Wistful Wednesday ~ January 13, 2021

After 10 months of lockdown, my mind and gypsy heart have been dreaming a lot of traveling again. Since the US is persona non grata throughout most of the world, the only way to go on a trip is through past photos and memories.

This beautiful kitty who seemed to be somewhat annoyed at my interruption of its vigil when I visited the Kommern LVR-Freilicht Museum located near Eiffel National Park not far from the Belgium border. In the LVR-large open air museum , you can experience all your senses learning how people used to live and work in the Rhineland and watch reenactments of life as it was yesteryear by museum employees.

Germany
Freilich Museum

On the almost 100 hectares grounds, there are 69 historical buildings from the former Prussian RheinProvinz, farmsteads, complete with farm animals, wind-and-water mills, workshops, communal buildings, and many reenactments of life of a rural population heralding from as long ago as the 15th century.

Despite a beautiful day here in the 303, my gypsy heart longs to be there enjoying this wonderful place today. I can practically smell the freshly baked bread from the hearth.

Germany
Freilich Museum

Germany

Germany
Freilich Museum

Simpler times and ones that would be especially welcome today. Happy mid-week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ December 4, 2020

Welcome to the first Friday of the last month of one helluva year. We’re joining our Nature Friday 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 have discovered in nature this week.

It’s been another busy week with loads going on around the Ranch. It also was a bit on the chilly side. Yesterday was so ‘crisp’ with the wind chill that when I walked the dogs in the morning, one side of my glasses not only fogged up, it frosted for the majority of our 2 mile walk-about. It’s hard to see spots of nature through permafrost, although the ice crystals were pretty cool. Literally.

I’ve been busy working on Christmas gifts, a bit of organizing (out of necessity-where DOES all that junk come from??) and finding some holiday spirit…as in looking for holiday lights. Junk I can find, but Christmas lights and decor seem to be MIA. All of which has conspired to keep me from finding much in the way of nature in the ‘Hood.

Although I did happen to notice some ‘wildlife’ a couple of days ago on our walk and did a double take when I saw a deer from a block away, so naturally we had to investigate it up close.

WildlifeI’m in awe of how some people go all out for holidays. These neighbors had quite the front yard scene at Halloween (pirate skeletons having a garden party) and now they are working on Christmas. This is the largest outdoor blow up decoration I’ve ever seen and I’ve never found any there weren’t all vinyl or plastic. This guy had fuzzy fur!  Of course, deviating from our usual route tends to cause all sorts of canine consternation for Elsa who wasn’t all the keen on getting too close to Rudolph, though she eventually did give it a perfunctory mini sniff and then promptly looked away as soon as I pulled out my phone. Elsa, Elsa, Elsa {head shaking}. Why do you always have to look away as soon as the shutter is released?

Norman on the other hand seems perfectly content to stop, sniff, and cast his best pose. This guy needs to find a modeling agent.

We hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of the nature’s beauty or at least, check out some amazing holiday decorations this weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 20, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our furry friends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for another Blogville edition of Nature Friday. So how was your week? It’s been breezy in the 303 which means the leaves have fallen and now lay strewn over lawns and flower beds basically mocking residents to rake them up. Mostly I’ve resisted any urge to rake most of them up, instead hoping the wind will carry them down toward the next street over. Yeah, I’m ‘that‘ kind of person.

I did however take some collected garden waste to the city’s recycling program at Sloan’s Lake (which is where all these images were taken).

The local Canadian geese population have pretty much stopped migrating south for the winter preferring instead the hospitality of Denver’s 250+ city parks. There’s something about these large birds that always makes me stop and watch them for long stretches of time whether they are on the water or chasing uprights and their pets waddling around the park. They aren’t one bit afraid of humans or dogs and will chase you if you invade their comfort zone. One might even accuse them of being aggressive.

Nature

Hanging out in Sloan’s Lake shallow waters, these guys were bathing and sunning themselves. Notice the Mallard herding them into a circle. Kidding…my guess is the Mallards avoid the geese as much as the rest of us, but what a striking fella motoring around the fringes of the gaggle.

Nature

One might speculate the increasing COVID conditions have encouraged these guys to congregate much like upright visitors (and unfortunately far too many maskless ones at that-come on people-stop being a mask-hole!) walking and bicycling around the park yesterday in the gorgeous November weather. While we repeatedly hear of storms in the forecast, nothing has materialized yet. Still it’s hard to knock 70 degree days, despite the area being desperate for moisture-just check out the parched looking grasses around the park.

Nature

Nature

Then there’s always that one guy who has to show off to the chicks by spreading his wings. Show-off. Who knew there were obnoxious jocks in the geese world?Nature

We hope you’ve enjoyed checking out the Canadian geese of Sloan’s Lake and hope you will get out this weekend to enjoy some beautiful weather as well as some of beautiful sights Mother Nature offers in autumn.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ Friday the 13th Edition

Nature FridayAs is our usual practice on Friday’s, we are joining our furry Pacific Northwest friends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for another edition of Nature Friday. Colorful foliage near the Ranch has gone bueno bye after a couple of minor snows storms and windy conditions so I had to dig into our photo archives for some nature scenes for this week’s post.

