Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Cat Who Walked in Snow

I miss Zoe so much. Yesterday morning, she was a lively young cat.

We took our nearly daily walk to get the paper. There was fresh snow, so it was my turn to make a track. Zoe followed in my footsteps.

This morning, I noticed that she would make 2 tracks on every one of mine. Really, this meant that she was taking 4 steps for one of mine, because she has twice as many legs.

Aside: the tiny specs in one of the pictures are tiny, flea like bug. They come out after a fresh snow and settles on the ground by the millions.

Farewell to Zoe the Cat

Zoe was only about 14 months old when she died quietly after accidentally drinking poison.

She was a special cat. Let me tell you why.

We should go on walks most every day, except when it was really, really cold. Then, she would go and hide when she saw me get dressed to go out.

I would carry her to get the paper. After I got the paper, she would struggle to get out of the carry sling. Once on the ground, she lead the way on the circuitous path back. She knew every twist and turn of the trail, even if it was covered in snow.

It was amazing to watch her lead the way back, especially in the snow. However, if the snow was to deep, I would have to lead and make way for her by breaking the snow first, step by step.

IN the summer, I once saved her from two dogs that were tracking her by picking her up and holding her tight. After that, she always trusted me to protect her.

Today, I fell short. I was to tired and distracted to be mindful to protect her. I'm not quite sure what she drank, but it must have killed her in an hour or two.

She had a favorite patch of grass on the way back trail. She would always stop and see if per chance it had a bit of green in the winter. She also loved eating goji berry vine leaves, and sometimes liked eating the berries too.

If she started to lag behind on the trail, I would start to go back to get her. When she saw me do this, she would run past me while making a trilling sound. She would then again take the lead.

She was starting to gain a bit of extra weight lately, I was getting worried that even Science Diet cat food was not healthy enough for her. Cats are not made to eat corn!

Zoe was a very sociable cat. She loved everyone and only know love.

I felt a rapport with her like no other cat.

I miss her so.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Millions and Millions of... bugs? In winter?

While walking through my woods this morning, I noticed that the snow that fell a couple of days ago was covered with a thin layer of black "dust."

However, when I put my finger down in the dust, the "dust" motes would jump out of the way, like flees.

I wonder what kind of bug this is, and what kind of life cycle it has if it is blanketing the snow with millions of themselves.

In other news: I can see from the tracks and scat that the elk came through the yard in the last 12 hours.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The first 100 Robins of the Winter Solstice?

We're finally getting some milder weather after a week of extreme cold. It was below zero every night.

This afternoon, the air was filled with robins. They would flit from tree to tree, generally heading south. There must have been hundreds of them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

It's Friggin' Cold

Tonight and last night the temperature has been sea-sawing around 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

It's cold, but not cold enough to kill the pine beetles.

In other news, I saw a small heard of elk yesterday at about the 7 mile mark on Magnolia

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

First x-c Ski-able Snow Ever


We've never had a snow that is deep enough for cross-country skiing anywhere near this early.

In fact, the 22 inches (as of now) may be enough to keep the ground white till April. (I hope not because I've not gotten nearly enough snow out of the woods.

I'd say that this must be good for the ski slopes, but according the weather radar, this is a very local storm.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Winter - I Mean Fall - Came a Day Early

On Sunday, a spot on the Peak to Peak Highway was mobbed with people admiring the changing Aspen. Today, Monday, it's been snowing all day and the Aspen leaves are trying to shrug of the white stuff.

I also brought in the house plants, who seem to have survived the few inches of snow.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Great Smokey Mountains, Colorado Style

It has been hazy all day and the layers of mountains have a misty "smokey mountain" look. Also, the afternoon sun was dim and orange and there was a faint smell of smoke in the air.

I suspect it is because of the forest fires in California.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Never race a cat down the mountain

Zoe (who is one of our two cats) and I take a half our walk to Balancing Beam Rock most days.

The last 100 yards back go down the steep Alpine slope of Winiger Ridge.

Zoe loves to race down the slope at top speed. I like to go racing after her, but she always wins. That's because a cat's speed on level ground can be over 30 miles an hour. I can only imagine what her speed is going down hill. Needless to say, I can't run that fast. But it doesn't stop me from racing her - until now.

Today, she suddenly stopped about a quarter of the way down. I put on the brakes myself to keep from running over her. But my ankle gave out and I found myself on the ground. By the time I limped back to the house, I my ankle had swollen huge from a sprain.

I got out a cane to so I could limp around the house.

Then, I put ice on the ankle and kept in elevated for an hour. The swelling went down and I was able to walk again. I suspect that the Moxxor and Astaxanthin I take also helped.

