My New Xeric Garden in Southern Colorado

nice garden scene at comanche drive

Now on to my favorite pastime, where you can find me every morning bright and early, my rock garden outside my door! I know, it isn’t much to look at this time of year, but my new plants are just getting established, some last spring and some this year.

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Some plants came back with enthusiasm! I have found that Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon Strictus) never bloom the first year they are planted, but all three of them are blooming this year!

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And this one I forgot all about, but it is sure happy in my garden this year! Knautia macedonica

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Look at my pussy toes! They will be blooming very soon I’m sure!

I haven’t had many problems this year with rabbits or other animals chowing down on my plants. I try to choose the ones the animals don’t like, but I just learned how much they like Yarrow!

Portulaca Mix

I learned the hard way my first summer out here that they LOVE tender, well-watered Portulacas! Perfect rabbit salad! These are the only “annuals” I buy every year. Sometimes they do re-seed themselves in their own pot. Now I keep them up on a shelf away from all hungry critters.

garden scene outside my bedroom door

THE VIEW OUT OF MY BEDROOM LAST SUMMER…

I’ve also had great success with Blue Mist Spirea bushes, Jupiter’s Beard, Lavender, most sedums, Gallardia, and I’m working on establishing a few Walker’s Low Nepeta (Catmint) for their lovely purple color in the spring.  Nice to see a few native plant volunteers too! We plan to add hardscaping this summer. It should look wonderful in just a couple more years… That’s the way with new gardens, patience is key! The main problem we have here is the drying wind. I like what Merrilee over at Perennial Favorites said about that: “We hate the wind, but the plants really don’t mind.”

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Please keep writing, but with fewer words…

writing penI seem to be cursed with an undeniable need to edit and critique the writing of others. Everywhere I look I see misuses of our marvelous language. When I worked as an editor for a few years I finally got in touch with my inner English teacher. Red pen in hand, I labored over the writing of others to make them and me look better. But lately I can’t help but notice how most writers, even professionals, use TOO MANY WORDS. After over twelve years of writing professionally, I see in my old writing and that of just about everyone else, a tendency to be over-wordy. Let’s call that verbose or “expresses thoughts with more words than are needed.”

verboseYes I can just hear a few editors who critiqued my freelance pieces ten years ago saying, “Too many words!” Of course, back then I was getting paid by the word. Why not throw in a few extras? I’ve always been more a fan of the “get to your point and then stop” type of writing. Some have even critiqued my chapters or books by saying they’re so short. Well, I said what I came to say and then I shut up. I could never be the fiction writer who runs on for hundreds of pages.

“I am a minimalist. I like saying the most with the least.” ~Bob Newhart

So, here’s what I recommend. After you write a piece for public consumption, re-read it and see how many words you can remove and still get your exact same point across. Writing for others is not the same as keeping a journal. What do you want your audience to take away from reading your piece? The fewer the words, the more likely they will read the whole thing, get to your point, and then absorb it.

write until it becomes naturalBut, most important of all, please keep writing! It frees the soul, it lifts the spirits, it gives you a secret friend to talk to anytime you need to. Reading and writing have always been two of my best friends. I honestly have no idea where I would be without them. I have learned literally volumes of information and experienced so many new parts of the world and great adventures by reading about them. I have learned who I am by writing a journal for many decades. And finally, I hate to brag, but I’m very good at Jeopardy! I love it when none of the contestants know the answer but I do…

We read (and write!) to know we are not alone.

Hot off the presses: The Best of Boomer Blogs!

It’s summertime here in southern Colorado and the living is dry and HOT!

Colorado drought monitor

We are experiencing “severe drought” this spring, ruining our usual display of early native plant bloomers. In fact, the photo in the header of this blog was taken just a few years ago at this time of year!

Moving on to the thoughts of some super HOT Boomer writers…

Carol Cassara discusses the ins and outs of making good decisions this week:

Have you noticed that good decisions and bad ones look alike? It’s an observation that Carol Cassara discusses and relates to episodes of her own life over at A Healing Spirit.

I bet you didn’t know that this is National Palliative Care Week in Australia? This is a topic we all could learn a thing or two about. We learned about this topic this week when a new friend dropped dead at 69…

Palliative care

Here Sue Loncaric from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond discusses why we need an End of Life plan and the need to document our wishes. This is NOT a conversation most of us like to have with our loved ones, but certainly one that everyone should have sooner rather than later.  Not sure where to start?  Sue offers some information, together with a video of prominent Australian’s all discussing this important topic.

