A 2020 Retrospective

Don’t let the title of this post freak you out…this is NOT a post about the unspeakably sad losses experienced during the past 365 days. Instead consider this my feeble attempt to get a 12+ hour head start on tomorrow’s Nature Friday with an affectionate look back at some of the wonders Mother Nature so graciously shared despite our planet’s collective poor stewardship of her. We hope you will take a moment to follow Blogville around by clicking on our friends’ and hosts link [Rosy, sister Sunny and her two brothers at LLB in Our Backyard] and hope they don’t mind our pulling the trigger early).

While it’s true we received a spot of the white stuff this week, as fast as it frosted the landscape, it quickly melted under beautiful, bright blue, sunny skies.

Mother Nature may have some prickly moments, but boy does she possess an amazing canvas when she shows it off.

Snow

While some of you may shiver at images of snow, I can’t help but wonder about all those unique and sparkly facets of crystalized ice that highlight a winter landscape.

Snow

Sure Norman, Elsa and I are fortunate to enjoy 300+ days of annual sunshine in the Mile High but we’re also gifted with some spectacular sunsets (and sunrises) on occasion. This one showed up shortly before this month’s full moon.

And now for a look back at a few of the most popular images from nature this year. This past summer provided some much needed visual comfort then as well as now.

Flowers

A 2020 retrospective on nature would be incomplete without some sunshine-y sunflowers from our garden as well as a a view of the plethora of lupine which provided a nice backdrop for the Ranch hands.

Flowers

Ranch hands As we reflect over the past year, all the while keeping a keen eye looking forward to the new one, we’ll toast to a New Year with a recent batch of aged, handmade Sazerac cleverly crafted by my son. Just look at that gorgeous amber color. If you like rye, Sazerac can be quite the tasty cognac/whiskey kind of beverage. Add a slice of lemon or orange peel and voila…a moment perfect for contemplative reflection.

Sazerac

With loads of cheers for love, laughter, with a few tasty treats for 2021, we can’t help but be optimistic after seeing these babies who I spied on yesterday morning’s walk. I’ don’t recall seeing bulbs appear quite this early but I’ll take it. Knowing, or at least hoping there is more white stuff down the road, we’ll keep ‘pawsitive’ that 2021 will be a big improvement over 2020, though it may take some patience to see it blossom.

Bulbs

The Ranch will be taking some extended time off to attend to computer maintenance issues and I’m uncertain as to how long it might take to dust off any cobwebs on the laptop. As I do not wish to yank out all my recently cut hair trying to compose posts on a tiny cell-phone screen, those of you who do have my undying admiration, we’ll be back as soon as our battery pack is refreshed, our files cleaned and scrubbed. No doubt the Ranch hands will think of loads of ways to exasperate me entertain us with new adventures…but until then…stay safe, sane and keep smiling, my friends. Have a Happy New Year!

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wednesday Wishes ~ December 23, 2020

It’s mid-way during Christmas week and we wanted to send our best doggone wishes for a Happy Christmas. Christmas this year will look and feel different but our wish remain the same. May peace, joy and love of the season fill your heart this Christmas season and remain throughout the coming year. All the Ranch hands wanted to send their very own best ‘howliday’ wishes.

Norman hopes the glow of Christmas lights brighten your day and your heart.

Christmas

Elsa finds this an odd time of year, because it’s the only time of year in which she can sit in front of a dead tree and eat treats out of a sock (but hopefully not the sock). She also has her paws crossed for a respite from any other photo sessions. Sorry old girl, no promises.

Christmas

Angel Sam also sends his best wishes to you from across the Bridge. Miss and love you, Knucklehead.

Sam

The Ranch will be taking a few days off to relax and reflect on the season.

Christmas

From our family to yours, may the spirit of Christmas shine in your heart and light your path. We thank you for being in our world.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ December 4, 2020

Welcome to the first Friday of the last month of one helluva year. We’re joining our Nature Friday weekly hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on their link, to see what they and others around Blogville have discovered in nature this week.

