Seasonal living and the sensual, sensate life.

Recent Posts

My Mind on Winter

My Mind on Winter

August in the mountains and I can feel summer begin to ebb.  At the prairie house, I‘d be staring down the barrel of at least two more months of way-too-hot-for-me weather, while nearly 4000 feet higher this morning’s temperature registered in the upper 40s.  Already […]

Just This One Day

Just This One Day

A month after Greg and I hauled our household 38.4 miles south and west, we are still settling in.  Our couches are stuck somewhere in California and we have been walking around boxes and paint cans for weeks. Our living room serves a staging ground […]

Liberty at Last!

Liberty at Last!

My one award-winning 4th of July pie

Like a lot of people, I’ve celebrated the 4th of July for the fun, the food, the fireworks.  Not today.  This year I am reveling in what for me turns out to be a profound sense of liberation and there won’t be one flag or float in sight:  Back in May, the artist-lover and I bought a house (a first for both of us) and just a little over two weeks ago (in a lull between book events), we moved up out of the steaming heat of the prairie and back to the blessedly cool mountains. 

I’m back at 8600 feet where I belong.

Always cash poor, I’d never thought I’d own a place of my own, so frankly, if nothing else ever happens in my life, settling in on this acre and a half in a home Greg and I may have to call The Tree House for its view through French doors of the upper half of aspens and pines will be one of my happiest and proudest moments.  Not even publishing a book tops this.

The deck and south facing french doors

I have been candid in my memoir about my tumbleweed childhood, the way my family rolled from place to place, and my deep yearning to put down roots.  I’ve always wanted to be from somewhere, always wanted a place to call my own.  But too often, my place shifted with seasons and jobs and school, along with the inherent instability of renting, something I’ve been doing for thirty-five years. 

Putting that all behind me is like unhooking a heavy backpack after a long hike.  There’s a feeling of weightlessness, relief and a cooling down, a coming to blessed rest.

Pancake breakfast, July 4th, 2018

Owning a house is perhaps my biggest dream, and those people who know me know what it means for me to be back in the woods, with dirt beneath my feet and a shock of stars above at night.  “YOU’RE the mountain,” my friend Jim shouted, wrapping me in his huge arms, when he saw the place. 

Yes, and it’s good to be home. 

The Wait

The Wait

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –              When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush                                                    —Gerard Manley Hopkins Spring is doing its spring thing here in Colorado, which means warm days when I don skirts and show […]

Let Winter Nights Enlarge

Let Winter Nights Enlarge

Now winter nights enlarge  The number of their hours– –Thomas Campion Winter arrives, just in the nick of time.  I’ve been rushing and rushing pulling the threads of my daily to-do lists tight, holding my breath for what seems like months now as I stare […]

In Search of the White Whale

In Search of the White Whale

Peeper Pond by Greg Marquez

Home is my great white whale.  For as long as I can remember I’ve searched for it, turned the thought of it over in my mind and longed for the coordinating x and y of permanence and thriving for the perfect place.  Growing up, I wanted to be from somewhere, but my family, kicked around by my father’s Air Force career, tumbled from state to state.  Back then, home was neither a haven nor the place of a warm welcoming embrace; instead it was a battleground.  Still I clung to the idea of home the way I thought of love then—as something that would save me.

When I left my parents’ house, my living situation was too often disrupted by more instability, this time by a series of roommates who departed for greener pastures, coupled with a few who, like a fist full of landlords I’ve known, were on the verge of bat-shit crazy. One housing situation went up in flames—literally.  Another dissolved when the cops were called. I scrambled for decades trying to find my tiny patch and a place I could afford.  Finally, at forty, I signed a lease on a 500 square foot, wood-stove heated cabin on top of Overland Mountain with my dog, Elvis.  For ten years, I thought I’d found home.

Hummingbird by Greg Marquez

I outgrew the cabin the day the artist lover and I decided to take a step closer to each other and move in together.  Pickings on the mountain were slim post-100 year flood and so we packed our bags for the prairie, a move I’ve always seen as temporary.  While I made a a home with Greg, I still felt displaced.

“I feel like a plant that’s been plunked down in landscape that isn’t native to me” I tell Greg, “I can survive, but I won’t bloom.” Our edge of the prairie existence with its proximity to highways and aggressive commuters, streetlights and other people’s backyards has worn me thin.  I miss inky nights smeared with stars and the quiet days after the summer birds have departed.  I miss dirt beneath my feet and uneven, belly-soft ground.  I miss the pine forest dotting the landscape and bear and mountain lion passing through.  I miss the view of the mountains rising like a prayer, the sense that not every patch of land is inhabitable by humans.  I miss silence. I miss space.

