stormy weather

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “No Pizza For Me” and “Something From Nothing”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically ultra-pathetic pose. 14061101I really know how to pour it on, don’t I? Well, I’ve been under the weather, with a bacterial infection. I’ve had this before, since I live with a lot of wildlife, in the garden and on my walks. The guy I live with, of course, loathes having anything untoward happening to me, and he raced off to the Bad Place and got me an antibiotic and I’m feeling much better, thank you.

Though, I’m not hugely fond of the weather we’ve been having. This is what it looked like outside, at about 11 this morning.14061102Most of the time, the weather just passes us by, but with a whole lot of scary thunder. On what the guy I live with says the weather people claim are “rare occasions”, the weather is directed right at me, like it was a couple of weeks ago, and if anyone wonders why the guy I live with isn’t terribly enamored of hostas, well, maybe this will explain it.14061105We do have some healthy-looking plants here, believe it or not. This is Ornithogalum magnum. These were ordered “by mistake”, and usually they’re taller, but this is how they look this year. They don’t spread by seed, much. 14061104And Penstemon centranthifolius. This was grown from seed collected somewhere in Southern California and was said not to be hardy, but the guy I live with tried it anyway, and it’s been here for almost twenty years.

It’s not an incredible picture, but you can see how the plant evolved so that only hummingbirds can visit it, because there’s no landing platform on the flower. We use these plants as backups in case someone has forgotten to replenish the hummingbird feeder, which happens.14061103And the hybrid echinocereus. We don’t know what they’re hybrids of, except that they’re echinocereus, and the flower really is this color. There are some others here, some with deep purple and red tints, and so forth. 14061106Despite all the stormy weather, it did actually rain here. I think on Sunday night, though like the guy I live with, I don’t really keep track of what day it is (which is why the trash didn’t get picked up today), and after it rained, the plumeria grew a new leaf.14061109The plumeria has been sitting in the living room for ages. It was here when I showed up. And it’s done next to nothing, so the guy I live with had this idea of putting it out in the rain, and it responded.

And, let’s see, what else? Oh, I have some really short mouse movies. Not movies about really short mice; they’re really short movies. I should phrase things better. The guy I live with tried to get pictures of the mice boxing, but he didn’t have the camera pointed in the right place when it happened.


And then we have the baby robins. The guy I live with didn’t want to scare them too much, so this is the best picture he got. You can see they’re getting bigger. Must be all the worms they get. I’m glad I don’t have to eat worms. 14061110Well, that’s it for today. I’m feeling a whole bunch better, as I guess I said, and the guy I live with got a pill reminder box so he actually remembers giving me my pills instead of freaking out about short-term memory loss, and it’s raining a little, and there’s loud cheeping outside.14061108


Until next time, then.



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10 Responses to stormy weather

  1. Tracey says:

    What a great post! I’m glad that you are recovering nicely. You look very happy in the last photo. Are your mice some kind of strange western breed? I’ve never seen a NYC field mouse be that athletic. The robins, of course, are adorable. We’ve had lots of rain in the past few weeks although Sunday was beautiful. NYC is very green. I hope you recover quickly.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; it’s really green here, too. I mean, for here. I seem to be on the mend. This happens about once a year, and, well, I won’t go into how the guy I live with knows it’s happening, but he does, and knows what to do to help me get better. The robins are really cute and the cheeping is extremely loud. They didn’t get a nest of purebred border collie undercoat, which is very soft and totally excellent (I know, because I wear it). The guy I live with forgot to make a place, like a wooden platform, for nesting material and put the undercoat on it, after it was raked off me of course, as well as other stuff, though the squirrels did tear up some of the burlap for nests. We’ll try to get a picture of the mice boxing. The guy I live with doesn’t like having mice in the house, at all, but mice in the garden are okay, since they’ve always been here. They stand on their hind feet and bat at each other with their front feet, like boxing. It’s pretty cute. Not to introduce a grim note or anything, but there are definitely fewer mice here than a few months ago.

