Nature Friday ~ April 3, 2020

Welcome to the first Friday of April. We hope this finds you healthy and following whatever rules are in place in your local area to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the pandemic.

Nature FridayAs usual, we are joining our furry Pacific Northwest 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 at the following link to see what nature is dishing out around Blogville.

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So, let’s get started on what nature is showing off in the Mile High. On Wednesday, we enjoyed our finest spring day yet with beautiful Colorado bluebird skies and temperatures reaching a lovely 70ºF (21ºC) and being blessed with the first Ladybug sighting this spring. Woohoo! It’s always a joy to see these industrious little gardeners taking care of pesky invaders.

Ladybug

A few blocks later, tiny squill bulbs were in bloom-always a seasonal favorite of mine. At just 3-4 inches tall, these stripped beauties are often overlooked when passing by neighborhood gardens.

Flowers

Yesterday Mother Nature decided to once again banish all signs of spring in favor of another dose of winter. What the dog?!  Yesterday’s temps had nearly a 50º swing coupled with a bitter 14 mph wind, putting the windchill factor at 14ºF (-10ºC). {Shiver!}

All is not lost though even on these past chilly days (it was 19ºF this morning), there still is a lot to seek out while Mother Nature touches things in only her special way. Originally the thought was to share images of beautiful flowering trees since a number were beginning to signal they were ready to burst forth. When yesterday’s storm blew through, it was clear that wasn’t gonna happen so on yesterday’s afternoon walk, I decided to highlight what the sleet/rain/snow combo did on various bulbs that have emerged despite this yo-yo climate.

The Lupine is beginning to wake up and even with icy beads, casts a pretty image. Eventually they’ll form those beautiful buds and turn the garden into a riot of color.

Flowers

Along my regular path, this Lamb’s Wool shivered in the sleety storm. It should come as no surprise I avoided rubbing their fuzzy leaves.

Flowers

Beautiful shades of pink tulips were just beginning to emerge with some gorgeous pops of color. I’ll be curious to see how they fare when the temps once again warm up (weekend forecast is for upper 50’s & 60’s). Ok, Mother Nature, enough of the yo-yo temps, okay?

Flowers
Flowers

Today’s early morning landscape shows a frosty garden, though we should warm up enough to melt most of yesterday’s frozen scenery.

Snow

Anything exciting going on in your neck of the woods? We hope you’re following stay in place orders and aren’t too stir-crazy. People around my ‘hood seemed to have hit the wall with every bored millennial walking their dogs on the warm days that I didn’t even realize lived around here. It should be interesting to see if boredom wins out today or if they wait until the weekend when the temps go back into the 50’s & 60’s. Whatever is on your agenda, we hope you stay safe and keep smiling. Together we can get through these challenging times. Remember we’re just a few keystrokes away if you need some cheer or just a friendly face to chat with. All joking aside, despite the silly costumes.

Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 27, 2020

NormanNorman wants to know, “Is that you, Friday?” Welcome to the last Friday of the month, Norman. What a month this one has been. Apart from our city and now state being fully shut down, the Ranch experienced a typical spring snowstorm last week. The dogs took a vote and have their paws crossed today’s forecast is not a repeat performance. The weatherman has assured them it won’t be (maybe an inch or two with rain), but Norman said he’s not walking in that wet dripping stuff no matter how many treats are in the magic pocket. Whatever happens today weatherwise, it won’t stop us from joining our fur-iends and hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard as we share a few looks around to see what nature offers.

For the most part, my garden is assorted shades of brown with tiny pops of color here and there. Last week’s 6-8 inches of white stuff was just the catalyst to give the garden a nice drink of water. Which means, the easiest ‘perennial’ to grow immediately, flowered. *Sigh*

Flowers

Around the Mile High, social distancing is the rule (though far too many are ignoring it-what is wrong with people?) but I noticed a few flower beds are  complying with the latest mandate like these daffodils and crocuses. For the most part still, yellow was the color of the day as shown in these images taken yesterday afternoon, with far more daffodils than anything else.

Flowers

Our afternoon walk did offer one pretty blast of pink at one of my favorite front gardens with this blooming Pasque Flower which started blooming a couple of days after the snow melted. It’s still a beauty even though it’s about finished.

Flowers

And because it’s my favorite color, how bout a tiny shot of blue from our front garden and one of the few things blooming in my garden?

Flowers

Ok, Norman, are you ready to go on your morning constitution now?

Woof, woof!!

