Exploring the sunflower theme

When we returned from our walk around the neighborhood this morning, I spotted these two extra-tall sunflowers peering at us over the fence.

July 26, 2022

I took their photo with the intention of a Twofer Tuesday post. But after downloading the images from the camera, I discovered some sunflower pics Zippy had taken last week.

Sunflower plus an upright male Goldfinch:

Sunflower plus an upside down Goldfinch:

And a whole lot of sunflowers plus an almost-disappeared Goldfinch:
July 20, 2022

Did you spot him in that tangle of green and yellow? If not, check the  upper right corner.

Thankful, mostly

After staying safe and healthy for the past 2-plus years, Zippy has Covid and is quarantining in our home. I’ve done two rapid tests that came back negative and this morning felt good enough to do a 4-mile run. That’s very good news. The other very good news is Zippy no longer has a fever (his temperature was 101 on Tuesday when he tested positive). The bad news is I am very much aware that a “mild” case of Covid can cause long-term health issues and am trying hard not to think about the possibility of Long Covid.

Which is why I was exceedingly grateful to be able to run today. It was my first run since the BolderBoulder and I ran up our street to the trailhead, eager to be in my happy place again. About fifteen feet in, there was a broken robin’s eggshell in the middle of the trail. No sign of a nest or baby robins, but that bright blue shell was my first bird-related sighting. A few minutes later, four magpies few over head as another flapped-flapped-flapped to catch up. Farther along the trail, Spotted Towhees sang “sweet-sweet-teeaaaaa.” Later, a Western Meadowlark sang from its perch on a rabbitbrush. Absolute bliss.

But that wasn’t all: a bunny ran across the trail right in front of me! Insects chirped! Several other runners and hikers passed with dogs happy to be out on adventures! A good day to be alive.

There was some sadness, though. For the past couple months, I’ve checked a little round cactus at the turnaround spot, hoping to see signs of life. Hoping it was only temporarily dormant. Today I had to face reality and admit it will never bloom again. Fortunately, Zippy photographed it for me years ago so I have documentation of it in all its prickly and pink glory. Here it is again:

Thank you for the joy you brought me over the years, little cactus. You won’t be forgotten.

Bolder Boulder 10k recap

Yesterday morning, the alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. (I was already awake, lying in the dark wondering if it was almost time to get up) and it was officially race day! We live 45 minutes from Boulder and had to allow time to get to a friend’s where we’d park our car while she drove us to the starting line.  (RTD usually has shuttle buses but due to a shortage of drivers, they cut the service). On the drive to Boulder, the sky had darkened and the wind picked up, so I changed from a short-sleeved to a long-sleeved shirt. Minutes later, the sky cleared and the wind died down. Hooray!

My last Bolder Boulder was in 2016 and I was eager to run. The familiar sound of slamming porta-potty doors made me smile as I warmed up on side streets while Zippy waited in line to drop our bag at the mobile locker. He was still in line ten minutes before our GC wave was set to start, but I was determined to start with my wave so ran ahead to get in place. Volunteers held ropes and signs denoting the G, GA, GB, and GC waves, and I bounced on my toes while listening to Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter (the official starter) announce participants’ birthdays and other notable information such as the 90-year-old (!) woman in the G wave who was running her 32nd Bolder Boulder.

Just minutes before our start, Zippy joined me, and one minute and 50 seconds after the GB wave took off, it was our turn. BAM! That was the last I saw Zippy because I took off (he’s more of a bicyclist than runner), but we saw the same sights along the way.

  • The trampoline where participants were invited to bounce and flip (a woman did a backflip as I ran past).
  • The belly dancers (two different groups of them).
  • The bands. The solo musicians. The Elvis impersonator.
  • The cheerleaders. The dance-school girls that included a tap dancer and hoop-spinners.
  • The families in lawn chairs shaking cowbells. The kids with super-soakers. The baby in the onesie doing “the worm” on the sidewalk.
  • The brewery handing out free cans of beer. A woman with a huge pan of bacon. The group handing out doughnuts. The woman tossing marshmallows (when Zippy ran past, he instinctively put up a hand and ended up catching the marshmallow which he carried until the next aid station where he downed it along with a cup of water).
  • The slip n slides for which runners lined up for their turn to slide on their stomachs through the water before returning to the race.

The course winds through neighborhoods and while running, I scanned ahead to note whether the next turn was a Right or Left, and moved accordingly so as to cut the corners as close as possible. There was also the constant negotiation of choosing the shortest route around other slower runners and walkers, and despite those efforts, my Garmin reports I ran 6.31 miles rather than the official 6.2 miles. Precious seconds lost along the way! But the hardest part of the race for me was the stench of fabric softener that wafted off runners’ sweaty clothing. Fabric softener is air pollution for the chemically sensitive and several times I thought I’d throw up. Fortunately, I didn’t.

And then I was on the final incline into the CU stadium and the finish line. Here’s a screen grab from the stadium video (I’m on the left in white hat, black shirt, and blue shorts):

The video gives you about 15 seconds of your run into the stadium and Zippy pointed there were several moments of me being grumpy-face as I got boxed in by slower runners, but my overwhelming emotion was happiness. I was almost done running a strong race!

And my smile got bigger when I saw my time . . . 55:05. I’d hoped to run 55:00 or under (and would’ve made it had that little kid not cost me precious time when he grabbed the water cup intended for me at the aid station, forcing me to wait for the volunteer to get me another!) But it turned out my performance landed me in eighth place in the F59 division (of which there were 160 participants) which means I get another medal! Zippy also performed well, walking one minute between four of his miles, and we soon met up past the finish line. We masked up to go inside the field house where we collected our snack bags and a beer for Zippy, and then headed back out into the sunshine to stretch and snack.

It was a good day.

Happy #Caturday

Marcel and Loki are indoor cats, but we allow them supervised time on the deck. The only rule is they must stay where we can see them and aren’t allowed around the corner where the bird feeder and bath sit next to the patio. Loki always immediately cruises down the deck and around the corner where he flops down and begins rolling around. Unfortunately, his outdoor time is nearly nonexistent because he still hasn’t made the connection between that behavior and getting put back inside.

Marcel, however, abides by the rules. Here he is this morning, strolling the deck railing, as Zippy and I stretched after our run.

I missed a great photo opportunity of him sniffing at the budding maple leaves, but did capture this tender moment between Marcel and Zippy.

Marcel is intensely interested in odors — ALL odors — and was fascinated by the post-run aromas coming off Zippy. Glad someone appreciates them because . . . WHEW. 🙂

Campervan conversion update

After some much-needed snow this past week, we had a couple days of sunshine and 50-degree weather which allowed us to make progress on Moby’s conversion. Yesterday, Zippy cut and screwed down firring strips while I sprinkled baking soda on the horizontal surfaces of the new pop-top to absorb the outgassing chemicals (ugh…being chemically sensitive is zero fun). The last I did was thoroughly vacuum and clean the subfloor. Today, Zippy reinstalled the linoleum floor (removed before sending Moby off to get the pop-top) and taped ram board on top of it to protect it while we work. Then he began putting up the first wall of the beetle kill pine boards we’d sealed twice before sanding-sealing-sanding-and sealing a fourth time. Whew.

Lower boards are nailed in place, but upper are still being sized. January 30, 2022

 

As Zippy said, “It’s a pain in the ass but it’s going to look really nice.” Hooray!

Crow Fun

Zippy took this photo and I played with the settings. Not sure he or the crow would appreciate my artistic input, but that’s okay because I very much like the lighting and colors, and what I interpret as a stance both confident and vulnerable.

Photo by Zippy. November 22, 2021.

I can relate to that juxtaposition  of attitudes.

Just peachy

Per his Saturday morning ritual, Zippy went to the farmers’ market for organically-grown peaches. The man loves his peaches. A few days ago while eating the last one from the most recent batch, he said (with tears in his voice), “This might be the last peach of the season.”

 

Well, he got another week’s reprieve. But I thought I’d best document these because there’s a very good chance this is the final haul of the season.

Seven little peaches.
Sweet dreams are made of  this.

Need good thoughts

Right now, Zippy’s driving an hour to the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center with an injured magpie. It’s the closest facility that can hopefully help this poor bird that got caught in a neighbor’s mouse glue trap. (I didn’t even know those horrible things existed.) Zippy was out in our backyard when he heard a whole lot of magpies making noise on the other side of the fence. They were gathered around the stuck bird.

Zippy put on gloves to rescue the injured bird. When he put it in a shoebox, the glove was stuck to the magpie. Zippy got glue on his arm and unsuccessfully tried getting it off before leaving. He thinks he’ll need to use gasoline later.

August 15, 2020

Please, if you can spare some good thoughts, send them to the poor magpie. May its feathers be cleansed so that it soars again.

UPDATE: Sad news. They were unable to help the magpie because there was too much glue. They would have had to remove many, many feathers which would mean it couldn’t be released back into the wild. They were, however able to put that beautiful bird out of its misery.

Thankful Thursday: focusing on fun

A friend who knows my love of birds passed along this 500-piece puzzle after she’d put it together. I started working on it late last night. First, I turned all the pieces right-side-up on the table and took a quick pic which I texted to her with “Let the puzzling begin!”

Her reply: “I hope you don’t get addicted like I did and have a hard time stopping.” 😬

I told her not to worry, that even if I did get addicted, it was fine by me.

Welp, I spent more time today working on this puzzle than attending to most other things on my To Do list. But it felt good for my brain and mental health, so I don’t begrudge the distraction. Plus, it’s birds!

Mule Deer Monday

This fellow visited the campground at Rifle Falls State Park last week.

Photos by Zippy. August 6, 2021

Then a few minutes later, this female paid us a visit.

Have to say, these gentle creatures with their enormous ears, soft tawny fur,  and big brown eyes were much more welcome than the mosquitoes.

Hot on the trails

This morning we opted to take our daily walk on the trails and headed out when it was a mild 70 degrees. I didn’t bring water because I didn’t think we’d need it. And at the time Zippy took this photo with his phone, Emma was still handling the heat pretty well. (Telltale sign: tongue flopped forward rather than dangling to the side.)

Emma and a clump of Blanketflower in Hayden Green Mountain Park. June 22, 2021

But by the time we’d walked about 2.5 miles and stepped back on a neighborhood street, Emma was done. She collapsed in a full sploot on a patch of shaded pavement. She absolutely did not want to move and I thought I might have to carry her home. There was precedent for this behavior and I most definitely should’ve known better.

Fortunately, the three of us did make it home without having to take turns carrying each other and, once inside, I immediately set my water holster next to my trail shoes. A pointed reminder in case I somehow (again) forget her overheated sploot. I owe it to my sweet little doggo to keep her hydrated.

Get your smiles here

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.

Thankful Thursday: this guy

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.

Better than it looks

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.

 

I’ll huff and I’ll puff

. . . 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.

In honor of Wildebeest

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!

Good Day Sunshine

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.

             

Twofer Tuesday: bee tales

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.

Image by Tidy from Pixabay

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.

Good omen

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.