Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chincoteague mare and foal grazing on Assateague Island

Mom and baby share a bite

2008 Pony Swim

Were I on the island, I'd have been down at Memorial Park since about 4:30 this morning - I'd want a good view of the Pony Swim, and would be covered in insect repellant, wearing a hat for shade, and carrying a cooler with plenty of water and Gatorade in it. To use an island term, a lot of folks "pitchpole" awaiting the swim - because they aren't hydrated, they're over-excited, and they over do it in the sweltering heat and humidity. Unfortunately, most people visiting for the Pony Swim will be rude, crude and obnoxious - not that they see themselves that way. 

Pony Penning used to bring out the best in people - both the visitors and the natives. People without children would hold other peoples' children up in the air, so they could get a good view. Natives would move aside so the tourists could have a better spot to see all the action from. I remember being given horseback rides by most of the round-up men when I was a child.  At that point in time, there were several pony farms on the island, including the Beebe's - I particularly enjoyed Burton's Pony Farm, where the ponies who had portrayed Misty, the Phantom, and the Pied Piper in the movie Misty were living. I was very proud to be allowed to ride all three - and to then be able to go ride Misty and Stormy (since the Beebe's are cousins).

As it is, I'm sitting in an air-conditioned home in Colorado. I've already walked my 5 miles, with a Samoyed and a German short-hair pointer. The sunrise was spectacular - and I think the four cats were very pleased to have the dogs removed from the house for a short time.  Abby is a rare female orange tabby, Shadow is a black long-hair, and Boris and Natasha are Bengalese Spangles. I did have to laugh last night, when I turned away from the computer screen and saw Kohlbi, the Sammie, lying with his head pillowed on Boris.

Soon on my way to see my kits, and stop in and check on Suki and Boo. My niece was able to score a back-packing permit in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and my sister and brother-in-law are up in the mountains with her for 3 days....  The family from this house will return Saturday afternoon, and I'll be able to spend all of Sunday at home with my kits.  Lovey and Banichi - I love you and miss you!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chincoteague Ponies on Main Street - 2006

Chincoteague foals -- 2006

Snow still on the Front Range; Chincoteague Sand

Driving west towards Boulder this morning, I was surprised to still see snow on the peaks of the Front Range - today is our 17th day in a row of 90-degree-plus temperatures, and I guess I expected to see bare rock... I have the use of a Prius Hybrid this week; it's a nice little car, and the fact that I'm getting 52 mpg really makes me feel better about driving back to Boulder to spend time with my kits.

Lovey and Banichi greeted me with cries of welcome, lots of head-butting, and plenty of rubbing, marking and purrs. I fed them and loved them, and then opened the patio door so they could have a run outside. The birds have been making great inroads into the feeders lately - I guess they don't have to expend as much energy when I supply a lot of food during these hot days.

Ah, Chincoteague. If I were there, I'd either be on the beach or at the holding pen on Assateague. Today is the usual day for the blacksmith to trim hooves, and for the vet to get another over-all look at the herds. Any stragglers the firemen/cowboys find will be brought in today. Children and adults will be standing around the pens, choosing their favorite pony, and if they are there to purchase one, they are hoping not to get caught in a major bidding war during Thursday morning's auction. Tomorrow is the Annual Pony Swim - sometime between 6 am and 1 pm, at slack tide (when the ocean current is not running in either direction). The US Coast Guard cutter will determine slack tide and shoot a flare, letting the round-up men at Old Dominion Point know that it's time to start herding the ponies into the water. - There's no doubt about it - I've got Chincoteague sand in my shoes, and I'm always drawn to my mother's island home.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fishing boats, the old Chincoteague Drawbridge, and condos on Marsh Island

Chincoteague Boats & Drawbridge

Brighton & Chincoteague

I arrived in Brighton Saturday evening; the critters knew something was going on because they'd seen their people packing suitcases earlier. We had dinner and then went out for some ice cream, returned and watched a Comic Relief presentation of Doctor Who (with Rowan Atkinson as the Doctor).  An early bedtime was necessitated by an early flight time.

Nikki was upset and spent most of yesterday pacing through the house and looking for her master; Kohlbi just wanted to eviscerate every toy he could get his mouth on; and the cats were pretty blase about the whole thing. I took the dogs for an hour-long walk in the morning, and a 30 minute walk in the evening, and explored the neighborhood.

