Archive for the ‘Sustainable living’ Category

Day 36 in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.


This place is amazing. Used/salvaged building supplies galore! We’ve bought and sold and donated more than a few things here since we bought our house three years ago. Fancier stuff is kept in the building at the front, and out back are sheds and sheds of materials – each one filled with similar items (all the storm doors are together, all the gutters, all the countertops, etc. etc.).


And between the sheds, even more stuff that can handle sitting outside without a roof over it.



Today we were looking for metal roofing for our garage, but didn’t find enough to do the whole roof.


We did donate a couple extra cabinet doors we had been storing in our basement though. And got to say hi to the huge loveable dog who often greets us there. And spied an outhouse for $300 on our way out. But passed it up.


We also spotted this vehicle, which is often parked downtown on school mornings, with the big dog sitting in the back. Silas and I always enjoy seeing it on our walks to school.



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Day nineteen of my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.


Although the dry climate here in Colorado induces even more nosebleeds for those of us already prone to them (my son told me he had three throughout the day today!), one thing I appreciate about it is the complete irrelevance of a clothes dryer. It’s just not a worthwhile appliance to own and maintain here, in my humble (and minimalist) opinion. So when we bought this house which didn’t include a washer or dryer, we only bought a washer.

Most of the year, even many days during winter, we can hang our clothes outside, and especially when there’s sunshine, they’ll dry within a couple hours. (A high-quality front-loading washer with a high-speed spin cycle helps a lot too!) On rainy or too-cold days, we hang laundry in the basement, which humidifies the even-dryer indoor air from our forced-air heating system.



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Day thirteen in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

And now for a favorite quirky corner of mine. Mountain views! Prairie dogs! Sugar silos!

We can easily bike from our house to Home Depot and a strip mall that includes our credit union and Jax (a sort-of Fleet Farm meets REI store). Along this route, we can view prairie dogs, get goatheads stuck in our bike tires (so now I don’t cut through the field that is now under development anyway), puzzle over strange grafitti at the abandoned sugar refinery, and treat ourselves to snow-capped vistas. All in the last bit of a 1.5-mile bike ride.


See right there in the middle of the picture? At the end of the sunbeam? Maybe that’s the chosen one, which I’m sad to say the prairie dogs may need to have as all this development goes on encroaching their little towns. We used to go to the zoo to see these further east. Out here, just keep your eyes pealed in big vacant fields, along the road . . . you’ll find them. In the short time since we moved here in 2013, this little prairie dog town has lost much of its space to new construction and, weirdly, used cars for sale (those pickups parked along the right are only a few of many).

In the background of the photo above you can see the sugar silos, a Loveland landmark. Whenever we hike and gain some elevation and find a good lookout, we can often spot these silos, from miles away in Boulder, Fort Collins, etc. Here’s a closer view of them:


Nathan’s friend once had an idea to build a climbing gym inside these silos! As far as I know nothing is really happening at these buildings now. The city uses the parking lot on the southeast side to pile snow plowed off the streets in the winter. Not sure when this plant officially closed, but it was still somewhat functioning as late as 1990, when a molasses spill closed roads and made a sticky mess.

And an especially strange part of this place, which the blogger who visited here in January 2016 must have missed because there was snow on the roof at that time, is this:


Yeah, that roof has “IT WAS SUGAR STUPID!” painted on it. Apparently in 2007 a man who was living near the sugar factory was charged with making methamphetamine based on a powdery substance that field tests determined to be meth and then later tests revealed to be old sugar – and this message appeared after all that. You can read more about it here.

Just behind me as I took the photo above is Home Depot, and off to my right (the west) is this:


That road is new and still under construction. That’s where, in our early days living here, we first rode our bikes through a rutted old field, soaking up the sunshine and the mountain view, oblivious to those demon goatheads our tires were picking up.

Oh, I can’t help myself. Here’s a grainy closeup of those prairie dogs:



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Day six in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.


