It’s easy to tell it’s almost full-fledged fall. I get three distinct reminders:
- The horses start shedding their summer coats
- The dinner plate-size hibiscus burst into bloom
- The skunks make their dusk or dawn presence known
Twice in the last week I’ve been jarred out of sleep by the pungent scent of Peppy LePew wafting through my open bedroom window. The first time it happened I could hear the low rumble of Gus growling in his crate. Gus typically doesn’t make a peep during the night, but his highly tuned nose put him on full alert. The scent wasn’t too horribly strong, but there was no mistaking that a skunk had wandered across our property. When this happens in the spring it’s usually the young skunks who don’t have full control over their scent glands yet. But when it happens in the fall it’s more likely a full-fledged adult, which is a little more worrisome. It’s been years since I’ve had a dog get skunked, but it’s something you never forget. The smell that you usually associate with a skunk meandering through the area is nothing like the full force stench of them using their smell for defense. It’s got to be one of the most gagging, God-awful, eye-watering smells on earth. And it’s dangerous too. The dog who got skunked took a close-range shot to the face and I’m still not convinced that didn’t contribute to his blindness just a year or two later. With that episode in mind I’m not taking any chances. At the first indication that a skunk might be nearby the dogs get leashed and walked and there’s no running about freely until we’re sure the coast is clear. The pups are a little put out by that, but it’s far better than the alternative!
There are other signs of the approaching fall. The hummingbird feeder has transitioned from a dull roar to the occasional passer-by. We’re on the migration route so I’ll continue to fill the feeder until a couple of days pass with no visitors. The cardinals are getting very vocal. I’m not sure why because they’re here all summer, but every fall they become more active and noticeable. Could it be one of their food staples has come into season and they get more competitive over that? I don’t know, but I enjoy seeing the colorful pairs. Crickets are louder. I always end up with a few that get into my basement looking for what, I’m not sure! And the days have grown noticeably shorter. Our mornings stay dark now until almost 6:30 and the late afternoon sun slips over the ridge across the road by a little after 7 PM. The changing of seasons happens so fast that if I didn’t have nature to remind me I might miss it altogether.
Psalm 77 by David Nevue
I generally don’t make a fuss over New Year resolutions. I may reflect a bit on events that occurred over the last year and think a bit about some things that I might want to strive to change. But I don’t get too worked up about the stuff that didn’t live up to my expectations or make any grandiose announcements.
I made some good progress with Dharla this year. I’m very glad that I decided to bite the bullet and get some professional training for her. While I miss having her at home, she’s not far away and I still see (and often ride) her every day. It’s been a great experience being at a bigger barn. I’ve met some very nice people and I’m learning a lot of really good stuff. Sometimes I feel a bit pulled in different directions. I still have the responsibility of caring for the animals here at home, but so far I’ve been managing to divide my time and attention equally. And it’s not forever. I expect I’ll bring Dharla back home come early spring.
I fulfilled a year’s commitment with an online nutrition program. While it’s sad to see that come to a close, I’m anxious to get back to doing things on my own. I’ve never been much of a group joiner, though I made an exception for this program because I felt it was important to experience the program from the inside before I recommend it to others. I got some good ideas and tips on food prep and meal planning that I’ll probably continue to use on my own. I can’t say enough about Precision Nutrition’s Lean Eating program. It’s not cheap to do, but I saw firsthand via my own group of 150 or so members that it’s a life-altering approach to exercise and nutrition. Now I need to get cracking and get my own Precision Nutrition certification done. This winter should be a good time to hit the books and do it!
This year was a (fairly) healthy one. No eye surgeries or other major health issues, which was certainly a welcome change. We started the year off with the loss of my father in-law, but as sad as that was we’ve managed to get through all the “firsts” without Pop and survive. In early spring I had a very dear friend lose his home and entire life belongings in the Colorado Black Forest fire, and I experienced the helplessness of not being able to offer much more than an ear to bend when the burden became too heavy.
The animals have stayed healthy and grown a year older. Gus continues to tickle my funny bone daily, and at age 9 the cow dogs are still as energetic as ever! I closed the year by adding another horse to our small herd of horses. Rascal continues to impress with his easy-going nature, and I’m eagerly looking forward to getting out on the trail with him this spring. After all, it IS the year of the Horse!
Word has it we’re supposed to get socked in with another snow storm tomorrow. Time to hunker down and knit!
I hope everyone has a healthy, safe New Year!
Like most things in life, nature has many layers. Sometimes things seem straightforward and uncomplicated while at other times more like a mosaic of twists and turns. This fungus, with it’s many layers of color and texture, was quite an interesting discovery. It appeared soft and velvety, slightly fuzzy from a distance, but upon closer inspection I found it rather slimy, and not nearly as inviting to touch as it looked.
