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!


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


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…

How a funeral, honesty, and the reading of a will can be a good thing for a family

While I was away this past week, I found myself gorging on so many films that I have missed by being unable to stream out here in the wilds of Huerfano County. I know, hard to believe, but we haven’t had that ability until now. First we had the wildfire in 2018, which knocked out all Internet access for two months, and then the only service we could get didn’t have enough bandwidth for streaming.

So what was my favorite movie of the ten or so I watched this past week? Uncle Frank, introduced at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020 and released in November 2020 by Amazon Studios. So many things about this film reminded me of me. The main character is a teenage girl about my age in 1973, it’s set in a small southern town, not so different than the one I grew up in in Kansas, and her family has a lot of biases and family secrets.

This young woman named Beth, is saved from that small town life by her Uncle Frank, a professor in New York City, who is the only person encouraging her to get out and experience the rest of the world. She decides to go to NYC to college at age eighteen, but she is still so naive because of her age and small town upbringing.

Beth meets a guy named Bruce and they show up unannounced to a party at Frank’s apartment. Through events that happen at the party, she discovers that Frank is secretly gay and has been living with a man named Walid (“Wally”) for over ten years. Frank rejects a sexual advance on Bruce’s part, then takes care of Beth when she gets too drunk. Then Uncle Frank pleads with her not to tell anyone else in the family his secret, and she agrees.

The next day, Beth’s grandfather and Frank’s father, Daddy Mac, dies of a sudden heart attack. Frank agrees to drive Beth back to South Carolina for the funeral. The family scenes back in Creekville, South Carolina are crucial to the story and bring back stories from Frank’s sad past, as well as his addiction to alcohol.

This left me wondering how many more family stories we had in both sides of my family. I know my Mom’s first cousin died young in a mental hospital of suicide and I remember how creepy my Uncle Bill felt to be around. He died young of alcoholism. One cousin has since died of a heroin overdose and my brother is doing a great job of smoking himself to death at this point. What in their family stories led them to such self-destruction?

On the other hand, while in Denver I did get a chance to see my Dad’s final book, completed after his death, the third edition, revised & expanded of “Trees and Shrubs of New Mexico” where the new editor Jennifer Bousselot wrote a marvelous introduction describing the total dedication my Dad showed his entire adult life to fieldwork and botany. My Dad always loved his work and it really showed. I have always envied his dedication to one goal, because I tend towards many interests and avocations.

It appears we cannot help but look back on our lives in our later years, and we are lucky if we feel good about it all. At this point, when I look back over my life, I cannot believe the multitude of places I’ve been with so many different types of experience! I sometimes wonder why I felt like I had to learn Chinese in my twenties or experience Venice in my thirties. They certainly weren’t always the best experiences, but I definitely did follow my heart…

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir on PBS

Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.” – Amy Tan

My fellow writers:

I hope none of you missed this incredibly personal and touching “American Experience” on PBS last night entitled, Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir. This piece was so beautifully put together, combining Amy’s own photos from her past, her intimate recollections, with talks she has given about her stormy relationship with her mother. Words fail to describe the gorgeousness and truth to be found in this two hour special.

Her delicate storytelling and truth-telling is at once fierce and so very sensitive to the human condition we all face, especially that of women. I was glued to my seat from the very beginning and could not move. She is my hero! I feel like I now need to go and re-read all of her books and especially her new memoir, “Where the Past Begins” from 2017.

Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir on PBS, premiere May 3rd 2021

Early bloomers in my high country garden!

I was astounded to find my tiny high country irises blooming today in my garden at 7,000 feet! Their leaves are only six or seven inches tall, but the flowers are fantastic!

I got these from Perennial Favorites near Rye Colorado a couple years ago. They specialized in offering high country species. So sorry they decided to close and retire, but these are the gift that keeps on giving!

My earliest bloomer is a type of creeping thyme that takes a few years to get going, but then it takes off! It’s been blooming for at least a week now, even through the snow!

Yesterday I got my brother John up here to help me weed and plant some new plants. He loves working outside with his hands. He’s a self-identified “dirt guy.” If you’re nice he might work for you too!

My garden didn’t look like much back in May 2017…

But this year should be GREAT!

I’ll keep you posted on the new flowers in my garden as they bloom!

OH, I forgot to mention…I actually witnessed some Rocky Mountain Bluebird sex yesterday! Babies to follow!

UNBELIEVEABLE! I just caught a hummingbird on a penstemon flower right outside my door!

My dream: Welcoming new residents to this area!

Since moving to the Walsenburg-La Veta area in the summer of 2014, I have held a dream. Long ago I read the novel “The Significance of All Things” by Elizabeth Gilbert (a marvelous read!) about a girl raised by a shipping magnet and captain, who invited the interesting people he met all over the world to his home in Philadelphia for a type of ‘salon’ experience. I loved that idea! So when my previous blog “Midlife Crisis Queen” crashed in 2014, I started this one, with the purpose of informing others who might be considering a move to this area. I didn’t want others to experience what I did here, a lack of friendly folks when they got here. I thought, why not offer friendship? Moving to a new rural area can be quite intimidating for some.

As usual, it was a good idea, but it took quite a while to come to fruition. Now this spring I have welcomed three very interesting and excited couples who have moved here, or are working up to it. The most interesting coincidence has been that Mike and I share so many common interests with these newcomers! They are counselors, engineers, artists and writers, all excited about making this area their new home. They have their own visions of music festivals and writing groups, etc.

For me this is my best, recent example of the power of holding a vision until it emerges on its own power. I fully believe now that what we focus on grows, so I try to keep my focus on positive possibilities in my future. Intelligent, interesting newcomers are arriving first on my e-mail and then at my door. Such an exciting new development! I will do what I can to make their transition a little less traumatic because that’s what I do and that is who I am… Now I have a vision of a garden party with great music, food and entertainment out on our patio, welcoming newcomers from everywhere 🙂

“What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?” – George Eliot