Wordy Wednesday

SnowHappy pre-Thanksgiving Day. As many of you know, Denver was hit with a gigantic storm yesterday that buried the city with a foot of snow. It prevented Sam and I from doing our hospital visits and has us pretty much confined. It did however allow me to enjoy my favorite blizzard beverage, hot chocolate. With Schnapps and whipped cream. We are warm and fine if not a bit stir crazy. It’s too cold and deep to take the dogs for their usual walks and apparently not possible for Sam to use the dog run to relieve himself beyond the occasional pee over Elsa’s spots in the freshly created pee-atio in the dog run. Elsa however could practically pee or poop on command but Sam is nothing, if not discerning about where he goes. I have to chuckle about his refusal to not poop in the run, but know if I scooped out a square over at my neighbor’s house, he’d drop a log in a heartbeat.

Snow
Where the heck will Friday’s snow go?

We wish all of our US readers a day filled with good cheer, good food and a football win tomorrow. To all of our readers, we will spend the day staying warm, cozy and being grateful for your digital friendship and good company every week. We are truly blessed you are in our lives and we thank you for our good fortune for the connection. Cheers!

Hot chocolate

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 22, 2019

It’s the Friday before the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday and nature apparently thought it would take some time off from showing much beauty with the palette largely greys and browns-blech. That said, we happily join our furry friends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard as nature around Blogville often shares its bounty in surprising ways.

Our urban landscape is now in full drab mode and more than slightly dreary despite very welcome warm days earlier this week. This time of year may not be so unusual for most of the country, but in sunshine rich Colorado (there are over 300 days a year sporting sunshine), it’s noticeable. The forecast is now shifting toward cloudy days with cold and snow in the near forecast. Just before the weather shifted, nature provided a lovely surprise to an otherwise bland palette. Why is November so generally dull?

As the afternoon sun began to set, a bright glow from the western sky filled the living room as I began to think about fixing dinner. Scenes like these images will go a long way in making November far more pleasant.

In a matter of a few fleeting moments, the sky went from subtle to ‘gonna knock your socks off.’

Sunset

Sunset

A slight glance southward showed a scene that just lit up my soul (with apologies for the hideously visible power lines). In less than ninety seconds, nature’s beautiful show made me forget all about drab November.

Sunset

May you experience some beautiful sunsets over the weekend. Do you have any fun plans in store before the holiday season begins in earnest?

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 15, 2019

Welcome to Friday, a favorite day where we look forward to a weekend of friends, family and fun. As always, we join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard as we check out the beauty of Mother Nature around Blogville.

Pikes Peak
Distant view of Pikes Peak from my parents house

Things around the Ranch are pretty drab with loads of various shades of brown. Gone are all colorful leaves and autumnal perennials but there’s still loads of beauty all around the 303. Let’s take a look south at one of the most famous of Colorado’s 53 ‘Fourteeners,’ peaks of at least 14,000 ft. tall (4,267.2 m), the infamous “Pikes Peak.”

Historical Background

The Ute Indians (the Tabeguache, the “People of Sun Mountain”) were the first documented people in the Pikes Peak region who referred to the mountain  located near Colorado Springs as Tava or “sun,” the Ute word they used to refer to Pikes Peak. In 1806 Zebulon Pike was sent westward to locate the headwaters of the Arkansas River.

In the late 1800’s, a carriage road to the summit and the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway was built. In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates ascended the mountain in a prairie wagon, was so moved by the breathtaking views and wide sweeping plains, and later wrote the poem which inspired the song; “American the Beautiful.”

