Albuquerque · Dancing · My Thoughts · square dance

Looking Back—Hot August Nights 2022

Hot August Nights banner - looking back

Looking back a week later, I sigh with relief and marvel at the success of Hot August Nights 2022. We hadn’t had this event since 2019. This year, we required the vaccine to attend, so we wondered how many would support it.

Excited, we had eleven squares pre-registered but received emails from dancers telling us they were attending USAWest in San Diego instead of our event. So, in reality, we did not know.

The Recycle Shop Work Beforehand

The saga began the week before the event. Lin came up with a great idea—every time we drove to the dance hall for a club dance, bring a load of clothes from the storage unit for the Recycle Shop. See, our stash had grown over the two and half years we didn’t dance because we kept getting donations.

Duke City Singles and Doubles’ Spring Fling and our event share the clothes for the Recycle Shop, and they sold lots at the Spring Fling, but dancers kept donating since May. Then it took three vehicles to get the clothes to the storage unit near us in Tijeras, NM.

So, on each of the three—four trips, we swung by the storage unit, packed the Tahoe full and completed the last trip on the Thursday before Hot August Nights.

Looking Back at Our Busy Friday

At 9:00 am Friday morning, we started the arduous task of setting up the Recycle Shop with several helpful volunteers. Immediately, we realized we had to purge the over-abundant supply of clothes or we wouldn’t have enough room. We filled six boxes and put those boxes out Saturday morning, free for the taking.

We finished the Recycle Shop, did minimal decorations and enjoyed lunch at one of our favorite restaurants in the area, Millie’s. While we dealt with the Recycle Shop, Lin picked up Mike and Denise Hogan at the airport, so they joined us for lunch—I love these informal times where dancers really get acquainted. It was especially great to have Denise here with us!

Our event opened with a Welcome dance at 3:00 pm. Pre-rounds began at 7:00 pm for the evening dance with Mitchell and Chelsea Thompson. For many years, Friday night’s dance has been a Beach Party with beach balls and casual dress beach attire. This year, the balls flew across the dance floor and Mike and Mitchell had chosen beach music to dance to. What a fun-filled way to begin the weekend.

Looking Back at Saturday & Some Surprises

On Saturday morning, we focused on round dancing. The morning began with an introduction to rounds with the waltz rhythm at 9:00 am, and several couples enjoyed Mitchell’s easy way of teaching. Then at 10:30 am, Mitchell and Chelsea provided a Foxtrot clinic to help dancers move up from a level three dancer to four. Super-informative.

Several dancers began going through the boxes of free clothing. One dancer from Sierra Vista, Arizona, took several garbage bags home for their new dancer class. Such a better way of using the clothing instead of giving them to Goodwill.

Sadly, we canceled our tradition potluck luncheon because our committee member who headed that had to quit the committee. We organized all the round dancers to go to Jimmy’s Cafe, another favorite restaurant near the dance hall, and wanted to sit together, but the group was too big, so we had to split up.

On Saturday afternoon, we focused on square dancing. The afternoon started with Mike Hogan doing singing calls for one hour and we thoroughly enjoyed his gorgeous voice. Then he did a plus workshop for an hour and a half, focusing on calls he noticed we needed help on—thank God! Then he did thirty minutes of high energy and hot hash. He ended the hot hash portion with Lin’s favorite song, “Fisherman’s Luck,” and had the place rocking. We wondered about putting the high energy section at the end of the afternoon, but the dancers jumped in and enjoyed it completely.

Saturday evening began with an hour of pre-rounds with Mitchell and Chelsea—such a wonderful round dance cuer and a wife/partner who loves to dance and jumps in and dances with any single either part.

The evening continued with Mike Hogan and his exceptional calling and Mitchell cuing. A highlight of Saturday night with Mike Hogan always is his rendition of “Pink Cadillac”—this year was no different, but he added help. Mitchell joined him and the crowd went wild.

Looking Back at Sunday & Our Hilarious Shenanigans

On Sunday morning, Hot August Nights has a reputation to uphold with shenanigans galore and Mike added to it. He did progressive squares, Sicilian Circles, and Air Raid. The dancers jumped in and did Scatter Promenade on their own.

We had eleven squares both nights and felt this was a tremendous success after the two-year hiatus. The dance commitment overwhelmed us this year. In 2019, we had twenty-two squares and twenty couples preregistered for 2020 (which was canceled, so we rolled them over). This year with eleven squares, we had twenty couples preregistered, so we gave away two free Hot August Nights registrations and two free room nights at our host hotel. Our Hot August Nights dancers are the best!