This is Pony Penning week on Chincoteague. Were I there, I'd be at the holding pens on Assateague Island at this very moment, looking over the stallions,  mares and foals; and seeking old friends and distant cousins among the "Saltwater Cowboys." The round-up men would have started the round-up on the northern end of Assateague  on Friday; and the vet for the CVFD would have already looked over the ponies and decided which were too young, too old, or too pregnant to make the swim across the Channel on Wednesday morning. These ponies will already be in the holding pens at the carnival grounds on Chincoteague, having been trailered there by the cowboys who work for the Fire Department.  I can almost smell the mud flats, the sea breeze from Tom's Cove, the insect repellant, and the wonderful odor of horses!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ma Kitty and Hailey

Security by MK&H

Dragonfly at Dusk

I opened the patio door at 6 yesterday evening - and both Lovey and Banichi disappeared out into the heat. I also opened my window curtain, but left the door curtain closed; and the kits came running back and forth for several hours. (I use the door curtain as a fur brush, as Banichi likes to roll in the birdseed hulls and Lovey just loves dirt.) Just as I was considering closing the door, around 8:30, both kits burst into the room. It took me a few moments to see that they were chasing a huge dragonfly; it finally lit on the ceiling, out of the kits' reach. This morning, I opened the door curtain when I was filling the bird feeders, and the big blue guy was able to make his escape - with both Lovey and Banichi again giving chase. I watched him fly over the privacy fence, which stymied the kits, and gave a big sigh for him - he'd escaped certain death.

Kathy, my sister, walked last night (and is still walking) in the American Cancer Society's Walk for Life Relay (from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.). She called before she left to walk, and told me if I had a sleepless night, I was welcome to come walk with her. I slept like a log - I don't know if it's the heat or the change in my medication, or the fact that I'm in my own bed with the kits - but I never woke up during the night.

I'm headed for Brighton tonight - I'll have a Samoyed, a German short-haired pointer, and four cats/kittens to watch over and take care of. Two of the cats are older, and two are less than a year old - and they all like to swish their tails in the dogs' faces. They are a fantastic group of personalities, and their owners are two very special people.

Friday, July 25, 2008



Talking Toilets

I had finished my morning walk, stoppped in at the Safeway to grab some Gatorade, and was on my way back to the kits - when a loud voice startled me. I was in the back alley/drive of the shopping center that runs between it and my apartment building, and no one was visible. The disembodied voice spoke again - and I realized it was someone with a deep voice speaking on the phone, from inside a Port-a-Potty parked behind a dumpster. - I was beginning to think I was hearing voices from nowhere! With that small riddle solved, I sauntered on home to the kits.

It was in the lower 60s this morning, but the humidity was 65% - which is high for Boulder. The kits are tumbling around outside near the patio - and we had a few drops of rain yesterday afternoon. We should get a few good showers from the remains of hurricane Dolly late today - it will be most welcome. The area is looking at the driest summer on record - so far we're 6.5 inches short of rainfall, and in a semi-arid countryside, it really makes a difference.

The birds have been eating from the feeders more (due to the heat?), and a couple of the older squirrels are visiting again, besides little Ricky. Seed and peanut intake is back on the rise. My neighbor has a birdbath and waterer on her patio, so we take care of the critters between us. There were plenty of ravens around this morning when I was out walking - I do like to see those big birds!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kimba, a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy


Light rain

We actually had a little bit of rain yesterday - the roads were wet, and there were raindrops sitting on the grass blades in the yard. Hooray! I'm back home for a few nights before heading out to Brighton; Banichi brought me his shoelace three times last night/this morning, and I thanked him for it's presentation. Lovey just wanted to cuddle on my lap and/or chest and be constantly stroked.

It was very nice this morning - went for my walk at 5 a.m., listened to the birds awakening in the trees, was able to enjoy the coolness from the water in Boulder Creek. I've refilled all the bird feeders, and placed some peanuts out for the squirrels. The kits are running in and out, enjoying an early morning of freedom.

Cousin Mike, from Kansas City, didn't arrive as scheduled yesterday evening, so I'll be meeting him this morning - and hopefully be able to introduce him to Kathy. Cousin Rick has been sending a lot of family information from Massachusetts that I need to put into my files and then put on-line. I will be getting photos put onto DVD today, so I can (finally) share some of my photos with you.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Rooster in Puerto Rico

Why'd The Rooster Cross The Road?

