Thursday, December 1, 2011

Just a few wells in the neighborhood...should generate some revenue for the county.

Since last April, we have been surprised to share our pristine mountain views with the big oil companies, who seem to be moving in post haste, taking advantage of that every 40 acre rule. Say hello to our new neighbors!

This first well is the second to come to our neighborhood--added about a month or so ago. We can see this one from our house, but at least we can't see the evaporation pit.

Oil Well #2 -- second well in the neighborhood
The second well in the photo below was the first one that came to our quaint little town last April. Big producer...or so I hear. 100 barrels a day. Is that why they added another pump? And still the drill is there...or maybe that's the pipe machine.

First well in the hood, but second in distance from our house. That fence contains the evaporation pit.
Oil Well #1. Still drilling. Going another direction maybe?

And the newest drill in our rural atmosphere....

Oil well #3...they look big and scary when they are actually drilling.
Oil Well #3 --pumping in that water (or...)..helps with that "horizontal" drilling

Big and scary. Drills with little red lights on top, flashing in the night so the planes won't hit them. Kind of ruins the view of the bright stars and the Milky Way.

Took these photos on our way up to the Springs for my daughter's first Occupational Therapy session. It went well. Even got to spend time with the angry teenage girl (my second oldest) who doesn't seem so angry now that she's discovered the calming effects of a little herb we'd all like to legalize. My oldest though, who lives in Texas, is pro-cop, anti MMJ, and anti-Occupy. Makes a mama proud.

Noticed some other odd activity in the hood: bobcat taking out trees up the road toward the national forest land. More fencing going in. Unused roads look like they are seeing some traffic. My guess? I think we've got two or three more oil wells coming in.  And it just F*** 'in pisses me off! There was no disclosure about this crap when we bought this house! Fracked up, man!

On the positive side (Is there one?) I did get a few responses to my CL ad looking for a rental in the Land of Enchantment. And one was another Earthship. Go figure. I guess people who build/live in E-ships are just my kind of people. It sounds perfect! A place of opportunity and healing...a divine structure to reside in while we search for our new permanent place. The best thing is we get to head down there to check out some of these rentals. Nothing beats a road trip to New Mexico. Except staying maybe.

Negatives: need to find homes for some of the critters...maybe. Guineas, cats, some chickens. Need to move before Wells Fargo repossesses the truck, and our house falls into one of the old coal mine shafts (fracking DOES NOT cause earthquakes or tremors. Oh, wait, it does.) Need to move before they begin on the new coal mine to open between our house and the good old Uranium, Superfund Site, Cotter Mill (which is trying to get a license extension, in case they decide to re-open perhaps).

This place is just getting way too toxic for the likes of humans. It is time to bail on the Prison town and begin again in a place that fights the Big Corporate Oil/Gas/hazardous materials energy companies like their lives depend on it...because, they do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Good luck little Chuck!

I gave away my baby rooster today, to a nice woman who I think will appreciate the bond between a gal and her roo. One of Charlie's sons (looks just like his dad) has gone on to rule his own roost and take care of his own harem of laying hens. Good luck little Chuck!

And, it turns out the other chick I hatched from an egg is also a rooster...Chuck's brother, a Barred Rock,  Black Star Cross. Kind of funny looking, but he's coming into some pretty tail feathers now and some have a hint of green. Interesting boy. Not crowing yet. A late bloomer? I think I will call him Gideon, from a dream I had some weeks ago of a baby with the same name. Didn't understand the relevance of the name in the dream, but it seems fitting for my lonely little orphaned rooster who is just nineteen weeks old.

I have been so caught up in the Occupy revolution, I have not been writing or doing much of anything really.

Took the kids to the city for their autism screenings. Turns out my son is fine, perfectly normal...well, his role  model, his older sister, has taught him a thing or two, which might be questionable, but otherwise, it's all good.

My little girl, however, is another story. That's how the doctor told us. Another story. Diagnosed PDD-NOS, which in autism lingo means not full blown autistic, but on the spectrum. Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Non Specified. She has many autistic traits, but she also speaks and can communicate, even if it is a little off. So there we have it. They'd like my daughter to undergo therapy once a week. Speech, occupational, behavioral...learn how to be social, in a normal way. What does that mean? I'm not even social in a normal way. Although, I have to admit it has been an issue for me in my own life. Maybe my daughter can learn how to talk to people and stand to be in the same room with more than say five individuals. If not, hey, I will understand.

Still got New Mexico on the mind. In a bad, bad way. Or good. I search through Craigslist daily, trying to find a place we could rent with all of our critters. But I also have been trying to find homes for some of them. Anyone want a nice, male, neutered indoor cat? It turns out my son may be allergic to all of the animals anyway. His next blood test will tell us.

The oil drilling in our neighborhood continues. There are now three within a mile of our house. Fracking? Yep. Heard it from several people now. But "there's nothing to worry about,"and "it's not that bad," and "maybe the town will use the revenue to fix the roads," or "a little fracking is not as bad as a lot of fracking." Right?


"Oil fracking is not as bad as gas fracking." and "give it some time and they will go away."

How long? Long enough to grow a tumor out of the side of my head? Or maybe when our water smells like fuel? Or maybe when the ground starts to shake and our house actually falls into one of the old abandoned coal mine shafts 300 feet underneath of us? How long? Maybe when they put a drill in the empty lot next to us? There's one in the next town over...sits smack in the middle of four houses. I'd say those lucky families are less than 300 feet away from that nightmare. Evaporation pits. Sure, they are using chemicals. "Not that bad" do we know if they won't tell us what chemicals?

Abandon ship! Abandon ship!

I think it's time to move on now to a community that doesn't favor profit over human health.

Not in my back yard, damn it!

And since NM still calls to my spirit, I think it's time to listen and find another place. They have autism therapists down in Santa Fe. I checked. Even a DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) doctor. And the home school laws in NM are a bit more lax than in Colorado. Plus, you can collect and harvest rainwater. It's not against the law. Imagine that! And, as everyone knows, the Land of Enchantment is home to the most interesting people one could ever hope to meet. As one of my old lovers once told me...I'd fit right in. And as my family and friends always ask...who'd want to live in New Mexico? Exactly! Too many people here know me now.

