportunity to enlarge old relationships and build new ones.

Square dancers filled the hall Saturday afternoon for three different sessions: singing calls, a plus workshop and high energy dancing. Tony has such a beautiful voice and used a variety of music, so everybody enjoyed the singing calls.

Tony’s expertise shone during the plus workshop. He extended everyone’s dancing repertoire through taking a call everyone knows and expanding it. I always know that I will grow as a dancer in attending one of Tony’s workshops. Seventeen squares participated wanting more and more of Tony’s knowledge.

The afternoon ended with a session of High Energy—some people call it Hot Hash. It’s the type of dancing when the caller calls fast and keeps the floor moving like never before. Tony kidded Friday night about all his calling is high energy, but he ratcheted it up a couple notches and had us sailing around the floor. This type of square dancing is not for the faint of heart for sure!

Saturday evening dancers wore square dance attire, except for my husband, Lin. He stunned the crowd in his new kilt he bought in Scotland a couple weeks ago.

In the pre-rounds, we had 31 couples on the floor—an amazing record for us! The women dressed in beautiful square dance attire, and the scene was a colorful array! I love to watch the spins and twirls of these dresses on the dance floor.

Before squaring up, Tony sang the “National Anthem,” bringing tears to many eyes! When the square dance started, we had 22 squares on the floor—another record breaker! We danced the night away enjoying Tony’s selection of music and beautiful voice and playful attitude! We ended the evening with root beer floats again and laughter and joy.


The Sunday morning Trail Out dance is another favorite of mine—these are the diehard dancers who just can’t get enough dancing ever! We had 13 squares of crazy dancers for more dancing and fun—another record broken!

We do crazy antics on Sunday morning like scatter promenade which mixes the whole floor up. Tony sang a gospel tune and several requests from dancers who have known him for a while.

All in all—it was a blast and an amazing success! I’m always a little sad when an event like this ends, but many of us dancers didn’t say good-bye but “see you at the next dance festival down the road.”

As a chairperson of many square and round dance events, I have to say that working with Tony and the Harris’ was such a pleasure. When asked for extras, Tony simply agreed to do what was asked and did it beautifully. The Harris make my job an easy one providing for all the round dancers needs. As a chairperson, you couldn’t ask for better!

Hot August Nights 2019 Committee
The Hot August Nights Committee, 2019

The committee that puts this event together is the best committee ever, working hard to make it a memorable experience for all. We only have two meetings during the year: one phone conference call in July and a feedback meeting the afternoon after the festival is over. Our total focus is to promote square dancing!

At today’s meeting, I loved to see the pride in each person’s eyes of a job well done. Now we relax a little and then prepare for next year!

Check out the Hot August Nights website for pictures from this event–especially a group picture of the Saturday night dancers which will be coming soon!

What are your square dance festival experiences? Share them with me and the readers! Let’s spread a little square dance joy around!

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