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#25 Samhain: the Final Harvest of 2017

And, here we are, coming up on Samhain, the final harvest, the beginning of fall and the turning of the year toward the dark time. There is much to be grateful for: the birth of new babies, the happy growth of others, the bounty of the soil, the love of family and friends.And there is much to mourn: the fires in our previous hometown and around California, multiple devastating hurricanes, the violence of mass shooting, the devastating diagnoses of dear friends, our countries disgraceful political and societal climate, to say nothing of our planet’s climate…reminds me of a meme shared by a friend on FB: Mother Nature’s response to climate deniers: “Here! Hold my beer!”

On the homestead, we have kept busy and I thought I would share some photos of what we have been up to over the summer.


JD and Dusty’s back yard has become an amazing flower garden. Dusty has a serious flower-thumb! And with the auto-irrigation JD installed and beautiful deer –repellent-flags hung all ’round, their yard is stunning.

Dusty took this beautiful photo of their garden at dusk!

So gorgeous, fresh and even when they dry out, they are still exquisite!


JD and I worked hard on cleaning the goat poop out of the upper barn, but we finally cried ‘uncle’ and brought our buddy Steve in with his tractor! Within two days he and Joe cleared, not only the ‘upper barn,’ but the large section below the ‘lower barn’ as well!

Remember these ‘before’ photos?

Well, here is the after photo! All clean and ready for paint!Lynnie found a metal spiral staircase on Craig’s list and we will be putting it between the main floor and loft so we can get up there easily!



In another project, we created steps from the driveway down to the garden from old 2×6 pieces we found on the property. Puts far less strain on sixty-some year old knees!! Reba supervised and is very proud of her work!





One of the best additions we made are the screen doors!!

They let so much lovely fresh air flow through in the evening! We LOVE them! Thanks, Steve!!


We have, again this year, harvested tons of tomatoes and sweet peppers, as well as beets, corn and zucchini.












As the growing season wanes, the toms need some window-sill time to ripen.

JD crocheted a cool bag for collecting garden produce AND eggs!



Our Golden Girls are laying quite regularly now and we all enjoy the delicious flavor of fresh eggs!


Some are particularly interesting (check out the blue one) and are often ‘double yokers’.







The surprise of the garden: a brand-new variety of squash, we call the ‘crumpkin’! Apparently, our last year’s crookneck squash and pumpkins cross-pollinated. The volunteers that grew from those seeds held characteristics that varied from bright orange crookneck shapes to elongated pumpkins, some smooth and others with crookneck bumps. Pretty funny looking!

Looking forward to making some pretty interesting Jack-o-lanterns with these guys!




The day of the eclipse. The best view—achieved when JD held up the colander, but even through their fingers and through the trees, the crescent of the eclipsing moon over the sun could be seen!


Pretty cool, huh?


We have some of the most interesting clouds up here! Here are two examples.


Well, that’s the ‘haps’ around here–or at least some of them! 🙂

I hope your harvest time brought much to fruition and that love will  fill your hearts and lives and light the way through the coming months as we head into the dark time of the year!  OXOXOXOXO from all of us at the homestead!




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After nearly five years of research, story creation, writing, feedback, rewriting, editing, feedback and re-editing, WHOSE TIME HAS COME is finally ready to meet the world! I think it is a wonderful and magical story! Give it a try!


From the book cover:

In ‘Whose Time Has Come’, Ellys Phox steps beyond the contemporary real-life dramas of her previous two novels: ‘The Performance’ and ‘In the Mean Time’, into the realm of the magical.


The story: Barely more than a child herself, Maggie McLaren becomes the reluctant guardian of the young Lord of Hawksley Manor. Not only is Emerson Hawksley brilliant far beyond his years, he carries an ancient secret that blurs the boundaries of time and reason.


On her own in England, Maggie finds an ally in Hannah, the boyishly handsome chauffeur of the manor. Though Maggie welcomes the reassuring presence of this self-confident and savvy young woman, she is unsettled by just how fascinated, even smitten, she finds herself.


With a child touched by magic and mystery, pursued by betrayal and treachery, the pragmatic Maggie must protect Emerson, while finding her way to the truth–even when the truth falls outside the realm of the rational.


On a loom of present day veracity, Ms. Phox weaves together familiar folklore with interpretive mythos to create a compelling tapestry of revelation and insight into one of the most mysterious and written about figures ever conceived: Merlin, the one whose time has come.

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#23 Spring has Sprung–and Then Some!