I'm going to die in New Mexico, I promise. It'd be nice if I could do a little living in the land Georgia O'Keeffe came to love. The land recorded by Ansel Adams and written about by Tony Hillerman. It is an artist's paradise...a land where the muse runs free with wild and crazy abandon, dancing with the wind under skies ablaze with glorious, smoldering  sunsets. 

It is home. Even if I don't live there yet. I will get back to the land where my spirit sings in harmony with the energy vibrations of the mesas and mountains and the beautiful sage. I'm coming New Mexico, I'm coming!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Taos Time

Got Taos on the mind, like some old lover that won't let me forget, singing some desert serenade, urging me to fall in love again.

On May 13 of 2002, I sat in my pretty, little, black Neon, smoking a cigarette, staring out into the weirdness that is Taos, and wrote this short poem. My 2000 Neon was my writing studio, my personal space, my little Frogger, hopping across roads to deliver pizzas (until R drove it over a hill and put a hole in the still ran, but it was tainted by a man's harsh handling, scarred by a unconsciousness that didn't understand that by loaning my little car, I was entrusting him with a piece of me.)


Wildlife in the yard—
A black and white magpie,
Three red-breasted sparrows,
And a big wolf dog
Wandering by.
Wildness in mountain time 
Where nothing is quite right.
Peculiar smallness-
A place where free spirits still walk
Half-dressed down the street.
Magpies walk,
Wolf dogs talk
And music from the heart
Resonates with the sunshine
In time to the wind chimes
That hum with the breeze.

-K.A.Bennett 2002

Taos was my muse, as it seems to be with so many people, and although I lived a lonely life there, my creativity blossomed in words and in paint, in photographs and in ideas, and maybe that was the gift the Mountain gave to me. As I read of Taos now, and see photographs of latilla fences and old adobes, I think of how much I miss her, that old town that I drove around delivering pizzas into the night, dodging dogs chasing me and biting at the tires of my car, trying to decipher houses without addresses and streets without signs (they have those now!). What an adventure the Taos days were, and had R been the person then that he has become today, perhaps we could have stayed and the Mountain would not have laughed us out of her shadow.
Maybe it isn't too late. Or maybe it is. Is there an adobe in my future yet? 

I miss the sage like I could never imagine. Lately it consumes longing for the open sky and the scraggly sagebrush that is my soul mate. The closed minds that surround me in this right wing town beg me to recall a different time, and a different mind, a younger me, someone free, not bound and constrained by the conformity all around, and by the system I live in. I want to be free again. I hear the desert calling again. It is almost time to go back home again. The sage is singing and the wind whispers my name.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Time to Wake Up!

We have this little chicken....a rooster actually. He's one of the two hatch-lings I let our broody hen hatch a couple of months ago. In the last couple of days he's started this pathetic, scratchy crowing, like an adolescent rooster who's voice breaks in all the wrong places. I heard him the first time today, and thought, what is that...a chicken with an egg stuck? When I realized the little guy had found his voice, I smiled, and thought about our fledgling Occupy movement that is just starting to find its own unified voice. Like that little rooster, the Occupy movement is young and full of energy, and sometimes our voice breaks as we all try to air our grievances with the corrupt corporations that run our politicians and our country. But I have no doubt, that like that young rooster that lives up the hill in my llama barn, the Occupy movement will find its unified voice and grow strong, singing out across the nation and around the world. "Cock-a-doodle-doo." "It's time to wake up!"

Last week Richard and I took our kids and headed down to the first Occupy Pueblo demonstration. What a life changing event! I reunited with an old friend, made some new friends and watched as people joined together in a courageous attempt to stand up for themselves against the corporate system of greed that has taken so much of our power away as a people, and as individual human beings...the evil, brainwashing, soul-stealing 1% that would keep us all in our sheeple skin, unquestioning, punching time clocks, making profits for them as they sit in their ivory towers and comfortable lives, turning a blind eye to the people they step on in their endless greed. Can it be that we as a nation have finally woken up? And not just to the greed that runs rampant in Wall Street and our political system, but maybe some of us have begun to wake up spiritually from the slumber our spirits have been in since the consumerist ideology has told us we can only be good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, wealthy enough if we go out there and support the capitalist system. More, more more.

Our entire society is based upon a failing system. Peak oil has passed, wall street has crashed and the big banks got bailed out. A few young New York City decided to band together and say enough is enough. College students can't pay their student loans (heck, I'm middle aged, a late in life graduate, and I can't pay mine), houses are getting foreclosed on at an alarming rate, jobs are being eliminated, and our hardworking Americans are being thrust out into the streets, creating a huge, HUGE, population of homeless people that includes veterans, and families with young children. The unemployment rate is absurd. No one can live on minimum wage, if they are lucky enough to have a job, and the banks are pounding on our doors: "Give us more money!" The big corporations who got bailed out won't give us a break. They got to write off their debts, why can't we?

So, Occupy Wall Street was born on September 17, 2011 in a park in NYC, across the street from Wall Street...a peaceful protest of individuals gathered together to voice their unhappiness and frustration with the Coporatocracy that has been running this country, been running the world with their unjust wars, their environmental degradation, their corrupt healthcare system and unhealthy agricultural system.

Finally! Here it is then, the wake up call for the American people. The American Dream is over folks. Even if you can get a decent paying job with fairly good health insurance, it can only last so long. And sure, some of us might be able to get by until our last days, when we hand our planet over to a younger generation who is asking, "what do I do with this mess?" But I think it has become our responsibility to stand up and fight the fight with those brave souls who began this, dare I say, Revolution?

When Richard and I fled the city, we were looking for a better place where we could raise our own food and raise our children in a cleaner, safer place while the world fell apart. Isn't it ironic then that my kids and even myself are not healthy, but suffer from unknown symptoms, even though we eat an organic, locally grown, no red meat, little dairy diet? What is going on?

