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!

 

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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.

Postscript: This home was lost in the Spring Creek Fire , July 2019.

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, especially since our home survived the Spring Creek Fire in 2018!

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. 

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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.

My Next Project: A Journal of Retirement

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I’m just beginning to get excited about writing my next book! This week I started collecting all that I have written in the past few years, and enjoying (in retrospect!) the process of how our retirement came about. Retirement for us was a bit of an ungraceful process, sort of like that joke about making sausage, but it happened all the same and most importantly, we survived!
It’s surprisingly fun and funny reading my old entries about trips to Ecuador, renovating our old house for sale, falling down the stairs, etc. I would guess this could make for some interesting reading for those who are just beginning to consider their retirement options.

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Mike fooling around down below!

I have decided to write it in journal-style, much like if the reader was reading my diary, as it happened. I have always enjoyed the intimacy of books written in this style.

IMGP4580This book will answer such questions as when and why did we first get interested in moving to Ecuador? Why did we lose interest? How did we decide to check out southern Colorado as a site for a solar home? How did we choose the architecture of this home? etc.

Basically this will be a summary of how this wonderful place all came about for us. How did we end up here, doing this at age 60?

I am filled with gratitude that I can now live like this forever.  Please go learn more about our move from Fort Collins to here in my new memoir!

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”  –  David Bowie

Life in a passive solar home

This post is for those who are curious what it is like to live in a direct gain passive solar home. That included me until a few months ago!

IMGP4278For example, today the sun is out, but we had a high of 46 degrees outside. Inside we are toasty warm in the low 70s with no forms of heat needed.

To build a direct gain solar home you must first properly position it with almost all your windows and sliding doors facing directly south. And the windows and doors must be made of the proper kind of glass.

In addition, your roof needs just the right amount of overhang on the south side to keep the sun overhead and not shining into the house until around September 1st.

IMGP3052You must also start out with the right kind of insulated slab to hold the heat in the floor, instead of it leaking out into the ground. This is essential!

IMGP3515The walls must be well insulated, and then we chose dark gray tile throughout the house to absorb the heat as it enters the house from our south-facing doors and windows. Right now the sun is shining about 10 feet into our home!

You also need ceiling fans if you want to keep the heat down off the ceiling in winter.

At the time of building this house, I understood why we made these specific choices, but only now do I see the great advantages to living in a home that holds its temperature so well.

Yes, our home does cool down at night, but very slowly. The low temperature outside last night was around 20 degrees. With no inside heat on, the outdoors got down to 64 degrees. Then as the sun starts coming in to the house the morning, our home warms up very quickly.

Sometimes before I leave the house I think, “Should I turn down the thermostat?” But we have none…old ways die hard.

IMGP4364Fortunately we were able to find the perfect passive solar perch for our new home, one that faces south and also offers us a 180 degree view of the Spanish Peaks and the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.

Now that I understand all of this, I am mystified why everyone doesn’t use the free solar heat of winter! Of course I never would have understood all of this without Mike’s expertise and education.

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