Everything has burst out with the warmer weather and all the rain we’ve had this winter and spring! Coming home through Squaw Hollow, is such a pleasure! We love this view across from our mailbox and our front yard has its own beauty!

Fun news! We finally got chickens!! After hearing about how quickly chickens disappear around this area, due to predators, JD and I created a chicken fortress, with pen attached to the coop we built last year.

Once complete, Kim researched the breeds so we could decide which ones we wanted. Happily, a place locally called the Chicken Palace, had the ones we wanted and we picked out four juvenile hens. After much cogitation, we decided to name them after the Golden Girls.

The Marans (black with white) is Sophia and will lay chocolate brown eggs. Rose is a Wyandotte (black with brown) and though currently she is the smallest, she is the bravest. She will lay light brown eggs.

Blanch is a beautiful white and black Brahma and she will lay large brown eggs. The Easter Egger (light brown with a gray head and fluffy ‘muffs’) is Dorothy and she will lay blue and/or green eggs. 

They really are quite fun and we all enjoy them. Lynnie says she enjoys just sitting by their pen and watching them or talking to them as she works in the garden! And since the chicken pen is inside the garden fencing, she has lots of opportunity to do so. Lynell has worked very hard on the garden and it is looking lush and lovely! We have tomatoes plants, cucumbers, squash, beans, beets, pumpkins, peppers, corn –as well as the ‘ladies’.

The first sighting of a snake on the homestead was exciting and, to varying degrees, frightening. Kim ID’d it as a gopher snake, but Joe and Lynnie thought it might be a rattler…Yikes!

Kim was right (thankfully!) Even though the markings are similar and gopher snakes strike and shake their tails, they are imposters. Rattlers have shorter stockier bodies, wide triangular heads and rattles on the shaking tail! It was a 4/5 feet long gopher snake and very feisty! They are harmless and in fact tend to keep rattlesnakes away! JD plucked the snake off the gate (Joe was afraid of it and ready to behead it, but we wouldn’t let him!) and put it in their backyard.

JD and I continue to work on cleaning out what we call the poo barn. It was NEVER mucked out by the former owners, I am quite certain! We finally got enough of the goat poo out, which as you can see, is about two and a half feet high, to put a ladder up and look into the upper ‘hay loft’.

JD reported about two inches of dust on the floor and dirty spider webs, not unlike the lower portion.

We are hoping to clean it all up (once the poo is shoveled out), repaint and put siding up and turn the loft into a ‘bunkhouse’ space.

The downside of all the rain and sunshine is an invasion of sticker-burrs and foxtails! Though Joe tries to keep them cut down, they persevere!! Raleigh dog just had to have surgery to have a foxtail removed from his foot!


Well, that about does it for ‘what’s new on the homestead’!

Thanks for reading. Leave us a comment or two!


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#22 Better Late Then Never!

OMG! It has been so very long since we have posted here! Let me give you a brief update.

This has been a very long, and very dark, and very sad winter!

1. Our precious Homestead member and Kim’s mother, Robin, passed away in the late Fall. She had not been well and had decided to move to a cooler-in-the-summer and warmer-in-the-winter environs. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, she was suffering from a brain disease and succumbed shortly after her move. It was shocking for all of us, but of course, most painful for Kim and her family. We all miss her sweet spirit and kind heart!

2. The election results left us all wondering how a nation that fancies itself Christian, could elect this truly evil man… Since when did the Bible support bigotry, misogyny, sexual assault, greed and ‘alternative truths’? I am disgusted by these ‘so-called’ Christians who voted for him, continue to support him, even defend him and his deplorable behavior and executive actions.

I do know what Jesus would say: “Depart from me! I never knew you! For I was hungry and you defunded ‘Meals on Wheels’ and slashed food stamps for the poor. I was thirsty and you defunded ‘WIC’, denying me the milk I need to feed my baby and slashed the Environmental Protection Agency who makes sure I get safe, clean water. I was a stranger and you banned my admittance, and broke up my family by deporting my mother, and refused to protect me from sex trafficking. I was naked and joked about grabbing my pussy or you criticized me for exposing too much skin—and said I was ‘asking to be raped’ and it was a blessing if I got pregnant, but if I got an abortion, I should be punished. I was sick and you mocked my disability, took away my health insurance and denied me medical procedures I could not afford. I was in prison and you privatized them and forced me into near slave labor so you could make a profit off my misfortune, rather than show me a better way.”

Please, please let’s all work to shift the power in the 2018 midterm elections!

