Why we love snowstorms in Colorado!

We’ve been sitting in a snowstorm here at 7,000 feet in southern Colorado for the past four days. I loved it! I wrote about this and it seemed like everyone responded with, “That sounds horrible to me!”

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This is exactly how horrible it is. When the snow clears and the Sangre de Cristo peaks emerge from the clouds, we are surrounded by incredible beauty. This is our view to the south today.

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This is our view to the west as Mount Mestas emerges from the storm.

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Besides the stunning views following a storm, we have now received two and a half inches of precipitation, about one-sixth of our total annual rainfall, leading to fields of spring flowers like Indian paintbrush, lupines, penstemon, or these lovely wild iris:

IMGP3670I took these photos last June, west of here in a high mountain meadow. The same can be said of the photo in the header of this blog, an amazing spread of spring flowers which only appear when we get some hardy spring snowstorms!

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In conclusion: If you want the rainbow, you must have the rain…

Wins and losses when moving from Fort Collins to the southern Colorado foothills

We moved from Fort Collins to here in June of 2014 to build a direct gain passive solar home in the foothills west of Walsenburg. We rented a hundred-year-old house in town for 13 months while building our own version of a retirement dream home. There would be few surprises when we finally arrived in our new home, but moving to Walsenburg was the greatest culture shock.

When you decide to move to a very small town after living in the city most of your life, false assumptions can be made. After all, you really don’t know exactly what to expect, because you have never lived in such a tiny town before.

The first mistake we made was assuming that rentals would be available in both La Veta and Walsenburg in June. We discovered the end of May there were none we would even consider living in, and we were closing on our house the middle of June! We quickly made friends with Susie, the primary realtor in Walsenburg, and offered her a hefty bonus if she would find us something quick.

We also assumed utilities would be much cheaper in a small town, but we were wrong about that too. We did call the utility departments for both La Veta and Walsenburg before renting, and quickly discovered that only propane heating was available in La Veta. That would add up quite quickly in this cold part of the country, so we began leaning more towards Walsenburg in our selection process.

One thing we never would have guessed is that city water in Walsenburg would cost over $60 a month BEFORE you figured in how much you used that month! This town has lost about a third of its population in the past decade, so their water capacity is far larger than they need or can pay for, one reason why they are welcoming marijuana grow operations at present.

We did find a decent house to rent just in time, but it was so small we had to find additional storage for some of our furniture. The local realtor helped us with that too.

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Work finally began on our new passive solar home in December 2014!

One total win for us was how friendly and welcoming our new landlord Bob was. He helped us whenever he could, and even provided new music for us to listen to as we explored our new home county. He then invited us up to his commune home near Gardner, where he has lived since the 1970s. The people who live in the communes in the northern part of Huerfano county have been so friendly and welcoming!

Another total win has been the quiet beauty of this part of Colorado. The views are phenomenal down here, and the weather is just a bit milder than up north. We love it! It’s definitely big sky country!

Most of the people we have met here have been friendly at least at first, although most seem hesitant to truly welcome new people. Most don’t seem to want to be friends. I’m still trying to figure that one out. I have heard a few interesting explanations so far!

I wrote quite a bit about making friends here in my journal, which then turned into a published memoir. When asked whether it was OK to write about how others have treated me here, I turn to Anne Lamott:

“Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

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Sunrises are outrageous at 7,000 feet with no neighbors!

It’s been a long & winding road to this wonderful home in the foothills below those beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains, one I’d love to share with you!

 

Rebellion at age 60

Rebellion is difficult, freedom priceless!

Laura at Cordova Pass Overlook October 2015It only occurred to me recently that I am going through at age 60, what most went through in their teenage years. I would say I have always been a good girl, to some extent, doing what was expected of me. Two husbands and three graduate degrees later, it seems I have changed.

When Mike and I hatched the plan in late 2013, of selling our lovely home in Fort Collins (suburbia), to build a passive solar home in rural Huerfano county, I had no idea how much my family didn’t want us to do this. I guess I figured it was our business, but apparently not.

Come to find out, I have somehow betrayed my family by making my own decision. This has brought up a lot of other types of rebellion for me, rebellion I never felt at age 18 or 19. I feel angry that I have always done what was expected of me instead of what I wanted to do.

