Nature Friday ~ August 14, 2020

Greetings nature lovers. Welcome to Nature Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy, Sunny & their brothers for this week’s edition. Nature appears to be pretty upset judging by the numerous wildfires that have popped up around the state. The most concerning one is near Glenwood Springs where my brother and SIL just moved into their newly built home. Known as the Grizzly Creek Fire, it doubled in size overnight and now has consumed nearly 15,000 acres. I-70 has been closed in both directions and it is unknown when it will reopen. The fire began August 10th, is zero contained and some residents have been advised to be prepared to evacuate. The cause of the fire is undetermined but there are some suspicions it may have been human caused. This view was taken of the smoke and flames just south of the Colorado River on August 11, 2020. It gives you an idea of the roughed terrain in the area. That guard rail in the foreground is I-70.

Fires
Photo Source: InciWeb-Incident Information System
Fires
Map of the Grizzly Creek Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 12:47 a.m. MDT August 13, 2020. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. Source: Wildfire Today /USFS /NASA

Another larger fire, the Pine Gulch Fire is located 18 miles north of Grand Junction, has now consumed over 70,000 acres as of this morning. Started two weeks ago and attributed to a lightning strike, the Pine Gulch fire is burning in remote, rough terrain of pinyon, juniper, oak, and sagebrush.  It is now the 5th largest in the state’s history. Hot, dry and windy conditions have forced three days of red flag air quality warnings with temperatures soaring into the 90s and windy conditions, with gusts up to 27 mph.

Fires
Source: Denver Channel 7, KMGH

The smoke from these fires has reached Denver making for blazing sunrises and sunsets as well as unhealthy air quality alerts. This eery image was taken a couple of evenings ago from the front garden.

Fires

The Cameron Peak Fire fire near Chambers Lake, also popped up yesterday afternoon in Larimer County, 18 miles northwest of Fort Collins, and has grown to over 1500 acres in a matter of just four hours. Evacuations have been ordered. Fire season is always challenging in a state with high mountain valleys, canyons and wide open vistas but with the state suffering from a widespread severe and statewide drought, nature has us back on our heels right now.

While Mother Nature can provide us with all manner of beauty, she can get cranky real quick. It’s wise to act consciously whenever your path crosses with nature. Obey campfire bans and for heaven’s sake, please don’t throw your cigarette butts out the window when you’re driving. While we encourage everyone to enjoy Mother Nature, please be careful. And pray for those who are fighting these wildfires and all those who are personally displaced and affected by them. Stay safe.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wish I Were There Wednesday ~ August 12, 2020

Sunset

Ahhh, I feel relaxed just looking at this photo from my last trip to Mexico. It may be too early, but I’m thinking there’s a margarita with my name on it later this evening. Happy mid-week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 7, 2020

Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday. Ranch hands Elsa and Norman are here to share some of the urban nature we encountered this week. First though, we begin with our usual “broken record” lament: it’s been hot, hot, hot. Again/still. The good news for anyone else totally over it only forty-five days until the official arrival of autumn. You can bet we’re keeping our eye on the calendar. But enough of our whining, let’s join our weekly hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on their link, to see what they and others around Blogville shared. So let’s get started, alrighty?

Norman & Elsa

In addition to several bunny sightings, we’ve been seeing one especially pretty  plant on our morning walks; Evening Primrose (Oenothera fruticosa). This one looks beautiful mixed in with some orange penstemon. As the day warms up, the blooms close so it’s  best to check them out in the early mornings when the sun isn’t too intense. There must be something extra fascinating about this one because that barmy brother of mine sure likes to check it out. Mom won’t let him sniff too closely or for too long since there’s a rule of no peeing on flowers while on our walks.

Flowers

Another favorite mom likes to walk past is this Angelonia angustifolia. Often called Narrowleaf Angelon or Summer Snapdragon, it’s a colorful plant she can see as soon as we turn down this street. Native to Mexico and the West Indies, it comes in colors of deep mauve to violet, white, blue, light pink or bicolored. It’s typically known as a perennial in Zones 9-11. Since the Ranch is in Zone 5, it must be similar to its cousin, the common snapdragon since it reseeds itself every year. It’s quite drought tolerant, a good thing for our area which hasn’t seen rain in oh, let’s see…forever. Mom thinks we’ll may see snow before we see any rain.

Flowers

You may recall when Norman showed off the volunteer tomato plant in our garden a few weeks back (click here for that story). Mom noticed a red spot this morning and took a quick pic (she was trying to avoid getting sprayed by the sprinkler). It’s pretty exciting to see lots of little flowers and tiny tomatoes all over it but to see the first one turning red just blows mom’s mind. Hate to break it to her that it’s going to be the world’s tiniest salad since these are cherry tomatoes but she’s still pretty excited.

