cactus and snow

Greetings and salutations everyone; here I am again, Chess the purebred border collie, ready to delight and enthrall you with the news from our garden. You may remember me from such wonderful posts as “The Sphinx” and “Dumb Garden Pictures”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. The guy I live with says this is my “spoiled look”.


I’m not really spoiled, of course, because the soft Pottery Barn sheets I get to sleep on weren’t the most expensive ones the guy I live with could have bought, so that proves it as far as I’m concerned. Oh, and if I look extra cuddly here, it’s because I am.

Anyway, I know the other day I showed a picture of salt shakers, full of portent and mystery, but almost nothing happened today, and what did happen had nothing to do with salt shakers. Partly because we got up early and so the guy I live with decided to take a nap at about 8:30 in the morning, and then he took another one after lunch. No wonder not much gets done around here.

There are some baby cactus, just up after being sowed a couple of weeks ago. These are echinocereus, and despite what some people say you need to do to germinate these, he just sprinkled the seed on top of the soil-less mix and watered it a little, and up came the baby cactus.


The guy I live with also did some looking at plants out in the front yard, which I said a while ago you’re not supposed to do and yet he does anyway, and so he did it again.




This is me, doing the looking from my post in the living room. People try to talk the guy I live with into getting new windows, which we could use, maybe, but he says the ones we have offer the same effect as peeling stucco on houses in towns along the Mediterranean. He says it’s “shabby genteel”, and I’m sure he’s right. I’m the one who adds the elegant touch.


The hesperaloes look pretty good after the cold spell. This is Hesperaloe campanulata. I’m supposed to say that all of these plants are growing in about two feet (60cm) of pure gravel.


The Yucca linearifolia doesn’t look as happy. The inside leaves are beginning to look like they wish they’d never left Texas.


One of the new manzanitas looks “semi-iffy”. These were planted just a couple of months ago and never watered, which the guy I live with says is the only way to get them to overwinter if they’re grown in pots with organic matter added. He knows a lot about how to kill manzanitas. The cage is because bunnies like to bite off the branches for no really good reason.


And then the flowering kale. The outer leaves are history, obviously, but the guy I live with says the middle parts of the plants look “moderately okay”. He’s not a kale expert.



So that’s the front yard. Or what pictures he took of it anyway.

In the back yard, the new Yucca rostrata plants look very good. There are three of these in the back yard; they came from Timberline Gardens and ultimately from Black Gap, in Texas, which the guy I live with says sounds like a town in a 1930s John Wayne movie. He says the yuccas should have trunks “in no time”. I know elephants have trunks, and I can’t picture this yucca with one, but here it is anyway.


He also says the one called ‘Sapphire Skies”, which he’s tried a couple of times, has never made it through a winter here. I think you can see that someone has been nibbling on the lower leaves of this one. The plants have that to contend with, too.

Here’s a picture with the sun streaming into the garden, late in the afternoon. I don’t know who knocked over the empty flower pots half way down the path, but it wasn’t me. You can also see the one straight line in the garden, made with a piece of wood. The guy I live with doesn’t know what to do about it. He keeps saying “something needs to be done”, but nothing ever is.


Well, I tried to make this interesting, but I can only work with what I’ve been given.

I guess I’ll go now.


Until next time, then.

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11 Responses to cactus and snow

  1. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    I loved seeing the baby cacti (cactus/cactuses), which I have never seen before. There’s just something exciting about starting things from seed. And you’ve given us portent and mystery to look forward to. Plus your purebred elegance. Even though nothing happened today. Hm.

    Something did happen here. I was looking out the kitchen window just as a bald eagle was flying past our house. We live about 7-8 miles from the Ohio River, so we don’t see eagles in our neighborhood very often. This was only the second time in 11 years I’ve seen one here. Enough pleasure for me for one day. Plus portent and mystery to look forward to.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with raises a lot of cactus from seed. Since he doesn’t have a greenhouse, he says they only take about twenty years from seed to flower. Not bad, huh? We have bald eagles flying around here fairly often. Always when he doesn’t have his camera. They’re pretty exciting to see. Being elegant is a lot of work, though. (P.S. The salt shakers do have a lot to do with starting things from seed…..)

