A farewell to summer days.

August 23, 2014


morning fog on pole mountain



rikki in rio 2~

A farewell to summer days.



of the turtle

we withdraw where

in silent spaces

Darkening days we learn

to breathe

within or is it


beneath the surface


to the cocoon

From which we emerged

Soothed by the sound of rain

the promise of browning grass

as the high country pales and fades


Washed over

with a wave of returning stillness


as a cloud enwrapping

the veil of early morning

silhouettes of what will be


maybe it is the

winds and waters which

hold me

when what I thought

embracing me

was something more solid



seeds 2





A poem in progress.

Words evolving as we do with life.


Yeah, I know.  I could leave it and settle for “good enough.”

But good enough is not good enough.

If you only live once, live as fully as you can.  Be the best person you can be.  Do the best work you can do, and share the best of yourself.

A good reminder from Mother Teresa:  “People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway.”

We can’t expect others to be nice, use manners, play fair… All we can do is be the best person we can be.

Learn to trust.  Sure, you’ll get burned.  Get over it and try again.  Practice makes perfect.   Not trying gets you no where.

Take the blame if need be – Let someone else be the one to pass it on.  Something too heavy for them to carry will only make you stronger.

It’s not just “the new generation.”  It’s the old farts, too.  And plenty of us finding ourselves in the middle ground.

Oh, the disappointment of human beings.  My self included.


fading flower


Notes to self.

This morning, I thought I’d share them with you.


rainbow over outhouse


I have been meaning to share with you my friend, Teri’s blog: http://myeverydayphotos.wordpress.com/

Teri is a talented professional photographer from Washington State’s beautiful Methow Valley.  What many of you might be most interested in this.  Considering the devastation, sadness, fear and almost a sense of personal violation so many of us here in Colorado experienced over the past years (and presumable in years to come as well) while wildfires rages around us (last year’s Papoose Fire/West Fork Complex Fire is described intimately in The Last of the Living Blue), this year it has been the Methow Valley hit hard.  Teri’s words and powerful images tell the story better than I shall try to.  If you have a moment, please see Teri’s work here.


a piece of grandfather tree~


boys building


construction progress~


A Personal Challenge… and a few random thoughts on a rainy day.




This past week brought…

  • Rain every day.
  • Completion of the first floor walls.
  • A bear on our deck.
  • Our goose in the air. (I did not specify gracefully…)




At the same time, two dear friends are diagnosed with cancer; a third with pregnancy.  The first two I truly believe will bravely battle, eloquently conquer and be triumphant while friends and family grow closer in support.  The third, well, the lifetime of an up and down roller-coaster ride of frustration, exhaustion, endurance, sleepless nights and the most intense selflessness, beauty, love, compassion and comprehension one may ever experience that becoming a mother entails (adoptive of course included) … it is just beginning!




Thoughts blur and swirl while looking through streaked glass panes at brown waters swelling down the muddy road.  Clothes hung indoors alongside cast iron pans by the wood cook stove to dry while the dog lies right beside it.  Sticky, heavy boots left just outside the door.  White noise of loud rain pounding on the metal roof does not quite my mind.




I am working on personal improvement.  Seems like I always am.  There’s plenty of room for improvement, and hopefully a long lifetime to keep me busy.  Why would I not want to be the best I can be?  Why would I not want to better myself and my world?  Seriously, who truly believes “good enough” is good enough?  I’ve never strived for mediocrity.  I want a great life.  And no one can make it that way but… me. One can accept the middle ground if that’s their thing. It’s not mine. I encourage you to not sit back and accept it either.

This is not therapy. That’s a topic I tend to stay away from.  Today can be scary enough!  Looking back, figuring out the reasons why… maybe some day…  but today, my hands are full.

We all can blame someone else for our own misery, lack of love, lack of success, (fill in the blank), because surely it’s not MY fault.

Except, sometimes it is.  And that sometimes might just be now.

