Naturalist report from Spanish Peaks Colorado

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In a summer of many terrible wildfires in the West, we are fortunate to have received over 12 inches of precipitation from March through June in our area. How do I know? I measured every inch of it myself for COCORAHS. We are also fortunate to have such vigilant volunteer fire fighters patrolling our area at all times.

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Our temperatures are not too bad at 7,000 foot elevation, and our solar home is keeping us nice and cool this summer. The highest temperatures here have been in the low 90s and our well-insulated stucco home hasn’t gone up past 76 degrees inside yet, with no need for AC. Every room has a ceiling fan when more air flow is needed.

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Our greatest surprise has been the plethora of different birds stopping by our bird feeders this spring and enjoying our bird bath. Mike also built a bird house to Blue Bird specs this spring, and we did have a few Mountain Blue Birds check it out…

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but in the end a pair of Ash-throated Flycatchers laid eggs inside. We were thrilled to watch them so close to our home, bringing bugs back for the babies to consume. Mike looked inside the nest a few times while the parents were away.

Then we were so disappointed to find they had all flown the coop while we were up in Fort Collins this past week! In fact so many of the birds we’ve come to expect at our feeders are not around anymore…

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I had another surprise in my garden recently. I LOVE to see so many lovely cacti (common name Cane Cholla) around this region. This photo was taken along I-25 on July 2nd on our way up to Fort Collins. I read that if you cut off a small section and stick it in the ground, it will begin to grow immediately, so I tried that this past May.

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The other day I was messing around in my native plants garden, and was shocked to find that my tiny seedling was already flowering! You go girl!

IMGP6233Keep your eye out for a major bloom along I-25 north and south of Pueblo soon!

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All in all, I am quite pleased with the turn out in our new native plants garden in the southern Colorado foothills. Note the Mirabilis Multiflora that volunteered to bloom right in front of Buddha… Life is good!

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Best of Boomer Blogs, Number 505

IMGP6244I woke up entirely too early this morning. In fact the moon was still slowly sinking in the west when I went outside, and I could see the orange haze from wildfires west of here. I enjoy working in my garden at this time of day, before the sun comes up.

It’s my turn to present a few blog posts from my fellow Boomer bloggers. Today I received an interesting mix of posts about food and drink, along with a couple about death and the pain of loss.

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Over the holiday weekend Tom Sightings had a premonition that something was wrong — only to find out that a friend of his had died suddenly of a heart attack. Now he shares with you his way of saying goodbye to a friend.

It can be hard to see the blessings in the tough challenges that arise in life. Here Carol Cassara writes about a different way of viewing the pros and cons of life’s major challenges.

beer toastOK, so some of us are better than others at embracing life’s challenges. In fact some us choose to drown our sorrows, but what does that do to our health? On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, asks whether we should limit our alcohol consumption. A recent study showed even one glass of alcohol per day can increase your risk of breast cancer. In contrast, a huge study is being undertaken to see if a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail every day might prevent a heart attack and help us live longer. I wonder who funded that study?

No matter. Alcohol is not my drug of choice… and I also cannot stand SPAM!

spam and eggsThis week Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting had food history on her mind. Though not a fan of processed products, she nevertheless pays homage to a product consumed today around the world. Some love it, others hate it. Here’s Ms. Baer’s tribute: Spamming the World for 80 Years. 

After a three day trip back to the city we moved here from, the longest time we have spent in a city since moving to the country, I came home feeling so relieved that I never have to live in a city again!

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In a world full of self-absorption, better known as selfie obsessions, I thought I might add my own version with my garden and the Spanish Peaks behind me as I peer into my own dining room…

Happy Summer! Have some fun while the sun shines!

 

 

In Praise of Natural Sounds and Night Skies

“The joy of listening to the quiet symphony of nature and the wonderment of seeing the Milky Way stretching overhead are unique experiences that can still be found in many of our national parks.”   — Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division, NPS

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I was so pleased to discover this week that our National Park Service maintains a Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. These are a few of the joys I have discovered and begun to fully appreciate only by moving away from cities. By living rural I can finally hear the great animal orchestra composed by nature, and look up to find some of the last remaining harbors of natural darkness in our country.

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Now that I know, I wish to preserve and provide opportunities for everyone to experience this critical resource.

To learn more, go view this CBS video: Recording the Sounds of Nature’s Quietest Places

Romantic Expectations & Reality

So I’m watching some show on HGTV, and the woman who’s looking for a new home says, “I’m looking for a home that feels magical when you walk in!” From this brief comment I launch into my own version of a song from this 1965 Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella television special.                       Sure, you remember it, don’t you? With Leslie Ann Warren?

I LOVED THIS SHOW AT AGE TEN! I memorized the songs.

Cinderella 1965“Magical, mystical, miracle, can it be, is it true? Things are incredibly lyrical, is it me? No it’s you. I do hear a waltz. I see you and I hear a waltz. It’s what I’ve been waiting for all my life, to hear a waltz.”

What a lovely thought, and how unrealistic can you get? I know Rodgers and Hammerstein were probably just trying to think of words that went together well, but instead they helped to create the most unrealistic expectations in a generation of young girls!

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Besides the story, which promotes the idea of waiting for a prince to rescue you from your grim surroundings, the words of the songs, which have stayed in my mind for over 50 years now (!) suggest we will most certainly “hear a waltz” when Mr. Right arrives in our lives. And they say we don’t have brainwashing in the USA… No, we have commercialism instead! Just as powerful and encouraged by our culture.

