caulk and vernation

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you yet another didactic post, as well as some news relating to our modern lifestyle. You may remember me from such posts as “Selling Insurance”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.

It wasn’t very cold out when my picture was taken, but the snow isn’t really melting as fast as the guy I live with would like. You should hear the complaining. He says that snow is like having a house guest who constantly talks about the same thing and outstays their welcome.

“Quite unlike rain”, he said, gazing out the window, wistfully. I like snow, but the guy I live with has issues with me trying to “fly” when we go on walks in the snow.

“Mind the leash”, he says. He’s old, and what with the hormone therapy, his bones are becoming brittle, and if he falls down, he might break something, and just lie there, while I’m racing around tugging on the end of the leash. I suppose that if that happened, I could drag him back home, though he’s pretty heavy.

Since it snowed, things here have pretty much come to a standstill in the garden, and the guy I live with talks about how boring all of this is. Sometimes he just sits there, rocking back and forth a little. Or stares at the floor.

I forgot to show this curious picture which was taken a few days ago.

The guy I live with said those were marks made by the fiendish hands of Snow Demons trying to get to the surface. They kind of looked like they were made by bird wings, to me, but he said no, Snow Demons. We obviously have widely divergent opinions about snow. 

It turns out that what you do when it snows, when you’re not outside, is to do stuff inside, and when the boredom gets to be too much, you decide to do a thing that you meant to do a while ago but never got around to doing, even though you didn’t really want to do it , but it needed to be done, and then when you started in on it, you discovered things you didn’t want to discover, and had to work out a way to fix them, without using too much colorful language.

The guy I live with re-caulked the bathtub. I watched. It was extremely boring to watch. When he got to one end of the bathtub, right down at the bottom outside corner, he discovered that water from the tub had gotten under the tiles on the floor, and the tiles just came up, so that had to be redone, which made the whole job even more disagreeable.

Once the tub had been re-caulked, plastic had to be taped around the tub so he could take a shower. Like me, the guy I live with is obsessed with cleanliness, and likes to bathe every day. This is what the tub looked like after the plastic was taped around the faucet end. I’m sure you’ll be impressed. It’s kind of like an episode of “The Red Green Show”. You can see that the grout around the tiles needs to be cleaned, too. 

Meanwhile, when the day came for me to go to Day Care and play with my friends, the guy I live with went out with his friend, and they went to a bookstore, where he found this book, which he’s going to give as a present. He looked through it and said the writing was really good like others from the same author. And that if you like things like this, English gardening, Sissinghurst, roses, a sort of romantic, wistful approach to gardening, then you might like, even love, this book. 

So here I am talking about gardening again. Of course I can’t talk about fog, or mist, or drizzle, or rain, at this time of year, when the garden here is covered with snow, hard crusty cold white stuff which the guy I live with is the horticultural equivalent of having to stare at a spot on the wall for three straight days and then write a paper about it and deliver it to an audience of people who think staring at spots on the wall is the most exciting thing ever, but I can talk about snowdrops.

Yes, snowdrops again. There are none flowering in the garden, because of the snow, but there are some flowering upstairs, in what is technically the master bedroom but has never been used as such. It’s just the guy I live with’s room, and has been since he moved into the house with his wife, who had rooms downstairs.

This is a double snowdrop, called ‘Ailwyn’. I see a sad face here.

Since I’m under constant pressure to talk about snowdrops, because the guy I live with would rather be gardening than just sitting here wondering when the snow and cold was going to go away, which leads him to wondering why he lives in a place where such awful things happen, which brings him back to snowdrops, I thought I would talk about the main way to distinguish them, which is vernation. Vernation is the way the leaves are arranged when they emerge.

There are three ways to distinguish snowdrops. Then after that, there are what you might call subcategories to distinguish them, but these are the main ways.

The first type of vernation is called applanate. You can see how the outer leaves are parallel. The second type is called supervolute. One leaf clasped within the other.The third type is called explicative. The outer edges of the leaves are rolled backwards. The species that has this is Galanthus plicatus, which the guy I live with says should really have been described as “G. explicatus”. Plicatus in Latin means “folded”. So there you have it. I hope you were able to stay awake during this lecture.

