Monday, August 31, 2015

Assorted Photos

Oyster toadfish in a conch shell

Storm clouds over Virginia

Dumbo octopod


Sunrise surf

Sassie's 2013 filly

Leafy seadragon

American Pharoah and the Travers Stakes

This past Saturday afternoon, Saratoga Race Course once again earned it's nickname, "The Graveyard of Champions."  American Pharoah tried to become only the second horse to win the Travers Stakes after earning the Triple Crown Championship.  Like many other great race horses, he failed, leaving Whirlaway (in 1941) as the only Triple Crown Travers winner.  I greatly appreciate the fact that owner Ahmed Zayat decided to run the colt in the Mid-Summer Derby after winning the Haskell Invitational on 2 August.  Most owners and trainers would have backed the colt off work, slightly, and allowed him to regroup and recover from the Triple Crown campaign before gearing up again for the Breeders Cup Classic.
   Mr Zayat knows that everyday people and bettors in America need a fantastic horse to help boost interest and income into thoroughbred racing in the United States.  After American Pharoah came through the Triple Crown trail looking better than ever, it was decided to run the colt in the Haskell.  With the short breaks between the Triple Crown races, perhaps the Zayat family thought that the colt would continue his unbeaten streak with a break of 27 days between the Haskell and the Travers.
   Keen Ice, a colt by Curlin, ran seventh in the Kentucky Derby; he did not run in the Preakness; and he finished third in the Belmont.  In the Haskell Invitational, Keen Ice took second place, two lengths behind American Pharoah.  In the Travers, Keen Ice won by three-quarters of one length.  Was the difference between the two colts Keen Ice's time off during the running of the Preakness?  We will never actually know, and it's certainly something that will be debated for many years to come.
   Saratoga Race Course has been known as the Graveyard of Champions since 1919, when two-year-old Man o'War met the only defeat in his career in a six furlong race.  The colt that beat him was named Upset.  And he won by three-quarters of a length.   In 1930, Gallant Fox, the Triple Crown champion was defeated by Jim Dandy, at odds of 100 to 1.  Secretariat was beaten by Onion at Saratoga in the Whitney; and Rachel Alexandra was defeated by Persistantly in the Personal Ensign.  And don't forget that while Affirmed, the 1978 Triple Crown winner crossed the wire in front of Alydar in the Travers Stakes, Affirmed was disqualified, and Alydar was proclaimed the winner.   I'll happily wager that Saratoga will continue it's tradition of kicking dirt in the faces of Triple Crown winners - it seems to be a habit.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Assateague Island Photos

Assateague Island Coast Guard Station

Glossy ibis


Beach surf

Marshland gut

Bald eagle

Sunrise in late July

Black Bear Encounter

Horse racing today - the Travers Stakes; professional football today - Eagles and Broncos playing other teams.    Most exciting thing in the last 24 hours - turning a corner in a backyard and finding myself (almost) face to face with a juvenile black bear.  It was less than five feet away from me - good thing it wasn't another human, 'cause it would have looked at me like I was nuts...  I pointed at it, and said, "Bear!" in a high-pitched voice.  It turned, ran and leaped up to grab the top of the 6-foot tall privacy fence, the gate actually, swung itself up and over and disappeared.  I retreated back into the house.
   The bear was reported to me by my friend earlier yesterday morning.  I had sent out a neighborhood alert, letting folks know that a young bear was near the corner of Agate and Emerald Roads.  It was seen in three different yards, and had destroyed the bird feeder systems in two of the yards, plus raided a garden.  That was about 9:30 yesterday morning.  I had no idea the bear had spent the afternoon in my friend's backyard when I went over to feed the cats and dog, and to walk the dog.  The cats kept staring out into the backyard, before, after, and during their meal.  When I walked Tess, she reacted strangely near the garden gate, but I knew the bear had been there in the morning.  When I put her in the house, she started staring at the back window, and she barked a few times - which is pretty unusual for her.  So dumb me, I decided to take a look.
  I walked out into the open backyard area and saw nothing - other than the wreckage of the bird feeders and the wrought iron stakes, staffs, and holders.  Then I walked along the back of the house, and paused at the corner of the garage.  Then I took a step forward, and the bear and I were looking at one another.  I was barefoot, and I stand about 5 feet 1 inch high.  The bear was about three inches shorter than me, and no where near as broad as I am.  I'd estimate that it weighed about 100 pounds.
   What is silly is that I went to the front of the house, where I had parked the car.  The bear was sitting beside the car.  As I approached, the bear ran to the neighbors' house - which was where I was going.  When I pulled into the neighbors' driveway, the bear ran back to the first house, and climbed the gate into the backyard once more.  The neighbors and I chatted, and then I left to care for more critters.
   Before I went to bed last night, there were reports that the bear was last seen running across a front yard on Topaz Drive.  I hope it went back to the Open Space and Mountains.  We'll have to see what happens.
   Because of a late freeze and heavy rains, the usual bear menu is not available in our local foothills.  They don't have their normal supplies of natural foods in their normal habitats.  We've had at least 6 bears in Boulder in less than a week.  The Department of Wildlife has warned us that we will be sighting many more bears before it's time for them to hibernate.  I hope everyone out there is careful about their pets, small children, and that their garbage is safely locked up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Assateague Island (VA) Photos

