Wishful Wednesday ~ May 4, 2022

Venice, Italy
Freeloader pigeons in Bascilica de San Marco, Venice

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 8, 2022

It’s Friday where we join our pals Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for another edition of Nature Friday.

Nature continues to tease Spring’s arrival. This week she tried a different strategy. Seasonal winds are a hallmark of March but seemed to wait until April to arrive and have been buffeting the Front Range all week. Wait a minute…I thought April supposed to be the gentle, sweet month with showers for flowers. Ahem…I’m waiting Mother Nature. Oh sure, if my count was accurate, about 16 drops of moisture fell earlier this week but cold, strong winds evaporated them immediately. Sigh.

Here are this week’s images from around the neighborhood that suggest spring’s arrival. I’ll spare you the typical tulips, daffodils, or forsythia blooms. With the lack of measurable moisture they aren’t quite as picturesque as usual. I did find a few exceptions though.

One particular hyacinth caught my eye from a shady spot. It was chock-full of glorious white flowerets. No color needed here with this beauty.

Flowers

The tree canopy is just beginning to unfurl its leaves but remains at the beginning stages. Crisp temperatures no doubt are contributing to the delay but when you look closer, you see the promise of future shade. The neighborhood staple-maple trees, showed tiny incremental development despite cold mornings as they begin to leaf out (as I began this post this morning it was 30ºF with a thin layer of frost on the rooftops).

Trees

This flowering crab found along yesterday’s walk showed it was ‘thinking’ about blooming. With next week’s forecast, I hope they survive possible snow showers and continued cool temps. Having lived on a street as a kid that was lined with flowering crab trees, the sight of seeing them bloom makes them one of the prettiest of the flowering trees and brought back happy childhood memories. If you look closely you can just see hints of pink ready to burst forward.

Trees

Another early springtime beauty around here are pasque flowers. Native to meadows and prairies from North America to as far away as the UK and Norway, Pulsatilla typically blooms around Easter time. When I looked it up to learn more, I discovered it is a toxic plant and was used as a homeopathic medicine by Native Americans for centuries. Blackfoot Indians used it to induce childbirth and it has been used to treat reproductive problems (i.e. PMS and epididymitis). Those soft hairs always intrigue me. I’m a sucker for texture.

Flowers

Yesterday’s walk also provided a ground cover/shrub I’ve not noticed before. I think it might be some sort of Photinia but not positive. If you know what it is, please leave a comment. Aren’t the pink edges pretty?

Flowers

Imagine my surprise encountering this sheltered strawberry plant robustly emerging near the base of a tree!

Flowers

I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for wildlife sightings. Those efforts were rewarded yesterday as a ginger cat followed our crossing in front of its domain. The dogs totally missed him but I didn’t (truth be told, my eye had originally focused on the childlike greeting drawn on the front door wishing a Happy Easter). We may not have been as good as ‘bird TV’ but this fella was likely irritated by mesmerized by our presence or it’s a darn good guard cat.

Cat

We’ve only encountered one robin as yet but did manage to see these beauties in a front yard. I think they may be ‘permanent’ residents though.

Birds

One last pretty this week may be a hardy cyclamen of some sort. It wasn’t very tall but that color grabbed me like a stage hook, screaming “LOOK AT ME, look. at. me!”

Flowers

My eyes are always drawn to shocks of color and when you add in variegated leaves, well count me in. What draws your eye when your trying to view evidence of spring?

That’s it for another week. Spring continues to take its sweet time but it makes for opportunities to consciously hunt for it. Got any special plans for the weekend? Nothing is on our radar except to wish a dear friend a very happy birthday. You know who you are. Happy birthday, girl-we love you and hope your day is as special as you are.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ February 25, 2022

Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join our New Mexico hosts, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their blog hop. Be sure to click on the link to see what others have shared.

Hard to believe little February’s last Friday of the month is here. Where has this month gone? The cold and snow repeatedly shared over this month seems much like a listening to a record with a deep scratch, repeating the chorus over and over in the short month. But time marches forward so we continue wait for Spring’s pending arrival.

