Nature Friday ~ December 17, 2021

Despite a wild week with hurricane-force winds, we managed to make it to Friday where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s edition of Nature Friday.

Record setting winds blew through Colorado on Wednesday with winds as high as 107 mph in Lamar in southeast Colorado while Colorado Springs saw winds from 88-92 mph. Closer to my neighborhood, wind gusts ranged from 51 to 85 mph. One home in nearby Golden had its roof ripped off. Sadly one La Junta city worker lost his life when a tree fell on him as he was clearing a right of way of fallen debris. At one point, as many as 50,000 customers were without power, while intermittent power outages occurred throughout the day at the Ranch. When we resumed our regular walks the following day, several trees were extensively damaged. Luckily the Ranch was spared the most severe damage, with just a general cleanup of twigs and branches and trash blown from parts unknown.

Moody skies foretold of potential danger.


As many as 27 drops of rain fell during the wind storm, just enough to warrant a window cleaning once temperatures  permit. With Christmas in just over a week, that chore will need to wait until after the holiday. Goodness knows there’s more than enough to deal with as it is but the view from the studio in particular, sure looks ugly on a clear sunny day. Still the drought continues to remain front and center with the state average at only 75% of the usual winter snowpack with the eastern half of the state far lower. We can only wait and cross our fingers that measurable moisture will appear soon. The spitting of a few drops or flakes simply won’t cut it next spring and summer.


On the plus side, one of my neighbors installed strings of lights highlighting a tree in his front yard begging to be watched. It reminds me, that just maybe everything will be ok, in what is shaping up to be a very strange holiday season of weird weather conditions.


As we head toward the winter solstice and into Christmas week, I’m making plans to join members of my family for a get-together with Dad and those who weren’t able to make the Thanksgiving trip to Texas because for us, holidays are synonymous with family more than anything else. Do you have plans for getting together with family or friends over the holiday? Whatever you do, I hope you are able to spend some time enjoying the many facets of nature and the season.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 19, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to the Nature Friday blog hop where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on the link to  see what others have shared.

Well it finally happened, the leaves have been wrested away from trees that have been hanging on  (yeah, I’m talking about you, Mr. Passive Aggressive Catalpa). Bags, bags and more bags have been raked up and carted off to the city’s composting station at Sloans Lake…so now what? It’s November and although temps are still pretty mild, with no leaves on trees to check out, let’s just say the month of November can be pretty dull and boring. Could that be why there’ve been some pretty colorful sunsets?

After Wednesday’s post showing off the Oregon coastline at sunset, you probably think I’m a bit obsessed with sunsets. And you’d probably be right (though truth be told I enjoy a beautiful sunrise every bit as much). The sunsets have been pretty amazing lately (despite the fact that my urban sunsets unfortunately include power lines with no rugged coastline). This one started early on and it only got better.


This week I’ve been charmed with Nick Offerman’s latest book, “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play (wherein he waxes on philosophically about Mother Nature) and on one evening, I looked up to see why the living room was so brightly lit up by orange light. Getting up from my comfy reading spot and disturbing a couple of furry snugglers, I went outside to see a brilliant sunset highlighting stately evergreen trees across the street.


It was as if a wildfire was burning close by (which sadly there is-the Kruger Rock wildfire near Estes Park, where a fire fighting tanker plane crashed, killing the pilot). It’s so hard to comprehend that we’re still in the midst of wildfire season. In November!

The evening skies have been exceptionally vivid lately. I guess if you’re November, you’ll do just about anything to make yourself look good now that autumn leaves are history.

With this being the last weekend before the Thanksgiving Day holiday, do you have any special plans? Whatever you decide to do, we hope your sunsets are spectacular and that you’re able to enjoy some time outdoors appreciating Mother Nature’s evening light show.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 1, 2021

Well, well, well…October already? It’s not even Halloween yet many retailers have begun displaying Christmas decor, much to my chagrin. Honestly…the trees in my ‘Hood haven’t changed colors yet but I’m supposed to get jazzed up about a holiday that’s 85 days away? Umm, that’d be a hard no.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox and now will join our PNW pals, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop. If you click on their the link you’ll see  what others in Blogville have shared.

As I’ve noted before, there isn’t a whole lot of leaves changing color yet. Because summer has been so hot and dry in Denver, I suspect most leaves may simply turn brown and fall. From what I’ve seen on social media though, the nearby mountains are showing off beautiful swaths of gold aspens. Hopefully we can get up soon to see for ourselves.

