Winter Evenings and What Are You Reading?

These cold days are quiet and sweet.  I am trying this year not to immediately begin pining for spring and planting season.  I figured I won’t even look at seed catalogues (oops) or plan out my garden (weeelll…), but I am enjoying the relaxation.  You know, spring and summer is filled with baby animals, and digging, and planting, and harvesting, and watering every day, and preserving, and weeding, and more!  Winter is for settling in and restoring.  In the spring and summer we get more done because the sun is out.  Right now in the freezing dark of suppertime we stay in.  What do you like to do on winter evenings?

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I am the self proclaimed rummy queen.  It’s probably best because I am terrible sport!  I used to play rummy with glasses of iced tea with my great-grandma.  I remember double decks and a large table of family playing at my grandma’s house.  I remember my cousin, Helen, teaching me how to play when I was eight years old on our way up to a cabin with my grandparents.  Doug grew up playing gin among other games.  Do folks play cards anymore?  After dinner the past several nights the shuffling of cards can be heard from our dimly lit kitchen table.  Laughter, music, and memories.

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Winter is also the time to catch up on books!  We love to read and we end every evening with reading and a cup of steaming tea.  Right now I am reading, Meeting the Medicine Man by Charles Langley.  It is out of print and I highly suggest you try to secure a copy off of Amazon.  It is fabulous.  I last read it ten years ago before I started working with medicine people.  It is a glimpse into the world of the Navajo and medicine people.  Of good and evil and the people that help keep the community safe and bring things back into balance.  What are you reading?

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My television is covered by a painting.  We rarely utilize it but for our favorite show (The Voice) and football and the occasional movie night.  It is more pleasant with it not being the center of attention.  We are able to converse more easily, make more memories, and enjoy the ease of these lovely winter evenings.

 

A Love Story

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It was a blustery morning that February day.  Two hundred and twenty brave and loving people came through a snow storm to be present at our wedding.  Since we had spent the night at the hotel we didn’t know there was a huge storm going on. Two hours later as everyone was leaving we wondered where everyone was going!  We had a beautiful ceremony where we promised to stay together through sickness and in heath, through richer and poorer, and in good times and bad.  We didn’t really know what that would be like.  We were just excited to be married.

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We drove children to preschool, attended middle school plays, held crying children, raced fast children, encouraged their imaginations, watched them grow into young adults, cried happy tears at the sight of our granddaughter entering the world, and have kept each other laughing even in the worst of times.

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For nearly six years, after Doug left his job and we moved to the country to be full time herbalists, we have spent almost twenty-four hours a day together, working together, living together, raising children together.  It is almost as if we circled back and started over.  He is working full time, often opposite shifts of my store being open, I watch that beautiful toddler four days a week.  We meet up and run off for “dates” whenever we can (we had a raucous time at the grocery store yesterday).

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Would we do it again if we knew what those words meant?  So I asked my husband to marry me again.  And he said yes.  So next June (not risking a blizzard this time!) we will invite the very dearest to us to help us renew our vows and have a celebration to remember.  For the greatest thing in life is love.

Being Set Free (a thrilling week long adventure)

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We are strong believers in karma, whatever you put out will come back, usually ten fold, and we watch ourselves pretty closely.  We really try to put out only positive and happy vibes.  So this came as such a shock to us.  We were so friendly, put so much work and money here, why did we lose so much?  It’s laughably ironic that I write about and that we went from so close to self reliance to completely reliant.  Completely.  Reliant.

As each thing leaves the house I am saddened as it feels that the memory is lost with it too.  Our trip to California, that sweet Christmas gift, antique shopping in Evergreen, our friendships, all walking out the door for practically nothing.  Of course those memories and people are still with me, in the literal or spiritual sense and as we unburden our existence with so many material things, we feel lighter.

And I wonder if the karma coming to us is not bad, it’s a gift.  It’s good.  I have written about our day in the life of a homesteader, and our businesses, and our to-do lists.  They exhaust my friends just reading them.  We are being set free from ourselves!

