Coronavirus · My Thoughts · poetry · square dance

What is Normal Today?

Normal to you, normal to me? Nothing alike, I’m sure! I want to share a poem I wrote a few years ago about why I dance, then I end with one I wrote on March 27, 2020, in the midst of our unusual world!

Normal life: Lin and I dressed up for our wedding and a square dance!
Lin and I dressed up for our wedding and a square dance reception!
Why We Square Dance—Why I Dance

It’s a Friday 
                  Or
                     A Saturday night
A dance night!
 
The week lasted for eons
                  grueling
I had my work face on for five days
                  and I kept going.
I finished this week
                  Exhausted!
 
My family needs drained me
I am wilted,
                  ready to dissolve into bed!
 
But it’s my dance night.
                  I breathe deeply,
                                    I know!
 
I select my square dance outfit.
                  What do I feel like tonight?
                                    Red or turquoise
                                                      Southwest design or frilly lace?
 
The familiarity of my weekly dance routine
                  takes over
 
Systematically I put on my outfit
                  As each layer goes on,
                                    my perspective and energy level changes!
First my hose
                  With a deep breath, I release part of my stress
Then my pettipants
                  Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath
my top and skirt
                  My goodness—a glimmer of hope
my belt
                  A smile slowly crosses my lips
Next my matching petticoat and shoes
                  Yes, I sigh with relief
Finally, my club badge
                  To identify who I am—
                 
                  A square dancer!
 

A spray to finish my hair
                  a touch of lip gloss
A final look in the mirror
A pirouette and a spin
                  crinoline flowing
                                    I am complete!
My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!
 
The drive to the dance hall
                  becomes a time tunnel
                                    a vacuum
                                              a timeless space
                                                            void of the demands of this world
                                                                                                    
                  stress free
                                                                                                                                relaxing
 
Either soft music in the background
                  or
                                  a compatible silence
                  or
                                  a casual conversation
 
A bridge between the world out there
                  with its demands
and the dance world
                  with its pleasures!
 
Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family
The music starts
I step onto the dance floor
                  and I am free!
The carefree child within me
                  spins round and around
                            claps her hands
                                           and
                                                Shouts for joy!
                                                                                                            I am free!
                                                                                                                              The tip starts,
                                                                                                            and I am safe
                                                                                                            to spend two hours
                                                                                                                              In sheer joy and ecstasy!
 
I drop the world’s cares and concerns,
                  at the door,
                                    kicking them out of view!
 
So if you have problems in your world, join me
                  and
                                    leave them at the door!
 
If you are angry or sad
                  The magic begins
                                    when you show up
                                                      and
                                                            dress up!
                  The music starts
                                    and
                                    I step onto the dance floor!
And then the real magic takes over!
 
Cares melt down my shoulders
                  and flitter away on a breath
                                    giving a lightness to my step
Sorrows cluster together
                  and ride away on an angel’s wings.
 
Music playing
                  I am surrounded by dear friends
I step onto the dance floor
                  It is a safe place
                                    and
                                      I am free!
 
That’s why I dance!
 
Copyright©2015 Larada Horner-Miller

As I juxtapose these two poems against each other, I realize the loss I’m experiencing. My husband and I have had a couple of years with limited dancing because of health reasons, but I remember in 2015 when I wrote the above poem, we would dance three times a week. Then we often went away to weekend events that started on Friday evening with a dance, dance all day Saturday and Saturday night and Sunday morning. We were dancing fools!

The world I face today in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic differs drastically from our normal life.

Dream about normal life. The word dream on green leaves
I Want Normal Again

March 27, 2020
 
I want to dance
            To laugh
                        To hug
                                    To live!
I want my life back!
 
This disruption has created havoc
             Distance
                        Isolation
 
I want my old life back,
            But not at the expense
                        Of loss
                                    Of risk
                                                Of stupidity
                                                            Of you
 
I love my normal life
            Lin
                        14 Asher Lane
                                    Jesse, my cat
                                                The richness of community
                                                            Friends
                                                            Family
            Branson
                        The ranch
                                     My brother
                                                And friends
 

Sixty-six years
            Full and rich

I count my numerous joys
            And I submit to the world’s needs!
                        To my elderly neighbor
                                    To my high-risk dancing friend
                                                With a double lung transplant
                                                            To the stranger
                                                                        I want to consider
I submit; I must or perish,
            But as I say this,
                        I yearn for my life back!
 
