The Desert Botanical Garden was my favorite outing this week in Phoenix. It was the only day my friends that we are staying with had off work. At the Botanical Garden, I learned about the ecosystem and plant life here.
The long, meandering paths lead in circles around the living outdoor exhibits, so it was easy to traverse. I found myself fascinated by the landscape and the warm sun felt great upon my skin as the four of us wandered around the expansive space enjoying each other’s company and watching exquisite birds. Fluffy chipmunks darted to and fro and a large hawk hovered near.
We found great enjoyment watching the blackbirds dart full speed into holes in the Saguaro cacti, apartment buildings for the birds. Hummingbirds happily drank nectar from cactus flowers and trees in full bloom.
I have an enormous aloe plant in my house that flowers each year and it is always a topic of conversation the first time folks visit my home. To see these beautiful specimens full of juice and flowering prolifically beneath the Arizona sun was wonderful.
There is a medicinal herb that I use called Chaparral. It holds the astounding properties within it to kill cancer cells, repair teeth and kill infections. It is often hard for me to get. Its other name is Creosote Bush and there it was, prolific across the desert.
The herb gardens were thick with rich aroma and life as bees darted from tip to tip.
I wondered how the indigenous people of the land here could withstand the heat. There were many examples of willow and ironwood structures for cooking, living, and communing. Gardens and history were provided around the simulated village.
My husband is a very good photographer and I was happy that he could capture the day for us. If you find yourself in Phoenix, Arizona, head to the Desert Botanical Garden for a day of history, beauty, and desert magic.
It has been a lovely six days in Arizona and now we bid a sad farewell to our dear friends and travel east to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As adults we don’t seem to celebrate birthdays with the same festivity as when we were children, but I think all birthdays are incredibly special. Having lost many friends at a young age, I know that each birthday is a great time to reevaluate, reground, regroup, and to be filled with gratitude. Each lesson leading into another great discovery and memories fill the spaces in our days and lives with those we love and experiences to treasure.
Last year was my year of bravery. I shaved off all of my hair for my birthday. It was freeing and light and was like the world’s burdens had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now of course I am trying to grow out with some semblance of normalcy!
My birthday is Sunday. This year is my year of adventure and learning. My farm is ready to really increase food production with experiments, new gardens, and my greenhouse. I am registered for school in the fall. But before everything gets really amped up, we are going on a ten day trip through New Mexico and Arizona.
We will be staying with our dear, dear friends, Monte and Erik, whom we haven’t seen since they moved away over three years ago. My friend from high school (26 years since I have seen her) is down there, as is one of Doug’s (30 years), and my wonderful Great-Aunt Lila. I have never been to Arizona and I am excited to see the land and the people. There are restaurants, parks, and museums to discover! Sun to soak up! Glasses of wine to clink with dear ones. The overnights to and from Arizona in New Mexico I look forward to and always savor. Chimayo is calling me. So, for the next ten days I will be reporting to you from the fabulous Southwest with inspirations, ideas, and life.
Petunia is still rather plump, even after having babies last autumn. She is very fluffy and so cute I wish she would come in the house to live, but of course squirrels don’t typically enjoy living in the house. She sits next to me on the porch as I eat my lunch on warm days. I just watched her from the picture window jump from limb to limb. I need to put more bird seed and peanuts out. The Blue Jays are making such a racket. They do despise when I am late.
Hundreds of lovely, chirping sparrows reside here. As do many doves and starlings. Crows fly over. Owls can be heard in the night. Hawks stop to rest. Sea gulls and geese fly over towards the lake. A third of an acre in the city sure can be a wild life haven. I love it here.
The chickens from the factory farm that we rescued are plump and quite loud. They run towards me bow legged and squat, hollering like miniature geese. They love to eat and are firmly against being on a diet. “We are not broilers here, Dears,” I remind them, “You do not need to get so fat!” Dixie is still tiny. My granddaughter renamed the infant rooster, Bob.
I am fervently manifesting and saving for a greenhouse. The ducks come April 20th.
My classes are chosen for the autumn session of college.
I am quite sore from teaching dance last night. I am teaching two herbalist classes. Just keeping busy until I can be in my gardens full time!
I leave in three weeks for ten days in Arizona and New Mexico for my birthday. Such wonderful blog posts I will write!
The seedlings are doing well. The ground is softening. I am teaching a gardening class Sunday to plant potatoes that have taken over the cupboard.
My friends are here visiting for the weekend. I have so many dear friends. I am so lucky.
