the sand man

Hello everyone; yes, it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, yet again. You may remember me from such posts as “After The Equinox” and “Leafage And Branchage”, among so many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. That is, wondering why the guy I live with is trying to take my picture instead of giving me the biscuit I so desperately need. And of course instead of focusing.


Yesterday, this appeared on the driveway after our morning walk.


It was almost dejà vu all over again. The difference was that this was sand. The guy I live with spent all day moving sand, which he said was extremely boring, but not nearly as boring as it was being me, stuck inside the house, instead of herding the wheelbarrow around the garden. The guy I live with said it would hurt if one of my paws were run over by a wheelbarrow full of sand. I knew that wouldn’t happen, and I was sad. I even howled a little, which I learned from my buddy Slipper. In fact, my buddy Slipper really knew how to pour it on; when he was sick, and the guy I live with had to leave the house for what he insisted was “a very good reason”, my buddy Slipper would say, in his saddest voice, that it was okay if he got left but he was really sick and might not be here when the guy I live with came home, but it was okay to go ahead and leave him if he was willing to take that horrible chance.

The sand went into, or onto, “the new rock garden”. He’s calling it that now instead of “the pile of gravel” because he says that’s more evocative. I’m sure he’s right.

It looks way too high to me. He claims it will settle during the winter, and, horror of horrors, he won’t be planting anything in it until this time next year. In other words, he has to wait.


There are few things in life that are worse than having to wait. I wait a lot. I prefer instant gratification, like most normal creatures. But the guy I live with says it’ll be worth the wait, because patience is a virtue, etc.

He says the sand and gravel will change color over the winter. And that he has to dig a little compost into it.


You can sort of see how high it is with me standing there. I’m not especially huge, if you didn’t know.

The guy I live with said he has to think very carefully about what he will plant there, since he piled the gravel there to grow more of the kinds of plants he wanted to grow, and can’t give in to temptation in the mean time. I don’t know how he’s going to manage that. “Giving in to temptation”, he claims, “is the essence of gardening.”

Well, whatever. The pile of gravel, in truth, isn’t so weird as it might seem like it is, because there’s a raised bed on the other side of the path, and in fact the whole back yard, except the “way back” is a bunch of raised beds. Digging in the soil in the flat part of the garden is exactly like trying to spoon out frozen ice cream. (The soil in the “way back” is much, much better; it’s the natural soil here.)






Right at the bottom of this picture is a small plant of Daphne arbuscula, in flower even as I type.



And. for the sake of nostalgia, here I am when I was much younger, sitting on the park bench.




What else? There’s not much going on, or, maybe there is but no pictures have been taken of it, except these funny little fungus things that popped up in the lawn.


They came from the bagged compost the guy I live with strewed all over the areas he seeded. I think they’re spooky.

I guess that’s all. Oh, there’s a really silly picture of me that I might as well share. These pictures get taken because the guy I live with spends a lot of time sitting on the ground with his camera, waiting for something to happen, and I come out to see what he’s doing, and I like getting really close to him, and he thinks it’s funny to take my picture when I’m right in front of him.

Until next time, then.


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14 Responses to the sand man

  1. There’s a heart-shaped fungus in the photo, Chess! Even fungus loves you. You are, in the current slang, completely, totally adorbs, puppy to dog.
    Appears to be a fine fall day in your hard, gravelly, sandy, riverine Way Back soll spot in the world. Now, of course, I want to grow me some daphne. Oh, the name alone.
    Perhaps sitting on the ground brings on some of the person you live with’s aches. Waiting for something to happen can take a long time. Consider discussing the topic with him.

    • paridevita says:

      Adorbs? The guy I live with says that could go away any time. Oh, the things people do to the wonderful English language. (Even me, of course, but I’m a purebred border collie, not Sir Thomas Browne or James Joyce.)
      Daphnes are excellent. The scent of their flowers alone recommends them, as the guy I live with might say. He does get irked when they suddenly up and die on him, but it’s something they do, sometimes.
      The reason the guy I live with has aches is that he’s, well, not to mince words or anything, old. He would say I’m just as old but I’m only 11.

