Today may be the last Monday of the week (and month) but it’s also the day we celebrate Memorial Day in the U.S. (we encourage you to click on the link for historical background on how Memorial Day came into being). Today is also special for another reason around the Ranch.
Today is my youngest granddaughter’s birthday. It’s hard to believe this young, gifted woman turns 15 today. It seems like just yesterday when she was just a wee tyke who charmed everyone she encountered. Where did the time gone? Happy birthday, sweetie. From a little cutie to a talented, incredibly caring and beautiful young woman, you continue to impress all who know you. Love you, L.
The Head Ranch Wrangler will be leaving for Hawaii in a couple of days to celebrate the wedding of my oldest granddaughter to the love of her life so posts/comments may be sporadic but I will do my best to visit your websites as WiFi and time permits.
All of us at the Ranch wish each and everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day Monday and hope you spend a moment thanking those who paid the ultimate price so that you can remain free.
Happy Fri-Yay and thanks for joining us and our friends Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday blog hop. It may be April Fool’s Day on the calendar, but nature isn’t fooling around as she continues to deliver some lovely surprises associated with early Spring.
It was another week of a bit of everything where the weather is concerned. But nature seems to be at least trying to nudge flowers from their winter beds. After a few days of cloudy days, chilly temps and a little bit of rain, the Ranch Hands and I woke up to glorious clear blue-bird skies. When it’s sunny and clear, all seems right.
While you can see buds on the tree (upper left hand corner) in front of this architectural wonder near downtown, other trees and shrubs are moving full steam ahead. I came across a small holly bush that was beginning to bloom.
And then there are some trees that are hanging on to last year’s bounty left for the birds. Some people don’t find those scenes as interesting as I do but I love that texture.
I think this ‘dude’ is firmly grounded in the perplexed category as he resides next to that tree at a nearby elementary school community garden. It was abuzz with activity this week as garden plots were being cleaned up getting ready for early vegetable plantings.
Daffodils, hyacinths and tulips flash their pretty at a nearby neighbor’s garden that receives plenty of sunshine with great southern exposure. With my large trees, things are still mostly brown in my garden but I can admire others who are lucky to have great sun exposure.
Glory of the Snow or scilla (Scilla luciliae) popped up along one of my walks and it was truly beautiful. I don’t see a lot of these plants but intend to look for some bulbs this autumn when I add to my spring bulbs. Heralding from western Turkey, they are one of the earliest (and in my mind, prettiest) flowering bulbs.
After another busy week, I found myself strolling around in the baby blue grape hyacinths to chill and reflect as I watched the bees happily noshing on the blue buffet. This spot always makes me stop and ponder the beauty of the surrounding plants. These bulbs continue to naturalize throughout the garden, much to my amusement. It’s like nature is moving the furniture around and who am I to argue with her design skills? I’ll save that argument for the lupine that’s beginning to emerge (in the foreground). I removed buckets of them last autumn as its naturalization throughout the garden has gotten far more than a ‘bit carried away.’ I’m hoping to encourage it to live politely rather than invasively, but so far it hasn’t seemed to respond to my criticism of “You’re not freaking dandelions, so stop popping up in every little nook and cranny and give the other plants a break!’
Some of the reseeding annuals from last autumn are beginning to emerge (or are being planted) around the ‘Hood for some early seasonal color. I found some pansies amidst dried leaves and grass yesterday afternoon. Their cheerful faces provided a nod from me because, who doesn’t love those sweet little faces and color in the dried, brown vestiges from last year?
Well, that’s about it from the Ranch for this week. We hope you’re seeing signs that spring has indeed sprung, despite the cycle of one nice day with the next day a visit from mean Uncle Winter. Makes you want to yell “STOP THAT NOW!” But around here we know snow is always a possibility over the next month, so we’ll just try to coexist with it. Have you got any plans for fun this weekend? Me, I’m just going to celebrate my baby sister’s birthday today (albeit from afar until she arrives for a visit later this month). Happy birthday, Kathy. Hope your day is as lovely as a spring day (sans snow). Love you.