Tomato

Every day we walk past a cute little cottage garden and notice this piece of garden art out front. Doesn’t it seem rather appropo with the way things are trending these days? Comedy and drama.

Masks

We hope you have a wonderful weekend and are able to experience some of the beauty nature provides. We’re enjoying the return of our favorite sport. While it’s weird to be watching hockey in August, we couldn’t be more thrilled with its arrival. The league and its players have been über diligent playing in their bubble with no positive cases of coronavirus (with much thanks to our Canadian hosts for providing two safe venues in Toronto and Edmonton). Let’s hope mom hasn’t jinxed her team now.

Hockey

Hockey

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday

In Purrsuit of Flavours ~ August 5, 2020

Happy August to all you cooks out there. This month’s  edition of “In Purrsuit of Flavours” is all about a “light summer dinner.” Not sure if this is a ‘light summer dinner’ or not but we’re sharing it nonetheless with our hosts, the Weim boys over at Easy Rider and the great chef cats over at Canadian Cats.

Purrsuit of FlavorsLet me start out by saying I am not a fan of cooking in the best of times, let alone when it’s summer. Eating out in summer seems preferable, yet I do enjoy baking but since (wo)man cannot live off cake alone. It seems necessity cooking becomes the mother of invention when one needs to prepare a real meal. Since temperatures around the Ranch have resembled walking into a pizza oven around here, why not share an easy to make pizza today? When in Rome, right? Besides…who isn’t a fan of a tasty pizza?

This meal is quick, easy to prepare and uses whatever ingredients you have on hand, an absolute must in my books. Since I’m a vegetarian, I use whatever veggies I have on hand (usually artichokes, olives, onions, bell peppers) but you can add your favorites including pepperoni or whatever kind of meat you like to your list of ingredients. When I don’t want to make crust from scratch (which is pretty much 100% of the time these days), I have no problem using frozen cheese premade pizzas to which I then add fresh ingredients topped with a nice handful of Parmesan over the whole kitten-caboodle. These days  you can often find cauliflower crusts for pizzas, and they can be quite tasty and more healthful than usual crust. Last night I opted to make Margarita pizza since there’s more than enough basil from the garden and I finally had a tomato I could harvest from the potted tomato bush planted this spring (“Bush Early Girl” for curious gardeners). My attempts with tomatoes have been hit and miss over the years, but this year I’ve been well rewarded. Oh. my. gosh. What a tasty treat! Coupled with a purchased Roma tomato, I sliced up these babies and laid them all over the top of the plain frozen cheese pizza. Then I snipped off leaves from a potted basil plant and laid them all over. Last but not least, fresh snack-sized  Mozzarella balls were added. Bake according the package instructions and in less than 15 minutes, voila…supper is ready!

Food

Add a frosty beverage, a tossed salad and you’ve got a nice, quick and tasty meal. A perfect way to end yet another dry, hot day. In my case, I topped the meal off with a Stanley Cup game and didn’t feel one bit guilty about not eating take out. This still being pandemic time and all and despite some folks continuing to bemoan the wearing of masks when out or not being able to nosh at their favorite jammed restaurant or bar like they did months ago, I’m quite happy to pull up a cushion on the floor, have a fur beast on either side of my lap and savor a tasty easy to make meal while savoring my favorite sport (finally!).

If you do like to cook meals, don’t forget to click on the links above to see what else is cooking around Blogville. There are some very clever cooks out there and no doubt they’ve whipped up some really terrific recipes. Now I just need to decide what kind of cake to make next. I’m thinking something chocolate will hit the spot. Sheer Bliss.

Purrsuit of Flavours

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ August 3, 2020

Norman

Oi, how long does a mate have to wear this hat before he gets a treat, mum?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 31, 2020

Welcome to the last Friday of July where we are joining our friends and hosts, Rosy, sister Sunny and her two brothers at LLB in Our Backyard. Norman here, ready to share some bits and bobs from our our neighborhood. Mum tried very hard to get me to pose alone around several pretties but I wanted nothing to do with that. I thought she was off her trolley, I tell you. What self-respecting sheepdog fannies about among the flowers?

Anyway, I did pose with the Ninja at a spot that makes an otherwise bleak corner light pole look pretty “tickety boo.” You can’t even see the well worn pole at the lower sections and those flowers seem to keep the squirrels from climbing up and barking at us. What do you think? I mean come on…those Cosmos and morning glories.

