Nature Friday ~ May 24, 2019

FlowersWelcome to another edition of Nature Friday where we visit our ‘fur-iends’ Rosy and her brothers from The LLB Gang. We’re finally greeting with gorgeous blue skies this morning which should last for at least for the next couple of days. It’s still chilly (in the 30’s at this writing) but should warm up nicely (until the next round of cooler weather returns).

Poppies

Despite the chilly weather and snow this week, the number of blooming plants we encountered during our daily walks and in our garden have been surprising. The many lupines, irises and peonies in my garden seem to have taken the snow with a grain of salt and are either blooming or will, in spite of what nature threw at them this week. Take the Oriental poppies for instance. The colorful, herbaceous plant of the Papaveraceae family, poppies are very easy to grow and come in shades of white, yellow, pink, orange and red. Red poppies have been used as the symbol of remembrance since the trench warfare in the Flanders, Belgium poppy fields of World War I.

California poppy
Photo courtesy of Planet Natural Research Center

This year, as any West Coast  resident can likely attest, the California poppy bloom has been spectacular due to all they rain they have received. California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), with their fern-like foliage and lively orange, red and yellow flowers are very drought-tolerant plants that are self-seeding and offers long-lasting blooms that provide reliable, easily maintained plants especially with extra moisture and goodness knows, there’s been plenty of that to go around this year. Last year a couple  magically appeared and quickly multiplied around the garden. Though mine haven’t bloomed yet, they will burst onto the scene soon once the weather warms up. Guess I need to do more thinning this weekend if this spot is any indication of their self-seeding abilities. That spot used to be bare but is now filled in with new lupines, sage and California poppies. Guess the Mile High can be jungle-like given enough prolific seeders and some moisture.

Poppies

Having been cooped up and shivering all week long, I plan to get out and check out what Mother Nature has  been up to after this week’s storm. Do you have any plans that will get you out to enjoy some of the beauty Mother Nature’s willing to share? Hope your weekend is full of beauty and fun.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 20, 2019

Hey guys, let’s start the week out with a smile. Do you allow your dogs on the furniture?

Sleeping dogs

Wishing you a week full of smiles. Now that Sam is back to being his normal self, he’ll be making some hospital calls over the next few days and spreading smiles over at hospice and West Pines so we might be a bit tardy reading your posts and comments.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 17, 2019

Yay, it’s finally Friday and we couldn’t be happier putting this week in the history books. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little nature, right? Even though we are in the heart of the city, there are lots of spaces where one can get away from the constant noise and hubbub. While out running around doing errands this week I came across this mini-stream between a couple of parking lots. It enchanted me enough that I climbed down the bank and just stood there for a few moments taking it all in before resuming the challenging battle against returning to the hamster wheel known as urban life. Sadly, I scared away some bathing birds who undoubtedly thought I was trespassing, if their squawking was any indication.

City Stream

Once home, I realized the woodruff in my garden is beginning to green up and bloom. Apparently a little Ladybug also discovered it and was busily noshing for aphids or the other little crawly things they enjoy. It gave me another opportunity just to quietly watch and relax while nature did its thing.

During this morning’s walk-about, I noticed one of the neighbors has replaced their turf grass into a carpet of tiny purple flowered groundcover. It won’t need mowing and I don’t ever recall these flowers being quite as prolific and lovely as they are this year. Guess last week’s snow and rain encouraged an enhanced bloom now that the temps have moved back into the 80’sF. The spring temperatures have been so fickle this year; one week in the 30’sF and a few days later up into the 80’sF. Springtime in the Rockies is never dull.

Sam & Elsa

Sam continues to feel better; thank you for all the sweet thoughts and POTP. It’s made quite the difference in bringing back the Knucklehead’s smile.

Nature FridayHave a wonderful weekend and don’t forget to visit Rosy and her brothers and all the other ‘pawticipants’ in this week’s Nature Friday Blog Hop.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

We’re Back Wednesday

Sam & ElsaWe’ve been MIA now for a week but are finally getting back to our normally scheduled programing. Sam came down with a nasty bug and also seemed to have injured his back. He’s been treated with lots of rest and antibiotics and more than his fair share of ear rubs and attention while he recovers. While not quite 100%, he has vastly improved and is s.l.o.w.l.y returning to true knuckleheaded form. I just need to get his appetite back from ‘meh, not at all interested’ to somewhere close to normal (for Sam that will probably be somewhere in the vicinity of ‘well, it’s not prime rib but I’ll try to choke it down’ category). He’s always been fairly picky discriminating but when he’s under the weather, even more so. In his old age, Little Lord Fauntleroy has become downright difficult to please palate-wise. He seems to think hand feeding 5-star restaurant quality food is the norm and clinging to me with absolutely not a speck of space between us must rule the day.