Better late than never, right? Sorry we’re late getting this published. This week’s offering is fairly slim/grim as it was doggone freezing and blanketed in snow, making picture taking impossible. I had to put my thinking cap on to share any nature pics that weren’t cold and/or white.
The day before the cold and white set in, I made a quick last minute visit down to my dad’s house with my oldest granddaughter who wanted to spend her day off with him. He was absolutely delighted to see her and hear all about her recent engagement. She brought one of her pooches, Marley, who is one of the most engaging pups around and loves to show off his repertoire of cute tricks. Everyone loves him and my 91-year old dad was no exception.
So let’s get to it, shall we? As I mentioned, I decided to spare you a(nother) post of snow pics (you’re welcome) which meant I had to dig deep into the photo archives for something else. Given that I visited my dad this week, I couldn’t help but share this tiny little blue bird I saw on a previous visit. Isn’t it totally adorable? It captivated me with its striking blue color since there’s nothing like them in the city. The image itself wasn’t all that great since it was photographed through the windows and I couldn’t risk disturbing him by going outside for an up close look.
I had originally thought of sharing some interesting shadow pics I have but then realized they had snow as well, so one little bird is all I can offer this week. Hopefully with a forecast of warmer temps beginning tomorrow, I’ll be able to do better next time.
Before we go, we want to remind you that it’s that time of year again (at least in the US) when we try to alter time change the clocks. Oh the plus side in the minds of many dogs and cats, dinner will be served an hour early, on the other hand, they’ll be losing an hour of beauty sleep this weekend. I hope the sunshine on Sunday is worth it. DST makes me crabbish and takes some time for my bio-rhythms to adjust. #bahhumbug
Well, that’s it from us. We hope you are able to suss out some nature scenes this weekend. Don’t forget to “Spring Forward” for Daylight Saving time Saturday night before you go to bed. We hope the hour less of sleep doesn’t make you too cranky and you’re able to enjoy the sunshine later on Sunday.
Well, would you lookie here…it’s the first Friday of September. How’d that happen?! With only 120 days until we usher in 2022, this year is moving quickly. This week as we typically do, we’re joining those adorable fur-kids, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.
Mother Nature has definitely been in the news a lot this week. We are keeping all those impacted by the effects of Hurricane Ida in our thoughts and prayers and hope you are safe.
The ‘Ranch foreman’ went out of town this week to celebrate her Dad’s birthday with a mini-family reunion in the Glenwood Springs area. While it was great getting away from city noise and pollution, it was stunning to see how nature has been actively showing her deadly force in our region. The images around Glenwood Canyon were incredibly alarming and it will take years to repair the damage done along I-70 in the Grizzly Creek burn scar area just outside Glenwood. One cannot discount Mother Nature’s sheer force with water being particularly dangerous.
It rained most of Dad’s actual birthday and we saw the damage from mudslides in the region on our way to lunch. The nearby Crystal River was once again muddy red in spots, though clear at Redstone.
Back along The Roaring Fork behind my brother’s house, catch and release is the rule though we managed to find a fish we could keep from a local art shop.
For the most part, the aspens haven’t really begun to change though there were a few places where a small spot or two did. Since I was driving on a highway that needed 100% attention, I have no photographic evidence to share so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
The days spent with family were extra special this year as we revelled in nature’s beauty as well as celebrated a big milestone. We hope you are able to get out this weekend to enjoy what this beautiful month has to offer. Stay safe whatever you do.
Welcome to the last week of the dumpster fire also known as 2020. We hope you had a blessed and Merry Christmas. Christmas this year marked an extra special occasion, marking the 90th birthday for my mom. My Mom has lived through some pretty horrific times. She survived the bombing of Frankfurt during World War II as child as well as through some pretty intense health issues over the past few years. I wrote a bit about it back in 2016 here, after Angel Sam spent a week on her bed at hospice care following an ER doctor’s prognosis giving her 48 hours to live. Long story short, she “flunked out of hospice” then. In 2017 she ended up back in hospital for 4 weeks, with a number of days in ICU. Another surgery was performed where more of her colon was removed for an obstruction but she managed to eventually bounce back once again. These days we affectionately refer to her as a ‘semi-colon.’ So yeah, this was a very special Christmas birthday. I’m so incredibly grateful to have been able to celebrated it. Happy 90th to my spunky, special Mom who has defied the odds in numerous ways.