Pikes Peak“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…”

In 1806 Pike named the mountain “Highest Peak,” and was commonly known as “Pike’s Highest Peak.” American explorer Stephen Harriman Long renamed it “James Peak” in honor of Edwin James, a doctor and botanist, who was the first documented climber, and who is also credited with discovering the state flower, the blue columbine. Mrs. Julia Archibald Holmes was the first woman to climb the mountain in 1858 which was later renamed “Pike’s Peak” in honor of Pike by the United States Board on Geographic Names in 1890. After Pike’s failed attempt to climb to the top in November 1806 due to a blizzard, he wrote in his journal:

“…here we found the snow middle deep; no sign of beast or bird inhabiting this region. The thermometer which stood at 9° above 0 at the foot of the mountain, here fell to 4° below 0. The summit of the Grand Peak, which was entirely bare of vegetation and covered with snow, now appeared at the distance of 15 or 16 miles from us, and as high again as what we had ascended, and would have taken a whole day’s march to have arrived at its base, when I believed no human being could have ascended to its pinical [sic]. This with the condition of my soldiers who had only light overalls on, and no stockings, and every way ill provided to endure the inclemency of the region; the bad prospect of killing any thing to subsist on, with the further detention of two or three days, which it must occasion, determined us to return.”

The striking beauty that inspired Katharine Bates and thrills nearly six million other people visiting the Pikes Peak region each year offers breathtaking vistas. Nearly 700,000 visiting the Peak itself enjoying hiking, picnicking, fishing, and other attractions.

There are three ways to ascend the mountain. The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad is operated from Manitou Springs to the summit (conditions permitting) but is currently closed for refurbishing. It should reopen in 2021 while a temporary shuttle system has taken part of its place with several private outfitters providing transportation up the mountain during the renovation.

Vehicles can drive to the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19 mi (31 km), road that starts a few miles up Ute Pass with numerous switchbacks on the northwest side of the mountain. The world famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is held annually on the last Sunday of June. The toll road is maintained by the City of Colorado Springs and has been fully paved since October, 2011.

Visitors can walk, hike, or bike the trail. While the Barr Trail is rated as only “Class 1 hike,” it is a long and arduous hike with nearly 8,000 ft (2,400 m) elevation gain, and a one-way 13 mi (21 km) trek. The Pikes Peak Marathon, a trail race has been held since 1956. I don’t know about you but a thirteen mile hike straight up calls for a cab in my books.

Pikes Peak looms over downtown Colorado Springs and the mountain has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The mountain is composed of a characteristic pink granite referred to as Pikes Peak granite, the color due to a large amount of potassium feldspar. Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America.

Pikes Peak
Photo courtesy of Paul Ehlis

So, have you ever visited Pikes Peak? What was your reaction?

We hope you are able to enjoy a beautiful weekend with nature as your traveling companion.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 8, 2019

It’s Friday and time to showcase a slice of the beauty from Mother Nature. It’s also the time where we join our furry buddies, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard to check out what others in Blogville share in the hop because you can’t get too much  beauty from Mother Nature.

The weather has been pretty nice for this time of year with today pushing 60 degrees and tomorrow cresting the 70ºF mark. To which I say, yes please! While I really don’t mind cooler temps, i absolutely love the 60-70ºF range. If there weren’t dried brown leaves, you might think it was spring instead of autumn.

But enough of the weather, let’s get to the pretty. Naturally not much is blooming in the garden this time of year so let’s go into a greenhouse and check out some orchids instead.

Flowers

Orchidaceae (orchids) has over 20,000 currently known species, and they can be quite showy, with flowers in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes. While delicate looking these guys are hardy inhabitants when cared for properly.

Flowers

All orchids share some similar characteristics like bilateral symmetry of their flower, where the flowers often appear upside down, supine or upward facing. They nearly always show highly modified petals, fused stamens and carpels, producing very small seeds.

Flowers

Orchids are perennial herbs and lack a permanent woody structure. Orchids do not flower more than once on the same stem generally. Stems should be cut just above the bottom two nodes, or joints after the flower is spent.

Flowers

The showy orchids favored by most people are usually phalaenopsis hybrids (known as moth orchids). These plants enjoy strong (but not direct afternoon) light with either southern or eastern exposure. They need high humidity and turbulent airflow around the roots with regular periods of drying alternated with heavy watering (or drenching rains if you happen to in Hawaii where some of these images were taken). Orchids do best in temperatures above 50 degrees and below 85 degrees.

