Nature Friday ~ January 10, 2020

SamGood “Fri-yay” morning, peeps! Sam here doing this week’s post where we check out nature around our Ranch ‘hood. Is this January or March? The weather has been unseasonably warm (we even reached the 60’sF a few days) but we’re not complaining. While the mornings are crisp and there are still mounds of snow and ice on north facing shady areas, it’s been practically balmy I tell you with lots of blue skies and bright sunshine. As always we’re joining our Pacific Northwest furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday blog hop.

What areas don’t have clumps of snow, there’s lots of brown showing. On our walk yesterday we came across something we haven’t seen for months. A tiny little green plant growing out of a stone wall. It was super exciting. Mom had to stop and take 87 photos of the little guy who I named Bobby. That way when we walk by there later today, I can bark hello to Bobby as I’m trying to pee on him. I’m sure he’ll be happy to spread along neighborhood news with other doggos. Mom thinks Bobby is some kind of borage. We see it around a lot. Bobby’s a pretty cute little guy, don’t you think? Can’t help wonder how he got between those stone blocks.

Nature Friday

Shortly after I ‘introduced’ myself to Bobby, mom came across another green sign with some small cacti. Mom walked by and I could see the cogs turning. She turned us around and walked back to stand in front of it for a few moments trying to figure out what it was. Mom had downloaded a free phone app earlier this month called PlantSnap to help her identify plants whose name she doesn’t know. Boy or boy…ain’t technology grand?! So after a quick snap, POOF! the app tells her it’s none other than ‘Henbit Deadnettle’ (Lamium Amplexicaule).

Nature Friday

I’m calling this deadnettle ‘Paula’ and hope she doesn’t grow too close to those prickly things. I tried to sniff them to see what they were and they. are. not. friendly cactus. Luckily mom managed to wrest me away before I got a good snout-ful sniff and said they didn’t need any watering from me even though things are really dry around the hood.

We’re going to enjoy this comfortable weather while wondering how long it will take for the glacier on the north side of our yard to melt. Do you have any ‘cool’ plans for the weekend? Whatever you do, we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy something that’s totally ‘wagnificent’ outside in nature.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ January 3, 2020

Welcome to the first Friday of 2020. We’re joining our furry friends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday blog hop.  Don’t forget to check out other blogs when you click on the link.

January is typically the coldest and driest month of the year. While we didn’t have a white Christmas, a snow storm arrived on the 27th throughout most of the state. It made driving conditions treacherous and I deliberately made sure to arrange my return home accordingly after a lovely Christmas visit with the family.

Pikes Peak

As you can see looking at Pikes Peak from near my mom’s house, nature is pretty typical for this time of year, i.e. somewhat bland and brown. Pikes Peak with its snow capped summit rises above the Plains like a beacon. Situated just West of Colorado Springs, it’s a view that travels from the metro area to Pueblo often experience on those trademark Colorado clear blue sky days.

Once back home it was just 36 hours when a nice 4-6″ deep storm covered the neighborhood. And it was windy and chilly. For a few days, the temperature barely rose past the 20’s. This week has been moving toward the 40’s and close to 50 on New Year’s  day and while some of you may shiver at that thought, trust me…January in the 40’s is a heat spell in Denver. The National Western Stock Show nearly always ushers in frigid temperatures and it starts January 11th. I’m shivering just thinking about it since the arrival will mandate several extra layers just to stay semi-comfortable, much less warm.

While nature has been a bit bland around the Ranch, Elsa experienced an ‘interesting’ adventure yesterday. Welcome the newest neighbor to our hood, Wally, a rescued Great Pyrenees who moved across the street from us. We met yesterday. Elsa was not amused in the slightest bit. Umm, let’s just say Wally’s manners need some work around the ladies. A sweet boy who’s lived his entire 2-year life on an Indiana farm so far, socialization with other dogs is slim to next to nothing and slim left town last week.

Elsa's Friend
He’s a handsome chap, but a bit camera shy.

The hope is that Wally and Elsa will learn to enjoy one another’s company and have some fun playing ‘catch me if you can’ at get-togethers. Once he stops being a cad, that is, if you get my drift. His size is probably prohibitive for play dates with Sam who is also not much of a player. He’ll stand there wagging his tail furiously but at 14+, he really isn’t much into the game of chase. Not that he ever was. A few dance steps, some serious tail wagging and then a yawn with  a retreat to take a nap. That boy has always known how to conserve energy.

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend. While the NFL Playoffs begin tomorrow, we hope you’ll enjoy some outdoor playtime. I plan to go outside and wander about the ‘hood in the nearly 60 F degrees forecast tomorrow. Now where are those mud boots?