In other news: I watched the Perseid's for a few minutes. The sky was almost clear and quite dark. It was a good show.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Bears: #1 Reason NOT to Feed the Birds

A large adult male bear walked right by the house this morning.

I had put out a hummingbird feeder for the crowds here last weekend. The house was filled to the rafters with people here for the wedding. (That's another story, for another time.)

In the past, I've had a bear distroy all my hummingbird feeders so he could get to the sugar water. Now I just have one left.

I'm taking it in - in case the bear comes back.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Local Newspapers All Abuzz About Bugs

Both the Tuesday Camera and the Colorado Daily had pictures of massive invasions of lady bugs on the cover.

I noticed lady bugs swarming up here nearly a week ago. The now seem to have congregated at the top of green mountain.

In related news, I also see Ips beetles flying around. I just noticed today that they had burrowed by the dozens in a section of lodge pole pine that had snapped of in the spring snowstorm.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wrapped and FRYing (NOT FLYing) Beetle

Preview of coming attractions? See


Yesterday, I was sitting on the deck when an Ips or Pine Beetle landed right in front of me. I crushed it before I could inspect which of the two species it was.

What is fascinating to me is that the Ips beetle has infected exactly 2 trees of out of hundreds in my yard. The first tree was about a foot in diameter and broke in half during the big snow storm in the spring. Hundreds of Ips burrowed into the entire length of the fallen tree. The second tree was about 6 inches in diameter. I had cut it shortly after the storm

I've been carefully inspecting and monitoring the beetle kill up here on Winiger Ridge. I now understand WHY the beetles prefer larger trees. It's because the bark is thicker. The thicker bark protects the beetles from the woodpeckers. The woodpeckers can easily remove and dig through the bark of a 4 inch pine. However, the cost/benefit ratio tilts in favor of the beetle and away from the woodpecker for larger trees with thicker bark.

In other words, the calories bound up in the tiny beetles are too small to feed a woodpecker if the bark is too thick. (Thicker bark requires more calories to burrow through.)

Let me get back to the two fallen trees that became Ips beetle magnets. Clearly, the beetle could sense that these trees were helpless. Every beetle from hundreds of yards around came to these select trees. It would seem to me that one could design an Ips beetle trap by simulating a fallen tree. Once the Ips beetles are trapped, they can be managed.

The two infected trees are now under wrap. Pray for a serious cold snap this winter. I'll be OK with the cold; by then the plastic wrapped trees will be firewood for the wood stove.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Goji Experience & the 3 bear little bears, Part 2

Today the bear cub mentioned in the last post came back. Neighbors report seeing 3 bear cubs without mom. No idea where the other two are, but something bad has happened to mom.

It was clear the the bear cub was too young to survive on its own, so I coaxed it into our cat pen. The cat pen is designed to keep cats safe from marauding packs of coyotes, but it can also hold a bear... for a little while anyway.

Then I called the department of wildlife. Kristin Cannon and an assitant came and got the bear cub into a large dog carrier. It will be relocated to western Colorado, where it will be cared for until next year. At that point, it will be released to be out on its own.

I've also included a picture of the rainbow that showed up right after the bear cub left in a department of wildlife truck. I think it was God bestowing a blessing.

Note: If you click on the picture, you can see a full size (huge) version.

Goji Experience & the 3 bear little bears, Part One

Last Friday, I sent out the following request for help to my neighbors:

Hi fellow neighbours and wildlife watchers,

Our filming of a user experience with "Goji Experience" (A weight loss and anti-aging supplement) was interrupted by a wild (and very cute) bear cub at about 1 minute 20 seconds into the taping. You can see the video taken earlier today at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Be3qITbtNc

We dropped what we were doing and immediately focused on the bear cub. He looked to weigh about 20 - 25 pounds and was obviously very hungry... and lost. Sadly, we never did see the mother.

The cub left after about 10 minutes. After the bear cub left, we continued our taping for "Goji Experience" The temptation was great to feed the cub, since he was still so young. But cubs turn into bears... which then would not be afraid of humans. That would be bad. The cub is still afraid of strange large animals. That is why you see him try to climb the tree after standing up to get a better look at me.

Any suggestions or comments?

- Mike

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lightning Strikes Close to Home

Yesterday, I was talking with someone and I mentioned that lightning can strike miles from the apparent center of a storm. Little did I know that this would be the prelude to a "coincidence."

At about 4:30 AM I was half awake when I saw a flicker of light through my closed eye lids and hear a dull explosion at the same time. Immediately after that, the computer UPS went crazy.