Naturally Elsa has had her nose out of joint since she wasn’t the sole focus on the ‘Ranch’ universe.  I’ve had work through the canine healthcare system getting her meds this week which will no doubt likely result in a rant new post. I’m beginning to think the universe is conspiring to make things more challenging.

But we are back in the saddle and trying our dog-most to slog through the obstacle course otherwise known as life. Coming across a few late blooming pretty tulips seemed like a good sign that better days are ahead. I’m beginning to think we are on the high hurdle course lately but are grateful we still seem to be able to clear those jumps. Adding to the mix, the weather went from snow last Thursday to mid-80’s F this week. I just love Springtime in the Rockies, especially with these two Knuckleheads.

So…have we missed any exciting happenings? What’s new with you?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 6, 2019

Apparently someone isn’t quite ready to tackle the new week. How about you?

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 3, 2019

Welcome to a new month and a new Friday. That of course means it’s time to join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of Nature Friday Blog Hop. This week I am joined by an assistant to show off how fickle Mother nature can be with some photos from a training session with none other than…the Ninja.

Mother Nature dealt quite a hand this week with snow, rain and cold but things are now headed back toward lovely spring-like conditions. Elsa  ‘offered’ her modeling talents before Mother Nature began dating Ole Man Winter again (are Ninjas really capable of offering?). Most of the week temperatures rarely left the 30’s F and barely reached the 40’s yesterday. I keep hoping Mother Nature will leave that Winter guy.

Before showcasing the return of spring, let’s see what the jerk boyfriend looked like. You remember him. The one who Mother Nature can’t seem to stop from stringing along periodically. Even with the snow storm that blew through, the grape hyacinths didn’t seem to mind him nearly as much as us peeps did. They are gloriously colorful, once they shook off Old Man Winter’s dandruff. Even the late-blooming tulips in my yard managed to survive with nary a problem.

Winter

Tulips

Elsa and I went out to run a few errands and like always, we used the outing as a training opportunity. Elsa is eager to please and performs the sit/stay command like a champ. Even with distractions, she was nearly flawless. Good girl.

Spring

She actually looked directly into the camera a couple of times although her usual MO is to look away. I think a certain brother told her that’s the way to offer her modeling talents. She frequently follows his instructions but one in a while, she’ll give you some magic.

Elsa

Elsa

While I try not to overwhelm her on these training sessions, I do change-up the length of time I ask her to stay and, at different places. This girl is far too smart and needs the challenges they offer. She performed flawlessly along on a street we’d never been down with loads of interesting smells to distract her, yet she managed to nail it perfectly.

Elsa

Teaching a dog like Elsa to focus on a hilly location with lots of undergrowth while trying to keep my balance and not poke out an eye with a branch, keep her in a stay position all the while trying to highlight a flowering apple tree, can prove interesting and required a couple of tries. I’m sure a rabbit had hung out in the undergrowth which if you know anything about dogs with a high prey drive can sabotage any training session. The photo itself isn’t anything to write home about nature-wise, but the fact that she managed to sit without breaking the stay seemed like a big deal in my books. Her progress with learning new things continues to improve and provides confidence. I can’t help but wonder if ‘Ninja swagger’ with Elsa will be a good thing or my downfall.

Elsa

For the most part, the tulips are beginning to wane (except for those in my yard-yay) but we did manage to visit this garden with some pretty pink ones still. Last year they were amazingly beautiful, this year, the beds hadn’t been cleaned up so they’re not quite as lovely, but still managed to coordinate with Elsa’s bandana, proving once again that Mother Nature will sometimes still work with you.