Finally,

Looking back, the laughter, the smiles and the hugs from Hot August Nights marked it a success for me more than anything else. Dancers seemed so ready to be out and dancing again.

Have you been to a big dance event recently? How did it go? Did you laugh a lot? Smile? Give and get hugs?


~NEW ONLINE WEBINAR BY ME—Would you be interested in an online class about writing a life story, either yours or someone else’s? I’m planning on doing a webinar in September on this subject. Let me know if you’re interested at larada@icloud.com. Specific information next week.

~WATCH MY NEW INTERVIEW on Douglas Coleman’s show dated August 5, 2022.

~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 meme
There’s still time to grab beach time with Flippo’s e-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: https://www.laradasbooks.com 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”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A

~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!

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

~What happened to you in 2020-2021 during the coronavirus pandemic? Do you care? 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: https://laradasbooks.com

Dancing · family · Gratitude · My Thoughts

Lin Miller Tops My Gratitude List

Lin Miller in his kilt
Lin in his kilt

My gratitude list is long, but Lin Miller, my husband, tops it for people in my life. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary, and what a ride it has been!

We come from two full lives: a small town New Jersey boy and a country girl from Colorado. As a boy, he loved to hide in the swamp and watch people walk right past him in his favorite hiding place.

And he’s still a boy at heart! He starts each day with a song and a smile. Often, he and my cat, Jesse, have a “Meow-fest.” They go back and forth and back and forth—what fun!

Why I Appreciate Lin

Lin proposing to me, Christmas 2010.
Lin Proposing to me Christmas 2010
  1. Lin asked me to marry him on Christmas Day 2010 in front of my mom and Aunt Willie. I will never forget his thoughtfulness of including those two precious women. Amazingly, Mom snapped a picture of him and me when he went down on his knee—shocking!
  2. His outrageous sense of humor amuses me every day. Some days, I wake up a little down and out. His quick wit catches me by surprise and I feel a deep laugh escape, and my world view changes immediately. He sings rhyming ditties he makes up on the spot, so I kid him about being a poet and not knowing it. That’s a joke to him because he doesn’t like poetry.
  3. Lin majored in history at Rutgers University and sees himself as an amateur historian. He’s also a voracious reader. I love history and relish our conversations about historical figures. His hunger for knowledge challenges me to learn more about Stalin, Churchill and other historical figures. As he reads his current book, often he shares the latest tidbit. Lately he’s been reading about Johnny Unitas and filling me in on his life.
  4. If you’re a Facebook friend, you’ve seen Lin’s gorgeous garden. When we first got married, he had three rose plants. Now he has over thirty and so many other flowers! I admire his dedication to gardening with an emphasis on plants that support birds, bees and hummingbirds. The upshot of living with an enthusiastic gardener: every morning, I look out the window to such an array of beautiful colors and plants and the wonder it provides.
  5. I love dancing with Lin. Before we got together, he did some round dancing (cued ballroom dancing). Since he knew how much I loved it, we danced weekly with our round dance instructor, and he improved drastically. He’s a natural, so it came easily to him.
  6. In 2013, Lin volunteered to be president of our square dance club, Duke City Singles and Doubles, a failing club with twenty-seven members. Through his daring leadership, he rejuvenated it with fun activities and a commitment to greeting every dancer every Friday night at our dances. When he quit in 2018, the club had grown to 92 members—what a feat!
  7. Lin is a football fanatic—a Philadelphia Eagles fan his whole life. I love football—a Denver Broncos’ fan. He runs a football pool with his best friend that he encouraged me to join, and what a kick we have! We talk football a lot around here. He’s so considerate. There’s one older guy in the pool who has computer trouble, so he calls Lin every week on Wednesday night about 7:00 PM to give Lin his picks. Lin patiently records them for him, visits with him and has a couple of laughs with him.
Collage of Lin and Larada, 10th Anniverary, 2021
Our 10th Anniversary Photo Shoot, 2021

Finally,

In reality, the list could go on! I think you can see how special he is! I truly thank God every day for this man in my life who makes each day an adventure!

Who tops your gratitude list for people in your life? Why?

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

Check out Cyber Week Specials at my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, on select books! Individual books, bundles and digital copies! These books make the perfect gift for your friends and family.