Nature Friday

Live, love bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ December 20, 2019

Can you believe it, Christmas is just 4 days away?! Yikes…are YOU ready? It’s been a busy time of year so naturally we’re running behind. But we’re never behind when it comes to Nature Friday where we join our hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard and take a look at nature around Blogville  in beautiful ways. This time of year limits inspiring nature unless you’re into snow patterns so let’s look around the house where some beautiful plants are taking center stage this time of year.

There are a number of indoor plants associated with the holiday season. Let’s take a gander at favorite one we have-genius Schlumbergera, otherwise  known as Christmas Cactus. Right on schedule the vibrant fuschia hued Christmas cactus started blooming. But by right on schedule, I mean before Thanksgiving. It’s one of two “Christmas cactuses” (cacti?) that bloom around the Ranch. Provided I can keep Elsa from thinking she can take small nibbles off the flowers. This one and a nearby hibiscus seem to be too enticing for her to resist.

Christmas cactus

Seeing color like this brightens my mood when the supply of sunshine dwindles throughout winter days when our landscape is at its brownest. When the first hot pink buds begin to arrive, it always makes me smile as I look forward to the show about to erupt. This guy has been around for nearly two decades and never fails to dazzle though it’s beginning to wane the closer we get to Christmas day.

The other one is a shy fellow that was gifted to me by my son when he moved  to Hawaii. It makes appearances (which always chagrins my son since it never bloomed for him after he brought it home), but only on a somewhat limited basis. While returning some art supplies to the studio where it lives, I noticed this one of two, gorgeous blooms.

Christmas cactus

This year’s show isn’t going to have nearly as many flowers as in past years for heaven only knows why. But that beautiful coral color is worth even a minimal display. This guy gets coddled and yet never performs like the pink show-off above. Like I said, a very shy guy.

While its common name is ‘cactus,’ in the Northern Hemisphere, they are called Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, crab cactus and holiday cactus. It is a tropical plant that hails from Brazil requiring higher water and humidity requirements than its Southwest cactus buddies. Keeping these beauties in shape for their annual bloom-fest is simple though. Water deeply whenever the top inch or so of soil is dry. Repot if the soil is hard and compact, or allow the water to slowly penetrate tight soil. They should only be fertilized when the plant is actively growing or when blooming. Soil should be a well-draining potting soil mix.

Christmas cactus likes bright, indirect light for best blooming conditions while avoiding cold, drafty locations or one close to a heat source. They’re pretty easy to maintain and pinching back stem ends following blooming makes for a bushier plant.

Do you have this seasonal beauty in your home? What Christmas plants are your favorites? Kudos to you if you’re totally ready for Santa’s visit next week.

Live love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ December 13, 2019

Happy Friday the 13th. We’re not that much into the superstition surrounding the second occurence of this so-called unlucky day of the year. Why? Because today is Nature Friday around Blogville which means we’re joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard while we check out various nuggets of beauty that Mother Nature showcases…provided we actually look for it.

It’s been a crazy busy week as we’re preparing for Santa Paws’ arrival in just eleven days. E-l-e-v-e-n!! Awk…I’m hustling as fast as I can but it seems as if I’m just on a treadmill and not marking too many things off the “to-do” list which is no good excuse for not consciously looking around to see what nature dishes out. As the week progressed, I bemoaned the fact the greyness of December hadn’t really offered much in terms of something notable until I took the pups out first thing this morning.

December ushers in winter and its Full Moon is called the Cold Moon. It can also be referred to as Long Nights Moon, or the Moon before Yule. Technically, the full moon reached peak fullness at 12:12 A.M. EST on December 12th however, in western time zones, the noon rose on Wednesday, December 11. No worries though, it still illuminated our early morning sky and as I waited for the Knuckleheads to do their morning constitution (or in the Ninja’s case, racing zoomies after emptying her bladder), I looked up toward the Western sky.

My neighborhood of older homes has tall, mature trees lining its streets. Across the street I noticed the moon was framed among leafless branches. All I had on me to capture it was my cell phone so it’s not a great image, but it still cast an interesting image with the branches surrounding the moon like a wreath.

Moon

What makes this month’s full moon special? Because of its high trajectory across the sky, it will sit above the horizon for a longer period of time.

Also notable this month are shooting stars from the Geminid Meteor Shower, which is the most active meteor shower of the year. I haven’t seen it yet but hope to check it out tonight when it should be at its most prolific. Snow is in our forecast so there may not be a chance but the shower may be visible for a few more nights.

We hope you have a terrific Friday and an even better weekend. The Ninja plans to spend as much time as possible squirrel hunting while I’m running around like a crazy person getting ready for the big holiday. Whatever you do, make sure to take a look at nature.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

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! 🐾