When we start to accept responsibility for ourselves and our actions and our lives, we can begin to make changes.

Life is all about change.


So… with this in mind, I present to you one simple step towards self improvement:

The Thirty Day Internet Limit Trial

For the next thirty days, we have committed to the following:

  • One ten minute e-mail/internet check before exercises, cooking and breakfast.
  • One five minute check after cleaning up.
  • One ten minute check at lunch break.
  • One ten minute check after work.
  • A little more time to surf the web, do research, check weather, touch base on social media, whatever… after dinner. (See, we eat so late, this won’t last too long for me, as I’m ready for bed right after we eat!)

Still sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?

I justify this much as we have no phone service, so this is a reasonable compromise which allow us to keep in touch, run our business, do our work, and do all those fun things we’ve learned to love – and can’t seem to live without – on the internet, without it ruling our lives.

See, I swear we got to the point where the computer was always open just in case some important news came in and surfing social media became a brainless break for the boys no better than TV (which Forrest never had, and Bob had to give up when he married me).  It became a crutch, and a waste of time at best.  At worst, something which made us emotionally distraught (well, that might just be me…).

Maybe it’s worse for many. The folks texting during meals, posting what they eat for all to see, and interrupting face-to-face conversations because they are or the matter is so important they just have to respond now.  We’re not that bad, but worse than I’d like to be. Maybe you do worse, and maybe you don’t care.  We do, and we’re doing something about it.

Thought I’d share this with you for two reasons. First, because those of you who might just realize you have a problem, you might just want to do something about it, too. Go ahead. Try it.  Just for thirty days. See if you survive!

I’m also telling you this too to give you fair warning:  you may not get an instant response from  me if  you write.  You probably won’t see much from me on Facebook unless I’m sharing book news or business.  I’ll only be blogging once a week – which is about what I’ve managed to reduce my blogging to now a days anyway. (Instead I make my posts looooooonnnnng.  Go figure.)

So, today begins the trial. We’ll see how it goes.  I’m hoping it may help in two ways – mental peace and more time to do more positive things.  As an added bonus, maybe it will also improve communications, team work, and productivity as my husband and son are joining me.

Want to give it a try?




In the meanwhile… life goes on… back on the ranch… back to the mountain.

The rains bring on the change of season, heavy and thick it hangs in the air with clouds lingering on her side like little children clinging for comfort.

Arousing the state of dormancy.

One season begins to bow. Another approaches.  Anticipation as the land tires and leaves fade and summer sounds are washed away in the steady rains. Mushrooms flourish in withering land and light.  And I wonder what the tree squirrel will eat this winter without a pine cone in sight. Such are the things which trouble me.

She begins her long slow deep exhale

And with her, I breathe in unison.


leaf in puddle


I need to remember this one, as I have believed it but thought perhaps I was wrong:

Wendell Berry: “I’ve known writers — I think it’s true also of other artists — who thought that you had to put your art before everything. But if you have a marriage and a family and a farm, you’re just going to find that you can’t always put your art first, and moreover that you shouldn’t. There are a number of things more important than your art. It’s wrong to favor it over your family, or over your place, or over your animals.”


early fall flower



What a wonderful word. Eco-biography.

Think about it.  Hold it in your hand, roll it around in your mouth, savor it.

A story about person and place, and the intimate intertwining of the two.

Author, farmer and activist Kayann Short coined the term.  In her review of The Last of Living Blue on her blog, Kayann honored my work with this term.  Ecobiography.  A phrase I am honored to write about; a new genre I am proud to be a part of.

For more on Kayann, her writings, her farm and the art of the Ecobiography, please be sure to tune in on Friday to Colorado Public Radio (CPR) for Random Acts of Culture.