Like everyone else, we’re hoping 2021 provides a path toward normalcy. It won’t come overnight (especially if ‘mask holes’ continue to not wear masks and congregating in large groups) and pray the recently approved vaccines provide a way back toward the ‘good ole days.’ The world has so much healing needed to embark upon and pray that 2021 is the beginning of that process.
We look forward to waving goodbye to 2020 while remaining upbeat that 2021 provides more smiles and joy for our COVID weary hearts. To 2020, we say “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
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.
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.
Over 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.
Holy cow, it’s April…how did that happen? April is the pretty month, sweet and full of springtime promises. Today also happens to be my baby sister’s birthday so I’m sending her oodles of poodles of digital birthday greetings. Happy birthday, sweet sis! Can’t wait to give her birthday hugsin person later this month.
The Knuckleheads celebrated her birthday over the weekend with Elsa making confetti for the occasion.
We hope you had a wonderful weekend and today offers a fresh new slate for exciting adventures this week. No doubt these two are planning more ‘pawsome’ fun. I can hardly wait.
Is anyone else having a hard time comprehending the fact it’s February already? Wow, where did January go? Today we once again join our fur-iends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of Nature Friday Blog Hop. I also want to take a moment to wish my baby brother a very happy birthday. Hope your day is extra terrific, Bro.
So on this first Friday in February, since so much of the country is gripped in a Polar Vortex of epic proportions, I figured let’s go back to the beach!
I could walk up and down the beach in Mexico a million times and still be enchanted with the scenery. Just looking at the golden sand, blue sky and foamy surf warms me up. Sure beats shoveling snow filled sidewalks, doesn’t it?
There is some very entertaining about catching a glimpse of pelicans whenever I’m at a beach location. I love that they always seem to be flashing a smile at you, especially just before they swoop in and filch a part of your lunch. This guys trailed the boat in hopes of a tossed fish and was amply rewarded for his aeronautics.
And what beach is complete without a catamaran or parasail? The colors themselves are enough to warm a winter soul, don’t you think?
Finally, as this little sculpture with his colorful painted surface suggests, the beach is just plain fun. We stumbled across an art gallery in Old Town Puerto Vallarta curated by a fellow from Corsica. He had relocated to Mexico over 30 years ago and loved the spirit of his adopted country. He was showing several of these dog-themed sculptures that were so charming. Who would love stuffing one in their bag for the trip home?
Hopefully these images warmed you up a bit. To our friends caught in the jaws of bitter cold, we’re thinking of you and hope you stay warm and safe. May your weekend warm up enough where you can get out and enjoy some nature with all the brightness of a sunny day. For me, I think it’s time to anticipate a tasty birthday toast for my brother. Cheers!
After a way too short of a visit with my granddaughter who’s visiting from Hawaii, it’s back to business as usual. As Miss Hailey leaves for her return flight this morning, we will prepare to make preparations for Sam’s hospital visits beginning tomorrow and will fondly reflect back at these two inseparable girls. How was your weekend?
Normally I share dog treat recipes with you but with Easter over the weekend, I thought I’d share one for the uprights. In my family we love holidays where we can come together to catch up and have fun, food and libations and this Easter was no ‘egg-ception.’ Most of our family’s little grandkids live out of town so most of the time we’re a group of young and older adults but ones who still love a good food fest. And while I wouldn’t classify our tribe as ‘foodies,’ we all love eating a good meal and holidays are a convenient excuse to fulfill that end and we’re luckily to have some incredible cooks in our clan.
Whenever we get together, we divvy up dishes among the women folk and rely on the Y chromosome portion of the family to furnish any beer/alcohol. Everyone contributes so this works out pretty well actually. And this past weekend was no exception.
