Photography by Laura Lee!

Let me begin by saying, I never thought of myself as a “photographer.” What does that even mean? We all write but few of us are “writers.” When I began writing professionally I had no definition of “writer.” Then I read an article in a writing magazine that said, a writer is someone who sits down everyday and writes. That was me.

Now I find I am constantly taking photos from our foothills ridge simply because they need to be taken.


I mean how can you watch scenes like these everyday and not want to preserve them for others to see?

Since I started taking photos like this, I have posted quite a few on my Facebook page. Yes, everyone seems to love them, and a few have encouraged me to begin selling them so others can enjoy…


the views we enjoy everyday.

So here I am, launching myself into a whole new area of endeavor. I have so much to learn about lens and filters and everything else, I’ll admit that.

The East Peak through the lilac trees!

But life is for learning, right?

A Great Day in Spanish Peaks Country!

imgp5357

This morning I woke up too early, but since I was already up I went outside to take a few sunrise shots. Then we started getting ready to drive up to “Uptop” to enjoy the 2016 Welcome Gathering for the Spanish Peaks Celtic International Music Festival.

imgp5387

Uptop is up at the top of Old La Veta Pass. It’s a bit of a ghost town now, but still fun to visit, especially on a glorious fall day like today!

imgp5391

This is where the train used to come through over a century ago.

imgp5384

It has an cool old chapel and an old tavern where the Celtic musicians set up to play and guide the courageous ones through some Irish dances.

imgp5375

And since I LOVE anything Celtic it was GRAND!

imgp5376

I loved the harp the best. I seem to be developing a love affair with all kinds of harps.

imgp5393

On the way home we stopped a few times to try and capture the amazing fall colors up there. Here’s Mike looking back towards the Spanish Peaks.

imgp5395

It’s days like these that make me so happy that we decided to move down here.

 On the way home we got in our FIRST traffic jam ever on Highway 160. Still don’t know what happened there… So we took the county road home and got in the middle of a cattle jam instead! So much more enjoyable than a car traffic jam. It was fun watching the cowboys herding the stray cattle across the road.

Want to learn more about our recent move from busy, noisy Fort Collins to  this place of silence and lovely nature watching?  Go here!

Busy Blogging Boomers!

This week we are offering you reviews of movies, restaurants, an analysis of upstate New York versus California living, and how to get better prices on your new iPhone. Let’s hear from Carol Cassara first:

east-coast-versus-west-coast

Each of us sees the world filtered through our lives and every one of our experiences. As older adults, our world view is very different now, Carol points out over at her blog,“Heart Soul Mind.” She also goes back to the first half of the 20th century, when life was very different, and maybe romanticizes it a bit.

For many Americans going out to eat has become a regular pastime, a part of our lifestyle.Usually the experience is a pleasant one, but occasionally disappoints because of poor food or service quality. Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting recently enjoyed some great Mexican food with a portion of poor service. 

sully-movieBoomer blogger Tom Sightings admits, “I Don’t Like to Fly.” The last flight he took was round trip from New York to Phoenix in 2012. So why did he go see the movie Sully? And what does he think about it? (It might surprise you.)

iphoneOver at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, consumer journalist Rita R. Robison writes about how much a new iPhone 7 can cost you. Did you know you can save more than $1,000 by using WalletHub’s Cell Phone Savings Calculator to compare the different ways that consumers can purchase the iPhone, evaluate coverage plans, and figure out when they’re better off keeping their current phone? Go learn more!

memoir-of-retirement-2016-large

Me, I’ve been busy editing and formatting my new book. I will be so glad to present it to you in the next few weeks! Until then please enjoy the cover. This is a photo of Mike’s excitement one morning as he walked outside to enjoy our tremendous view.

LIFE IS GOOD IN BOOMERLAND!

 

Do we want to grow or not?

After living here in rural southern Colorado for the past few years, I am often struck by my ambivalence towards attracting more people to this area. One thing is for sure, they are coming!

Each summer I see more people coming here to vacation and look for land or homes. The general trend is lots of Texans seeking a cooler place to summer, but I am now seeing more cars and RVs from other states, even as far away as New York.

And who can blame them? With sunrises like these, and towering peaks just a few miles off of Interstate 25, with rolling hills full of wildflowers, and cute little towns like La Veta, this place is some kind of paradise for nature lovers.

It’s not just me either. I checked with a local realtor this morning. She said the past few years have been “fabulous.” Our local water district reports that after  five years with almost no requests for new water taps or hookups, they have received twelve requests in the past two months.

The 2008 recession hit this area very hard. Huerfano County still has one of the highest unemployment rates in our state, so it’s good to see things picking up and new businesses opening in Walsenburg and La Veta. My only fear is that too many people will move here and ruin our rural, relaxed atmosphere. Our saving grace seems to be how many choose to go elsewhere for winter.