Pixie Dust

Checkers and foal



Ponies on the beach

Deer at dusk

Little blue heron

"The Mid-Summer Derby"

Saturday, at Saratoga Springs, New York, the 146th running of the Travers Stakes will be held.  It's called the Mid-Summer Derby for a reason - quite a while ago, many owners thought that making a three-year-old race 1 1/4 miles in the first week of May was asking too much of the horses.  At that point in time, most thoroughbred foals were born in April, May and June, and were barely actually three years of age. (All thoroughbreds have their birthdays on January 1 of each year - so if your horse gives birth on December 31, the next day your new baby is a yearling...)  A lot of breeders and race horse owners wouldn't try to run their horses on the first Saturday in may, in the Kentucky Derby.  Colts that took time to mature, or were born late in the spring, were aimed at "the Mid-Summer Derby,"  the Travers Stakes, run in late August at the same distance as the Kentucky Derby.  This year, the Travers will be run on 29 August, with a gate time of 5:46 p.m. EDT.  The horses entered are all three years old, they will all carry 126 pounds, and they will race for one and one-quarter miles.  The purse is guaranteed at $1.25 million.  If the Kentucky Derby winner is entered, the purse is raised to $1.6 million.
   American Pharoah was the 2015 Kentucky Derby winner.  American Pharoah is entered in this Saturday's Travers Stakes.  Nine other horses will race against him.  American Pharoah is "bucking the odds."  The only other Triple Crown winner to enter and win the Travers Stakes was in 1941, and the horse was Whirlaway.  Affirmed crossed the finish line first in the 1978 Travers, but was disqualified and placed second for cutting off Alydar in the stretch. (Alydar's trainer, John Veitch,  said the win was "a hollow victory").
  So, who is running against American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes?  What are the post positions and what are the morning line odds?  Here you go:
1.   Upstart   at odds of 15 to 1
2.   American Pharoah   at odds of 1 to 5
3.   Mid Ocean    at odds of 50 to 1
4.   Texas Red    at odds of 8 to 1
5.   Frammento    at odds of 30 to 1
6.   Frosted    at odds of 6 to 1
7.   Keen Ice    at odds of 12 to 1
8.   Tale of Verve    at odds of 30 to 1
9.   King of New York    at odds of 50 to 1
10. Smart Transition    at odds of 20 to 1

   I'll be cheering on American Pharoah.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hot, Hazy and Bears

Yesterday morning, while waiting for the local bus, the temperature rose 3 degrees in 12 minutes.  I wore my jeans yesterday morning - not that the 55 degrees felt cold; it was the 88% humidity that did that.  Then the humidity seemed to burn off, or away, and it ended up in the low 90s.  Today we're supposed to reach 89 (F) in Boulder, but we might go into the 90s again.  We are still dealing with air quality advisories, high particulates, and lots of smoke and haze from the western wildfires.  Usually at this time of year, the view of the Flatirons is crystal clear.  This is the view today:
And may blessings pour upon the fire fighters out west, as well as their families.  They all certainly deserve our thanks, and some quiet vacation time.  I'd love for a huge low pressure system to form and cause a week-long light rain to fall over all of the western states - Colorado included.  It would put out the fires and wash the air clean, and give the fire fighters a much-needed break.
   Today is the second day that the judge, lawyers, and Aurora shooter are hearing from victims and their families regarding how their lives have changed.  The shooter sits there and twists in his rotating seat and smiles into the distance.  I have to say that I'm sorry he was sentenced to life without parole; I feel he should have been given the death penalty.  Period.
   Yesterday, there was an adult black bear wandering near the CU campus (it was the first day of classes at CU).  Today, less than a block from my apartment, there are two cubs and a mother black bear in trees in a residential yard.  Wildlife officials and police are hoping the bears will travel back towards the west, the open space, and the mountains at dusk tonight.  In the meantime, they are drawing photographers, and causing traffic jams...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Photos From Assateague and Chincoteague (My Vacation)

