House of Dreams, Raccoons, and Riches

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This house speaks in whispers telling of past families and memories.  It so fills me with inspiration every time we pass it.  I want to live there, to make a fire in the hearth, to grow something in the solarium.  I want to hang clothes on the line and tend to the chickens.  This 1907 house is supposedly inhabited by six people according to the internet but it looks abandoned.  Short stories and poems flow from its bones and I long to start a garden and trim the weeds so that one can see the wrought iron gate as they pass the statuesque frame of home.

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Do you see the visitor in the yard?

Do you see the visitor in the yard?

Ahh, I wish.

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The house we are staying at is enchanted.  A raccoon visits each evening.  Margie has dubbed her “Miko”.  She won’t come too close, just to the end of a pizza crust.

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I wasn’t too pleased with her this morning though!  We left our windows down in the truck.  Doug called me down to take a look at my seat this morning.  The vandal had opened a grocery bag of rotten leftovers and soup.  We wondered who would have done such a thing.  She had rifled through everything in the truck and left her telling, adorable hand prints on everything!  I knew immediately who the culprit was.

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Thus far, we have run into some dead ends regarding jobs but we won’t give up.  I imagine we will end up in Denver, Doug hopes to stay out here.  We’ll see.  Today we have food, clothes, shelter, transportation, health, family, friends, and a little change.  And though we have little else, we have the stuff that makes us rich.

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Co-Homesteading and Urban Farms

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I am a writer. Beyond being a gardener, mom, grandma, wife, teacher, or anything else, I am a writer.  This means that all of my business and my family’s business is generally open for all to read.  If I had to keep it to myself, I would fall into the depths of despair or be too giddy with unspoken news.  Sometimes I may give too much information.  Sometimes the information changes daily as I know it.  Sometimes the reader may feel that they are on a rollercoaster if they don’t read the posts in order.  But I don’t mind sharing my life with you.  It is an extraordinary, ordinary life that most people can identify with.  Readers can identify with our losses, heartaches, successes, passions, and emotions.  We have so many cheerleaders out there.  I have been touched by all the letters, messages, and calls to help.  My friends send me Craigslist ads for rentals, folks have offered for us to stay with them, people are buying our things to help us out.  Thank you.

Our income was wrapped up in this farm.  The goats are gone.  I watched the sheep leave.  The chickens left yesterday and I cried and cried.  Our income right now is from selling off everything.  We needed a miracle.  I don’t want to jinx it, but it seems we may have gotten just such a miracle.

Kindred friends buying a piece of property.  A place longing to be an expansive urban farm created through Permaculture.  We see a chicken coop and duck coop rising up near a greenhouse, raised beds filled with delicious foods.  Outlines of perennials and herbs, of fruit trees, and bushes.  Wildlife is abundant in this little town.  We were surprised to see a raccoon walking by and noted to make a stronger coop after we heard of bears.  It is interesting to me that over the years I have written about co-homesteading, sharing the load, creating an oasis that benefits a group and a community.  The urban farming posts are numerous on my blog.  It is almost like I manifested where I am right now and that this was just a lovely, scenic stop on the way.  A way to make us appreciate a much smaller space, a way to make us handle cold better, and help make us appreciate little comforts.

We are long past being able to find a place that allows our animals, finding the money for a deposit, first month’s rent, transfer the cable and internet, hire a moving van, and hope we can stay there for awhile.  We are stepping out of the status quo and the norm and entering a community ideal that is quite different but that I have envisioned for a long time.  It is not a new idea though.  A place where expenses are shared and knowledge is shared and each person brings an important skill set to create such oasis.  A place where no one has to do it on their own anymore.  Where the chores are shared and the gardens are shared and building sustenance for all is shared.  This place is surrounded by really eclectic and talented urban homesteaders and farmers, Permaculture experts, and vibrant people.  Well, from the outside they are called hippies.  Sign me up.

So, here we go.  We are standing on a cliff, armed with my favorite cast iron frying pans, some clothes, and our cats, and are ready to jump off.  Are you with me?

A Very Prairie Christmas

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The bees were out yesterday.  I could hear their sweet buzzing all around me as they took advantage of the beautifully tepid day.  Just a hint of coolness swept the air to remind me that it was December but the sun shone bright and warm and I decided to take a walk across the prairie.  The barn owl swept in front of me, round and solid, his steel colored wings glinting slight across the air in front of me, gracefully sweeping across the prairie.  The mountains rested majestically across the horizon, their shadowy masses holding the sky.  A group of horses gathered in the distance grazing softly.

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The ancient willow holds masses of singing blackbirds and large owls.  A century or more of memories do my favorite trees hold.  Signs of cattle that grazed here long ago, and of antelopes not so long.  The Buffalo grasses with their curvy heads and the colorful prairie grasses defied the supposed snowy landscape that is so often envisioned with Christmas.  This is what a Colorado Christmas often looks like.  I find myself wishing for a bit of snow.  Sunday we are to get a little and the feeling of Christmas will shine all the brighter.

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I gather kindling with my companion. (The neighbor’s dog, Serina, who is ridiculously cute.)

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Inside the house, all is bright.  Simple decorations best show the spirit of Christmas in this hundred plus year old homestead.  This year we got our first real Christmas tree and it feels simple and beautiful.

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Real greenery, candles, pine cones, feathers…cats…all decorate the scene.  The birds play outside in their feeder entertaining the felines.  Our new rescues add quite a lot of Christmas cheer to this place!

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A vintage sled sets boldly on the dining room table with fresh greens and candles.  This helps create a feeling of fun and winter magic.

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Outdoors the woodland creatures welcome visitors.

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Everyone has one sadness or another at Christmas time.  Remembering and missing loved ones, financial woes, relationship troubles, irritation with our consumerism society.  But the spirit of Christmas is there all the same.  Beautiful and glowing, we remember that God ever loves us and takes care of us and that our prayers are always answered.  Sometimes the puzzle comes together later and we can see why things occurred but they are always answered.  We will celebrate Hanukkah with Doug’s parents and remember the miracles that God made and we will remember the child born, the reason for the season.  Not in a legalistic, all must believe everything I believe way, but in a spirit of humility and humbleness.  Prayers for those deceased, prayers for the living.  Acts of kindness without folks expecting it.  Simple things like paying for someone else’s coffee or sending an unexpected letter.

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This year we haven’t much money.  All the lists I love to make throughout the year of things I would like to get people I cannot.  It makes me sad because even though I talk about simple this and simple that, I want to spoil my children and give Doug all the things he won’t buy for himself.  I want my friends to have beautiful gifts and I want…well, this year is a handmade Christmas.  Quilts, aprons, scarves, canned foods, and baskets of goodies, gifts tailored for the recipient and wrapped with love, but not store bought and I wonder how folks will take to these but I shall give them with the spirit of Christmas, with love and with a giving heart.  I will remember that our blessings are many.  For I had material and food to can and I have people to make things for.  My heart overflows with joy.

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A handmade, simple Christmas on the prairie is a blessing for sure.  Time to put on my favorite Christmas album by Andy Williams (my son’s namesake) and do a little sewing!  May you have a simple season filled with love and fond memories of past and present.

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And may your heart be filled with the childlike wonder of Christmas…

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