Nature Friday ~ September 17, 2021

Nature FridayHey everyone…it’s “Fri-Yay!” so that means we’re joining our ‘fur-iends’, 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.

This week Norman and I went south to Pueblo West for a short visit with my Dad for a couple of days and to catch up with my sister from Maryland who was also visiting. While I love the Colorado mountains, I’m always struck by the beauty of seeing prairies around Pikes Peak to the north from the comfort of  Dad’s home.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak in the distance

The view to the southwest is equally beautiful with the Greenhorn Mountains rising above ‘fruited plains.’ Whenever I walk the dogs, I just have to stop and stare at the beauty of golden prairies with the mountains as a stunning backdrop.

Mountains

As we took our morning constitution we also passed by a horse property which often has several horses, donkeys and a few ponies in one of the pastures. On this morning they were in the front pasture and trotted over to check the ‘horse on the leash’ with the human (with apologies for the sun flare that refused to be edited out).

As I’ve come to expect with this boy, Norman draws a crowd. The black and white pony had been lying in the early morning sunshine but took one look at Norman and immediately got to his feet and trotted over to the fenceline to get a better look-see.

Pony
Howdy!  Pony…meet pony

Everyone got their sniffs in and all species seemed to be bemused with one another.

While the daytime temps still continue to be toasty, over the past couple of days the weather seems to be engaged in a slow roll toward the autumnal transition. This morning’s temperature at 5:45 am was a crisp 48ºF (8C) with early morning walks requiring a hand torch since it’s still quite dark.

Yesterday was the Ninja’s 5th Gotcha Day. It was a quiet celebration, per the little lady herself. Elsa’s not really into being in the photographic spotlight as you can tell below. On the one hand it seems impossible that it’s been 5 years since this world wind fur pile came home with me. Her puppy mill personality quirks are still evident but her sweet loyalty toward me brings many smiles. And even with a couple of recent seizures, she’s doing well while continuing to vex her big brother. Oh Elsa…you’re such a pill but I love you just the same. On the other, it’s been quite the journey. Guestimated to have been between 3-4 at the time of her adoption, she’s reached her prime, despite ups and downs. Happy Gotcha Day, sweet girl! Party on…your way.

Gotcha Day

The arrival of autumn is typically marked with leaves changing color but while there isn’t much of that going on just yet in the city, there are signs beyond cooler morning temps. This maple tree is still 95% green with only one small area morphing into autumn splendor.

Autumn

As squirrels and other critters begin preparing for winter, acorns have now begun to form with some dropping already. It won’t be long now even if daytime temps will stay warm. As a lover of 4 distinct seasons, I will welcome this annual change.

Acorns

Enjoy your weekend and make sure you get out there to check out this amazing time of year.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ September 13, 2021

Welcome to Monday where we tend to revel in the happenings from our weekend and start planning for the next one. Speaking of planning, it’s about time to start thinking about next year’s Spring bulb garden. Thankfully, neither of the Ranch Hands dig up bulbs, but a warning to all you gardeners…spring bulbs are toxic for pets.

Smiles

Norman had his second evaluation on Friday and I wanted to express my thanks for all your kind words of support. According to our evaluator Amy, Norman did great (and even I didn’t embarrass myself). We’re hoping to order our business cards next and obtain Norman’s ID badge. Once any other outstanding bureaucratic items are completed, we’ll be officially considered the newest team in the hospital’s pet therapy program.

Pet Therapy
Amy and Norman, post evaluation

Wishing you a totally ‘pawsome’ week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ September 6, 2021

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

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

Norman & Elsa

Live, love, bark!🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 27, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to the last Friday of August. As always, we’re joining those adorable hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their blog hop. Make sure you click on the link to see what others have shared. This edition is literally a wild one, with commentary from both Ranch Hands.

Norman: Mum, it was a wild week, wasn’t it? I mean…I’ve never seen as much wildlife since being rescued and immigrating here.

Mum: You’re right, Norman; it was a ‘wild’ week, critter-wise. Given our location a ere 3 miles from downtown, it’s always exciting for us when Nature in its wildest form crosses our paths.

Norman: Right-o, mum. I haven’t seen this many rabbits as I did this week. What’s up with that?

Elsa: (imitating her best Elmer Fudd voice) Wabbits??? Where?!?!?! You know how I “LOVE” hunting looking for wabbits.

