Hello everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such riveting posts as “As Above, So Below” and “One Thing Follows Another”, among so many, many others.
Here I am in a slightly ridiculous pose. I don’t know why I looked like that, but I did. It’s been really, really hot, though the guy I live with says I’m exaggerating, that it hasn’t been that hot, it’s just that I’m a purebred border collie, and we don’t like hot weather.
Here I am being hot again. Squinting in the sun, too. I’m really ready for winter, with no heat or thunder, but the guy I live with says I have to endure the next few months, and that it might even get hotter. Over eighty degrees, even. (That’s about 27C.)
Today the guy I live with said he had to go get his hair cut, and he was beginning to look like a dandelion gone to seed, so he left me alone for a while. I just sat in the house and baked. The curtains were closed, which made it cooler, but not that much cooler. He says I could have gone down into the laundry room and slept on the cool concrete floor, but that sounded like too much trouble, and I can’t guard the house from down there.
Then he went to Timberline. Instead of coming back home. He’d called early in the morning to see if the cactus were in bloom, and they weren’t, completely, yet, but he went anyway. I don’t know why he goes to nurseries if there isn’t a good reason to, but he does.
Some of the opuntias had started to bloom. The guy I live with says that this is just about the most impressive floral display in the state. The opuntias have plenty of room to spread out, are in total full sun, and treated with loving kindness. This one might be called ‘Mandarin Orange’ (not the pink one). There’s a label, but he forgot to look at it. He says he’ll go back in a few days with “the big camera” and take more pictures, while I fry at home, of course. Though, the forecast for this weekend is for cooler weather, which I like, except not at this time of year.
Back at home, we have cactus, too. Here’s Echinocereus coccineus, one that the guy I live with grew from seed. (The cage is for seedling calochortus, in case you were wondering.) A few raindrops on the flower. And the obligatory picture of Asphodeline damascena. It blooms in the afternoon, and always does this three- or four-story thing. Self sown, too. There’s been a colony of these ever since I can remember.The reason why it looks so empty over on the left, there, is “because it just is”, which I guess is an okay reason. There was a mugho pine there which was getting too big for its britches (I guess pines have britches, though I didn’t know that), and it was removed, leaving a big empty space. There’s an oak in a cage at the extreme left. You can see the fancy hook thing he makes for the cages, so no one can sneak under them. There are oaks in cages all over the garden. And of course the lawn oaks. Caged oaks aren’t a metaphor, though you might think that they are, since we do the metaphor thing all the time, but in this case it’s because rodents, in particular squirrels, can smell the remains of the acorn still there, slightly underground, and go digging for it. Like they don’t have anything else to eat here.
Oh, oh, I almost forgot. Remember I showed a picture of the robin sitting on the nest, in the Abies lasiocarpa? Well, there was a reason to sit on the nest.
It was a little difficult to take this picture since the nest is up high. Baby robins. I can hear them cheeping sometimes.
I guess that’s all. It’s been raining and thundering for at least half an hour now, and I’m really tired of it. The guy I live with tried to explain that if it gets a lot hotter, like the way he prefers it, then I don’t have to worry so much about thunder and rain, and, uh, the other thing, but I just want winter to be here. I do admit that sleeping on my soft Pottery Barn sheets at night, with fan blowing blowing cool air all over me, is pretty good, but winter is much nicer.
I’ll just wait out the rest of spring and summer.
Until next time, then.
Hi Chess, I like that first pic of you, you look jaunty or something not ridiculous. Bummer about the heat for you when it is still only spring. Not being a purebred Border Collie like you I like the 40 degree C days as much as the 5C days, unlike my mum who would like it to be 24 all year round. You don’t want to sleep on a concrete floor, tell your guy, it is bad for the elbows and you will end up with bad arthritis. There is nothing like Spring when all the baby birds are cheeping away in their nests. Here at the moment there are no small birds mainly Magpies some Rosellas and Noisy miners the odd Kookaburra and noisy Corellas which fly over in flocks at all times of the day and night but don’t land thank goodness. We haven’t been sleeping well and hear them at random times like 2.30 in the morning, I guess they never sleep. Anyway they are annoying. So cute in your fort!