Chickens, Dogs, & Cats

Even though I complained yesterday, I really do enjoy taking care of critters. Yesterday I was amazed at how quickly the chickens devoured some left-over yellow rice that I had cooked with peas, carrots and broccoli. They also got some wilted lettuce, part of an apple, and their usual scratch and corn. And don't forget the water!  I carry two gallons of fresh water out to them every morning.  When I approach the coop door, they watch very carefully to see if I have anything "special" with me, and if I have something other than the water bucket, they come all around and cluck and fluff their feathers at me.  I tell the girls they're beautiful, and I tell Eliphalet Pease that he is the handsomest rooster I've ever seen. It's silly, but that's me.

Hila has been wonderful; even though she feels the puppy is trespassing in her territory.  The puppy, Smiley, has been extremely well-behaved for a 12 1/2 week-old. She wants to please and is a very quick learner.

I'm about to head home for a little time with my cats - I need to love Banichi and Leofgifu every day for my own sake (and theirs). Eliphalet Pease is crowing away in the backyard, Hila is asleep next to the desk, and Smiley has pretty much passed out from exhaustion (as puppy's do) at my feet. I need to collect the emptied trash cans before I  head out....  Have a great rest of the week!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Want to Fly Like a ... Dolphin?

come fly with me!  Featured POTD in travel 07-20-08

Hot and Hotter

Yuck!  I hate the heat! Especially with temps in the 90s and lower 100s, no air conditioning, and being away from home.  Complain, complain, complain...  I'm with Eliphalet Pease, the bantam rooster, his flock of hens (including Plain Jane), Hila, a puppy, and organic gardens and plants galore.

Saturday had been the hottest day of the year, and then yesterday topped it.  My brother-in-law collapsed from heat prostration (we think) on Saturday, and spent several hours in Urgent Care.
The dogs, my cats, and the chickens have been consuming loads of water (good for them), as have I.  I've been watering the gardens and plants from 10 p.m. until midnight, smothered in OFF!  

Hopefully I'll be able to return to my usual haunts within the next 24 to 48 hours - and then I'll have to get ready for 8 nights in Brighton - but no puppy to have to take out every three hours! And I'll be able to visit my kits almost all day long, and get some work done at home!  Yippee!

The above makes it sound like I don't enjoy my house- and pet-sitting.  Please don't get the wrong idea - I do like it and enjoy it. However, I usually schedule myself so I work about 2 weeks away from home at night, and then two weeks at home (or 1 week away, 1 week at home) each month. In July, I've only spent 4 nights in my own bed, with possibly 3 or 4 more before heading for Brighton. I love the critters - I love helping people "get away" for a few days - but I also love my kits and my small home.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

All puppies are adorable!

Puppies are a mood therapy, heart warmer and smile generator.

Puppy Socialization; a Mousie Night

Some tips on teaching your puppy to be a social dog:
Socialization is a critical component of a healthy, well adjusted adult dog. This is especially important in breeds that are known for their protective or aggressive nature. The personality and behavior of a mature dog will be strongly affected by how he interacts with littermates, his mother, and other pets - as well as people. . . especially children, when he is young.
From puppyhood on, it is imperative that you make every effort to expand his environment and expose him to new things. At this stage of life, puppies should be around as many different people and animals as possible to help eliminate fear of the unknown.
Try some of these effective socialization methods with your pup:
Enroll in a puppy socialization or obedience class, run by a professional, where he will meet other dogs.
Take him with you on walks, when shopping, or even to work (where allowed). Gradually get him used to new sights and sounds.
Invite your friends, including men, women, children and seniors, over to your house at different times to meet your new puppy.
Involve him in as much of your daily activities as possible. Be sure to offer treats for good behavior.
Puppies that have been exposed to various groups of people and pets are less likely to be aggressive to those groups as they mature. And you will be well on your way to having an excellent companion for years to come.

Last night was a wild and crazy one. I don't know if the kits caught the mouse outside and brought it in, or if it squeezed under the hallway door, having been brought to the complex by one of several of my new neighbors. It is a small, dark mouse - not even as large as the ball of my thumb - and the kits think it's the best thing ever! So far, it has avoided being captured - either by me or the cats. I first became aware of it near the hallway door, around 11 p.m.; the kits have been chasing it all night long, and both are currently stretched out, sound asleep.

The weather people say this is going to be a really HOT weekend - temps near 100, or above, and with low humidity. I'll probably end up turning the hose on myself while at Hila and Eliphalet Pease's house - Hila likes water, so she might enjoy a spray or two herself, and the chickens might like it to help cool them off, as well. I shall see and pass along the information!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vladimir has spotted something...