Norman: You almost walked past this one, little sister and missed another one at Sprouts parking lot.

Rabbits

Elsa: Harrumph…wabbits are wily but I eventually picked up its scent. But I spotted the third one before you guys did. Just wish mom hadn’t spotted this one first, otherwise I’d have turned her into a kite. For the record, I don’t think that spot is reserved for bunny parking, so there.

Norman: Mum scans the landscape for wildlife for that exact reason. But seeing rabbits three times this week was a bit unusual and nothing compared to what else we encountered.

Elsa: I’m still blown away from that whole experience. The fact that we were running later than usual and had we be out at our usual time, well…we’d have missed them by several minutes. Sure we’ve seen one or two on a couple of occasions but nothing like that before.

Norman: [Head shaking] It was quite something. I mean to be a witness to a whole ‘family of criminals’…well, let’s just say that took us all by surprise. Seeing wildlife like this makes it even more remarkable.

Raccoons
Check out this morning neighborhood criminal family!

Elsa: No kidding! Seeing those masked bandits so close to me and posing no less…well I momentarily froze in my tracks. Luckily, it was just enough time for mum to realize what could have been a potential nightmare for all concerned so she instinctively shortened my leash. Doggone it anyway.

Norman: At first I thought it was a bunch of odd looking kitties but could tell from mum’s reaction it was something else. I’ve never seen six ‘cats’ like that at once.

Raccoons

Elsa: At least I managed to react a short distance away from the porch which took her shoulder by surprise. Heh, heh. It’s good keeping her on her toes.

Norman: Oh come on, sister, it’s not really her toes you want her to stay on…it’s more like you prefer her backside.

Elsa: Sshhh, don’t let her know that. Jeez, are you trying to get me in trouble?

Norman: You’re well enough equipped to do that on your own without any help from me.

Raccoons

Elsa: Not one, not two, not even three…but four on the front porch of that house at the same time. I distinctly remember mum rubbing her eyes in disbelief.

Norman: She sure did, though I think she might have been still half asleep. As we passed the front porch, we saw the others on the fence to the side though there were {only} six raccoons in total committing a burglary.

Elsa: I was so bummed they decided not to follow us in the opposite direction.

Norman: They probably had more houses to burglarize visit before breakfast was over. I did notice that one fella coming out from under the chair had munched on the tassels on the chair cushion.

Elsa: Not much of a breakfast by my mind’s thinking.

Norman: This coming from someone who considers wool socks a food group?

Elsa: That’s different, bro. Besides, it wasn’t me who ate a felted mini-OES figure that mom spent 8+ hours needle felting last week. Do I need to remind you of the day you spent at ER?

Norman: Ahem…not my finest moment I’ll agree, but all’s good now right mum?

Mum: {Eyes rolling} Yes, ‘dear‘ Norman. Just make sure you don’t countersurf anymore and we’ll be all good, ‘kay?

Norman: Right-o, mum. I love that you accept me for who I am. Just a big hunka-chunk who is apparently irresistible to nurses judging our visit to hospital yesterday. If feels good getting the first of two evaluations out of the way. One step closer to being a full therapy dog.

Mum: Yes, dear boy…you definitely know how to draw a crowd. Much like us gawking at those raccoons, people just couldn’t believe their eyes seeing you and began running down the hallway to say hello

Norman: Yes, it was somewhat overwhelming. Yawn. I’m still recovering from all that therapy work while trying to get over that whole riding the elevator experience.

Norman

Mum: You’ll be fine, sweet boy. You have the whole weekend to recover.

Elsa: We’re so proud of you, Big Brother! Let’s plot plan some extra special recovery plans for the weekend…you know just to give mum a run for her money on her toes.

Mum: Sigh. Whatever you do this weekend, we hope it’s relaxing and fun but you give yourself plenty of time to see all the amazing sights Mother Nature offers.

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.

Flowers

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.

Flowers

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.

Flowers

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?

Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

In Purrsuit of Flavours ~ August 2021

Purrsuit of Flavours

 

Welcome to August’s In Purrsuit of Flavours. This month’s theme is tea, probably something near and dear to a British heart, right Norman?

Woof woof, mum!

