Monday Musings ~ September 6, 2021

Today is Labor Day in the U.S. and Canada where working people are honored and recognized for their contributions to the labor movement. The idea of celebrating a “workingmen’s holiday” on the first Monday in September caught on in the U.S. following a strike by employees of the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago on May 11, 1894 as well as the  Haymarket Riot of 1886. Across the country, state legislatures (with Oregon being the first) began recognizing Labor Day in 1887. Federal recognition in 1894 became a watershed moment in American labor history by bringing workers’ rights and contributions into public view. The first Labor Day parade was held on September 5, 1882, when 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City. Labor Day weekend is  considered to be the symbolic end of summer.

The Ranch hands know exactly how to celebrate but theirs will be a somewhat low-key celebration. We hope your holiday is safe and enjoyable. Don’t do anything we wouldn’t do.

Norman & Elsa

Live, love, bark!🐾

Happy 4th of July

July 4thAs the U.S. celebrates our country’s independence, both the Ranch hands and I wanted to take this opportunity to wish our U.S. based readers a happy Fourth of July and we hope everyone has a terrific Sunday.

Norman

Here’s to a star-spangled ‘howliday!’

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 2, 2021

TDIF…our favorite day of the week where we join those adorable Pacific Northwest ‘fur-pals,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Be sure to check out what other bloggers have shared by clicking on the highlighted link.

Welcome to the month of July where summer ramps up with gorgeous flowers and hot temps. While the Mile High is not suffering like our friends in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, we have been keeping an eye on news reports and shaking our heads at all those staggering temperatures. Please keep all those suffering with high temps in your thoughts and pray that Nature takes a deep breath and calms down by returning to a kinder, gentler version of its bad self.

So let’s take a look at what’s happening around the 303. This is the time of year where our garden blooms are for the most part fairly spent. While the yarrow has started blooming and Red Hot Pokers are beginning to send their orange spikes upward, the garden is in a bit of a transition right now as it’s more late spring blooming. This week’s highlighted superstars from our neighborhood are a gorgeous butterfly and a blooming food source for it and other flying insects.

Milkweed (Asclepias) is actually a kind of wildflower named for their milky substance, which provides a nice nosh for butterflies and other pollinators. Four species of native milkweed are found in most states in the U.S. and southern Canada (Common Milkweed, Whorled Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, and Butterfly Weed) and thrive in a wide range of garden/meadow habitats from the U.S. eastern seaboard to the Rocky Mountains. Milkweed has had a long history of medicinal, every day, and military use in the U.S. (milkweed contains about 2% latex and attempts were made to use it as a natural substitute for rubber during WWII, though no large-scale success was documented).

Milkweed

Milkweed flowers are some of the most complex plants in the plant kingdom rivaling orchids with their complexity. Notice the five petals above as they reflex backwards exposing the staminal crown which is surrounded by a five-membrane corona in the center. That corona acts as a sheath for the inner horn with glands holding pollen sacs are located between the hoods. Milkweed provides an important source of food for Monarch butterflies which sadly aren’t seen often in my urban neighborhood with sightings of this week’s ‘critter,’ the Swallowtail flitting around it far more common.

Butterflies

Swallowtails are large, colorful butterflies who throw down the winged-gauntlet for Norman and Elsa to try to follow their flight patterns (unsuccessfully I might add). These “birdwing butterflies,” so named due to their exceptional size, angular wings, and birdlike flight, include over 550 species. Although the majority are tropical, members of the family inhabit every continent except Antarctica.

Butterfly

Did you know many states honor Swallowtails by naming them as their state insect? Oregon, Virginia, Georgia, Delaware, and South Carolina are among them and the Black Swallowtail is listed as Oklahoma’s state butterfly.

It’s a long holiday weekend in the Northern Hemisphere with the U.S. celebrating Independence Day on Monday and Canada Day on July 1. This year, Canada Day has been marred with the recent finding of hundreds of children’s remains at residential schools in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Celebrations have been muted as the country reckons with its treatment of indigenous peoples. We bow our heads to the memory of those victims and hope investigations will reveal how this ever happened.

Do you have big plans for the long weekend? Whatever you do, stay safe, hydrated and wear sunscreen but take time to admire  the simple sights Nature provides us. As an outspoken critic of fireworks, we hope you’ll be considerate of our furry friends and those who suffer from PTSD who frequent struggle during this noisy time of year.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ Memorial Day 2021

Memorial DayToday is Memorial Day in the U.S., a nationally recognized ‘howliday’ where we remember all those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Originally it was known as Decoration Day following the Civil War when Union and Confederate soldiers honored their dead by decorating their graves with flowers. The moniker “Decoration Day” was first used in 1882 while “Memorial Day” wasn’t common until some time after World War II. The name was officially recognized in 1967.

Normally thought of as the unofficial start of summer, this year is acting more like November than May. For this morning’s walk, Norman was greeted with 48ºF and a light rain. The forecast indicates it will stay cool today but will start to warm-up tomorrow.

