What is great about Spanish Peaks Living?

Nine years ago this month, Mike and I drove down from Fort Collins to choose a few acres in Navajo to buy. We didn’t know much about this area, only that we loved how it felt to our suburban souls. It took us another year to build our passive solar home facing the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with Mount Mestas to our west.

I was reminded again early this morning why I love living here. I woke up around 6:30 AM to see an unobstructed view of a bright red sunrise to our southeast. This is BIG SKY country to me, where the landscape and the silence are the main characters! Every time I go outside in the morning I stop and feel astounded by the silence. This is what the earth used to be like. Maybe a few bird sounds, but otherwise perfect silence…

Sure there are also unattractive features to this area, but the land is encouraging and haunting all at once, and the summers are glorious!

Our first summer here we had so much fun exploring the back roads and back stories, like this dilapidated adobe schoolhouse slowly sinking back into the earth west of here…

or taking the train up to Fir to hear the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band play in a big mountain meadow.

When I first met Mike he said he wasn’t moving again until he could look at something besides the house across the street.

We found this cartoon in a magazine and laughed together about it. Then we went in search of someplace with truly ‘spectacular views.’

We found those here and so much more…

Create Your Own “Lifetime Achievement Award”

While watching the Golden Globes last night, I decided it was time for me to create my own lifetime achievement award. While watching so many ‘stars’ in their fancy outfits, it becomes too easy to undervalue our own achievements, but only we know how difficult it may have been for us to choose a certain life path and achieve what we have in our own chosen endeavors.

Only we know what struggles we have endured to overcome major obstacles to be where we are today.

To identify our own achievements we must first ignore any outside opinions and judgments, because no one knows like we do how hard we may have fought to overcome major fears just to become our best selves today. I know for myself I often wonder why I could not have been more fearless in the choices I have made, and yet I’m sure there are plenty of good reasons for that.

For now just focus on your achievements instead of what you may perceive as your failures. For example, instead of only seeing the failures you have had in your past, focus on the fact that you now enjoy a few wonderful, genuine love relationships.

My list of lifetime achievements includes the fact that I did finally find love, I have put up a valiant fight to be nothing but myself and celebrate that, I have generally followed my dreams, I’ve seen much of the world, and I’m proud and happy with myself at age 67.

If I continue to focus on that, and not on what I haven’t done, than I am indeed a success in my own mind

1883: “You have the journey – that’s it!”

I have been blown away by watching the Yellowstone prequel “1883” in the past week or so. I did not know a “western” could be so poetic, authentic and full of heart. I loved it so much I watched it again after I got back from Christmas and loved it even more!

First, a little background. I was raised in Kansas near the prairie where my ancestors arrived many decades before me. When I first started reading books, I loved stories about the pioneer West. The first stories I ever wrote were about Native Americans and their ponies. Then I started reading everything by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the personal journals of westward women. I only wanted to play “pioneer woman” as a kid. I guess you could say I have been unconsciously searching for the perfect “western” my whole life. I finally found it in “1883.”

First of all I love that the main character and narrator is a teenage woman. The whole story is told from Elsa’s perspective, with just the right combination of authentic and sensitively-written narrative and dialogue. I felt like I could see into Elsa’s heart, while also understanding the other characters’ inner lives as well. As the writer, Taylor Sheridan, explains in “Behind the Story,” he wanted this story to feel as intimate for the audience as reading a good novel, or even the personal journal of a young woman on a wagon train heading west. He does a masterful job of that, and yet I keep wondering how a man could have such an intimate understanding of a teenage woman’s worldview.

As I think about it now, the ever-changing landscape is the main character in this story, that and the silence. So many of Elsa’s observations remind me of my own after moving to rural Colorado eight years ago. My amazement at the silence and beauty of each sunrise and sunset, the comfort of the wildlife passing by our home each day, the glorious seasons we experience so intimately, this is what I love about living out here. Elsa’s story seems to authentically capture the beauty and the violence of the American West over one hundred years ago around the time the transcontinental railroad began changing everything. There is so much truth in some of her observations like:

“I think cities have weakened us as a species.”

Another profound aspect of Elsa’s story is how living in the West allowed so much more freedom for women. I enjoyed watching her relationship with her mother develop as her Mom tries to remind her of the limitations of being a woman in 1880s America. Elsa rebels every chance she gets. Elsa enjoyed the loss of rules and customs as they moved west. The big transition came when she decided she was a cowboy and got herself some pants to wear instead of dresses.

I loved the writer’s sensitive portrayal of the other characters, especially when it came to ‘race.’ Race is not a word I use, because I do not believe we humans are different ‘races.’ But back in 1880s America, blacks were treated badly as a general rule. Thomas, the old Civil War friend of Shea, played by the wagon train boss Sam Elliott, understood how badly others could treat him for being black, as he stated at one point, “You ain’t never been whipped.” Native Americans play an important role in this saga and mostly as sympathetic characters including members of the Comanche and Crow tribes. The true “bad guys” of this Western are “bandits.”