As a general rule, I don’t normally drink tea but as someone who loves Indian food, I do very much enjoy a nice Chai tea with my meal or even with dessert. Chai also makes for a lovely substitute for coffee. Hot or iced, it can be a lovely change of pace beverage to begin one’s day.

So what is this beverage known as chai tea? Chai is the Hindi word for “tea,” which was derived from “cha,” the Chinese word for “tea”. Chai is a mix of spices steeped into a tea-like beverage. Recipes for chai vary across continents and cultures but traditional ingredients usually include black tea mixed with strong spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns. The spiced tea mixture is typically brewed strong with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey. That milky, sweet tea treat ordered in coffee and tea shops today has very little in common with the origins of Indian chai. Premade chai tea beverages are available everywhere and may be costly but you can make a DIY easy to make dry chai mix as an alternative.

DIY Instant Chai Latte Mix (Courtesy of Southern In Law Blog)

[Makes one large jar of mix, equal to around 25-30 servings]
2 cups (250g) dry milk powder
1 1/4 cup (250g) coconut sugar *
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg**
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • Add ingredients to blender or food processor (making sure it’s important so your milk powder doesn’t become moist and lumpy).
  • Blend all the ingredients until everything is fine and incorporated.
  • Store mix in an airtight jar or container.

* NOTE: 

Brown or white sugar can be substituted for the coconut sugar which is made from the nectar of coconut palm tree flowers whereas brown sugar comes from either cane sugar or sugar beets, just like white sugar.

How to Use the Mix:

  • To make a Chai Tea Latte: Brew black tea in a teapot or separate cup. Add 1-2 heaped tablespoons of mix to the bottom of your cup and pour the tea on top. Alternatively, add your dry mix to a saucepan, mix with a small amount of hot water to dissolve and add in milk and a tea bag, heating over a medium-low heat until heated through and your tea has steeped.
  • To make a Dirty Chai: Add 1-2 tbsp of mix to the bottom of your mug and pour over hot brewed coffee, stirring to combine. Your can also make an iced coffee version, blending the mix in a blender with your iced coffee ingredients or dissolving the mix in a small amount of boiling water before adding your iced coffee ingredients.

Additional Notes

  • Like all the recipes shared here, these ingredients are a guide. Play around with the proportions, adding more/less spices, milk powder, and sugar to suit your own taste buds.
  • Skim/nonfat or full fat milk powder can be used, according to your choice.
  • If you don’t have coconut sugar, you can use regular white or brown sugar. Stevia or other sweeteners can also be substituted for the sugar.
  • Paleo and Vegan Option: you can use coconut milk powder instead of milk powder here.

**The next time I whip up a batch, I will likely eliminate the nutmeg so avoid having tiny floating bits on the surface.

Recipes
Bon Appétit!

Norman

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 19, 2021

It’s Monday and that means we look to start the week out with a smile. There were a number of contenders for today’s contribution but Ranch editor Norman picked this one from our Indian Hills friend as he identified with the sentiment.

Signs

We hope you have a good week avoiding any unpleasant happenings. Make it a good one!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 12, 2021

The Ranch’s ‘great invention’ is headed off to hospital for the next couple of days so we’ll no doubt be late reading your posts. We hope you smile as much as the nurses and patients will that we’re going to visit this week. Happy Monday, peeps!

Smiles
Image by Lynn Johnston via Pinterest

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Happy 4th of July

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

Norman

Here’s to a star-spangled ‘howliday!’

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 21, 2021

Welcome to the Summer Solstice which arrived at 9:31 PM Mountain time last night. Did you know the timing of the June solstice is not based on a specific calendar date or time. It is dependent on when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the celestial equator. This is why the solstice doesn’t always occur on the same day shifting between June 20, 21, and 22.

At any rate, we hope summer starts out well for you. While we’ve been facing hot temps, today the Mile High City gets a bit of a reprieve with a cool front moving in for the day. But never fear sun and heat lovers, we return to the upper 90’s again tomorrow.

Norman

Norman’s first two days visiting hospital staff and patients went well even if he was a bit overwhelmed with all the attention and maneuvering over slippery surfaces. Overall he brought a lot of joy to nurses, staff, patients and hospital visitors. We plan to go back for more practice soon.

Today’s smile pretty much says it all as far as the dogs are concerned.

Smiles

Whether you’re more summer or winter-like, we hope you have a ‘pawsome’ Monday.

Live, love, bark! 🐾