NormanWhatever you do today, we hope you take a moment to reflect on the occasion to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that you can be free to shop or BBQ. Have a safe holiday.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 28, 2021

Nature FridayIt’s Nature Friday where we snoop around and revel in all the beauty Nature offers. As usual, we’re joining our weekly hosts, that adorable quartet of pups, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on the link to check out what they and others in Blogville have shared.

Today may be the last Friday of May but it is also the beginning of an extended weekend in the U.S. ~ Memorial Day, where we remember and honor all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving their country. We hold all who have served in high esteem but especially those men and women who gave their lives so that the rest of us may continue to stay free.

Norman is going to do the honors of sharing the nature we came across this week. He travelled with me to spend some time with my dad in southeast Colorado. Take it away, Norman!

Thanks, mum. It’s been a good week naturewise. I’m not used to the landscapes of Southern Colorado where Grandpa lives but have enjoyed exploring the terrain and seeing some interesting and fascinating things around this part of the state and I’m super chuffed to be able to share them with everyone.

The surrounding area where Grandpa lives is an area that’s known for its prairie and desert-like conditions. Even though water is scarce, there is still a lot of diverse plant life. Much like the song, you’ll see “spacious skies, amber waves of grain, and purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.” Mum only had her cell phone with her so this distance photo isn’t all that great but if you look real close, you’ll see some tiny black dots to the far left of those piñon trees who were ‘singing’ to us one morning. Mum said they were cattle from the nearby Walker Ranch. They sure don’t sound like any dog I’ve ever heard.

Mountains

Closer to the house, we found all sorts of prairie and desert flowers. I had to be careful where I stepped to avoid some pretty serious stickers called goat heads but I was a good boy avoiding them as we walked along the roadside.

Flowers

From Blanketflower to prairie daisies to yucca, mum and I saw it all. The walking stick cactus haven’t bloomed yet but may come out in the next few days. Last weekend’s moisture really brought the desert landscape to life. Just look at the ‘flowers’ on this yucca!

Yucca
Yucca

Here are some primroses we found this morning. Aren’t they a cheerful looking bunch?

Flowers
Primroses

Most of the flowers we came across are either orange or yellow but there are a few purplish/pink clusters to be found as well.

Flowers

Recent rain showers, while nothing like English weather, have greened up the prairie grass. It’s usually tan.

Flowers
Blanket flowers

There are a number of trees on Grandpa’s property including some ancient piñon trees and some Ponderosa pines he planted. This piñon is a few hundred years old and is a nice spot of shade for an English chap like myself who still isn’t 100% used to the high altitude intense sun yet. Good thing I got my summer haircut recently or I’d have been a panting fool in the sunlight.

Norman

We’ve been getting up at the crack of dawn early most mornings to start the day with a walk in the cool morning temperatures. This morning was extra exciting as I got to meet some of the ‘neighbors.’ Usually it’s just me, mum and the bus driver picking up kids for school around at that hour. Does anyone know what kind of dogs these are? The two smaller ones had the strangest bark I’ve ever heard.

Donkeys

Mum and I hope yours is a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend and you are able to enjoy some of the incredible sights of nature.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 2, 2021

My goodness, here it is April already. Where did the first quarter of 2021 go?! As we typically do on Friday’s, we’re joining our adorable weekly hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard to see what’s going on with Mother Nature. Don’t forget to click on the link to check out the blog hop and see what else others in Blogville have shared.

Spring has been working overtime trying to catch up after recent visits from Ole Man Winter. There’s still some white stuff remaining on northern exposures but all and all, the week has been all about spring with clear bluebird skies, warm temperatures with perennials, shrubs and trees that are beginning to bud.

A Pasque flower I walk past daily has just recently begun to open and its arrival is always reason to smile with hope that spring is here. Pasque flowers (known as Pulsatilla hirsutissima, Pulsatilla ludoviciana, Pulsatilla patens, Anemone patens, etc.) have an undisputed appearance but a somewhat disputed name. It has been known as Pulsatilla hirsutissima, Pulsatilla ludoviciana, Pulsatilla patens, Anemone patens, etc.  “Pulsatilla” from the Latin for “pulsing”, “moving about”, plus the diminutive, “illa”: thus “a bit of quivering” (from the wind). Pasque Flower or Easter Flower is from the Hebrew “Pasach” i.e. “Passover” [the last supper was the celebration of Pasach] and thus this plant has became associated with Easter since they generally flower around the Easter/Passover season when winter snows begin to melt. The name most likely arrived through variations of French, “passefleur” and “passflower” both similar to the French word for Easter, “Pasques” which has its roots in the Hebrew word “Pasach” so it’s somewhat easy to see how the common name has morphed into “Pasque Flower.”