Yesterday we attended the first Occupy Canon City demonstration, where a couple of dozen brave souls stood together on a corner in front of the Wells Fargo to show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters across the nation and around the world in the Occupy movement, and to support the Occupy Wall Street Occupiers, where this Revolution began.

It's a scary thing to put yourself out there and stand up for your rights and the rights of an American people, most of whom are still asleep at the wheel, driving to their dead end jobs for very little pay, and going home to a house they can't afford or a house that's value has dropped so significantly in the past two years--what is called "upside down." We had one of those babies in the Springs, a beautiful 100 year old Victorian, we had to offer in a short sale, because the interest only payment was too high as Richard's pay continued to be cut every year so the "corporation" could see more profits. Everything we put into it over seven windows, landscaping, remodeled bathrooms...all lost. We were lucky to walk away without a bill.

It has been our dream and our goal to live sustainably on a piece of land and cut our ties to the consumerist culture that has hoodwinked so many people into lives of slavery to the system. So, certainly when this movement began, we were supporters from the get go and will hang in there until drastic change comes about in the American political system and the Corporatocracy is disbanded and eliminated. Richard and I have always been about building local community, and it is in the days, weeks and months ahead that that community will become so important as we help each other to survive the coming chaos.

Yes, I think this is the beginning of what all of the great spiritual masters would call the Global Awakening" and it ain't gonna be pretty folks. It is also the collapse of an American, no, WORLD culture of consumerism, which was on its way after we reached peak oil. We can stand in our towns and Occupy and band together to stand up against the 1%, which is phenomenal, but we really, really need to think about what our future as America looks like. We need to rebuild our communities and learn from the Occupation on Wall Street. In one month they have formed a egalitarian, working society in their park, a community where every individual is valued for what he or she brings to the table. Remarkable and wonderful. I am in awe of the way things are working out.

And of course the Corporatocracy will fight it. And mainstream America will fight it too for a while. People are scared. What do we do next? What happens when it all falls apart? Where do we go when our jobs no longer exist and the shopping malls have been shut down? That's where community comes in. Find it. Build it. It will save your life.

Last night when we got home from our Occupation, followed by a dog training class for my girl Honey, who was very well behaved at the protest, there was the most horrendous noise in the neighborhood. Metal on metal, squealing. They are drilling another well in the oil drill across the ravine. There is already a pump in, next to the evaporation pond. I suspect this new hole is for dumping the chemicals to extract that hard to reach oil that hides between layers of shale and rock. I'm pretty sure they are fracking less than a mile from my house.

I'm crying now, as I think of how we moved here to give our kids a chance...a future. And now we are stuck with a house we can't is just worth what we paid for it two years ago...dropped in equity 50K. Before we joined the Occupation, we were making a list of pros and cons about abandoning this place, this house, this property we have built barns on and put gardens in, and running to a clean piece of land we could buy outright with our next tax refund. Sure, we'd have to start over, and maybe live in a tent or a camp trailer for a few years, but maybe my head would stop hurting and my kids' autistic symptoms would go away.

Yeah, I'm ready for a Revolution! I will stand and fight this fight as I can, for my children, for my neighbors, for the planet. It is time to start over. Abolish the corrupt systems and begin again. Clean slate.

Cock-a-doodle-doo! Wake up!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Revolution underway?

Big Ugly...about 3 1/2" long.
I was going to write about all of the critters I have encountered since we've been here at our little the tarantula stuck in the tire, going round and round (note: I put a large rock in the tire so he could crawl out), or the fat toad I caught one night on my way to put the chickens to bed, or the cows that ran rampant through the neighborhood one spring morning, or the wild donkey herd that came last summer, but that will have to wait because big things are afoot in our nation that I can't help but comment on.

Occupy Wall Street began as a movement to let Corporate America know that the other 99% of America is fed up with the 1% who holds the wealth and power in this country. I think the protestors have been in place for two weeks now (correction: since Sept 17) and holding strong in NYC. Good for them! And to show solidarity and support, other cities across the nation have joined in, creating an "Occupy" movement around the country. I am so proud!

Could it finally be happening? The moment I've been waiting for...the new American Revolution underway, as citizens of our sad country become fed up enough with the powers in control (that 1%) and join together (that other 99%) to make a difference?

It began when I saw a brief mention on the local news of the Occupy movement coming to Colorado Springs, soon to be followed by another movement starting in Pueblo. There was enough interest, at least in my own household, to find out more, and to find out how we could be a part of the growing revolution, and on the heels of our own protest walk Sept 24, we are ready! I think activism feeds more activism...or maybe I've just been tired for so long of all of the stupid crap happening in our great nation, I am eager to join in wherever I can. Too bad I didn't have the foresight to start this thing (or the power and ability), but it turns out one of my dear old best friends from years ago does, and she and others are rallying the masses for a protest march in Pueblo on Friday. I am so thrilled!

But herein the questions arise. What are we marching for? What are we trying to gain from this? Will there be trouble? Should I worry about taking my kids (If I don't, I can't participate). Could I get arrested? How could I pay bail? What would happen to the kids? Should Richard call in sick to be a part of it? Will anyone else from our community be there? Should we start an "Occupy Canon City" movement? Where would we protest? The one Wells Fargo in town? My head is full of What ifs and What fors, along with my usual  anxiety or dizziness issues, and it is not pretty.

Logistics aside, I think I have to try to go because this is what I have been waiting for for so long...enough people on board to make a difference. We are trying to gain the upper hand. 100 monkeys. Throw it over into a snowballing, growing majority of fed up Americans who really want to change the control of our nation, who want to take back the democracy so that we the people can make the important decisions about our nation, instead of that 1% of white, rich, power hungry men who are hell bent on destroying the world we live in for their own profit. This is what it is all about! The lack of jobs, the environmental degradation, the sickness of our people because of Agribusiness and big Pharma. The circular nature of it all...keep them sick and poor and charge them we, the Corporatocracy can maintain control of the world (ha ha ha ha haaaa... evil villain laugh).