To be fair, by the time I was more interested in looking for a partner, around 1975, this song by Jefferson Starship was popular, and it also promised miracles. 

Mike and Rasta in kayak 3No, I’m not saying that falling in love isn’t magical, I’m just saying the first time I met my “prince” in 2005, I didn’t hear a waltz OR believe in miracles. I had finally gotten past all of that garbage at age 49. I was now ready to meet a real person who had the self-awareness and emotional capability to love and give to others in their life. As it turned out, nothing about his outward appearance or natural talents were what I expected. No, I had no expectations of falling in love with a motorcycle man who knew how to fix things. But I went with my gut and inner wisdom. Good thinking Laura!

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Now that we live almost off the grid in rural southern Colorado, I have so many more reasons to appreciate his abilities to wire up the generator when the power goes off for days at a time. No magical, mystical miracles. I don’t remember hearing a waltz when he appeared, but I knew instinctively that he would help me make it through the rest of my life, with love and affection every single day!

Boomer Blogs: The Modern Version of a Friendly Fireside Chat

blog-pictureAfter contemplating this topic for a few weeks, I concluded that blogs, at least boomer blogs, have nothing to do with vanity. I see them now as a modern campfire where we gather together to share our own views on our present place in life.

We come here to share our life stories and what we are learning as we age. Here we bring like-minded folks together to validate each others’ experience of life itself, regardless of where we live or who shares our life with us.

Today I would like to share with you a few great ideas from my blogging friends on self soothing!

peony-prettyLet’s start out with a couple suggestions from writer Carol Cassara. Carol thinks flowers are a wonderful way to settle your soul. One of her favorites is peonies. Feasting your eyes on these beautiful peonies brings her peace.  But if flowers aren’t your thing, how about some cloud meditations? When something upsets you and your mind begins to spin out of control, why not try clouds!

A new expression I have learned from my blogging buddies is la pura vida. So what is that anyway? According to “Best Costa Rican Tours”, pura vida (pronounced POO-rah VEE-dah) and meaning “Pure Life” in English, actually means: no matter what your current circumstances, life for someone else is far less fortunate. So consider that perhaps your situation isn’t all that bad. No matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short. This way of seeing your life seems particularly appropriate to us Americans, who complain constantly while living lives most would define as living like kings and queens!

peaceful-waterfallsThis past week Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting took a vacation to Costa Rica. There she experienced la pura vida first hand as the calm lifestyle of Costa Rican natives, and loved it! No constant political stress, no cellphone ringing, touring at a leisurely pace, and no meetings or other commitments. She knows this feeling will not last, but while it does it provides one with some much needed nourishment to body and soul. Read about her slow-style adventure in Pursuing La Pura Vida in the Place of Turtles.

Another way to lower overall stress is communicating well with others. On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer specialist, writes this week about how being assertive can help you be happier. Learning how to positively tell people what you’re thinking and what you need improves communications, including when you have a consumer complaint.

Shoot, it seems like everyone is on vacation but me! In his constant search for the perfect retirement place, Tom Sightings is snowbirding in Charleston, SC, for the month of February. In City by the Bay Tom takes us on a tour of historical Fort Sumter, as well as some of the charms of modern-day Charleston.

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Since I’ve been far too ill in the past couple months to go on vacation, and our new solar home in southern Colorado still feels like a luxury vacation home to me, I decided to share with you a few activities that soothe my sometimes troubled mind, and help me stay in the present. Enjoy your life! None of us get out of this alive…

Please feel free to follow me on Twitter and let me know if you would like to add your boomer blog to this carnival!

 

The Lives of Frontier Women (and me)

I’ve been thinking about a number of things lately. Confrontations with your own mortality can do that to a person. Questions arise like how proud am I of myself and my life thus far, regardless of what anyone else thinks? Yes, I know, I can be a bit cerebral at times.

Then I heard a truly thought-provoking quote that made me laugh out loud the other night. The story was about how so many Americans came out to the western frontier in the late 1800s either because they were “trying to lose themselves,” as in avoiding Civil War conscription, “or to find themselves.” This cracked me up! It hit the nail on the head in terms of why I moved out of the city and chose to retire in rural southern Colorado.

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I should probably preface this with my eternal fascination with frontier life. For as far back as I can remember I played “pioneer woman” on the playgrounds of my elementary schools in Kansas. I loved watching TV shows like Wagon Train and Rawhide, or any movie about frontier life. I grew up on the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and when I got older I loved reading the journals of women who came out west in covered wagons.

When I started my writing career, I published a few magazine articles about how many came out West simply to escape tuberculosis in the cities back East. Most don’t know that TB was the leading cause of death in the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before penicillin was discovered in the late 1920s. Many came in hopes of a change in fortunes too, like discovering silver or gold and getting rich quick.

I realized just this morning I came to rural Colorado to both lose my old Self or identity, and find out all the other people I might be. I know now how influenced we are by others as children and young adults. It’s almost impossible not to be. But the re-birth which often happens later in life is the shedding of old personas, the letting go of all those voices inside that want to tell you who you really are.

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I’m the youngest one here!

This is the process of getting back to that vulnerable child you were when you were young and impressionable. It feels sometimes like getting back to your original soul and appreciating it for the first time, a spiritual downsizing from the burdens of our past…

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What a glorious discovery this can be!

I’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 in the foothills:

A 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)