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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Better Late than Never!

So here's the buzz. Mere hours after I published my "B for Bergamot" post for ABC Wednesday, BW and I took the dogs for a hike. I, of course, took my camera, on account of you just never know. And this time while we were amongst the fields of blooming bergamot, we were joined by a big, fuzzy bumblebee. I've tried and tried in years past to get a single good photo of a bee on a wildflower, to no avail. Until now! When I got not one, but several!

Doesn't that just figure? These would have been perfect on my ABC Bergamot post, and I thought about adding one to it, but I was, ahem... too bzzzzy! :-) Besides, I had gotten enough good photos that I thought they deserved a post of their own. So here it finally is (click on pics to enlarge)...

Arrivals, Concourse Bee ;-)


Check out his little feet, grasping the petals


BW really wanted me to include this video, even though except for a wiggly-butted bee balancing precariously on a flower and enjoying his nectar smoothie, not much happens. Until the very end, when you'll want your speakers turned up to catch all the excitement ;-) ...

LOL, what a spazzzzz!

He seemed to be getting full at this point,
so instead of flying to the next flower,
he just reached over and grabbed the adjacent one!

A good look at his big, black eyes

And finally...

Departures, Concourse Bee

Friday, July 29, 2011

SkyWatch Friday: Riding the Thermals

Soar into the weekend on the thermals of Wyoming's summer skies above the Big Horn Mountains, accompanied, if you wish, by Brian Crain's beautiful song Dream of Flying...

Music Playlist at

Click the photos for larger versions...

Paragliders often ride the thermals above our house (at 5500'),
since there's a popular launch point above us.

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass
under trees on a summer's day,
listening to the murmur of the water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is by no means a waste of time.
~J. Lubbock

It looks like he's sitting on the cloud!

Sometimes I go about pitying myself, and all along,
my soul is being blown by great winds across the sky.
~Ojibway saying

Floating back to earth about 1000' below our house,
with the Goose Creek Valley spread out below.

Be sure to visit
to see more skies around the world!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday Challenge: Construction :-)

While Sheridan certainly isn't suffering from a shortage of perpetual and annoying road construction or the insanely frenzied building of hundreds of new houses (have they not heard about the glut of unsold homes on the market - ours included?!), I felt uninspired by this week's Thursday Challenge:

"CONSTRUCTION" (Business, Residential, Street, Bridge, Sidewalk, Lego Bricks,...)

Until, that is, I remembered having recently spotted and photographed a huge magpie nest, constructed in a dense thicket of hawthorns, while on a hike with the dogs. Now this is some construction I can get excited about! :-)

(click photos for larger versions)

It's hard to get a sense of scale from these photos, but the nest is at least 2½ feet (76 cm) high. And it was definitely occupied! In fact, it was its owner who drew my attention to it when s/he started yelling, "Get off my lawn!" (or the magpie equivalent thereof) at the dogs and me. :-)

This nest, which may or may not have been new since old nests are repaired and reused, was constructed in an old and very thick stand of huge hawthorn bushes. How the magpies manage to ferry sticks and mud to the construction site and build such a large nest in such a tight space without impaling themselves on the wicked thorns that surround it is amazing. But once done, they've got themselves an impenetrable fortress in what I'd call a seriously "gated community!" Click on this photo to get a good look at these fearsome, dagger-like thorns that surround it...

In case you're unfamiliar with the strikingly beautiful black-billed magpie, here is a photo I took several yeas ago of one flying through the ravine below our deck...

While there are many magpies and their nests around our place, I've never watched any engaged in the actual construction process. But I did find a fantastic blog with this post and its series of phenomenal photos of a pair of magpies building their nest, along with fascinating information about both the birds and their nest-building process...
(It sometimes takes me a couple of tries to successfully get that blog post to come up, but it's worth the extra attempt!)