I know, better late than never…

tell negative committee to shut upI now recognize so many old tapes in my head, telling me what to do and how to act. These go against my own needs and desires, and yet it seems strange to be finally telling them to shut up.

This is where my own inner wisdom comes in. I now have six decades of wisdom stored up from just living my life day-to-day. I know myself very well.

I finally believe in my own wisdom. I know how I wish to live. I only wish my family had more faith in my judgment.

Want to learn more about my mammoth move from suburbia to rural southern Colorado? Go see here!

 

Sunset, Sunrise – Life in Colorado!

Sorry if I’m boring you, but I cannot get over the fireworks up at our new home in the foothills west of Walsenburg in southern Colorado!

Last night the sunset seemed to go on and on.

IMGP4330It started out like this, and then transitioned…

IMGP4340into this

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and this.

IMGP4346Then this morning I woke up to this! Yes, the snow is getting deeper in the Sangre de Cristos! We get plenty of warning here. Winter is coming soon!

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I am filled with gratitude that I can now live like this forever.  Please go see my new memoir!

What’s the deal with dogs and cats?

Miss KittyI’ll bet you didn’t know the second thing I ever wanted to be when I grew up, after Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke! was a psychobiologist.

Yes, I wanted to study animal behavior.

IMGP4322So when we added a kitten to our household this week, with a well established puppy named Rasta, it only took us a day or two to realize that neither one of us had ever had a cat AND a dog at the same time in the same house. We kept looking at each other as if one of us would know how this works.

Well, this is how it works from my perspective. The dog keeps expecting the cat to act more like a dog, and the cat keeps expecting the dog to act like a cat.

For example, they play in very different ways. The cat loves to chase everything around, although he hasn’t killed our car motor rat just yet as far as we can tell. The dog only wants to fetch his toys for us.

I will say our dog seems more territorial and loyal. He keeps trying to defend me against the cat!

They observe each other more with curiosity than disdain, and I can tell they basically enjoy each other, although Rasta has his moments:

IMGP4328They are both equally “lap happy.” Both love a good lap, and even more so as the weather gets colder. Rasta is only eleven pounds, so I’m curious which one will end up weighing more.

All in all we are quite pleased with our new addition and we’re hoping Rasta will feel the same soon.

Now if Charlie would just kill that nasty rat!

Best of the Boomer Blogs Rides Again!

IMGP4184I am always thrilled with synchronicity in my life. So when our brand new blog carnival member Linda Myers, presented me with a post about her writing group focused on the phrase: “What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I had to go back and see what I said eleven years ago.

That phrase was presented to me in mid-midlife crisis in 2004. Here is what I answered: Become my best self, discover, honor and contribute my best skills, find more fun and meaning, while also finding right livelihood. I am so happy to say the results have been marvelous.

Remember: What you focus on grows!

Vashon IslandHere’s what Linda shares with us today on her “Thoughts of a Bag Lady in Waiting” blog: Six bloggers, me included, have been gathering for a few days in October at Lavender Hill Farm, on Vashon Island, near Seattle. This year we had a writing workshop which turned out to be more powerful than we had anticipated. Our final ten-minute write was based on the final line of a Mary Oliver Poem, “The Summer Day”: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?   At the end of the post there are links to the writing of the other bloggers.

Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting is on the road again, this week visiting family in Vermont. The route of choice is the New York Thruway, a road taken since she was a little girl. Read about her reminiscences and current trip: On the road again: The New York Thruway… 

Tom autumn trees pictureIt seems we are all waxing philosophical this time of year…Tom Sightings takes a Walk in October to see the sights, and recalls an old poem about how “The golden rod is yellow, the corn is turning brown, the trees in apple orchards with fruit are bending down.” Follow him to the end for a nice, tasty surprise! Nice sentiments Tom.

As an older adult, do you watch your salt intake? This week Rita R. Robison, On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, writes about a salt shakerconsumer group taking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to court over the agency’s failure to regulate and reduce the excess salt in our food supply. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says the FDA’s failure to reduce the sodium in packaged and other foods is contributing to tens of thousands of premature deaths annually due to stroke, heart disease, and other health problems.

IMGP4276I’ve been focused on the pure beauty of southern Colorado in the fall. Such lovely sunrises and sunsets. Life is good in retirement land….

