Nature Friday ~ July 5, 2019

Although we missed the past couple of weeks, we’re back today joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from the LLB Gang for this week’s edition Nature Friday. Mother Nature opened up a can of whoop-ass on the Mile High yesterday with multiple thunderstorm cells storming through with hail but not before two of nature’s most beautiful urban trees bloomed. These two trees are stalwart sentinels around the city: the Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) and the Little-Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata).

The Catalpa is a large ornamental shade tree that produces dense clusters of white flowers and long seed pods. While I lament the long pods after they drop throughout the garden like pick-up sticks, the flowers are incredibly beautiful and very fragrant. After yesterday’s intense weather, many of the flowers were shed and rather look like popcorn on the ground. The heart-shaped leaves are huge, ranging from 6-8″wide and 6-10″ long. Growing up to 70 ft. tall, this long-lived tree (50-150 years) provides a wide spread 20-40′ and thrive in Denver’s dry climate, requiring little water once established.

Catalpa tree

The flowers resemble orchids. Here’s a closeup of the flowers and leaves.

Catalpa

The Little-Leaf Linden is a medium-large shade tree with a symmetrical shape that is easy to maintain and requires little or no pruning. In North America, Lindens may be known as ‘basswood.’ In early summer clusters of highly fragrant yellow flowers fill the air with a divine perfume that attracts bees. Following blooming, dangling flat clusters of nutlets replace the flowers. Lindens are another long-lived tree and also produce heart-shaped asymmetrical leaves with pointed tips and serrated edges, though they are significantly smaller than Catalpas.  They provide great shade in the intense Colorado sun.

Trees

Here’s a close-up of the flowers, nutlets and leaves. I wish there was some way to share that incredible fragrance. I often stand below these trees and inhale deeply for several moments. Elsa thinks I’m looking for squirrels and goes on alert but I’m just reveling in that divine scent.

Trees

We hope you and yours survived the Fourth (it sounded like a complete war zone for hours in my neighborhood-the worse ever in the 17+ years I’ve lived here) and I hope there are no more terror filled nights again. I ‘may have confronted a few neighbors and called the police‘ and with lack of sleep for the second night in a row, am in no mood for any more encounters. Before last night I was known as the nice lady with the two standard poodles who always carries dog treats in her pockets but now probably have a less flattering moniker after last night’s insanity. People seem to think they are entitled to disregard municipal ordinances because they are ‘being patriotic.’ If you want to be patriotic, how ’bout you vote and not think the rules don’t apply to you (maybe this is that ‘scrappy’ thing I referred to yesterday). Respecting veterans fragility, along with victims of active/mass shooting scenarios not to mention terrified pets seems like a better way, but what do I know. I’m just that {&#@%-ing} lady who tried to comfort her terrified, shaking, panting dog who never hurt a flea and wondered why his world turned into an absolute living hell for several hours.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

What’s Going On Thursday?

Oh May…you’re turning out to be a real stinker. What started out with loads of promise has turned into a real cluster. With migraines, seizures, and hail storms this week (my garden and I say thank you very little Mother Nature), I had to wonder out loud when I recently heard the classic Marvin Gaye song from the 1970’s. Little things have started to add up to give current times a flavor much like what was going on back when Marvin was ‘sultrifying’ the airwaves. Though different issues, there still is this pervasive question at the back of my mind: What’s Going On here? 

This little guy seems to be asking the same question as I have this week…what is going on? Elsa and I are on the mend (with special thanks all for the kind well wishes and POTP). With temperatures rising into the 90’s for the next few days, we plant to hunker down and ride the waves through life’s up’s and down’s. It’s all a person or pup can do, right? How are things on your end?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

After the Storm

Mother Nature seems schizophrenic these days. We had a ‘little’ storm Tuesday night. No doubt the roof will probably need to be replaced and there certainly is a lot of clean-up of salad greens shredded leaves and flowers. While it could have been much worse (did you see the news showing houses floating by…on fire…in a flood as was the case earlier this week in West Virginia and my heart goes out to those folks). Still, it was gut wrenching after seeing the spectacular show of color and beauty by sweet Mother Nature just a couple of weeks ago. Remember this?finalWell, nasty Mother Nature must be pretty ticked-off because it all looks like this now.

IMG_3511 2Everywhere you look, all that’s left are shredded leaves and sticks with seed pods. 🙁 Don’t know whether the lupine will reseed with damaged seed pods at this point.

We experienced some severe flash flooding and at one point the street looked like a fast-moving river which was followed by a power outage once the storm was over. At one point I could have sworn I saw pairs of pets walking two-by-two toward Noah’s ark. A neighborhood hedge was struck by lightning so the fire department was called to put it out. It was a crazy couple of hours. While I’ve lived through any number of hailstorms over the years in the Mile High City, I have been fortunate not to have suffered damage like this one which lasted longer in duration than most its previous ‘cousins.’ Summer hailstorms are routine here in the 303 and coupled with temps in the 90s that really set the stage for all of the unsettled air mixed with a lot of moisture to create the perfect storm.