There's something interesting..

Cats and Water; Busier than I Thought...

Soe information on cats and their water needs:
Sufficient water consumption plays a major role in your cat's health. Insufficient water consumption is linked to an increase in bladder infections and crystal formation. Water helps regulate your cat's body temperature, and is necessary to aid in the digestion of dry food and the absorption of vitamins.
Your cat needs full-time access to water. But how much? A typical cat consumes approximately two and a half times the volume of dry food she eats. If, for example, she eats four ounces of dry food, she drinks about ten ounces of water. Factors such as high heat, exercise, or lactation can double or triple the amount she drinks. Thus, you should always provide more water than she actually drinks.
To ensure your cat drinks enough water, provide fresh water according to her preference. From time to time, your cat may get finicky and not drink enough. During these times, you may need to make an extra effort to persuade her to drink more. How you provide the water can be as big a factor as the quantity and quality of the water.
Have you ever spotted your pet drinking from the kitchen faucet? The sound, coolness, and freshness of running water is preferred by many cats. Your cat may enjoy drinking from a slowly running faucet, but leaving it running all day for her is impractical.
Water quality also counts. Because unwashed water bowls can harbor all kinds of bad organisms, be sure to rinse them daily, and disinfect them periodically with a mild bleach solution and thorough rinsing in clean water. Untreated water from other sources such as a backyard pond can also harbor bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can make your cat ill. Providing plenty of fresh water indoors greatly reduces the chance your cat will drink from secondary sources outdoors.
Fresh, running water may be especially important for your sick or older cat. Maintaining normal water consumption helps reduce the incidence and severity of feline lower urinary tract disease and other problems. As more water is consumed, urine is less concentrated, and crystals are less likely to form. If your cat has a medical condition, your veterinarian may recommend encouraging her to drink a large quantity of clean water.
As your cat ages, she may no longer drink sufficient amounts of water, which can exacerbate constipation problems or kidney disease, and contribute to dehydration. Maintain awareness of your cat's water consumption and take action to ensure she always drinks enough. These efforts will help keep her healthy and well hydrated.
I am going to be busier than I thought - due to Levi and his team's prowess on the baseball diamond, I will be visiting Hila, Eliphalet Pease, and the chicken flock this weekend, plus Monday. Then I'll have a few days at home before heading for Brighton for 8 days wih 4 cats, a Samoyed and a German short-haired retriever.
I couldn't figure out why I felt so bad around 9:30 last night. I finally realized that I hadn't eaten anything since 7 that morning - and that was a pear and some blueberries. So, at 10 p.m., I fixed a sandwich, which (since it was turkey) the kits insisted upon sharing.... so go my busy days...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sunset at Garden of the Gods

sunet over Garden of the Gods

Seven inches shorter!

I lost seven inches yesterday - seven inches of hair. Kathryn, who hasn't cut my hair in almost two years, was delighted when I walked in and said, "Do what you want with it - just make it shorter and more light-weight." So she cut off seven inches of hair all over my head - using a razor and giving the thing "texture." I like it - it's different - it's definitely lighter, so the back of my head doesn't sweat as much - and I can do all sorts of things with the front/top... I'll get someone to take another photo of me soon, so I can share the new look.

I sent around to most of my friends and family a videoclip that's on YouTube - a friend/neighbor taped the play of a mother fox and her kits in his backyard for almost ten minutes. Olivier's yard is adjacent to three of the homes where I pet- and house-sit. If you didn't get the clip and would like to, please let me know, and I'll send it to you.

I stretched my walk to six miles this morning - it's warm, but overcast, and we are hoping for rain today and tomorrow. The kits have been behaving - the birds and squirrels and raccoons have been on their usual visiting schedules. One of the folks I pet-sit for has had a death in her family - she has asked if I'm available to take care of her 6 critters while she's gone, and I've said yes - so I might be off gallivanting soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Devil's Millhopper, Gainesville, Florida - we used to picnic here

Devil's Millhopper

Raccoons visit; Boulder Creek refreshing

The kits awakened me this morning around 1 a.m., mainly by running across my body to get to the window quickly. The four raccoons were back visiting - and they were able to chow down on a few peanuts the squirrels hadn't finished. The 'coons sat on the patio and chattered for about 30 minutes, then headed over toward the dumpster for Millenium Harvest House. I hope they found an adequate meal. I went back to bed, Lovey decided to sleep in the desk chair, and Banichi opted for the patio look-out chair.