Don’t know if you guys are as tired or snow scenes as I am, but I’ve grown weary of them. Don’t misunderstand, I’m happy about the  moisture, especially since February is one of the driest months of the year here, but I need a change of ‘mise en scène.’ So for today’s post, let’s check out some critters from around the ‘Hood.

Birds

I’ve noticed traffic has picked up after a bit of melting with the congestion remaining front and center.

From a recent walk during a lull in the white stuff, a friendly nose greeted me. This big girl always comes charging toward the fence but then seems to realize, “Oh yeah, you’re that lady with the magic pocket of treats” who then turns into a tail-wagging ‘pussy cat.’

Dogs
St. Bernard

No matter what the weather is like, Sloan’s Lake Canadian Geese never seem to mind. While somewhat threatening when the dogs are close, when I’m alone I can get closer to watch their slow paddling about in the water. It’s calming on the mind and allows me time to take in other slices of nature that I might normally miss just walking around the lake when I’m more focused on keeping the dogs in line. Reminder to self: walk this park more often, it’s good for your spirit.

Geese

The cabin fever that’s rather consumed the Ranch Hand brains has also tugged on my psyche, so with a friend from the Old English Sheepdog Rescue of Colorado, we took a cheese-making class at a nearby urban farm. The owner used to be a neighbor who moved 5 miles away to the farm which is located on a conservation easement in Wheat Ridge. She has a thriving egg business along with a small herd of La Mancha goats and offers cheese-making classes once a month. Previously she raised Nubian goats but switched to the La Manchas whose milk produces a less ‘goaty’ taste to the milk, are hardy but prolific milk producers with high butterfat content in their milk. Amanda’s goats are docile and will follow you around much like a pet dog. Not only did we all have a great visit away from all the recent, intense work of the rescue, we were also able to make a nice mozzarella, as well go home with a bonus of some ricotta made from the leftover whey. It was soooo tasty on a slice of breakfast toast this morning.

Cheese-making
Making ricotta

Goat

The resident pooch is a real favorite, greeting all visitors. After a good ear and belly rub, sweet “Ava Perón” a friendly Bull Terrier, spent time enjoying a nice sun puddle while we swooned over the relatively simple cheese-making process.

Dogs

Well, that’s it for a slightly different look at nature around the Ranch. We hope it inspires you to seek something similar this weekend. Whatever you do, we hope the last weekend in February is extra ‘pawsome!’

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ November 15, 2021

Squirrels

Came across this chap on my walk who refused to move for fear of losing his prized meal. Maybe squirrel Thanksgiving is this week? Anyway, he kept giving  me the stink eye the whole time I positioned myself around the tree limbs to try to capture his pic. He must have thought it was rude to stare while he was noshing.

Here’s hoping your week is stink-eyed free with tasty treats galore. Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

Live, love, bark!🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 8, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to Friday where we take a look around an urban neighborhood to see what Nature has offered. We’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard who host this weekly blog hop. If you click on their link you’ll see what others have shared.

Before we share this week’s nature sights, I want to thank everyone for your gentle and kind comments yesterday on Sam’s Sweet Sixteenth birthday. I greatly appreciate your warm, tender support. It means the world to me knowing that Sam touched your life.

So let’s get started looking at this week’s scenes. Autumn is definitely in the air even if it isn’t showing up with colorful leaves although a few more are starting to change. Finally. When you live in Colorado you’re spoiled with beautiful bluebird hued skies and shockingly gold leaves on aspen trees and brown just doesn’t cut it. It’s true we generally don’t have a lot of the bright oranges and reds you’d see on East Coast trees, but the contrast is still breathtaking.

That said, we did see some unusual autumn sights around the ‘Hood. As we begin to prepare the garden for winter, we’re seeing fewer butterflies but a  lot more evidence of spiders. This spider web caught my eye after a brief morning watering. The glistening drops on the web in the early morning light really captivated my interest. I watched for several minutes to see if some cheesed off spider was scurrying around trying to dry off and felt a bit badly that some industrious arachnid had received a cold shower early in the morning. While I’m a bit afraid of spiders, I welcome them in the garden (inside the house…not so much).

Nature

One of my neighbors has a Golden Raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata) in his front yard which always captivates my eye. It looks unusually parched this year no doubt given to the drought-like conditions we’ve all endured. Still, when a breeze is evident, the lantern-like pods shimmy and shake like a Vegas chorus line.