For more takes on this week's "Construction" theme, visit

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

ABC Wednesday: Bergamot (+ Bonus Border Collie)

I thought I'd try another fun weekly meme that I've enjoyed on several blogs - ABC Wednesday.

A new round began last week, but no way could I get it together in time to jump in at the beginning with the letter A. So I'll Begin with the next Best thing, the letter B! :-)

Because a Bounty of Blooming Bergamot currently abounds around our place, I photographed a Bunch during a hike earlier this week. So here, for my Blog's celebration of the letter B, are the Best of the Batch...

Wild Bergamot
Monarda menthaefolia
(aka Bee Balm, for two more points!) ;-)

Menthaefolia means "mint-leaved," and Both the leaves and the flower release their sublime spicy-minty fragrance when pinched or crushed. This flower attracts Bees, hummingbirds, and Butterflies and is supposed to improve the health and flavor of tomatoes when planted with them. You may know Bergamot from Earl Grey tea, and in addition to Brewing up a fragrant cup of tea the leaves can also be used for flavoring in cooking, with a taste similar to oregano. The plant also has several medicinal uses, including as an antiseptic.

A large area of them are Blooming in this deep, rich shade

With ABC Wednesday, you can also interpret the weekly prompt with artwork or poetry. While I'm Besotted with photography and am no Bard, for this post I thought I'd pen a silly poem...

I've got no beef,
But Bergamot
I love a lot!

And I really do. From its Bodacious color, to its charming "Bad hair day" looks, to its Brilliant mint Bouquet ~ what's not to love about Bergamot?

And you double the Bliss when you find a rare "double-decker" Bloom...

Looks like a two tiered fountain or wedding cake topper!

Of course with three dogs, I never hike alone, and a furry someone always insinuates themselves into one of my flower photos eventually. This time that furry someone was Willow. Who, as alphabetical luck would have it, is a Border Collie...

A Beauty among Beauties

Actually, BW was also on this particular hike with us Because he's on vacation this week. But although his name Begins with the appropriate letter, he was too Bashful to Be in any photos. Maybe next round!

Update: A few hours after posting this, I went for another hike and got several photos of a Bumblebee on the Bergamot! A Bummer of Bad timing But some pretty Brilliant photos (if I do say so myself, lol), which you can see here.


for more interpretations of this week's letter
from blogs around the world!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Doodads for Dog Days :-)

We've been celebrating the dog days of summer with some fun purchases for our canine kids, Tess and Josie, that go along nicely with two of their favorite activities (besides eating) that we've been enjoying a lot this spring and summer... walks and car rides. Especially walks, as they need practice walking (in a civilized fashion) on leashes in town.

Our hikes at home are off-leash, of course, but our in-town adventures require them. Even when BW is able to accompany us, one of us has to walk two of the dogs at a time, and usually I'm in town by myself, trying to walk all three. Though it usually settles down into a semblance of order after awhile, it typically begins with chaotic anarchy and I invariably wind up in the middle of a tangled knot of dogs and leashes, since no one wants to go in the same direction (ever!) or go around the same side of an obstacle.

Gracefully walking three dogs with one hand.
In high heels, no less. Guh-huh.
Not only is this obviously not me,
it is, without a doubt, a cartoon.

I've seen photos of those professional city dog-walkers, calmly and competently walking a multitude of dogs of all shapes and sizes at once. I still don't know what their trick is, but we finally got a nifty one of our own, a CrazyCoupl'r paired with a Timberwolf Alpine Urban Lead, purchased at Farfel's Farm in Boulder last month. This combo allows us to comfortably and simultaneously walk Tess and Josie (our biggest and strongest dogs, who are also graced with the least leash etiquette), with swivels that let them switch positions without getting tangled, and stout but springy materials that make it easier on our arm and shoulder.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, BW, Josie and Tess demonstrate the new leash in use at Whitney Commons...

See? A nice, orderly stroll. Very impressive, kids!