3.These dark days have had weather to match!! Perhaps the skies are crying with all of us! I truly empathize with those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder! It has been hard even for those of us who don’t! This winter has seen more cloudy, rainy days by far than last year! In January alone, we had 18.22 inches of rain with a total so far this year of over 56 inches. It’s a wonder we are still on the side of this hill!

AND, there have been bright parts as well:
–We have enjoyed the several snowstorms we’ve had.

The last snow was this morning! (4-8-17) Now, the sun is out! Yippee!
–The drought is officially over in California! HooRay!
–When the sun has come out, rainbows have abounded!
–We are all relatively healthy as are our collective five dogs and three cats.
–We are excited about getting the garden ready for spring planting.
–We are soooo grateful for Joe, our dude who keeps the weeds down!
–Looking forward to new growth, expansion, and exploration this spring!         –We enjoyed some great visits from Julie and Stephany, Sandra, Brooke, Matt and darling June, Jenny, Elise and Rebeccah, Revital, Ivy and Pink, Reba, Gabe, Micheal, and Naomi. Art projects, walks, poker games, photo shows, good fun and good conversations! Thanks to all of you for bringing some brightness into the season!

(I just realized I am over-using exclamation marks!! Oh, well! It has been that kind of winter!)

After the debacle of the election, I wrote the following poem:

Up from the Ashes

We sit in the cinders and weep with the children.
The hopes we once held, are lost in the dust.
Our tears trail down our ash coated faces.
The strength deep within us covered with rust.

Our limbs are unmoving, our bellies are sickened.
Eyes, once filled with wonder, see nothing today.
Where singing once filled us with anticipation,
Our voices, now silent, have nothing to say.

We sit in the ashes and wonder what’s coming,
Despairing, disheartened , unable to pray.
We circle each other with arms that are aching
And find in that comfort the courage to stay.

And up from the ashes a spark starts to glowing.
We fashion our Phoenix and breathe life anew.
With wings of fresh vision the struggle before us
Is something, we now know, we surely can do.

We mount to the sky on the winds of intention
Held fast by our purpose, compassion, and soul.
Together, as one, we strengthen each other.
Up out of these ashes we march toward our goal.

I stand alongside you, my heart filled with knowing.
This battle, though trying, will one day be ours.
The love that runs through us is what we are growing.
It’s what our world needs in these difficult hours.

Blessed be and so it is!
~SD Saxon

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#21 Mabon: The Primary Harvest at the Fall Equinox

As the seasonal wheel turns, the sun sinks behind the gold-country hills earlier and earlier each evening and the days are (finally) growing cooler and shorter.

The fall equinox is a time when day and night, light and dark are of equal length. From now, on until the winter solstice, the nights will continue to grow longer and colder.


We honor the bounty of the earth at this time of primary harvest. We rest in this moment of balance, taking stock of the things we, too, have brought to fruition—our own personal harvest.

Standing in the doorway of the Dark Time, we need not be afraid. We gather our resources, let go any hindrances, and ready ourselves for the dark, quiet time of introspection. Blessed Be!

We had a lovely celebration this year!

A few wonderful woman of the earth joined us. Thank you, Julie, Debra, Stephanie, Sandra for making our Mabon celebration such a special time!! Drinking in the light was awesome!




Our celebratory meal was a hearty vegetable and chicken stew, which included: two kinds of tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, eggplant, purple cabbage, chard and two kinds of corn, all from our garden! With added onions and garlic, it was delicious! The crusty bread and real butter…well, you get the picture! Yum!

On Sunday, those who could stay over made beautiful collages on chinette plates, depicting the balance of the light and dark. So fun!










Other Harvest News and Views


The sunflowers are so beautiful! Aren’t the geometric designs amazing?!

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More of the harvest! Pumpkins and butternut squash with more to come in the final harvest at Samhain.

thumbnail_img_20160923_161504aJust hung a couple of my masks at a lovely little place in Placerville called H.Art Lounge. It’s a wine and beer lounge that focuses on art and music and healing. They hang local art and encourage all art forms. Very cool!


This guy is in the box…







I will be doing women’s groups there starting in October. Should be great fun! Group Title: ‘Nurturing the Creative, Growing the Self’

Check out their site:



Update on our rescued Great Pyrenees guardian dog: She is happy and healthy and beautiful! We love her and she takes good care of all of us!





Well that’s it for this time.  Bee happy and content! 

With love, the Lofty View Homestead Crew!


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#20 The Garden is CRAZY!! and other news!