This weekend is shaping up to be warm and sunny which will be most welcome in the 303. Elsa and I hope you are able to get out and enjoy it. Sam indicated he plans to laze about in the sun as he contemplates the complexities of life. Happy weekend, peeps and pets!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ May Day Edition

May Day
Photography: Johnny Fogg (from Martha Stewart)

Wishing you joy this May Day.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

April Reflections ~ 2019

Hard to believe this is the last day of April and I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some watershed moments that happen in April. Seventeen years ago I moved into my current home on April 26th. I purposely picked this neighborhood for its close proximity to downtown where I worked plus the fact it was a long-established neighborhood in the city. I loved the community feel that has been woven into my very soul. Safe to say, I am deeply connected here with the location and its inhabitants.

April is also the month when I first began publishing this blog some five years ago, although WordPress counts March as the birth month which is technically correct, yet the first post didn’t publish until the end of April when I finally took a deep breath and pushed the ‘publish’ button. What a terrifying moment that was and life hasn’t been quite the same since ever since.

Posing Sam

Twelve years ago this month I began the process of adopting a certain (sub)Standard Poodle who was being rehomed, though he became a member of the Ranch household the first week in May. Who’d have known at that time what a fortuitous adoption that would be and resulted in us embarking upon a pet therapy odyssey a few years later after it was very clear he was a very special dog. Six years ago this month, Sam and I began volunteering at the hospital. I wanted a way to share our pet therapy moments since it was clear my first blogging idea of sharing home design/DIY had no chance to launch due to lack of abilities on that front. Luckily Sam does all the work and I just drive him to the hospital, I knew I could document this Knucklehead’s ability to connect with people. It’s been a ‘pawsome’ collaboration ever since. We’ve had many highs and known a few lows but it has been one of the most rewarding journeys ever. Sam is now two visits shy of making 200 visits brightening the lives of patients, staff and visitors. We expect to continue as long as possible but at 13 1/2 years old, I hold no illusions. My baby is slowing down and while he still loves the adventure, visiting sick people wears him out too much. We may look into a reader program or a senior living situation but for now, things are full speed ahead with hospital pet therapy.

I would be remiss not to mention how much we value your part in this journey. I swear you guys are some of the smartest, funniest, kindest people I’ve ever known. Your clever posts and comments have made me laugh and in some cases cry. Your ability to convey deeply personal experiences inspires and moves me to do better, write better and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

AnniversaryOver the weekend, my family celebrated my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Yes, 70. freaking. years! All the siblings and their spouses  enjoyed a lovely celebratory get-together. Just thinking about the smiles across my parents’ faces as they looked around and saw their children, a couple of grandchildren and a great-grand and a half (one niece is expecting any day now) was beyond heartwarming. Congrats Mom and Dad!

Last week was a difficult week for both me and Sam with a number of personal loses. Two of our pet therapy dogs passed away, which is always sad, but particularly one…Truffles, a big chocolate Newfie who was especially beloved by Sam, will be felt for a long time. A dear friend who was a mere 42 years of age was laid to rest. A kinder, gentler, more generous human you’d be hard-pressed to find. Tony brought joy to all who knew him and while his physical body is not with us, his spirit will live on within each of us. Sam adored Tony and my one regret was not being able to bring Sam to his bedside at the end. I know his tail would have wagged furiously and no doubt he’d have hogged Tony’s bed while Tony happily provided plenty of ear rubs.

We visited an even younger woman at hospice last week. Probably in her 30’s, Shauna was conscious enough and very insistent on visiting with Sam. The pain on her face as she readjusted herself to be able to pet him told me how important his visit was for her. Her best friend (and visibly pregnant) since the 7th grade was with her in her final moments, a true friend right to the end. While visiting with them, I noticed a large tattoo on Shauna’s forearm. It read, “The girl who lived life” and it told me about the core of this brave woman. As her body was failing her, I knew she had made a special mark with her passion and spirit much like my friend Tony did. Recalling both of them her, more tears stream down my face. I know both are free of earthly bonds, no longer held hostage by unbearable pain but they will remain in the hearts of those who cared about them. They may no longer be with us physically, but will always guide us toward our own final path. I only hope I have as much grace and dignity as they both did.

So yeah, April is a big deal around the Ranch. I look upon it and celebrate the accomplishments, the anniversaries and share the losses because they all add up to a community I cherish and which allows me to share it with you. I plan to explore more reflections on the death and dying aspect of life in the future but for now thank you for coming along with me.

Live, love, bark! 🐾