the haunted toaster

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news about our modern lifestyle. You may remember me from such posts as “The Bulb Frame”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.Those Pottery Barn sheets are really soft, if you didn’t know. I’ve learned a great deal about their excellent qualities in the last couple of years. Sometimes it’s not easy to drag myself off of them to go do something. I’ve learned that from someone else who lives here.

It rained last night. Not a huge amount, but enough so that the guy I live with could say that it was raining. Then later, some time in the night, it got down to a little below freezing.The birdbath isn’t level, as you can tell. It needs to be leveled, and then the heater needs to be set up.

There was even some snow on the foothills. This is looking to the southwest.There were two hawks in the sky this morning, to the north. I think there’s only one in this picture.Anyway, a couple of other things have happened. One kind of major, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

There are some crocuses still flowering, but the main action, such as it is, is in the Snowdrop Frame. There are snowdrops up. Most of these are early-flowering ones, planted here so that they could get the sun and attention (watering) that they needed. Eventually the guy I live with says he might divide them and stuff. I suppose “eventually” means “probably never”, but it is possible that he might actually do some of the things he says he’s going to.

The frame is covered with translucent plastic. You can see me guarding the frame if you look really closely.Maybe this is a better angle. The frame is totally guarded, as you can see.Those green leaves behind me are Lilium candidum, and they should be green like that, right now. You plant this one fairly early, at the end of summer, like September, and not too deeply, and it grows these tufts of leaves which overwinter.

Well, this is what happened. You see that other little “portable greenhouse” on the left? Hard not to miss it.The guy I live with was sure there was a snowdrop coming up there, an early one called Galanthus peshmenii, because he was given a couple of bulbs and planted them there. Or so he thought.

Not much was happening to the green shoot coming up, so he decided, after debating for a while because usually when he decides to dig something up that’s the end of the plant, but he dug down a little, and saw roots, so he knew the bulb could be dug up. In other words it wasn’t planted very deeply.

So it was dug up. The guy I live with looked at it and thought it was kind of odd for a snowdrop, and that it smelled like onions. Snowdrops don’t really smell like onions. So it probably wasn’t a snowdrop after all. It got moved into the frame anyway, just to see what would happen.

When it was moved there, he noticed some other green shoots coming up near a label that said Galanthus peshmenii. One plant already flowered, so now he has no idea what’s going on.

“Maybe I moved them there a while ago”, he said. Like he moves plants in his sleep. I had no idea at all. It was important to him, anyway.

Now about the other thing. This is pretty major.

I think the toaster is haunted.

This is it, here. It has this cloth over it, because it’s always had a cloth over it. Some things around here stay the way they were for a very long time. But I don’t like the toaster.

It gives me chills just to show you this.

I wasn’t afraid of the toaster for a long time, and then suddenly, some time this year, I decided it was scary. Not just regular scary, but ultra scary. The guy I live with thought that was funny, because he said the first purebred border collie who lived here, Flurry, was afraid of the toaster, too. Like it was haunted or something.

At that time it was like a model from the late nineteen-forties, probably insulated with asbestos, with a cloth-covered electrical cord. The toaster stopped working a couple of times and the guy I live with repaired it. The lady of the house loved the old toaster and making toast with it, but Flurry got so upset when toast was made that the practice was discontinued. Flurry lived to be seventeen so there was a long period of no toast-making in the house.

The old toaster finally broke, and a new one was purchased. The new one didn’t have the “character” of the old one (or the asbestos) but eventually it became part of the household and toast was made regularly again. If it could be toasted, it was.

But now ….well, the guy I live with doesn’t make toast very often, so I’ll just have to be super alert.

Any other news I might have pales in comparison to the scary toaster, but we haven’t seen the muskrat in a few days. We looked. You’re supposed to be able to see them around sunset, which is when this picture was taken. The guy I live with said it was probably working on its fort, for the winter. It’s important to have a fort.And there are things to look at in the garden. Maybe not incredibly interesting things, but things, nonetheless.