It’s about slowing down…  I enjoyed the opportunity to write a guest post for fellow author/blogger C.M. Mayo (for those who saw this, you’ll note I didn’t get it right the first time, but just one more excuse to keep on writing!  I finally got it, and Madam Mayo posted this on her blog last week.  I hope you enjoy.


lost trail ranch


That’s all she wrote this week.  Until next time…

And don’t forget to consider giving it a try… Stay away from the darned internet, and see what happens…


Learning to let go.

August 8, 2014


rikki gunnar


A frost on the deck damp from yesterday’s rain

And a thin film of ice on the undisturbed pan of water

Where he used to bathe

Emptiness on the cliff

Where he used to stand

Watching the river flow


In this morning of uncertainty

I seek to find solace in the poems of Wendell Berry

Who uses words in ways I may never learn how

But always seek to emulate


Who preaches in calm certainty

Yet what I feel but he does not

For he a man and I a mother

And his practicality is replaced by my passion


Who might tell us it is time to let feral ones fly free

And be at peace knowing

We can never own that which is meant to be wild


Yet I find his distance disturbing

While his words more than I may ever obtain

As I dive into my life heart first

And leave behind a pool of broken waters

Shattered mirrors and forgotten dreams


Learning to let go.

This is not what I was planning on sharing with you today, but I think you should hear this.

Yeah, it’s about the goose.

When he was little he slept in the cat carrier under the kitchen table. Then the dog crate outside the front door.  After two and a half months, you’d think he’d go in by himself at night.  He never did.  He is still a wild animal, he reminds me every day as he rests in shade under the pickup with the dog.  Night before last he fought it.  I had to herd him in.  We sat at the table by the door at dinner and could hear him shuffling about within the box.  Maybe it was the moon, we wondered.  We knew he didn’t want to be there.  But I didn’t want him out with the coyotes and foxes and tourist’s dogs swarming like little snapping turtles.

And then last night he flew off in the moonlight.

It started at dusk when he usually comes to the front door and we lead him to his box.  Instead, he remained off the porch, fussing, chattering, and would not come close to me.  I stepped closer to him and away he flew, off his cliff and down over the Rio Grande in the pale grey evening light.  Fine, I thought as I returned to the cabin, lit candles and the wood cook stove and started dinner for my boys. A few minutes later, guilt took over. A sense of responsibility confused me.  I raised him since he was but a day or so old.  Can I just turn my back as he flies off and say, “Have at it!  Good luck!”  Perhaps I should, but I cannot. I returned to his cliff and called out.  I looked down river and did not see him.  I turned, rejected, back to the house, and there he was behind me.

He lay down on his cliff and it became clear to me.  He was ready to fly.  He was ready to be a big goose now.  He didn’t really need his mother, and he certainly didn’t need his box.

Okay, fine, stay there, I thought.  I smiled and let him be.

Darkness but for the growing moon came and we were at the table having dinner.  He was back on the porch.  I stepped out with him and squatted beside him and he stood there with long neck extended staring out at the big moon, the glowing river. I asked him if he wanted in his box, and he continued to stare.  I returned inside, and then once again, we heard him fidgeting and moments later, the squawking of him flying off.

I heard him this morning as I woke at first light, the time when it’s usually just he and me and the ravens on the cliff that no longer fly off from fear of us and have more than me been the ones to teach Rikki to fly.  But really, it was silent.  No ravens. No happy little chatter.  No honking as he spread his wings. No Rikki.

Surely he will be back, I told myself as the sky became brighter and the ground flooded with fresh sunshine forming little ripples of steam where the frost had just been. Surely he will follow the Rio as a goose does, see his cliff, the bridge, the construction site.  Hear the crows, the dog bark, the power tools and mill under which he’s spent so many hours with the white noise of motors drumming in his ears.

Won’t he?

How wild he showed me he is.  I try to respect and appreciate his choices.  I let him.  I did not hold him back.  I hope not at the expense of his life.

Ten minutes ago, here at the table in the Little Cabin looking through the old weathered windows that look like its raining even when it’s dry, there flies Rikki.

He has flown home.


waiting for me to come home



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