A Good Morning in Retirement

Honestly, I cannot believe what a shutter-bug I have become since moving away from the city!

IMGP4276First thing I noticed this morning, as soon as I woke up, was the beautiful sunrise to the east of our home. We can thank the fires out west for the brilliant red hue, but this truly is a beauty!

IMGP4279Then I took a walk down below our home through a Pinyon-Juniper forest. Below is a large horse ranch. Those horses have no idea how good they have it! Or maybe they do….

IMGP4278Looking back up the hill I got a great view of our new home. Did you notice the wires running above the roof? That’s our new lightning protection system. Can’t be too careful up here!

IMGP4266Did you notice the snow up on the West Spanish Peak? Yesterday we had our first good snow storm up on the Sangre de Cristos…

IMGP4272And when the clouds cleared, we saw this!

How did I end up here, feeling so fortunate?

It’s a long story, one I can now share with you in my new memoir!

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Sub-contractors we can recommend south of Pueblo, Colorado

IMGP3203Now that our home is finished, I thought I might share the names of the best companies we have worked with down here.

IMGP3099My first caution is to not just go with the companies the local builders use in Huerfano county. We had to remove contracting responsibilities from our builder eventually, when it became clear that he had absolutely no incentive to save us money. He just went with the good old boys down here to line his and their pockets, since he got 15% on top of the subs he brought in to do the dirt work, etc.

It seems they like to convince you that the companies in Pueblo won’t come down here to work. We have found this to be absolutely false. In fact the best companies we worked with were located in Pueblo. Companies like Pueblo Electrics, who did all of our wiring, Prutch’s Garage Door and J & J Stucco. These companies worked with us for a reasonable price on a much more professional level than the locals who don’t necessarily want to work.

We cannot recommend Cornerstone Roofing, who put on our steel roof. Parts of it blew off a year later and they would NOT even come out and take a look at it! Don’t believe their “integrity” crap!

One local man we did enjoy working with is Ron Pino, for his excellent drywall work.

IMGP3061As expensive and inconvenient as it was for us to move here before starting construction, we highly recommend it while having your home constructed. If we had not been here checking in each and every day, our builder would have made a few MAJOR mistakes in our passive solar construction project.

IMGP3968We weren’t able to find a satisfactory contractor/builder in Huerfano county, and in the end were disappointed with ours.  GOOD LUCK!

Life among the birds, the bees and the bunnies!

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Can you spy the camouflaged bunny in the photo above?

IMGP4148Oh! There he is!

Since my last (AND FINAL!) concussion this past Tuesday, I have had the time and proper disposition to sit and look out of our south-facing doors and windows quite a bit. In this process I have observed many small bunnies crawl up through our sunflower bushes and peek in. Then they run back down the hill as fast as they can!

IMGP4114For unknown reasons, the disturbed ground around our new home has harvested hundreds of sunflower bushes, some over six feet tall! This ground cover attracts an assortment of insects and birds, especially some tiny yellow birds. The sunflowers are the perfect cover for small bugs, birds, etc.

IMGP4136Then this morning we had a new visitor, a Road Runner…up-close-and-personal! They are bigger than I thought, and quite blue when seen up close. Mike says this one seems to be following him around. I guess that explains why they are in the cuckoo family…

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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 and follow us on TWITTER! 

Photo credits to Mike for these great close-ups!

Reconnecting with nature

I see now that it is only by living in a suburban home for 60 years, that I can now see the difference in terms of connecting with nature.

Yes, I still live in a house, unlike my brother who lives outside all of the time, but in a place like this, nature cannot be ignored.

For example, in a passive solar home which is properly positioned to the sun, the solar heat is just now starting to edge into the south-facing windows.

Sleepy Rasta keeping warm in sept 2016Ask my pup Rasta. He loves the new sun on his dog bed. And yes, he does wear a jacket even in the summer, crazy pup.

IMGP4073Another example is the incredible sunsets we sometimes enjoy, like last evening.  At first I only noticed the nice light to the southeast of us.

IMGP4076It was still cloudy to the west, over Mount Mestas. IMGP4082Then I looked out a few minutes later to see this!


IMGP4080Now tell the truth, if this was happening right outside your door, could you really ignore it?

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