I don't remember them asking me if I wanted a new oil drill less than a mile away from my farmstead. (Are they horizontally drilling???? That means fracking people!) And now they are putting in another across the road. What the Hell???? Because Corporate America has enticed the landowners with a small lease profit for the right to drill? Told them what? Like the rest of the country...we need that oil so our country can we don't have to rely on oil from other countries (does that mean the wars will end?).
It is all BS. And when my household water starts to smell like diesal fuel (like down there in Walsonburg) I will still have no recourse in the face of BIG OIL, because I am nobody and my children are nothing and my head doesn't hurt constantly from the weird crap coming from the "evaporation" ponds across the ravine.

Yeah, I'm tired. I'm tired of arguing with my family about why they should recycle. Tired of defending myself over my children's gluten free, casein free, additive, preservative, colorant, corn free organic and local diet. (yeah they are kids and I'm sure almost every kid nowadays exhibits autistic behaviors, but if I can help them stop constantly twirling or jumping off the kitchen table, or running into traffic, or stuttering or tantrumming ten times a day by changing their diet, them I'm damn sure going to try!)

I'm tired of mainstream America being so closed minded that they cannot even see what this Corporatocracy has done to us as a nation, as a world and as the human race. That 1% is insulated from the environmental toxins (wish I could afford to move to a clean place and have a real organic farm). They are insulated from the price of food rising constantly...especially clean, organic food. They can afford gas for their fancy cars, insurance for their families, and I'm sure they don't have student loan debt that follows them everywhere they go (mine keeps going up...ten years and still climbing). At the same time, they can close their eyes to the toxins in the water (its not their water) and to the climate changes that are becoming more catastrophic (they live in better houses and can afford to evacuate if the need arises) because they will be long dead and gone when the Earth is no longer habitable. But what about my kids? My three and four year olds who may very well see the end of humanity (Human extinction) because of corporate greed? Is that acceptable? Is the rise in health issues related to environmental toxicity and food contamination acceptable? Is the fact that we are trapped into house payments and car payments and can't abandon the crappy, capitalistic lifestyle acceptable?

No, no, no and more nos. None of it is acceptable. I'd like my voice to be heard when I tell people that our world is not safe. That our continued search and reliance on fossil fuels is going to kill us all. That my children deserve the right to life and a future without breathing masks. I've given up on paying off my student loans, reliable health insurance, or ever finding a job that will pay enough to support my family, but I have not given up on saving the planet and creating some sort of future based on clean energy, clean food and egalitarian principles for my kids!

Every protest counts! And if you can extrapolate yourself from the capitalistic world and live sustainably that is truly divine and a goal worth following. That is my goal. Bail out on corporate America and refuse to participate. Our family belongs to a local bank. We grow a lot of our own food. We shop at thrift stores and make a lot of gifts instead of buying as much as we can. We only drive we we have to and make every trip multi-functional.We are trying to build community in our small town through the Co-op and neighborhood farms, and teaching sustainability. We use reuseable grocery bags.We recycle, even though we have to save up our recyclables for months to take up to Colorado Springs when we go that way.

I am boycotting Christmas least the corporate, capitalistic Xmas we are all so accustomed to. Try regifting, or shopping locally, or spending time with friends and family, instead of shopping for more useless crap that makes the corporate world go round and lines their pockets and gives them even more power. Pull your money out of Corporate banks and watch the system fall. If we all stopped paying our mortgage, what would they do? Is the police force, the military big enough to take on the 99% of the nation that is tired of being puppets to the Corporatocracy? Are the police officers and soldiers not people like the rest of us? Wake up America!!!!

Wake up America and let us be heard! It is time for that revolution! Occupy Pueblo! Occupy Colorado Springs! Occupy Wall Street!

And Boycott Christmas 2011!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moving Planet Walk

Yesterday we worked like mad to make enough signs for our walk this morning...and we had more than enough for everyone.
Making signs
It was a great turnout with around 35 people walking with us from the power plant driveway through the Saturday Farmer's Market and ultimately to the steps of the county building.

The crowd gathers.
Getting ready to march.

It was a great day for a short walk (about a mile) and I think everyone had a good time getting our message out and joining in the Moving Planet movement for

At the county building.
And on the Fremont County, Colorado administration building steps.
 Richard and I would like to thank everyone who came out and participated today.

And our kids would especially like to thank everyone for joining in to save their planet and their future!

The future of our planet.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moving Planet,, Fremont County walk

This Saturday, September 24, is a big day for the nation, for the world and for our own little Fremont county, Colorado as we all join together to voice our concerns about climate change.

Check out to get involved in a town near you. What is happening is something called Moving Planet, and involves activities all over the world where people come together with signs and messages about moving beyond fossil fuels and getting our world carbon footprint back down to around 350 parts per million...the so called safe zone for our happy little planet to survive and keep the human race from extinction. Can it be done?

So, because there was no local event near us here in Southern Colorado (go figure) Richard decided to start his own. It's called Moving Fremont Forward. We will be walking from the coal power plant (soon to be shut down...yippee!, but replaced by a bigger and scarier power plant in Pueblo...boooooo!!!) in Canon City on Highway 50 and 1st st (meet in the driveway, park in the park across the street or on Riverside drive, but not in no parking zones, and please, please do not trespass!) through the Farmer's Market on 5th in front of the library, and over to the county building with our handy little petition, asking our local government officials to please start talking about climate change and leading our county into the future with a zero emissions policy. (Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?)

Everyone is invited to join us...the more the merrier and hopefully it won't just be Richard, me and the kids! Bring your signs and let's make our position known. We want to see some options for renewable energy! We want our towns to start thinking about a post peak oil world and how our communities can be resilient in the face of the very big changes to come. Why not start now?

What can you do to reduce your carbon footprint?

How many of my friends and neighbors are on board the sustainable future for our planet train?

Please, everyone, find an event near you (I know there is one in Arroyo Seco, for you Taosenos out there) and let's all work together to get our Planet Moving!!!

Check out to find an event near you and to find out more about the walk in Fremont county.