So what’s the story about this unusual looking tree? It’s one of few trees that have yellow blooms which cascade all over the canopy in midsummer. Once seed pods begin to form in late summer, they usually turn orange and resemble little lanterns. These more brown-than-orange colored pods still provide visual interest. A moderately sized tree, Golden Raintree is quite hardy, standing up well to heat, harsh climate conditions and city pollution which proves that it won the trifecta. They are hardy in Growing Zones 5-9, and tolerate temps to -10ºF below zero (-23ºC).

After showering the garden with one of the season’s last waterings, I ran into this Aragog look-alike a couple of mornings ago. Although the photo appears fairly light, it was actually taken shortly after sunrise and needed to be highly edited. A motion detector in one of the forelegs lights the eyes up and startled the living daylights out of me as I came round the fence. Even the dogs paused and proceeded to cautiously investigate. Me…I stayed as far away as possible from that thing! Guess I need to be far more considerate when watering around spider webs. Hopefully there’s a strong padlock on the storage shed that will likely house this giant in the ‘off-season.’ I’d hate to have him chase me down for inadvertently evicting one of his cousins.

Whatever you do this weekend, get out and enjoy Nature. But watch out for Arachnids.🕷

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 10, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to the best day of the week-Friday where we join our ‘fur-iends’, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop. Be sure to click on the link to see what others have shared.

While the calendar says autumn is less than two weeks away, Mother Nature apparently hasn’t seen the memo and continues to bake the Mile High City with summer temps (it’s supposed to be near 100 today), dry conditions and smoky skies. Ozone levels have been abysmally high and exploring various elements of nature have been limited. Still there was a surprise guest in the neighborhood. While there are miniscule signs that maybe, just maybe the autumn colors might begin their annual change, autumn been slow to get started with a couple of exceptions.

Leaves

Maple leaves are always a favorite this time of year. When walking the dogs yesterday morning, I found this lovely specimen though never did see the tree from which it came.

Here we have a smidgeon of color. Notice the leaf stress from the hot, dry conditions? Far too many trees are struggling and I can’t help but wonder if there will be more trees lost if we don’t get relief soon.

Trees

This week has been filled with lots of goings on my schedule every day and with the high ozone alerts, my time outside has been limited to very early morning walks with the dogs.

As we prepare for our second pet therapy evaluation later this morning, I realize we’re probably about as ready as we’re ever gonna be. The bathroom however is still recovering after Norman’s required bath (bathing this hunka furry real estate  is quite the exercise in dog wrangling and achy backs but boy does he smell great!). I’m certain he’ll do just fine. As always, my biggest worry for this pet therapy team continues to be me as the weak link and can only hope I remember all the details critical for a successful pet therapy team. Fingers and paws crossed we can report back success next week with a few smiles for nurses and patients today and tomorrow.

We did manage to see one particularly unusual sighting this week. As I’ve mentioned before, encountering bunnies are not at that unusual but the frequency they’ve been spotted every day this week is. We typically pass through the backside of Sprouts grocery on our route noting the hotbed of activity in the early morning hours as vendors’ trucks line up with the day’s fresh produce. Seeing bunnies daily this week had me wondering if there isn’t a special time set aside for senior bunnies to ‘shop’ for discarded veggies. I saw 3 yesterday morning alone in different spots.

Bunny
‘Washing up’ after breakfast

It seems odd that this week we encountered more wildlife than I saw in last week’s adventures in the mountains around Glenwood Springs. With all the development and traffic in Northwest Denver these days, foxes who used to be seen, have moved away to less inhabited areas. A fellow dog walker gave me a heads up that a fox was spotted ahead. Appreciative of the head’s up I gripped the leashes with white knuckle determination to keep the nearly 150 lbs. of prey driven paws by my side. I figured the chance of seeing it were likely Slim to next to nothing with Slim having left town before we’d get there but lo and behold, a red flash galloped across the street. A shy but leggy fellow dashed across the street. I stopped to admire the beauty of this fox and realized how much I’ve missed them when they frequently frolicked under my bedroom window ages ago. Forgive the poor quality of the image I had to really stretch the capabilities on the zoom of the cell phone but I think you can see how handsome this guy was.