I am daring to imagine an existence where my morning starts the same, with coffee on the porch with my cat, and writing, but then doesn’t turn into a frenzy of trying to keep up.  In this little cottage we do not need 500+ preserved food items to be put up.  We do not need to chop 4 cords of wood.  We do not have to milk twice a day.  We do not have to make enough money to feed all the hungry farm animals.  We do not have to make cheese and soap and lotion and try to find the strength to do yet another farmer’s market.  We are being set free.  So long have Doug and I worked sun up to sun down with businesses, committees, children, and homesteading.  We love it, but the idea of something different does intrigue us.  If I want to do those some of those things, I can.  If I don’t, then we can walk around town and find ourselves listening to live music in the park on Tuesday nights.  We are being set free.

We will be working on building a tiny house.  We will be co-creating beautiful, practically maintenance-free gardens, we will be teaching, but we will be doing it slowly and methodically in the middle of a town where we can find new teachers and friends and find each other in our honeymoon cottage.  What a gift.

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This week on this blog I would like to write about various ways to set ourselves free.  How to find a closer connection to Creator, mental and emotional releases, herbal teas for spiritual use, easy ways to strengthen the body, to bring back health, to bring on inspiration and to make some dreams start coming true, and just setting ourselves free from anything that weighs us down.  I hope you’ll join me!  It’s going to be a freeing week!

A Simple Wedding and Promises

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Those two have been crazy about each other for a very long time.  We moved to Parker when the children were five, six, and eight respectively.  There were several children in the neighborhood and never a shortage of antics, wars, camaraderie, and fun.  One of those children was Megan.  They moved away a few years later.  She still went to the same school though, and was in Shyanne’s grade.  Megan became good friends with Shyanne’s best friend, Kim and the three were often together at Kim’s house.  Kim’s brother happened to be Andrew’s best friend.  His name was Andrew as well.  They all had great times and a romance sparked between Megan and Andrew.  The problem was Megan was thirteen and Andrew was fifteen.  They were enthusiastically bound by youth and fate, a love affair that could not be extinguished.  Her parents did not want her to date.  We moved to another town.  Their five friendships were strong and distance could not separate them.  My grandmother said that Andrew and Megan would someday wed.  Her prediction came true.

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In the past year we have certainly been dealt some life shattering blows, multiple deaths (including Kim’s), changes, sadnesses but there are always amazingly beautiful, life healing events that round out the circle of this life.  Maryjane being born was one of them.  The light of our life.  Our son’s wedding another.  To be present with him on the most important day of his life was a blessing and an honor.  One I did not take lightly.  A day remembering how we used to go to the coffee shop before school to get him ready for a long day of thinking, holidays celebrated with enthusiasm and magic, our many trips with the children seeing new things, walks and talks with my little boy.  Even though he is twenty-one, I guess I didn’t realize he had grown up until he became a husband and the day was sweet reminiscing and loving my child with all my heart as I sent cosmic wishes of health, humor, and a very long happy marriage to my son and this sweet young woman that I have loved for a long time as well.

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Their dream wedding will be on July 5th of next year.  Seven years from the date they started dating.  But they did not want to wait another year to be wed.  So on the 5th we met at a park in the middle of the day in Lakewood, a gorgeous patch of land tucked away from traffic, along a river with large cottonwoods and willows resting on the banks creating canopies and backdrops.  Megan’s mom, Teri, Doug and I, and Megan and Andrew walked until we found a lovely spot with luxurious slacken branches, the sound of the river, and geese as witnesses.  Teri videotaped on her phone and I silently cheered, Doug teared up, and Andrew and Megan stood close as they spoke words they had written in their own homemade vows.  From the heart and sweet as the sunny summer day upon us, they kissed with passion and relief after years of wanting to be old enough to be married.  The mothers signed the marriage license as witnesses and our little children were now Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Sanders.  How time whispers past us.  Such a beautiful and moving moment.

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A cake and champagne reception at Teri’s house followed with photos, brief toasts, and grandparents and parents conversing.  Our parents in attendance, our children, and dear friends, Kat and Rod, joined Megan’s family in a celebration of life and sacrament.

