Local Talk by Me!

Mike on old tree up at build site 2014

MIKE NEXT TO ONE OF OUR FAVORITE TREES!

I would like to invite any of you who live here locally, to my presentation at the La Veta Public Library this Thursday at 2PM. My theme is “What’s it like to move here?” We can discuss the ins and outs of moving to rural Colorado, how passive solar works, and anything else that comes up!

Earth Day in the USA: Love Your Mother

earth day

On January 28, 1969, a well drilled by Union Oil Platform A off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, blew out. More than three million gallons of oil spewed, killing over 10,000 seabirds, dolphins, seals, and sea lions. As a reaction to this natural disaster, activists were mobilized to create environmental regulation, environmental education, and Earth Day. Among the proponents of Earth Day were the people in the front lines of fighting this disaster, Selma Rubin, Marc McGinnes, and Bud Bottoms, founder of Get Oil Out.

Earth Day 1970

The first Earth Day celebrations took place in 1970 at two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States. It also brought 20 million Americans out into the spring sunshine for peaceful demonstrations in favor of environmental reform. It now is observed in 192 countries, and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, chaired by the first Earth Day 1970 organizer Denis Hayes, according to whom Earth Day is now “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.” Environmental groups seek to make Earth Day into a day of action to change human behavior and provoke policy changes.

Why Earth Day Today?

Because the earth needs us now more than ever! And since we’re fresh out of other planets to live on, now is as good a time as ever to do everything we can to preserve the miracle of this green and blue planet. Go solar! Use wind power. Change old habits that hurt the earth. You could probably name ten things today that would benefit Mother Earth immediately. Do it instead of just thinking about it!

big earth

What does the future hold? It’s all up to us!

 

Passive Solar Heating: The Basics

It has become abundantly clear, from your many comments, that most do not understand what passive solar heating means. Passive solar means there are no solar panels or any electricity involved in the creation and retention of heat within a building. The heat is created only by passive means of collecting energy from the sun and then retention of that heat by the physical structure of the home.

How is this done?

beginning to build on the slab comanche drive

Number 1: The positioning of the structure is essential. Mike made certain that our home was positioned facing directly south, with a whole wall of the correct type of glass doors and windows. In our case that included incredible views of the Spanish Peaks! You need full sun exposure on that side of the house. No trees, buildings, or other obstructions.

Number 2: In a passive solar home, the slab of concrete the home is placed on must be the heat-sink type and FULLY insulated from the earth. If it is not, the heat will come into the home during the day, sink into the foundation, and leak out of the slab, leaving the home cold at night when heat is most needed.

slab and framing of comanche drive

Number 3: Excellent insulation in the walls and ceiling of the home are essential. Holding the heat in once it enters the home is the only way it can remain warm when it is zero degrees outside. The home must be close to air-tight with quality doors and windows. Your floor must also be some sort of dark tile to help absorb more heat during the day.

new windows with Mike and Lee in photo

Number 4: Although the sun will be directly overhead in summer, proper overhangs on the south side of the home are essential to keep the sun from coming into the home too early in the fall. Mike also positioned our south-side overhang so that they are the correct size and angle to add solar panels later if needed.

Our home has very few windows on the north side, but a few on the east and west ends to absorb the morning and evening sun. We absorb solar heat most days in the winter, store it in our slab and it returns to keep us warm at night. Sometimes in mid-winter, we need to open a window at the warmest part of the day to cool off a bit!

clouds over Spanish Peaks summer

So far in southern Colorado we have never fallen below 60 degrees at night no matter how cold it is outside. We supplement our solar heat with small room electric heaters. No furnace or propane needed. Ceiling fans help to distribute the heat evenly.

Last January, when we lost electricity for three days because of a BAD ice storm, we stayed warm. With this system, we are able to average $100/month for all power to our home. A couple other unexpected benefits? Our home stays cool in the summer with its positioning to the sun and so much ceiling insulation, and it is so quiet inside all the time with no furnace turning on and off in winter!

The funniest part was learning that I didn’t need to turn down the thermostat when I left the house… the heat just keeps on coming in!

Boomer World: And the Beat Goes on…

I must say, when I started this little website two and a half years ago, to share the slow progress on our passive solar home here in southern Colorado, I never expected for it to grow to 23,000 visitors with over 50,000 views. And I most definitely didn’t expect to see readers from over 80 countries of the world! Hallelujah!

blog pictureSomething else I never expected is that I would still be participating in the same Boomer Blog Carnival that I began in 2008! OK, so the members have changed constantly. I’ve even changed blogs since then. But come rain or shine, we are still bringing together some great blog posts for you to peruse each week!

Speaking of which, today over at Heart Mind Soul, Carol Cassara shares how her husband managed a painful surgical recovery without pain meds. And in another great post she tackles a tough question for most of us: Why is it so hard for us to ask for what we need?