Orchids have graced the Ranch for somewhat limited lives but lack of long term success hasn’t deterred me from being captivated by these beauties. I mean, whenever I see something as beautiful as these exquisite plants, I want to bring those showy flowers home. Who can resist a beautiful orchid in the winter? I know I still look for something similar to this blue orchid (previously shared earlier this year) which I brought home several years ago from the local grocery store. Although it didn’t survive nearly as long as I had hoped, it sure looked lovely while it did.

Flowers

Have you had luck growing orchids at home?

We hope you are able to get out to enjoy nature this weekend and to find some of the varied beauty Mother Nature offers.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 1, 2019

Greetings to our favorite day of the week. It’s also a fresh new month, November. Egad…WHERE has this year gone? One day you’re welcoming tulips and the next day it seems like you’re planting new ones. W-H-A-T? Nonetheless, put me down in the “happy it’s Friday again” category while we tag along with our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard and we stroll throughout Blogville checking out the beauty of Mother Nature.

For those of you keeping track, there are 53 days to Christmas. I know, I know…but judging by the fact that we just rolled the calendar over to a new page, the heavy set guy in red will be coming down chimney in no time. With the weather being unseasonably cold this week, it got me to start working on various handmade gifts for family and friends since walk-abouts weren’t going to be possible.

Sam
Wait…why aren’t we going walking?

It was so cold and snowy this week, we really didn’t get out to check out much of what Nature offered. Everything was white anyway and I was busy shoveling an enormous corner lot (what in the world was I thinking buying a house on a corner with twice as much sidewalk as normal houses?!) and just trying to keep myself warm and the dogs occupied.

Sam & ElsaEver notice how dogs can get cabin fever much quicker than humans? Like many dogs, the Knuckleheads nap much of the day, but the naps seemed shorter with more frequent with loads of plaintive glances and relentless nose nudging to pay attention to the clearly depraved canines. One way they can pass the time away when they’re bored, is through annoying behavior.

Shoveling out a “pee-atio” area for the dogs was nearly as important as keeping their minds engaged. Poodles can be picky about their bathroom thrones and not just any spot will work for their fragile little psyches as I’ve discovered. They experience Goldilocks syndrome and everything must be just right.

Because of some uneven flagstones, it’s not an quick job shoveling out part of the dog run to keep poodle tushes from being kissed by snow during their constitutionals.  I thought I was doing the Knuckleheads a solid. Indeed…they promptly went to the opposite end where the snow depth was 10″ deep to do their business. Thanks guys. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy frostbitten fingers trying to help you out.

Dog run

One thing about Nature is how a snowstorm can change the landscape. Earlier this week I shared the photo of a gigantic icicle that formed (my friend Sorryless referred to it as a ‘support column’ and he wasn’t far off–it took a number of attempts to knock that sucker down-if you missed it, click here). Yesterday, as the snow began to melt, it seemed as if Nature was piling globs of frosting around the garden and fence line. It was beautiful and allowed me to forget the backbreaking job of shoveling it from the endless sidewalk.

Snow

Snow

But all is not lost as we wait for the full melt. On cue, the ‘Christmas cactus’ (that has coincidently never bloomed any time near its namesake) decided to wake up. That riot shock of hot pink always makes me grateful for this indoor show of beauty that Nature provides at the most unexpected times. And here I thought there wouldn’t be any foliage this week.

Cactus

Here’s wishing you a fantastic weekend with the hope you manage to stumble across something beautiful out there even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Nature Friday

P.S. Don’t forget to ‘fall’ back this weekend. Enjoy that extra hour of sleep.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ October 28, 2019

Halloween
Which one is the dangerous one?

There are some scary things lurking around the neighborhood this Halloween week. But probably the scariest part of Halloween might be this.