Fox

The dogs were more than ‘intrigued’ so I tried to slowly walk away and then realized he was sizing us up. We stopped to admire this good looking boy while he no doubt hoped we’d keep moving along. That face!

Fox

How fortunate was that? Well I can only say I haven’t seen foxes in my ‘Hood for close to 15 years.

So much for this week’s nature in the ‘Hood. Have a great Friday and an even better weekend. For my fellow Westerners, stay cool. For those on the East Coast, try to stay dry.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 27, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to the last Friday of August. As always, we’re joining those adorable hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their blog hop. Make sure you click on the link to see what others have shared. This edition is literally a wild one, with commentary from both Ranch Hands.

Norman: Mum, it was a wild week, wasn’t it? I mean…I’ve never seen as much wildlife since being rescued and immigrating here.

Mum: You’re right, Norman; it was a ‘wild’ week, critter-wise. Given our location a ere 3 miles from downtown, it’s always exciting for us when Nature in its wildest form crosses our paths.

Norman: Right-o, mum. I haven’t seen this many rabbits as I did this week. What’s up with that?

Elsa: (imitating her best Elmer Fudd voice) Wabbits??? Where?!?!?! You know how I “LOVE” hunting looking for wabbits.

Norman: You almost walked past this one, little sister and missed another one at Sprouts parking lot.

Rabbits

Elsa: Harrumph…wabbits are wily but I eventually picked up its scent. But I spotted the third one before you guys did. Just wish mom hadn’t spotted this one first, otherwise I’d have turned her into a kite. For the record, I don’t think that spot is reserved for bunny parking, so there.

Norman: Mum scans the landscape for wildlife for that exact reason. But seeing rabbits three times this week was a bit unusual and nothing compared to what else we encountered.

Elsa: I’m still blown away from that whole experience. The fact that we were running later than usual and had we be out at our usual time, well…we’d have missed them by several minutes. Sure we’ve seen one or two on a couple of occasions but nothing like that before.

Norman: [Head shaking] It was quite something. I mean to be a witness to a whole ‘family of criminals’…well, let’s just say that took us all by surprise. Seeing wildlife like this makes it even more remarkable.

Raccoons
Check out this morning neighborhood criminal family!

Elsa: No kidding! Seeing those masked bandits so close to me and posing no less…well I momentarily froze in my tracks. Luckily, it was just enough time for mum to realize what could have been a potential nightmare for all concerned so she instinctively shortened my leash. Doggone it anyway.

Norman: At first I thought it was a bunch of odd looking kitties but could tell from mum’s reaction it was something else. I’ve never seen six ‘cats’ like that at once.

Raccoons

Elsa: At least I managed to react a short distance away from the porch which took her shoulder by surprise. Heh, heh. It’s good keeping her on her toes.

Norman: Oh come on, sister, it’s not really her toes you want her to stay on…it’s more like you prefer her backside.

Elsa: Sshhh, don’t let her know that. Jeez, are you trying to get me in trouble?

Norman: You’re well enough equipped to do that on your own without any help from me.

Raccoons

Elsa: Not one, not two, not even three…but four on the front porch of that house at the same time. I distinctly remember mum rubbing her eyes in disbelief.

Norman: She sure did, though I think she might have been still half asleep. As we passed the front porch, we saw the others on the fence to the side though there were {only} six raccoons in total committing a burglary.

Elsa: I was so bummed they decided not to follow us in the opposite direction.

Norman: They probably had more houses to burglarize visit before breakfast was over. I did notice that one fella coming out from under the chair had munched on the tassels on the chair cushion.

Elsa: Not much of a breakfast by my mind’s thinking.

Norman: This coming from someone who considers wool socks a food group?

Elsa: That’s different, bro. Besides, it wasn’t me who ate a felted mini-OES figure that mom spent 8+ hours needle felting last week. Do I need to remind you of the day you spent at ER?

Norman: Ahem…not my finest moment I’ll agree, but all’s good now right mum?

Mum: {Eyes rolling} Yes, ‘dear‘ Norman. Just make sure you don’t countersurf anymore and we’ll be all good, ‘kay?