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting says: For so many of us computers are an integral part of our life nowadays. When the device runs smoothly we have a window on the world, using it for work as well as for all kinds of recreational pursuits. But when problems occur, those of us who are “non-nerds” become frustrated. That is what happened to Meryl this week. Her long-time computer companion had issues. Here she recounts her experiences in My Technologically Down Day and Hacked! 

According to Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, Saturday was National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. If you weren’t able to return your unused or expired drugs, check in your community to see if it has a permanent location. It’s important because medications in the home are a leading cause of accidental poisoning. In addition, if you leave unused prescription drugs in your bathroom cabinet, teens or others may steal them and become addicted to prescription drugs. It happened in Robison’s family; it can happen in yours.

Of course many retirees like to travel. And Tom Sightings says, if you do, more power to you. He admires your sense of adventure. But as for the rest of us, he argues in If You’re Retired Do You Have to Travel? we shouldn’t feel that we’re missing out on something by staying closer to home. Travel is one thing to do in retirement; but it’s not the only thing, and it’s not something we should feel required to “check off” in order to fulfill our retirement dreams.

You tell ’em Tom! Our retirement dream was to move to such a natural, peaceful place that we wouldn’t feel the need to leave much, and I believe we succeeded…

IMGP5991

                        This is our view this morning from our solar perch with the sun pouring in!

laura-rasta-xmas-2012-croppedI created a journal version of all we went through to end up in our toasty warm solar home in southern Colorado:   A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado    Let’s work around Amazon (the evil empire!) Contact me directly to order your own signed copies of any of my books!    Cheers, Laura Lee  (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)

                        

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.

cropped-sangre-de-cristos-in-spring1.jpg

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!

You cannot control how others receive your energy

Perhaps I will always remember this holiday as the one where I finally accepted the truth about other peoples’ reaction to me. Ah, if I could have totally accepted this truth decades ago, my life would have been so much easier:

carter_sunset-768x510

You cannot control how other people receive your energy. Anything you do or say gets filtered through the lens of whatever they are going through at that moment, which is NOT ABOUT YOU.  

Just keep doing your thing with as much integrity and love as possible.

This includes everything I write about here and in my books. Just because I have chosen to learn enough to understand the psychology of midlife transition or passive solar technology, and appreciate the freedom this knowledge has given to me, does not mean anyone else has a clue what I’m talking about.

Even my parents, who taught me much of what I learned as a child, the ones I thought knew EVERYTHING when I was young, have no idea where I’m coming from with most of my ideas and thoughts today. They are living in their own reality and often do not appreciate mine, but that is not about me.

earthOn some level I’m ashamed that it has taken me this long on this beautiful blue planet to appreciate this truth. But on the other hand, it is so freeing to let each of us be where we are right now.

We continue to search for whatever makes our lives feel better.

My New Book – Kindle Edition!

memoir-of-retirement-2016Hey! It’s Small Business Saturday and you cannot find a smaller one than mine! Please consider my new memoir as a great gift for boomers thinking about retirement alternatives. We did something completely different and we’re glad we did, but there were times we weren’t so sure. Some of you have asked when I might have an e-book edition of my new book available for purchase. I just loaded it!

Saying goodbye to the Midlife Crisis Queen

It seems a few major changes are all coming together for me right now.

memoir of retirement 2016My new book about our move from Fort Collins to here is out!  Please considering buying it. It’s a FUN read! Then write a review on Amazon to share your opinion with others. What I do here is for me, but also to inform others of the challenges and rewards of changing lifestyles in retirement. And while you’re changing, passive solar is a great way to reduce your heating bills!

 

Midlife crisis queen header gold

My other major change is the demise of my original blog: Midlife Crisis Queen. To explain what it feels like to remove eight years worth of my writing from the Internet is difficult. Here’s something I wrote back in March of 2015 when I officially switched over to this new blog:

“After over eight years of maintaining this blog, not to mention a number of others, I am tired. In those eight years I have also produced a number of books and e-books to help others survive and thrive through what can be some tough middle years.”

When I started out as a writer I was full of ideas and zeal for so many different projects. It was like I was finally set free to express myself on a larger stage, and express myself I have. I am proud of my many accomplishments. I am also tired.

I have done what I can to encourage those who struggle with midlife change, those who wish to transform their lives into exactly what they have been dreaming of for decades. In that process I have also transformed my own life into exactly what I wanted back in 2004.

Soon I will be 60, living a new dream in our lovely mountain home. I am clearly in midlife no more, and I can feel a change coming over me. I no longer have the energy nor desire to try and save the world. I have lost interest in that pursuit. I can feel a future of quiet meditation and contemplation coming over me

Changing the way we see midlife was obviously a ridiculous goal to begin with, but you have to understand, I am an Aries, and that means stubborn!