Robins do pretty much the same thing here, start chirping even before the sun comes up, which is way earlier than I’m used to getting up. We enjoy a very laid-back lifestyle (mostly) and the guy I live with likes to pretend he’s Mister Equanimity, but you should have seen him this evening when he saw this weekend’s forecast of “cooler, unsettled weather”. Well, whatever. The guy I live with said tonight that three tornado warnings over our house in the last five years are more than enough, thank you very much, considering that in the previous twenty-five years there was one. He says the weather here is worsening. In fact, you know how everyone talks about climate change, well, he says it’s really Climate Worsening and he was even going to try to trademark that like everyone trademarks everything these days, and make a fortune. My mommy never let any of us purebred border collies lie on concrete for just that reason. Arthritis and stuff. What I do instead is go lie on the floor in my mommy’s studio, which is pretty much just as she left it, and I feel okay there. I was promised an evaporative cooler last year and nothing has come of that, and now the guy I live with is talking about an air conditioner. Well, you know, talking about an air conditioner isn’t the same as having one, and so I think it’s about time to stop the talk and do something about it, so when it gets really hot here I don’t completely roast.
No breeze stirring, Chess? Sweltering in the house with shades drawn and doors closed is how we handle heat here, and it isn’t well handled at all. We’re at the beach! Air conditioners shouldn’t be necessary except that lately they are. When the sun isn’t beating directly on the house, doors are opened for a nice cross breeze which relieves the roasting effect.
The opuntia colors are a wonderful mix, and they do display well. We have a version of Asphodeline damascene, but, Chess, your version is much more dramatic. And I bet there is a *dramatic* story behind the shot of the cute robin nest high up in a tree filled with sweet robin babies. Zoom lens and a risky perch, perhaps. Such a fine garden, Chess, is compensation for living through spring and summer. Although in the last shot you do look a dog in for a long haul of waiting.
Oh, the guy I live with stood on a rock in the rock garden and pointed the camera at the nest and clicked, and then looked at the picture to see if anything resembling a baby-bird picture was the result. Not what a real photographer does, I think. The guy I live with says he took a whole bunch of pictures of the cactus in bloom last year, but has no idea what happened to them. Maybe he just imagined it. Can’t overstate how dazzling the display is at its peak. The guy I live with says that when he moved to Denver, in 1961, no one had air conditioners or sprinkler systems. We’ll never have the latter, but an air conditioner sounds might nice to me. Here’s a funny and completely true story. One time, on a really extra hot day, the guy I live with came home late from work, and he told my mommy that he stopped at the liquor store (he hasn’t has anything like that since she died), and spent some time in the cooler, where the beer was, and how delightfully chilly it was, and my mommy demanded he take her all the way back over to the liquor store so she could stand in the cooler too, and so he did. I didn’t get to go. My grandpa Flurry said there was a pool here for a while, before the garden really got going, and he would stand in it, to cool his paws.
We have lots of robins and blue jays here in NYC.We can also hear the racoons fighting in the yards of the neighbors at night. I am definitely awoken by the dawn chorus. I love the baby birds but I am looking forward to seeing the little squirrels.
My Maine Coon mix has taken to sleeping in his favorite two summer places – in the bathtub, or in front of his drinking fountain directly in front of his beloved Vornado fan. When it gets hotter in a week or so, I will set up the AC for him in my bedroom, and he will spend the summer sleeping in front of it. The Siamese likes the heat and stays away from the AC.He and the Maine Coon have radically different value systems and essentially ignore each other.
Your yard seems like a green and peaceful place despite the strange weather. I love most of the floors but the Asphodeline damascena reminds me of a space alien.
Sorry – most of the flowers, especially Echinocereus coccineus
We got that. Figured maybe someone had been reading a lot of Chaucer, you know, “of which vertu engendred is the flour”, et cetera. Oh, never mind.
It is kind of green, more blue-green really, and semi-peaceful, except for all the cheeping and occasional thunder, like this evening. We think there aren’t going to be any baby squirrels after all; the guy I live with says that Mr. and Mrs. Earl “broke up”. (She probably discovered what kind of guy Earl really is. Better late than never, of course.) Well, after the rescue dog nightmare, the guy I live with talked to a woman who raised “pet quality purebred border collies”, and who said that one of her dogs spent the whole summer lying in a kid’s plastic swimming pool, which sounds like the life, doesn’t it? He didn’t get a companion for me after all, as is probably obvious. I and my buddy Slipper had different value systems too. I like to go out and watch when gardening is taking place (since it doesn’t take place when it’s thundering….the guy I live with climbed telephone poles for a living decades ago and still has an issue with being hit by lightning), but my buddy Slipper would go find a cool corner in the house to sleep in.
I hear you about the heat, my friend! I got raked the other day and that helped a bit, but still….I can’t stop thinking that the worst of it is ahead of us. It makes me envious of thems who can live in the moment but being a purebred English Shepherd, by definition makes me not one of thems as I have plenty of responsibility on my shoulders and so I must always be planning ahead. My grammy puts a kiddie pool out for me in the worst of the heat but I never step foot in it, as I do have my dignity to consider and a kiddie pool is just beneath me, unless, of course, there are kiddies in it, which makes it an entirely different matter.
