trouble in paradise

Hello once again, everyone; it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, who says he “ate something he shouldn’t’ve” and is under the weather, and so I, who always eat the right things, am here to provide you with delightful and entertaining posts. You may remember me from such posts as “A Beautiful Day” and “On A Rampage”, among others.

Here I am looking slightly bemused. My ears are way back because I’m being forced to pose for my picture. A picture which makes my legs look silly, if you ask me.


Well, the first thing that happened, and it really happened several days ago but the effect is only now beginning to be felt, is that the guy I live with suddenly decided that the garden needed fifty lavenders. That’s right, fifty lavenders. Most people would decide that a couple of lavenders would do, but no, he had to have fifty lavenders. He just got this book on Mediterranean gardening and so for some reason he thinks that if he plants lavenders, the garden will look more Mediterranean. I can’t follow that reasoning. It might not even be reasoning.

His real excuse was that he didn’t have these particular varieties. That’s some excuse. A few have already been planted, in the North Border, which as you may recall he said was “half disaster and half catastrophe” a while back. I would say now, and half full of lavenders. Half a total mess, too. This was the first part of the yard made into a garden, and it’s been going downhill for about twenty-five years.

You can see a few here, especially near the Havahart trap which is just there for looks.


The guy I live with says for me to lighten up because most of them will probably die anyway. That’s some optimism we have there.

There are more lavenders coming in the mail, as well as some other, non-lavender plants, and I wondered where they were going to go, until, over coffee one morning, the guy I live with said, “I do have a horror of the straight line”, which made no sense to me at the time.

More lavenders are supposed to go here. Look at all that empty space on the right, he says. True, this part was demolished when the fence was put in, but “all that empty space” I don’t know about.


Oh, the straight line. There it is right here. See, the guy I live with thinks he has an extra foot or so of potential garden if he pulls out that piece of wood which has been making that straight line for many, many years. “Plenty of room for lavenders there”, he says.


True, the path has always only needed to be wide enough for a border collie, and I almost never use this path any more, except to help the guy I live with pull the hose along, because I have this one, which we’ve shown pictures of before, but now it’s got the wood mulch he promised it would have. I might point out to him that this path is sort of in a straight line, but it would probably do no good at all.


I also tried to mention that Einstein said that space was curved, and if that’s so, then isn’t every straight line ultimately curved, even if imperceptibly? The guy I live with says Einstein wasn’t a gardener. Or if he was, his garden space would have been curved.

Here are the other paths which he shows pictures of all the time. The guy I live with, not Einstein, I mean. They are both slightly curved. The thing in the middle, which the guy I live with also shows pictures of all the time, is what he calls “the lawn”. Both of the paths leading back to the patio are really paths leading from the patio out to the “way back” which I made when my buddy Slipper was here. Slipper used the path along the North Border because he liked to run in straight lines. He was a border collie, just like me, after all. So I don’t know why the guy I live with says that about straight lines. I think he just wants extra room for more lavenders.


My mommy, who did most of the actual design here (instead of just digging and then planting and saying “Look, a design”), would have none of this no straight lines business. Here are the steps she built up to the patio. They’re as level as anything can be.


The part of the patio which she finished is also straight, and as level as can be.


The extra catmint, the trough covered with chicken wire, and the crooked bowl filled with cactus, are artistic touches the guy I live with added later.

The “enclosure” (which is no longer enclosed because the guy I live with ripped out the big lilac which was helping to enclose), has a fancy lintel or something right by the entrance. It’s straight. The low level of maintenance here is the fault of the guy I live with.


So that’s what’s going on. I thought this wasn’t all that interesting, but later in the evening, when the guy I live with was looking for the end of the hose (he says “Follow the hose and you’ll find the end”, which I guess he thinks is really “deep”, since he came of age in the Sixties), and the big scary owl was in the way back doing owl things. It flew off, across the green belt. Same tree as before.

Anyway, now you know what’s been going on. Every day has its excitement, as you can see.

Until next time, then.



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14 Responses to trouble in paradise

  1. Susan ITPH says:

    Are said lavenders big or little? Cause I’ve got about 25 lavenders kicking around, but 20 of them are little things and will form a little hedge. At least that’s the idea.

    Just curious—what you do with the bunnies if they get in the trap?

    • paridevita says:

      The lavenders, assuming they grow, will be mostly big. The “plan” here is to have a whole lot of lavenders, so that when the garden gate is opened to let in visitors, they’ll say “Look at all the lavenders”.
      There were lots of lavenders here before, but the Great Vole Invasion winter of 2009 did in many things, and then there were other rearrangements in which the existing lavenders suffered.
      The trap is not open. It’s just to show who Really Runs the Garden. Works well, too.

  2. Vivian Swift says:

    Yay! You got your mulched path! That must feel so good on the border collie tootsies.

    I’m a Capricorn. I can’t live without straight lines. And I think Burle Marx’s garden designs are fatally flawed because of his curvy-line fetish, don’t even get me started.