Whatever you do this weekend, we hope you religiously practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently. Here’s to a beautiful weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 20, 2020

Today is Friday where we normally share some of the beauty nature provides. As always, we’re joining our buddies, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s edition.

Welcome Springtime…now go back from where you came. What…you say?!?! Are you nuts? Ok, granted it was just shy of 70ºF on Wednesday, the day before Spring arrived but then on the launch date, she decided to play some leprechaun trickery by saying, “umm yeah…not so fast, my cousin Winter isn’t quite ready to exit.” Is this Mother Nature’s idea of social distancing where she spaced it out Spring’s arrival by a few days following the actual St. Patrick’s Day? Sure the parades were cancelled but sheesh…come on!

Spring

On Tuesday I looked out in the garden and saw a nice swath of baby blue grape hyacinths. These guys always make me happy. Their arrival signals Spring’s pending arrival. For about a week now, a number of springtime bulbs began to wake up the otherwise brown landscape. Early-bird crocuses, daffodils and even a few tulips, have taken center stage in the urban landscape. This time of year with its extended hours of sunlight, we begin to shake off winter doldrums in favor of hope and renewal, the season otherwise known as Spring. Earlier this week was no exception. Who wouldn’t smile when seeing colorful bulbs?

Spring SpringThen nature apparently had a case of hiccups upon realizing it was the first day of Spring. What started out as a cold, slushy rain quickly turned into white stuff with strong, windy conditions.

Spring

The dogs were not happy on the morning walk. Stormin’ Norman absolutely refused to relieve himself, instead opting to give me the stink eye showing he was clearly not a fan of getting wet. The walk was cut short in the face of stubbornness wet conditions.

Norman

Remember that nice bright blue patch of grape hyacinths? Here’s an expanded view of how they looked as ‘spring arrived.’

Spring

So…how was your first day of Spring? Any plans to get out this weekend? How are you coping with cabin fever while trying to follow social distancing guidelines? Whatever you do, we hope you stay well and dry and enjoy a wonderful first weekend of Spring.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 6, 2020

Tomorrow marks the two-week mark since beloved Sam left this mortal world. It’s been a painful time with lots of ups and down for both me and the dogs. Just as it seems like things are getting better, something will trigger a bout of tears and it feels like any progress made has been erased. While I realize this is all normal in the grief process, they are still upsetting.

Sam has come home now and I find myself staring at his remains for long periods of time, recalling past memories. Some are funny, some are more of the ‘I can’t believe you just did that’ and others are ones that make my heart swell with loving pride. It’s easy to go the full spectrum as I stare at the carved box.

Just before Sam came home, on one of our many walks during the mild spring-like weather, I happened to look down. Not sure if it was because it was the first sign of spring that caught my attention or the fact that there was a white feather next to it, but the one thing I was certain of was that it was a sign from Angel Sam reaching out. Tears formed in my eyes but then a smile appeared. The dogs and I stood there quietly for a few moments knowing our favorite Knucklehead had sent us a message. The dogs seemed to pick up the pace with joyous steps once we continued on the walk.

Sam, RIP

While I do not consider myself religious, I do think I’m pretty spiritual. Throughout the world, different cultures subscribe to slightly different explanations on what finding a white feather means. Yet, it seems the explanation is mostly consistent across the board. The symbolism of the white feather is generally thought of a sign of the presence of an angel. When you find one, it is thought that one of your angels just visited you within the physical realm and it’s an opportunity to say a prayer of thanks for their support.

It’s also thought that finding a white feather is a sign that a loved one is watching over you from the spirit realm. While that is certainly plausible, it can also be their desire to make contact with you. Either way, when you find a feather, you’ll likely feel a familiar energy, similar to the one we experienced. Finding a white feather is seen as a good omen and reminds us to stay strong, positive, and optimistic.

No matter whatever life throws at you, finding a white feather is viewed as a symbol that can provide a sense of comfort. And in this instance, it was as if Sam were leaning against my leg, wagging his tail and gazing deeply into my eyes like he often did when alive and there was great comfort in that moment.

While news this week has been heartbreaking and disturbing (our thoughts are with the folks of Tennessee and pray the situation surrounding the Corona-virus gets under control), we hope you seek and find comfort this weekend.

Please remember to ‘spring forward’ for Daylight Savings Time which arrives this weekend. We will be envious of those of you who live in Hawaii, parts of Arizona and Indiana who have the good sense not to go through this stupid time change.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ February 21, 2020

Welcome to Friday, the day we share some of the amazing sights nature provides us. As usual, we are joining our buddies, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s edition.