In my nightly dreams,
            I spin off of Lin’s hand
                        We promenade around the square
                                    I hoot and holler on an allemande left
                                                I relish each hug in the "thank you" circle
 
When it is safe,
the next time we dance,
           I will hug you
                       From the depths of my soul
            And will be made new
                        In your touch
 
But for today,
            I kiss my husband
                        We hug and snuggle
                                    We touch
                                                And it keeps me alive
 
Those dreams
            Sustain my spirit
                        Today
 
And I wait for the day
            For normal to return!
 

As I compare these two poems, I mourn the loss of dance right now–the movement, the activity, the music and our friends! And I’m going to be oh, so careful on the return! How do you keep six feet apart when square dancing? How can you wear gloves and masks and dance? Do you change gloves after every tip? And no hugs? Hugs are a big part of it for me!

What does your normal life look like? I’d love to hear about the activities that feed your soul.


~ 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!

~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/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  Visit my web site and you can order a book on the homepage:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Book Production · Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts

Flippo’s Biography: How Many Pictures to Include?

That is the question! At this point, I have nearly 300 pictures in Marshall Flippo’s biography and have six more chapters to go! Luckily some of those chapters will have no pictures, so I have about four chapters that do.

To explain the major source of the pictures, during our interview time, Flippo and I roamed through three photo albums/scrapbooks that Neeca made for him. Originally, she made the first one as a Christmas gift and then she continued her thoughtful collection of memorabilia of his career throughout their marriage. She said, “I had enough for the second one and then later enough for the third one.”

So, you will see numerous references to these three albums/scrapbooks throughout the book—basically a walk down memory lane. Included in these albums/scrapbooks are photos, articles and reviews of Flippo’s newly released songs. I used all the resources I could out of these three albums/scrapbooks and much of his biography’s information came from Flippo is in response to viewing these.

Stan Jeffus scanned the albums/scrapbooks for a major presentation he did at the Chaparral weekend in Paris, Texas dance in 2016, Flippo’s last time to call at this event. Stan and I met then, and when this book project came up and Flippo lent me the albums, I wondered if Stan had already scanned them because I realized several of the photos in the albums/scrapbooks were in his presentation. He had scanned them and sent me a CD.

So Flippo and I finished the first album/scrapbook the Wednesday of the CALLERLAB Convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2018, then I sent them home with him. From then on, whenever we had our weekly interview time, he viewed the physical album and I looked at the digital album—it worked out great. As Flip went from page to page, it sparked one memory and then another—exactly the bonus I had hoped for in viewing them. He laughed and chuckled and then told another story and another. Then one story would spark another totally not associated with the picture or the ad he saw. I don’t know how many stories would have been lost without the aid of those three albums/scrapbooks.

And it was the photos that fascinated me most and his unbelievable memory for a ninety-year-old man.

After Flippo died, I needed to fill in some information gaps, so I spent countless hours researching all the back issues of Sets in Order and American Square Dance magazines, searching for any reference to Marshall Flippo. In Sets in Order and American Square Dance (previously American Squares), they both first mentioned Flippo in their November 1958 issues. From that point on, Marshall Flippo appeared regularly—reviews of his recordings, interviews, ads for festivals he did, and articles he wrote.

After Flippo died, people sent me photos, so I have an abundance of them, so how do I decide which to use? The selection process has been simple—include as many as possible!

Preparing and importing the pictures has taken a lot longer than I thought it would—I’ve been working on this phase of the book production for about ten days. The process requires that I increase the dpi (dot per inch) of each picture up to 300—the book production computer program won’t allow anything less. Some have needed to be cropped; others needed smears and marks erased. I learned how to do that task and am proud of the results. Here’s one example of the fix.

I’ve enjoyed seeing all the pictures again. As I have looked at them, I can hear Flip’s comments about different ones and laugh—he had a story for each, and some stories can’t be printed! Many people have helped with naming people I didn’t know and Flippo didn’t identify, so this has been a group effort!

My evening ended last night with me importing pictures into Chapter 24, A Calling Life Revered, where I recognize all the awards Flippo received. As I looked at the pictures chronologically and thought about going through this book once more, I marveled at the handsome young caller selling thousands of records, but as I ended the selection of pictures for this chapter, my heart saddened to see the elderly statesman. The words are powerful in the book revealing a humble man who clearly made his mark in the square dance world, but the pictures expand the words as you look at his life visually—the youthful Texas, the young Navy man, the budding young caller, the maturing caller and the elderly man. So yes, the reader will see many pictures of Flippo, his friends and illustrious career events.

This three-year project has grown to a close, and the book will be out by the end of April. It has been a labor of love!

