a change of pace

Greetings everyone; it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, once again, here to delight and entertain you on this busy, busy day. You may remember me from such posts as “Trouble In Paradise” and “Big Flat Rocks”, among others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. The guy I live with thought this was “artistic”, which is why it’s so bad.


This is me in my fort. The guy I live with scrubbed the top of it yesterday, but the bottom still needs work. Not that I care; I’m a dog, after all. I’m lying on a soft bathroom rug from Pottery Barn, and really roughing it.

Well, you may know that the guy I live with has been busy planting bulbs, but yesterday he got a shipment of hens and chicks from SMG Succulents and spent two days planting those. He didn’t get a lot of them; he’s just slow.

A lot of plants in the troughs had died over the last couple of years, because he forgot to water them or something else happened, so he got this bright idea to replace them with hens and chicks, since, technically, they’re easier to grow. He got some larger ones a while ago, to go in the Mexican clay pans which were empty, but he says the smaller-rosette ones work better in troughs.

These are forms of Sempervivum arachnoideum. Some of the rosettes are really tiny. Each of these clumps was about three dollars. SMG sends really nice plants.






The only problem with this “stroke of genius”, as he called it, is that Earl (Earl the squirrel) thinks it’s fun to tear the rosettes apart and leave them lying all over the place, which is why the Mexican clay pans were empty, so the guy I live with had to cover the troughs with what he said was, oh, well, “hens and chicks wire”. (I have to live with things like this, you know.)

Maybe Earl won’t be able to get to the plants now. We’ll see.

In other news, the owl was out this evening, though we didn’t see it. Some of the garden visitors knew it was there, though. The lawn mowers, you know. They’re being very, very still. The dirt part of the picture is where the guy I live with didn’t sow any buffalo grass seed this year.


In fact, they’re so still that the guy I live with could get fairly close to them. I don’t think they find him very scary.


One more thing before I go. For years this bird house has been sitting on the work bench in the garage. The guy I live with didn’t know where it came from. It was just sitting there. He decided today that it needed a coat of shellac. (He didn’t get around to it.)


He noticed something strange about the bird house when he brought it out onto the patio. (The green thing is a vintage washtub my mommy bought.) You can see the pencil line around the bottom of the body of the bird house; this wasn’t a present, or purchased, after all. My mommy would spend a lot of time in the garage, at the work bench, and this is a bird house she made. Now the guy I live with doesn’t know whether to shellac it, or put it back on the work bench. He often doesn’t know what to do, and so usually does nothing. He figures that’s the least intrusive thing he can do, living on the planet and all.

He grew up with things like shellac (the stuff made from bugs), varnish, and that silver paint that had black streaks in it until you stirred it, and had a smell like no other paint. (He can still smell it, just like he can smell the inflatable swimming pool he had as a little kid. I mean, he doesn’t smell them like right now, he can just remember.) His grampa showed him how to shellac things, which was the same as varnishing things or painting things, except with shellac.

In fact, after my mommy died, he didn’t know what to do that Christmas, so he painted the inside of the house, the same colors she picked out, and he mostly used a brush, not a roller. Except on the “popcorn” ceiling, where he used a special roller, and paint and popcorn flew everywhere, like small curd cottage cheese, which by the way I think is really good. He couldn’t say “popcorn” because my buddy Slipper, who was probably getting sick then but it didn’t show, knew what that word meant, and would wait for him to get out the popcorn popper, so the guy I live with would spell the word without any vowels when he told people on the phone what he was doing. That almost never works with border collies who can spell.

I was surprised at how steady his hand was, painting straight lines. His grampa showed him how to do that, when he was just a kid. He even used a special paint so we wouldn’t breathe fumes, and neither of us got paint on our hair, though my buddy Slipper did lick off a bunch of fresh paint, which made the guy I live with kind of mad.

I do digress, don’t I? The guy I live with says that most of life is a digression, which sounds really deep, but probably isn’t. He took another picture of me, also supposedly deep, in an “artistic” sense, which in this case means totally out of focus, but, so he says, “evocative”.

I’ll say goodbye then, and yes, that really is my nose.




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6 Responses to a change of pace

  1. The parts about your mommy, Chess, really tear at my heart. But then — cute bunnies! artistic photos of yourself! chicks and hens! And that is one handsome birdhouse. On balance, life *is* digression. Keep telling your tale, Chess dog.

  2. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    Bird houses are generally not shellaced, varnished, or painted (I used to work at Wild Bird Center).

  3. Tears at my heart, too.

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