It’s been snowy and cold in the Mile High and I’m still trying to acclimate to an unusually snowy month. Normally January and February are the driest months of the year but this year January was unseasonably warm and February has been unseasonably wet. Let’s just say my body is still in tune with the climate of the Caribbean but I won’t torment you with more beach images, instead, let’s check out the local fauna of the region.

While cruising around the Gulf of Mexico, I saw a number of animals I was familiar with but others that were completely new to my eyes. From iguanas to sloths and a few other unusual critters, I was enchanted like a small child at the sheer number of the different varieties encountered.

This Scarlet Macaw (the national bird of Honduras) was surprisingly heavy when he sat on my head. Who knew parrots had that much heft to go along with that gorgeous plumage?

Hondurus

Two Capuchin monkeys, Pinky and Coco greeted our tour group and Pinky, obligingly climbed on board everyone’s shoulders. She was very sweet and we were told she enjoyed being stroked. Mostly I think she was waiting for pieces of fruit from her handler, Kevin, but hey, what do I know about what monkeys want/need. Normally I’m not into monkeys but Pinky proved to be quite charming.Hondurus

I missed hearing what kind of animal this little guy was but he had such an adorable expression on his face, who could resist taking a photo of him/her.Honduras

We’re in for two days of nice temperatures (low 50’s) and the dogs and I plan to enjoy every single warm degree. Naturally it all comes to a screeching halt on Sunday when [yet] another snowstorm is forecast so we’ll see how the weekend morphs into next week. I know the Three Amigos of the Ranch will happily welcome more snow to mush through. We hope you have a ‘wagnificent’ weekend. Get out there and enjoy all the wondrous things that nature offers.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ February 14, 2020

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps. It’s been a long time since V-Day fell on a Friday but that’s not keeping us from celebrating Nature Friday with our furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s special Valentine’s edition of Nature Friday blog hop.

It was just one week ago I was cruising around the Western Caribbean. The biggest highlight was spending time on Isla Roatán, the largest of the Honduras’ Bay Islands, a 31-mile-long, 5-mile-wide swath of white sand and tropical forests 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras that can tick all the boxes of visiting an island paradise. You want palm-fringed beaches? Check. Exotic animals? Check. Laid-back restaurants, tropical drinks, and freshly caught seafood? Got it! From the lively streets of the western end to the once pirate-infested coves of the beautiful eastern shores, Roatán offers a diverse array of things to see and do that will surely satisfy all your travel desires.

Roatán is known around the world for its scuba diving. The world’s second largest barrier reef (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) surrounds the island and is inhabited by schools of beautiful tropical fish, dolphins and snorkelers alike. When visiting Roatán you will see sea turtles, dolphins, and whales swim in that beautiful blue water.

Roatán
Shipwreck, near Mahogany Bay 

My family and I took a land and sea tour that showed off some of the most amazing sites throughout the island. The water was the clearest I’ve seen in the Caribbean.

Roatán

Lots of tropical fish abound. Just out of view in the image below, dolphins were swimming with snorkelers.

Roatá

One of the most memorable experiences was an unexpected trip to a preserve where our group was entertained by Betty the sloth, Pinky and Coco, the capuchin monkeys and other local animals. The most thrilling part of this side trip was we were actually in many of the enclosures with the animals. I never realized how incredibly sweet sloths were.

Roatán
Betty, the Sloth

A multi-cultural paradise with three distinct influences dominate the isle (Spanish, Caribbean and Black). Although poverty is still a big issue, Roatá’s people were warm, welcoming and ever so proud to share their beautiful island with visitors. It was a day not likely to be forgotten any time soon and I would definitely go back if given the opportunity.

Roatán

The young fellow in the orange shirt (upper left in photo) was one of the most knowledgable tour guides I’ve ever used. Personable and articulate, Joshua enhanced our group’s experience of his island home. He was extremely good natured with this older group (consisting of mostly female cougars tourists from Colorado, Texas, Kentucky and a charming couple from England).

Roatán

Roatán

Meanwhile back on the Tundra, I am recovering from a nasty coughing bug I picked up on the trip home. Snow has fallen four of the past five days and hasn’t made recovery come any time soon, and the furry nurses have barely left my side except to take raucous romps in the snow. Ever have a furry nurse take your temperature 75 times a day?

Snow

We all hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day with all of your loved ones and also are able to seize an opportunity to enjoy some of the amazing vistas Mother Nature offers.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

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! 🐾