Norman: Right-o, mum. I love that you accept me for who I am. Just a big hunka-chunk who is apparently irresistible to nurses judging our visit to hospital yesterday. If feels good getting the first of two evaluations out of the way. One step closer to being a full therapy dog.

Mum: Yes, dear boy…you definitely know how to draw a crowd. Much like us gawking at those raccoons, people just couldn’t believe their eyes seeing you and began running down the hallway to say hello

Norman: Yes, it was somewhat overwhelming. Yawn. I’m still recovering from all that therapy work while trying to get over that whole riding the elevator experience.

Norman

Mum: You’ll be fine, sweet boy. You have the whole weekend to recover.

Elsa: We’re so proud of you, Big Brother! Let’s plot plan some extra special recovery plans for the weekend…you know just to give mum a run for her money on her toes.

Mum: Sigh. Whatever you do this weekend, we hope it’s relaxing and fun but you give yourself plenty of time to see all the amazing sights Mother Nature offers.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

 

Nature Friday

Nature FridayTDIF! Welcome to the this week’s edition of Nature Friday on the last Friday in June. We’re joining those adorable Pacific Northwest anipals,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Where in the bloody blue blazes did June go? It seems like just yesterday we were walking in snow boots all bundled up in sweaters and mittens and now we’re spending most of the day sitting in front of a fan sipping a cool beverage. Perhaps because 2020 was the year from hell seeming to never end that 2021 is on a speedy trajectory to put as much space between it and last year’s train wreck. Either way, it’s hard to comprehend the year is half over.

Before we take a look at nature, did you know today is “National Take Your Dog to Work Day?” Celebrated annually on the Friday following Father’s Day, today is another way to honor one of our most beloved pets. Created by Pet Sitters International (PSI) in 1999, National Take Your Dog to Work Day celebrates our love for dogs.  If your employer is one of the approximately 300 businesses who host a National Take Your Dog to Work Day event, good for you! When I was working, I’d have given my left arm to bring a pet to work and think it’s why I’m so enthusiastic about bringing smiles to nurses and staff during pet therapy visits. Does your company allow you to bring your pet to work with you?

So now let’s check out what Nature brought us this past week, shall we? On Sunday I spent the day celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, son, grandson and one of my brothers. It was great fun spending the day with 4 of my favorite guys in the world, made even more fun over a terrific lunch at a local Mexican food restaurant with yummy food and yummier margaritas. Could we have a table for 5, er…no make that a table for six?

Lizard

Umm, sorry, ma’am…pets aren’t allowed in the restaurant. Since I wasn’t able to take that little guy inside with us to lunch, I just watched him out in the garden.

The Stella d’Oro reblooming daylilies are alive and well right now and make for a blooming cacophony around the neighborhood. These beauties prefer sunny conditions but will tolerate some partial shade and will tolerate humidity and heat. Their watering needs are mostly average, but they will require more water during dry spells. Generally, Stella d’Oro is an easy to grow daylily that will generally tolerate a variety of conditions and make a lovely addition to any garden.
Flowers

Not willing to accept competition from daylilies, Clematis vine is another strong contender for beauty of the week. One of my favorite vines, this particular guy greets me on my daily walks with the dogs. Don’t you just love these pale purple blooms? One of the better flowering vines that has adapted well to Colorado’s arid conditions, they come in a variety of shades of purple, blue, pink and white. Shades of red and yellow are also available. Clematis do best with at least 6 hours of sunlight in well drained soil and do not like their roots being water-logged, so mulching around their base is critical.

Flowers

While most of the Western U.S. continues to scorch with record setting triple-digits, the Mile High City gets a slight reprieve beginning today through the weekend. We’re hoping some showers will accompany the mild temps. While there were a few thunderstorms last night, mostly it was just noise with few drops. With 4 active fires burning in the state, rain would be most helpful so we’re keeping our paws crossed.

So what plans do you have for the weekend? Don’t forget to give your precious pet an extra ear or belly rub from us while you’re enjoying some of nature’s finest.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Two Word Wednesday ~ June 16, 2021

Squirrel

Tree rat.

Live, love, bark!  🐾