Because we live near the heart downtown Denver, I generally don’t think of wildlife being a staple around the ‘hood. But every once in a while, nature surprises me and ‘drops by to say “hello.”

Anyone who knows the Denver metro area is familiar with Cherry Creek. A tributary of the South Platte River, it has been an integral part of the area since the city’s founding during the Gold Rush back in the late 1850’s.

Rising in a high plateau east of the Front Range, Cherry Creek flows north through Castlewood Canyon State Park while running through portions of the metro suburbs (Centennial and Aurora), into southeast Denver. It becomes an urban stream joining the South Platte River at Confluence Park just west of downtown and runs for approximately 5 miles (8 km) east of the foothills.

The 140-foot-high (43 m) Cherry Creek Dam, completed in 1950, forms a water source for the metro area providing flood control and irrigation and lies immediately southeast and southwest of the Denver and Aurora city limits, about 8 miles (13 km) from the confluence with the South Platte River.

A long scenic bike path follows the creek from Confluence Park west of downtown all the way through Cherry Creek State Park and south towards Parker and Castlewood Canyon. Wildlife along Cherry Creek includes a number of snakes (garter, western hognose, bullsnakes and occasionally rattlesnake, along with a few Amphibians native to Colorado can be found at as well including, the plains leopard frog, woodhouse’s frog, and the striped chorus frog. American bullfrogs are a non-native species and have contributed to the decimation of native amphibian species populations at the creek.

Other wildlife include raccoons, beaver, foxes, coyotes, and even deer are not uncommon sights along the creek. Petrified wood is quite common in the creek and fossil mammal bones have also been found.

The image below was taken near the Cherry Creek mall with apologies for the poor quality taken from the cell phone at a distance. The water in some areas rushes past during spring runoff and nearly missed seeing this guy.

Heron

So have you seen any wildlife around your neighborhood beyond mooching hoodlum squirrels?

Happy Friday the 13th. We hope today and your weekend are safe with no incidents and that you’re able to enjoy a spot of nature.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 4, 2020

Holy cow…September already?! Where did this year go? Oh yeah, to Blursville is where it went. Well at least I KNOW where I went this week. A few days in the mountains gave me a whole fresh outlook and rejuvenation. You may have remembered I said I was going to Glenwood Springs to celebrate my Dad’s 90th birthday with family which meant that I’d be driving near the fire ravaged area to get to my brother’s house. Fortunately their new home is located southwest of the burn area and while I-70 finally opened up to traffic, it seemed a better option to take the alternate route over Independence Pass (through Aspen) being far more scenic. Boy was I right. Although it took a little longer, it was well worth it.

So let’s join our weekly hosts, sisters Rosy, Sunny, & brothers Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on their link and check out what Blogville dished out for our enjoyment on the blog hop.

I can’t remember the last time I drove over Independence Pass-it’s not a direct route to Glenwood. A smattering of rain was encountered but then I noticed some peaks with a dusting of snow. With the summer that we’ve experienced, it was such a welcomed sight. The whole state needs the moisture.

Mountains

Mother Nature was kind of enough to wait until everyone arrived to begin to cloud up. A small shower rewarded anyone who had recently washed their vehicles but then this happened. I can’t remember such an intensely bright double rainbow.

Rainbow

Pretty cool clouds, huh? Mt. Sopris is hiding behind those clouds just out of frame to the right. The rainbow and clouds cleared enough to allow the almost full moon to begin to rise. The view from the patio was gorgeous and relaxing. Bring on the margaritas!

Moon

My brother’s home is a stone’s throw from the Roaring Fork River which means ‘wildlife’ is never too far away, both domestic as well as non-domestic. Meet Angus, the resident (but still kitten) cat who follows the uprights around and thinks he’s the dog brother of the two resident Chessies, Rudder and Axel (they were featured in our Meet the Breed post recently). Angus is enormous being a Maine Coon, but I’ll always think of him as a Puma rather than a house cat. He’s a big boy and still growing. Rudder tends to avoid the hustle and bustle of our family get-togethers (we ‘may’ be considered a tad rowdy) but Axel is always close by, ever ready to swipe your sock to play a good game of keep-away with you.

Cat
Angus, the ‘kitten’ Maine Coon (aka the resident Puma)

Angus is learning how to hunt and I expect to hear he’s nabbed his first humming bird soon. He nearly caught this guy a couple of times while I was there.

Hummingbird
‘Future’ meal for Angus
Axel
Handsome Axel
Moon
Almost Full Moon

Anyone who is an angler knows the Roaring Fork River (a 70 mile long tributary of the Colorado River) is a great place to fly fish with an abundance of rainbow, brook trout, and browns to catch. While we were there, several family members snagged some gorgeous fish, including a 20″ Rainbow trout that was caught by my nephew.