Since 1900, April 1st has only fallen on Easter Sunday 4 times (1923, 1934, 1945 and 1956 when we welcomed my sweet baby sister back in 1956). And although she couldn’t be with us in person, we did FaceTime with her to wish her sing an out of tune version of happy birthday in addition to sharing our best family Easter greetings (Happy birthday again, li’l sis-hope it was grand!). This holiday was another great opportunity to celebrate and celebrate we did since April 1st falling on Easter Sunday won’t occur again until 2029. This was also the perfect opportunity to christen the completely gorgeous and totally renovated new kitchen at my brother’s house which is perfect for entertaining large groups (ours numbered 13 guests).
The meal consisted of the classic Easter ham, potato/veggie casserole, couple of different salads, deviled eggs, crackers, cheese, salmon hors d’oeuvres, mimosas. Never one to miss an opportunity for sweets, rounding out the menu were loads of jelly beans, sweet breads and a couple of Easter cakes, pies and bunny tails. For my part I brought Quiche, one for the ‘flesh’ eaters (aka meat eaters) and one vegetarian version. Quiche always works for brunch, travels well in the car and I had a new recipe to try out. And like most recipes, I decided to go off the reservation completely revamp it. Using ingredients I had on hand, I created this adaptation. Originally it was called Easy Puff Pastry Quiche recipe but I renamed it “Kitchen Sink” Quiche since it had loads of extras. And it was yummy g.o.o.d. My hat’s off to Ms. Fuentes. Here’s the basic recipe with my adaptation/changes in blue.
~ KITCHEN SINK QUICHE RECIPE ~
Photo/recipe courtesy of http://www.laurafuentes.com/easy-puff-pastry-quiche-recipe/
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of one 17.3-ounce package), thawed [I used 2 sheets]
[Cubed bites of ham for the flesh eaters and vegetarian sausage for the vegetarians]
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese [I used a package of four-cheese blend with some grated Parmesan because, I mean, it’s Parm and who doesn’t love that?]
1 small zucchini, shaved with vegetable peeler [I used red and green peppers instead and nearly added some mushrooms but realized more ingredients weren’t necessary since I used meat/pseudo meat and other veggies]
2 large eggs [I stopped counting after 8-remember I was bringing enough for a B-I-G crowd]
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary [I have a rosemary plant on hand that I’m constantly snipping branches off and personally love adding rosemary in egg dishes]
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream [I used sour cream]
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Unfold pastry sheet on to a pie dish. Or you could lay it flat on a baking sheet and create a rectangular Quiche. [I used restaurant containers for the crowd. If you want it to have nice neat edges go for it, I’m more into a rustic finish].
I added the meat and meat substitute first then topped with the remaining ingredients.
Pour egg, cheese and yogurt mixture over toppings, over puff pastry. Bake until pastry is golden brown and toppings are set, about 18-22 minutes. [I baked mine for about 38 minutes or so since they were in large containers]
This recipe is super simple, quick and versatile. Swap or add ingredients…be creative. If the edges start to brown and your Quiche is still jiggly, cover the edges with foil until fully cooked and firm. No one likes jiggly-wiggly eggs.
Sadly I wasn’t smart enough to take a photo of the finished Quiche (these were just prior to adding the cheese/egg mixture but included a slice of the vegetarian one.
This is what you’ll get when you’re done. I can almost guarantee the empty dish will be the vegetarian version. Happens. every. time. [True confessions, there was a small narrow strip left over but far less than the ham version]
Hope you had a wonderful Easter holiday spent with friends and family, where the food was excellent, but the company was better. Got any stories to ‘dish’ about your Easter?
P.S. My brother and his wife have two wonderful Chessy Retrievers in residence, so I’ve had to do a ton of ‘splaining to Elsa who shunned me after she caught a whiff of “eu’d dogparfum” from petting Rudder and Axel. Luckily she and Sam both were easily ‘comforted’ by a fresh hoof so maybe I’ll get back in their good graces. Once they stop gnawing on them, that is.