I met a very interesting woman here a few months ago. She has lived in Aspen for the past forty years, and she cautioned us about telling too many people about this place. She hates to see what happened to Aspen, with a median home price of $1.5 million. I understand that kind of caution, because I first moved to Boulder in 1966. I saw so much change there over the decades, and most of it not good.

I cannot see Walsenburg turning into Aspen any time soon, but I would hate to lose the natural beauty and quiet that makes this such a great place to call home.

Did you ever wonder what it feels like to move to a very culturally different place to live a more natural way of life?

Here’s what that feels like….

Outdoor or Indoor Kitty?

To give you some idea of the questions that we wonder about living here, away from all cities or even towns, recently we were discussing whether our cat should be let out to roam a bit, or is it too dangerous with the wild animals around here?

charley-and-rasta-on-mikes-lap

Charley the cat has been an indoor kitty since we got him last August. He was just a kitten then and had no idea where he was. Since then he has grown bored with our great indoors. He wants out!

Friends around here have both encouraged and warned us about letting animals out to roam. Especially dogs seem to disappear if you don’t keep close track of them.

IMGP4761

Rasta never goes out without us close by. He was raised a city dog, and has no idea that other animals might come by to eat him. Einstein is his middle name, LOL!

But Charley is a whole different animal. He’s young and strong and a natural hunter. He loves exploring the sunflower groves outside our home, and he’s a great mouser. He needs to go out, it seems.

So this morning we let him out for a while. He loved it! I guess we’ll keep a close eye on him, and let him out a bit in the morning when most animals aren’t prowling for a meal. We’d hate to lose him.

Getting used to something so right…

I was singing along with that old Paul Simon song, “Can’t get used to something so right…” this morning, and realized sometimes I have that problem myself.

After over two years in the brand new world (for me) of rural southern Colorado, I would say I’m just beginning to settle in.

This adventure started back in mid-June of 2014, and I can assure you I wasn’t sure at all about this place. It all seemed so backward, slow and poor to me after living in Loveland and Fort Collins for years. People kept asking me why we moved here, and I wasn’t so sure myself. Luckily my husband is an “eyes-on-the prize” kind of man. He knew exactly why he was here!

My first year here was not good. Between feeling like a fish out of water myself, and the extremely challenging feat of building a custom solar home out in the foothills, my best description is STRESS CITY!

But once we moved out of Walsenburg and settled into our new home, life improved dramatically. After so much stress and our second move in a year, we spent weeks doing very little but enjoying our marvelous new environment…

AMAZING sunrise over the Spanish Peaks January 2018

OK, we spent most of our first winter here doing that!

One thing you need to know about this part of the country, things really do slow down here in the winter. I can remember days last winter when I went into La Veta, and it looked like a deserted ghost town.

In the spring things liven up quite a bit. The tourists start coming down here and clogging up Main Street in Walsenburg. This past spring I started taking a yoga class and walking around La Veta in the mornings. I also started making a few friends and feeling more like I belong here.

Laura standing at build site before slab 2014

Just yesterday I realized how right this place feels to me now. I love living in the country, I have a wonderful husband and home, I have new friends who care, and I rarely have to deal with all the things I hated in the city.

Life is good and getting better. Mission accomplished!

Want to learn more about the experience of moving from the city to the country to live a quiet, relaxed life? Check it out here!

Boomers and Their Busy Boomer Lives!

IMGP5298

When I woke up this morning it was chilly and rainy outside. Then I looked out east and boom! what an amazing sunrise!

But even the nicest places on earth can be ruined if you aren’t getting along with your significant other. That’s why it’s so important to manage your ‘closeness’ so you can both be happy in retirement! 

Writer Meryl Baer says, there are all sorts of reasons people love the place they live. She enjoys her current hometown because of the ease of walking and cycling around town. In this week’s post, she lists the Ten reasons I love my walkable community. 

pink love sunsetWriter Carol Cassara says, many boomers who are otherwise living fulfilled lives, face problems with waning libidos. She explains over at Heart-Mind-Soul, there’s no need to deny ourselves the pleasure of a vibrant sex life, not when there’s a new book by boomer and midlife sex expert Walker Thornton that offers practical advice to anyone who would like to invite desire back into their life. Carol reviews Ms. Thornton’s book here.  And to give love equal time, she offers her simple secret to love

DMVAccording to Tom Sightings, in Beaten by the Bureaucracy, sometimes it’s hard to appreciate what the government does for us, even if you’re a liberal. He tells the story of changing his driver’s license and car registration after he moved to a new state. What’s the solution? “Don’t move to a new state!”