Coming home from being gone for a few hours to a chirping CO2 detector and a totally freaked out dog set the stage for poor Sam to be totally wigged out once the hail started. Once it began, it took most of the evening to calm this poor stressed puppy down. I guess there are worse ways to spend an evening in the dark than stroking the soft head of a shaking fur-kid.

Needless to say, the baseball game was delayed for cleanup but finally finished in the early morning hours. And in true Colorado Rockies fashion, the team lost 14-9. Ugh.

Hail

Any severe weather your way? How do your critters deal with it?

Live, love, bark! <3

Living among mortals

Over the weekend the realization that I live with a mortal soul became a cold hard reality and I’m not sure how to process it. In his usual greeting exuberance from returning from an evening outing, Sam pogo-sticked his way out the door and raced down the driveway in circles, turned on a dime and tweaked his front leg. Badly. The blood-curdling yelping rocked me to my core. I’ve never heard that noise coming from him and it was quite unnerving. Sam wouldn’t put much weight on his front leg and given his other body language, we knew something was definitely wrong. After a few minutes of realizing my sweet goofball boy was injured, we gathered him up and took him to the after hours critical care center I’ve used when our regular vet office is closed.

The vet diagnosed a ‘soft-tissue’ injury, a ubiquitous term used for many injuries. They examined him and recommended pain meds and full R&R while this injury heals. Like I’ve done myself a jillion times, it appeared that Sam suffered a bad sprain (I have weak ankles and am kind of accident prone, Sam is just overly exuberant even in his senior years). They sent us home with pain meds and a recommendation to visit our vet in a couple of days for follow-up. Since Sam is getting his teeth cleaned on Tuesday it makes perfect sense. In the meantime, my heart and mind are filled with confusion, dread and all sorts of exaggerated scenarios that are not in the usual happy-spot realm that this lovable mutt usually engenders.

imageIt’s a hard realization when you must face the notion of mortality of our companion pets. Even though intellectually I can wrap my head around his recovery and to a lesser degree, even a life where he won’t be bouncing around, my heart refuses to accept that notion today. As a bona-fide senior pooch I know recovery will take some time though he seems much improved as of this morning. A troubling comment from the vet was, “there’s a little arthritis I can feel in his front paws” which prompted past scenes of other companion pets aging less than gracefully. I’m just not ready for that right now; I’m used to the happy-go-lucky, bouncy boy who provides smiles to everyone he encounters. The weekend showed a pup clearly hurting and who gave me the “Mom, I hurt” look which absolutely broke my heart. We only want our pups to be pain-free and live forever or at least as close to that as possible, so when we see them experience something less, it clearly pains us.

Will Sam be ok, of that I have no doubt. He’s in otherwise good health. Will it take a while? Probably, but the hard part of course will be keeping him calm and rested as he heals. That will take a few days and definitely some creativity on my part-he doesn’t quite understand why he can’t be off leash in the yard and why we cant go on our normal long walks right now while he recovers. The truly hard part will be realizing my sweet prince is among other things a mere mortal. Not sure there’s a prescription that deals with that.

Live, love, bark! <3

Thankful Thursday

image

It’s been beyond a wild and crazy work week with zero time to blog which I do not like. That said, it occurred the best way to deal with the stress would be through gratitude. I’m grateful for so many things especially lately 🙂 and as I was going through my photos for some inspiration, this graphic kind of jumped out at me. It said it all and more (I constantly read between the lines all the time). Here’s hoping your week has been one that reminds you of what’s important and not the noise the rest of the world is screaming at you. Be thankful and love the source of your gratitude. Awareness is hard when things are crashing all around you, but when you take a second to stop the merry-go-round, some of the best life offers is staring right you in the face (or through the screen). Embrace it, revel at it, love it and be thankful, I know I am thankful beyond words.

Live, love, bark! <3

It was one of THOSE days

Walk with me Grasshopper [Master Po]
Walk with me Grasshopper
[Master Po]
Ever have one of those days?  Sure, we all have them but how you perceive them makes all the difference in the world. It’s usually some stupid little thing that sends our minds into chaos.   Remember the 1970’s series Kung Fu where David Carradine was able to master his mind and calm everything down?  Well, I should have remembered some of those episodes, it might have helped us both out.

This past weekend was our regular rotation at hospital and hospice. Saturday we were scheduled for oncology. It’s always an intense session for both of us. Patients are so sick, their families are worried and a hardworking staff usually has their hands full. Everyone seems a little bit on edge. I get that and know that with Sam’s usual calming presence we usually manage the shift well.

It wasn’t that we were running behind, in fact, we were fairly early. The problem was my fault; I didn’t cope well and it may well have affected Sam.  Maybe it was barometric pressure.  It was one of those rain-threatening days with hail in the forecast. We’ve had some real doosies of hail storms recently so I thought; “heck we’re early, let’s park at the farthest point away in the parking lot under a very large cottonwood tree that would easily protect my little set of wheels.” My car isn’t super special, but it’s cute, dependable and in very good shape. It’s kind of important to me to want to keep it a nice, cute, dependable vehicle. So far so good, right?