I took this photo from my front porch just now. In this house across the street there are some office suites, ClothRoads Studio, and a residential apartment, where our neighbor Jeanne lived until her recent death.

Although she was on oxygen, Jeanne could often be seen cycling around the neighborhood on her recumbent bike, her saddlebags loaded for the day’s errands (oxygen tank included). She told me that she really couldn’t walk around the block anymore, but bicycling was easier, so she loved to get around that way.

She gave us her kitchen scraps to feed our chickens, and loved to see what we were doing with our garden. When both our kids were in a community play last summer, Jeanne came along with Nathan and me to watch the performance. That same summer the kids went over each day to walk a dog she was sitting for a couple weeks, and she always had lemonade and cookies for them after the walk, as well as good conversation. My daughter Luthien especially was so interested to talk with her and learn about her life.

The last time I talked to Jeanne, only a few days before she died, she eagerly told me about her plans to get some chickens. She had a pre-fabricated coop all ready to assemble, and I remarked to myself how vibrant she was. I had seen an ambulance in front of her house in the early hours of the morning only a week before and wondered if it was for her, but after seeing and speaking with her that day, I assumed it hadn’t been.

The next Saturday there was a garage sale at Jeanne’s house, and Luthien came back from it and told me that Jeanne’s family was selling some of her things, because she had died. It was hard to believe, and she cried.

The crabapple tree in the photo bloomed after Jeanne was gone, and Luthien said it was celebrating Jeanne’s life – and a beautiful, generous, well-lived life it was. I’m grateful we got to know Jeanne for the short time that we were neighbors.

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Day five in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

This week I’m filling in at my old job while my friend takes a well-deserved vacation, so this morning I got to ride my old bike commute. This is the view riding back from work. Nathan also bikes this same stretch of trail to and from work. This is a commute we will both miss.

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When we first moved to Colorado, I would constantly be surprised and wowed by the Rocky Mountain views, exclaiming, “look at those mountains!” It became a little joke between the boy and me, who would roll his eyes and whine, “oh Mom!”

But really. Look at those mountains! I guess in this photo they’re actually a bit hard to see, what with the trees in the foreground and the white clouds blending with the white snow. But there they are. And I’m sure I’ll be posting more mountain photos before this little series is through.

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Day three in my “Leaving Loveland” challenge.

Behold the glory of Esh’s:


(Okay, the glory is more inside than out, but this is the photo I got today.)

This discount grocery store has amazing deals and unique finds every time I shop – and it has become my main grocery store. This location is actually the newer huger version of the first and smaller location, which is equally fun and not quite so overwhelmingly large and full of choices.

My favorite finds today – bell peppers at four for a dollar (which is pretty much the standing price), strawberries for $3 per pound, pasture-raised free-range eggs for 99 cents per dozen. I love shopping here because the food is so affordable and I also know that without this store filling this niche (buying product other grocery stores are getting rid of), much of this food would otherwise be wasted.

It’s funny that the first week I decided to post a photo of something I love about Loveland every day, we’ve had so many gray days. Today it rained all day! But the water is always welcome (well, except when it floods, like it did our first year here, in 2013).


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A little dreamy ode to the simple life, here’s my song for week 33 of #songaweek2016. With Nathan Bloom on harmonica. Would’ve loved to add more instruments and fill it out a bit, but it was an extra busy week with a real live gig and kids going back to school. (That toddly baby in the picture is now a tall, soccer-playing fourth grader!)

There would be raspberries in our little yard
the sun would shine all the time
except when the rain came to help our garden grow
then we’d be snug inside

could every day be like a holiday?
could this be happily? (ever after)

We’d keep some chickens in a little coop
we’d thank them for the eggs
maybe a baby, maybe two
toddling on wobbly legs

some nights there might be tears on our pillows
some dreams just won’t come true
but all these broken parts of our hearts
make spaces for the light and air and rivers to flow through

out on our front porch we’d pass the evening hours
watching the branches sway
We’d smile at neighbors and strangers passing by
until we call it a day


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