Here is one of a few trees around that has begun its annual change but not a whole lot of change is apparent yet.


And this tree had only one spot that was changing colors deep in its interior and it was actually more brownish than orange. Most trees continue to show signs of drought stress throughout the city.Trees

While walking along our usual route, we came upon this bright orange pumpkin planted between the sidewalk and the street. Seeing it made me mentally kick myself for not planting seeds in the garden this spring especially since canned pumpkin continues to be in short supply in stores. Probably crowded out by Christmas decor {grumble, grumble – I know, stop kvetching}. Between COVID disrupted supply chains on the simplest of products and persistent late season rainfall in states that provide the bulk of pumpkins, who knew there’d be a shortage of canned pumpkin? By the way, did you know that  the state of Illinois produces nearly 80% of the nation’s pumpkins?


Thanks for nothing, Hurricane Ida.


Whatever you plan to do this weekend, we hope it includes some time outside enjoying October’s splendor. Have a good one.

Live, love, bark!🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 24, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome and happy Friday to you. We’re joining our Pacific Northwest friends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop. Be sure to click on the link to see what others have shared.

According to the calendar, it’s ‘official’ ~ Autumn arrived a couple of days ago and the Ranch Hands and I welcome the new season-our favorite. Although it’s fairly dark when we typically take our morning constitution (and on the crisp side-it was 39ºF/3ºC earlier in the week), we’re relishing the more civilized temperatures. It will mean however that we’ll need to carry a hand torch with lack of early morning light with each passing day.

Dark Side
Image Courtesy of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO tweet

The Ranch foreman was out of town for a couple of days visiting her Dad so today’s pickins’ are a bit on the slim side. Still it’s good to see that summer is finally beginning to move into the rear view mirror. Good riddance, I say.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

In my urban neighborhood, folks tend to get pretty wound up about decorating for certain holidays. And even though it’s more than 5 weeks away, a number of homes have already been bitten by the Halloween bug. Insert eyeroll here.


You may remember this porch from a recent post. Perhaps the newly installed ‘coven’ is there to protect the premises from future visits from any masked criminals.

From the back patio at my Dad’s, I marveled at the bluebird clear skies. It was a simply gorgeous day where we spent time relaxing and just soaking it all internally.

Blue Sky

Notice the absence of any changing colors? I’m beginning to think it’s been so hot this summer, the majority of leaves will just go straight from green to brown without any seasonal color change in between, especially if there’s an early frost. In Denver, the average date of the first freeze is October 7.

The light during autumn tends to be golden anyway, but the pièce de résistance of time spent with Dad was yesterday’s sunrise. Just. glorious. color. welcoming the day.


So how were your outings this week? See anything particularly exceptional? We hope you have a great weekend enjoying this special time of year. Norman and I will be attending the Old English Sheepdog Rescue Picnic and fundraiser on Sunday (we’re hoping for loads of photo opportunities). Just picture for a moment, more than 40 “Norman’s” running around. I know, the mere thought makes me giggle just thinking about all those wiggly OES bums. Whatever you do, we hope you enjoy the beauty Mother Nature offers.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ August 18, 2021


Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 13, 2021

Cross your fingers and throw some salt over your shoulder — it’s Friday the 13th! We won’t be doing any battles with a machete-wielding maniac in a hockey mask today but instead let’s throw caution to the wind on this most superstitious of days and join our pals Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop by sharing some pawsome photos from Nature’s banquet table.

Despite the Friday the 13th cultural superstition in Western culture of Friday the 13th, no black cats or broken mirrors can dominate this week’s beauty even if believers can’t quite explain why we have this fear. Oddly enough I learned there is actually a term used to describe the irrational dread of today’s date as “paraskevidekatriaphobia” (Say that fast 10 times!) which is a specialized form of “triskaidekaphobia,” the fear of the number 13.

Enough of the superstitious hocus-pocus, let’s see what  Mother Nature dished out with us on our daily jaunts this week. While we haven’t had any rain for the past 10+ days, an early morning supplemental watering showed water droplets on a blooming lily. Water drops on blooms or foliage always draws my eye and captivate my attention. That old saying “Water is Life” is more true than ever in our arid climate.


