a beautiful day

Namaste everyone; it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, once again. You may remember me from such posts as “Disgrace of the Week” and “Last Seen Wearing …”, among other superior contributions to the blogging literature. Here I am in a characteristic pose. Characteristically out of focus, too.


It was a really beautiful day, and the guy I live with was pretty happy all day. So happy you would have thought that Sharon Stone had called and said she’d go out with him, but really, it was just a beautiful day, and he planted things all day long. I haven’t seen him so cheerful since the day before my mommy died. He ordered a pizza in the afternoon, and I got some, but not as much as I thought I should have gotten. I tend to think that pizza is for me, and that he eats it just to spite me. I get most of the bed at night, so I guess it evens out, except for me not getting all the pizza, that is.

The guy I live with spends a lot of time not doing anything, and also, I must say, spends a lot of time not being Edward Weston or Ansel Adams. Find the hummingbird in this picture. It was on the Penstemon barbatus which you can barely see in the foreground, and then it wasn’t. (You can also see the big empty space where he chopped down the huge mugo pine.) Seriously, there’s a hummingbird in this picture. Just not on the penstemon.

What I should say, really, is that if you have nothing better to do than look for a hummingbird in a picture that isn’t a picture of a hummingbird, even though it was supposed to be, then go ahead and look for it.


Then, the guy I live with noticed a cactus in bloom. He is certainly one big noticer of things. It’s been sitting in a pot on the patio all summer, and you would think that he would have noticed the buds, but I guess he didn’t. This is Echinopsis densispina, which he got from the Huntington’s ISI offerings this year.


There was some mention of the path in the back leading to the south side of the garden, and this is what it leads to. A raised bed with Oenothera caespitosa, Yucca pallida, sphaeralceas, and some native grasses, with a tiny nursery behind that. All of the plants in the nursery are dead, which says something, I guess. This is the basic color of the garden as a whole, not just this raised bed, I mean. (What it really is, is a pile of dirt he threw on top of a bunch of branches and stuff he was too lazy to get rid of. Like, when in doubt, cover it with dirt.)



On the left is the “employees only” section, employees being me and Tania, his imaginary gardening assistant, and there’s a path that leads about twenty feet to the south. I’m the only one who goes there, though. It’s kind of scary, but I can see out through the fence.

The path also goes right, and the guy I live with has shown pictures of it before, with the dead grass which he promises to replace with something soft on the paws, like mulch. Lots of plants have been removed in the garden on the left and replaced with native dryland grasses. He’s supposed to pull out the piece of wood in the right hand side of the path and keeps saying he’ll do it, but he doesn’t.


If no one minds how totally brilliantly I can segue into my main topic here (border collies are mostly brilliant, you know), allow me to draw your attention to the poles. A couple of nights ago, the guy I live with and I walked back into the “way back”, which this is, and we were startled by an enormous owl sitting on top of the pole on the right. It was scary. This has happened before, and he did a post or two about it, but I’m doing the posts now, so they’re more interesting, of course, and way scarier.

Of course you know what interested the owl.

So this evening, while I was watching TV, the guy I live with heard some weird noises and snuck out into the field with his camera. This is what he found.


He moved to the south a little.


The one on the right was making the weird noises. You can see its mouth is open. They were probably talking about what to have for dinner. It’s a good thing I’m slightly (slightly) overweight, huh?


They’re really big and scary, and they have these special feather on the leading edge of their wings so they can glide through the air noiselessly. Which they do a lot. Sometimes even over my head.



Well, there you are. Big scary owls, and a beautiful day even though I didn’t get all the pizza, like I should have.

I better go now.


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18 Responses to a beautiful day

  1. Cliff Booker says:

    Still reading and enjoying, Chess (and Tania) … the latest blog was an absolute hoot (’employees only area’ … wonderful)! We are off to California imminently … please continue to brighten our days on the coast and in Lassen.