It’s been another busy week with loads going on around the Ranch. It also was a bit on the chilly side. Yesterday was so ‘crisp’ with the wind chill that when I walked the dogs in the morning, one side of my glasses not only fogged up, it frosted for the majority of our 2 mile walk-about. It’s hard to see spots of nature through permafrost, although the ice crystals were pretty cool. Literally.

I’ve been busy working on Christmas gifts, a bit of organizing (out of necessity-where DOES all that junk come from??) and finding some holiday spirit…as in looking for holiday lights. Junk I can find, but Christmas lights and decor seem to be MIA. All of which has conspired to keep me from finding much in the way of nature in the ‘Hood.

Although I did happen to notice some ‘wildlife’ a couple of days ago on our walk and did a double take when I saw a deer from a block away, so naturally we had to investigate it up close.

WildlifeI’m in awe of how some people go all out for holidays. These neighbors had quite the front yard scene at Halloween (pirate skeletons having a garden party) and now they are working on Christmas. This is the largest outdoor blow up decoration I’ve ever seen and I’ve never found any there weren’t all vinyl or plastic. This guy had fuzzy fur!  Of course, deviating from our usual route tends to cause all sorts of canine consternation for Elsa who wasn’t all the keen on getting too close to Rudolph, though she eventually did give it a perfunctory mini sniff and then promptly looked away as soon as I pulled out my phone. Elsa, Elsa, Elsa {head shaking}. Why do you always have to look away as soon as the shutter is released?

Norman on the other hand seems perfectly content to stop, sniff, and cast his best pose. This guy needs to find a modeling agent.

We hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of the nature’s beauty or at least, check out some amazing holiday decorations this weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wednesday Wishes

Thanksgiving

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 30, 2020

Snow
Pueblo West

Despite a nice dump of white stuff and very cold temps early this week along the Front Ranch, we’ve rebounded with more autumn like temps (60’s for the most part). This can only mean one thing-it’s Nature Friday where we join our friends and weekly co-hosts Rosy, Sunny and her two brothers from LLB in Our Backyard. Because Halloween is this weekend, Norman and Elsa want to share info about pumpkins since nature wasn’t all that generous with scenic images from around our hood (that pretty snow image above is from my mom’s patio in Pueblo West since I neglected to take a photo; as you can see, she received much more snow than we did).

Norman: Thanks, mum. Blimey, it sure was a wild week weather-wise and started out way too cold for this Sheep-Boy after that snow storm. This is the place I go to when it’s that nasty and cold.

Norman

Elsa: You do tend to like that spot, don’t you? But I thought we were supposed to bark about pumpkins?

Norman: Erm…egad, you’re spot on dear sister. I was just recalling how comfy that spot was and…

Elsa: {interrupting} Can it sheep-boy. You’re losing the plot here so let’s get to it, ‘kay?

Norman: . Right-o. So…let’s have a chin-wag about the ubiquitous pumpkin. This orange fleshy gourd (not to be confused with any political candidate) is an iconic symbol this time of year. The word pumpkin was originally from the Greek word pepon, meaning “large melon,” or something round and large. The French adapted the word to “pompon,” and while us Brits referred to it as “pumpion.” Guess you can see how American colonists came to just call it “pumpkin.”

Elsa: Oh jeez….will you stop your yammering and get on with it? Why not let peeps know that the term pumpkin itself has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, but instead it’s frequently interchangeably known as “squash” or “winter squash.” In North America and the UK, the pumpkin commonly refers to only certain round orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from Cucurbita pepo. As a warm-weather crop, the seeds are generally planted in July and are generally quite hardy. The plants produce both male and female flowers and are fertilized usually by bees.

Norman: Ahem…no need to be cheeky now, Elsa. Pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, having been cultivated as early as 7,500 to 5,000 BC. Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple for both Canadian and US feasts though pumpkins used in pie fillings are different from varieties used to carve Jack-o-Lanterns for Halloween. The top pumpkin-producing state in the US is Illinois (where 95% of the US. crop intended for processing is grown) with Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California rounding out the top-five producers.