I had my photo taken yesterday so I can send it out my friends and family - I hope it doesn't scare you too much. I'll probably send it around in a day or two... along with a few other selected photos.

I was out walking at 5:30 this morning, and having gotten over-heated yesterday, I stopped several times along the Boulder Creek Path and splashed my face and neck with water. Golly, it's cold - but refreshing! Even though we're expecting another day in the upper-90s, one can still see snow on the mountaintops of the front range; they look cool and remote against the blue sky. The crows and ravens flew with me for a little bit this morning - then decided I wasn't very interesting, I guess... They all flew to the northwest in a big flurry about 6:15. My small feathered friends (the sparrows, finches, chickadees and nuthatches) are creating a tiny riot out on the patio, and Ricky has already made his visit. I guess it's time to go to work....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We can share!

misc house and storm 003

Ricky and the Kits

It's already warmer here than it is in Florida - but Florida has all the humidity and Colorado doesn't. I walked my 5 miles, then took a long, cool shower this morning. When I opened the patio door, Ricky (a young squirrel) was sitting in the wicker chair looking wistful - so I put out some peanuts for him to eat. He got nose-to-nose with Lovey after his second nut, and then had to brazen it out with Banichi. Banichi put his paw on the end of Ricky's tail, but let him slip away.

Banichi has decided that the desktop is his new territory; he plops down on the keyboard while I'm working, or wriggles into the space between the edge of the desk and the keyboard - and the he just gradually spreads out until there isn't any room for any activities.

I'm going to take some film in and get it developed today - then I'll put together a selection of photos to share with my friends on-line. - I hope it won't be too egocentric! I'll also be visiting DeJa, the Cocker, today; and am also scheduled to visit him on Friday. I'm going to have to contact my pet's families and get permission to photograph them so I can use their photos here. DeJa's family has already OK'd it, as has Suki and Boo's family.... I think most of the other families will approve, as well. - Next month it's Hila and the chickens ruled by Eliphalet Pease (he's the Bantam rooster); and Suki and Boo. In September, it's Spike and Suki and Boo - hope to get some good photos to share!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Boulder Creek

the beautiful BOULDER CREEK!!!!!!!


There's no place like home.... Frank Baum hit the nail on the head with that line. I'm at my desk, in my apartment, listening to birds on the patio and in the backyard, and having the cats come in and check to see that I haven't disappeared again. I never leave them loose and go anywhere - I don't trust the cats to behave well and responsibly for long. Lovey likes to steal deli meats from neighbors, besides bringing the odd stick and anything live that she's managed to catch back inside. Banichi is less out-going, but does bring his flutterby catches back inside, too.

I just looked around - Banichi is sprawled on the top shelf of the bookcase; Lovey was in the shade of a wicker chair on the patio, but came in when she saw me looking at her. So I've closed the patio door and turned on the fan, and will soon start cleaning the house, washing the few dishes that are dirty, and then I'll let myself relax in the 15th century for a while. After that, I'll be back on-line working on the family tree.

It was cool this morning and there was a nice breeze for my 5-mile walk. I stopped and picked up a fresh bagel at the bakery around the corner on my way home - that and some strawberries and blueberries and some Mango Splash juice made up a filling breakfast. I need to go grocery shopping and stock up on kitty food - and my food - since I'm home for the rest of the month.
A cousin I've only met via e-mail will be visiting later this month - I'll take him out to dinner and swap family stories with him before he drives on to California. (I did miss the coyote serenade last night.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gorgeous Night

Last night was gorgeous. There were a few, high cirrus clouds and the moon was bright - the coyotes serenaded me again, and set off several dogs in the neighborhood. The west neighbors cannot complain that Pepper was barking - he was sound asleep - but there was a small dog's high-pitched bark from somewhere nearby that went on for several hours.

I'll be home with my kits tonight - and can telephone friends and catch up on the news. I'm actually home at the moment - the kits are snoozing on the patio in the shade, and the sparrows and finches are busy at the bird feeders above them. I'll head back to the doggies about an hour from now, and then return home for the night around 6 p.m.