    I like the lavender plan — tres South of France. I want to see Chess in a beret.

    • paridevita says:

      We don’t like lines at all. I, the dog, am a Pisces, but the guy I live with is a Cancer, like William Robinson.
      Les straight lines, à bas!
      You can see that his conception of the garden, which is only coming to fruition after a quarter century of contemplation, can be reduced to two words, “barely navigable”. I mean if a garden were an ocean.

    • Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

      My Grammy says she is living proof that Capricorns can overcome their innate need for straight lines. She says she thinks it all started when she threw away her bra–it sorta opened up a world of new possibilities, is how she describes it. Give it a shot, Vivian—what do you have to lose?

  3. Pete/Outlaw says:

    Chess, if the mind of the gardener is slightly bent, can he conceptualize straight lines? Can a line be curved? Fifty lavenders sounds like a lot but I suppose it’s cheaper than a Mediterranean cruise.

    • paridevita says:

      Why yes. Take a look at Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Anything can be imagined.
      If you have to modify the word “line” with “straight”, then there can be curved lines, too.
      Fifty lavenders aren’t very many to someone who thinks a hundred is almost enough, and, of course, I might point out that on a cruise one would encounter no lavenders, unless one disembarked at some port known for its profusion of lavenders. A cruise sounds scary anyway.

  4. Fisher says:

    Hello, Chess. Fisher, the Wonder Dog, here (at least that’s what my Grammy likes to call me, but I’ve heard my Mom tell people that I am an English Shepherd, which I think is really just a fancy name for a good, capable farm dog–we look a lot alike, actually. Go figure.). Anyway, my Grammy has been reading your posts to me and she and I have enjoyed them greatly. I have very limited writing experience, having written only one Email in my entire life and that was a year or so ago to my Mom and Dad when they were away on a trip and I was with my Grammy–I missed them sooooooooo much, even though Grammy and I did lots of fun things, I know you will understand that it’s just not the same, ya know? Like a piece of my heart was just not there. My Grammy helped a lot with that Email, but for this one she thinks I am ready to do it all by myself, so here goes!

    Basically, I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your updates on your life with the guy you live with. It almost breaks my heart when you mention your Mom, cause I know how down-hearted I would feel if anything happened to mine. Even though I have a pretty big extended family who all love me, and I do my best to look after all of them, my Mom is by far the most special person in my heart and my reason for getting out of bed every morning—quite literally, because she takes me for long jogs and then we do things like eat wild blueberries that we find in the woods that we run through. Nothing beats being with my Mom and I can’t help but be sad when she is away at work, even though I know she will be home “soon”. I can’t imagine what it feels like having to live knowing that your Mom is never going to be home again. It’s very sad for me to even think about, but you do seem to be trying to make the best of things, as I am sure your Mom would want you to, and I have no doubt that you are a great comfort to the guy you live with, even though he may not always allow himself to fully appreciate you. I bet the guy you live with misses your Mom as much as you do so you are very lucky to have each other at. My Grammy also recently suffered a sudden, unexpected loss. It happened before I knew her, but she has talked to me about it a bit, so now when she is sad and extra quiet I know it’s not because I’ve done something inappropriate–I know she is just lost in thought, a phrase I have heard people use but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it means!

    But on a happier note, please tell the guy you live with that my Grammy and I wish him the best of luck with his lavender. We both love lavender, but my Grammy says it’s such a struggle to grow it here, because we have a lot of humid, foggy weather in the summer and in the winter the wind BLOWS a lot. She is still looking for that perfect spot in the garden where the lavender will be happy, to which I say: Good luck with that!, which is an uncharacteristically cynical position for me to take but sometimes you just have to face reality. My Grammy, however, likes to say that a little denial can take a person a long way and so I guess this is why she continues to try to grow lavender.

    Well, this has gotten way longer than I had planned. I’ll let you go now–I just wanted to take a moment to touch noses across the ether. Take care, Chess, and take good care of the guy you live with and please keep blogging.

    Your friend,

    • paridevita says:

      Hi. Pretty good for your first. We don’t have fog here, or dew, or anything like that. I do agree that a little denial can take a person a very, very long way and you should see how far the guy I live with gets on it. He thinks he’s Thomas Hanbury and this is La Mortola, sometimes.
      Thanks for the kind words, too.

      • Fisher says:

        I think the guy you live with and my Grammy harbor similar delusions. It seems to help keep my Grammy happy, as there are occasionally those rare days when the weather is actually like what it must be on the Cote D’Azur or the Rockies. On those days she says that the weather is nice enough to almost make a person want to live here. Since I’ve never lived anywhere else, it’s all a very strange concept to me. I look forward to your next post. Wag on!

  5. Plenty of room for lavenders. I think.

  6. pamit says:

    Lavenders are the best plant in my garden. Rodent / rabbit proof and they reseed like crazy. I cosset the little plants, harvoring visions of lavenders crowding out the vinca and columbines (a strange combination, I know) in the kitchen-window bed.

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