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So, if you will, raise your coffee cup, or whatever glass you have and let us toast to Andrew and Megan that their marriage will be blessed and that happiness and laughter will far outweigh any rough patches, that the promise of blissful events will always trump the saddest.  May they be blessed with many children and many sweet memories!

Journey to Our First Farm-A Love Story (Part 1)

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A long, long time ago in a magical place called Denver, two people met.  In a seedy bar.  It was not romantic in any way, nor was it a place one would imagine meeting their soul mate.  It was, however, a convenient place to work after my very small children went to sleep so that I could be sure to be home with them all day.

And there he was.  So easy going, so funny.  He exuded a sort of quiet confidence without being conceited.  He was cute, and sweet, and a gentleman.  After years with someone with zero confidence and an abusive spirit, this man was a brilliant relief.  We had such easy conversations even though we were complete and total opposites.  He was Jewish, I was Catholic.  I had been married.  He was still single.  I had three children. He had none.  He was a Democrat (folks that know him now would be a bit surprised to know that) and I was Republican.  I was also a seemingly towering five inches taller than him.  Plus heels.  So, there was never a thought of romance, just friendly banter.

Which turned from evenings to email and chat.  Then to breakfasts at 2:00 am after work.  Then to phone calls.  Then, as he says, I came over and never left.  And that was that.  We simply could not imagine living without each other.

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We had three children camped out in his living room in a one bedroom condo.  We began house hunting.  A daunting task. He worked for a software company in Colorado Springs and needed to commute.  We needed an affordable house.  We ended up moving to a lovely house in a wonderful suburb called Parker.  We were in love, getting married, he adopted the kids, and we now had three bedrooms and a yard.  We put up window boxes, raised beds and grew our children in that house.

We did not see that the house had been patched together so that it would sell.  Nor could we have ever imagined the intensity and speed that it would deteriorate in materials and value.  At the beginning when the housing market was great we refinanced to its peak.  Trips to the Caribbean with the children, credit cards, new car, new life, a successful young couple with everything.

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We built raised beds out of cinder blocks and fenced them off from our new greyhound.  We tried to grow many different plants.  We forgot to water though and everything died.  I tried my hand at canning with a fair amount of failures.  We were just beginning our interest in more natural living.  We stopped taking pharmaceutical drugs when our dear brother-in-law who was a popular doctor, a young forty-nine years of age, died of cancer despite all of the top of the line treatments he was offered.  We had already started our journey into herbalism by then.  We stopped using chemical body products the more we read about ingredients.  We stopped using household cleaners.  We just stopped.  We wondered where our life was heading.

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Doug was now working in a job he hated.  He was overweight, unhealthy, and depressed.  I was no better off.  Teaching dance in my two dance companies, tired, overworked, and wondering what we were missing.  We figured it was money.  We went about our daily life thinking that was all there was.  All the time gaining interest in homesteading and becoming more self sufficient.  What would it be like to not have so many bills?  We were about to find out.

The balloon rate on our house was coming up.  It was jumping to a ridiculously high rate that would put our mortgage payment way out of our already stretched budget.  We tried to refinance.  Our house was worth almost a hundred thousand dollars less than what we had taken out on it.  Houses everywhere in our neighborhood were foreclosing daily.

Doug’s nervous breakdown at work was our final straw.  I was tired of having a husband that came home every night so depressed he just went to bed.  The house was falling down around us.  We were broke.  We were not happy.

Nearly eight years after moving into the house we decided to move.  I decided we were moving to New Mexico…

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me and sweetie too

And so there I do see pieces of my soul within you,

as if I have known you a million years,

and reunited once on this earth,

had searched for you since my birth.

And so we embarked together raising a family,

and thus dreaming up farms and master plans,

in your eyes I see joy and fun,

our life surely has just begun.

Dancing through life and making a home with you is my place,

truly, I tell you, nowhere else quite fits,

 a sigh of relief in your arms,

quite helpless against your charms.

Today we celebrate another year of valentines,

smile at the Valentine’s Day I met you,

am so thankful to have found you,

never waver, my love for you.