I’m going to let you go now. I know this was yet another one of my non-linear posts, but I am a purebred border collie, and we do tend to become distracted occasionally. 

Until next time, then.

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under the willow tree

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you a post which may best be described as a salmagundi. You may remember me from such posts as “Some Adventures”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. And, I should say, a favorite pose, too.

This next picture is me, yesterday, waiting for the beeper on the oven to go off, signalling that whatever was being broiled is done, and that I don’t have to worry about it any more. I don’t like beeping noises. 

It turned out that the guy I live with had forgotten to clean the broiler pan from the last time, and the oven started to smoke, so he decided not to broil whatever it was he was going to broil. So I was able to come back inside. You can see, though, what kind of a day it was. Dry.

Things changed today. It snowed. The guy I live with said it was the strangest January snow he’d ever seen. It was wet, like a spring snow. Maybe because it wasn’t very cold today. Usually if it snows here in January, it’s cold. He said that maybe for once the snow would be like rain in January, sinking into the ground instead of evaporating.

One thing I should say, as an aside, is that we are not entirely sure why replies to comments don’t always appear on the blog. I answer everything, as maybe you’ve discovered, using the email program, so there should always be an even number of comments, but sometimes there aren’t. Who knows why.

Bunches of other things happened today; most of them not hugely interesting, but so little happens around here that I thought they might be worth reporting.

The guy I live with got a cane in the mail yesterday, from Brazos Walking Sticks. It’s really nice; made from Texas oak, though it might not be. He doesn’t really need a cane, but thought one would be nice, and maybe he could fend off some of the unleashed dogs we encounter on my walks. That sounded pretty unlikely to me. There are quite a few canes here, all of them inherited, I guess, but he wanted his own.

Then there was the ocular migraine. The “light show”. Or, as the guy I live with called it, a”pre-migrainous scintillating scotoma”. The guy I live with said he had had about fifty of these in the last thirty years. They aren’t dangerous; just annoying. Lots of people have these; I think more woman than men get them. They last about twenty minutes. He doesn’t get migraines, with a headache. His doctor said, though, that he should have his retina looked at when he mentioned them, and when he got his eyes examined for glasses he got to see things like his optic nerve, which he said was cool. Everything was okay.

The reason behind this has more to do with the uninvited guest that anything else. His doctor told him to go on an aspirin regimen quite a while ago, and the ocular migraines stopped. When he had the biopsy, he had to give up the aspirin a week before, and then forgot to start again afterwards, and the day he remembered was the day he had an ocular migraine.

So since he’s having “a procedure” next week, he had to stop the aspiring again, and sure enough, he had another ocular migraine. He can hardly wait to be able to take the aspirin again.

Today he shoveled the walk, driveway, and sidewalk, then shoveled the walk, driveway, and sidewalk of his neighbors two doors down, and three doors down, and across the street. He’s supposed to be exercising more, these days, so I guess that was a good thing.

And the snowdrop catalog came in the mail yesterday.


Of course, snowdrops were ordered.

Snowdrops are also being read about. (Not aloud to me.)

Apparently this is an utterly delightful book, full of pictures, and stories of gardeners who were “rather keen on snowdrops”.

Which leads me to the actual snowdrops in the upstairs bedroom. Some re-arranging took place today, then everything was re-re-arranged when the re-arrangement turned out to be unsatisfactory. The snowdrops are growing about two millimeters a day. 

Galanthus elwesii ‘Abington Green’.


Galanthus angustifolius.

Okay, enough of that. I don’t find snowdrops anywhere near as interesting as my walks, which are almost always totally excellent. Today’s were no exception.

This is me, if you didn’t know, on my way home this evening. I didn’t know right then that I was being watched.


This is what being watched looks like.

We walked under the willow, and looked back. You can see the owl if you look closely. In the first two pictures, it’s more or less directly above the piece of branch lying on the canal road.

Then it moved.

I had to be dried off with a towel when I got home. I like that a lot more than I did when I was little; I would attack the towel and make it impossible for the guy I live with to get me dry.

I’ll end this somewhat discursive post by showing another picture of the kitchen, taken last night, when pozole was being cooked on the stove. Pozole rojo con pollo, if you wanted to know. Some people spell it posole. The guy I live with doesn’t. 

Until next time, then.


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