Why am I here now? Family History!

Somehow, all of the happenings in my family right now are stirring up many questions for me about my family background. The death of my father in 2020, the dementia of my Mom now and the birth of the first member of the next generation of our family has me wondering how all of this came about.

Why am I here? What and who participated in the creation of our family and why?

Top: Photo of my parents’ wedding in 1951 in Kansas City, Kansas

Luckily, my Mom spent a few years searching for the answers to these exact questions back in the early 2000s and produced a detailed family history called: Generations: Our Grandmothers for all of us to learn from. So this week I decided to sit down and read it cover to cover. It also included many family photos I had never seen before. What a gold mine of genetics and social history from a family whose roots go back to farming in eastern Kansas in the 1800s and railroad development in the Kansas City Kansas area.

Top: Great-Grandma McGrew on her wedding day in 1907

What struck me first was how large families were back then, and how “romances” developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the case of all of my great grandparents, they met because so many lived in boarding houses where family members mixed. In the case of my Great-Grandma McGrew, she was sent to live with a different farm family to help out, because her own family had too many mouths to feed. She ended up marrying the only son in her adopted family. The McGrews greatly valued education, so even though the closest high school was ten miles away, they made certain that their only daughter, my grandmother, finished high school. She taught elementary school for two years and then ventured out to the big city to expand her horizons in business school. She then secured a job as a secretary in Kansas City where she soon met my grandfather.

My Mom describes our Carter background this way: “If there is a unifying “track” to the story of the Carter family, it would be the Santa Fe Railroad and its development over time as the history of railroads was unfolding in the West.” My Grandpa Carter, his father, and most of his brothers worked on the railroad their whole life, but Grandpa was determined that his two sons would not. He also believed strongly in education as the primary path to a better life, and my Dad and uncle’s lives certainly proved that point. My dad and Uncle Bob were the first Carters to not only finish high school, but also finish college and graduate school. My dad swore by the advantages of a good education and it worked out great for him and his kids.

Developing your mind and allowing it to go wherever it wishes, opens up so many doors and windows on life! It also allows for so much freedom in determining where we go next. I cannot even imagine how different I would have been without my love of learning…

The Pandemic: Did it give us all time to experience our very own midlife crisis?

Most of you don’t know, but I was the self-identified Midlife Crisis Queen when I first started writing online around 2007. That was because I decided to write what I knew and that was what to do when your life goes to hell in your 40s and 50s. Now I find my ‘midlife crisis’ has become a national or perhaps even an international phenomenon. How so? The Covid-19 pandemic placed most of us in a circumstance similar to my own midlife crisis. We were all sitting at home through no choice of our own, with little to occupy our minds. It was forced isolation with much time to contemplate our lives.

The reason I believe America turned into a total midlife crisis zone is the results of the pandemic. What did it do to and for us? First it showed us the simple fact that “we could all die any day” (1999, thanks Prince!) and then it made us realize that we were probably stuck in a rut, lost in the day-to-day grind of life. We suddenly had time to sit and consider our future plans or even dream new dreams…

Now we are all beginning to work towards pursuing our fondest futures.

I see the results of this quiet time everywhere in the news today. Let’s go to Hawaii! Let’s take a cruise! Let’s buy some land and retreat to the woods! What I see now is Americans anxious to get out there and go, with new visions, ideas and plans. That’s what lots of quiet time alone can create. What means the most to you?

What do you really want to do before you die?

I especially saw this in my blog statistics. For example, my post from 2017 called “Is the Walsenburg area good for retirement?” went from far less than one hundred views per year to over 600 in 2020. People were ready to start thinking about retirement like never before and consider a big move like leaving the cities behind. They were asking questions about what it feels like to move somewhere very different and if they might like it. These were all questions I tried to answer in my memoir of our move here seven years ago, and sure enough, sales of my book, “A Memoir of Retirement: From Suburbia to Solar in Southern Colorado” increased dramatically. Newcomers and potential newcomers began contacting me as they considered a move to Spanish Peaks country. Greeting them as they came through here, and sharing our own real life experiences has been so much fun!

Are you looking for some new summer sandals?

ORTHOFEET MALIBU PEWTER

If so, I LOVE the ones I just ordered from Orthofeet! They are attractive, extremely comfortable and fit perfect!

They have great customer service too. I ordered the wrong color at first and they were so helpful immediately, over Memorial Day weekend! Finally a company who seems to really care about their customers! I got these and I’m so glad I did. They cost more than companies like Skechers, but you can feel the difference! Every part is adjustable, even the arch can be raised up, also quite sturdy!

This is not a sponsored post, I just love them!

My latest early bloomers in spite of that bad rain & hail storm this week!

This year I have a great crop of early purple penstemon volunteers in my sky garden, many more than previous years! I also had some beautiful small lupines, but they really got drowned by the hail and rain we had on Tuesday. My other penstemons are also doing fine in spite of the hail.

I also have a new experiment I planted last May, a “Blue Velvet” Honeysuckle bush (Lonicera korolkowii ‘Floribunda’) that was extremely happy until an inch of hail fell on it.

I started to notice which plants withstood the hail and four inches of rain best. Lavender could care less about hail. It is such a woody plant. Catmint suffered a bit, but is coming right back with its purple blue flowers now. Russian Sage seems to stand up to bad weather well, and the larger yarrow plants are OK too. That creeping thyme is amazingly resilient!

BEFORE THE STORM…

I had the cutest little Hissup plant that was just getting started and its leaves got so trashed, as well as the new leaves on my Blue Mist Spirea bushes

BLUE MIST SPIREA IN PAST SUMMERS

Does anybody know if those will come back this summer? I sure hope so. That is one of my favorite bushes in the garden!

WOW! What an amazing rain and hail storm up here this afternoon!

I have been a weather-watcher from way back and one of the longest lasting CoCoRahs volunteers. I lived through the Fort Collins flood in 1998 and started measuring for CoCoRahs at its inception, but this afternoon was amazing to me! We live halfway between Walsenburg and La Veta in southern Colorado.

It started raining around 2pm and soon turned to hail, lots of it! It has been raining ever since…

Now, at almost 5pm, we have way over an inch of rain in the gauge and it’s still raining…

We LOVE to get precipitation in this part of Colorado, especially since we have been in a serious drought for years now, but not when it completely drowns my garden!

TOTAL precipitation from 7AM on May 17th to 7AM on the 18th at our home: 4 inches!!!

My garden plants were not amused with 2 inches of hail…