Seeking the Simple Life and Penpals

The sun is rising, splaying pink and metallic colors across the mountains and along sides of structures. I am so thankful to be in the country. I watch the horse across the street from my office window run and jump, darting through trees, and landing in a swirl of dust near his food bowl as his owner comes out with hay.

Maryjane (my six year old granddaughter) had her first riding lesson. She at first did not want to go because she found that her cowgirl boots were too small. She perked up the minute she saw the horses and she fell in love with the bubbly, blond instructor, Miss Britney. These were great horses; Maryjane clutched one large horse in a hug and he did not budge. Maryjane easily learned how to guide the horse, as her little sister, Ayla, blew kisses to all of the horses. These are country girls.

At Grandpa’s house Saturday, we celebrated his 92nd birthday. He had to take off work to do so. He is forever at his drawing board, on the phone, or meeting with clients. He sipped his coffee as he told us stories of working on a dairy farm, milking eighty head, or helping the vets bring down the draft horses for treatment. He once rode round-up moving horses from Sterling to Estes Park, 146 miles. His stories about being a cowboy, the rodeo circuit, World War Two, working on the sugar beet farm for his uncle during the Depression, and working at a dairy come with a final relief that he moved to the city.

We are lucky to be modern farmers and homesteaders. I am able to romanticize it a bit. It doesn’t hold the same urgency of survival as it did in Grandpa’s time.

Doug and I chat in the car on the way home about our ideas and goals. We have done this before so we know what to expect and how to do things better this time. We want to live simply. So simply (and prepared enough) that if the power were to go out or a storm were to rage, we would be snug in our home with plenty of light, warmth, water, and food.

Simple enough that our electric bill stays lower than if we purchased solar. The clothes being cleaned with a washer plunger in the summer and dry flapping in the wind on the clothes line. Food chosen from rows of dirt or rows of canned goods. Meat from our own chickens or from our friends’ cows and pigs. We seek out and associate with other homesteaders/ranchers/farmers. We travel long distances to each others’ homes for dinner. Keep up on social media. Cheer each other on. Support each other.

One of my favorite old activities is to write and receive letters in the post. A moment to sit with a cup of tea and an old friend in prose and see what is going on in their world. Then with pretty stationary and pen, share our private life, thoughts, and ideas. Now that we are settled into our home and winter is upon us, if you would like to be pen-pals, please write me! I would love to correspond.

Mrs. Katie Sanders, 790 9th Street, Penrose, CO, 81240.

Summer List and Sunshine

Summer is quickly becoming one of my favorite seasons.  Sometimes in Colorado it seems like we have seven and a half months of winter a few weeks of spring, a few months of summer, a few weeks of autumn, then right back to winter.  Yesterday felt so good at seventy four degrees.

red rocks 2

Summer does have a wicked tendency to come and go before you can get your tan lines straightened out.  Along with our shop we do farmer’s markets and now Doug has a 9-5 job too.  We watch the baby, I am writing a novel, and we have three garden plots, and…well, we need to make a list of what we really want to do.

I am a notorious list maker.  If I don’t make a list of the things we want to do this summer then we shall miss it.

red rocks

So far we have seen a bluegrass concert at Red Rocks.  I have read a good book, The Excellent Lombards, by Jane Hamilton.  I have a beautiful garden started.

  1. Go to pool one morning a week.
  2. Take Maryjane to the carnival next week.
  3. Take Maryjane to rodeo next week.
  4. Go hiking on a trail we have never been on.
  5. Ride bike as far down the trail as I can go.
  6. Read three great books.
  7. Dance under the full moon of the summer solstice.
  8. Order lemonade at the county fair.
  9. Drink coffee on the balcony every morning.
  10. Go to the mountains and picnic by a stream at least once this summer.

I would like to add road trips and vacations and time in hammocks and bonfires but time, especially summertime, is elusive.  But we will do all we can to soak up each beautiful warm moment.

summer baby

Tell me,   what do you want to do this summer?

The Country Spirit

This is the photo that came across my screen the other day!  Her mother caught her in a moment of history in the making.

trick rider

Maryjane has been in love with horses since birth.  If you have been following long you remember my friend, Nancy, who I had many farmgirl adventures with before she passed away.  Her daughter, Faleena, is like a niece to me.  And since very early in Miss Maryjane’s life she has seen Faleena with a horse.  And Faleena on a horse.  Standing on horses!


Maryjane, at the age of two, has aspirations of being rodeo queen already.  We may have moved to the city but we are a mere thirty minutes from our real home and the country doesn’t leave one’s spirit.  It is certainly embedded in my granddaughter (and in Faleena who had to moved to the city too) and we will work diligently to get that baby girl on a path to trick riding, sheep herding, or whatever else she wishes to do!

Grandpa’s Cowboy Memories


I know a tremendous number of veterans and I am grateful from the bottom of my heart to all of them for their dedication to keeping us all free to play in the yard, write blogs about whatever we’d like, go to college, work in the career we want, or believe in what we wish.  I thank them for the time they spent in the military and for their sacrifice to all of us that they do not even know.  I am thankful for my father, grandfathers, and back all the way to the my Revolutionary war grandfathers that fought for basic rights.  For Memorial Day we are going over to see one of my favorite veteran’s, my grandpa.  He regales me with delightful tales from his youth still and I love each one.  My favorite war story of his is when he was serving up grub in the mess hall and walking through the line was his brother!  He didn’t even know Uncle Allen enlisted or that he was in the same place!  My grandfather worked on the Amphibian, a vehicle that goes from land to sea.  But most of his tales come from his being a cowboy.  My grandpa was a real cowboy, out on the range, waiting for the chuck wagon, roping cattle, riding his horse from Sterling to Estes Park to work on a dude ranch as a teenager.  He was in the rodeo circuit riding bucking broncos and worked on a ranch where he made ten dollars more because he rode the rough string, or half broke horses.  This is a poem he wrote that I find endearing and tells of a time not in many of our memories.

The Round Up (by Elmer Horner)

It is cold and wet and just breaking light

When the cook yells out, “Come and get it or I’ll throw it out!”

He pulls on his pants, and then his boots, buttons up his shirt to complete his attire

Crawls out of his bed roll and heads for a cup of coffee and the warmth of the fire.

When it’s early in the morning and the sleet coming down

A roundup cowboy wishes he was in town

Where his bed is dry and not everyone wears a frown.

The food from the Dutch oven is steamy and hot

With a hot cup of coffee just poured from the pot.

There’s biscuits, steak and beans, which with your pay,

They call this “found and a dollar a day”

You slip into your slicker, put on your spurs

And you do all of this without saying a word

You grab your saddle, hackamore and blanket

Pull the brim of your hat down over your eyes

And head in the direction of the Remuda horse herd.

You tell the jigger boss what horse you would like

And he ropes you an outlaw by the name of Spike

The hump in his back causes the back of the saddle to rise

And you know then that for a cold wet morning,

The horse you picked to start the day sure is no prize

You ease your mount away from the Remuda so that if he blows up

You won’t be blamed for spooking the herd

When even on a cold wet morning you would not have to feel any shame

You head for the cow herd to start the day of cutting out and sorting

The cows that will stay and holding the ones that would be loaded and shipped away

Roundup is over and you draw your pay and load your gear

So you can be on your way

You tell the boss that you enjoyed the food and thanks for the pay

The next time there’s a roundup you can be sure as you’re sittin’

This cowboy is going to be roughing it at the Hilton.