Banichi has just plopped down on top of the keyboard - so I guess I'd better get off-line....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Blue Angels - Dad was their chief mechanic in the early 1950s


Coyote Serenades & Midnight Trains

Since I'm house-sitting in a subdivision, I keep forgetting that the open country begins about an eighth of a mile away - open country being farms, pastures and protected open space. I had just closed the book I was reading in bed, when I heard a freight train whistle - I looked at the clock and it was midnight; then there followed a sound I had forgotten - the song of a pack of coyotes. Lucy sat up on the bed beside me, but stayed quiet; Pepper was sleeeping in his crate in the laundry room, and didn't make a peep.

The coyotes sang for about 15 minutes - and intertwined their melodies with two other train whistles that were at a greater distance. When I first rented my own place here in Colorado, I was at Stone Mountain Lodge to the northwest of Lyons, and heard the coyotes sing every night. I had forgotten how much I enjoy hearing their melodies.

It's much cooler today - our high is guesstimated at 79 - yesterday afternoon, the thermometer by the backyard birdbath read 102.3 degrees when I walked back from the bus. I woke up this morning to a jay screaming ata squirrel, and the squirrel was chattering right back at the jay. I've already taken Lucy and Pepper for an hour-long walk, and am about to head into Boulder to see Lovey and Banichi. - Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Assateague Lighthouse, where my grandfather and great-grandfather were keepers

Assateague in Evening Light

Cool mountain morning & missing Chincoteague

It's a nice, cool (58) morning out - I've already walked Pepper and Lucy, seen myriad birds, a fox, lots of bunnies, and a skunk. We are expecting dry, sunny skies today - so I need to get on my way to the bus stop - but it is nice out now.

Lucy and Pepper's family are due back Sunday night, and I'll be able to sleep in my bed with my kits, and walk my 5 miles whenever I awaken in the morning. I always enjoy my pet-sitting, but I'm always happy to get back home. My only "problem" during my pet-sitting duties usually occurs the first night of the stay, when I have to figure out which house I'm in, and where the bathroom is relative to where I am, if I have to 'go' during the night.

Only 19 days until Pony Penning and 20 until the auction - I always feel a "pull" to be there on Chincoteague and Assateague at this time of year. Last night I dreamed I was wandering around the White Hills on Assateague, seeking my goats and sheep. I used to wander the White Hills quite often, before the USFWD decided to put the area off limits. Summer breezes, smelling of salt water; the hum of super-sized mosquitoes at night; the smell of the tidal marshes and the plop of turtles going into the water after sunning; the smell of rain and lightning in the air, along with the grumble of thunder; the sound of surf and gulls; the sound of waves patting the piers - I do miss the islands!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Snow at Vail - I want to cool down!

Snow covered pine trees on the white slopes of Vail, Colorado

Some Like it Hot - I don't.

The heat is on outside, the sprinklers are on outside, the dogs are chewing bones inside, and I'm on-line. It's half-past 9 p.m., and the thermometer by the birdbath says it's 80 degrees outside. I turned the sprinkler system on at 8, and will turn it off at 10:30 - hoping the plant and grass roots will get enough for the night.

After the two cratings for barking, Pepper immediately gets quiet when I tell him "No" if he starts up. Lucy just looks on, acting very superior. I had to distract her and Pepper from a young cotton-tail that was sitting on the edge of the patio this morning - and happily was successful. Pepper decided to wrestle with Lucy this afternoon and seemed surprised that she didn't let him win; he yelped and went around the bar corner to hide, then came back for more, but finally went and sulked on his bed. We have been taking an hour walk each morning and evening, as well as frequent visits out into the yard - and everybody is doing fine.

I've gone home once each day and spent time with the kits - fed them, loved them, cleaned their litter boxes, and spent time lying on the bed so they could cuddle with me. They are just wonderful kits! Walking out to the bus stop in the morning isn't bad - it's getting back here in the afternoon heat that is so draining. Luckily, friends (for whom I also pet-sit) have picked me up the past two afternoons as I've been trudging along the highway with my backpack and a bag of groceries. - Thank you, thank you!