Pumpkin

Elsa: Alas, canned pumpkin is in short supply these days. And no, it’s not the new toilet paper of the panDAMNic. Seems that the planting season was rain delayed so harvesting will occur later than normal—which means it’s taking longer for this year’s canned pumpkin to make it onto store shelves. You can roast your own but mom says it’s a pain to roast and deseed.

Norman: Nutritionally speaking, pumpkins are very versatile with most parts being edible. Canned pumpkin (not the pie filling which should never be fed to pets due to the included spices) is often recommended by vets as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats with digestive ailments (i.e. constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs) because its high fiber content aids digestion. Did you know raw pumpkin is fed to poultry, as a supplement to their regular feed during the winter to help maintain egg production, which tends to drop off during cold months? Pumpkin seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc for peeps and are a delicious and low calorie snack.

Elsa: We’ve been noticing lots of pumpkin decorations around the neighborhood. I’m guessing this one isn’t quite the digestive aid that you’re talking about but maybe it’ll keep the neighborhood hoodlum squirrels from trying to eat this one.

Halloween

Both Ranch Hands in unison: Whatever you do, we hope you stay safe, have fun and enjoy being in Nature. We are hoping for a nice quiet evening with no door bell ringing from little goblins. With the recent spike in COVID cases here, we think it’s probably not very safe for trick-or-treating even with proper masks even if they’re covered in pumpkins.

Masks

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ October 19, 2020

Before we get to Monday, I wanted to express my heartfelt thanks to all who were so kind with their welcome back comments on our last post and extra thanks to those of you who reached out privately over the past six weeks. It has been so incredibly touching and most appreciated. The pet blogging community is quite special and I will always be grateful to each and everyone of you for your kindness and caring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now, let’s get to Monday.  For those of you living in the US who are not quite ready to welcome another week of the campaign, I hope you find comfort in the thought there are only two more weeks until the election. Thank heavens for small miracles. I’m sure everyone will be grateful for the end of the weirdest election ever. But if that doesn’t make you smile, how about seeing therapy dogs in action from Norman’s recent inaugural visit to Lutheran. The panDAMNic has taken a real toll on healthcare workers everywhere and it certainly  disseminated our therapy ranks, but ten dogs were scheduled for this event, five for each shift, which was a nice way to start up again.

Even with reduced numbers, there was still a good variety of participating pups from tiny Bindee to buffalo-sized Norman. Whatever your jam, the Lutheran pet therapy dogs have you well covered.

Therapy Dogs
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprinkle ~ Bindee and Norman

Norman was especially taken with little Bindee, wiggling his butt non-stop whenever he was around her but always remaining a well behaved, gentle giant. I wasn’t 100% completely sure how’d this mass get-together would fly  but Norman showed why he should do quite well when it comes to pet therapy work. There were loads of “hi there, how you doing, nice to meet you” kind of sniffs with tails wags and wiggles by all the dogs. It was particularly nice to also see the handlers after many months being away.

While I personally wish there had been more doctors and nurses from the Emergency Department (they had been lobbying for dog visits for some time and could definitely use the pet therapy visits as the hospital is once again full with patients as the city’s COVID numbers have spiked lately), we did get a few drop in’s from folks I’d previously seen around the hospital with probably half a dozen EMTS and police officers.

Police
Photo courtesy of  Janet Gradwell Lewis  ~ Bismark and Logan
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Jaycee Chinn ~ Rylie
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Janet Gradwell Lewis ~ L to R: Bindee, Kai, Bismark, Logan, & Rylie
Pet therapy
Photo courtesy of Jaycee Chinn ~ Rylie

Everyone seemed very pleased to visit with all the dogs on a perfect autumn day with mild temps and the dogs were glad to be back to work. We’re all hopeful that we can do this again soon.

Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprenkle  ~ our most experienced pet therapists, Beau & Roxie
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprenkle ~ Zoe and Rylie
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Jaycee Chinn ~ Rylie (Kai and Bindee in background)
Pet Therapy
Photo courtesy of Sue Sprenkle ~ Axel

Rylie also made her maiden voyage with Norman. She’s going to be a great addition of the group. At the end of the day, the Good Dogs of Lutheran’s pet therapy program made the event a resounding success and everyone is already jonesing for the next time when these special dogs are able to make people smile and breath just a bit easier in these weird times.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

We’re Back…sort of

Hi there, remember us? You know, that merry band of misfits consisting of two dogs and an upright who thinks she runs things but let’s face it, we all know Norman and Elsa are the real brains around the Ranch. Sorry we’ve been AWOL. A series of life events tripped us up pretty hard and took the wind out of my sails with little to no bandwidth remaining in the tank to do any kind of job at blogging. I began to sink in mental mud rather than focus on much of anything else.

Flowers

Although we were served a large crap sandwich, I realized when I ran into a nearby neighbor couple this morning that life can easily serve a bountiful meal as well. They were loading their newborn baby boy into the car (egad, I hadn’t even been aware they were expecting)!  What a beautiful and reaffirming sight to see their new son peeking out over dad’s shoulder gazing at the world while the two fur beasts and I observed this blessing from a more than social distance. The realization that a new life joined the rest of us in 2020 had an impact on my psyche and that made me realize I absolutely needed to begin to post.

In the ‘more good news’ category, the hospital recently contacted the pet therapy teams to see if we were interested in participating in some form of hybrid form of pet therapy visits. While visiting patients and staff in the hospital would not be possible (and probably won’t for the foreseeable future given the recent uptick in cases in the Mile High City), they worked on creating a new way to bring smiles at least to the staff of the Emergency Department. Norman is scheduled to visit their parking lot venue for greeting doctors and nurses (today is our first day and we’re wiggling with excitement and will report back on just how it goes so wish us luck). Norman is all spiffed up having survived the water torture and is now ready to make his first appearance spreading a little joy later this morning.

Pet Therapy

Please know we’ve missed you all and hope to pick up where we left off with new adventures to share. I’ve continued to visit your blogs and left a few microscopic comments but you’ve all been in my heart. It appears the summer has been good to the fair majority of you and we hope autumn continues in that vein. Until the next time where we update you on how Norman’s inaugural entry into the world of pet therapy goes, remember…

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Labor Day Monday ~ 2020

Holiday Labor DayIt’s Labor Day today in the US and its territories where we celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of workers. Every first Monday in September we honor the labor and union movements (if you work 40 hours or less a week, you can thank unions) as well as the role all workers made to the strength and well-being of the nation. Many of us will have today off (Labor Day is a national holiday) and this day often signals the new school year along with the start of football season. Although with the current age of the COVID panDAMNic, nothing is the way we were used to on past Labor Days when swimming pools, amusement parks generally close at Labor Day, summer concerts and festivals wrap up the season. Labor Day is usually considered the unofficial last weekend of summer with BBQ get-togethers often being a frequent pastime as well as any number of retail sales events. All that has been turned upside down if you’ve been following common sense, local mandates about personal distancing and mask wearing in public.

Ungodly heat has marked these past days of summer (we send particular sympathies to our friends in California after the weekend of hellish temps), and because it’s 2020, nothing is normal this Labor Day (including tomorrow’s forecast of snow with temperatures in the 30’s after again being in the 90’s today.

If you’ve ever wondered how Labor Day came about, a look at history indicates that as the trade and labor movements began to grow, calls for a day commemorating workers’ contributions were proposed. Colorado has long been progressive on social issues and was one of the first five states to enact legislation recognizing Labor Day, with Oregon being first to officially make it a public holiday in 1887. Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894. Our Canadian neighbors to the north also celebrate “Labour Day” on the first Monday in September.

But as is often the case with social change, it wasn’t all roses and candy. Following deaths of workers during the Pullman Strike of 1894, Congress unanimously approved legislation making Labor Day a national holiday and Grover Cleveland signed it into law by shortly after the end of the strike.

So on this Labor Day, we hope you celebrate (safely of course) with pride for all your work accomplishments, just like we will.

Sleeping dogs

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ August 24, 2020

Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ August 17

IMG_6578.jpeg

Live, love, bark! 🐾