I know it’s been a while, but wow, we have been busy—mostly with the garden! Remember how it started? garden

Well, it has been changing! As you might expect, the radishes were first up!

thumbnail_IMG_20160523_095237535_HDR …and were the first fruits of the garden.thumbnail_IMG_20160612_175537222 It has really gotten over grown–even more so than this photo shows!thumbnail_IMG_20160615_122157212

The Armenian cucumbers are delicious. This one I caught in time, but often they hide so well I don’t find them till they are huge!thumbnail_IMG_20160621_105231919

JD with our first beets. We had albino, red, one I call peppermint candy and golden.Windows Live Photo Gallery Wallpaper

Beet salad with blue cheese and chives. Also made beet chips in the oven. They were labor intensive, but yummy!thumbnail_IMG_20160626_191607299 …and rainbow carrots! thumbnail_IMG_20160720_142424065

Here’s a vegi stir fry with yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, sting beans, banana peppers, chives and basal. All from our garden! thumbnail_IMG_20160712_182931847_TOP

The pumpkin blossoms are so gorgeous and there are lots of tiny, baby pumpkins that will be ready in October! thumbnail_IMG_20160715_094005380

The sunflowers are bigger than I have ever grown!! The fence is an eight/nine foot deer fence and the tall one is about 5/6 feet above it! thumbnail_IMG_20160724_094111294_TOP thumbnail_IMG_20160724_094259520_HDRthumbnail_IMG_20160725_152003 The bees love them, too! thumbnail_IMG_20160724_100151

Look at how amazingly intricate this dragonfly’s wings are! thumbnail_IMG_20160723_104152 thumbnail_IMG_20160723_104858  Nature is so beautiful and available here, so precious and so fragile. It cannot be taken for granted for a moment!

Several weeks ago, we got a serious scare! A wild fire broke out across the river from us. It was about 3 miles away, but when they get going, these fires can move quickly! The El Dorado fire folk did a great job, dousing it with water buckets brought by helicopters and fire retardant dropped from tanker planes. It would have been quite exciting if I hadn’t been so scared!! By end of day it was out!  thumbnail_IMG_20160603_125954685

Now, we can relax! I’m in the sky chair. (Those are my boots) and Lynnie’s in the hammock. thumbnail_IMG_20160616_165948196

…and enjoy the magnificent evening sky! thumbnail_IMG_20160709_202519972_HDR thumbnail_IMG_20160525_201530723_HDR

Until next time!



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#19 Homestead Photo Update: News and Review

This year, our Ostara celebration was filled with family and friends. We used onionskins and leaves and flowers to decorate eggs, had a bonfire and letting go ritual, and lots of great food! Oh. And karaoke. Lovely!

This year, our Ostara celebration was filled with family and friends. We used onionskins and leaves and flowers to decorate eggs, had a bonfire and letting go ritual, and lots of great food! Oh. And karaoke. Lovely!


Did I mention the previous owners had 200 goats and I don’t think they EVER mucked out the barns? The upper barn had three feet of goat poo in it. Gradually we are getting it shoveled out!


Came out of our favorite restaurant, BONES the other night to this! I have never seen a more magnificent double rainbow at sunset! Made it look on fire!


This is a giant pasture puffball. Looks like an alien seed to me! The larger of the two is about 5-6 inches across.


We discovered this wonderful Indian grinding stone right alone the dirt road near our property.


Went for a walk up our road and took photos of 26 different wild flowers. Including the diagnoses lantern (pictured), purple brodea (sp), owls clover, butter cup, lupine, and the red one here that I don’t know the name of…



Our garden is taking shape! The radishes and bush beans are showing as well as our first sunflower.


Another burn day on the homestead!


New member of the homestead: One Sunday night during a thunder and lightning storm, a dog followed our kids car up our country road. She was thin and disheveled, with heavily matted, filthy fur. She was shaking and agitated. She wore a shock collar and her tags said her name was Zelda. Long story short and after much negotiation, we have a new dog. Here she is after a vet visit and a day at the doggie Spa!


Sunset after the storm. So very beautiful! We so love it here! …till next time! OXOXOXOXO


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#18 Ready-Made Hiking

It’s impossible for me to take a casual stroll on this property. I just wanted to take a look at the stream and see how our on and off rain is working out. It’s shockingly easy to navigate our VERY steep, wooded plot of land because it’s practically a highway network of animal trails. The problem is that the trails are so extensive that it’s easy to get lost. It’s not a huge property so it’s not like I’m in some kind of danger but more than once I’ve tried to get back to a certain location and found myself somewhere ENTIRELY new. It’s lovely and warm right now, the ground has already sucked up the massive but brief rain we got.

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#17 What’s Up on the Homestead?