Such a slow, lovely, blessed, ordinary, extraordinary life I lead. And that, my friends, is what is going on at Pumpkin Hollow Farm on the verge of Ostara and the equinox. Spring is next week! Here it is quietly arriving.
What is happening on your homestead this week? I am honestly interested!
We spent the weekend in Taos with this fine fellow, who at three and a half months of age looks to be a small polar bear. He was very popular. Gandalf particularly loved it the last day we were there after we realized the shops were all dog friendly and he didn’t need his vest. If he doesn’t have his vest on he gets a lot more cuddling. That is what Gandalf does best.
To register your pup as an emotion support dog simply go to a site like ESAregistration.org and sign them up, pay for the vest, and you can then bring your trusted friend around with you. There are no requirements, no questions; simply upload a photo of your dog and who the handler is. No one has ever questioned us and by law they can’t keep us from entering an establishment. Gandalf may not be a seeing eye dog but he has his own work, spreading happiness to all he meets!
Taos was in all its holiday glory with the lights and bonfires in place. The shops were dressed festive and the luminarias were lined across the rooftops and along the paths. There is just something about New Mexico for me. I cross the state line (now only two hours away) and I am in my own place of inspiration and peace. As if the vibration of the rocks and trees and sagebrush match the frequency of my blood. One day I will be there to stay. But I am where I am supposed to be right now and a weekend away was good for the soul.
It was a great opportunity to train Gandalf and he was worn out by the end of our trip. He was a really good boy, except once! I let him off the leash because we were about to play ball so he usually keeps his eye on the bright orange tennis ball but then something else caught his eye. A giant tarp. That covered the out of season swimming pool! He ran onto it, like a giant trampoline he raced from one end to the other, his ears back, a big goofy smile on his face, until finally, two heart attacks later, Doug was able to yank him off the side. No harm done, and hilarious to recall, but not so funny as I stopped breathing praying the tarp would hold that giant puppy!
Here are a few tips for traveling with your dog.
Get an emotional support dog registration or wait until summer when patios are open at restaurants.
Even with the vest, try to find a hotel that already accepts dogs. (I highly recommend Blue Sky Resort if you are heading to Taos.)
We drove our mini-van so we could lay his bed out, food and water, and toys. It was much easier to drive around with him!
Carry a baby bag with a bag of food, a quart of water, some treats, a toy, a few washrags, and a few plastic bowls.
Purchase a harness. When training my granddog (a crazy border collie/heeler) and now with my Great Pyrenees, a harness is a life saver! They can’t pull, you have the leverage, and they know they have to be good kids once you put it on them!
Reward sitting, laying down, and any other good behavior with small treats.
Don’t get stressed out. Just have fun with your companion!
Even small dogs can be Emotional Support Dogs. Some dogs were not meant to hang out at home all the time. Without company and things to do behavior problems arise. And if you are going to have a puppy, may as well make him a friend and travel companion. I am glad we decided to get dog!
Note: I must say that I am surprised at the number of nasty remarks I receive about this post (and mind you they will never see the light of day). I want to make it quite clear that I still stand behind this post. Did you know that a fully trained, recognized service dog will run between $25,000-$50,000? There are many people that I know, from wheelchair bound to post-war PTSD, that need a service dog. Having an emotional support dog is very valuable to many people. My puppy is now over a year old, over a hundred pounds, and barks all the time, so he isn’t going with me anywhere more than the bank or dog park. But he really helped me deal with fear and anxiety and if someone needs a support dog, then they should have one. End of story.
Vacations are expensive. They take a lot of planning, a week off of work, savings, and can be exhausting. We have found that the best vacations are often weekends. We call them mini-vacations. We got our friends hooked on them too. We find specials on hotel rooms and stay one night, maybe two somewhere new. A dip in the pool, a soak in the hot tub, free breakfast, a comfy bed sans cats, and a hot shower is often just the ticket to reset for the week. We like to try new restaurants, see the sights, visit museums, or walk around the city. It doesn’t cost much and it really is fun.
If you have been reading my blog long you know Pat and Rodney via my stories. We have traveled with them to Utah, to New Mexico, and across the front range, from Wyoming to Fort Collins, to Colorado Springs.
Last weekend we took Pat and Rodney down to Pueblo to show them around. We met up with my friend, Alvin, who just moved down there. We went to dinner at my new favorite restaurant, Nachos. A family owned place that serves up the best Mexican food I have had in a long while. We walked the Riverwalk and oohed and ahhed at the lights. We planned, dreamed. Pat and I walked arm and arm singing and yelling, “Merry Christmas” to the boats that went by all alight with Santa in tow.