Viburnum farreri has buds now. The guy I live with says the buds are “focus-proof”. Just because he can’t take a good picture of the buds, I’d say. And so does Daphne blagayana. This daphne was found by Count Blagay on his estate in Slovenia in the early nineteenth century. It’s been here for a while now. It kind of lies flat on the ground, the way it should. Reginald Farrer, after whom the viburnum was named, said, in The English Rock Garden, that you were supposed to pile stones (preferably limestone) on the branches because that helped it grow. We haven’t done that yet, and so the guy I live with says the daphne will probably pass away, but if it does, it will make an interesting, if short, story.Then there are bunches of cyclamen. These are Cyclamen coum. They all came from the guy I live with’s late friend in New York, and have seeded around like crazy in the last quarter century. “Show the willow pictures!” I was getting to them. The guy I live with has been taking willow pictures, at dusk. So here they are. We think this is Salix amygaloides, the peach-leaf willow. 

We haven’t even walked down to the Big Scary Willow yet. I guess we might do that later.

Okay, I think I’ve pretty much covered everything. I’ll leave you with a picture of me on my morning walk, so you can see the impressive shadow I cast. (The guy I live with said it looked like a wild boar.)

Until next time, then.





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muskrat rambles

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you some wildlife-related news. You may remember me from such wildlife-related posts as “The Green Horrors”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I was waiting to go on my evening walk, and wondering why I had to have my picture taken instead. It snowed the night before last but by yesterday morning the snow had all melted. Otherwise, hardly anything has happened here.

We did see a whole bunch of what the guy I live with thought were flycatchers in the bushes by the canal. He doesn’t know much about birds, though, and the camera battery died after the took this picture. They were very tiny birds.And there was the hawk. That was a few days ago. I got really excited because there was something large and scary next door, and I barked so much, in the way I do when there are scary things around, that the guy I live with had to look over the fence in the corner of the yard, where the fence is just chain-link, and there was this huge hawk.This picture was posted on Facebook but I thought I would share it here, too. The guy I live with went to get the “big camera” but the hawk jumped down on the ground because it was eating something. We found the remains of what it was eating when we went on my evening walk, later; it must have dropped it as it flew away, or it was finished.

Talking about wildlife, the guy I live with and his friend went to the museum while I was at Day Care. He said it was probably just as well that the museum didn’t allow purebred border collies to wander around the exhibits because there was an exhibit of really big dinosaurs there. I might have liked to study velociraptors a bit more, but I heard about the Suchomimus and Gigantosaurus and decided it was best that I didn’t get to go.

Today we did some gardening, mostly cutting back things that needed cutting back, and sticking some potted plants into the ground (what they call “plunging”) so that they’ll be more insulated over the winter. That is, instead of planting them.

We saw the hawk again on my morning walk, but it was too far away to get a good picture. We also looked for the muskrat but the canal was empty, as far as we could tell.

On my evening walk, things were different. There were ducks. There are always ducks here, though. This time there were more, because there are usually only two. We moved pretty close to the bank on the south side of the canal, and the guy I live with started saying things. The muskrat was there, and he didn’t have his camera ready.

He got the camera out and took pictures just as the muskrat went under water. If you look really closely you can see the muskrat’s tail still sticking up out of the water, about where that one piece of dead grass crosses the canal and goes over the bunch of dead grass floating in the water. 

So we waited.Then we could see the muskrat’s head. See it, there?And then, finally, the muskrat.

The guy I live with said “Ha”, and then we went back to the important business, my evening walk.

It turned out that there were seven ducks in the canal. That might be a record. Seven ducks; definitely a record. I lead a pretty interesting, bucolic sort of life, as you can tell. We don’t really live in the country, but almost.

These days my evening walk takes place when the sun is setting. It starts to get chilly, but I don’t mind.

The guy I live with said that was a contrail from a jet, flying to Los Angeles, maybe.Sunset over our house.That’s all for today. It’s supposed to warm up a bit and so maybe we can do some more gardening tomorrow.

Until next time, then.





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