Over the weekend, I made a vow to start running every other day again which meant today is running day. But it’s only 24 degrees. Ugh. So I decided to run inside on the treadmill, then thought about the monotony of treadmill running and decided to give it a try outside. I put on my warm togs and a face mask, hoping my glasses wouldn’t steam up.
Photo by Xeniya Kovaleva at Pexels.com
Although my mask wasn’t nearly as festive as that one and the neighborhood streets were dry, other than that this photo has the exact same vibe. HA. Just a happy-go-lucky run in frigid temperatures. I concentrated on inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth which mostly kept my glasses steam-free . . . until they weren’t and it became impossible to see. So I took off the mask and ran the rest of the way home.
Now my cheeks are rosy-red and I’m happily indoors again, swimming in a warm sea of endorphins. Mission accomplished.
We had a corvid-rich weekend. It began on Saturday with lots and lots of crows as we walked around a unfamiliar neighborhood (after Emma was too agitated at sight of other dogs in the park we’d gone to for a walk). Multiple flocks of crows flying overhead then perching in various trees. They brought many smiles.
Then yesterday morning, we were in our front yard when a flock of crows flew past. But that wasn’t all. Moments later, this raven perched in the tree across the street for several minutes, making its croaking sound.
Photo by Zippy. March 13, 2022
Today is the first day of a new week. My goal is to embody this raven’s energy, looking ahead to new opportunities and experiences. Courageous in the face of whatever life brings.
Despite my website banner that declares me a “Writer…Runner…Birder,” I haven’t run much over the past five months. A combination of things (notably fatigue resulting from the multiple collective traumas we’re experiencing) has kept me from lacing up the running shoes. Today, I discovered the perfect way to ease back into my much-loved activity and this easy-peasy method requires only two things:
1) a dog
2) snow piles
It goes like this: you run until you spot a patch of relatively clean snow. Then you pause while your canine friend flops onto the snow, plows her nose and forehead through the white stuff (doing the “submarine”), and concludes by rolling on her back to joyfully kick her legs in the air. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Example of Emma’s preferred cooling-down method on hike. June 12, 2019.
My soon-to-be patented method accomplishes two things:
1) it allows your heart rate to calm down so you’re not tempted to quit
2) it cools off the dog and feeds her enthusiasm for the running
Try it, you’ll like it!
Emma and I ran a total of 2.5 miles this afternoon, taking many, many snow breaks. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t far, but we’re both feeling the good kind of tired that follows a workout.
Emma napping while I stretch, post-run.
I recently bemoaned the lack of blooming iris in my gardens, wondering how others in the neighborhood managed their bumper crops of iris. I then realized I wasn’t alone. Yes, there were a couple gardens absolutely filled with iris, but the majority of us had clumps of iris in which only one or two stalks had buds/blooms. Then I remembered our early freeze last fall and the unusual amounts of moisture this spring. Maybe it wasn’t negligent gardening practices that led to my dearth of iris blooms? Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for this flower.
June 10, 2021
Solidarity with late bloomers, yo!
May 24, 2021
I’m starting to see iris in full bloom around the neighborhood. One home has two banks of deep purple irises which are absolutely stunning and another front yard is filled with white iris blooming.
My garden? A grand total of four potential iris blooms in the front and back gardens. What the hell? (I’m so grumpy I’m not even going to attempt taking another photo that at least pretends to be in focus).
And the indignities don’t end with the iris. I passed a yard today that was ablaze with blooming allium. I just checked on my plants and this is what’s happening here:
One puny, non-spherical bloom. Not only that, it’s really short. Again, what the hell?
We woke to 8-9 inches of snow this morning after a high of 58 degrees yesterday. I should be used to Colorado’s swiftly-changing weather patterns and yet was still surprised to see that beautiful white blanket outside. We’re in desperate need of moisture so it was with happy hearts that Wildebeest and I shoveled all that heavy snow (although he might define the experience differently).
Zippy and I just walked Emma through the slushy streets of our neighborhood.
It was a bit chilly in the shade but nice in the sun. And those dry patches of pavement were especially welcome. This low-quality photo taken with my phone doesn’t do justice to how good it felt to be outside in the sunshine, breathing clean, crisp air.
ETA: Zippy sent me these photos right after I’d posted.
Marcel rehearsing his scary face. January 25, 2020.
People in the neighborhood are being creative with their candy offerings. One house has a long tube running from an upstairs window to the driveway. I think the trick or treaters are supposed to shout in the tube to make candy come down. Another house has a catapult. We’re setting out candy on a table in the driveway which isn’t nearly as creative, but it’s still a fine chocolate-delivery system.
I’m very grateful for today’s clean air! The snow ( temporarily, at least) cleared the smoke and ash from the wildfires. There’s also sunshine. Hooray! And it was a balmy 40 degrees as Zippy, Emma, and I walked around the neighborhood, skirting patches of ice. It’s the first walk in weeks and weeks (months?) in which I didn’t have to wear a mask to protect my lungs from smoke. I felt so free.