Sunrise on Assateague Island

Heron and crab on Assateague Island

Chincoteague ponies on Main Street

Duck and duckling at the Chincoteague Public Library

2015 Buy-Back ponies - The middle three are named Surfer Princess (chestnut with star and snip), Raven Moon (black), and Surfer's Blue Moon (black with white blaze) -left to right

Bald eagle on Assateague Island

Sunset and gulls over Little Oyster Bay

Seventy-two Uncontained Wildfires Burning

According to the latest reports, there are 72 uncontained large wildfires burning in five western states (California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington) and southern Canada.  Two large wildfires have been contained.  Containment consists of "a control line that has been completed around the fire, and any associated fire spots, which can reasonably be expected to stop the fire's spread."  Over 2,500 square miles of the United States are burning, or have been burnt, in the past month.   That is a piece of land larger than the entire state of Delaware.
   The mountains and Flatirons are again covered by haze here in Boulder.  We are under a particulate advisory - meaning there is much more than just smoke in the air, there's ash and residue from the fires floating around.  I have COPD, so after I fed, watered and medicated Lynn's critters today, I took Tess on a short walk and then returned home.  The only problem is that it's a Sunday, so the buses only run once an hour.  I could stand and wait for 55 minutes for the bus, or I could walk home in 20 minutes.  I decided to walk.  Luckily, one of the Githens Acres neighbors stopped and picked me up, and dropped me off at my new apartment.  -  And asked me to join in a Poker tournament next weekend, too. (I just might do it.)
   Today I scrubbed down the bathrooms, shook out the rugs, and swept and mopped the floors.  I purchased a new toilet brush, and had to admit that I laughed out loud when I saw a "Customer Service/ Questions and Instructions" toll-free number listed on the tag.  Ummmm...  What kind of instructions are needed for a toilet brush?  (Other than don't scrub vigorously with your mouth open?)
   Nedi practiced tight-rope walking this morning - around and around the edge of the balcony.  My biggest fear was that he'd try to play "owl" - he sits up on his hind end, with his fore feet held against his belly, and he tries to make a 360-degree circle with his head.  Of course, his neck won't do that, and so, at some point, he over-balances and falls down.  I'm afraid he's going to do it while sitting on the edge of the balcony railing and fall 18 feet to the asphalt parking lot below us.  I know cats are resilient, and have an uncanny ability to land on their feet, but - 18 feet onto asphalt could break bones...  (Worry, worry, worry.  It's all mother's ever do.)

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Due to all the wildfires on the West coast, we were told to expect hazy conditions in Boulder today.  That also means to expect poor air quality for breathing.  It was already hazy out when I arose this morning; by 6 p.m., I could barely see the mountains 30 blocks away from my balcony.  The air doesn't yet have a smell to it - but it definitely dries out your nose and throat.  Another reason to stay well hydrated here a mile above sea level.   I fed and medicated Lynn's cats and dog this morning, fed the carp, and then walked Tess.  Afterwards, I watered the plants in need of assistance - like the clematis beside the mailbox.   I grabbed a few grocery items on the way home, then spent the day cleaning and reading and sorting.
    And watching the fourth quarter of the Eagles game, to see Tim Tebow play.  I watched a bit of the Broncos game during the Eagles' halftime, and after TT's game was finished.  Isn't the quarterback supposed to be protected?  How did RG III  get a concussion and a shoulder stinger in a preseason game?
   And I'll have to call the apartment maintenance team - I called at 11 p.m. Friday night to let them know that the fat-looking insulated pipe/hose that dips down in the front of the utility closet was leaking.   It was a slow, small steady leak for about ten minutes - and fell into a collecting pan that encircles the water heater.  The guy was going to come over then and there, but Beatrice and I wanted to go to bed.  I had pretty much forgotten about the leak until 7:45 this evening, when it sounded like someone was beating hard plastic with a hammer somewhere in the hallway.  I opened the utility closet and watched a pretty heavy stream of drips fall into the collecting pan for about three minutes.  It was loud enough to send my cats into hiding.   Hopefully, there won't be much more drippage tonight or tomorrow, and I can get maintenance to come Monday afternoon, while I'm home.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Snow This Morning!