Hillbilly elegyOnce in a while a memoir not only tells one individual’s story, but sheds light on a people, their culture and way of life. That is what J. D. Vance’s memoir of growing up amidst the people of Appalachia does. Hillbilly Elegy highlights a group of people that are an enigma to many Americans – Trump supporters. Vance did not do this purposefully. The book was published in 2016. Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting highly recommends Vance’s story of growing up in a dysfunctional family and successfully escaping his environment, an insightful, interesting must read.

In this important health report over at BabyBoomster.com  Rebecca Olkowski interviews a woman who discovered she had skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma) after twelve years of being diagnosed with eczema/psoriasis. Fortunately, she was able to find a doctor who could help her before it was too late.

Jennifer of Unfold And Begin returns this week after a short anniversary trip and she has a short but to the point post on why it’s important to keep learning.  Why trying new things is important to all of us.  Read about it in: Anyone Who Stops Learning Is Old.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, is having trouble deciding what action by the Trump administration during the week was the worst. Was it bank deregulation, including the weakening of consumer protections in mortgage transactions, or a resolution overturning guidance on racial discrimination in auto lending, which allows Congress to review all federal agency regulations and prohibits them from ever reissuing a “substantially similar” rule if a rule has been nullified by Congress. To cheer herself up, Robison decided to write about her recent visit to Spain where she went cava, or sparkling wine, tasting. She visited, Freixenet, the largest cava producer in the world, Albet i Noya, a small organic winery, and Agusti Torello Mata, a winery named after the man who founded it.

Oregon trailTom Sightings asks if we remember studying the Oregon Trail in high school. Or playing the Oregon Trail game on our computers in the ’90s. In any case, in retirement Sightings has decided to set out on his own trip across the country, following the old route of the Oregon-California Trail. In “Following the Rivers” he tells about his first days out, finding a refreshing spring, a tragic grave, a reconstructed fort, and an important river.

I would only add a bit about my latest post. Here I recommend that we all:

Mike at home

“Hold on to your dreams! Don’t give up when those dreams require taking risks that scare you. Don’t let others talk you out of your most important goals. You have the needed vision to live your dream.”

“The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it.” –  Chinese proverb 

Why take major risks in midlife?

Mike at home

Mike woke up one day after we moved in, went straight outside and did this!

I met a nice couple who just moved in below us on Tuesday. They are like us, newlyweds in their 60s from the metro area up north. They came by to explore their new neighborhood, although in our case the homes are pretty far apart. I showed them my memoir about the tough process we went through when we first got here and they bought one.

Then I started reading my memoir again. How time flies! It’s been almost four years now since we plopped ourselves down in Walsenburg, and started building west of town. And yes, an author can actually forget what they wrote a few years ago.

Although certainly imperfect, this book is an honest and funny account of my experiences in a part of our country which at first felt a bit like a foreign land. Building here was fraught with major challenges. In case you don’t know, one definition of fraught is: “causing great anxiety or stress.”

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you now imagine.  – Thoreau

Why did we do it? Here’s a short essay from my book that explains everything:

The American Dream In Progress  –   March 6, 2015

I am surprised how much interest there is in building solar in rural America. My views on this blog have increased dramatically recently, and that includes views from all over the world.

But then I got to thinking, and realized the dream we are presently pursuing is the most fundamental of all. The immigrants who risked everything to come to America did so just to be able to purchase their own land and build a new life here. Having your own piece of land is, in a sense, what this country is all about.

Mike on old tree up at build site 2014

Mike on an ancient cedar before we had to cut it down!

This realization makes me very happy and proud. My husband Mike has held this dream for most of his life. Building a passive solar home has been his primary goal since he was a teenager. Now we almost have our home completed, and in spite of the many unexpected difficulties and inconveniences that have arisen in this process, we will soon be living the life we only dreamt of last year.

Hold on to your dreams! Don’t give up when those dreams require taking risks that scare you. Don’t let others talk you out of your most important goals. You have the needed vision to live your dream.

“The person who says it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person doing it.” –  Chinese proverb 

Do YOU have what it takes to follow your dreams? Check out my memoir…  and please follow me on Twitter!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!

Watching the news lately, I can’t help but wonder if anyone truly respects women in this country or in this world. It sometimes seems like a free for all for anyone with money and power to demean and abuse their acquaintances and partners. Even the POTUS does it in well documented ways, and his supporters think that is just fine.