House finch. October 24, 2019.
My son, Zebu, doesn’t get it, but I absolutely love the day following a big snowstorm. Clean, crisp air plus blue skies equals happiness.
This photo was taken the day after one of our snowstorms last October, but it’s a perfect representation of this day. And maybe this same House Finch is out in the plum bushes as I write these words.
Two days ago, a neighbor a couple houses up the street started flying one of those TR*MP Keep America Great flags. It made me ill. Yesterday, the house across the street from that flag-flying home displayed their own Keep America Great flag. Today? The house next to that second house is sporting a Tr*mp yard sign.
I can’t even.
Shall we begin with the fact that this country, built on genocide and slavery, was never great for a whole lot of people? Or the blatant transfer of money and power to the already rich and powerful? Maybe the rollback of environmental regulations and climate denialism? The deployment of Homeland Security to crack protestors’ heads and shoot them in the faces? Or maybe the 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per day? Etc., etc., etc.? Great, indeed.
My reaction to the neighbors? I wanted to fly an Antifa flag, but Zippy worried the ignorance surrounding that message would result in violence directed at us. So what was his preferred message? F*ck Tr*mp. While I approve that sentiment, this moment is much larger than that loathsome individual. Negotiation ensued.
I’m pleased to announce I found a message we’re both happy to display.
I also ordered an Earth flag to replace the one we displayed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many people in our neighborhood fly U.S. flags and I doubt they’ll even see past all their red, white, and blue, but that’s okay. An earth flag will help me remember we’re all in this together.
ETA: Here’s something from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Does any of this sound familiar?
Bunny checking out the vinca. June 28, 2020.
There are many rabbits in our neighborhood this year. As I take my daily walk, I see them hopping across streets and lounging on lawns. They sit beneath parked vehicles and nap in shrubbery. On yesterday’s walk Zippy suddenly asked, “What do you think you’re doing?” and I was momentarily confused. I mean, wasn’t it clear? I was walking.
And then I realized my partner’s question was directed to a rabbit lying a couple feet away from us, smack dab in the middle of the street, ears tucked back, as if that somehow camouflaged it. Which I guess it did, seeing as I hadn’t even seen it. (I’ll add that Emma, our short-legged doggo who’s in a much better position to notice things on the ground, was equally clueless about the rabbit’s presence). That bunny was completely chill. Not at all concerned it might get trampled by two humans and a dog. Or run over by a car. Or eaten by a coyote from the nearby open space.
Actually, I’m starting to think maybe I should adopt that bunny’s attitude.
Neighbor’s ash tree. May 29, 2020.
Partially clad limbs
but mostly naked branches
too many cold snaps
Lots of birds visit our yard. We have multiple feeders, a bird bath, native shrubs, and mature trees. Our cats are indoor-only. We’re a bird-friendly destination, yo. Which is why it’s so baffling that crows don’t come around very often. I love crows’ black shininess and their sass. I love their raucous cries and intelligence. I just love crows.
Today I got to love them from afar. We were walking around the neighborhood and were two blocks from our house when we saw a couple crows on a roof, one in a tree, another hopping in the street and another few hopping on the lawn. What did that house and yard have that we don’t have? I stood below this light and asked these two why they didn’t come around my place.
They didn’t give me an answer. Color me envious.
For the first time in the 22+ years we’ve lived here, there’ve been multiple bear sightings in our neighborhood. Maybe not so surprising since we’re adjacent to a whole bunch of open space.
I’m not sure who shat this scat, but I could make a guess. But whoever it was did the deed on our neighbor’s driveway. The brand new driveway she’s so particular about that she was recently out there scrubbing and scrubbing at a few oil drips. So when I saw this pile of berry remains I knew she wouldn’t be happy.
But when the pile was still there the next day I realized my neighbor was out of town. Here was my chance! So I went over to photograph the remains before picking it up. (Note: I did not scrub the concrete). I wanted to get rid of the evidence so she wouldn’t know a bear had possibly come calling. My neighbor isn’t exactly wildlife-friendly. She throws rocks at bunnies that “eat my lawn” and last spring purposely drove over a snake she saw in the street in front of her house. (That’s right, she got in her car and started it up for the express purpose of killing a snake. Thankfully, it didn’t die and I helped it escape her wrath, which she then directed at me). I figured if she found out that a bear might’ve taken a dump on her driveway, she’d either be out front with a cannon or would call in the National Guard or Ted Nugent.**
So let’s keep this little story between us, okay?