The next day we took them to see our new house. We drove around town and walked the Main street with its quaint blocks of all locally owned shops.
This week we are driving down there just for the day to accompany Rodney and Pat while they house hunt. Wouldn’t that be something? Our best friends moving down the way? This is getting too fun….
We walked the beach on that last day. We alternately dreamed of our future farm in California and the kisses we would receive from Maryjane when we got home. The air was heady with fresh soil and sea and the birds actively flew overhead. My skin feels so good in the humidity. I can breathe better too. My breath caught though as I recognized a form in the sand behind a rock. An infant seal clubbed, his spirit and his head missing, decomposing into the soft layers of sand that cradled its small body. Mankind’s darkness found everywhere. Glimpses of ugliness scattered vaguely in all the light. But thank goodness for the light.
We had an amazing time with our beloved friends. We miss them terribly as the years lapse between visits. We traversed the back roads and highways, from beach to farm to mountain to sunsets, tasting, drinking wine or waters with lemon from Marigold the Lemon tree who resides sweetly on their fourth floor balcony. Nourishment in every moment.
We came home to one of our cats, Zuzu’s Petals, missing. Like losing a penny down the drain. She is most immersely lost in this wilderness of apartment hell.
And as I sat on that beach in the sand looking out into the widest expanse of water that just graced the sky, and listened to the birds dancing on the rocks, and watched my husband recline and read, I noted the waves as they tumbled forth near my feet and then pulled back into the vastness. Up and stretched in turquoise waves, then exhaled. Came forth, pulled back. I watched the ocean breathe for hours. She gave, she pulled back, she grew in ferocity, she rested, she was beautiful in all her simplicity of ebb and flow. She wrote out a poem, a script of life, a beautiful tale.
I am sitting in the waiting room between the first part of my life and the second. A space with cream colored walls and carpet and a fireplace run by a light switch. It’s quiet here in this respite room as I wait for the universe to throw open the next door. I breathe and listen to my own heart beat. My lesson here is rest. Learning to balance rest, work, and play. I am plenty good at the work and play part, not so much with the rest. I am forced to learn rest before I can move on. It is imperative to the creation and success of our next ventures.
I will be forty-two next week. I am thankful for each and every birthday as I know how precious they are no matter the age. Perhaps I will be sitting on a beach or running about the San Diego zoo or strolling a really fresh farmer’s market. I know not, open to adventure, we fly out Tuesday to stay with our friends, Lisa and Steve, who graciously opened their home to us. We are taking the opportunity to travel some this year before we have to find farm sitters again!
I am really listening to myself in the silence. I am highly sensitive person. I have to be careful what I watch or read as it can completely change my heart rate, ignite fear, create chaos. I close my eyes and meditate on nothing, or love, or acceptance, or peace as I look out beyond the crows to the snow bound mountains and the low lying clouds that embrace. I stretch into yoga poses, more flexible and getting stronger than I have been in a long time. I have written poetry and gratitude every day since the beginning of the year and my poetry collection is growing into an anthology of my life. I recognize myself more, I embrace change, I look forward to the future, but I embrace today. Even the dishwasher and dryer (which I still could do without).
The highlight of this beautiful apartment is the garden tub. The first I have fit in at nearly six feet tall. It is wide in girth and long and luxurious as I rest my neck against its back and meld into the warm water in the warm bathroom with candles lit. My spirit resetting at each wave of water and each meditation prompt, and each yoga move, and each delicious clean dish served from my kitchen. A lovely interim.
The Luxury Bath
As the bath is filling, light candles. Let there be silence, it is mesmerizing.
To water add a good drizzle of oil, such as olive, apricot kernel, avocado, sunflower, et cetera.
Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to balance the PH of the body.
Add 1/2 cup of fine sea salt.
Rest in bath and pour a bit of your favorite (not volatile or hot) essential oil under the pouring water. I particularly love rose, lavender, jasmine, and/or orange depending on my mood.
Breathe and rest completely.
Rest, I am learning, is as important as work and play.
(You can type “A Walk in the Vineyards” in the Search and find our week of adventures in Napa Valley and San Francisco with Steve and Lisa from a few years ago.)
In one of my favorite travel memoirs, “On Mexican Time” by Tony Cohan he notes that it takes about three weeks to completely relax and decompress. It has been three weeks since we arrived at our temporary home with good friends. And the longer we are here the more I begin to feel my tense muscles relax, the tears come less and less, and clarity is ever more present.