That’s when everything went to crap. Unbeknownst to what was just ahead, we sauntered into the volunteer area to sign in. As soon as I got us all signed in, I realized Sam was missing his ID tag. Phooey. Having lost my own badge several weeks ago (still think it fell off somewhere in the parking lot but it was never turned in to Lost & Found), I wasn’t feeling like I wanted to go through the replacement process and expense again. Hey, no sweat, we’ve got plenty of time I thought, we’ll just go back out to the parking lot and see if it fell off in the lot since I had attached it to his collar when we got out of the car. About this same time, I also realized my car keys are missing. Ugh!

Part of my uniform consists of a handy apron with pockets across the front and a smock/lab coat also with pockets.  Since volunteers don’t have lockers, all these pockets are especially useful to stash the items we need during our visits—Sam’s business cards that are given to patients, a small hand sanitizer, small note pad with enough room for a few dog treats–just stuff like that. The coat has two decent sized pockets where I can stash my wallet and (on good days) my keys.  So I empty all the apron pockets and check my pant pockets as well. Dang it, no keys. Then I empty the pockets of the smock. Again, no keys. Rats! So I do the only thing I can think of, go trundling back out and check the car and guess what…it starts to rain (I am not making this up).

Sam really despises getting wet and I wasn’t all that keen on looking like Little Orphan Annie with curls up to here. We dash to that far end of the lot (remember that good idea I had earlier?) and I look in the passenger side to see if the keys are in the ignition. No dice. Ah, crap! The good news is I spot the missing ID tag and secure it on to Sam’s collar. We head back toward the sign-in area because I’m convinced that I probably just set the keys down next to the sign-in computer.  No biggie.  Ha!

Once back in, I fluff Sam and myself up a bit so we don’t look like drowned rats. So far, not so bad. But alas, no keys either. Oh man, really?!…I decide to go back out and see if maybe the keys fell next to the seat or maybe I set them down in the back seat when Sam got out and I hooked up his leash. Well, at least it’s not raining now but I’m starting to get stressed. Muttering and kvetching, I notice Sam is panting hard and not just from walking back and forth like crazy. He’s picking up on my energy.  Oh no!

So back out in the parking lot, I walk all around the car and what do I see? The blankety-blank keys sitting ‘purdy as a picture’…in the door lock! Argh, are you freaking kidding me??!! Now we are running behind and we rush back inside. Sam is definitely stressed. He freaks out in the elevator and seems completely at odds with his normal calm “I’m ready to go to work” persona. I’m upset and feel out of step myself. This is not good.

Before we begin a shift, we always swing by the gift shop and say hi to the volunteer high school students that generally man the shop on weekends. Sam loves these kids and they always enjoy a visit with him before we head up to our assigned floor. It’s a good way to begin a shift and it brightens their day.  He’s totally disinterested and out of balance so we leave and head on up hoping it’ll get better (sorry kids, we’ll be more friendly the next time…promise!). The oncology floor can be intense and kind of crazy. Saturday the stars were totally aligned but not in a good way.

The first room we stopped by was on full tilt alarm. The patient was stressed and tired and no doubt probably sick of that annoying beep, beep, beeping noise so we didn’t stay long. I offered to bring someone in to turn the alarm off. Sam was restless and disinterested in visiting, that confounded alarm wouldn’t shut up and it seemed like it took forever for the nurse to come silence it. Everything seemed frenzied (or at least in my mind it was–it’s all in perception, right Grasshopper?). We left and moved on to patient number two. Another squawking alarm (what are the odds?). Ugh. The patient’s visitor asked if I could get someone to turn it off, they said it had been trilling away for the past 10 minutes. Oh dear.  I’ve never seen or heard so many alarms going off on a floor.  Sam actually hesitated and then balked at going into the next room. And so it was the entire shift. In the rooms he would go in, he’d be restless, panting, not fully engaged. By then I was no longer stressing about my misplacing the stupid keys, but about him but I wasn’t in the best place to guide him back to balance (breathe, Grasshopper).

Recent research has shown examples of dogs and their amazing ability to ‘smell’ cancer. The results suggest they are quite good at it too. I couldn’t help wondering if some of those scents were part of Sam’s distress or was I totally to blame. Granted, I’m sure he picked up on my negative energy but I couldn’t help but wonder if his super sensitive nose was picking up on those patients’ condition, all the equipment alarms and the stressed out staff. It was a perfect storm of everything converging. Maybe it was just an off kilter alignment of the stars.  Whatever it was, it all started out with something stupid and minor and turned into ‘one of those days.”

Thankfully Sunday was better; we went to hospice and Sam was more balanced. We visited with some really nice people who told funny stories of their family’s experiences with dogs (I learned a lot about Dalmations–oh my!).  There was a greater level of calm though it was still a teeny smidge off from our usual shifts at hospice. I guess perception is everything, and when it’s bad as it had been the previous day, it surely impacted us and maybe even carried over to Sunday. Next time I’ll be better prepared so it’s a good visit for patients as well as a good experience for Sam. They all deserve that.  <3

Did you do anything fun on the first weekend of summer? Do dish on how you handle ‘one of those days.’