I had originally planned to release this book at the CALLERLAB Convention this year in April in Reno, Nevada but couldn’t because it was cancelled because of the pandemic. I have worked diligently for this month to fine tune all aspects of the book. I will have an online Facebook Live Stream Release Party, so keep your eye out for the date.

Do you have a favorite Marshall Flippo picture? Tell me about it!


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

~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/

~DO YOU WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THE FLIPPO BIOGRAPHY?  I HAVE 232 PRE-ORDERS!  It will be published by the end of APRIL! 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

Marshall Flippo · My Thoughts · Writing

How Do You Cut Any of Marshall Flippo’s Stories?

Scissors to cut stories

If you knew Marshall Flippo, you know he wiled you with his stories and he had many—not surprising with the longevity of his 91 years! So, after 40+ hours of interviews, stories galore and 258,000+ words, I faced the dilemma of cutting some of his stories as I prepare the manuscript to be published, but which ones?

Early on in this project, Flip told me he wanted to tell stories about his caller/cuer friends and include them in his biography—an interesting reflection of him. He saw himself through his relationships.

So, originally, we made a list of seventy-one names of callers, cuers and dancers, and it was amazing to listen to how he listed them. After Flip identified the names that came to him easily, he geographically traveled the United States and added to the list, saying, “northern California, northern California. Around and Around. I thank I’ll have a funny story for each one of them.”

That was the criteria—a funny story! So he eliminated some of the names based on that criteria.

Next, he moved to those who called frequently at Kirkwood Lodge where he called for six months out of the year for 42 years. Then Flip moved to his home state of Texas to add more names. Next, he went to “around St. Louis, and oh, Memphis, Memphis, Memphis!”

Regularly he instructed me on how the chapters should be set up, “That’s going to be quite a few in a chapter—headline like Gary Shoemake. The next one would be Ken Bower.”

As we progressed down the list, Flip moved west to Reno and Mesa. Then he jumped back east to Chicago, then East Coast, North Carolina, and then down the East Coast, Alabama and Georgia.

At this point he emphasized, “Put Georgia down thar. I have a story about Georgia.” Be ready for this hilarious one included in the book. He returned to Texas and listed his mentors and dear friends there. He headed to East Texas and then New Mexico, over to Arizona. Then he went south and northwest.

Quickly Flip announced, “I’m down in Houston again.” He added from San Antonio, Amarillo, Lubbock. This went on for weeks!

After we compiled this list, we went back through it, and Flip told his stories, crossed off some names and added some. Again, I saw the importance of relationships to this man.

When Flip first stated he had a list of callers he wanted to tell stories about, with a snicker, he added, “I have another list but it’s short: Callers I’ve Slept With!” I gasped when he said that but laughed when he told me the story. You’ll have to look for who that is in his biography.

Always involved in the layout of his biography, Flippo later requested I separate out the stories and have a section at the beginning of the book, “Before Marshall Flippo was born in Tuscola, Texas,” identifying the callers who have passed away and had helped him, so these people and their stories hold a premier place at the beginning of his biography.

So, back to my dilemma of cutting stories—I’m still deciding which stories will be in the book, and which will land up on the website, but it doesn’t matter because if you purchase his biography, you’ll have access to all of them.


~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

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

My Thoughts · square dance

Huntsman Senior Games—Our Third Year!

Gold Medal Winners banner with three pictures of dancers

Lin and I just returned from our third Huntsman Senior Games, and we had a fabulous time winning three gold medals in square dancing—yes, square dancing!  We had a set square with three couples from Albuquerque, New Mexico and one couple from St. George, Utah. As a square, we won gold medals for the Mainstream category and the Plus.

My three gold medals
My Three Gold Medals

            Then, Lin and I won a gold medal for the Random square competition. We were lucky in the random square to have Aaron and Kathy Beans, a caller and her husband from Utah and two Japanese couples! What a square we had!

            While there, we participated in all the fantastic events connected with this event! Check out my post from last year—October 15, 2018–for the specific fun activities.

            This year was different because the Japanese contingency was there, and we reconnected because we met some of them three years ago! We also made new Japanese friends, too!

            As we traveled home, I wondered about all the rewards of participating in this activity, so my answer is within a poem:

Man with trophy

Is Winning Everything?


Our square just competed in
            The Huntsman World Senior Games,
                        A friendly contest
                                    Amongst dancers,
                                                Many personal friends.
 
We won two gold medals
            As a set square.
 
Then, Lin and I won
            Another gold medal
                        In the Random squares competition.
Ben and Monica from Albuquerque
            Won silver.
            This event revered
                        By many!
                                    The luck of the draw!
 