It seems my car has been in a bit of a downward spiral lately. It doesn’t have overly high mileage, but it’s fifteen, almost sixteen years old and certain things are starting to wear out. In the last few months I’ve replaced the brakes and a drive shaft, repaired the exhaust, and last week I bought a new battery when it wouldn’t start.
Today Gus and I had an early morning appointment at the vet and guess what? The car wouldn’t start. Last week when I got the new battery there was some talk about the starter being the problem, but it was easier to replace the battery and hope for the best. Besides, the old battery was, well … old. So it’s not like that was just a wild guess, but I was hoping it was the problem. Apparently not.
So today, and until further notice, I’m grounded. All errands and appointments must come to a halt. Once I get past the inconvenience of not being able to drive anywhere I’ll just focus on getting some chores done around the house.
(Click photo for best resolution)
This was quite possibly one of the largest webs I’ve ever shot, and it was a bonus that the architect happened to be home. The weather has switched back to hot and humid. That means some early morning fog, which can make for some interesting photos.
It was a great summer for some of my flowers. This balloon flower is now several seasons old and it produced an abundance of beautiful purple-blue blossoms. This is the first year I’ve noticed that it’s starting to spread a bit by casting seeds. That excites me! I look forward to moving some of the new plants to fill in a gap here or there in other gardens. I have other perennials that have fully matured and need to be split and relocated. Not an easy task, but it keeps me on my toes. Thinking about what can be moved where and fantasizing about how things will look in the future is something all gardening geeks do!
The only thing brave enough to be out in this heat and humidity are the insects. Well, and the birds. I spend most of my time gazing at my gardens from the picture window. That’s kind of sad. I work like a dog to maintain things only to be forced to hunker down in the house between 9 AM. and 6 PM. I can only hope this crazy weather pattern isn’t the new norm.
It’s that time of year again when I drag out the macro lens and try to shoot stuff in and around the property. It’s so humid outdoors now that I have to give the camera and lens about fifteen minutes to de-fog before I can shoot anything. Meanwhile, the bugs attack like I’m fresh meat. It isn’t the best of conditions for taking macro shots today. There’s a pretty good breeze and the light isn’t the best. But I’m getting antsy waiting for the conditions to improve, so I decided to take some photos in spite of it being against my better judgement. The way things are going, the gardens will have gone by before the weather starts to cooperate. It’s been that kind of year so far. It’s been so miserable that I’d like to just up and fly away myself: some place where it’s cooler and a lot less humid. I simply don’t know how people live in the south during the summer. I’m thinking mid-seventies would be just about perfect for me right now.
It’s been a long time since I’ve taken any pictures. Life has been …. complicated. My Father-in-law died in February. As sad as it is to have to say this, his death was a blessing. That’s really just another way of saying he lingered too long and suffered too much. In spite of knowing Pop would never recover, getting him and my poor mother-in-law to the point where they were able to let go was difficult. So while most of the family was feeling relief at his passing, it’s been anti-climatic and an enormous adjustment for Mom. My sister-in-law stayed with Mom for about three weeks beyond the funeral, but now that all the fanfare has ended the dust is starting to settle. There isn’t much I can do but call and visit often. Only time will ease the sorrow of Mom’s loss. It’s been very hard to weather this storm with her. In many ways, much harder than losing my own parents more than a decade ago.
Directly on the heels of our family crisis I went in for my seventh (and hopefully last) eye surgery. This procedure was totally painless and easy except for the requirement to be at the surgical center at the crack of dawn. Apparently they don’t make allowances for animal care or distance. No, you must be there to “register” and then sit, sit, sit and wait for an hour or more until it’s your turn. The whole procedure took about ten minutes from start to finish, but for that I had to get up before dark and drive on ice slicked roads. Yeah. I’m pretty done dealing with eye specialists.
From a medical standpoint the surgery was a “success.” Apparently that means they haven’t caused further damage and they’ve managed to correct some of the damage done previously. However, I’m still struggling to see 20/20 and upon my last followup appointment I was informed that I’ll need a new (another) prescription change. Ahem. I just HAD a prescription change two months ago ….. to the tune of $700+ … and at that time I was under the impression it was going to be the last change for awhile. Apparently not. Cha-ching! It never ends! Let’s hope that I can get this prescription filled for less than the previous one (going elsewhere for sure) and it greatly improves my acuity.
Spring has been rainy, windy and quite cold. I’ve been looking for that perfect day to get back out and ride my horse, but it hasn’t presented until last week. Naturally, my response was to immediately develop a whopper of a cold … as in flat-out, can’t-do-squat-for-three-days kind of cold. To make matters worse, my husband took Good Friday off, which he NEVER does, but I was unable to partake in any of the weekend activities. I was not a happy camper.
That said, today my cold is getting better and the weather is still nice. Things are looking up!
For the children …