  2. Kim Bone says:

    Owls! are amazing…

  3. Vivian Swift says:

    My heart was pounding just looking at the photos of those owls. I’m amazed they sat for you — I though owls were terribly anti-human. I’ve only seen one owl in my life, a teeny tiny fella in Chincoteague, and that was exciting…to have TWO in my backyard would probably make me faint. Yes, I know they were probably shopping for bunny hors d’ouvres, but I forgive them.

    In Algonquin, owls are called “hush wings”. I read that somewhere and I hope it’s true.

    • paridevita says:

      Hush wings is cool. They were in a tree across the green belt; so many dead branches this year, I suspect from the cold snap in April, but it adds to the frisson.
      The owls are so common in this neighborhood people are blasé about them. Tiny neighborhood of 303 houses, separated by a green belt with a creek (always dry now), open spaces all around (no strip malls or stores of any kind, which is unusual), so, owls.

  4. Vivian Swift says:

    I found the hummingbird! It’s at 3 o’clock from the top orange flower and it’s waving!

    Yes to Raymond Chandler, who wrote on little strips of paper to make himself put something great on each so that when it was converted to print he’d have a sparkler on every page; and Non to Proust although but I do like the first 32 pages of his big book because that’s how long it takes him to describe falling asleep and that amount of digression fascinates me.

    • paridevita says:

      Waving, yes. If you embiggen the picture it is easier to see. (Simpsons reference. Obviously, there’s a Simpsons reference at the beginning of every post done by the dog. Cindy was a huge Simpsons fan. Knew all the dialogue. “There’s a New Mexico?”)

      I think Tristram Shandy outdoes Proust in the digression area; if I recall Uncle Toby knocks out his pipe on one page, then 300 or whatever pages later, he finishes knocking it out.
      Let’s see. St. Petersburg by Andrei Biely; Mysteries by Hamsun; At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien, The Erasers by Robbe-Grillet; Despair by Nabokov (I made Cindy take that book home with her on our first date, though I was already in love); Nadja by Andre Breton. Maybe some others. Kerouac at his best. (The house where he stayed with his mother in 1949 is still here, about ten minute’s drive away.) Everything by Ross Macdonald. “The Whosis Kid” by Hammett as a model of short story perfection.

  5. Glad for your happy day.

  6. linniew says:

    I finally get photos of a hummingbird and now you have raised the bar to owls, TWO together and such images! But then maybe you got all the way through Tristram Shandy too…

    One morning I did find a young white barn owl trapped behind a fireplace screen. Came down the chimney in the night. I opened a window and then moved the screen and he made a quick exit. I never thought of a photograph. I guess a beautiful owl incarcerated in a fireplace wouldn’t have been such a great photo even if I’d not been insane with panic.

    • paridevita says:

      No, I think “owl in fireplace” might be interpreted the wrong way…..since practically everything is, these days.
      Two owls was pure serendipity. They’re still out in the field, in the cottonwood, squawking. “I’m tired of pack rat. We had pack rat yesterday.”
      There are bald eagles here, too, but they only fly over when they know I don’t have my camera.

      I got all the way through Tristram Shandy. My English professor had the nerve to be angry at me because I rarely attended class, and didn’t read the books assigned, so I though doing something like reading a zillion-page-long book in 18th century English would create the impression that I was interested. It was the early Seventies, what can I say. I remember the black page, the mote in Widow Wadman’s eye, and Uncle Toby knocking out his pipe.
      One of the things I did get out of all this was the ability to feign interest. “What you are saying is indeed fascinating. Tell me more.”

  7. linniew says:

    One time I took a picture of a bald eagle. I used my phone camera–it looked like a shot of the sky with a piece of gravel flying over.

  8. Kim Bone says:

    I enjoyed your owls so much this summer, I couldn’t resist sending this; http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/27-delightful-obsolete-words-its-high-time-we-revived

    I saw an owl at Vona Bates this summer I think it was a screeching owl? It was small about 8″ and his little head rotated around with my every move, it was fuzzleing!

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