Rita's gardenOver at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, a consumer journalist, gives us a report on her bountiful garden. Robison, who went on vacation for a week, found that special something that gardeners dread finding when they return: “Surprises From My Garden.” 

Just published my memoir of moving to this beautiful rural place in southern Colorado to get a ways off the grid and finally truly enjoy life!  Please take a look!

 

Journey Back to Self, Finding Home…

richard gereI saw a great profile of one of my favorite human beings last Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning. Richard Gere has been a bit of a guru for me ever since he found me at exactly the right moment, in the midst of a tremendously depressing afternoon in the summer of 2004. From the television, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Hang on, it all changes.” That was enough for me, and he was so right!

Richard now works as an advocate for the disadvantaged of the world. He recently played a homeless man in his film “Time out of Mind”, twelve years in the making. He also works to bring attention to the terrible plight of immigrants worldwide: People without a country.

I find Richard has a knack for asking the important questions, questions like, “Where am I safe in this world?” and “How did I end up here?” And then he said, “We’re all about our stories…”

fe truth I have been focused on lately is how so many of us seem to find a way to return to our original or true self through the chaos that midlife can be. For example, the constant questioning of how I ended up so unhappy with my life at age 49, led me to rediscover who I am, and what I needed to accomplish before I died.

I see now I was in search of a new sense of home and comfort within myself. I was looking for my place in this world.

What did I love and want more of in my life? What parts of my life did I need to jettison RIGHT NOW? What voices in my head were leading me to unhappiness, and which ones were wise and compassionate?

IMGP3698

Finding the right voices to listen to has led me to this place in rural Colorado, where the birds sing me awake each morning, and…

“the sun pours in like butterscotch and sticks to all my senses.” Thank you Joni!

How did this happen? 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!

Enjoying a Celebration of Never Moving Again!

moving Day June 2014Today marks two years since we left our perfectly nice home in suburbia for the adventure of a lifetime. It may not sound like such a big deal to move to small town USA to build a custom solar home in the southern Colorado foothills, but it was for us at age 60!

We moved to Walsenburg on June 17th 2014, to sleep on the floor of this hundred-year-old rental, moving in the next day and staying there for 13 months while our new home was forming far too SLOWLY 20 minutes west of town at 7,000 feet. Mike worked as the contractor and purchaser of all things when we found the builder was not taking competitive bids, but just hiring his local friends.

IMGP4009

Then on July 30th, 2015 we moved into our new home, HOME AT LAST!

For weeks after that move we just sat and stared out the window, mesmerized with the awesome views out our front windows, too exhausted to do anything else. We finally made it to our goal after many, many challenges and so many days of absolute stress.

Why did we do it? Our trip to Pueblo yesterday answers that question quickly. Being in cities always ruins my day. We need to go there occasionally to buy certain things, but the stress, the heat, the traffic, the bad air and bad manners of other drivers always convinces us we will never live there again!

IMGP4073

We have no patience with cities anymore, and why should we when we have a magnificent place where we can escape them?

IMGP5082

Today we will drink a toast to surviving all these many changes and challenges, and also to never moving again! Instead we will try to get our patio finished this summer, enjoy the great wildflower displays everywhere, the cool mountain breezes each evening, and offer encouragement to others who have found their new home in this small slice of heaven.

Want to learn more about our experience of moving from the city to the country to live a quiet, relaxed life? Check it out here!

What’s not to love about this lifestyle?

The fog just engulfed our hilltop. I’m listening to The Poozies, another incredible group of musicians introduced to me by our first friend here, Bob the landlord.         If you love Irish and Scottish music, you will love them! I’m baking banana bread while I write this.

IMGP4843

Cloudy with occasional glimpses of the mountains!

So what’s not to love about this lifestyle?

The past few days have been wonderful for me. At our writing group on Saturday I met a new member who made my day! She’s been a major player in the Aspen arts scene for the past forty years, but burned out on that and is ready for something completely different. She warned me about telling too many about this beautiful place, so keep this under wraps, OK?

I have also found an exercise class I like for “older women.” It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for, so I bought a membership at Two Peaks Fitness. After winter and my post-construction slump, I need to get moving NOW! I hike up the hill behind us a few times a week and explore my new neighborhood. At 7,000 feet hiking is quite different than our old neighborhood in Fort Collins. Slowly but surely….

I am finding so many friendly people lately, especially in La Veta, and I’m finally feeling some sense of belonging here. Such a nice feeling!

 

IMGP4761And then there is my home life. This photo is a good summary.

Everyone’s happy and getting along here!

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!

“Our deepest human longing is for BE-longing; for belonging to our true selves, for belonging to all others…belonging to the whole universe…and belonging to that unfathomable mystery …”                                                   GRATITUDE with BROTHER DAVID STEINDL-RAST