Three Years Later in Rural Colorado…

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Today we celebrate three years of living in this magnificent part of Colorado. Granted, this was not all a pleasant experience. In fact the first year and a half, from the time we decided to leave suburbia in Fort Collins until our home was completed here, were grueling. Some synonyms for grueling that describe my experience best: backbreaking, challenging, demanding, formidable, and sometimes hellacious. Building in rural areas is not for the meek, and building in mid-winter has its own challenges, but we lived through it and now we are happy as clams!

(Exactly how happy are clams anyway?)

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We moved here for a number of reasons. To live close to nature, to try passive solar living, to build the kind of home we chose to live in for the rest of our lives, and to find a far more peaceful, healthy and less expensive lifestyle than cities can offer us. We received so much more!

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The greatest gift for me is a sense of freedom and natural silence that I have never come close to in my previous life. I now live in the present, choosing each hour how I want to spend my day. I awaken to the birds singing with the sun pouring in, and go out to work in my fledgling garden of mostly native plants, most of which will be sunflowers blooming very soon!

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Then, if I feel like visiting friends, I drive into La Veta on county roads with wildflowers popping up everywhere. Yes, the dining choices are slim here, just one of the “conveniences” you have to give up to live in the country. Luckily I’m a great cook and prefer to eat at home most of the time.

The hardest part for me was taking the original risk. Letting go of our nice home in suburbia was not easy, especially after seeing the one hundred year old miner’s house we would have to move into in Walsenburg for over a year.

decking Comanche home with mountains in backgroun

Then there were the challenges of working with the local contractors and our builder here. Just getting them to come to work was often the biggest challenge! Here’s where we were one year into the build. But somehow it all came together and everything works today, so we have no complaints.

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I know we will face many more difficulties and much stormy weather up here, but at least we finally know where home is. For now, this is certainly where we belong…

Laura and Rasta on insulation 2014 (2)Would you like to read the whole story of how we ended up here enjoying country living? Check it out: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado.

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Springtime Gardening near the Sangre de Cristos

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The West Peak is stunning in its new coat of snow!

Is there anything more wonderful than spring? Not for me! Especially this year when I finally have the ground prepared for my new wildflower garden! I’ve been in spring bliss in the past few weeks as I gather my precious new plants to decorate our Buddha garden. I enjoy Huerfano Nursery in Walsenburg and…

new plants at perennial favorites Rye

I finally went to experience Perennial Favorites near Rye, Colorado. That place is simply heaven to me, just as wonderful as I hoped it would be! My botany friend Jan says these feelings are in my genetics, with a famous botanist for a father I can’t help myself!

IMGP6036Here’s my small plot to plant and the lovely planting box Mike built for me this spring. I’m trying to grow a few native plants from seeds, plus I have purchased quite a few starters. The deer and rabbits are a concern, so I tried to choose ones they don’t like as much, lavender, penstemons, Blue Mist Spirea. As I took my walks around La Veta last summer, I noticed which plants were surviving the many deer prowling the streets there.

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I also took a few cuttings from a local cholla cactus. Love their magenta blossoms in JULY! It will be a few years before it blooms, but that’s what gardening is all about, tending and caring for your plants as they grow.

NM LocustAlso, I have a request for any locals reading this: Does anyone have seeds for the New Mexican Locust trees we see everywhere past La Veta on the road to Cuchara? I want to try growing them in our area! Thanks!  -LLC

Rent-a-Friend, Slow TV & Country Living

What an interesting array of new ideas this past week! From Japan we have “Rent-a Friend” or family member… Apparently some Japanese can be so obsessed with appearances that they actually rent human stand-ins for various get-togethers. But don’t scoff too soon at this idea, because apparently it is also taking off in our own country! Hell, it may be a great idea for those new to foreign countries…like NYC. For the Japanese, who feel uncomfortable borrowing things, rentals seem more honest. They even have substitute therapists, untrained people who will listen to you complain about your life for only $10/hour!

train rideIn contrast, Norway has recently discovered the popularity of slow television, or “slow TV” (Norwegian: Sakte-TV), popularized in the 2000s by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), beginning with the broadcast of a 7-hour train journey in 2009. This live “marathon” television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length, generally last many hours or even days.

OK now I have a unique and perhaps revolutionary idea. Why don’t you spend the time and energy to make your own hand-picked friend. Imagine how much more satisfying that might be. Or, if you prefer a slower paced life, go find it! Since moving to the country I completely understand the appeal of slow TV, except mine is called ‘slow scenery’ and I stare at it all day long.

IMGP5820From daybreak…

imgp5537to sunset, it changes constantly, and sometimes offers up the most amazing images!

And I have even collected over the decades some of the most perfect music to go along with this tremendous lifestyle. This morning I had to listen to Jesse Colin Young’s song “Ridgetop.” A great description of where we live now. That and “Country Home” work for me!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m new here in rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado

Let’s work around Amazon (the evil empire!) and make certain authors get paid for their books!           Please contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

Southern Colorado is Closed Today and Tomorrow – Slipping off the Grid!

You would not believe how we spent the past three days…

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We got a BAD lightning and ice storm on Thursday night around midnight. I know because it woke me up. The combination of rain, hail, and then ice took out our electricity since Friday morning at 6AM… 3 days ago! No heat, no cooking, no nothing except Mike did set up a generator to keep the food in the frig cold.

We used our camp stove in the garage to heat a few things and eventually got the TV and coffeemaker working…priorities you know.

