Citygirl School



My long, layered skirts, aprons, and prairie style do not even invoke a second glance in Elizabeth.  The country knows me, as well as its occupants.  In the city, here in Parker, Lord, I am provoking full on gawks and stares!  I feel a bit like a fish out of water.

Yet, I sit near the large window looking out across rooftops and mountain ranges, a cup of coffee and a cat on the sill, and write.  I am also in my element here.  How odd how many versions of ourselves coexist.  Maybe not reinventing, but finding a way for all of the various selves to combine.

I am tired of my prairie dresses.  I am not on the prairie.  Nancy and I are no longer farmgirls.  There is no farm.  I sit in a coffee shop using the wifi and sipping tea.  The sun creeps from behind the building and splays across the pavement.  It will be a beautiful day.

I am not homesteading.  I am living the city life.  We booked our trip to see friends in San Diego for my birthday.  We have no charges to find a farm sitter for.  We walk here and there and listen to song birds and stop in for sushi.

Does anyone read this blog anymore?  The term Farmgirl School seems a bit deceiving.  Oh, there are plenty of years of articles to aid the newbie farmer here.  Indeed.  Yet, I seek myself among cars and shops.  Near community gardens and coffee shops.  Across windowsills and in more normal attire.  A clairvoyant healer walks into the city in flowing dresses and a desire for sheep and ends up in a jean jacket sipping tea in a crowded coffee shop.  Unidentifiable?

No, I am still noticeable and I have a great many adventures ahead of me.  A writer still must have an outlet even if the readers stop reading.  Or perhaps new ones will join.  Or perhaps many are still here.  Sit down and have a cup of tea with me.  It is almost spring.



Of Coffee and Memories

The other day we went to the Aurora mall, one of the last indoor malls on the front range, to kill a few hours before heading to Monte and Erik’s for the Superbowl.  We hadn’t been there in some time and it always brings back such memories.  It prompted me to republish this article that I wrote some three years ago for a local newspaper before I became their food writer.  Three years later, Doug works at the coffee shop mentioned and Bret is now a part of our family along with Emily and Bret’s daughter.  So, here’s to that sweet cup of coffee and memories…

coffee cup

Smells and tastes can evoke such vivid, sometimes forgotten, memories.  All the colors, and voices, and laughter emerging forth as one takes in a heady sip.

Grandma and Grandpa’s house was on South Pennsylvania in Denver while I was growing up.  Rose bushes, climbing vines, the bay window, and porch swing wait for me in memory.  The smell of Folgers and cigarettes takes me directly to their round kitchen table where Grandpa amuses me with stories.  Grandpa’s tales of being a real cowboy still enthrall me.  Grandma stands at the stove cooking our breakfast.  I can smell the eggs frying in the skillet, filling the kitchen with salivating aromas.  She taught me how to fix the perfect egg.  I sip Folgers coffee from my own wee cup, a two ounce white porcelain mug that just fits in my hand.

At the hint of raspberry chocolate flavored coffee the laughter grows deafening as my best friend, Susan, and I dance around the living room in boxer shorts and t-shirts singing along to our new favorite performer, Harry Connick Jr; our teenaged hearts just wild over our new celebrity crush.

It is New Year’s Eve and it is going to be a blue moon.  We make pot after pot of raspberry chocolate coffee while very seriously and demurely watch foreign films until the clock strikes twelve.  We run outdoors, mugs in hand, to greet the New Year under the enormous full moon.

Last week Emily’s boyfriend gave us a pound of coffee his father had roasted. Jamaican Me Crazy is the name.  I was unsure of what flavor that would be!  I poured the boiling water over the earthy grounds in the French Press and poured myself a cup.

I am surprised to find myself with my young children some dozen years ago laughing and walking around the Aurora Mall.  We go there a lot to keep busy and take in the sights.  We play on the magnificent merry-go-round that holds court in the center of the mall.  The childhood, seemingly hand cranked, music fills the air.

Near the merry-go-round is my favorite shop with walls lined with unique and daring coffee blends such as Coconut macadamia, Hazelnut with real pieces of nuts, Irish Cream, and my favorite Chocolate Pecan.

Grandpa has just bought me a new coffee maker.  He jokes that it does everything but bring you a cup of coffee!  It grinds and brews at any designated time (new at that time!).  At home, as the rich liquid brews we turn on the Martha Stewart Show and see what creativity she has in store for us.  This was a tradition we carried on until just a few years ago; Martha and Coffee.

Even now, Doug and I sit in Grumpy’s Coffee sipping our respective brews, soy peppermint mocha for him, black dark roast for me, sharing the paper, greeting all the familiar faces, and making new coffee memories.

Treasure Hunting and Magical Gardens


The sidewalks stretched out across the landscape, endless walkways about the city.  Bits of glass glinted in the light.  The air smelled of beer and urine with a hint of marijuana outside the warehouses near the tracks.  We dropped our car off for repairs and began to walk towards the bustling south Broadway.  The familiarity of Denver streets and sidewalks made us reminiscent and oddly comfortable as if we had just put on a pair of comfortable old socks once again discovered.  The birds were singing, the trains and Lightrails were in full swing.  Hobos left their things by the road in borrowed grocery carts near restored small Victorians in the historic Baker district.  The houses were bunched together in an effort to fit more friends in and the yards were the size of my quaint kitchen, partially shaded.  We noted gardens and stopped at a large lot that had been converted into a community garden.  Each plot holding the personality of its occupant.  Creative trellises of t-posts and wire, lingering fingers of pumpkin vines slithering into walkways and a small child of perhaps three carrying a grocery bag whilst carefully placing tomatoes into it.  Her treasure held close to her chest.  Her blonde hair glistened in the morning sun as her mother removed weeds from the garden.


We walked on towards the roar of traffic and the busy coffee shop that we were to meet my friend at.  I hadn’t seen Partha in at least seven years.  We had shared classes together in college and had quite a bit to catching up to do.  After a lovely visit Doug and I went to eat a Czech restaurant we had walked past.  We figured if we were gallivanting around the city we may as well try a new cuisine.  We sat on the patio but could not hear a word each other was saying for the massive decibel of the street.  We forgot how very noisy a city can be.

We continued on to the funky shops and specialty stores perusing books in old storefronts with massive stacks upon stacks and dusty corners.  A treasure hunt of sorts and I came away with several Beatrix Potter books to read to Maryjane.  Prized oil cloth was found at a fabric store.  A housewarming gift for Andrew and Megan at another charming store filled with glistening treasure-like tchotchkes and delights for the senses.  Five hours and several miles of walking went quickly by.  We had enjoyed our trip to Denver but we were ready for the comfort and rest of the country, our loud road in front of the house not so loud in our minds anymore.


On our way back to the car shop we crisscrossed through the neighborhood and found unexpected minute pieces of farm.  A heavy laden plum in one scant front yard, herbs growing in the greenway by the street.  Yellow squash intermingled with large tufts of ornamental grass.  Pumpkins in corners and across sidewalks.  Wooden framed raised beds in the middle of a gravel parking lot near a warehouse.  Large leaves of chard and cabbage growing beautifully along with trellised green beans.  In front of a decrepit office building, quite near the tracks, surrounded by cement and street, in select sections tall stalks of corn waved proudly as if they were new forms of ornaments and at their base the beautiful pumpkins crowded out the unsightly ground and thrived, right there in the dusty, smelly city of cement.  Bits of farm making their way back to the urban field.  It was pleasing and exciting indeed to see the local gardening and food movement in unlikely places.  Seeds long to be planted.