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Want to mail something? Our address is PO Box 1329, Laporte, CO 80535 (no mail delivery at home). No phone service at home, either :(
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Hi, I'm Sally! Great to meet you!
Sally Roth here (Sally Bartmann in private life) :) Naturalist. Horticulturist. Field botanist. Ornithologist. Which is just a fancy way of saying I'm a plant nut, a gardening nut, a bird nut, a bug nut, a nature nut. Oh, and I'm also a writer, editor, consultant, public speaker, music lover, and vicious Scrabble player :)
WISH I LIVED 100 YEARS AGO....
I've been saying that all my life. Usually followed by "Wish I lived in the middle of 100 acres...." But only to friends.
"Lifelong gardener and naturalist" is what I usually say in my bio on book covers or at speeches. And that pretty much covers it—I love being outside, more than anything.
Nowadays, I live way up in the Rockies with best friend and husband Matt, and oh my gosh, I love it!
Not a soul in sight, and endless woods to roam. We're off-grid, with a wind turbine and solar panels for electricity, and cool birds, bugs, and plants everywhere you look.
Yep, I got my wish :) Living like 100 years ago (but, as Matt reminds me, "with wifi"), in the middle of 100 acres. I know, I can't believe it either. Feel lucky every day!
I love other stuff, too, of course—playing Scrabble, listening to music, playing online (we may not have phone service, but we have satellite wifi), and road trips, and knitting in winter, and watching crazy golf games in summer. And visiting with friends. And learning. And laughing.
And, just so you can't say you weren't warned (sorry, probably should've mentioned this right away), I'm also pretty much a nut. Love to have fun.
Oh yeah, and in order to cover that birdseed bill and other sundries, I share what I love by writing about it (here're the books I've written). Uh oh, could those guidance counselors have been right all along? ;)
Hi, I'm Matt! Great to meet you!
Matt Bartmann here :) Photographer, editor, moth nut, bug nut, all-around nature nut, and car nut. Generally can be found with camera in hand—except when I don't have it along, which is always when something cool happens by.
WHAT A LONG, STRANGE TRIP IT'S BEEN
My folks moved from the Chicago area to this small, off-grid (no electric wires, no phone wires, no water pipes—you get the idea) canyon when I was just over a year old. Into a tent on a 3-acre property they found.
I was too young to remember those first couple years, but there was a 3 foot snow soon after we got here. I also hear stories of being 'rescued' by well intentioned folks who found me wandering alone by the road in my hiking boots and a diaper. Then those folks got lost. With me. Ah, such is life.
When not in school, I spent my time mostly outside. Actively involved in 4-H and raised chickens, geese, turkeys, rabbits, goats. And focused on bugs. Well, entomology. Fine. Bugs.
I've lived in this remote canyon most all of my life, with exception of later school years and my 20's when I lived and worked in town. But have always maintained a connection, and a place to go, in the mountains.
Fourteen years ago, opportunity arose to buy the property we now call home. A long time family friend, Bert, who built this house, decided it was time to sell his property, and wanted it to be in caretaking hands. He called us first. Myself, my brother, and a good friend managed to collectively scare up enough money for a down payment and bought the ~135 beautiful acres. Enough for the installation of a 18 hole golf course. (No, I'm not a golfer. Never played until I built my own course.)
We were in business at the time selling magnets online, and a focus on homebuilt wind turbines for generating electricity on the cheap for off grid homeowners. I'm no longer actively involved in that venture, but still enjoy the challenge. I also love to watch TV! Speaking of which, 'The Price is Right' comes on in 11 minutes as I type this up. One of my favorite shows as long as I can remember.
Time to go start the battery charger (yeah, that wind turbine is currently down for repair) and check for whatever interesting bugs might be out there. Never know. Old habits die hard.
Seems perfectly normal to me, too!
THE STORY OF US
(A zucchini? Yep, a zucchini!)
First date? A spur-of-the-moment road trip to the Oregon coast, 1000 miles away. Three days after we met in person.
P.S. We didn't call it a date then, because we were just friends. But now, looking back, well, okay, it was our first date.
Oh man, where to start. Okay, how 'bout the beginning... ...which was the Giant Utopian Zucchini auction on eBay, a little something I dreamt up to raise money to help fix the town clock in little New Harmony, IN, where I was living then.
Matt loves clocks and had a giant zucchini of his own out in the patch, so when he heard a short report on NPR, he emailed me via eBay.
He was in Colorado, perched way up in the Rockies. I was in the flatlands of southern IN, hoping to sell my house and move to the OR coast.
Once we started talking, we never quit. Freakin' birds of a feather, so similar it was scary. What we loved best. How we looked at the world. Musical tastes (Vivaldi, Paul Simon, the Dead, Emmylou, Bach, yep). What we liked aesthetically ("I have lots of pics of waterdrops" "Uh, me too").
And the one that really threw me... even had the same forks. (No, not a common style; an old one that costs $11 apiece if you were to buy them from a silver replacement service. Which neither of us did. We have them because they just "feel right" in the hand. And are simple and pretty.)
Oh—we do disagree on a few things. I love eating mushrooms; he hates 'em.
I forget the other thing... Oh right, bad 80s music. Yep. Sorry, Matt—it stinks ;)
"Just couldn't find the right forks, and then got the perfect ones as a gift," sez I in an email, with photo (LEFT), before we met in person, in a discussion about how picky I am about aesthetics. Matt responded with a photo of one of his own forks, RIGHT.
So eventually I came out to visit. And we had just as much fun in person.
Now we share Matt's great place here in the "inhospitable wasteland" (that's a joke; it's actually incredibly cool, just kinda rough on a gardener), and dream up our own projects.
And we collaborate on all sorts of other ideas, too. "My" book, An Eye on the Sparrow, is really our book—we lived and breathed it for a whole winter, coming up with ideas, digging into the research, talking talking talking.
Can't tell you how much fun it was to have somebody to share a project with! We're already thinking about the next one... which is almost ready for you :)
Yeah, we never know what the day will bring. But whatever it is, it's gonna be fun.
And spur of the moment. "Let's play it by ear" is our favorite saying, with each other or whenever someone wants to pin us down to a date, even for social stuff.
And "Oh boy!" Which we say a lot.
And after two years of being best friends, we got married, in September 2012 :)
Made our own wedding rings from tines of those very same forks.
That's Matt, above, in the red Buckhorn Canyon sweatshirt, bending our rings to get 'em just the right size. And that's us, exchanging rings on our big day.
And here's home base. So tucked into the mountains, you can't even find it on Google Earth. Love it! Note satellite dish on roof for wifi :) And no, it didn't take me long to get gardens going. This is a pic from my first year here—now it's flowers, flowers, flowers on three sides of the house... and still expanding lol.
A pleasure to meet you!