Then we took Molly's advice and ordered Tess and Josie 3-in-1 mesh vest harnesses. They have more pulling leverage with these, but are quickly learning to walk more politely, and at least they're not gagging themselves when they forget their manners and try to beat each other to the next pee-perfumed lampost. (The one who sniffs it first wins valuable prizes!!! Apparently).

These photos were taken in Kendrick Park, shortly before the Candy Apple Red convertible cruised by. But the girls weren't impressed with that, not when there were far more fascinating squirrels cavorting at the base of a yonder tree...

As you can see, Willow is always such a good girl that her leash is a mere law-abiding formality. She can watch a romping squirrel without feeling compelled to be naughty. Tess, on the other hand... And then there's clever, conniving Josie, who tries to lull us into complacency by appearing nonchalant about it all. But neither you nor we ~ nor especially the squirrels ~ should believe it for a minute!

(By the way, lest you fret that Willow was left out of the goodie-fest, we also got a fantastic FURminator deshedding tool this spring, and while our other two goobers like being brushed with it well enough, Willow LOVES it. Makes her all wiggly and she loves to tell everyone about it afterwards in her cute little trilling, gargly voice. She's a talker, is our Willow!) :-)

I've saved the best purchase for last...

All three girls get excited about going for car rides, but none so much as Tess, who nearly turns herself inside out with excitement when she hears car keys jingle. While Josie and Willow are content to just stick their muzzles out the window and sniff the scents speeding by in the slipstream, Tess has to stand with her front feet on the armrest, her head out above the roof of the Jeep, and her face full into the wind. She'd stick her entire upper body out the window if we let her, and doesn't care if it's -10ยบ outside. (Never mind that I might, she paws at the door till I roll down her window!) In her zestful zeal she always makes me think of Leo DiCaprio on the bow of the Titanic. You remember... this scene! :-)

We were concerned about Tess getting hit in the face or eye by a bug or some projectile, and about the wind drying out her eyes. When we saw this wonderful video of a dog named Spirit wearing Doggles, we knew that's exactly what Tess needed, and that she would look ever so cool wearing them!

She got used to them quite quickly, and I must say, she sure turns heads when we cruise through town! We get lots of double-takes, usually followed by outbursts of laughter. Little kids stop and point and squeal, "Mommy! Look at that dog!" And people have rolled down their windows as they pass us or pulled up beside us at traffic lights and called out, "We love your dog!" and "Your dog is cool!" (We do too and we know she is, even without the Doggles!) :-) Tess has even been getting extra treats at the bank drive-thru window and the feed store. She's got a good thing going!

But none of those accolades and percs can beat the pure thrill of summer cruising with your hair slicked back and those Wayfarers on, baby...

Vox populi is
right on... Tess is cool! :-)

I had to drop a few things off to Robyn at work one day last month, and Robyn came out to the car to see Tess in her Doggles. I had my camera with me so Robyn took this photo, which I just adore...

The Girls of Summer, ready to drag Main and cruise for sticks.
(But first ~ the car wash!)

May your dog days of summer be safe, cool and fun!

Friday, July 22, 2011

SkyWatch Friday: Breezy Sunset

We routinely get spectacular sunrises, but perhaps because we're perched on the eastern slope of the mountains, such sunsets are uncommon. Tuesday night's post-thunderstorm skies were an exceptional exception, though, and a no-brainer for this week's SkyWatch Friday submission! I took these from our front porch as we enjoyed the brilliantly blazing sky until dark...

I just kept taking photos as the sky kept changing colors...

A fresh, deliciously cool mountain breeze was making the grasses dance with such exuberance, even the sport setting on my camera couldn't make them hold still :-) ...

See more spectacular skies around our world at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday Challenge: Yellow

When I saw that this week's Thursday Challenge theme was going to be Yellow, I was tickled pink. So to speak. :-) Because there has been yellow in great profusion in my world lately, so I've been photographing it like a mad woman and now have a perfect excuse to share several of the results. (Because let's face it, I don't have the discipline to choose just one photo for these things!) ;-)

As always, you may click on any photo for a larger version...