That's right!  We had snow this morning on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park - about an hour north and west of Boulder....  And it's still August!  We had a Canadian cold front drop into Colorado at the beginning of the week, and for the first three weekdays, temperatures were in the 60s for highs.  Today it's hit 78, and the heat is supposed to continue to rise for a few days.  I actually wore jeans to walk Rosie, Tess, Lucy and Charlie this morning.  My T-shirt was OK, but if the wind had been blowing, even a gentle breeze, I'd have needed my sweater.
   Finally cleared out my second storage bin from moving in June/July.  Now I have to sit down and sort through things - what to keep, what to donate, what to sell.  I had no idea I had acquired so much stuff since I moved to Boulder.  It's definitely time to clean and clear away the junk.  Still looking for my dUSB camera cable - I know that i's packed in a banana box - just discovering which one is the problem...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pretty Birds



Piping plovers

Painted bunting

Parula warbler

Great egret


It was a little strange to walk through the extremely familiar neighborhood of Githens Acres today.   I had to do a classic double-take while walking by property well-known to me.  I was a pet- and house-sitter for the previous owner for several years; I loved the lay-out of the one-story house, that had a huge English-park-like back yard, with multiple bedrooms and baths and a large art studio.  A new person purchased the property for $1.25 million (most of the cost was in the land itself), and had rented the property to friends for more than a year.  I hadn't walked by and looked at that property since I left on my vacation.  I was amazed to see an ugly chain link fence around the front of the property that had an inner facing of green plastic.  I had to step to a corner and climb up on the stump of what had been a beautiful tree to be able to see the yard.  The entire house and garage have been removed.  The garden shed and less than half of the trees have been left standing.  As I was staring at the scene of devastation, a truck pulled onsite that had a drill bit that was wider than I am tall on it's bed.  What the heck are they going to drill for?  The water table is only 3.5 feet under the surface at that property!    And, the thing I miss most of all, there was a blue spruce that was over 100 years old at the corner of the house.  The previous owner and I had both watched the birth of countless deer over the years underneath the boughs of that tree.  Deer that were born there came back to give birth to their young at the same place - and a big buck that had been born there made that spruce his winter bedding area every year.  And now it's gone - in, seemingly, the blink of an eye.   So, so sad.
   Later, while catching some sun with Rosie in the park near Crest View, We made friends with three dogs, and a visiting 18-month-old child and her parents.  The family was visiting Boulder from Minnesota, and they came out for an early excursion, so Hazel could enjoy the park.  The first two dogs had moved on, with their owner, and Rosie and I were both sitting in the sun, absorbing its warmth.  Then we heard a squeal of delight, as baby Hazel had seen the "dob" - Rosie.  Her parents checked with me first, then allowed Hazel to come pat Rosie.  Rosie laid very still and allowed the little girl to pat her all over, and then Rosie licked her hand.  Hazel, her parents, and, I think, Rosie, too, were happy with the outcome.  Hazel squealed and danced, yelling, "Dob! Dob!"
   Walking back from the park, we passed the house on Redwood that raises Silky chickens (in three colors).  As we were almost past, I heard what I thought was the word, "Me."  Rosie and I both stopped to look for the speaker.  I couldn't see any people out and about.  There were no signs of the Silkies, either; and while I've heard chickens make all kinds of sounds, I haven't yet heard one say, "Me."    We started to walk on, and heard, "Meeeee,"  So we both started doing an inventory of the Silkies' property.  We saw nothing, so we took another step.  "Meeeeeeeeeeeee!"  We stopped short, again, and looked again.  Finally a young goat, almost  a pure cream color, parted the bushes and stepped into our view.  I scratched its head vigorously, while Rosie investigated its mouth and lips.  After about five minutes, we started walking back home, and had to hear plaintive "Meeeee"s for most of the block.  It's a sweet kid, but lonely.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Chincoteague Ponies

I love Chincoteague ponies.  They are easy keepers, have great legs, fantastic minds, have stamina, and can do just about anything you can dream up.  You can ride them English, Western, or Aussie style, and they are drivable.  Their sizes vary greatly, as do their markings.  As I'm still trying to find my dUSB cord for my camera, I'm sharing some photos of this year's auctioned foals that my friend Deb Iddings Noll took during Pony Penning.  -  Thank you, Deb!

Can you tell that Chief Golden Eagle, a palomino stallion, is the sire of these four foals?

This little colt is the son of Tidewater Princess

 Flip sides of same colt, son of Lyra's Vega

This colt has been named Raven Moon

This is Surfer's Blue Moon, by Surfer Dude, out of Got Milk?

The sorrel filly with the slightly Roman nose is Surfer Princess, by Surfer Dude, out of Surf Queen.  The small palomino paint colt is Tidewater Princess'.