It’s been a rough week and I’m guessing there are others out there in need of a smile. Look no further than Zippy and Emma.
April 11, 2021
I’m not sure whether she’s got her tongue out at me/photographer or because Zippy is gripping her hind feet like he’s a pilot guiding a plane down for an emergency landing.
Doesn’t matter. Makes me smile.
Today I’m grateful for Zippy, pictured here when he traveled with me to the Chiricahua Mountains to see birds. He shops and cooks for us, lets me sleep in as long as I need, and supports me in whatever I set out to do. He will even sometimes laugh at my jokes.
Cave Creek Canyon. May 16, 2019
This guy’s got a good heart and I’m oh so grateful he chose to share it with me.
Did the healthy thing today: got up and out of the house. After walking Emma in our neighborhood, Zippy and I went to Clear Creek in Golden. This time, I brought my camera. We sat on the boulders lining the creek to eat the lunch Zippy prepared, listening to the rushing water and the geese honking as they flew overhead. An absolutely stellar mental health strategy. 10/10 recommend.
Ice, snow, and water rushing over a rock in Clear Creek. January 12, 2021.
I’m going to make Clear Creek a habit.
. . . and I’ll blow your fence down.
Did the Big Bad Wolf pay us a visit last night? No. But we did have wind gusts strong enough to repeatedly slam a tree branch against the side of the house, causing our doggo much anxiety and me much grumpiness. I put a pillow over my head and eventually fell asleep.
December 23, 2020. Photo by Wildebeest
I was the last one awake and upright this morning. However, I was the first to notice something was not-right. Zippy and Wildebeest somehow both failed to see the fence was down. When I pointed it out to him, Zippy replied, “Oh, that’s probably why it took Emma so long to come back inside this morning. Guess she was out exploring.”
Fence companies are VERY busy right now. Zippy erected a temporary fence across the thirty-foot gap while we wait. It may be months. Prediction: Emma has several more adventures in her near future.
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Wildebeest’s graduation from Fort Lewis College. It was a happy day for all of us (including Wildebeest’s childhood friend, Kyle) and there was much laughter throughout, including the lengthy and bitterly cold search for our car in the crowded parking lot after the ceremony.
Zebu, Wildebeest, Zippy, and creepy lurker friend, Kyle. December 20, 2019
Younger brother warming older brother’s head.
It’s a huge relief Wildebeest completed his degree before the pandemic hit (and it’ll be even better if/when he lands a job during the pandemic). In the meanwhile, he used the time off to come back home to help care for his grandmother. He’s a good soul.
All hail Wildebeest!
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.
Yesterday, Zippy told Wildebeest a story from when we lived in Alaska (before Wildebeest was born). It was a summer night, and Zippy and our dog Packy were out in our large yard where there was a pile of branches and grass clippings left by the previous owners. (We, being basically lazy people, had left it there with the rationale that it provided wildlife habitat). Zippy noticed something white in the branches, something he thought was a volleyball.
He proceeded to poke at the “volleyball” with a stick. (I know, I know. Who arms themselves with a stick when approaching a piece of sports equipment?)
Well, you can guess what happened. BEES!
Zippy yelled, “Run, Packy! Run!” The bees swarmed them as they ran to the safety of the house.*
As I listened to his story, a memory tickled my brain. And then I remembered: Have I Got a Story for You. Read it and weep (with laughter).
*Zippy wasn’t stung and as far as we know, no stingers penetrated Packy’s thick fur.
Zippy accepted my invitation to run on the trails with me this afternoon. It turned out, lots of people had the same idea so we ran our regular route in reverse to avoid the hiking couple we saw as soon as we got on the trail. I’m so glad we did because as we ran along the ravine, we were gifted a wildlife sighting.
Photo by Jim Kennedy. Metzger Farm Open Space, CO. January 19, 2019.
Four coyotes on the opposite slope. Two loped off to our left and the others sat next to the trail where we planned to run. We debated turning around so as to not further stress the remaining two and then decided it was a stress for them either way. So on we went, and the coyotes melted into the brush at our uphill, huffing approach.
I’d thought my coyote-sighting days were behind me as I’ve mostly seen them early in the mornings and I’m no longer an early-in-the-morning runner. But this here Monday played against type and started the week with a wonderful surprise. Definitely a good omen.