Flowers

A walk about through my garden yesterday when temps were in the mid-70’s showed the blueish grape hyacinths fully in bloom. I was shocked to find a lone outlier white one in the middle of the blues and hope nature has some sort of grand plan. The bee didn’t seem to mind that lone white one either as it kept going back and forth to it, probably reacting much like us humans do with ice cream…”chocolate or vanilla? Oh what the heck, I like them both.”

Flowers

Over the next several days temps are expected to be in the upper 70’s to low 80’s so being outdoors to enjoy this glorious time will be the MO of the residents around the Mile High.

We wish everyone a blessed Easter weekend and hope whatever your religious persuasion that you find some time to get outside and sing the glory of nature’s beautiful work.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

The resident UK Ranch hand ‘leprechaun’ hopes you have a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day. ☘️ Erin go bragh.☘️

Norman

So does the reluctant leprechaun. Oh Elsa…see…modeling isn’t so bad.

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

A 2020 Retrospective

Don’t let the title of this post freak you out…this is NOT a post about the unspeakably sad losses experienced during the past 365 days. Instead consider this my feeble attempt to get a 12+ hour head start on tomorrow’s Nature Friday with an affectionate look back at some of the wonders Mother Nature so graciously shared despite our planet’s collective poor stewardship of her. We hope you will take a moment to follow Blogville around by clicking on our friends’ and hosts link [Rosy, sister Sunny and her two brothers at LLB in Our Backyard] and hope they don’t mind our pulling the trigger early).

While it’s true we received a spot of the white stuff this week, as fast as it frosted the landscape, it quickly melted under beautiful, bright blue, sunny skies.

Mother Nature may have some prickly moments, but boy does she possess an amazing canvas when she shows it off.

Snow

While some of you may shiver at images of snow, I can’t help but wonder about all those unique and sparkly facets of crystalized ice that highlight a winter landscape.

Snow

Sure Norman, Elsa and I are fortunate to enjoy 300+ days of annual sunshine in the Mile High but we’re also gifted with some spectacular sunsets (and sunrises) on occasion. This one showed up shortly before this month’s full moon.

And now for a look back at a few of the most popular images from nature this year. This past summer provided some much needed visual comfort then as well as now.

Flowers

A 2020 retrospective on nature would be incomplete without some sunshine-y sunflowers from our garden as well as a a view of the plethora of lupine which provided a nice backdrop for the Ranch hands.

Flowers

Ranch hands As we reflect over the past year, all the while keeping a keen eye looking forward to the new one, we’ll toast to a New Year with a recent batch of aged, handmade Sazerac cleverly crafted by my son. Just look at that gorgeous amber color. If you like rye, Sazerac can be quite the tasty cognac/whiskey kind of beverage. Add a slice of lemon or orange peel and voila…a moment perfect for contemplative reflection.

Sazerac

With loads of cheers for love, laughter, with a few tasty treats for 2021, we can’t help but be optimistic after seeing these babies who I spied on yesterday morning’s walk. I’ don’t recall seeing bulbs appear quite this early but I’ll take it. Knowing, or at least hoping there is more white stuff down the road, we’ll keep ‘pawsitive’ that 2021 will be a big improvement over 2020, though it may take some patience to see it blossom.

Bulbs

The Ranch will be taking some extended time off to attend to computer maintenance issues and I’m uncertain as to how long it might take to dust off any cobwebs on the laptop. As I do not wish to yank out all my recently cut hair trying to compose posts on a tiny cell-phone screen, those of you who do have my undying admiration, we’ll be back as soon as our battery pack is refreshed, our files cleaned and scrubbed. No doubt the Ranch hands will think of loads of ways to exasperate me entertain us with new adventures…but until then…stay safe, sane and keep smiling, my friends. Have a Happy New Year!

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wednesday Wishes ~ December 23, 2020

It’s mid-way during Christmas week and we wanted to send our best doggone wishes for a Happy Christmas. Christmas this year will look and feel different but our wish remain the same. May peace, joy and love of the season fill your heart this Christmas season and remain throughout the coming year. All the Ranch hands wanted to send their very own best ‘howliday’ wishes.

Norman hopes the glow of Christmas lights brighten your day and your heart.

Christmas

Elsa finds this an odd time of year, because it’s the only time of year in which she can sit in front of a dead tree and eat treats out of a sock (but hopefully not the sock). She also has her paws crossed for a respite from any other photo sessions. Sorry old girl, no promises.

Christmas

Angel Sam also sends his best wishes to you from across the Bridge. Miss and love you, Knucklehead.

Sam

The Ranch will be taking a few days off to relax and reflect on the season.

Christmas

From our family to yours, may the spirit of Christmas shine in your heart and light your path. We thank you for being in our world.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ December 14, 2020

Wait…it’s Monday already? Blech! How’d that happen?!?! Well however this sorcery came about, it’s time to start out the week with a smile. With the Winter Solstice a mere week away and Christmas just a few days later, let’s lean on a holiday-themed smile, shall we?

Smiles

Here’s hoping your pup catches you ‘under the mistletoe’ multiple times this week. Happy Monday!

Live, love, bark! 🐾