Here and now: July 6, 2017

My life, here and now...

here and now 

On my mind...

July? How the heck can it be July already?

Even how-the-heckier: How can the first week of July already be nearly over?


I'm about halfway through Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker. I can't say I love it at this point, but I am intrigued and will continue reading.

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Check it out on Goodreads. And hey, if you're on Goodreads...

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On waterfalls and wildlife

backyard waterfall

One of my favorite features of my backyard is broken. Our waterfall, which Jim — primary caretaker of the falls — likes to keep running through each and every season (despite it freezing for the most part during winter seasons), hasn't been running for several seasons now.

Because it's broken. Has a leak. Somewhere. Somehow.

Jim and I plan to spend much of Saturday figuring out the where and the how — and the what we need to do to fix it.

Taking apart the waterfall and putting it all back together again will surely be a pain in the butt. We don't look forward to it.

We do, though, look forward to once again having water streaming and splashing. We miss the sound, the peace, the tranquility of the special spot just off our patio.

Despite our reluctance to remove and replace liners and rocks and such, the special spot needs to be fixed. Not only to fulfill our...

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Deck blessings! Plus, GRAND Social No. 210 link party for grandparents

Deck blessings!

May is always a challenging month in Colorado, weather wise, as temps rise and fall in grand rollercoaster fashion. It can be in the 70s one day, blizzard like the next, sunny and clear the day after. Once June arrives, though, the chance of snow has pretty much disappeared and summer-like spring days are more the norm.

Last Friday was such a day. I decided to soak up the sun while kicking back on my deck for an afternoon nap. Three minutes into it, though, I gave in to the natural blessings surrounding me and opted to grab photos instead of shut eye. Here are a few shots of what I caught, never moving more than a few feet from my Adirondack chair.

backyard birds...

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A full nest once more

No, my daughters haven't moved home. And, no, my grandsons aren't visiting.

Still, the nest is full. Literally. The nest right outside my window, the one nearest my desk, where I spend much of my day.

Mourning doves usually inhabit the nest each season. Which doesn't always turn out so well. A couple weeks ago, though, this is what I noticed:  

A robin, settled in and protecting what I assumed were eggs.

I've checked in on her now and again, passed her on my way to get the morning newspaper, warned visitors to not disturb the head-height branch when walking by.

Mama Robin has always been protective of her home and what it held, but I could never see anything within it, even when I climbed atop a stool to better peer out my window and into her nest.

Until yesterday. I saw activity, grabbed my camera, and throughout the day captured the following.


Maybe not a big deal to some, but after a particularly long run of crappy days and crappy news, the full and thriving nest—and the fact it was right outside my window—was significant to me, brought tears to my eyes.

The momentum has shifted.

Today's question:

How has nature recently brightened your outlook—or at least your day?

Pine cones, pain, and peanut butter

I mentioned in yesterday's post that the book Grandma's Bag of Tricks: Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars is a great boredom-busting book. It's also an awesome need-a-mellow-activity-while-recovering-from-tonsil-and-adenoid-surgery book. I can vouch for that because that's exactly what it offered up for my recent visit to see Bubby while he healed from his surgery.

The mellow activity I chose to do with Bubby was to make a pine cone bird feeder, using the pine cones I packed away in my Grandma Bag for the trip. (I lugged them along because while I have far too many pine cones in my yard in the mountains, they're nowhere to be found in Bubby's yard in the desert and he didn't even know what pine cones are.)

This is how the activity went:

First you take the pine cones ...

Then you add a wire to the top and coat them with peanut butter:

You taste the peanut butter, of course:

Then you spread a little more on the pine cone:

You roll your coated pine cone in birdseed:

And realize too late that tasting the seed probably wasn't such a good idea:

You finish the feeder:

And take a break because your throat hurts so cuss bad (maybe as much from swallowing peanut butter and seeds as from the T&A surgery):

Next, you hang your completed bird feeder in the yard:

And smile so proud for a job well done:

Then you sit back and wait for birds to arrive. Or for a dog, enticed by the scent of peanut butter, to nab the low-hanging fruit and gobble it down within a day of being hung. Which Roxy did. Twice.

So you complete the process all over again (thankful that Gramma brought spare pine cones and seed) and hang your new feeder up for the birds ... only this time you hang it high enough that Roxy can't reach it.

Today's question:

What is your latest project, completed or still in progress?

For the birds

We have a small waterfall in our back yard. All summer long it gurgles and burbles and lends a small portion of peace to our place smack dab in the flight path of the airport and mere blocks from one of the busiest traffic corridors in the city.

I love the waterfall. At summer's end, I lament the loss of the trickles of tranquility as the water is shut off, the pump put away for the winter. And winter has indeed come to my part of the mountains, despite the calendar saying it's still fall.

Yes, it's time to put the waterfall to bed for the season.

But Jim is rebelling this year, refusing to shut 'er down. He loves the waterfall more than I, spends more time fiddling with the rocks, the water flow, the chemicals to keep it clean, the daily clearing out the leaves and needles. And more time admiring 'the heads' he mounted at the top of the waterfall.