      • Deborah S. Farrell says:

        I have visions of salt and sand being shaken (not stirred) dancing in my head. I love words as much as I do flowers (sometimes more, depending on the time of day & phase of the moon, like tides), and I was just taken with the phrase ‘portent and mystery’ — so I keep repeating it. Maybe I’ll even write it down in the notebook I keep beside my computer for writing down words I like and things I want to remember. I like watching the Decorah eagle cam — which is trained on an eagle’s nest in Decorah Iowa. But seeing them fly over my head is indescribably more exciting.

      • paridevita says:

        Eagles flying overhead are pretty exciting. Having one land in the yard would be even more so, but we aren’t sure what an eagle feeder would be like. Maybe a can of sardines or something. My mommy liked sardine sandwiches but eagles never showed up. And King Oscar kippers, too. Speaking of her, which the guy I live with does about once every minute, she admired Calvin and Hobbes, like any normal person would, and wrote Watterson to tell him how much she did, and somewhere here there’s a letter from him thanking her. Well, you may indeed wonder about the Calvin and Hobbes reference. “Portent and mystery” should be pronounced, in Calvin fashion, “portent ….and myssstery”. …

  2. But the beakers? Salt shakers, yeah, but the beakers?
    My husband just walked in the book room with a plate of what the guy you live with instructed him to make. He says you don’t even need the chicken, the rice is so good. Soon as I can stop myself commenting, I’ll taste too. Comes from 600 curries, remember?
    Baby cacti, cutsie. I admire the rest of the garden shots too. My eye can pick up the plants better against snow and damp gravel. I think your garden look marvelous, Chess. I’ve never been a fan of flowering kale, but if that is an albino variety or alba or whatever, I’m now a convert.
    As for your delicately veiled elegance, a quiet wowza. If that photo were hung at the upcoming L.A. Photo show ( held in Santa Monica) people – me- would pay Very Large Sums, I’m sure. Great photo somewhat in the style of a Ruth Bernhard which hangs in our kitchen, plus you, Chess. Yes, wowza, and maybe not so quiet.

    • paridevita says:

      I suspect that the beakers might be a red herring, or, even more likely, he just bought them because he could, and they weren’t expensive at all. They look very scientific. I know he thought about getting an Erlenmeyer flask or two, and maybe even a retort, to look even more scientific. The guy I live with cooked almost everything from 660 Curries for my mommy, who loved Indian food and demanded he cook tons of vegetables. Her favorite things, though, were from a self-published Indian cookbook. Red lentils were her favorite of all. You wash a cup red lentils, then bring to a boil in 3 cups of water, skim, and then add one tablespoon of mustard oil, 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric and cayenne, whisk, and cover until the lentils are creamy, and add some salt. Then lentils will bubble and splatter. Turn down the heat, and prepare the “chaunk”. In a saucepan, heat some mustard oil and fry two or three dried red chiles until blackened, and a teaspoon or two of cumin seeds. Spatter guard recommended. The guy I live with does, or did, use mustard oil despite the dire warnings from western governments, and despite its very low smoking temperature. He says you can also use regular oil. Not olive oil though. Then the chaunk gets poured into the lentils, stirred, and that’s it. We’ve never grown kale before. It was on sale, and he said sale kale was irresistible. A dollar a plant. The last kale picture was a whitish one, with a pinkish center. Very large sums, eh? I was wondering why he insisted on taking my picture when I was supposed to be getting cuddles followed by a biscuit. I eventually did get both, but I had to wait.

  3. She was very blessed to have all the 660 curries cooked for her. I bought that book a year ago for Allan, who does like to cook, but he has made nary a one!

    • paridevita says:

      Time to start cooking, I say. I hear the fusion penne with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes and dill is really, really good, but I never get any. Page 673. The “Indian sloppy joes” are really good too. (Kheema paav, p. 91.) There was an Indian restaurant here, run by vegetarians, who made excellent sheesh kabob, and a jalapeno pickle that my mommy used to “scarf up”, according to the guy I live with. Everything there was good, the owners were very nice and friendly, and made things slightly differently from other North Indian restaurants. He almost cried when the restaurant closed.

      • Thanks for the encouragement which I WILL pass on to Chef Allan.

      • paridevita says:

        Yes, get cooking. My mommy used to demand vegetables, cooked with “digestive spices” like turmeric and ginger and stuff, and so the guy I live with would cook and cook and cook. He substituted firm tofu for paneer because he has sort of the same problem that Leonard Hofstadter does. However, he will say that Mr. Ayer is wrong about cooking basmati in a rice cooker; there is a Zojirushi here that cooks it perfectly. We purebred border collies like rice too.

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