Aspens by Greg Marquez

Placelessness is a grief bigger than any I’ve endured.  Living in the Overland cabin taught me that I did indeed have a place.  It doesn’t matter that I was born on the edge of the desert, the mountains are my native ground.  When I left the zip code I’d had on my permanent mailing address for nearly twenty years as I lived in and around Jamestown coming and going to grad school and a series of living situations, including at the High Lake cabin, I sobbed as I handed my key to the post office clerk in the same way I sobbed when my dog and constant companion of fifteen years, Elvis, died.  Leaving was a grief. 

Three years later, Greg and I have begun the happy, if somewhat fraught, task of locating a permanent address and of making our home in a place where we can thrive.   I long for four walls that belong to me, a patch of ground big enough for a home along with a writing shack that will house my desk, a wood stove, and a fainting couch along with my books.  Greg wants a studio/workshop and a patch of sun for the garden.  Of course I want to return to the mountains, something Greg has come round to, in part, because it means so much to me.  Trouble is, we live in Boulder County and even the little Overland Mountain cabin wouldn’t come cheap by most people’s standards.  Greg, ever the optimist, is hopeful we’ll find just the right thing while I fret over mortgage estimates and the return on our investment in taking on too much of a fixer-upper or something a bit smaller just at the time when I want to be settling in for the long haul.  There are so many variables—many of them having to do with the two too common denominators of American life:  time and money—that I am wringing my hands just when I should be rejoicing:  I’d never in my wildest dreams thought I’d be able to buy a house. 

The Way Back by Greg Marquez

And maybe that’s just it.  There’s a chunk of me still invested in the struggle—I’ve had so much of it– a stubborn piece that wants to believe I can’t have what I want.

For now I’ll simply have to take my cue from Greg, who is a dreamer, and dare to imagine the best of all possible worlds:  Six months from now, on June 5th, Greg and I will be happily celebrating the release of Rough Beauty  (pre-sales available on Amazon) in a (perfect) mountain home of our own. 

Thanksgiving, With Abandon

Thanksgiving, With Abandon

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all –Harriet van Horne I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk –Anthony Bourdain –for Oody I’ve gone over to the dark side. For years I’ve […]

Welcome to Rougher Beauty

Welcome to Rougher Beauty

I’ll be honest:  I’ve struggled with this blog (formerly 1hotkitchen@blogspot.com) for the last year now. Sure I’ve had the convenient excuse of writing a book, a task far more lovely and consuming than I ever imagined.  But It’s also true I’ve worried for some time […]

Don’t Call Me a Lady

Don’t Call Me a Lady

Call me Brash.  Call me Bossy.  Hell, call me the other B word.  Just don’t call me a Lady. 
I’m a bit old school when it comes to the “L” word.  In my mind, those four letters are a gilded cage, a choke collar fastened to the twin chains of “modesty” and “demureness,” ones meant to keep women in line.  And they still make me flinch.

Ladies please.

I am old enough to have been brought up in a family that schooled me (however unsuccessfully) in all things “lady”; it was part of the era. Ladies sat quietly, legs crossed; nibbled their food; kept themselves tidy and presentable; were gracefully, elegant, thin, beautiful; spoke softly with neither command, nor authority and knowledge. But I was doomed to disappoint:  no beauty; my knees were always scuffed, my elbows rough and dry, my shoulders and feet too big, my hair full of knots. And I said what was on my mind.  I wanted to rub up against things, but lived under an umbrella of expectation:  Why wasn’t I more refined?  More girly?  A Lady.

When I was 16, Barbara, my petite, pearls and diamonds grandmother, gave me a black silk evening bag with a fake diamond and pearl clasp, saying, “Everyone Lady needs one.”  I was shocked that this was the most important accouterments she could imagine for my soon to be adult self when what I really needed were strong women who stood up to men, role models who showed me that a girl can grow up to be just what shewants.

Instead, I learned girls were passive, pretty adornments, like the dolls I was given meant to be looked at–things I wasn’t, nor had the slightest intention of being.  Their lot was to wait—for a prince, for happily ever after.  No one would write their story. 

Baubo
I was too impatient for all that.

Please don’t tell me to get over it, that these things reside in some distant troubled past.  The world we live in is still too ruled by archaic ideas of how women should behave. You have only to look at the all-out war on the national and local level on women’s reproductive rights and the now infamous comments of the Dictator-in-Chief and his mostly guy cabinet to see we have not come a long way, baby.

This International Women’s Day I’m celebrating by thumbing my nose at it all, by bearing my unruliness with pride and celebrating the bitchy, the bossy, and the badly behaved.  I’ll be lighting a candle for Baubo, the most unladylike Goddess of all whose bawdy act of lifting her skirt made Demeter laugh and propelled her into resuming her quest to find her daughter. Like her, I’ll proudly act in some very unladylike ways, knowing such acts have the power to change the world.  
Brave New World

Brave New World

When Miranda utters these words in The Tempest, it’s clear they are the words of a naif.  She’s young and sheltered and–frankly–lusty. Her “brave” means handsome; Miranda is all about the surface.  Most who invoke these words miss Shakespeare’s irony or haven’t read Aldous Huxley’s […]