(If you read this post, you understand the significance of the 'the heads' in our lives. Despite the significance, I still groan regularly about Jim placing a miniature version of the national memorial -- courtesy of the darn Sky Mall catalog -- in our yard.)

So with temperatures falling well below freezing every night -- and during some days, too -- the little waterfall that could does ... keep flowing. Which I think is really stupid.

"What a waste of electricity," I say to my (usually) utility bill-obsessed husband, thinking that'll do the trick, show him how irresponsible and expensive it is to run the waterfall all winter. He just ignores me.

"You're going to burn out the motor," I keep telling him. It won't fully freeze up because the water's moving, he responds, adding, "And it'll look so cool when it freezes around the edges. Remember the one time it did that?"

Yeah, I remember. But it was a freak freeze, and we shut down the waterfall right after that.

Jim continues ignoring me, the water continues flowing and I continue thinking my husband's a nutjob.

Tuesday morning I let the dogs out and glanced over at the waterfall. It had frozen all around the edges, leaving only a small stream flowing down the rocks and a little tiny pool at the bottom. And in the stream and the pool were several birds, merrily splashing away, thrilled by their luck at finding fresh flowing water when all the birdbaths in the city surely were frozen.

It was a delightful sight. And once the birds flew off -- frightened away by Lyla and Mickey dashing out for their morning potty break -- the nearly frozen fall remained chillingly magical.


Much to my chagrin, I had to admit Jim was right. Just like the last time the waterfall froze, the icy sculpture definitely did look so cool.

Consider my tongue bitten. I'll back off cussing about the waterfall. I'll stop trying to convince Jim that not shutting it down for the winter is a really dumb idea. The water can flow, I guess, and I'll keep my mouth shut.

But I'm only agreeing to let it flow for the sake of the birds.

And in hopes that next time I'll be able to snap a few shots of the birds enjoying the unexpected deep-winter delight before the dogs frighten them away.

Holiday question of the day:

If you were to create and market an ice cream available only during the Christmas season, what flavor(s) would your concoction be?

Sad story - a re-posting

Last Friday, a mourning dove bashed into my dining room window so hard it killed it, pine needle for the nest it was building still in its mouth as it lay dying on the ground beneath the window. It was very, very sad.

It made me think of a post I wrote about this time last year for my other blog, a personal blog I now rarely (if ever) post to. Rather than rehashing that post, I'll just go ahead and copy and paste it for ya here. Beware, it's kind of sad ... hence the title.

Sad Story

For several weeks, I've watched from my window as two mourning doves (my favorite birds) created a home in the juniper bush outside my study. I've seen the evolution of their nest, from a few pine needles to a full-blown home. The nest quickly became the full-time residence of what I first thought was a dedicated mama bird, never leaving the spot in the name of her soon-to-come (or maybe they were already there) eggs. Dad would stop by occasionally to see how things were going ... and feed her, I hoped.

Then one day I witnessed a shift change. It was TWO dedicated parents, not one! It was a true co-parenting deal, with each bird taking a turn keeping up the home front while the other grabbed a snack. No slacker dad here ... he shared the duties willingly and just as efficiently as his partner.

Day in and day out, one of them was there. I appreciated their presence while I typed away at the computer, finding solace in the fact that although I faced rough times and what seemed to be an imminent death in the family, hope springs eternal as new life begins (or would soon, just outside my window).

The mourning doves' dedication to their nest was fierce. Snowstorms, high winds, dark nights didn't phase them. Someone walking by to take out the trash, come and go from the car or take pictures (yeah, I did that right next to them!) didn't scare them off. But then the neighbor's lawnmower did - and when the parents left, I saw the precious babies they'd been diligently protecting. I snapped as many pictures as possible before Mom (or was it Dad) returned.

Then I waited ... and waited ... and waited. For days on end, I'd give updates to the family and call them over now and then to see how Mom/Dad stayed no matter the weather - even when the snow had weighed down the branch above the nest so that it nearly touched the head of the parent on duty. I even e-mailed updates to my mom, who happened to be here the day the nest building began and was just as impressed with my front-row seat.

I was anxiously awaiting the day the shells cracked, little chirps would be heard, and Mama bird would drop goodies into the wide-open beaks of her hungry babies. I'd catch it all on my camera, documenting the growth of the chicks through my study window.

Then yesterday, a day not any colder than many we've had during the nesting phase, Mom and Dad were nowhere to be found. All day I wondered if I'd just been missing them, if birds take off when it's time for the babies to emerge so as not to squish them yet keep watch from afar.

But time stretched on and it became clear Mom and Dad would not be returning - and no babies would be emerging from the shells. For whatever reason - and I have to assume it's natural, not that Mom and Dad just decided they weren't cut out for parenting and headed off to sunnier days and carefree lives - the eggs would not be hatching.

And I would not be witnessing a precious rite of spring from my window. Nope, now I just stare sadly at the two lone - and likely hard and cold - baby eggs outside my window, wondering what to do with them ... or if I should do anything with them at all.