As many of you already know, I am pretty obsessed with weather watching! I have been reporting daily precipitation to COCORAHS and the Weather Service since the Fort Collins Spring Creek flood in July 1997.
But last night was a lifetime record for me!
This morning I looked out at 23 inches of snow, and it’s still coming down!
Mike went out at 7 AM to measure it for me…
and get our overflowing rain gauge. Yep, 1.23 inches of precipitation!
Yep, it’s really 25 inches total!
Needless to say, Rasta and I have decided to stay in today…
Have you ever thought you would like to learn more about the history of the use of psychoactive plants and botanicals in world history? I just saw a GREAT film about this on the History Channel this week!
Here’s few fun facts from this documentary:
From the beginning of the human race to the present, the human race has been using plants to feel better. From early man (& women), the Egyptians, and the Mayans (Pre-Columbian societies) there has been a constant search for medicinal plants. For example, the Mayans were quite familiar with plants in their environment. They regularly used tobacco in enemas, (bowel is blood rich) and ritual practices. Another example, their use of a solution with ayahuasca done in the presence of a Shaman. It’s purpose was to create a heightened perception of reality, creating a visionary state where one might commune with the gods. They believed these plant rituals gave them a unique gateway to the spiritual realm and the substances used were sacred tools to help them connect. They also used performance enhancing drugs in sports and many other pharmaceutical products.
The Ancient Greeks, especially the philosophers, used pharmaceuticals to create altered states, have out-of-body experiences and to journey to other worlds to meet their gods. Mushrooms and ergot (barley fungus) were used with no moral stigma, with the full realization that plants can heal and harm us. Drugs were about pleasure in the right circumstances and context, not about right and wrong. They felt, if the people were using plants to experience a union with God, what did they need with organized religion?
The Age of Religious Judgment: The Christians
After the Romans were converted to Christianity, their use of psychotropic substances became illegal. Early Christian history shows anxiety and suspicion when it came to pleasures of the body. According to them, faith in Christ is the only road to salvation, therefore an interest in alternative realities became a problem. The sense of puritanical self-denial was an important part of early Christian views. Denial of the pleasures of the body was essential in conversion to Christian spirituality, and this became the dominant value system in the West.
The Age of Discovery
Exploration of new worlds led to the discovery of new psychotropic substances, for example tobacco and cannibis. Since most drugs come from plants, international travel led to a confluence of drug products transferred to Europe in the early modern world. In addition, with the introduction of tobacco to the New World, came a new way to administer drugs, by smoking them… What did the term “patent medicines” mean in the 1800s in the USA? It meant they didn’t need to tell you what was in them. “Medicines” like morphine, cocaine, heroin, and aspirin.
Drink your Coca-Cola and you’ll feel so much better!
How has our society defined some psychoactive plants as “medicines” through the ages, and others as bad for you? Learn more by watching this documentary:
I’ve been overwhelmed lately with the idiocy we call American politics. We all go somewhere different to get our “news” and then we spout whatever misinformation we hear wherever. It sounds to me like we have too much free time and too many sources of information and misinformation, and the Internet is responsible for most of this. On top of that we have the worst wildfires in American history and hurricanes coming on shore like never before.
What I hate to see is all of the hatefulness that Trump has succeeded in spreading throughout our country, one that in fact we all love and want to be better. Most of us just want a better country with less death and destruction. Can we all agree on that at least?
To combat this anxiety and hatefulness I am pulling way back from watching the news. In addition, I have been trying a new affirmation out. Every morning when I wake up the first thing I see is my little sign across the room that says:
Today I’m going to love my life!
I find that when I focus this way, I truly have so many reasons to love my life. Politics do not need to consume us. Consider the fact that you are alive in a wonderful country at a glorious time in history. One of my favorite quotes from the 17th century was that “life was nasty, short and brutal.”
Today many Americans have the opportunity to live long, happy and healthy lives. Sure some of us cannot breathe without the assistance of supplementary O2 (like me!) but at least we can access those resources. We have the benefits of science helping us to improve our lives and the lives of others. LUCKY US!
I don’t know about you, but when I look around me, I find so many reasons to love my life. I feel so much gratitude for it all! I feel I have had the proper circumstances to get a good education and then make the kind of choices that have made my life great. Self-improvement has been so important to me, as well as learning that blaming and shaming others for my own faults is toxic. Self -responsibility has been key for me to create the kind of life I can love.