** Zippy did spot her outside scrubbing at the berry stain.
Tried to capture joy
of dog’s bouncing ears, pert tail
December is a tough month for me because of the short days and colder temperatures. I try hard to get outside every day, but when it’s below freezing I stay inside. Today was sunny and warmer than the rest of this week so I took Emma for a run. We were both exceedingly happy to be outside and moving. The shady parts of the streets were a bit chilly, but whenever the sun hit me it felt warm and wonderful. I’m definitely more upbeat as a result of our outing.
Post-run selfie as the sun slips behind the hill.
Unfortunately, the sun’s already setting behind the foothills and we’ll soon be in shadows. But my dose of sunshine, exercise, and Emma’s happy face will get me through another short December day.
Zippy and I passed this sculpture on the sidewalk as we walked around the neighborhood with Emma yesterday morning. It’s now 7:15 on Sunday night and I can say with absolute certainty that spotting this cheery little fella was the highlight of a very difficult weekend.
I hope it also brings you a smile.
A couple weeks ago a visiting friend (who’d recently suffered a head injury) asked if we had two black cats after seeing one in our backyard. After checking to make sure our indoor-only Loki was still inside, I assured the friend we had only one black cat. And, I thought to myself, “You’re seeing things, my friend.”
Last night I discovered he was right and I was wrong.
I’d just gone to bed when I realized I’d forgotten to close the black-out shade behind the curtain. I pushed back the curtain to do so and saw a dark shape against the window. I almost wet myself. Then the dark shape was gone and I thought maybe I was seeing things. But Zippy turned on the outside lights and there under the evergreen shrubs was a black cat with green eyes. The spitting image of Loki.
I owe Kaden an apology.
I ran cross country in high school. In addition to the regular conference meets, our coach entered us in quite a few invitationals around the state. We ran on many different courses. Before every race, our coach had us jog the two-mile course. One of my teammates always paid very close attention to the flags and turns, noting each. It was vital she knew where she was going because she was a front-runner and frequently won the races. From my perspective, the pre-race course jog was a warm-up and nothing more. There were always plenty of runners ahead of me in races and I’d just follow them.
Yesterday I decided to run the race route of a local 5k organized by the high school cross country coach. I’ve run the race several times and thought it would be a nice change to do a workout outside my immediate neighborhood. I assumed I’d remember the course route.
Turns out it would’ve been a good idea to go online and refresh my memory before taking off. Without runners ahead of me to lead the way, I got lost out there in the hot afternoon sun and with all the backtracking, ended up running considerably more than 3.1 miles.
Old habits die hard.
I just got back from a 4-mile run around the neighborhood. Emma started with me and then bailed at about 3/4 of a mile, possibly due to it being only 27 degrees. But it all worked out because as I dropped her off at home, I had the sense to put on my mask. Suddenly, it felt quite pleasant out there.
And when a bunny ran in front of me, I grinned and remembered that it’s Bunny Monday!
I’m sorry I don’t have a bunny photo to share, but here I am at home again, reenacting my Bunny Monday grin.
Emma and I walk the neighborhood every day. Some of those days, Zippy joins us. Other days, it’s just Emma and me. Today it was just the two of us and I optimistically dressed for a run in case Emma was feeling energetic.
Emma was not feeling energetic. Emma was too busy missing Zippy. She kept turning to see if he was behind us. About three minutes into the walk, she dug in and refused to budge. I said, “Fine,” and headed for home. Emma RAN the whole way there. I put her inside and went out for my own run.
Today wasn’t an isolated incident. However, in the past I’ve coaxed her along. Not anymore. From now on, if Emma is too busy missing Zippy to keep moving forward, I’ll immediately take her back home and then go for a run by myself. That short-legged dog cramps my style, anyway.
Yesterday, as Zippy and I walked Emma around our neighborhood, we noted a larger-than-typical number of butterflies. We wondered if we were in a migration path. Sure enough, when we got home and looked in the backyard, we discovered this:
Rather than orange and black like the monarch butterfly, the Painted Lady is orange and brown. Migrations are also happening elsewhere. It was awe-inspiring to be in their lovely company as they soaked up the sun and flowery nutrition from the rabbit brush.Another generous gift from Mother Earth.
Zippy and I just took Emma for a walk around our neighborhood. As we walked, we noted the bright, outdoor lights shining on the marjority of houses we passed. It was a relief whenever we passed dark houses. A break for our eyes.
As annoying as those bright lights are for me, they can be life and death for birds during migration time. (And yes, I understand that lights on tall buildings are more problematic for birds than suburban lighting.)
Photo: NASA Earth Observatory
I still wish that all people, both urban and suburban, worried less about what might be lurking in the dark, and more about the well-being of our feathered friends. Excessive lighting is just that.
While out on a walk with Emma, we encountered an appliance repairman loading up his truck. He took one look at Emma and asked, “Corgi something something?”
Um, yes! Exactly!
And now I have the perfect response for those baffled by the pedigree of my funny little Mrs. Potato Head dog.