Snow

The forecast calls for [more] snow today, tomorrow and perhaps even through Wednesday. And bitter cold temps. The Knuckleheads enjoyed an early morning romp but were very willing to come back inside. What do you think the odds are that demon dogs or witches will be out trick-or-treating Thursday?

Have a safe week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 25, 2019

Whew…we made it to Friday and you know what that means…it’s time to celebrate the beauty Mother Nature provides. As usual, we’re joining our furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard on this last Friday of the month. My planned post went bye-bye with the arrival of our second snowstorm yesterday. It seems like autumn is engaged in a 15-round battle with winter.

After the first snow of the season a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if autumn would recover. But she proved she had what it takes to provide some Mile High beauty even if it was somewhat muted. Snow doesn’t always impact the changing colors here but the bitter cold definitely did. And yet it was as if Autumn rolled over, stretched and said “up yours, Winter” and proceeded to produce some beautifully colored leaves just for spite.

Autumn

While Colorado is more well known for its golden aspen leaves this time of year, a few other trees offer color more commonly associated with the East Coast. Elms, Lindens, Silver Maples, and Ash trees were hit hard by the freeze but a few other trees colored up nicely including the ornamental pears.

Autumn

Autumn

Even with the latest snowstorm, red and white showed up and provided quite a show.

Autumn

Autumn

The landscape had melted by mid-afternoon having received a nice quenching drink after several days of drying winds. Today and tomorrow will be back to lovely autumn temperatures with another storm expected to arrive Sunday. And right on cue, Mother Nature is set to disappoint timid would-be trick or treaters with cold temps and more snow next week. In any event, we’re not letting it hold us back. The Ninja and Knucklehead have made it their personal life’s mission to turn me into a human kite on our walks. Cool, crisp weather seems to be their fuel for sprinting with abandon.

Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever Mother Nature offers you. She always offers some kind of gift and life is definitely richer when you accept it.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 18, 2019

Looks like our BFF has arrived (can I get a collective ‘Amen’ here) which means it’s time to welcome the weekend celebrate the beauty Mother Nature. As always, we’re joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers over at LLB in our Backyard. Since Halloween is just around the corner, let’s feature one of the iconic symbols for this time of year, the beautiful orange pumpkin. Did you know the word pumpkin originally was derived from the word pepon, the Greek word for “large melon,” or something round and large. The French adapted the word to “pompon,” and the British referred to it as “pumpion.” It’s not a stretch to see how American colonists came to simply call it “pumpkin.”

PumpkinThe term pumpkin itself has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, used and is often interchangeably referred to as “squash” or “winter squash.” In North America and the UK, pumpkin generally refers to only certain round orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from Cucurbita pepo (Australian English notes it as winter squash of any appearance). As a warm-weather crop, seeds are generally planted in July and are generally quite hardy. The plants produce both a male and female flower and must be fertilized, usually by bees.

Pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, having been cultivated as early as 7,500 to 5,000 BC. Pumpkin pie is often a staple in both Canadian and US Thanksgiving Day feasts though pumpkins used in pie fillings are different from varieties used to carve Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. In 2017, over 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in the US with the top pumpkin-producing states being Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

PumpkinsSeveral of our neighbors plant pumpkins on that little strip of ground between the sidewalk and the street (affectionately known as the ‘hell strip’ in these parts) and are frequently noshed on by squirrel thugs who seem to treat them as a fast food drive-through. Those gigantic pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) you sometimes see were developed from South American large squash varieties through efforts of botanical societies and pumpkin enthusiasts.

PumpkinsNutritionally speaking, pumpkins are versatile and most parts of the plant are edible. Canned pumpkin (not filling) is often recommended by vets as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats for digestive ailments such as constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs. It’s a mainstay around the Ranch for keeping canine tummies content. Elsa in particular, is a connoisseur of the orange fleshy pureé. The high fiber content aids with good digestion. Did you know raw pumpkin is often fed to poultry, as a supplement to their regular feed, during the winter to help maintain egg production, which usually drops off during cold months. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc for peeps and are a delicious and low calorie snack.