The time for being quiet is over. Let's get active people!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Road trips away from the poison house

Had a rough few weeks with anxiety attacks out of control. I thought it was the might be...our manufactured home is poisoning us. So we decided to get out of the house more. We took several short road trips around the area. One day we went to the Wetmore library to donate some books I no longer have any interest in. (Funny how the novels I used to love irritate me so these days.) Then we headed through the San Isabel Forest, stopping by a long time favorite, Bishop's Castle, and onward to Rye because I saw a house for sale that was cheap down that way. Rye has about 8 more inches of precipitation than where we live now--something to consider for the future of Southern Colorado that might be on the way to a permanent drought.

Bishop's Castle, front
I'm always impressed with Bishop's Castle, the design and the sheer enormity of one man's creation. We took the little kids up inside the first floor (another generation introduced to the castle), but it was overwhelming for me to stay there with my new chronic dizziness and random head pains. It was also chilly up there in the forest, so we admired and moved on. Check out the website at

Bishop's Castle, San Isabel National Forest
Bishop's Castle, towers
It is worth visiting the castle, if you ever get the opportunity. It has been built out of local stone from the forest by one man with a dream. Pretty is his fight with local government entities over the castle. Why can't they just leave a man alone? Why can't they just leave everyone alone? If one wants to run off into the woods and build a castle...or an Earthship that collects and recycles'd think one could do that. But not here in the good old US of A. And where this castle was building codes, and yet they harassed him anyway. Home of the home land. Makes me proud (sarcasm).

When we got to the lovely little town of Rye, my dizziness had started to subside, and I thought as we drove amongst the tall Ponderosa pines, that perhaps I belonged in the forest after all. Maybe my physical symptoms were a spiritual message to get out of prison land and move someplace entirely different. After all, with Richard's back issues and the kids and their issues, maybe it's now my turn to hear the wake-up call. But do I heed the messages from beyond, if that is indeed what they are? How does one decipher any of it...the mundane ego world and the esoteric spiritual world?

The trees smelled divine...absolutely wonderful, reminding me of childhood spent in the forests of Colorado, perhaps. And the cute little house that is for sale down there is like a cottage in the woods...a fairy tale dwelling for sure. It may not have enough land to take the llama boys too, though, and it was really in the trees.

Am I too much of a desert rat to relocate to the forest? (Tried it once when we moved to Oregon...but we ended up in the dismal, dirty, crime infested city...over priced and our budget put us in the I never really got to live in trees.)

In any case, I enjoyed my day in trees (think Nine Inch Nails) and Richard told me that to him the Ponderosas smell like butterscotch, but to some people they smell like strawberries...a little trivia from his career as a boy scout.

Nuh uh, I thought, they just smell like trees...big, beautiful pines. Smell it," he said. "Get out of the car and put your nose against the bark." So, I did, wondering if someone was going to come out of their little house in the woods to ask me what the heck I thought I was doing, smelling their tree. And, as I leaned in, anticipating the fresh pine scent, I was struck with the pungent smell of strawberry candy, just as my nose grazed the bark of the nearest tree. Amazing!! Just like when the kids open a strawberry lollipop...that's what that tree smelled like.

Can't wait to try that again. Lucky for me there are no Ponderosas near my house or I'd be giving the neighbors something new to talk about.

And last weekend we went to Salida...another favorite, maybe. It sure sounds promising. Artsy. Liberal. Progressive. Outdoorsy. What more could a girl want? We drove around looking at the farms on the outskirts of town, and at the little Victorian houses in town. Everyone was riding a bike and it seems every house had a family of bikes parked on the porch. Good for them. And three health food stores! I found the kids' natural suckers in one. But I fear, Salida is too trendy and overpriced for us to be able to move there, but I'll keep my eyes open anyway.

The drive to Salida always reminds me of the drive from Taos to Santa to the river. There is even a set of railroad tracks that follows the river on the far side. The road is just as curvy and the mountainsides full of rocks ready to fall on the unsuspecting traveler. But in NM, the rocks are all netted and fenced in, and here, they have only done that in one spot. I couldn't help but think about the rock slide last year that closed the road for at least a week, and I told those rocks to stay up there on the mountains as we slipped by.

We made it back without incident, and as we headed into our little home town, my head started to pound again. What is wrong with me? Brain tumor or anxiety attack?

We decided not to enroll the little ones in preschool. We went to every single one of them on our list and interviewed teachers and checked out the facilities, and not one single one made me feel good. Too much mainstream crap. I don't want my kids indoctrinated into a culture I don't buy into and one that is on the verge of collapse anyway. Where is the preschool with yoga and guided meditation? With art time, story time, dance time, nature time and teachings on saving the earth? Oh yeah, it doesn't exist.

I coudn't help but think that we, as their parents, could give them more education and support and safety at home than a preschool ever could. So we passed on the IEP program and decided to try it ourselves, checking out more books on homeschooling, the Montessori method and autism. We did get the kids up to the Springs to run the blood tests and we have an appointment in November to get them in for an official diagnosis...or not, if it turns out that way.

So, I'm trying to detox now, thinking there is something making me ill, all the while trying to figure out what the next move is...should we stay here or should we go? Thinking we should take a drive over to Paonia (another expensive town, but a county without building codes). That town keeps popping up these literature on global warming and one of the Co-op members is headed over that way for a juicing retreat of some sort.

For now we are stuck where we are planted, so if I could just get past my head issues, maybe I could see some blooming future here. We are taking the kids to story time at the two libraries for "socialization," and I'm looking for a liberal leaning, free thinking homeschool group to join (not having much luck there, locally...may have to start one). And Richard is giving canning classes (one on pressure canning this Sunday), I'm trying to sell some of my strange water colors at the Farmer's market, and most importantly, I'm on the look out for a Ponderosa Pine to interview as my new best friend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harvest time, preschool and more baby chicks...Fall's coming

Today we harvested a few cabbages, some green beans which were volunteers in the potato patch (and a good thing too...the bunnies have eaten all the others), some fingerling potatoes, and some lovely dill. 

The dill is amazingly pretty...explosive blooms...makes me want to paint it. 