Cooper’s Hawk, July 4, 2019. Photo by Zippy.
Take time to exhale
then steel yourself for the fight
we’ve much work to do
I haven’t gone for a run in months, mostly due to the unhealthy air quality from our wildfire-filled summer and autumn. But we got snow on Sunday and Monday, and the air is better than it’s been in a loooong time, so I got Zippy to join me on a run.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
We look nothing like this couple. And our workout was nothing these two incredibly fit individuals would do, but that’s okay. We drove to another neighborhood that’s flat (ours is a constant up and down) and ran for 5 minutes then walked for 1 minute. Repeat. Our pace was slow, our muscles felt tight and heavy, but we were out on a beautiful blue-sky day. Moving. Breathing hard. Feeling (mostly) alive for a grand total of 3.45 miles. Woot!
Today I’m grateful for clean air and running once again!
We’re used to seeing Black-capped Chickadees around our yard. They visit the feeders and bath, and peck at the top of the fence. So Zippy and I were taken aback yesterday when watching birds at the peanut feeder. As a chickadee hopped around the branches, we both frowned and said at the same time, “Something’s off.”
We quickly realized that, instead of a black cap, this chickadee had a mask around its eyes. Wait, what?
Mountain Chickadee. October 26, 2020.
Ahem. The answer was easy. We were looking at a Mountain Chickadee which our guide book said was “thought to be one of the top ten most abundant birds in Colorado.” Yes, we’ve seen them before. But we’d gotten so used to the steady stream of black caps, that somehow the mask threw us. (I know, not very good birders.)
Ah, well. I’m happy to report both species of chickadee are sticking around to dine on peanuts.
August 15, 2020
What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? ~ Henry David Thoreau
Zippy took this photo last month and while today’s air quality isn’t nearly so orange, I’m not spending any time outside. The local air quality index reads “Unhealthy for sensitive groups.” I’ll go out on a limb and say I think this translates to “the air is unhealthy for everyone and everything.”
Exceptionalism?! All over the United States, people are hiding indoors to escape the ravages of the climate crisis. And our elected officials don’t care, so it’ll only get worse.
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?
Owl Creek Pass, Colorado. July 30, 2019
Twisting mountain roads
scenery great temptation
eyes on the road, yo
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.
Whiskered Screech-Owl. Cave Creek Canyon. May 14, 2019
Eyes closed to the world
moment of calm solitude
a truly wise owl
Three years ago today, I arrived in Amsterdam. I was jetlagged and foggy in the head, but still remember the lift I got from the mounds of tulips blooming in a nearby park.
Amsterdam. April 28, 2017.
Such exuberant flowers, unruly in their passionate display. We should all live so boldly.
November 30, 2019
It might not look that way, but Marcel is very pleased that Zippy and I caucused today for the open Colorado senate seat. He was thrilled to find out that of the 8 people who showed up in our precinct, 6 of us were for Andrew Romanoff (and only two for the DCCC-annointed oil and gas man). Marcel was less excited to learn that caucus rules/math required a roll of the dice for the last “tied” delegate and that the roll went to the oil and gas man.
However, Marcel knows it’s a WIN when Romanoff gets 4 delegates to the county assembly and the other guy only got two. Marcel is a whiz with numbers.
Chiricahua Mountains. May 14, 2019.
Lush green at a tilt
folding us in an embrace
Seventeen years ago, I went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for a three-week session with Marilynne Robinson which was an all-around wonderful experience. She dispensed much wisdom, mostly about reading and writing, but also about life. And this morning, as I looked at the lilies I received from Zippy five days ago, I thought about something Marilynne said during one of our workshops:
People after the age of 23 realize that they’re in the iron fist of gravity and will collect diminishing returns.
At that time, I was 40-years-old and only heard her message on an intellectual level. The thing was, I didn’t feel very far removed from 23 years of age; my returns weren’t yet greatly diminished. After all, every morning I got up and ran fast along the river!
Today I’m feeling more akin to these lilies that, after five days in a vase, broke from their stems in the main bouquet and fell to the countertop. These lilies whose petals are fading and wilting. Lilies in the iron fist of gravity and time.
Flowers still fierce and beautiful in their own way.