  2. petabunn says:

    Hello Chess, I immediately spotted the heartshaped fungus also and thought it was there for you. It looks like a beautiful crisp day in your garden today. I like your mini mountains. We used to have two of those scare cats but some silly person ran over them with the lawnmower and we never found any more. You look so sad waiting for your biscuit so I am going to focus on the last photo of you today, what beautiful teeth you have especially for an 11 year old.

  3. The garden photos are especially gorgeous today.

  4. Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

    English is indeed the most dynamic of languages. And perhaps uniquely malleable. I have the most profound respect for any adult human who learns English as a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) language and speaks it with fluency. As a canine, my mastery of the language is limited to comprehension, although I have been known to mutter “d’oh!” occasionally, but this I would say not insignificant achievement appears to go unnoticed by my human charges.

    • paridevita says:

      My grampa Flurry said “Aurora” once, when he was yawning and talking at the same time. He talked a lot, like sled dogs do. Aurora is a city east of Denver, but he didn’t get to go there.
      He also knew enough that when someone said “helicopter” he would run outside and look up.
      Funny, the guy I live with refers to my dinner as d-n-r. Like I don’t know what that means. When he dragged me to the emergency vet last year, when I had my episode, he told the vet, and his sister who came with him for support, that it was almost d-n-r time, and that caused a great deal of confusion.

      • Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

        My family has also taken to spelling around me when they don’t want me to understand what they are saying, as if figuring out what s-q-u means is too difficult for me! Try spelling it in Sanskrit and maybe you’ll stump me but s-q-u? Really? I try not to take offense but it really is insulting to have my intelligence underestimated in this manner.

      • paridevita says:

        My grandpa Flurry used to chase snakes through the garden, and my mommy and the guy I live with had to stop saying “snake”. They couldn’t even spell s-n-a-k-e. So they called them “cylindrical reptiles” or “guests”.
        He was also deeply disturbed by the toaster, which made my mommy really unhappy, because she loved making toast, and could even say the word, because my grandpa Flurry would completely freak out. They had this vintage toaster that was probably lined with asbestos, which the guy I live with said gave it added flavor, but my mommy had to make t—t in the oven, which was much less satisfactory. When my grandpa Flurry passed away at age 17, my mommy could finally make toast again, and the guy I live with rewired the vintage toaster and replaced the vintage black-and-white cloth cord with a non-vintage but still cloth one, and she made toast, until the toaster finally died, and they had to get a new one, which made my mommy very sad, until she saw how nice the new toaster was.
        We still have that one but I don’t eat toast. Only because I never get any.
        The other word no one could spell in the house was “popcorn”, but that was because my buddy Slipper would go wild with excitement. He hated most appliances but would lean his elbows on the counter and watch the air popper do its magic.
        Oh, and “overwrought”. My grandpa Flurry tended to get that way, and if someone told him not to get so overwrought, he thought that sounded an awful lot like “go for a ride”. And then he went completely crazy. Because he liked to ride in the back of the pickup they used to have, jumping up and down and barking his head off.

  5. Knicky Twigs says:

    I love a new project in the yard. Even other people’s!

    • paridevita says:

      My mommy was the Project Person. The guy I live with is not one. He defines a Project Person as someone who collects a bunch of junk and says they might have a use for it “someday”. It took her 15 years to get the “trough patio” started, and it wasn’t finished when she died. There were two pallets of flagstone sitting on the driveway for a year, and one morning the guy I live with backed his new car into the flagstone, and the next day he told my mommy it was time to get started on the patio.
      The guy I live with just does stuff. He got the fence put up, then the “new rock garden”, then set a 4×4 to brace the fence surrounding “the enclosure”, then tomorrow he plans to fix the downspout which burst last winter, and then build an arbor in the side yard to mirror the one at the west end of the side yard that my mommy built.
      He also plans to put a fence along the back of the yard, with fancy openings for border collies to look out through.

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