On a recent rare morning where the sky was actually blue rather than smoky grey, we found some Origanum Libanoticum flowers (commonly known as Lebanese oregano or hopflower oregano) near the merry-go-round carousel in the old Elitch Gardens neighborhood.  I can’t remember the last time I saw blue skies like this. The smoke continues to foul the air in the Mile High City most of the time and we continue to pray for all those affected by the wildfires in the West.Merry-go-roundDon’t you just love those cascading bracts?


Phlox continue to bloom their sweet little heads off and fill the air with something other than a smoke infused scent. I had to stop and get close to smelling these when normally I could smell them nearly half a block away.


We pass by a border flower bed filled with Rudbeckia every morning that just compels me to stop and stare. Such a beautiful shock of color.


Last but not least, my feeble attempt at imitating Georgia O’Keeffe with this gorgeous Rose of Sharon bush that just started blooming. The centers are incredibly vivid while the blooms themselves are a creamy shade of pale pink


Well that’s all for this week. May your Friday the 13th be a safe one but you are able to get outdoors to revel in the beauty Mother Nature shares with us all when we take the time to look. Stay safe, avoid walking under ladders but make sure to enjoy the weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 6, 2021

Whoa…is it really August already? Egad, this year seems to be flying by after last year’s slow roll. Hard to believe there are only 47 days until the official arrival of autumn. And rumor has it that the pumpkin spice season is set to arrive in the near future, maybe even as soon as three weeks. With temperatures back up in the 90’s, I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of social phenomena where things begin quickly evolving to the later seasons of the year when pumpkin spice everything shows up now and Christmas decorations not all that far behind. Last year I think Costco had decorated trees up before September 15. Ugh.

Nature FridayAs usual, we’re joining those adorable fur-kids, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. And don’t forget to check out what others have shared by clicking on the highlighted link. Today Norman is going to share this week’s nature finds.

Norman: Thanks, mum! Yes indeed mates, flowering shrubs are  taking center stage in the Mile High. On one morning walk this week, we passed by a border of beautiful hydrangeas. I wanted to stop and read the canine bulletin board, but mum quickly ushered me along, well out of ‘reading’ range. I can’t believe she won’t let me leave my two paws worth of life observations at those bushes. Trust me, it’s not for lack of trying either to leave messages for other neighborhood chaps (she gets a real upper body workout when I put on the brakes). I mean, how can a well informed doggo stay in the know when they can’t read/leave messages? Mums can be so rude sometimes! It’s not like I’m some kind of paw dragging barbarian. Sheesh.


If bees can leave messages, why can’t I?

Another showy bush around our manor is the beautiful Rose of Sharon or common hibiscus. It can grow to a height of 9- to 12-feet (2.5 to 3.5 m.), is native to eastern Asia but well adapted to growing in most USDA plant hardiness zones. It often reaches a spread of 10 feet (3 m.) and makes for a lovely privacy border. It’s easy to grow and attracts birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Rose of Sharon bush prefers moist, well-draining soil, although it will tolerate most conditions except those that are soggy or extremely dry. They come in a variety of shades including white, pink, purple and red. This particular beauty lives at the Sloan’s Lake park. The lake area recently closed due to blue algae being found at the lake. Mum won’t let us anywhere near the water but this beauty is near the playground and restroom area. It’s not nearly as fun staying on the path around the lake as when we can roam close enough to the marshy reeds where we can check out all the cool critter scents.


There are still flowers blooming around our neighborhood and mum was raving about these Zinnias being so pretty. She spent a few days earlier this week deadheading and removing most of the lupine in the garden saying she wanted to plant some zinnias in their place next year. They’ll provide color all season long which is lacking in our garden right now.


We hope you’ve been enjoying some of Nature’s gifts and are able to get out over the weekend to spend some time checking it out. It can be good to leave a message for us neighborhood pooches when your mum says it’s ok. After all, we enjoy gossip just like you uprights do. Have a pawsome weekend doing whatever you do. Okay?


Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 30, 2021

Nature Friday

Welcome to the last Friday in the month of July. As we typically do on Fridays we’re joining our Pacific Northwest pals, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on a blog hop. Make sure you click on the link to see what else others have shared.

Once again it’s been hot and dry in the Mile High, but don’t despair, the King of Purple (with his long-time collaborator, keyboardist and friend, Morris Hayes) managed to serve up some good purple ‘moisture’ from his infamous vault with a new release debuting today. If you’re a fan of the Purple One, this one from the grave is a pretty poignant release penned back from years ago. Here’s a sneak listen. Take it away, Prince!

