the awful smell

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to delight and amuse you with true tales from our garden. You may remember me from such amazing and spectacular posts as “My Garden In Spring” and “Mister Always Right”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.


It was a pretty nice day today, as perhaps you can tell.


Believe it or not, this is typical weather for this time of year. Some people here freak out because it isn’t cold and snowing, like it “should” be, but we think those people are weirdos and we just ignore them and go about our very important business.

The guy I live with thought maybe the titanopsis would burst into bloom. According to him, “they almost did”.


These are in the front garden, right below the living room window. When the guy I live with went out there to take this picture, he also decided to spend some time looking for the source of the “awful smell” which has been lingering in the front yard for several days. I noticed it, and didn’t care much, but the guy I live with said it smelled like something had died.

He claimed that the smell was so bad, and so pervasive, that some plants in the back yard were even trying to climb out of their troughs to get away from it.

Saxifraga caucasica

Saxifraga caucasica

Draba cappadocica ...or some other draba

Draba cappadocica …or some other draba

saxifrage with label buried too far into the soil to find

saxifrage with label buried too far into the soil to find

Saxifraga grisebachii

Saxifraga grisebachii

Well, ha ha. The guy I live with got out the rake and starting raking very carefully, half not wanting to find anything, you know, how you would when it might be something really gross. Though, as a dog, I can’t really relate to the idea of something being gross; I prefer the term “interesting”.

He didn’t find anything. He even lit some incense out in front to “destinkify” the front yard while he was working. It didn’t help much.

Then, the guy I live with looked very intently at the flowering kale in the pots on the driveway; he even bent down to sniff it. This is the result.


He never ceases to amaze me. I mean, what powers of deduction. Even though we purebred border collies are herding dogs, if he had asked me where the “awful smell” was coming from I could have showed him on the very first day.

I guess I could end this post right here, but I don’t really feel like it. I have some pictures of the garden taken from a border collie’s point of view. A purebred border collie, of course.

“Like that would make a difference”, the guy I live with said. Well, it might, you know. The white part in the left corner is me.







See? It doesn’t look too much different, just, I don’t know, lower, maybe. And the trees and shrubs look higher, of course.

Oh, and some more deduction. The squirrel discovered it could push the feeder lid open far enough that it would stay open. I think it isn’t supposed to do that, but it did. You can see they’ve been chewing on it, a lot, and the guy I live with has been replacing the parts with metal.





I suppose that eventually the whole feeder will be metal. “Even the sunflower seed will be metal”, said the guy I live with, but I think he was just trying to sound tough to the squirrels, who pay almost no attention to him at all.

I guess that’s it. You can probably tell we had a very interesting and fulfilling day, as usual.



Until next time, then.

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8 Responses to the awful smell

  1. Love the last photo, the one showing you in the midst of having a very interesting and fulfilling day. Of course, looking at your leadoff portrait – Chess, happy – makes me happy.
    Those are sassy squirrels who seem quite capable of eating metal sunflower seeds.
    Oh, I can recognize from the saxifrage photos that my husband has several kinds growing. I pay them no attention because they’re not heritage roses. Madame Joseph Schwarz is in bloom today with a scent dense with spice, perhaps the anti-kale.
    Assure the guy you live with the different photo perspective remakes the garden as intimate and approachable. Chess line of sight is an excellent line of sight and maybe should be cultivated. We mostly already know that.

    • paridevita says:

      As I understand it, at one time there were 43 old roses here. My mommy didn’t like them because they had thorns (though she took lots of pictures of them), and she especially didn’t like it when the guy I live with told her roses didn’t have thorns. We don’t have roses in bloom here in December. Most of the roses are gone now anyway, removed during the first phase of the Great Upheaval. The guy I live with is a very fickle gardener. He would have made a good Henry VIII.

  2. Tracey says:

    My neighbors have flowering kale – I’ll have to go sniff them. For some reason they are popular winter plants in front of local apartment buildings in NYC. The feeder may last longer now that it is propped open. The guy you live with may find that the squirrels who were too dumb to open it were the ones who were chewing on it. The genius squirrel has solved that problem. Your yard does look great from the Chess line of sight. I’d like to see a titanopsis blooming – they don’t look like live plants to me- more like something from Mars.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with did in fact did have to show one of the squirrels how the feeder worked. He got the kale because they were a dollar a plant and they looked nice up until a few days ago when they suddenly didn’t, which coincided with the smell, which, he says, turned out to be a rotting cruciferous vegetable smell. The titanopsises, or titanopses, have flowers similar to delospermas and others of that ilk. Several of the mesembs, or “squishies” as he calls them, do bloom here in the winter, if it isn’t freezing cold. The thought of NYC brings a tear, or more than just one, to the guy I live with’s eye, thinking of being there with my mommy in January 1999, holding hands walking from the Guggenheim at night past Central Park, in the rain no less (it doesn’t rain here in January), stopping at a coffee shop and looking out at the January rain, then the next day going to a real Kosher deli and having pastrami sandwiches and knishes, and then going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where my mommy got to see all the paintings she knew from books. Sargents, etc. Typically, she didn’t want to go on the trip, and then talked about it all the time afterwards. Seeing Manhattan at night from the BQE, all lit up, the Brooklyn Bridge (“how many dawns, etc.”), stuck in Friday night traffic but listening to an excellent jazz station, and rain.

  3. Tracey says:

    It’s funny that you remember rain that January of 1999. Later that month, I adopted a feral kitten who I had been feeding for two weeks. I finally got him to come inside when it began to snow one very cold night late in the month. I awoke to six inches of snow on the ground, and a kitten who is known in my family as the “Mythical Cat” ever since no one except me ever sees him.

    It sounds as though the two of you had a wonderful New York experience!

    • paridevita says:

      It was pretty great.
      The guy I live with’s parents had a cat that no one ever saw, too. The food bowl would be emptied from time to time, and sometimes people reported “seeing” the cat, too.

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