 And, we've been harvesting tomatoes and broccoli all week. The cucumbers are a failure. Apparently the seeds we saved last year were not viable, at least they have not produced any fruit--plenty of flowers, but not a cucumber on any plant. Too bad. I love my summer cucumbers. 

Today we picked up a few more (six) little two week old chicks. Two Aracauna (Easter egg layers) and four Cuckoo Marans (chocolate egg layers). Everyone we sell eggs to insists our organic, free range eggs are the best in town (it's the love, man), and we can hardly keep up with the demand. Now that Richard is doing better, I figured a few more chickens wouldn't hurt.

new chicks

my hatched chicks
Baby chicks are so cute. We sprayed them all with a natural lice remover when we got home... I saw some of the ugly little critters crawling on the new chicks in the transport box. We had quite a lice infestation on our two hatched chicks that we had to deal with last week. They seem better now, and at six weeks are getting bigger and will have to move out to one of the barns, I think. I wonder if I can combine all the little ones? It's almost time to clean out and sanitize all of the chicken coops and the barn up the hill. Even though the weather is still incredibly hot, I can feel Fall coming along, and with it all of the chores to prepare for the winter.

We are also trying to decide if we should put our little kids into preschool. We got the results back on some of the tests, at least locally and both kids qualify for special education preschool, which will be paid for by the nonprofit who did the developmental screenings on them. We also got in to the Biomedical doctor who suggested several new supplements, and taking soy out of their diets. We are having a hard time trying to get them to take the new vitamins. Cod Liver Oil...forget it. They gag, they wretch, they spit it at my feet. Nice. And the blood work and urine tests they need to determine if they have any allergies are just too expensive right now, so we just keep on experimenting with the diet. 

I'm a little afraid of the preschool scenario with their special needs, but everyone we have interviewed (about five so far) have been pretty willing to adapt and try to make it work. the kids are both so excited about the idea of going to school, and even though we decided to home school them, perhaps one year in preschool won't hurt. Or maybe it will. I'm still going back and forth on this. There's the extra help...speech therapy for my daughter, and a counselor for both of them to work on their sensory issues and my sons fine motor skills. Everything I've read seems to suggest that the earlier we can get them help, the better chances they have to progress out of these behaviors that are holding them back.

Plus, I have to admit, the thought of three hours three days a week all to myself is so very tempting. Think of what I could do with that time! But, I worry about the kids being indoctrinated into the materialistic, capitalistic culture that is mainstream America...something we do not agree with. I also worry about their exposure to different belief systems, like Christianity and hunting and guns. 

I guess we can give it a try for a couple of months and see what happens, and if it feels so wrong, we can pull them out and go back to the home school plan. I've been looking into story times at the library to socialize my kids, and thinking about teaching an art class for home school kids in the area. Heck, I've been thinking of going to school in Pueblo to get my Masters in Education...if I could, and becoming a legitimate art teacher. Wouldn't that be fun? But, that may be too complicated...we'll see.

For now, I guess we'll take it one day at a time and see if the preschool can handle my daughter on the days she insists she's a dog and crawls everywhere, refuses to speak or eat with utensils? And, if we're lucky, they might be able to convince her she's a little girl--we're certainly having a hard time with that.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

More paintings

Still painting. Hiding inside from the hot summer sun.

We have had some rain though, which is wonderful. The gardens are all doing great, except for the plants that have been lost to the rabbits and our good old  friend the pack rat (I think there must be about ten of them).

Bailing out the bath water and hiking it to the various trees in the yard...saves the septic, a little bit. Trying to work out a plan for the washing machine to drain into the a deep pile of mulch. I'm thinking of creating a rose garden for the gray water infiltration.

The Earthbag barn is starting to fall down...well the top two layers of bags that never got covered in stucco undercoat.  There just isn't any  extra money to finish it. The dirt is being recycled into the tire berm wall in front of the house. Maybe I can talk Richard into leaving the rest of the barn up and putting more gray coat on it. Haven't had many volunteers to help out around the farm, unfortunately. It is what it is.

Back view
front hills
Front mesa with rain clouds

Front hills with color
front mesa, sun shining
mesa, mountain and sky

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Painting again!

Now, it's fianally getting far as the painting goes.


Mountains and Mesas

Mesas and Mountains

I'm having fun and finding my old self somewhere in there.

As far as the house refinance...they said no. Our house is now worth about what we owe on it...dropped about 50K in two years. So, there is no money to fix the septic, the truck, or to move to New Mexico for grad school (still haven't heard from the University). There is, in fact, no money to pay the truck payment or any more doctor copays. I'm looking through the want ads for a mundane job that fits the hours Richard is not working. Nothing yet.

But hey, at least I have my paint.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Brooding and hatching

Haven't been keeping up with the old farm blog as I should, but my heart just hasn't been in it. So much going on with Richard applying to grad school in NM and our septic leachfield needing to be replaced, and the truck needing $3000 worth of work, and of course with Richard's back injury he hasn't been working as much, not to mention the pay cut of $500 a month his company imposed last month, so now I'm having anxiety attacks in addition to the joys of regular life. Welcome to America!!! It seems we have, or are about to, join the ranks of most of America these days with bills we cannot pay, medical care we cannot afford--all while we stand here, scratching our heads wondering where it all fell apart.

But life does go on, and we continue to labor away on our little farm, although I'm not sure we can continue to water our gardens with the water bill so high. Where is the rain?

2 homemade baby chicks
A few weeks ago I decided to try to hatch some chicks under one of our broody hens, so I saved four, marked them with a penciled red star to keep them separated from the rest, and let the old girl have them. Well, not even quite 21 days later I find a chick under broody hen, and another egg cracking. How exciting is that? I hoped, but didn't really think it would work. Turns out we only got the two chicks out of the four eggs...I waited another twenty four hours before I threw the dud eggs away. But the two tiny ones are cute as can be, and they are now living in the good old Rubbermaid "brooder" in Richard's office.