Ok, now that we’ve gotten a lovely purple shower, let’s see what Nature is singing around our neighborhood landscape.

Lilies have been putting on an amazing show. From the dark exotic ones to beautiful peach/rose-colored hued, they are screaming “it’s summertime, peeps and WE. HAVE. ARRIVED!!”


It’s that time of year where things are also beginning to prepare for the next season with shrubs beginning to produce fruit. If there were bears roaming the city, they’d be happy as a clam at high tide with these offerings seen around the ‘Hood.


Doesn’t that Red Currant look luscious?

Oregon Grape

But for me, the signal that maybe, just maybe, summer is starting to transition toward autumn is seeing Plumbago starting to bloom. Plumbago is probably my absolute favorite garden groundcover. It fills in nicely with a lush shade of green even during the hottest part of summer and then blooms with beautiful little blue flowers in late July and August. It performs equally well in shade or full sun and isn’t too picky about its soil though well-drained is always preferred. Two additional bonuses for including this plant in the garden is its low-water requirements and deer resistance. Late next month, the leaves will begin to turn a gorgeous shade of mahogany making this plant a multi-seasonal star in our urban landscape.


Wherever you’re at, we hope your weekend is beyond ‘pawsome’ and you’ll find sufficient time to take in the beautiful sights that Nature so graciously dishes up. For you summertime lovers remember there are just 54 days until the official arrival of autumn so enjoy it while you can. The Ranch Hands are nothing if not great inspiration for savoring walks while taking time to stop and smell the roses.


Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 23, 2021

Nature Friday

Happy Fri-Yay! Please join us for this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join those lovable ‘anipals,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard but don’t forget to check out what others shared by clicking on the link.

It’s been another week of heat with the Ranch Hands wilting. We’ve been going out on our morning constitution at 5:45 am. to avoid the warmer portions of the day. I guess when you wear a fur coat the season known as Hades summer isn’t that enjoyable. And then there are the smoke filled skies that drift in as the day unfolds. Not exactly conducive to walks except early in the day. We continue to hope all the current wildfires get controlled soon. In Colorado as in most of the western U.S., wildfires continue to rage while last year’s burn areas are causing flooding conditions on nearby highways. I-70 has repeatedly been closed this week to cleanup mudslides near last year’s Glenwood Canyon fire.

The urban landscape though is full of sun-loving perennials. Let’s take a gander at a few we’ve encountered, shall we?

First up, a gorgeous trumpet vine. They guys are amazing. Strong and vigorous, they can shimmy up a wall or structure like nobody’s business. Although frequently considered invasive, pruning and deadheading can corral their vigorous growth which can reach between 30-40 ft. (9-12 m). They should not be planted near a house or at the base of a tree as they can damage foundations and strangle trees. Still they are beautiful on a telephone pole. Rated at Zones 4-9, they are readily adaptable in most conditions. Hummingbirds enjoy the tasty nectar while other birds often make nests or otherwise hide in the dense foliage.


While running an errand this week, I noticed cattail was in full glory near a small drainage area. A herbaceous perennial sometimes referred to as reeds, these guys have always captivated my interest. There’s a large batch of them near West Pines that Sam used to investigate before we visited patients. Leaves are hairless, linear, alternate on a jointless stem that bears flowering spikes. The ‘flower’ forms a dense sausage-like spike on the stem. Once fully ripened, the heads disintegrate into a cottony fluff from which disperses seeds by the wind. What would otherwise be a rather unsightly drainage ditch becomes beautified with the addition of these plants.


Back at home, the lupines continue to form seed pods oh joy but are being crowded by numerous sunflowers that mysteriously appeared a couple of seasons ago. In their 3rd year, they are beginning to seriously crowd the lupines. It’s certain heavy duty garden tools may have to be brought out to bring them both to heel as they’re both becoming too invasive. Still, how can anyone not smile whenever they see a cheerful sunflower, even if said flower ‘looks’ the other way (actually I couldn’t get a decent shot straight on because of the position of the sun)?


Wherever you’re at, we wish you good weather, clear skies and enough spare time to enjoy spending time in nature. My cherry tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen. The smell of fresh, garden ripened tomatoes are filling my senses and teasing my tastebuds.


Live, love, bark! 🐾