This all brings back memories of a report I clipped from the newspaper back in 1993. It is still on my bulletin board, brown and tattered, about a report from the United Nations which stated back then:

Women to have clout in 1,000 years. And I quote: “It will take nearly 1,000 years for women to gain the same economic and political clout as men if current trends continue…”

After over 60 years of witnessing worldwide demeaning attitudes towards women, I believe they may be right, although I wonder how anything will ever change in this country. Remember the Equal Rights Amendment 35 years ago? Why was that impossible to pass in Congress? What happened to the crusade to enshrine women’s rights in the U.S. Constitution?

love and respectWomen generally raise men, and yet men also tend to be the worst abusers of women. Go figure! Even some women treat themselves with incredible disrespect. I have trouble with the women I see everyday on the news, who find themselves in horrible relationships with abusive and disrespectful men and yet they stay. What is that about?

Yes, I have found myself around completely disrespectful men. I have even stayed in bad relationships for short periods of time, but something inside said “Get the hell out of here!” and I did!

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, helps you grow, or makes you happy!

I do see very small signs of change occasionally. I was shocked last night to see a short segment in the Miss USA pageant devoted to asking the contestants whether they had personal experience with #MeToo. And sure enough, these stunningly beautiful women all spoke up about being treated badly or even abused.

Change is so SLOW! In fact it seems like nothing has changed at all when a known woman abuser can get elected president! It seems only outrageous examples like the POTUS on video stating that he loves to “grab pussy” brings out a strong reaction from those of us who demand the rights of women to be in the world in a respectful and safe way.

I am ashamed of what the present administration represents to the world and sorry we did not leave a better world for girls growing up today.

The Redemptive Power of Love

I woke up this morning just in time to hear the end of the wonderful talk by Reverend Michael Curry at the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan Markle:

“Dr. King was right: ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world.                                   Love is the only way.’ ”

This has also been my experience with love. When I finally found true love at age 49, I somehow felt redeemed. To redeem means “to make an unpleasant thing or person feel better or more acceptable.”

Laura and Mike Wedding Day 2005

Mike and I on our wedding day. Just like a couple of kids…

I had never felt true love from another my entire life. There had always been reasons why I was not acceptable to those I had loved in my past. That is why it felt so magical to me when Mike embraced all of me as just right! And even now, thirteen years later I still feel loved, appreciated and accepted every day of my life. And to think this all started on a blind date eight months earlier…

Love is an amazing way to change your world. Love like this was the most important piece that was missing from my life, and when I decided that and then began focusing wholeheartedly on that goal, it happened! Like magic we met and knew very quickly that we had met our true match FINALLY!

How to Believe in Love Again! blog sizeA few years later I wrote my book: “How To Believe In Love Again” to help others realize this universal truth through love. It is so easy to get distracted by other goals and not realize that love can complete your life. Especially as we age we know what matters and what does not. Without Mike’s love so many of my other goals would not have come to fruition. Because of his support both emotionally and financially, I had the time, courage and audacity to reach one of my most important dreams. I became a writer and author. Then, with his technical skills and the power of his own dreams, we were able to build a passive solar home looking at the Spanish Peaks.

Yes, love can help you build your dreams and create so many more, and it is also so wonderful to feel that daily support from another human being who stands by you no matter what.

What the heart has once known, it shall never forget…

How do we feel as a nation about our children?

The news lately is not good in terms of America’s children. I just heard this morning that we are at a thirty year low in crude birth rate. Back in 1960 we were around 24 births per thousand. Today it’s around 12. What do these numbers indicate about national attitudes? Last night I heard again how severely depressed the younger generations are, with suicide rates rising.

Share-of-Federal-Budget-Outlays-Spent-on-Children-and-Other-Items-2016

One strong indicator of how we feel about our children is how much we spend to keep them healthy and happy. In that department it seems we are falling far short, spending only around 10% of our total budget on programs for children.

“In 1995, America ranked ahead of nine developed nations in the share of the economy the federal government spends on children. Since 2004, America has ranked third-to-last in spending, with only Mexico and Turkey lagging behind, as other countries have increased their spending on family benefits.” 

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These statistics become even more interesting when we compare them to the 46 percent of the federal budget we spent on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for adults. It appears we have been helping out our elderly at an increasing rate, but ignoring the needs of our young.

Also in the news constantly, our apparent inability to pay teachers a living wage, not to mention daycare workers and others who cater to the needs of our youth. Do these numbers reflect how we really feel about the future citizens of our country?

This has been an issue for us as Americans for decades. Do we care about the children who aren’t ours? I know for certain the present administration does not care. What about the rest of you?