All in all this was a thought-provoking experience. We drove into town today at lunch for a hot meal and some heat. Low and behold, the power came back!  Hallelujah!!!

In an interesting twist, the TV stations who say that they cover southern Colorado, never noticed when the thousands of Coloradoans who live in the poorest counties in the state, went without power for days! Money still talks….

Anyway, I did write while we were cut off from power. Here are my impressions from Friday morning, the last time we had power:

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The view out our door on Friday morning…10 inches or so!

Why get up?

Nothing like waking up to a foot of thick, wet, snow and all the power is out. This is the best example I can think of that old ZZ Top song: “Why get up?”

The first thing I want is coffee and maybe a little news, but I cannot make that happen. Furthermore, when I contact our electric company, they tell me every town within 50 miles is without power, so even if I could go somewhere, they wouldn’t be open…

Which brings me to the next line of that before mentioned song:

“This whole world’s gone crazy think I’ve seen enough. Gonna sleep forever, why get up?”   …What better description of the Trump presidency?

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       After the storm… If you want the rainbow you must have the rain!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado.  After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home:   Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado   Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books!                         Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

 

Welcoming Spring to the Colorado Foothills

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Spring can be subtle here at 7,000 feet, especially when we have had so much heat and so little moisture this past winter. Talk about mild, we have had only two decent snowstorms since October and very little measurable precipitation. But there are some much welcomed changes to observe.

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First of all the type of birds appearing at our bird feeders are changing. Not that I’m able to identify many, but I do know when a new one flies up.

Rocky Mtn. BluebirdAnd we see the Rocky Mountain Bluebird coming by more and more. Such a beauty! Mike built a bird house for these. Sure hope they make use of their new accommodations! And there are a few other newcomers to our feeders. So nice to see…

 

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In spite of the very dry conditions, I am beginning to see little patches of green along the county roads and subtle suggestions of future wildflowers.  These lands are used to drought. Mike recently carved an abstract piece of art out of the base of a Pinon tree that we had to cut down to create our new home. The base is only a little over five inches wide and yet Mike was able to count 196 rings! This short tree was almost 200 years old, but most of the rings were impossible to see without extreme magnification.

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Oh, and here’s a photo of his new piece. He calls it Rabbit-Hawk… 

Are blogs a new form of vanity press?

What a resounding response to my last question about who reads your blog, and all agreed too!

Come to find out I am not alone in observing that my pre-blog friends and family don’t read my blog posts much, but others whom I’m not even familiar with, find it interesting. Even people in over 75 other countries come here, I assume to check out rural living in the USA.

I suppose most people see blogs as a new kind of vanity press. I can see their point. Who cares about me and my life? But there are also over 18,000 visitors who have made over 40,000 views here. Who are they?

I’m sure some are simply nosy about the lives of others. Some may hope to someday move to a rural area and build a solar home. I’d sure LOVE to hear from any of you!

memoir-of-retirement-2016-largeThe reason I started this blog three years ago, and the reason I put together my new book was to document our experience in leaving suburbia for a quieter, more economical, rural experience in sunny southern Colorado. I have always had very good reasons for writing my books. Of course I also just enjoy writing. I find it helps me with my recent brain injury.

 

My thought process and intent:

We are doing something very different for us. After living in or near cities all of our lives, we are going rural. I wonder if others are thinking about doing something similar? Perhaps they might enjoy reading about one couples’ authentic experience. Perhaps they would like to know more about designing a home around passive solar heating. Maybe they would like to know how well passive solar heating can work. Reading about the experience of another might encourage others or convince them not to take such risks so late in life. Either way they could benefit from our experience.

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We are so glad we took on all the risk and uncertainty, however if you asked me three years ago I might not have agreed. But now I can highly recommend leaving city life behind for the quiet, wildlife watching and pure beauty of living close to nature.

If you never take a risk, you will never know for certain how well it can work out! That’s our best lesson from our own retirement experience…

P.S. For whatever reasons you find to come here and read, THANKS!

To purchase your own signed copies of any of my books, or if you have other questions, please e-mail me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com.

Please follow me on Twitter too!

Robert Mirabal and the power of intention

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“You never know what the spirit of intention can do.”  –Robert Mirabal

We spent a marvelous morning on Saturday at the Native American Celebration at Fort Francisco in La Veta.

First of all the Fort is a beautiful example of 1800s adobe construction. Their exhibits are also a wonderful collection of memorabilia from the past century, like a a walk through the homes of the early 1900s. Old furniture, clothes, and my favorite, photos of people from our past.

Then we enjoyed a dance performance by three girls from the Jicarilla Apache Nation. The highlight was a performance by Robert Mirabal of Taos Pueblo. Yes, his music is magic, and I also found great wisdom in his words.

Robert MirabalRobert shared with this mostly European-American crowd the history of this area and what it meant to Native Americans. He explained why his ancestors came up here from the south and kept the trails alive and fresh for others. He spoke of intention in our daily life.

When Robert plays his flutes and sings, it sounds like he is channeling the life and  stories of his ancestors, bringing up vivid imagery of our Native American past.

And in a way, isn’t that what we all do each day, channel our ancestors? So much of who we are is determined by choices made by our parents and grandparents.

I am honored to be now living on this land where the buffalo roamed, the place where my grandfather hoped to retire.  I feel closer to the land than I have in decades, and I intent to protect this land and its heritage.

Excerpted from my new book: A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado.