My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bunny Bullies (& parting shots)


THE TALE OF THE BADASS BUNNIES
(Bad to the "Bun!") ;-)

In our driveway the other evening were two does and two bunnies (and they were too cute!) We'd had a gullywasher of a rainstorm earlier (1.75" in 30 minutes!), and the bunnies, sopping wet, were feeling frisky ~ playing tag and leap-frog all over the place...


Although her grazing friend seemed too hungry to be interested, this little doe was fascinated by the bunnies' wild cavorting...

Watching the bunnies at play
(I took this through our window, so pardon the poor quality!)

After a few minutes, the bunnies took notice of their rapt audience. They both charged her, which startled her and she darted away. This just made them feel all macho, so now they really got their game on. They ended up chasing her and leaping all around her (moving much too fast - and in the tall grass - for me to get any photos!) till the poor girl could take no more, and took to her heels up the mountain! They continued to gave chase for a little while, but soon were back in the driveway, resuming their bunny games.

At which point the second doe suddenly became interested. Apparently she didn't appreciate these hoodlum bunnies tormenting and chasing off her friend, because she now took off after them, and she looked to me like she meant business!


The bunnies must have thought so too, because badass or not, they high-tailed their little cottontail buns into the high grass! Who's badass now, you fluffy little hooligans?

A fearsome bad bunny, lurking in the grass...


Oh, don't be alarmed, how fierce can he be?
"What's he do, nibble your bum?" ;-)

(another amusing homage to Monty Python...
Click the pic to see the clip!)


In case the Attack of the Bullying Bunnies was too traumatic, here are some more serene recent photos to soothe your frayed nerves. ;-)

This more peaceable bunny was caught napping in our garden!
(Which, except for some dill, is fallow this year)...


But fear not,
for ever-vigilant Willow was on alert duty in her watchtower,
guarding the garden from possible garden-nappers! ;-)...


And here's an army of Bearded Irises that guard our driveway...

So we're obviously well-protected.
(But since when are beards allowed in the army?)
:-)

A lovely Western Meadowlark (our state bird)
serenades me from atop our Colorado Blue Spruce...

If you've never heard one, their song is beautiful and LOUD!
(Click here for a recording of the Meadowlark song and call!)

A Broadtail hummingbird takes off for nectar refueling...


And those are my "parting shots" for awhile,
for now at last we're taking off too, for our long-awaited
VACATION!

There will be hiking, there will be sailing, there will be biking, there will be shopping, there will be exploring, there will be eating, and hopefully there will be a fair dose of something that looks like this...


We'll be returning in a couple of weeks to much busyness on the home front, but I will do vacation (and other) posts and resume Wildflower Wednesdays as soon as I'm able. Enjoy a safe and happy Fourth of July (and happy Canada Day on the 1st to my Canadian friends)!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday


The flowers of late winter and early spring
occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.
~Gertrude S. Wister

Some of our first arrivals, these beautiful-but-tough early bloomers show up while there is still snow on the ground (and in the forecast!)

Common Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens)
aka Wild Crocus, Prairie Crocus, Prairie Anemone, Windflower...


The Pasqueflower typically blooms around Easter (hence the name), though this year it bloomed about a month late, and in great profusion. (Patens is Latin for "spreading," and they certainly have been!) :-) Because it grows at subalpine elevations (between 4000 and 9000') and blooms so early, its (usually) purple blossoms often create a lovely contrast against the snow...


I think it pisses God off
if you walk past the color purple in a field somewhere
and don't notice it.
~Alice Walker, The Color Purple


Pasqueflowers with Holly-Grape (Mahonia repens)
aka Oregon Grape, Mountain Holly, Creeping Barberry
(Repens means "creeping")...


Shootingstars (Dodecatheon pauciflorum)...


This is one of my favorite wildflowers, and one of the first signs of spring for me. I love the name Shootingstar, which describes it better than its scientific name (Dodecatheon pauciflorum comes from two Greek words meaning "twelve gods" and "few-flowered.") These rugged little buggers have been found growing at nearly 12,000' elevation, and around here they survive being buried under heavy spring snows. Don't let their delicate beauty fool you!

Phlox, Shootingstars, and a pine cone :-) ...


Phlox (Phlox multiflora) is one most flower gardeners are familiar with. The many varieties of cultivated phlox found in flower beds were produced from wild species, of which there are 45 native to North America and China (about half of them in the Rockies).

The wee yellow flowers just visible in the above photo are...

Sagebrush Buttercups (Ranunculus glaberrimus)...


Ranunculus means "little frog," glaberrimus means "smoothest." Another name for this early buttercup is "Crowfoot." As a group (of which there are about 300 species, 40 of them in the Rockies), buttercups are toxic, but the Sagebrush Buttercup is an important spring food for the blue grouse.

False Lupine (Thermopsis montana)
aka Golden Pea, Goldenbeans, Buffalo Pea...


Between snows, early spring here is a riot of bright yellow thanks to the False Lupine (a member of the legume family) that blankets the ground and lasts well into June. It's showy and hardy, but poisonous.

Yellow Fritillary (Fritillaria pudica)
aka Yellowbell...


Another of my favorite wildflowers, the Yellow Fritillary (of which there are only three species) reminds me of a little desk lamp with a pretty stained glass shade. :-) I just regret that my best photo of one came out blurry. By the time I got my new, better-focusing camera, these dainty little blossoms were long gone. They show up early, but their stay in their bright yellow spring attire is very brief (they turn a dull red not very long after blooming). Their fleeting visit, along with their always downward-cast faces, no doubt inspired their Latin name; pudica means "bashful." :-) Not all yellow early spring wildflowers are poisonous - the Yellow Fritillary is edible. The green seed pods are reportedly delicious eaten raw or cooked, and the fleshy, starchy corm (the part from which the plant grows) is said to taste like potatoes when eaten raw, like rice when eaten cooked. Not that I'd know - I wouldn't want to munch on such a brave, pretty and bashful wildflower! :-)

*****************

A couple of notes...

I read the beautiful book Planthropology by Ken Druse during the winter, and highly recommend it to everyone, but especially to those of you interested in (or completely besotted by) flowers, plants, gardening, plant photography, natural history or plant biology. His photography is breathtaking, and you can see examples of it and of his beautiful gardens on his web site. Probably it was mental laziness, but I've always ignored learning the scientific names of plants in favor of their common nicknames. But Mr. Druse strongly encourages learning their botanical names, and explains some of the more common, descriptive Latin (or "Latinized") words used. He convinced me, so now I'm learning some basic taxonomy - family, genus and species names - of my favorite wildflowers, which is why I'm including their genus and species names in italics in these posts. (My tattered 1963 edition of A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers has been very helpful!)

And speaking of these Wednesday Wildflower posts, this will be the last one for a while. I'm not sure when I'll be able to resume them, but will as soon as time allows. I have quite a few left to share!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summertime! "Beanwa" Burgers! Random Pics!


Happy Summer Solstice!


The first day of summer is being celebrated at Chez Laloofah with tasty, easy, vegan, low-fat, optionally gluten-free black bean quinoa ("keen-wa") burgers (hence my shortened name "Beanwa Burgers") that we've really been enjoying lately but which I failed to photograph. Oops!

Beanwa Burgers
(makes about 12-15 burgers)

Ingredients:

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed and roughly pulsed (one can at a time) in food processor
2 cups cooked quinoa (I prefer
Inca Red)
1/4 cup + 1 TBSP whole wheat flour (or chickpea flour for gluten-free)
1/3 cup chopped soft sun dried tomatoes*
2 rounded TBSP minced garlic
1 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 TBSP water (microwave for 20 seconds or let sit for 5 minutes till thickened)
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 rounded tsp smoked paprika

Directions:

Stir all ingredients together (add a little water if the mixture is too dry) and form into patties.

Heat a dry, non-stick skillet over medium heat (adding the patties to a heated skillet will prevent sticking).

Place patties in the pre-heated skillet, press them slightly with a spatula, and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side over medium heat till nicely browned.

We make our patties about 3 1/2 - 4 inches in diameter and about 1/4" thick and get a dozen or more out of one batch of "beanwa batter." Your mileage may vary. ;-)

Store leftover batter in a tightly covered container in the fridge. Will keep for up to a week.

Notes:

*Since we don't use or eat oil, I use the soft, dry-packaged sundried tomatoes I can get at Safeway, which work like a charm. But the hard, really dessicated ones we get at the health food store work fine too, as long as you rehydrate them by soaking them in hot water for about 15 minutes before chopping them. You may want to add a teaspoon or two of the soak liquid (or just plain water) to your burger mix to add a little moisture so the patties will hold together better. (If the tomatoes packed in oil are all you can find, I recommend rinsing them well first).

Chilling the batter for 30 minutes or so sometimes helps the patties hold together better while frying, but isn't mandatory. We usually have no problems unless we've made our patties too thin or too wide.

We enjoy our burgers on toasted whole grain sandwich bread with the typical trimmings ~ brown and yellow mustard, dill pickle slices or relish, and some sliced tomatoes and/or lettuce. I also love to sauté Vidalia onions and Crimini mushrooms together to throw on our burgers. Yum!