Though our February has been fairly mild, January was quite stormy and frigid (see photos below). Total rainfall in January (per our official rain gage) amounted to 7.25 inches. The creek that runs through the ranch down from us, on Hanks exchange, turned into a raging mini-river and the culvert on our road had to be repaired.6b89db95-69e7-4d2c-8d79-55b75b067df7

All the rain keeps the homestead a beautiful emerald green, but of course, that means, come summer, a lot of weed whacking will be needed. You all feel free to come on by and we’ll put you to work! ( Morgan remembers doing that at the cabin, right, Mo?) What with the weed eaters we had, plus a couple from the cabin and the three or four left here by the previous owners, we have plenty of tools! Lynnie has already had to weed eat the garden area twice, just to work on getting it ready for spring planting, which is just around the corner.FullSizeRendera

JD and I have been working at building steps and paths, etc. to make more of the garden useable. Exhausting, but fun!garden

We have had several more burn days–working at clearing the down and dead ‘tinder’ (dry branches and leaves)–to make the property safer from wild fire. This is an ongoing task.

The homestead’s latest work tool is a UTV named Green. (Pictures to follow) It’s a wonderful little vehicle that allows us to access much more of the property, move heavy stuff from place to place and winch branches to the burn areas.

Lynnie finally broke down and got a bigger hummingbird feeder. She was needing to refill this small one about every 8-10 hours! The new one lasts for nearly two days! We have often had as many as ten birds feeding at once.IMG_2250

The grain, bird feeder has been discovered by the turkeys. IMG_2459The other day several flew up onto the back deck and took over!!

Frightened all the goldfinches and chickadees away!

We are so loving the Homestead—having the kids here, having the property to enjoy together, the friendly community and great restaurants to explore! We comment to each other, nearly every day, how grateful we are for it all.

P.S. The photos below are from a series taken after a freezing rain and strong wind left these amazing designs on the sunroom windows! Magical! No? (Click on them to view them bigger.)

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#16 Wundering What’s Going On

As we’ve settled in, we’ve expanded our To Do/Chore list. Well, in fact, it mushroomed into multiple lists, here there and everywhere. As we pondered posting an Excel spreadsheet on Google Docs and sharing it with everyone, I thought, there must be a better way. After I told Ellys what I was thinking, she quickly found an app to manage our task of managing tasks.

Wunderlist came to the top of her search and after a quick review of their website, we thought maybe their free version of the app would work for us.



Ellys and I set out to test Wunderlist. After signing up for our free accounts, we began to download the app to our various devices. Both Ellys and I are running Windows 7 laptops as our main work stations. The app downloaded and installed fine. Same for our Windows 10 laptop, iPhones and iPads. It also installed seamlessly on our Android phones.

Using the app was easy. We were able to set up lists for each category of task and share the lists with our Homesteaders. We did encounter a software glitch (?) when we tried to share the lists from our Windows 7 laptops, but did a work around using the iPhones to send out our sharing invitations. The list sharing feature worked just fine from my iPhone.

We scheduled a dinner meeting for the Homestead to discuss Wunderlist. After a delicious Elly’s dinner, I asked if everyone had installed the app. This was not a given as our WiFi runs best case at 2.5 Mbps and often especially in the evening much slower. We hope and chant for an upgraded connection soon, but I digress.

Sending invitations to the lists to each of the Homesteaders was followed by much binging and bonging of mobile devices, all Homesteaders were synchronized!!


My Wunderlist view!! I’ve even added an unshared list for my tasks, LP To Do. It works great to dash off a quick reminder especially when I’m away from my desk.

Certain features of the app are customizable by the user. The user can pick the background for their displays. Once the background is selected, it syncs across the user’s devices. The grass resonates with us and is one of the free options.

We all like the Week view. Not only can you see what you are doing, you can see what everyone else is doing. We had a minute of trouble trying to get JD’s Android phone to show it, but once we figured out where the settings were located, everyone including JD was off and running to make sure that they could see ALL the folder views.


The app lets each Homesteader set a reminder about a task. The reminder pushes out to that Homesteader’s devices. I can set a reminder for myself for the pickup dog poo chore for 10 am, a time when I like to stretch my legs and Kim can set her reminder for the task at the time she prefers.


I’m trying to work up the courage to see if our lawn tractor will start, so I’ve set a reminder for tomorrow morning.

Anyone who has ever used an app knows that not everything is perfect. One thing that bugs us in the free app is that only one person can be assigned a task. Another gnat is the sender does not see their side of the comments in the conversation thread. But a couple of minor issues aside, from the point of view of this old geek, Wunderlist is pretty darn good.



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