Roaring Fork River
Roaring Fork River

After a few days of family, fishing, food, fun and rejuvenation in the mountain air, it was time to head back home. This time the route was  over I-70 to check out the fire damage along Glenwood Canyon. The canyon is rugged, and even along those sheer rock walls you could see the burnt silhouette of trees along the top ridge line as well as along the lower elevations. It was super sad to see wide swaths of dead trees.

Wildfire
Grizzly Creek fire ~ Glenwood Canyon
Wildfire
Grizzly Creek Wildfire

We hope you are able to check out Mother Nature’s good, bad and ugly this Labor Day holiday weekend but above all, stay safe.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 21, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our friends, Rosy, sister Sunny as well as her brothers from LLB in our Backyard to take a gander from around Blogville to see what Mother Nature served up this week. We’re still in the grips of the Dog Days of summer yet and continue to look forward to autumn’s arrival in 31 days.

The garden is looking more than a bit parched, supplemental watering hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference with the crunch, crunch look of dry straw and not much is actually blooming right now beyond the Plumbago. The sunflowers are the only plants that seem to be thriving in the dry heat though a quick walk around early this morning showed some of their leaves are showing signs of heat stress. Hearty Plumbago  (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is my all time favorite ground cover, and is now sporting its signature blue flowers and its leaves will soon begin to morph into a lovely shade of mahogany red. This plant naturalizes well, is deer resistant, and will survive well with minimal supplemental watering, and is one of the most versatile groundcovers for cold climates growing in both sun or shade and most soil types, making it a perfect perennial to add to any garden.

Plumbago

With the heat and lack of rain, it’s been more important than ever to keep the fountain filled for the occasional thirsty visitor. For every wasp that takes a drink, one invariably will fall in.Wasp

As I watched this bee for several moments, it seemed as if he was using his front legs to beckon the solar fountain to provide a bit of a shower. I can’t help but wonder how he manages to hang on without falling off the side of the fountain. One fell in recently but I managed to fish him out; he flew off to dry out and then continued with his pollinating work in the garden.Bees

While I’d even be willing to put out a water bowl for guys like this, I think the Ranch hands would scare it away whenever it was seen. I came across him on a walk about the neighborhood a couple of days ago before the heat kicked in. He looks like he’s holding up okay and is probably finding water that has pooled on sidewalks or gutters.

Bunny

The fires here in Colorado and throughout the West continue to burn with little abatement. I read yesterday that California received nearly 11,000 lightning strikes in a 72 hour period this week and no doubt, more fires will result from that kind of meteorological activity. We hope everyone who is affected by them remains safe and especially pray for the safety of firefighters who are working hard in brutally challenging conditions. Stay safe, sane and keep smiling.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 3, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. For uprights in the U.S. we’re entering a long, July 4th holiday weekend. Due to COVID cases spiking throughout much of the country, it may be a very different kind of Fourth than usual (though we have our paws crossed it means less fireworks which both dogs detest but we’re not holding our breath). Anyway, let’s check out Nature’s finery around the city.

Nature FridayDespite temps in the 90’s again all week long and for the foreseeable forecast, you’d think I’d plan running errands a little bit better by doing them early in the day, but you’d probably be wrong. Yesterday afternoon I needed to get something out in the mail missing the early mail drop so I had to walk over to the nearby Post Office. As I got closer, I kept hearing a strange bird making a ruckus but couldn’t figure out from where it was coming but lo and behold, I stumbled upon this fella bathing in a puddle of runoff water. Wha….wait, what the heck is that?!

Hawk

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Seeing red-tailed hawks (which is what I think this guy is) in the city isn’t a frequent occurrence, at least not in my neighborhood. I stopped to watch him bathe and sip some water. Slowly I moved a closer being  careful as to not startle him. That noisy bird I heard must have been part of his security detail and was on the overhead powerline I soon discovered.

Hawk

Cropping this photo pixelated it but I think you can see a fairly decent profile. Isn’t he something special? Last week the dogs and I were treated to raccoons and rabbits and now this week, a hawk. Pretty amazing considering the ‘Ranch’ is just a couple of miles from downtown Denver’s central business district.

On the way back from the Post Office I came across this garden beauty, Kniphofia, often called Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker. That last moniker seems to describe the weather…hot! And since it is frequently windy, it’s very dry. Fifty-six percent of the state is under severe drought conditions, while 68% of Colorado is experiencing at least moderate drought. With the majority of the snowmelt gone, it’s clear that it will be a rough summer. We can only hope monsoons will arrive later this month to help in the short term.

Flowers

The Ranch Hands and I hope you will be able to enjoy some nature this weekend and enjoy a happy and safe ‘howliday.’

Norman

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday ~ June 24, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Morning walks are always interesting around the Ranch.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ June 17, 2020

Butterfly
Swallowtail

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 8, 2020

Monday

No prob-llama. Hope yours is terrific with no drama!

Live, love, bark! 🐾