Tomorrow is supposed to be almost as hot as today (98 degrees and 8% humidity), so hopefully Steve's and Indie's family will see me out hiking tomorrow; Saturday and Sunday we're supposed to cool down into the mid 80s, with a good chance of rain on Sunday. (Come on, rain!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Alligator beside Anhinga Trail in the Everglades

alligators-Anhinga Trail-Everglades_2337

Lucy, Pepper and Cool Breezes

Lucy and Pepper's family told last night me they've been receiving complaints about Pepper barking, and that Lucy has suddenly developed a habit of disappearing. So far, knock on wood, I haven't had any problem with them. Pepper likes to bark to get attention - and when he goes to the other end of the house and barks at nothing, I put him in his crate. After two episodes of this, he's stopped barking at nothing (as of 16 hours into the job). Lucy hasn't gone out of the yard and I'm keeping a wary eye on her when she's out. The family says she's beginning to chase squirrels and rabbits, and once (so far) a skunk. They are darling little dogs - but I think Pepper has had a lot less discipline than Lucy ever got, and he's a little spoiled. He needs to find out that he's equal to Lucy and can't get away with things, just because he goes belly-up as soon as he's caught doing something he knows he shouldn't.

We've had quite a breeze most of this afternoon and evening - of course, I'm out in a small subdivision with large yards, and half-way between Boulder, Longmont, and Niwot. But it's quiet, and there is plenty of wildlife here. My only complaint is that the mosquitoes here like me and my blood - I'm having to drown myself in DEET to go outside if the wind isn't briskly blowing. The county is spraying to kill the skeeters, but that doesn't really take care of the problem along local creeks. Will go home to my kits for a few hours later this morning - then head back out here on my bike -

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Clear Creek as seen by rail

Clear Creek as seen from train.

Chautauqua, Cats, Dogs, and Buses

Dinner at Chautauqua last night was great fun - we sang "Happy Birthday' to Anne over our desserts, and then we were joined by a young boy who was having his 7th birthday at the next table, and he wanted to wish Anne a "very Happy Birthday, too!" When their desserts came out, we joined in singing "Happy Birthday" to Nicholas, and ended up with the entire balcony seating area joining in.

My kits were happy to have me home last night - 5 minutes after I went to bed Lovey brought me her ball for a game of throw and fetch, and Banichi brought his favorite shoe-lace and curled it up gently on my right knee. Right now, the patio door is open and Lovey is lying under the observation chair there at the door, while Banichi is stretched out on my desk top. I've filled up the bird feeders and put out squirrel feed to keep the kids occupied until I get back for my visit home tomorrow.

Brandi and I said good-bye for a little while last night - her real family was due home around 11 p.m. And I'm getting ready to go stay with Lucy and Pepper - Lucy is half Beagle and half Dachshund, Pepper is half Yorkshire terrier and half Maltese - and they keep me busy. I'll be heading out their way via bus and then on foot today - it's about 2 1/2 miles to their house from the bus stop. Tomorrow, when I don't have my backpack and grocery bags with me, I'll cover that distance by bike (thank goodness our buses have bike racks on them!).

Here's hoping for rain here, and whatever kind of weather you need where you live!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Elk in Estes Park

170 - Elk In Downtown Estes - June 14

Fox Kits and Mule Deer

I awoke this morning to the sounds of magpies, robins and grackles angrily chattering; so I put on my glasses and looked out the window. Two young fox kits were trotting across the backyard, zig-zagging through a group of 10 mule deer. Brandi was gently snoring beside me, with her green lamb toy under one paw - otherwise, she'd have wanted out. Brandi's backyard is about one acre in size, so the deer and fox aren't unusual - but I was very happy she was asleep. The last time she was chasing deer in the yard, she got so excited she forgot where things were, and ran head-first into a tree and cut up her nose and face pretty badly. - This morning, the backyard was a nice, pastoral scene to awaken to.

We're expecting some rain today - and it's needed. We're almost 6 inches short of our usual rainfall at this time of year. I don't want to wish flooding on anyone - but we could use a week of light rain. I'm headed to the library this afternoon for more reading material; and am putting in new family info to be up-loaded to the web next weekend.

Tomorrow is Anne Snow's 79th birthday. We're taking her to Chautaqua for dinner, and I'm giving her three mystery books set in the past in Scotland and Ireland. She's a retired school-teacher, originally from Yorkshire, England (though her bloodline is Scots and Irish), and is my brother-in-law's step-mother. I love to talk to her and listen to her stories of growing up during the Blitz in England.

Lovey and Banichi have come back in from our backyard and are demanding attention from me - so I'll sign off for today. Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

With Blue Eyes, It'd be Brandi!

Berner - Schutzengel Bilbo

Fabulous Fireworks

The fireworks at Folsom Field last night were fantastic! My neighbor, who's moved here from Hawaii, and I sat out and thoroughly enjoyed the 30-minute show. Since we're so close to the stadium, we could hear the music that was played before and during the display, as well. And, just before th start of the fireworks, a gentle breeze started blowing, and helped to cool most of us watching.