I had a dream after we saw the homestead in Calhan the first time. I dreamt that the landlords were chasing us and the feeling of dread I felt upon waking trying to escape that house made me decide that we should not move there. But the low rent and my sweet intern’s prompting made me think I was being ridiculous. I have a gift of discernment. I can look in someone’s eyes and know if they are telling the truth or if they mean harm. The last tenants left in the middle of the day leaving everything behind and never came back. I knew there was something not right, but I dismissed my own intuition in the name of $700 rent and a possible forever homestead. And as the tension grew and it got more and more unbearable, Shyanne had a dream that they had set the house on fire and that she saw the cats burning and since that child has the same gifts as I do, we hurried to get out of there a bit faster. We would hear her screaming into the phone outside our house ranting about my blog. I had to shut my phone off so I couldn’t receive more stalking texts from her demanding more money. When we came the last time to clear the rest of our things, half of it was piled in a huge jumble outdoors and the rest had been picked over. We left for good. I should have listened to that original dream. Turns out a friend of ours has a friend who was a dairy farmer in Calhan who had heard of that couple and their con. They get people in for very low rent, make them feel sorry for them (he is in a wheelchair), the tenants improve the property, pay rent in advance, then get forced out with fake breaches in the contract. Never, ever doubt your gut feelings.
So, when I had a dream that I should not go work at the restaurant, I listened. Even though we are down to fifteen dollars, I must not second guess my intuition. We need to listen. We have food, and drink, and clothes, and shelter, and our two bills are paid. We need to listen.
Last night I had a dream that our family were all in boats, canoes sort of, wading through crystal clear waters in a lagoon in the mountains. The boats peacefully cut through the silent waters. It was warm and sweet. A time of respite.
My work with medicines is a beautiful calling but one that can be draining and sometimes dangerous. I have much work to do. We have new places to be, our favorite communities to be a part of, and a future home and people to help. This is my opportunity for respite. Something I most definitely fight against. But there are no mandatory chores to do right now. No places to be necessarily and no deadlines. Just time and space and thoughts. Cups of tea and mountainsides, writing books and dreams to listen to.
Hi, I’m Katie and I’ll be your guide today as we explore Salt Lake City! We actually had a fine tour guide in Rodney who was Mormon as a child. We headed to Temple Square after breakfast.
The grounds were amazingly serene, filled with the aromas of fresh flowers, towering trees, and sweetly cut grass. The day was warm and sunny and made for a perfect day of exploring.
This is Saint John the Baptist blessing the children as they have a huge part in the Mormon church.
I love bronze statues. They are my favorite form of art.
I love the outfits that these statues are wearing!
The Mormons came across the country with very little as they looked for the place they would build the temple. Many walked across the land with mere carts.
Construction on the temple was started on April 6, 1853 and was completed forty years later on April 6, 1893. The stone for the temple was carried by oxen over twenty-three miles.
The average person, even the average Mormon, is not allowed in the temple. It is quite an architectural beauty.
There were plants growing that I have never seen before and the ones I did recognize were larger and more vibrant. Does anyone know what the next two plants are?
This is the leaf of a large tree…
If one is down they should travel with Pat. She bubbles over with mirth. I have never met anyone as kind, generous, or so connected with physical sensations and being present. Her happy spirit is contagious.
Around the grounds and visitor’s center and as our tour guides of the house and offices that Brigham Young occupied are many young people from around the world eager to answer questions and connect with you later. All languages are spoken there and no one would be left unable to learn about the religion as there is someone from every country present. “They are all kids,” Pat whispered to me.
The bee is signified everywhere. Busy as a bee is a common thread. Here it was intricately carved into the doorways and pocket doors.
Rodney enjoyed himself as he knew the answers to many of our questions and really felt comfortable in the atmosphere, peaceful even. We went to the Tabernacle where the infamous choir practices and saw a demonstration on the acoustics of the dome shaped building. Without a microphone we could clearly hear the speaker and even pins dropping.
We then walked around the city in search of an eatery open on 4th of July. We walked through an open mall with water features.
My husband is an amazing photographer. I joked that he could be the IPOD photographer available for parties and events as his new career.
We finally found a place open and had a delicious lunch. The food in Salt Lake City is spectacular. We did not have a bad meal the entire trip.
Red Rock is a brewery with eclectic food offerings. Doug and I shared bites, my favorite way to eat! Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon, Welsh rarebit, and smoked salmon on crostini and house made beer.
This friendly guy was hanging from light post in reminder that we are all stewards of the earth.