To tell the truth, I never would have imagined that I would end up here in this safe and beautiful (but smoky today!) place with a life I can love.
From time immemorial, we humans have been joining together to mourn or memorialize our dead. This is a tradition we seem to need, to get together and recognize the death of a loved one. In the past this would be called a funeral. Today it can be any kind of ceremony to gather together and grieve the passing of someone special to us.
My father died on March 10th of this year, right before “the virus” began to run and ruin our lives. We had hoped to have a special ceremony for Dad at the Denver Botanic Gardens, a place where he often lectured and was well known as one of our state’s foremost botanists. That could not happen. And now, six months later, we still wish we could do something to get together and commemorate his life and his passing. Then I realized, hundreds of thousands of Americans are feeling the exact same way. Because of this horrible pandemic, so many of us cannot even grieve in the usual ways. At least my Dad did not have to die alone, but we were then left with no way to get together and mourn him. I’m so glad we did at least have a fantastic 90th birthday party for him. That was a wonderful coming together of those who loved my father and knew his was a life worth celebrating!
I am struck again by how fundamentally social we are as a species. From New Orleans jazz funerals to Tibetan sky burials, we always find our own ways to deal with love and loss. We need that time to fully embrace our return to the earth from which we came. What could be more natural than dying, and yet it always seems so sudden and unexpected…
One of my favorite aspects of moving here has been that I finally feel good about my future after death. I now know I wish to have my ashes spread over this peaceful and quiet place, the land below our home here in rural southern Colorado. Perhaps my Dad would like that too, since we live in one of his favorite ecosystems, the Pinon-Juniper woodland.
“Yes, it’s beautiful to exhale after you inhale. At the right time, when the chest is full, breathe out and let go.” – Norman Fischer, “Suffering Opens the Real Path”
This may seem like a no-brainer, but as I think back to so many of my early relationships I see how I did exactly the opposite. I swear I was looking for trouble in my past relationships, instead of a better life for myself. I was looking for someone to help. It wasn’t really conscious, but it was there. Somewhere inside I thought my only worth was in helping others. No one could possibly love me just for being me. I wasn’t worth that much.
Looking back I truly suffered in my early relationships, but I thought that was what being with others was all about. Where did I get this gigantic piece of misinformation? Why wouldn’t I choose to be with others who loved and wanted the best for me?
As crazy as this was, co-dependency works this way. And until I learned so much more about my emotional problems in counseling, I continued to torture myself with the same old assholes, even into my first marriage.
I guess I finally got tired of all the drama and sadness. I chose differently at age 49. I was not sure when I first met Mike. Was I making the same past mistakes? It took a year or so to know for sure. But I know now that I live within a relationship where my partner does everything he possibly can to make me a happier and healthier person. I have found my soft place to fall.
Most of us start out believing that love can transform our lonely lives into something better. When that doesn’t work out as hoped for or planned, do we dare dream again? After 25 years, I lost my job back in 2004. At age 49, divorced with no kids, no job and no career, I began to totally focus on “What’s next?” The rational, practical side of my brain told me to go get another crappy job, but my inner wisdom begged to differ. It kept prodding me to open my own non-Internet-based matchmaking service. Eventually I agreed. I figured, what did I have to lose? I needed a date and a job.
Little did I know that this new business would unconsciously nudge me towards an even more profound use of my intuition and inner wisdom, guiding me towards a new life and new LOVE!
One week ends another begins, but both seem the same. It’s that sameness that wears on us. The near term is the same, and the future seems clearly uncertain. It’s impossible to make travel plans, not just for now but for the fall and winter. Some people have started referring to 2020 as the “Lost Year.” Imagine how those in my family feel, having lost my Dad right before “the virus” took over our lives.
I am saddened to learn that COVID-19 may be taking a toll on Americans’ heart health even if we’re not infected with the virus. According to new research, cases of ‘broken heart syndrome’ are on the rise among those without any specific illness. This occurs when part of the heart becomes enlarged and is unable to pump blood effectively, preceded by intense emotional or physical stress.
Everybody deals with this kind of stress differently. I think it’s easier for us gardeners. We have something in our lives that brings us daily joy. We can go outside each morning and enjoy the summer blooms! The fact that our plants need us, even marginally, also helps. Let’s face it, we all need to feel needed. This is why we all need to find positive distractions from this sad time in all of our lives.