I realized that the power was out. Because of the boom, I assumed that the problem was very close by, so we called the Electric Company (Excel) to report it.

I went back to sleep after turning of all computers and UPSs except the one running the co-op wifi. Then I went back to sleep.

This morning I woke up as I heard the sounds of the electricity coming back on. I quickly jumped into my cloths and drove around until I found the Excel repair man.

He told me that a lightning arrestor had blown (actually shorted) and this had taken the local grid with it. So he had to climb up and over Winiger Ridge to get to the fuse in the valley by Forsythe Creek.

When I met him I told him right away that that fixed it.

It's been too long for me to remember since the last direct strike in the neighborhood, but we got one within hours of me mentioning it, and it was also not part of a major storm that consisted of lots of thunder and lightning.

Science Finally Proves 'Nature' is Good For You

Living Near Trees Improves Physical, Mental and Social Health
by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) People living in areas with more parks, trees and grass live longer and happier lives, with less violence and improved mental and physical health, according to research presented at the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

"Humans are evolved organisms and the environment is our habitat," lead researcher Frances Kuo said. "Now, as human societies become more urban, we as scientists are in a position to look at humans in much the same way that those who study animal behavior have looked at animals in the wild to see the effect of a changing habitat on this species."

A growing number of studies are showing that humans living in settings lacking living plants show physical, psychological and social disorders similar to those developed by other animals that have been removed from their natural habitats.

"In animals what you see is increases in aggression, you see disrupted parenting patterns," Kuo said.

On the physical level, a large-scale Dutch study found that the amount of green space within a one- to three-mile radius of a person's home is a significant predictor of their overall health. A Japanese study found that elderly people who lived within walking distance of a park or other green space had significantly longer life expectancies than those who lived farther away.

College students have been found to perform higher on tests of cognitive function if they live in rooms overlooking living plants, while people living far from natural settings demonstrate not only worsened cognitive function, but also impulse control and management of life conflicts. A walk in a park has been proven to reduce hyperactivity in children as much as standard drug treatments.

Finally, communities with more green space have lower levels of crime and violence than communities with more green space. Communities without green space, on the other hand, have higher levels of property, crime, graffiti and litter.

"We might call some of that 'soiling the nest,' which is not healthy," Kuo said. "No organisms do that when they're in good shape."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick - Signs of Spring

7 signs of spring up here to the Rocky Mountains.

1) I find a tick crawling around in the kitchen. No idea how it got there.

2) The frogs in the old beaver pond are signing love songs to each other.

3) The far off neighbor is redecorating the attic room. I can hear him hammering and sawing away through his open window.

4) The cliff swallow have been swooping and diving in search of flying spring insects for a week now.

5) The cats have suddenly noticed that there's an out there out there.

6) I can't find a patch of snow anywhere

7) The grass is growing, the flowers are budding, and the Aspens are greening.

Bonuses - I've put the house plants outside - making more room inside and the local estrogen dominant homo sapien's oxytocin levels have shot through the roof, causing an instinctive cleaning and organizing frenzy - i.e. it's spring cleaning time around here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Big day for wildlife

Today I heard my first humingbird for the year.

Then about 30 to 40 elk came through the yard and mowed my lawn a bit.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

X-C ski: To Go Where Only the Elk Have Gone Before

This afternoon I took the time to enjoy one of the "fringe" benefits of living up high in the Colorado Rockies - being able to x-c ski right out the back door in April.

When I got to the top of the ridge, I found that I was not the first one on the trail - a couple of elk had beat me to it.

The carnage to the trees from the weight of the snow continues to impress me. Full sized trees would be snapped off half way up. I've always wondered why there are some ponderousa pine trees around here that had a curious 'Y' shape to them. Now I know why. A previous storm had snapped of the top and the two nearest top branches would form a new top.

It appears that the last time this happened, judging from the maturity of the 'Y' shapes, was probably 20 or 30 year ago.

So, given this evidence, I can safely say that this was the worst storm in decades.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Storm Causes Carnage

Some more updates about the snow storm from my previous post.

It looks like this storm dropped more snow, by weight then the famous snowstorm of March, 2003.

Let me explain.

This snow storm dropped over 4 feet of snow around here. That's over an inch an hour.

I noticed on our drive back on Sunday that I've never seen as many broken branches and trees every since I've lived around here. By the way, that explains why the power was out for nearly 2 days - the trees where overburdened with snow and took down power lines as they fell.

Today, the snow was melting down at a rate of about an inch an hour in the intense April sun. This has gradually exposed a carnage of broken trees and branches in the yard as well.