  2. Oh, Chess, thank you for the light-hearted Chess photo at the end because, sweetheart, you truly did look ultra-pathetic in the first shot. Must be the double whammy of thunder and bacterial infection.
    The color of the hybrid echinocereus is gorgeous. If you squint the right way, it almost resembles a miniature poinsettia bloom even though echinocereus is not euphorbia. *Of course* put the plumeria out in the rain. I’ll bet the plant is happy the guy you live with finally figured this out. When it rains here (sadly rare), out in the rain our houseplants go. Except for the fishtail palm which is too heavy to heave around, so indoor confinement is its own darn fault.
    Are you sure you do not have flying mice? They swirl around pretty darn fast and seem to levitate. The L.A. Film Festival is in session currently; think about entering the short films category next year.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. It’s clostridium. I’m feeling so much better now. There’s a story behind the echinocereus. Several years ago the guy I live with had noticed a peach-watermelon-mango-flowered echinocereus in the display garden at Timberline Gardens, and he asked the owner if there were any more, and was told they were in the back greenhouse, Fred or Ethel, forget which (most nurseries name their greenhouses, I guess), but that a well-known horticulturists had been back there just yesterday, and so, with heart sinking, the guy I live with raced back to the greenhouse, saw there were four left in a flat, and bought them all. Whew, huh. Houseplants here often get put out in the rain, but for some reason the plumeria never has been. There have been some very interesting article in the Cactus and Succulent Journal about the effects of rain on cactus which ordinarily grow in high pH soils, and how to mimic this by watering with a nitrogen fertilizer derived from ammonium (and not urea). Apparently the cactus react very quickly to the change in pH around the roots, after it rains, and then they flower. Well, we can see what the plumeria thought of the rain, can’t we? It didn’t rain enough that some could be caught in buckets; the guy I live with said he would use that to water the baby cactus which are now out on the patio, but it didn’t happen. It really needs to pur down in order to catch rain in buckets or dishpans, and it was just a gentle rain that lasted for hours. Maybe they are flying mice. Though they seem to be getting very fat.

  3. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    Great photos. It sort of bothers me that the red, so very red echinocereus excites me so much. I’m supposed to be focused on blue this year, after all. But I can imagine the above photo printed off & framed & hung on a wall. My wall, to be exact. One of them.
    The other day I noticed a fledgling robin on our deck railing, being fed by an adult robin. Cute, I thought. Then I said, “Hm.” Sure enough, the robin’s nest in the star magnolia was empty. Vaya con Dios, little bird. It looks like your robins are close to fledging.
    I’m looking forward to the seeing the mice box. Just seeing them scurry is pretty amazing.
    And Chess, I’m pretty sure anyone who has the energy to look that ultra-pathetic must really feel ok. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

    • paridevita says:

      I’m feeling much, much better, thank you. I only take the antibiotic for a couple more days. That’s always worked for me. Don’t know why we don’t have baby blue jays this year since the yard is so bird-friendly, but we don’t. We have lots of wrens so maybe there are wren babies, but they’d be so little we could hardly see them. It is an amazing red. With purple in the center.

  4. Oh that echinocereus flower is gorgeous! I’ve been watching a tiny bud develop on one I brought back from T or C, NM. I hope it’s a deep rich color like yours. Oh and btw, since you share so many images/movies of the critters moving through your garden I thought you might enjoy knowing there was a bear in my back garden night before last. Seriously. And yes I live in urban Portland. Crazy!

    • paridevita says:

      A bear! Tumty tumty tum. Glad we don’t have them in the garden here. We have Bear Creek to the north of us, and that’s probably enough. Think the echinocereus is a hybrid of E. coccineus and E. fendleri, but maybe something else. The flowers on all echinocereuses are gorgeous. E. dasyacanthus, which we thought wasn’t hardy, sailed through the last brutal winter, several plants growing in two feet of pure gravel, and flowered. Huge flower. Try to find some E. lloydii or E. roetteri; those are both natural hybrids with spectacular flowers, particularly the latter.

  5. petabunn says:

    Hi Chess, you look scared witless or off your face in the first pic, maybe it’s both. Sorry about the thundery weather. At least you can be distracted by your guy’s garden and the wildlife in your garden. Those mice are really funny things. I hope yur birds keep cheeping loudly to drown out the thunder.

    • paridevita says:

      Fortunately, today, it was nice (according to the guy I live with), which in purebred border collie terms means paw-blisteringly hot. I was also subjected to the indignity of getting myself shampooed. I don’t know why he likes hot weather so much. Of course, he isn’t covered with a luxuriant coat of purebred border collie hair.

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