I know I have reached hundreds of thousands of you with my blog posts, and thousands with my books. Some have shared with me the value of my efforts.

Thank you for letting me know I have made some difference in your life. It has been my pleasure.  Please keep reading my books, following our adventures and, most importantly, keep making your own dreams come true!

 

High in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Foothills versus Mountain Living in Southern Colorado

Yesterday was so interesting! We visited some new friends who have lived up above 8,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains west of here for the past few years. Loved hearing their stories about living up high.

I know many have romantic visions of life up in those beautiful mountains, but remember this too:

Manuel's snow tractor

The approach to their house is a windy, dirt road off of a major highway, a road they and their few neighbors must maintain, unlike the county road we live off of, 15 miles west of Walsenburg. Once they came home a few years ago and there was 6 feet of snow on this road. They couldn’t go home!

We heard stories about when the deep snows come, and the big state highway snowplows plow their road closed! That’s why they need to maintain snow-moving equipment themselves….imagine that!

snow over the windows

I asked them how deep the snow gets up there, and they decided one picture was worth a thousand words!

WOW! We have had a few snows of a foot or so, but nothing like this! They told us stories of  a few snowstorms where they shoveled for eight hours straight. If they didn’t have heavy equipment they wouldn’t be able to get out for weeks!

Their property includes an old straw-bale cabin on a mine site plus 100 acres. Their water comes from a spring nearby, and what delicious water it is! They heat with a large wood stove, which requires a great amount of log splitting to prepare for the winter cold. They have electric service, mainly because the costs of returning renewal energy back to the grid here requires outrageous fees and insurance requirements, and going off grid presents other problems with reliability and initial  installation costs. We are stuck here until better energy storage solutions are developed worldwide.

The natural beauty of their landscape is beyond words and, did I mention, they have no water or heating bills… They maintain a number of wildlife cameras and see so many different animals around their home. Bears are so commonplace that they have named a few of them! It’s a wonderful place that requires a lot of work to maintain.

We recently built a passive solar home right at 7,000 feet and are told by our new friends that we are really saving a lot of money in the winter by absorbing the sun’s heat directly into our insulated slab, which helps to hold the daily sun’s heat within our home overnight.

solar water tubesWe hope to add a few of these solar thermal water tubes to our home soon to increase our thermal mass and help to moderate temperature swings both in the winter and summer. Beyond solar, we depend on Cadet forced-air electric wall heaters on thermostats for all of our winter heating needs. They usual turn themselves on during the night and turn off soon after the sun comes up most days. In the summer, the positioning and excellent insulation in our new home keeps us cooler than most without the need for air conditioning. We have ceiling fans in every room.

We have rarely been “snowed in” this past winter, but we did purchase a Subaru and love how well it works on steep snowy roads. Overall, we’re glad we chose a lower elevation. I can’t breathe any higher! We’re doing great right where we are!

memoir of retirement 2016We are newcomers to rural Colorado, so after two years I compiled a book about the total experience of moving here to build passive solar  in the foothills:  A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado Please feel free to contact me directly for copies of any of my books! MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Home Designs That Changed America

I found it interesting to watch the PBS special “10 Houses That Changed America.” In this program, the two houses that reminded me the most of our new passive solar home in southern Colorado, were the Taos Pueblo from ancient times, and the Glidehouse. 

taos-pueblo

Ancient pueblo-style homes faced south for the best winter exposure to the warmth of the sun, and had thick adobe walls to help maintain indoor temperatures year round. This design provided much needed warmth in the winter, and cooler temperatures in the summer months.

glidehouseThen I learned about the Glidehouse, which I had never heard of before. This is now built prefab in a factory, but was originally the architect Michelle Kaufmann’s attempt at creating a reasonably priced green home.

What did that mean to her? She wished to create an energy efficient home that maintained its indoor temperature through its unique design. With excellent insulation and many south-facing doors and windows to add solar heat in the winter, the overhanging roof on the south helps to keep the sun out in the summer. With lots of windows facing south, very little indoor lighting is needed during the day. She also installed a low-flow water system. Kaufmann’s main idea was to conserve natural resources, collaborate with nature, and create a healthier, more comfortable way to live.

4052 Comanche DriveUnlike our own custom-built passive solar home, the Glidehouse does not include a specially-designed direct-gain slab that collects heat during the winter months, and then releases it at night, greatly decreasing the need for additional heat. We also spent the extra dollars for spray, polyurethane foam to insulate our outside walls, providing the best R-value for both winter and summer.

IMGP4148I am happy to see more Americans who are concerned about energy efficiency in their living situation, not just to save money, but to live more in harmony with the earth. I love living so close to nature, and waking up to see bunnies coming up to my sliding door to look in in the morning.