After rest, a swim, and some time to read our respective books, we looked for dinner and found Ichiban Sushi. The food was delicious and the price was incredible. Four people ate sushi for $26. If we lived here we would lose Doug and Rodney there regularly. I am afraid the name though gave us fits of unexplained laughter, a carload of junior high students on a retreat is what we would have been reminiscent of. Ichiban turned to Itchy buns, then turned to Itchy butt, with us all hooting with laughter.
We went on a ghost hunting tour.
There were two devices that were passed around called EMFs that could pick up the electromagnetic field of spirits. It would go off at the sites that we were taken too. You can imagine how excited Pat was when she got to hold one first!
It went off as we passed the old Railroad station.
The streets were lined with homeless people, blocks and blocks of them in tents, many of them strung out, many tired, and lines and lines outside the Catholic charities soup kitchen. I found that more haunting than the train station.
We went to a Holiday Inn where a woman threw her children off a balcony. It was rather sad. Then we went to the City and County building where a bride had jumped to her death after being stood up by her groom.
Nothing, nothing, then the indicator went off.
Rodney shot a picture on his phone where the face recognition went off on a place where no one was standing.
Of course we had to visit a cemetery. We had an amazing view of the city below and fireworks across the horizon.
Spirits are everywhere and I don’t think they just pop up on cue for tours but the guide was very entertaining and the history of the city came alive with his stories.
The city was lit up and glimmering last night. The sound of celebratory fireworks all around us, the air still warm as we sat in front of the temple looking for ghosts in the photos we took and basking in the joy of vacation and friendship.
I am stronger today. I am filled with gratitude. I know that just because our name isn’t on a lease doesn’t make us homeless. As I sit here typing on the patio of the hotel, about to go in and meet my friends for breakfast before our eight hour journey home, I realize I am here in clean clothes, healthy, with my sweet husband, and a cup of hot coffee. Life is good and adventures await.
What is home? Long drives leave one with little more to do than ponder such things. To visit with myriads of emotions. Scenery passes swiftly as we zoom down the corridor to Utah. The scenery is very much the same among New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, only slight variances arise. The rocks become more ornate as we drive on.
We pass dilapidated homesteads that have seen pioneer faces and harsh winters, wood fires in the hearth and babies born on spring mornings. Shelters falling into the earth from whence they came. We want not much more than a one room homestead, a large open fireplace and wood cook stove, animals near the barn. Nothing expansive. Oil lamps will do. A cat curled up by my feet. A stew in the open hearth in the Dutch Oven. Such a simple dream and as attainable as a mansion in Hawaii. Did I bring such visions of how life could be from a past life? Does it even exist anymore?
Rodney plays swing music and jazz. Pat rests her head on the seat in front of me. Doug looks out the window. Silent reverie among friends. I am lulled in and out of slumber.
The railways run for miles and I imagine cowboys riding alongside the Iron Horse of old. Parties arriving in the unchartered prairie with packages and children in tow. Long skirts stirring dust in the wind.
The wind farms we left behind have found us in Wyoming. Miles and miles and hundreds across the prairie. More wind farms coming than food farms and I am suddenly alarmed. I must have a place to push in a seed, to pull up strangling weeds, and to water soft earth.
I am homeless this week. Not for lack of working, friends. When I return Monday I must empty the house of all my belongings either by sale or give away. We will put our cats in carriers and head to a new location. What is homeless? Our hotel is gorgeous. A new Embassy Suites in Salt Lake City. We walked back from dinner and was passed by a homeless man. Shatteringly dirty, mix matched, and focused on his tasks. Will that be us?
We worked so hard and helped so many giving of our time and thousands and thousands of dollars of medicine to those that needed it and could not afford it. We have not been complacent or sloth. What keeps us from the streets?
It is humbling to be in position to ask for help. Our upbringing frowned on being a nuisance to others or for requiring help. I would never dream of asking for money. My pride is some bruised. To write at the bottom of the well, a place we never imagined to be, is embarrassing. But what good would it be if I only wrote of rainbows and sunshine and how to plant collard greens if the real stuff in life were not intertwined. A heartbreaking story I hope ends in redemption.
The mountains rise up all around us here. We sit on the patio of the hotel with cold drinks and comfortable silence with our oldest friends. Strength and lessons to be sought. I cannot let this consume me. I cannot become bitter and angry. I trusted and it stung us to the extreme. Perhaps losing everything will get us to where we were trying to go. The sheep on the beer bottle makes me cry.
We go through shops and I cannot buy a thing. There is no home to decorate. How strange this is. What is home? Dear readers, what is home to you?