Easy Rider: The view from 62

I was 14 years old when “Easy Rider” came out. I decided to see it again this week. So glad I did, if only for the music!

EAsy RiderWikipedia describes it as a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers (played by Fonda and Hopper) who travel through the American Southwest and South after selling a large score of cocaine. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood era of film making during the early 1970s. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998, a landmark counterculture film and a “touchstone for a generation.” Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle.

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Although I know this film hasn’t changed in 48 years, watching it showed me how much I have changed, and most of my changes have taken place since moving to rural Colorado. For example, when the riders pick up a hippie on the way to a commune, they eventually ask him where he’s from. His answer is simple and so true: “A city.” When pressed for more he says it doesn’t really matter what city, because cities have the same effect on us as people. I so agree now. And if you don’t, I challenge you to move to the country for a few years. Then we’ll talk.

east rider Jack NicholsonI have also learned a lot about my biases and judgments of people I don’t know. For some reason, moving here has lighten my load of judgments on those who don’t look like me. I know in ‘Easy Rider’ the country people in the south hate hippie-types. There’s a great line in there from George, the local drunk played wonderfully by Jack Nicholson, who tags along with them on their journey to New Orleans. He says many just don’t appreciate the freedom these two bikers represent.

When they see it they want to kill it. Nice foreshadowing.

clearer when in loveMike rode a Gold Wing when I first met him. Before I fell in love with him 12 years ago, I judged those who rode motorcycles, especially if they had a tatoo. So much for that judgment… I have learned quite a bit about how to experience true personal freedom by living with Mike and by moving away from cities.

How do we benefit from judging ourselves and others? We don’t.

Laura 60th birthday partyWant to know more about the changes you may go through by leaving city life behind? After checking out Cuenca Ecuador, we left suburban Fort Collins forever in 2014 to build a passive solar home in rural southern Colorado. Today we enjoy the amazing advantages of solar heating plus a 180 view of the Sangre de Cristo range!

Enjoy my new memoir about this transition from city to country living

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)

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

An Excellent New Teen Film!

“Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and its all over much too soon.” – Woody Allen

the Edge of SEventeenIt is a mystery to me why I so enjoy a good movie about the teenage years, but I do. And I haven’t enjoyed anything like The Edge of Seventeen (2016) since Juno back in 2007.  I happened to pick it up at the La Veta Public Library and was so glad I did. Talk about a great story and amazing writing, not to mention some great acting in the mix! No wonder it was chosen as one of the ten best movies of 2016 by Vanity Fair! If you enjoy a film that takes you into the life of a very smart but confused teenager with a wry sense of humor, you’ll like this. Every scene drew me further into Nadine’s world of boundless insecurity and self-consciousness. The acting between Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson (her favorite teacher) was spot on, and the cinematography also captured those moments of complete disillusionment so a part of being young and inexperienced in the insanity of life.

Hailee Steinfeld in the edge of seventeen

For example, I related to Nadine’s frustration with her boomer Mom (Kyra Sedgwick) whose husband recently died. She captured the messed up, self-absorbed parent role perfectly, but in a funny way! I had to write down her advice to Nadine who is constantly depressed. Mom said: “When I feel down. I get really quiet and still inside. And then I say to myself:  ‘Everybody in the world is as miserable and empty as I am, they’re just better at pretending.’

Luckily, Nadine had a great teacher to go talk to about all of this. Talk about comic timing with her teacher played by Woody Harrelson. I loved him in this!

Thailand_1973 Photo for blogOn a personal level I so related to Nadine’s teenage angst. Nothing made sense to me at 17. I felt so ugly and awkward all the time. I hated the caste system at my high school in Colorado Springs. I hated how my supposed friends vaporized when they got a boyfriend. I hated how the popular kids could take advantage of the rest of us. The entire scene turned me off, and I knew I just had to survive this insanity and make it to college to finally try and find a better life.  As it turned out the kids at college were just as messed up, if not more, and the self-consciousness and insecurity just kept coming for years after that. I will never forget asking a friend’s Mom when I was 24:

“When will life begin to make sense?”

She thought for a moment and then turned to me and said,

“It will take quite a while, but it will get better.”

And you know what? She was so right!

I only wish I had had a great film like this to watch when I was a teen. It would have made me feel much less alone. This film was so good, it makes me want to write a screen play!

We’re newcomers to rural southern Colorado. After two years I compiled a short diary of our ups and downs as we moved 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 and feel free to contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!  Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

COPD in Women

“When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”  — American Lung Association

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen, that I have a hard time breathing, especially when my annual bout with bronchitis arrived. Most ignored me or looked like they wished I would shut up, so I did. I decided they probably knew better than me. Then last fall a doctor gave me a reality check. After a night-long breathing test and a pulmonary function test, she told me I have COPD with a possibility of worse. X-rays and cat scans followed.

All I know is I have a terrible time breathing here at 7,000 feet. I guess I had to move here to know for sure…

Mount Yale

Mount Yale, Central Colorado

Do you have any idea how demoralizing this is? To be told at age 61 that your ability to breath is not good, and will never get better. I’ve always done whatever I wanted to, but that is over. I’ve climbed fourteeners! It wasn’t ever easy, but I’ve done it!

So today I went to the American Lung Association page and found: “Taking Her Breath Away: The Rise of COPD in Women”  Here’s a few fun facts about COPD:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that slowly robs its sufferers of the ability to draw life-sustaining breath. It is the third leading cause of death in the United States, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer, and is not decreasing nearly as quickly as the other two

Did you know that more than 7 million women in the U.S. live with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema? Millions more have the disease, but are undiagnosed, possibly because female COPD patients are commonly misdiagnosed with asthma.

In fact, the number of deaths among women from COPD has increased four-fold over the past three decades, and since 2000 more American women than men have died of the disease. Additionally, research shows women diagnosed with COPD experience higher rates of anxiety, depression and report lower quality of life.

The greatest difficulty for me, besides accepting this miserable diagnosis, is how discouraging exercising is. If walking around town is challenging, what then?

My favorite part of the above-mentioned document about COPD, is the last paragraph where the Lung Association encourages people like me “to speak out about the toll COPD is taking in [our] lives…learn more about how it affects us; advocate for our own best care, and become a voice for other women with COPD in my community.”

The American Lung Association’s 2017 “State of the Air” report finds that 4 in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthful levels of air pollution, putting them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects like lung cancer, asthma attacks cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm.”

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…