I don’t know about you, but with pumpkin pie season getting started, maybe it’s time to start thinking about stocking up on whipped cream.

Pumpkins

Here’s hoping the weekend weather allows you to get out and enjoy some classic aspects of autumn nature. Me personally…I think I’m going to follow this truck.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 4, 2019

It’s time to celebrate the beauty Mother Nature provides us and because it’s Friday, that means we’re joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard. Autumn has definitely arrived and judging by your kind comments this week, a favorite of many peeps.

This week nature has had a lot to offer. Sadly, not all of it was good either. Several wildfires continue to burn in our fair state and there have been a number of officially ordered evacuations. Winds, warm weather and tinder-dry conditions have fueled these fires and we pray for the  safety of residents and firefighters.

Fires
Photo courtesy of Jerry McBride/Durango Herald via AP)/The Durango Herald via AP

Human activity can impact the look of nature in any number of ways. Last week while visiting the Vail area, I saw what extraction mining can do to a remarkable landscape. The ghost town of Gilman, Colorado, located near Battle Mountain was once a thriving mining operation with a number of mines being opened beginning in the 1870’s during Colorado’s silver boom. Gold and silver were mined until the 1920’s.

As is often the case, mining operations went deeper and deeper and the extracted ore contained heavy sulfide content which local smelters refused to process. Separators were installed in 1905, and a problem was turned into an asset. Zinc, often a by-product in silver mining, became the economic mainstay until the early 1930’s. When the zinc market dropped, the mines switched to copper and silver ores which then became the main focus until the zinc price returned. Zinc became the principal ore until the mine was forcibly closed due to extreme pollution by the EPA who designated the town a Superfund site; it being listed on the National Priorities List in 1986. Gilman’s residents were forced to abandon the 235-acre site, many leaving much behind. By 1984, rock-bottom zinc prices coerced the company to leave Gilman for other profitable enterprises. A couple of attempts have been contemplated for redevelopment of the site but much like the town, they have also been abandoned.

The thriving town of Gilman (population of around 350) once included an infirmary, a grocery store, and even a bowling alley in its heyday. By 1970, total production was 10 million tons of ore ( 393,000 troy ounces (12,200 kg) of gold; 66,000,000 troy ounces (2,100,000 kg) of silver; 105,000 tons of copper; 148,000 tons of lead; and 858,000 tons of zinc) while an astonishing 8-million tons of mine waste was excavated and deposited into the ecosystem.

The townsite has long been notoriously vandalized over the years with worker’s homes being heavily tagged in graffiti by trespassers and nearly every window broken. The main shaft elevators still sit ready for ore cars, permanently locked at the top level. Various vehicles still sit in their garages, left behind by their owners. The town has been the subject of interest for many historians, explorers, and photographers.

Gilman, COThe once colorful homes of Gilman sit close to the mining facilities with the waste tailings flowing down the hill. Though posted as a no-trespassing area, the town continues to draw vandals who have posted hundreds of images on social media sites. Looking through many eerie and creepy images on Instagram, it seemed the residents left in a hurry. One particular image, a box of Cheer soap, spilled on the floor along with children’s toys, magazines, among scads of debris haunted my thoughts. I did not trespass the fence area, instead taking in some of the natural beauty of the mountain. I couldn’t help but wonder about those who lived and worked there and how many of them fell ill after they left.

Notice the mine tailings flowing down the hill on the right.Gilman, CO

Still, all is not all bad and I certainly don’t want to end on a sour note. All the changing leaves reminded me that Nature can still be a very beautiful place.

Vail, CO
Betty Ford Alpine Garden, Vail, CO

We hope you have a beautiful weekend.Vail, CO

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Waterfall Wednesday ~ October 2, 2019

The zen continues. How’d you like this view from your deck?

Waterfall

Live, love, bark! 🐾