The good news is that the snow melted enough for me to be able to drive the Toyota truck all the way into the garage. However, turning around will be another matter. But, if the snow melts as fast tomorrow as it did today, the ground should be mostly clear in a day or two.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Snowstorm of April 2009

This storm made the national news.

The following is a blow by blow of the snow storm of 2009 as told through an email thread. I have also edited out email addresses and certain other identifying details so that they will not end up on a spam list.

Hi All,

Yesterday (Friday) morning I was watching the snow pile up on the pick nick table outside my window on Lazy Z, when my gut whispered "Storm of March '03" You might remember it - it dumped 4 to 5 feet of snow in our neighborhood.

... THEN the power goes out. ... and I figured that the internet would not be far behind.

I love where I live, except when the power and internet goes out - so I bailed.

What I mean is: I beat a retreat to Boulder - the land of health food stores, free wifi, and (more) reliable power and snow plowing service.

Not that all is peaches and cream however. For example, I heard that the "improved" King Soopers on 30th is leaking like a sieve and is closed. However, the traffic is moving pretty well in the rain.

Rain down here... snow up there. That's the way it usually works this time of year, right?

Anyway, does anybody have enough electricity and digital bandwidth to give a report of the conditions in the PUMA neighborhood?

BTW, I meet a couple in Sunflower market that said that Ned was still a mess, with power in some parts and not others. Sunflower market itself was taking on water too, but was open.

Excuse me for taking this long to get to my point, but I'd like to start a discussion about current road conditions on Magnolia as well as side streets such as Lazy Z.

Also, how's the power holding up? (No need to answer if you don't have any :-)

- Mike

Allen Gordon

to Mike
show details Apr 18 (2 days ago)

Hi Mike

Power was off on on then off again about 6 PM last night. Still off until estimated 6PM tonight. This appears to be area wide. Snow is about 4 feet and stll snowing. Don't know how the roads are. Haven't finished plowing yet. I don't know if this will go to to the puma list. If you come up, post a note about the road conditions.

Allen Gordon
Pine Glade

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Greg Ching

to Mike
show details Apr 18 (1 day ago)

I've been on battery backup going on 20 hours the last 24 hours and 4.5 hours the previous. I've been on battery backup going on 20 hours the last 24 hours and 4.5 hours the previous. Phones out since last night. I've not driven. Roads by me have one lane plowed.
ones out since last night. I've not driven. Roads by me have one lane plowed.



to mikeseiler
show details Apr 18 (1 day ago)

Just got my power back about 2 hrs ago on Pinon Way.

Clark R Chapman

to Mike
show details 8:27 AM (13 hours ago)

Mike -- I assume that you've made it back. Our internet was out until this morning. Briefly, here's what happened around here. A snowplow came down Lazy Z around midnight Thursday night, then not again until around noon on Friday. It was just before noon on Friday that the power went out. I was down in Boulder on Friday and returned between 5 pm and 6 pm, driving up Magnolia. It was totally marginal, even with our high clearance, all-wheel drive, and studded snowtires. There was about a foot of unplowed snow on this part of Magnolia and Lazy Z. The temperature got down to about 47 degrees in our house. Finally, a major snowplowing effort was made fairly early Saturday morning. The power came back on last evening at 8:50 pm -- 33 hours without power! (The weather bureau reported a snow guage 3 miles southeast of Pinecliffe with 53 inches of snow...roughly what I guess we had here.) Hope your feline is o.k. Clark


Mike Seiler

to Clark
show details 9:18 AM (12 hours ago)


Thanks for the update.

Rachel and I are glad we sat this one out at the Golden Buff in Boulder.

We're heading back up after a good breakfast.

- Mike

Mike Seiler

to Clark
show details 9:43 PM (0 minutes ago)

Hi All,

Thanks all for the updates.

We got back this afternoon.

About 1/2 mile from home, we suddenly found ourselves in the ditch because of a surprising thick,irregular and hard patch of snow, which was followed by a slippery mix of mud and snow. Fortunately, a neighbor yanked us out.

Right after that, it was my turn to try yanking another neighbor out. (Long, strong tow straps are a must have in the car up here) But this neighbor was much more stuck then I had been.

Just then Steven McCullum (from Blackhawk) came by with his backhoe. Steven pulled the neighbor out, then he came by to dig out my driveway. 1 hour and $100 later, he had made it all the way up except the last 100 feet. That was just to steep and the backhoe kept spinning its wheels in the heavy wet snow. ... but getting almost all the way up was good enough for me.

It was good to be back after two days and everything was just fine. Power and internet were both back on. The cats were really glad to see us (we had left lots of food and water)

- Mike