Suffice to say this is by far the best western story I have ever seen. It shows the beauty and severe violence of the American West in no uncertain terms, and I believe it may be more authentic as a story than any other I have read. I found the very last phrase in this story so vivid and relevant to my state of mind these days –

“There is a moment when your dreams and memories merge together and form a perfect world. That is heaven, and each heaven is unique. It is the world of you…”

Buddha & Me: A Few Of My Best Buddha Photos

I have had this Buddha statue for twenty years now, and taken many pictures of him in all seasons and at the few homes I have lived at in that time. I bought him for my 47th birthday, after I bought my very first home in Loveland Colorado. I had two great shelties back then, Mica and Calla.

A few years later I moved in with Mike in Fort Collins

He had a magnificent backyard with over thirty aspens in it. I placed Buddha under a big old Upright Willow tree and then planted flowers in front of him. I had Lilies of the Valley, Johnnie Jump-ups, Sweet Williams, Hosta and Bleeding Hearts. By then I had my dog named Rasta.

With our thoughts we make the world.

Oh how my garden grew! I called it my Peace Garden.

I took photos of Buddha in all types of weather back there. Buddha loved his coats of snow!

Then we moved to Walsenburg to begin building our solar home west of there… We rented a rundown hundred year old miner’s home there and Buddha was not so happy sitting out back in the weeds. I asked him and he said, “YUCK!” He said,

“Build me a glorious garden with a tremendous view of the mountains, so we did.”

The garden grew and grew and Buddha smiled.

Sometimes I could barely see him, but he didn’t mind…

…because he knew that spring would come again in all of its brilliant natural glory!

What kind of character do you wish to manifest?

Ice Dancing is the Perfect Sport (for me!)

If any of you were able to watch the finals of the Free Skate competition this weekend in Finland, you were very lucky! The winning Canadian couple, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, absolutely took my breathe away when they skated their final program to the music from Evita. This was the epitome of artistic beauty completed with amazing ice skating skills. I had it on Peacock so I could watch it over and over again. Such perfection!

I’ll let you in on a secret few know about me. I have absolutely loved ice skating for as long as I can remember. My brother John and I began skating in junior high school. Colorado College had their own ice rink and we got to skate there for free, because my Dad worked at the college. I would go skating as often as I could in high school with my friend Linda Cook, spending hours perfecting our balance, coordination, figures, spins, jumps and hockey stops. In high school during boring classes (like chemistry!), I would dream up skating routines, escaping into dreamy dance routines, music, etc. It was a major focus for my teenage brain and body.

Why? Because I loved the freedom and versatility of skating. After I got good at it I loved to work on skating figures on my edges. The fine tuning required to lean into an edge just the right amount without overdoing it fascinated me. It seemed like the perfect sport, requiring great strength, control and artistry.

Only later I learned about ice dancing. Recently I signed up for Peacock streaming just so I can enjoy all of the international ice skating competitions at length. I especially love that I can watch the skating without all the interruptions of commentators. How rude to talk during these amazing performances! I like the individual events too, but the concentrated coordination of the pairs and ice dancers blow me away.

Now I know I am a true romantic. When I watch them I sometimes feel like I have escaped to the land of sprites and fairies. It is almost unbelievable how the ice dancers swoop and swirl like snow flakes across the ice. If only I could have been an ice dancer!

“Meet Cute” made me laugh and laugh!

From a purely Boomer perspective, this 2022 movie (a Peacock Original) made me laugh a lot! I would be the first to admit I know almost nothing about the “younger generation. ” I didn’t have kids and amazingly no grandkids either, so I have such a limited insight into how they relate and the ways they see their world. I felt like this movie gave me a little bit of insight and I found it hilarious.

To watch it you must be willing to suspend ‘reality’ quite a bit. Luckily Mike has helped me a lot with that. Rotten Tomatoes calls this a “time-loop romcom” where the two main characters keep repeating similar dates over and over again, because Sheila has discovered a time machine in a tanning bed in her manicurist’s backroom. In this process Sheila starts out absolutely loving Gary at first and proceeds to become super critical of him as they repeat their first date over a year. Then it becomes, can she change him by changing some of the traumas from his past?

At first I liked this film because I realized how fun it would be to re-live my first dates with the men I fell in love with when I was younger. In all cases I fell in love very quickly and we had great times together from the very first date.

Then I started to laugh at how differently the younger generation seems to approach tough subjects like depression and wanting to kill yourself. I felt that bad a number of times when I was young, but I never considered speaking to anyone about it except maybe a therapist. With much honesty and a great sense of humor these characters seemed to normalize hating your life. In our generation is seemed to be so hush-hush and such an embarrassing sign of personal failure. To the younger generation it almost seems natural or even normal to talk about how much and how often life sucks.

There are a number of aspects I loved about this film. See it! If you don’t like it you’ll know pretty quickly…