4 month old Honey
And my sweet Honey girl is growing like crazy. Took her to the vet to get spade (the responsible choice for pet owners) last week and at four months, she's weighing in at 48 pounds! Of course with everything going on, I'm wondering which of our animals we can afford to keep for the long haul. I'm thinking of selling the llamas and the guineas...or at least trying to find them good homes.

This little experiment in sustainability didn't turn out very well, did it? Two years in and we are losing the battle. Never even made it to producing enough food to can for the winter. I have to wonder what the Universe has in store for us next, because this is getting downright ridiculous with all of our failed attempts at the good life in this place or that. What gives?

Siding and a window on goat barn
Richard is feeling good enough to get some farm work in and we spent a few days putting the siding we bought a year or more ago off of Craigslist on the goat (or llama) barn. It looks good. Doesn't match the color of our house, and it'll be even better when we put up the beige pieces. It was supposed to be for a garden shed that hasn't been built yet, but as we think of moving and renting or selling our house here, we have to finish some of the projects. We even used two of the old windows we've been collecting for a greenhouse in the llama barn siding project.

Dark red siding on goat barn
We are trying to refinance the house in the hopes we can come up with the $3500 to put in a new leach field. We'd like to give the truck back to the bank, but would be $7000 in the hole, so we have been thinking of trying to trade it in on an economical commuter car. Last year when we tried to trade in the truck, they laughed us out of the dealerships. Not sure we can afford another car payment anyway. If anyone wants to buy a 2004 Ford 250, crew cab, 4x4 for 21K, let me know right away!

Tire retaining wall in front of house
Also have been working on my little project of berming up the driveway with tires. Essentially, I'm building a retaining wall out of the millions of tires we have collected over the two years (to build an Earthship style greenhouse, which the town won't let us build). And, except for running out of dirt, it's coming along nicely. When it is finished and stacked three tires high, I'll paint it and plant something in the tires. Or someone will, maybe, if we are not here.
Perhaps we should demolish the Earthbag barn to get dirt for the retaining wall, since it seems unlikely we will come up with enough revenue to have someone finish that project. Or, when they come to dig a new leach field, I can use all that dirt for my tire wall.

So now we are in a holding pattern, just waiting, like good old broody hen. Will Richard get accepted into Highland University? Will our refinance go through so we can fix the septic? Can we find another place to live in NM that allows us to bring the farm? I have even been looking at travel trailers, wondering if we bought one with some of the house money, could we find a piece of land to park it on in NM?

The kids have their first evaluation tomorrow at some place here in town that can do mental evaluations to see if they think the kids need further evaluations. Whatever. We've got appointments a month out and I'm not even sure we will still be here. I guess with how hard these appointments are to get, we better drive up for them. Grad school starts August 21. Yeah, cutting it close. Nothing like being prepared, is there? Who'd of thought going to Taos for a party would throw our lives into such chaos. But then, that's the power of Taos, isn't it, and I was hoping for something meaningful from our trip to the Land of Enchantment.

As soon as we got back, I started reading the Georgia O'Keeffe biographies that have been sitting in my bookshelf. I thought if I can't paint, then I can read about someone who did. Of course, that pulled me deeper into the fantasies of New Mexico, and the urge to paint was too overwhelming to resist. After several days of trying to think on how exactly I could paint (where and what medium), I came up with the kitchen table and watercolors.

Watercolors at the kitchen table
I never learned how to paint with watercolors. I read a book once that I checked out from the library and could never find again. But, I've got nothing to lose except empty paper and tubes of paint that are drying up. I took it to heart when I read that O'Keeffe painted the same scene over and over until she felt she had achieved what she was looking for, and since my view is limited to the one out my kitchen door, I've been painting the Wet Mountains behind the llama barn every night after I get the kids to bed. I'm not happy with anything yet, but I sure am having fun with it. It makes me long for the oils, but I know that's too toxic for the kids (fumes) and oils are harder to drop and run when something comes up. So, for now, it's just me and my watercolors...learning how they work and what I can do with them.

I'm loving my evenings of painting, and I started adding a morning painting too. This morning I even dared to take my watercolor pencils and paper into the living room to look out another window at Pikes peak and the mesas in the foreground. Wonderful!

And because readers want to know, Richard has been going to physical therapy here in town and finally found someone who does the "McKenzie method." It has been doing wonders for him. The first thing that has really worked since he began this back pain journey last April. We keep going to doctors, and keep paying our $50 copays for nothing. No one can do anything. The drugs don't relieve the pain. And, we are running out of copay money. I hope we can continue with the physical therapist for as long as it takes, but if not, we can find the books that Robin McKenzie wrote about this method to relieve back and neck pain. If you have back issues, check it out. Cheaper than surgery and better for you too.

So, that's an update on life at the farm. Hopefully we can relocate the farm to NM and continue on our path of sustainability. Richard wants to study scientific, sustainable, farming practices in grad school and be a farmer who uses his brain instead of his brawn. That's a good plan, considering all of the doctors did tell him he has the back of a fifty year old man and no one sees how it'll get better. Although, I suspect if he stays out of the typical doctor's office his back will get better on its own time. Yoga, yoga, yoga. Flexibility will keep you healthy and vivacious. (I should get back onto my exercise program.)

Now, on to painting and a new biography...Paul Cezanne! Color, color, is everything.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crazy, hazy days of summer

Wild days of summer, with so much to do, so many plans and smoke from the surrounding fires in the air, it's definitely harder than you  might think to just stop and breathe. The west is on fire it seems, and no matter where we go, the smoke is there to great us.
Susan's Skybus

We spent the weekend of the fourth in Taos, incredibly enough, visiting our fellow Earthbagger Susan for her "Bus warming." The place is great. An old school bus in the sage, out on the Mesa, in the foreground of Two Peaks. It was an adventure, as most trips to NM usually are, and we met several interesting people at the party, some I'd like to get to know better in the future maybe. It was hot out there under the New Mexican sun without any shade, but not as hot as our little homestead in Southern Colorado, which I nicknamed upon arrival here two years ago, "The Surface of the Sun."
Two Peaks