As we celebrated our victories,
            I pondered,
                        “Is winning everything?”
 
Yes, I am competitive
            To the bone!
 
Dad’s often repeated mantras
            Have guided my life
                        “Winners never quit
                                    and
                                                quitters never win!”
                        “Stay in there
and
            drink a lot of ice water.”
 
We, as a set square, are competitive!
We participate to win!
                        Positive talk fills
                                    Our conversations!
 
But as I thought about it,
            A quote a speaker said
                        At the Awards Brunch
                                    Caught my attention,
                                                “Be satisfied with
                                                            your performance.”
 
I can honestly say
            We were! No matter what!
So, before we did our traditional
            Screaming and hollering
                        When the first names were called,
                                    We were winners!
 
We won because
            We participated
            We reconnected with Japanese dancers
                        From two years ago
            We made new friends
                        Locally and from Japan
            We laughed
            We danced
            We encouraged others
            We hugged
and
                                    Danced more.
 
We arrived at the event
            With our winning ways!
It wasn’t housed in a medal.
 
Yes, we came to win medals!
And we did
            But we left with
                        So much more!
 
Full hearts
Happy souls
            Rich
Memories of a time
            Where language barriers
                        Didn’t exist!
We were one (WON)
            In the dance!

What are the rewards of competition? Have you ever felt this way?


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

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Two memoirs, a historical fiction, a nonfiction and three cookbooks! It’s your choice! Just be sure to select at least one. Also, I have bundles where you save money when you buy more than one! Also, FREE SHIPPING now in the USA. 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/

I HAVE 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

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.

FRIDAY

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

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.

SUNDAY

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! https://larada.wixsite.com/hotaugustnights

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


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

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

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!


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

FATHER’S DAY SPECIALS: 25% off of 2 BOOK BUNDLE: This Tumbleweed Landed & When Will Papa Get Home? paper copies. Visit my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft, to purchase my books.

Would you like to join the Marshall Flippo Fan Club Facebook page? Interesting posts about Flippo’s life. https://www.facebook.com/groups/328325644382769/

Do you want to pre-order the Marshall Flippo biography? Go here to order the version you want. Monthly SWAG Giveaways! https://goo.gl/forms/4D4hwbHdme1fvJc42

Christmas · family · My Thoughts · square dance

Lin & Larada’s Christmas Letter

Our Christmas newsletter is one of my favorite traditions–I have been sending out a Christmas letter for 30 years. Here’s this year!

Enjoy!

Merry Christmas to you and yours! Feliz Navidad!

Check out my web site for information about my books: https://www.laradasbooks.com

Check out my Etsy Shop, Larada’s Reading Loft for last minute sales!

Life Lessons · My Thoughts · square dance

A Celebration of Marshall Flippo

Cover MemorialToday, November 26, 2018 loved ones gathered at Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home in Abilene, Texas to celebrate the life of Marshall Flippo, and what a celebration it was!

Lin and I arrived at the funeral home forty-five minutes early, and the reception area already overflowed with callers and dancer friends. We greeted dear friends from all over the country who had come to honor a true legend. We were ushered into the chapel early. The majority of the people present were professional callers from all over the United State–the cream of the crop for sure. We continued greeting each other with hugs and subdued smiles.

I looked for Mary Sheehan Johnson, a dear friend of Flip’s who took him to Asilomar in April for his last visit. Asilomar was his favorite festival in his career with its beautiful beach side setting and the organization of Bob and Becky Osgood. We found each other and felt like we were old friends–our common denominator–Flippo.

Kayla Jones began the service with beautiful soft music. Reverent David Hargrove officially opened the service with a warm greeting, Flippo’s obituary and a prayer.

Then Jon, Deborah, Vernon and Kayla Jones sang a beloved hymn, “The Old Rugged Cross.” With the majority of attendees being callers and singers, many joined in the singing. What a beautiful start!

Gary Shoemake gave the first eulogy with heartfelt stories. His longtime friendship with Flippo shined through his words and tears. We laughed and cried in response to his stories. I cried with my dear friend and his raw emotion. Afterwards, we recited the familiar Twenty-Third Psalm.

Wade Driver, Mike Seastrom, and Gary Shoemake sang, “Amazing Grace,” another beautiful hymn that many in the audience sang. What a delight to have of these callers sing!

Melton Luttrell, Flippo’s long-time best friend, did a second eulogy with stories of Flippo’s early years. Melton’s deep love for Flippo grabbed my heart–they were best friends for decades. Then Reverend Hargrove shared several Scripture verses and a message of hope, personalized with Flippo stories–many that highlighted the precious father-son relationship that Flippo had with his dear son, John. He ended this part with us saying The Lord’s Prayer.