The guy I live with soaks me with the hose. Talk about an indignity. He says I always act ridiculous when this happens because afterward I behave like a wet puppy, and happy and stuff. I can even shake off the water on command. But still, you know, the indignity. I must admit that the rake is excellent. The other day the guy I live with removed so much undercoat he said he could make another purebred border collie with it. What a tired old joke. But if this happens earlier in the year, the undercoat can be left outside, like stuck on a nail or something, and birds can make excellent soft nests from it, so it’s nice to think I can contribute to someone else’s coziness.
Oh, Chess — that second picture of you looks exactly like how I felt yesterday, with temps in the mid-80’s and over 60% humidity. I call days like that “Elmer’s glue days” because it feels like I’ve stepped into Elmer’s glue when I step outside.
And your travails remind me of my beloved black and white terrier mix, Jake. We lived in an old house with two ancient window air conditioners when we lived in Michigan. Some summers we rarely used the AC, but when we had a hot summer, we would turn on 1 of the air conditioners (they were both in upstairs bedrooms) and close the door. We called that room “the cool room” — where we would go to cool off when we got too hot downstairs. Jake loved the cool room, and would stand & scratch on the door to be let in. If we didn’t respond quickly enough, he would bark to let us know he REALLY wanted to cool off! The summer we moved here to southern Indiana, it was over 90 degrees every day in Michigan — it was so hot for so long that even the basement lost its coolness. That year it was as hot in Michigan as it was here, 300 miles south, and that heat wave led us to move a month earlier than we’d initially planned because the house we rented here had central air.
The difference between the heat in Michigan & heat here is the bad air quality in the summer. I saw this map yesterday. You can clearly see that dark line, indicating the worst air quality, following along the Ohio River. It also looks like Denver has a darker blotch over it.
It’s surprising that the Ohio River Valley has bad air. I thought that was in Los Angeles and Denver. We didn’t used to have smog here but now we do. The guy I live with was just reminiscing to his best friend about his paternal grandparents. To make a long story short, which the guy I live with never does, his grandfather retired from his job at an architectural firm in NYC and they sold their apartment in Scarsdale, NY, and moved out to Denver. Prior to moving to Denver, his grandfather put everything in my grandmother’s name, because he had a bad heart, and in fact he died of a heart attack on June 2, 1962, in his home town of Nappanee, Indiana. The guy I live with went back there, with his parents, and it was there that he first experienced humidity. He also saw Amish people and fireflies and a Luna moth. Fireflies sound pretty scary, but people say we have them here, now, too. Anyway, we would consider the humidity to be unbearable at twenty percent.
Part of it is the geography of living in an east-west valley, I guess. All sorts of crud (like pollen) settles here. Part of it is that I sort of misrepresented what the map is showing — it’s showing how air quality would improve with the carbon reduction Obama has proposed — the darkest colors benefit the most, which means they now have the most pollution from coal powered plants, which are often along rivers. There’s a coal-powered plant along the Ohio, just a couple of miles west of us, visible from the Kennedy (I-64) bridge. On the news they talked about the billions that could be saved in medical costs for asthma, which is rampant here, if the carbon is reduced. I think L.A.’s smog is more from autos, maybe. When my brother lived in Redondo Beach, he used to say, “We don’t trust air we can’t see.” (I don’t like air I can taste!) What I remember from visiting him is the non-stop line of airplanes coming in for a landing at night — the sheer volume just boggled my mind.
Nappanee, yes. I’m familiar with the area, but more familiar with nearby Goshen and its Mennonite College. My dad’s paternal line were Mennonites who came to the U.S. in the mid-1700’s & settled in Pennsylvania. The second house they built was built of stone & it still stands (although no longer owned by the family), and I’ve been inside of it — a very moving experience. The 3rd generation guy (my 5 times great grandfather) married a Lutheran girl, and our line lost the Mennonite connection. He also fought in the Revolutionary War, making me eligible to join DAR, but that doesn’t particularly interest me.
I found an Allium caeruleum that looks promising — and with the common name Blue of the Heavens, hard to resist.
In the South they say they don’t trust air they can’t feel. Also heard that a percentage of pollution comes from gas-operated lawn mowers. Don’t have one of those. Have a push mower, and of course bunnies. It hailed again here. A certain party, who claims to be equaniminous (whatever) about it all, wasn’t so much. I hid downstairs.