Yellow on our patio...

Dahlia ("Goldalia Scarlet")

Calibrachoa (aka "Million Bells")

Pansy with a dragonfly friend :-)

Yellow in the wild...

Gaillardia pulchella ("Indian Blanket")

We spied this wildflower on one of our regular hikes near our property and don't recall ever seeing it before. I haven't been able to identify it in my Rocky Mountain wildflower field guide nor online. My closest guess is that it's a yellow sweet rocket, but I'm not terribly confident about that. Anyone know?

Mystery flower!

Yellow in our garden...

Zucchini blossoms
We had a cold, wet spring so our garden got a late start.
So we're just now getting our first zucchini blossoms!

BW always wanted marigolds in our veggie garden,
so this year he finally planted 16 of them. :-)

More yellow goodies...

This photo is from the archives, appearing in my "Lemon Drops" post last year, but I just had to repost it again here. My cherished yellow birdbath is too perfect for this challenge! A little wren was using it the other day and kept perching on the back of the yellow bird. A shame my camera wasn't handy...

Sweet ceramic birdbath in our front flowerbed

This, as you can see from her license plate, is Dazy, my friend Robyn's cute VW bug...

Parked at Tumbleweed, scene of our Wednesday lunches.

This last photo of a pretty yellow rose bush has a funny story to go with it, and was going to be its own post till this challenge came along and I decided to include it here...

Yellow roses

BW and I were driving around one of Sheridan's pretty older neighborhoods recently when we passed this huge yellow rosebush in the corner of someone's back yard. I had BW stop so I could get a picture, and that's when we noticed a man working in his garden just a few feet away from the rosebush. Wearing old baggy blue jeans, a long-sleeved blue denim work shirt, gloves and a huge straw hat that hid most of his face, he was on his hands and knees in profile to me with his head down, apparently weeding. I rolled down my window and said, "Hi, would you mind if I photographed your rose bush?" No response. So I repeated, "Excuse me, may I take a photo of your roses?" Still no response. In fact, I could see no movement at all from him! It was just beginning to dawn on me that he might not be real when BW started laughing and said, "He's not a real person, he's a dummy made to look like a gardener!" No way, I said. Way, he replied. So, blogger wheels spinning, I excitedly told BW I wanted a picture of the "garden dummy" as well as the roses, asked him to back the Jeep up so it wouldn't appear in my photos, and got out of the car and walked back to the garden dummy to find the best angle. Imagine my surprise to find that the "dummy," though still kneeling with his head down, was now facing me! I was staring, agape, at the crown of his straw hat! He was still utterly motionless, and, wondering if it was an automated, high-tech scarecrow or if I was on Candid Camera, I mouthed to BW still sitting in the relocated Jeep, "It moved!" He started laughing again, the devil. I stood there staring at the "dummy," trying to figure out if it was alive or not, when I finally detected the faintest movement from his arms. So I again said, very loudly, "EXCUSE ME, CAN I PHOTOGRAPH YOUR ROSES?" And this time the "dummy" looked up and said, "What?" LOL! He was quite alive, thank you very much, and very hard of hearing. I honestly think he may have dozed off while weeding, changing positions between power naps! :-) I asked him about his roses, which he was happy to have me photograph (obviously, since here they are in living color), and he told me that his sister had transplanted the rosebush from Missouri, and that it was 50 years old.

When I returned to the car I asked BW if he had known all along that the "dummy" was a real person, and he swore then and he swears still that he was just as convinced as I was that he was nothing more than clothing and a hat stuffed with rags and posed convincingly to look like a gardener. Too funny!

Seeking still more extravaganzas of yellow?

Visit this week's collection of blogs at Thursday Challenge!


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  • THE HUMANE GARDENER ~ Nancy Lawson
  • THE WORLD WITHOUT US ~ Alan Weisman

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"

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