The sagebrush soothed my soul and standing out there in the midst of it, staring at the Taos Mountain, I felt very much at peace, although I did have to silently ask said mountain why she decided I could not live there? I never got an answer, but as Richard, the kids and I spent a morning driving around town, remembering it all, I realized it was no longer a place I wanted to live, that it felt commercialized, somehow, but more importantly, it held too many lost dreams and tainted memories of things that went bad.
Little boy in sage

Still, I was so glad we went and even the two almost sleepless nights in strange places were worth the few moments of bliss I experienced standing in that good old beloved New Mexican sagebrush. Even the smoke couldn't dampen my feelings of euphoria, nor could my son, running off into the sage so I had to sprint my fat self after him for about two hundred yards. Overall, the kids had a delightful time, playing with their little friend, Susan's young daughter, and for the most part, the tantrums and strange OCD behaviors stopped. New Mexico is good medicine.
Our makeshift camper

Strangely enough, or maybe not, the morning after we got back home, the tantrums and spacey behavior started up in earnest, full blown, and Richard and I began to wonder if it is this place that is causing it? The house, the town, the geographical region? Do the surrounding prisons create a vortex of negative energy like the vortex of positive energy that exists in such places as Taos, Manitou, and Crestone? Something to think on.

Several of our new acquaintances spent time talking to Richard about life, the future and spiritual paths, and perhaps it made some impact upon him, because after we got home, he decided he was interested in returning to college to pursue his Masters, and he began researching NM.

The trip was wonderful and I long to return to the Land of Enchantment, where my spirit belongs.

Back here at the farm, everything stays the same, for the most part. Before our trip we took the llama boys up the mountain to the Stage Stop Llama Ranch to get them sheared, and Vader looks foolish now, parading around as a giant poodle.

So, new plans are in the works which may involve relocating the farm to some quaint little burg in the NM landscape. Hope it works out, but at the same time, there is so much unfinished here, and so much to do just to get ourselves prepared for such a jump into the glorious unknown. I will simply allow the Universe to do as it will, riding the waves of change as they come, and who knows, maybe next summer I will be back in the New Mexican sage, on a more permanent basis.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fun with tires!

Oh, I'm finally having some fun...painting tires to be used as planters around the gardens...everywhere. I've been waiting a long time for this--nearly a year, and now the time has come to get creative. What can you do with a tire? Well...

You can make it fit into the surroundings as a nice, semi-traditional planter. This one is a huge truck tire that Richard planted with yellow squash.

You can create a row of matching tires along a path. These now contain peppers and a tomato in the middle tire.

Or, you can get a little more creative and let the child inside free.

Or, you can get really wild and give in to a Jackson Pollack moment.

And I finished another after this one with big giant purple flowers. I am loving this, totally! Should have done this a long time ago.

This is all of the house paint we have been dragging around with us for years, and now that I can't use it inside because it off-gases and poisons the kids, animals and other life forms, I have a lot of paint to play with. A lot. And I have a lot of a hundred or so. The combination is a lot of stored up creativity being released in craziness. Art baby! Tire art. It is GHETTO FABULOUS!! And perfect for a couple of ghetto farmers. My funky garden.

Recycle, recycle, re-use, re-purpose.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Planting and Writing

Upper garden
Planting like mad! We finished our upper garden area with a little help from some hired hands, although not as much as I'd have hoped. It turned out the tiller they brought wouldn't run much for anyone but I tilled the garden. The great thing is, it got done!

We planted two long rows of tomatoes, a bunch of peppers, more broccoli and potatoes, and in the past couple of days we turned my son's old crib (was recalled due to drop down sides) into trellis's for our loufas! We got some rows of corn in, and Richard planted melons. We also we planted some herbs in pots around the patio. Not too bad, but we still need to get the squashes and pumpkins going and the dried beans.

Corn rows
Crib side trellis for loufas
table on new patio

We got some more fence in here and there, but not enough to let the guineas free again. In the chicken tractor they remain.

My little Napolean is my new best friend, hopping through the 2 x 4 bottom of the field fence to run up and say hi every time I'm in the upper garden. Same story...I pet him, I hold him and then he runs back to his girls. He's a little cutie these days, and a surprise from the mean little rooster he used to be. He did peck at my son, so he can't be trusted really, but I'm enjoying the nice side of his personality.

We have been working on little booklets, that like our classes, give a hands on workshop type approach to sustainability topics. I have finished one entitled Gardening Techniques: Building a Raised Planter and Utilizing Sheet Mulch to Prepare the Bed. It is 11 pages and has detailed instructions along with color photos to guide you through the entire process.  

I am currently working on our version of a chicken how-to-guide called The Chicken Manual. Richard and I both contributed our knowledge and experience in this little book, which covers the entire subject of chickens from chicks to adult layers. Also color photos. Both are for sale...we've been peddling them at the Farmer's markets, and if anyone would like more information, feel free to contact me. They are cheap, and cover our printing costs...maybe. Anything extra goes to the farm of course.

It sure feels good to be doing something creative, and maybe one day soon I will give in to that urge to paint!

Also offering garden design consultation services in our area. Trying to work easier and smarter and less physical. So many new ideas and still so much to do here on our little farm. The critters are all doing well and the humans are getting by the best we can.

Lining up cereal
My daughter has been especially focused (between tantrums) on lining things up these days. This morning her cereal...little balls of GFCF cereal, and this afternoon, her dollhouse furniture...across the room and back. It takes her an hour to eat a bowl of cereal.
Lining up toys

This withdrawal thing has got to end soon, right? We did get an appointment with the biomedical doctor up in the Springs...for August. It's a start. Maybe they can run some blood tests and see if the kids are really allergic to gluten and dairy, or if it's something else altogether.

It turns out kids with Pervasive Development Disorders may have more sensitivities to toxins in the our house. Newer houses, loaded full of carpet and particle board cabinets and vinyl floors are extremely dangerous for people with allergy sensitivities, and in the case of these kids, the off gassing of these hazardous materials causes even more brain dysfunction.

What do I do with that? A can of no VOC paint costs about $35. We need new flooring, new cabinets, new paint, new doors, new is that going to happen? It's time to start manifesting a few miracles.