The leftover mix stores well in the fridge, making quick and easy meals during a busy week! (Which has come in especially handy lately!)
~~~~~~~~~~
Since I've got no Beanwa Burger photos for you, and a blog post without pictures just isn't acceptable at Mehitable Days, here are some recent random photos. (I took the first three with my awesome new camera on our Father's Day hike yesterday)...
BW found this butterfly resting on this pretty rock with his wings folded up, and called me over to take a photo. I confess to gently prodding the little guy awake so I could get a photo of him with his wings open. I didn't know what they'd look like, but when he obliged my nudge by spreading his beautiful wings, I knew interrupting his Sunday snooze had been worth it!

There were interesting clouds in the sky all morning (prelude to some wicked afternoon thunderstorms), and so I was gazing up at the sky a lot while we hiked and was therefore able to notice and capture this beautiful cloud, sky and sun tableau...


Remember my lament in my Lupine post that I'd missed photographing a bunch of all-white Lupines because I'd neglected to carry my (old) camera with me that day? Well, yesterday I made sure to bring my (new) camera, and was rewarded with an even bigger and prettier bunch of white Lupines in an even lovelier setting! Thanks, Universe! :-)


Ever been mooned by a hummingbird before? Well, now you can say you have. (No need to thank me). ;-)
(Calliope (L) and Broadtail hummers)

And finally, my adorable (if sometimes goofy) girls...


The three of them had been lined up in a perfect row taking in the view, but just as I snapped this photo Willow flopped down in the grass to roll and bask. (Well, sometimes Summer just feels so good you have to give into its temptation to laissez les bon temps rouler!) :-)

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days...
~James Russell Lowell

Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday


Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
~Theodore Roethk

Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

With huge leaves clearly shaped like arrows (sagittata means "arrow-leaved"), and roots containing sap that smells strongly like balsam pine, you can see how this plant got its name. Closely related to the sunflower, the Balsamroot's flowers can reach heights of almost two and a half feet while the leaves are often as big as a foot long and 6 inches wide. They blanket the hillsides with their bright yellow-gold color, and since they bloom here along with the lupine (and many other wildflowers), it makes for very colorful late spring/early summer meadows.


Lupine and Arrowleaf buddies
(and an accompanying raindrop smear on my lens!) :-)
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
our whole life would change.
~The Buddha



The flowers, about 3-4" across, are apparently quite tasty, since Mocha loves to eat them! He's not alone, as the leaves and blossoms are the preferred springtime food of Bighorn Sheep. Elk and deer enjoy the tender young shoots, and Native Americans ate the roots, sprouts and seeds and used the leaves, sap and roots to treat various wounds and ailments (all parts of the Arrowleaf Balsamroot are edible, and its sap has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties). Fortunately, this plant can easily withstand heavy grazing!


As well as heavy romping, as Tess joyfully demonstrates. :-)


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday


"It was the best of times (for blogging),
it was the worst of times (for blogging)."
~ Laloofah (with help from Charles Dickens) ;-)

It's the best of times because I've got the most stuff going on to blog about. It's the worst of times because I've got the most stuff going on so almost no time for blogging! This season of nice weather is brief and frantic here... seems we cram about 8 months' worth of projects and activities into two! And this year has more going on than most.

It's also the best of times for blogging because it's the most photogenic time of year here. And this has been one of the most amazing years for wildflowers we've ever seen, so I've been taking a lot of wildflower photos since April with the intention of doing a "wildflower safari" post. But even though I've had to delete most of my pictures because my worn out little Kodak can no longer handle close-up focusing, I still got enough worth keeping that it'll take a lot more than one post to share the best ones. So I decided to try a Wildflower Wednesdays theme, featuring just one or two wildflowers each week that I can manage it, and for as long as it takes ~ even if by the time I get them all posted, there's nothing but snow where the wildflowers once bloomed! (And maybe this will keep my blog from going completely dormant till Labor Day!)

Let's begin with our lovely local Lupines, since they are at their height of beautiful blooming abundance right now...


There are more than 200 wild species of Lupine, mostly in North and South America but also in the Mediterranean, with about 50 species here in the Rocky Mountain region. The species are often difficult to tell apart, and I have no idea which ours is (or are), but while the flowers are mostly a purplish blue color, they can vary from white to light blue to dark blue to pink to different shades of purple.


The one above is a real showoff, with four colors going on one plant! We saw our first all-white one on a hike last weekend, but did I have my camera with me? Alas, I did not. *sigh*


See the bee in the upper middle of this photo? I've been chasing bumblebees from plant to plant all over the mountainside, trying to get a good photo of one! It's harder than I thought, the bees probably think I'm a lunatic, and I absolutely decided I need a new camera that can take close-ups, among other things. So we ordered one yesterday. :-)

As a bee gathering nectar does not harm or disturb
the color and fragrance of the flower,
so do the wise move through the world.

~The Buddha, Dhammapada: Flowers, verse 49

~~~~~~~~~

Speaking of wise, non-harming bees, here's a cute one who was a lot more cooperative about posing for a picture! :-) I took this of BW (aka Bee Dub) on his birthday Sunday. I think he looks a lot younger than 51 (and I'm not just saying that because he's my sweetie!) ;-)


This is what he was looking up at... some interesting clouds building on top of the 8000' high Moncrief Ridge behind our house. He thought this cloud looked like a dragon, sprawling along the top of the ridge...


And lest you think I've gone off on a completely non-wildflower tangent... see all that yellow in our pasture and beyond? Those are Arrowleaf Balsamroot flowers, which always bloom along with the lupine. So maybe they'll be the next Wednesday wildflower! :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~

P.S. I can seldom hear the word "lupine" without thinking of Monty Python's Dennis Moore, the inept Robin Hood character who steals lupines from the rich to give to the poor...


I always crack up at the "Shut up! This is a holdup, not a botany lesson" bit!

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"