Flowers

Mum has always been fascinated with bugs. While I’m always good for a crunchy treat with legs, I’m just not sure what it is about those webby things some of them make. Mum doesn’t mind the bugs, but when she encounters their webs she starts flailing her arms around like a windmill screeching like a banshee. Whenever she turns on the water, she always uses a stick to wipe their houses away from the handle. Seems a bit harsh to me. Mums…what can I say? I mean look at those droplets clinging to the web…is that cool? Almost looks like an umbrella over some of the woodruff.

Nature

Everyday we walk past a house with a lovely garden and handsome Akita dog. This week a beautiful Asiatic Lily that has been in bloom but alas we haven’t seen Fred much lately and hope he’s just hanging out inside where it’s much cooler. We oohed and awed when we saw this lovely and couldn’t help but linger inhaling its divine scent. What a beauty [note to self, don’t rub one’s face against those orangy stamens, they stain and require lots of face washing by an overly zealous mum who demands clean faces]

Flowers

The plumbago in mum’s garden is beginning to bloom and that blue sure spiffs it up. Soon though the leaves will begin morphing into gorgeous mahogany-toned leaves just in time for autumn which mum asked me to be sure and remind everyone will arrive in the Northern Hemisphere in 52 days. Guess all you sunlovers better make hay while the sun shines, eh?

Flowers

The last thing to share is a plant mum grew from some long expired seeds a few years ago. She can’t remember what they’re called and she’s a bit surprised they returned again since Nature has been a bit cranky on the landscape with a dry, cold winter, late spring freezes and a blistering hot summer. When she saw this reappeared, she’s begun babying it so we’ll see if it continues to thrive or go roots up. Anyone know what it is? Mum thought maybe some sort of mallow but wasn’t sure but said some of you are quite clever with flower names so I thought I’d take a chance and ask.

Flowers

That’s about it from me. Mum said it won’t be quite as hot in the first week of August (egad, seriously…August?) We hope you have a great weekend and are able to enjoy some great summertime weather and fun while checking out the many wonders of nature. Pip, pip…have a good weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ July 29, 2020

Hard Rock

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 24, 2020

Nature FridayWelcome to Friday! Elsa here, ready to dish up some interesting bits of urban nature from around the Ranch. Despite yet another week of 90’s, we managed to survive the miserable heat and, as always, join our weekly hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on their link, to see what the Gang and others around Blogville have shared this week. So let’s get started, ‘kay?

Elsa
Hibiscus

On our walks, we notice lots of crawly things, even encountering some real whoppers. Mom almost stepped on this one and thought it was some kind of cicada. It was nearly 3 inches long and as she bent down to look closer, its legs started wiggling which made me think it wanted to play. A swift tug on my harness by the upright made me think I may have misjudged the situation. Us dogs tend to like windup toys like that but mom was pretty emphatic about moving along once it started moving. Whatever. I thought it was pretty fascinating to watch. Just look at those silver eyeballs!

Bug

Annuals like these vining petunias are enjoying the hot weather to which I say, they can have it. These sunny days are way too intense for a Ninja like me.

Flowers

Some of our neighbors have interesting yard art that both my dolt of a brother and I have to check out. I get the sense that this little mushroom village attracts a lot of visitors. Look how colorful these glass babies are!

Flowers

On the other side of their front walkway, they had an important message for passersby. With all the anxiety peeps are experiencing during the pandemic, we hope they heed messages like this and stop complaining about having to wear a mask.

Signs

On our return route, we encountered some colorful poppy mallow. Mom really likes their bright color and vows to plant some saying they’ll make a nice ground cover to fill in some of open spaces in our side garden and the cup shaped blooms are really pretty.

Flowers

Around the corner from the Ranch one of the neighbors always plants a few pumpkins in the strip of ground between the street and the sidewalk. We stop to check out the pollinators and see how well the pumpkins are doing. We may not have trick-or-treaters this year but I think there’ll be plenty of pumpkin treats. That buzzy thing inside the flower took a bit of offense to my closer look so we had to move along quickly.

Pumpkin

With more hot weather still in the forecast, we can’t help but be a bit excited by the countdown clock. Did you know there are just 59 days until autumn officially arrives? I know some of you groaned when you read that and others of you gave a collective sigh of relief.

Well, that’s about it for sharing photos of nature from around here. We hope you have a great weekend and take the time to see what nature readily provides us. Who knows, you may have more luck finding a windup toy laying on the sidewalk, just waiting for a playmate. Without the proverbial helicopter huMom hoovering close by to drag you away.

Lie, love, bark! 🐾