I relate to these issues more than most. I sometimes pass out from lack of oxygen and am not certain if I will take my next breathe. I struggle daily to find the good in everything, like the 4th of July celebrations on TV last week. I want to feel good about my country again and positive about our future, but it isn’t easy if I watch the news too much.
So I go outside and walk around my garden. I hang out with the birds and bees, literally! I watch the birds taking a carousel ride on Mike’s great purple wind sculpture.
I sit quietly and observe the end to another glorious day, as the sun sets over Mount Mestas to our West.
Sometimes I take photos of the sunny still life developing on my bedroom wall as the sun comes up each morning. My appreciation of my eye sight is increased one hundred-fold as it diminishes with worsening cataracts.
These are the moments that sustain me… What are yours?
Just a few days ago Mike was out hiking when he heard a loud sound just ten feet to his left.
He glanced over to see a deer struggling with a mountain lion on top of him! Mike was so stunned he stood there for about 20 seconds and then started walking away quickly. He never made eye contact with the big cat.
Last night Mike found a five foot snake out on our patio. Snakes might be just the thing to get rid of those varmits who keep eating my flowers!
Six years after leaving the suburbs of Fort Collins (50 miles from the Wyoming border), for a new lifestyle west of Walsenburg (50 miles from the New Mexico border), I feel I have a good sense of what that kind of major change feels like.
The first thing you must do if you are considering a similar change is to let go of any romantic, idealized illusions you may have about finding pastoral perfection.
Think of this move as a complete ‘leap of faith” That’s what it felt like to me! And in case you didn’t get the memo yet, in this lifetime, perfection is a mirage… I didn’t have any delusions of grandeur, I was just plain scared. What if I hated it??? It was definitely a precipitous move on my part. I just didn’t know what to expect. On the other hand, Mike was certain this was the right move for us. So we did it anyway, with all of my anxieties and fears fully intact…
When we arrived in Walsenburg with our full-to-the-brim U-haul truck , we moved into an ancient miner’s cabin, the only ‘decent’ rental in Walsenburg or La Veta in June 2014, and yes, it was as dirty and disgusting as it sounds. Then we started to work on finding an architect and a blueprint for the passive solar home we had been planning in our heads for years. We had already bought a few acres of land twelve miles west of town on a hill overlooking the Spanish Peaks. But because there was only one building inspector for the WHOLE COUNTY…
it took over five months just to get a proper heat-absorbing slab on our land.
But after ONLY eight more months, our 1,400 square foot passive solar home was completed! Building in this rural area is DIFFICULT and agonizingly slow! Did this surprise us? Somewhat. Timing was the source of much of our frustration and stress.
Our view of the Spanish Peaks the day they put up our roof!
But we (and our relationship!) survived, and the final product was as close to perfection as I have ever experienced. We joked around about the following cartoon before we moved down here:
But, as it turns out, this is actually true for us. For months after we moved in we would sit and stare at the mountains right outside our windows, drinking in complete silence and serenity every time we looked out.
It felt like we had moved into a deluxe foothills retreat as nice as anywhere we had ever stayed before. Almost daily I experienced inexplicable fear that the resort management would be coming around soon to kick us out!
So we have been living in rural southern Colorado for six years now, after a precipitous (on my part!) move down south from our nice home in suburban Fort Collins in June 2014. It took over a year to build our passive solar home here, because building in this rural area is DIFFICULT and agonizingly slow! Then came the garden…
Here is where we started out in 2015. Empty ground, which quickly turned into volunteer sunflowers and weeds in our first year here.
Four years later we are here.
The reason my garden is named after my brother John is because he came up from Arizona for a few years in a row to help us finish the hardscaping. He was here when we laid concrete out there. He was here the next May to help Mike lay out the stone walls…
John & Mike (above) finally laid down the gravel last May. Mike has also put his heart and soul into this project! And I should add, none of us have good backs in our mid-60s!
What a satisfying achievement though!
Through a few years of testing out a number of different native xeriscape plants, I have narrowed my selection down to those that actually survive the winters here and that terrible wind we get regularly.
Lavender andSpanish Peaks 2018.
Now I know what type of lavender luxuriates in this climate…
I also know Penstemons LOVE it here,as well as many kinds of birds, lizards, beetles, and butterflies!
A native Showy Four O’clock, Blue Mist Spirea, Yarrow, Red Knight Knautia and Catmint thrive here!
There have certainly been a number of frustrating moments in this process, but I love my garden now. It gives me GREAT and continuous JOY, especially in the spring & summer months…