Yesterday I purchased a toy for Brandi - she's not mine, but I love her. She loves soft cloth toys with squeakers inside them; so I got her a pale green wooly lamb with a really obnoxious squeak. I gave it to her last night when I got there after the fireworks - she was slightly offended because I smelled like my cats - but the toy mended our fences. She chased it all over the house and would pounce on it and make it squeak multiple times before returning it to me to be thrown again. She even brought the lamb to bed with us!

Back at home for the moment - the kits are lazing in the backyard, as it's 95 degrees out there. Since it's so warm, the birds are staying in shaded areas and not coming to the feeders right now - they'll hit us for supper around about 6 p.m. - and then the kits will be entertained, because that's when I'll head back to Brandi. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, July 4, 2008

US Flag on a US Navy Transport

Flag Flying On The Back Of A Navy Boat

A Happy, Hot Fourth of July

It's July in the foothills, so it is hot. We're supposed to be in the mid-90s today - it was nice early this morning when Brandi and I walked around Wonderland Lake. Then I waved good-bye to Kathy and Jim as they left to go do a butterfly count up in the mountains, walked back to the bus stop and headed home to my kits. Both were happy to see me, they ate well, and then hurried outside to play in the backyard. I've been checking up on and replying to e-mail, while watching the Greeley 4th of July Parade - it's amazing to watch long-horn cattle being driven down Main Street these days!

Brandi is such a nice dog. She's completely blind, but has excellent hearing (last night she was chasing a fly around the house), and she loves to snuggle. She has a problem with arthritis, but gets along well when it isn't cold and wet outside. If you put her tennis ball under her nose and tell her you're going to throw it, she'll chase the sound of it hitting the ground - and sometimes makes incredible catches. She gets fed and has medicine to take twice-daily, and I walk her every morning. I also sleep in her teen-age owner's bed, so she can have a sleeping companion.

Since it is the Fourth, there will be all sorts of things happening today in Boulder - multiple free concerts, the AVP volleyball tour will play at Folsom Field, and tonight there will be three different bands at the Field, along with a group singing Woody Guthrie and Americana songs; and, of course, the fireworks display around 10 p.m.

I'll be going back to Brandi's house to give her dinner and have my own, then returning to my apartment, where I can hear the bands without having to deal with the crowd. I'll step outside into the parking lot for the fireworks; and then Kathy and Jim will give me a ride back to Brandi in North Boulder, when they've finished watching the show (they're parking in my spot tonight).

This is the day, that, more than any other, I think of the past and the sacrifices our forefathers made to insure that we have freedom - here's praise and blessings to all those who have given of themselves for our country!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Romsey Abbey, Hampshire, England - My 7th-great-grandfather came to the colonies from Romsey

Romsey Abbey

Hot Days in Boulder County

I thought I could feel my skin sizzle yesterday, walking from the Niwot Park-n-Ride to Spike's house, even though I was wearing SPF 45 sunblock. It was 93 degrees and the humidity was 11% - so the air was sucking the moisture out of your body, or so it seemed. My kits are out lolling in the shade and watching a young male squirrel - it's 10 a.m. and in the low 80s already. There were 14 reported wildfires in Colorado yesterday; the one nearest here was a 2,000 acre grassland/pasture fire that started beside one of the Interstate highways....

Spike has been an absolute sweetheart; this morning he was a little perturbed with me for watering the flowers while he was outside, but he didn't get wet. Tomorrow I'll spend the morning with Spike, from noon until 2 with DeJa, and then head over to take care of Brandi for a week; after Brandi I'm booked for another week out in North Niwot with Lucy and Pepper. In August I'll be with Hila and the chicken flock, then in September I'm with Spike-Meister again for the first half (with visits to Suki and Boo), and then (possibly) with Nikki, Abby, Shadow, Boris and Natasha for the last week - if Kohlbie makes it to the Nationals and if Jane is feeling well enough to continue to show him.

A blue jay yelled at me this morning while I was watering the flowers in Niwot. When I first visited Colorado in the mid-70s, blue jays were not a part of the local bird scene - nor were cardinals. Now both are seen with increasing frequency in the eastern part of the state. Seeing the jay pant reminded me to fill the bird bath and bird feeders - so Spike would be entertained if he deigned to monitor the yard during the day. I'll be busy working with pets and homes through the first half of this month, then I'll head back into the trails of genealogy for the last part of the month.