Ken Bower, Tony Oxendine, and Melton Luttrell sang the last song of the service, “Just A Closer Walk with Thee,” another song that made me cry. I loved hearing all of Flip’s dear friends give tribute to him through music and song.

Stan Jeffus shared a beautiful video presentation honoring “Precious Memories” of Flippo that had us laughing one minute and crying the next. Stan had Flippo’s songs playing in the background with photos of Flippo with so many friends through the years. The highlight were videos of many of the skits that Flippo was famous for: The Boxer and “I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.” Again we laughed and cried.

Boxer and Frank
Flippo Doing The Boxer Skit

Reverend Hargrove ended the service with the Benediction, then we drove to the Wagon Wheel Hall, a square dance hall that Flippo and Neeca helped build many years ago. The Abilene Square/Round Dancers provided a delicious dinner.

Then friends spent a couple hours telling Flippo stories–full of love and admiration for Flip and lots of humor. Jon Jones started the sharing with playing Flippo’s first recorded song, “The Auctioneer” and a square tried to dance it but had trouble with the figures because we don’t do some of them in square dancing anymore. Jay Henderson played Jerry Story’s tribute to the three legends in square dancing that died in the last month: Frank Lane, Marshall Flippo and Lee Kopman. Lin and I danced that time and it was so precious.

The end came–people lingered. Stories continue out the door. It was hard to leave this festive day. To me, this was the best celebration of someone’s life I’ve ever been to–lots of stories, laughter and tears about a man we all loved dearly. John and Shelly and Neeca–you did a great job in honoring Flip. I will never forget this day!

Paul Cote recorded Flippo’s Memorial Service using Facebook Live. Go and watch this awesome service celebrating Flippo. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/paul.cote.104/videos/10215219947390187/

 

 

My Thoughts · poetry

Why We Square Dance–Why I Dance!

Here’s my poem explaining why I dance – hope you enjoy it!

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It’s a Friday night

Or

A Saturday night

A dance night!

The week lasted for eons

grueling

I had my work face on for five days

and I kept going.

I finished this week

Exhausted!

My family needs drained me

I am welted

and

am ready to dissolve into bed!

But it’s my dance night.

I breathe deeply,

and I know!

I select my square dance outfit.

What do I feel like tonight?

Red or turquoise

Southwest design or frilly lace?

The familiarity of my weekly routine

takes over

Systematically I put on my outfit

and

as each layer goes on,

my perspective and energy level changes!

First my hose

With a deep breath, I release part of my stress

Then my pettipants

Oh my, it’s going—another deep breath

Then my top and skirt

My goodness—a glimmer of hope

Then my belt

A smile slowly crosses my lips

Next my matching petticoat and shoes

Yes, I sigh with relief

Finally, my club badge

To identify who I am—

A square dancer!

A spray to finish my hair

a touch of lipgloss

A final look in the mirror

A pirouette and a spin

crinoline flowing

I am complete!

My exhaustion replaced with anticipation!

The drive to the dance hall

becomes a time tunnel

a vacuum

a timeless space

void of the demands of this world

stress free

relaxing

Either soft music in the background

Or

a compatible silence

Or

a casual conversation

A bridge between the world out there

With its demands

And the dance world

With its pleasures!

Friends greet me as I enter the dance hall—my dance family

The music starts

I step onto the dance floor

and I am free!

The carefree child within me

spins round and around

claps her hands

and

Shouts for joy!

I am free!

The tip starts,

and I am safe

to spend two hours

In sheer joy and ecstasy!

I drop the world’s cares and concerns,

at the door,

kicking them out of view!

So if you have problems in your world, join me

and

leave them at the door!

If you are angry or sad

The magic begins

when you show up

and

dress up!

The music starts

and

I step onto the dance floor!

And then the real magic takes over!

Cares melt down my shoulders

and flitter away on a breath

giving a lightness to my step

Sorrows cluster together

and ride away on an angel’s wings.

Music playing

surrounded by dear friends

I step onto the dance floor

It is a safe place

And

I am free!

That’s why I dance!

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Do you need a release from the stress and strain of the week? Have you ever tried square dancing? It’s available across the USA and the world! Try square dancing!

Duke City Singles and Doubles Square Dance Club – Lessons start Thursday, September 20, 2018.

Check out Larada’s web site

50% off on Labor Day Sales at Larada’s Etsy Shop: Larada’s Reading Loft