more little things

Greetings and salutations everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to tell you all about my day in the garden. You may remember me from such posts as “Little Red Elephants” and “Revenge Of The Rodents”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. Notice that I’m outside, for once. 14083009It was mostly a nice day today; I got to go on my walks without hearing thunder, and didn’t get struck by lightning.

The guy I live with did some gardening today, while I watched from the patio. I don’t do much gardening myself, though I do help with fertilizing, sometimes. Only one really strange thing happened, and that was when some small branches from the “thornless” honey locust were lopped off. 14083011 14083010The honey locust was here when my mommy and the guy I live with moved into the house in December, 1985. It’s never had thorns before. I think the thorns are because the guy I live with has been watching The Twilight Zone a lot.

I’m supposed to show more pictures. Here’s a picture of the main sand pile, just to show we do have flowers in the garden.(If you embiggen the picture, which was taken with the zoom lens, you might be able to see some flowers ….)14083005I know I’ve shown pictures of the Sphaeralcea ‘Desert Sunset’ many times before, but here are some more. It comes in different colors.14083014

14083013Ipomopsis (or Gilia) rubra again.14083015Agastache rupestris.14083017 14083016The first flower on Cyclamen confusum (or Cyclamen hederifolium var. confusum, or just plain hederifolium.) 14083012We had a visitor today, later in the afternoon, and the guy I live with was able to get some pictures, in varying degrees of focus. He was able to creep up on the visitor; I’m not sure why. I also don’t know how he could see it in the first place, what with his eyesight and all. 14083008




14083003That’s really all I have for today. I’m grateful that it was a nice day, and got to lie out on the patio rug for hours. I did have to get up early this morning, about nine o’clock, so lying out on the patio made up for that. I also got brushed, which was nice. 14083001


Until next time, then.


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24 Responses to more little things

  1. You look so very nice, Chess, brushed, and happy from lying out on the patio, supervising. You do supervise; right? I’m sure your supervision is a reason why your garden looks so lovely, especially Sphaeralcea ‘Desert Sunset.’ Definitely a plant which belongs in my garden, and I’ll take any color I can get. My dogs Petey and Shredder get brushed every night after their evening walks. Doesn’t take as long to brush through the tangles if it’s done consistently, I find. They reward me by brushing against fragrant plants when they visit the garden for what you call Tinkle Time. Then they jump on the bed so I can puzzle out which section of the garden has received their visitation on that night. Fun for everyone. Tonight I’m falling asleep with the image of your excellent garden, Chess, embiggened in my mind.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; technically, it’s “raked”. The guy I live with got this “undercoat rake” (green, made by Safari; yes, this is a plug, free one, too) which I really like because it feels good and gets out all the undercoat, of which I have a lot. Yes, Desert Sunset belongs in your garden, but it does spread underground. (You can make more plants that way.) The typical color seems to be dark red, but the pinks and real reds are part of that, too, I guess. The oranges are, we’re moderately sure, from S. incana. We’re undecided about that one, but it’s seven feet tall right now, with no watering except from the sky. Gray leaves and orange flowers, very cool. Yes, I supervise. All the paths in the garden, except for the main paths on the north and south sides, were blazed by border collies.

  2. And, oh, that hummingbird! It’s not just every guy who’s lived with who can capture those shots. (and, Chess, if the guy you live with could post on the weekend some time other than Martini Hour, my spelling might go easier. humiggb– no, hummibir– not hummib– no –)

    • paridevita says:

      For some reason, the hummingbird didn’t move as he snuck up on it. It stuck out its tongue, which would have made quite a picture, but he was too busy sneaking to get that shot. The laptop here always types “hummingbord” for some reason, and it has to be changed. Martini hour, huh. The guy I live with doesn’t drink. Not that he wouldn’t like to, but he says it’s contraindicated with the meds he takes. He used to have a few glasses of red wine in the evening, and stay up late, while my mommy and I went to bed downstairs. He would spend time writing books that quickly went out of print, or articles, or playing Magic Carpet on the Windows 95 machine, but those days are gone. My buddy Slipper liked red wine, and we both liked India Pale Ale, and porter, after the scary fizzing stopped.

  3. Max says:

    Chess, this incredibly short video made me think of you:

  4. Vivian says:

    What a beautiful bird. Miniature anythings bring out some basic human instinct to go Awwwwww. (See: hummingbirds, hopping lambs.) And now that I know that your garden is a labyrinth of desire paths created by the feets of pure bred bored collies it is ten times more wonderful a garden than the one I already held in high esteem from my many virtual visits.

    I’m glad for you, Chess, that you had an un-thundery day and a walk AND a raking — sounds like a perfect storm of happiness. That reminds me: Since I,too, spend too many wee small hours writing books whose readership is a sub-set of a sub-set of a cult following, I have decided that it would be a better use of my time to limit my wordsmithing to simply killer titles such as, oh, “The Perfect Storm” (with such a catchy title it hardly matters what the subsequent 80,000 words are about), or to coining an immortal bit of lexicon such as “embiggen”. P.S. I hardly use any other word than “embiggen” and its antonym in my everyday chatter so the other day I was discussing print design for my latest minor literary masterpiece and, wanting to sound literate in front of my publisher, I found I’d talked myself into a rhetorical corner because I could not think of the real word for “ensmallen”. After much Ummmm-ing and Uhhhhh-ing I spat out “make smaller”. I eventually found REDUCE at the bottom of a dusty, cobwebby junk drawer in my mental palace. It was right next to ENLARGE, which is, as the guy you live with knows, a shoddy stand-in for the ambition and dreaminess of “embiggen”.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; yes, we have created all the paths except the main ones. Funnily enough, my buddy Slipper made a few paths but then only stuck to the east-west and north-south ones. Maybe it was just a design feature he thought should be added. I use the diagonal paths, but he had to do the right-angle thing. The two diagonal paths going through the “lawn” are border collie paths from years past. Another word that’s the opposite of “embiggen”, which of course comes from The Simpsons (my mommy’s favorite TV show, and there’s an homage to it in every one of my posts), might be “tinify”. (Not to be confused with “tinnify” which is what you would do to old French copper pans. Though “ensmallen” is good too. The guy I live with’s mental palace is mostly filled with rooms with furniture covered, and cobwebs everywhere. The servants left long ago.

  5. Max says:

    Chess, tell the guy who takes care of you that no one has ever prevailed in a battle with J***** over botanical Latin. The earth will be reduced to a smoldering wasteland before you convince him he’s wrong.

    • paridevita says:

      We edited out the name, just to be super-polite and nice, you understand. It’s an inside reference to something on a mailing list, for people who aren’t on it.
      The guy I live with says that people who think botanical “Latin” should be pronounced like Latin are wrong, and all you have to do is pick up a book like California Flora to see the pronunciation guides. Like English words, not Latin. And, incidentally, as he’s said before, English rules for pronouncing words derived from Greek and Latin hold here. CH is always K (monarch, chaos, chilopsis); words with long vowels on the penultimate are accented on the antepenultimate (apostrophe, rhinoceros, agastache).
      The guy I live with has incorrectly identified so many grasses on our blog that he’s off the hook, as far as wanting to be right all the time.

      • Max says:

        Yes, thank you, I realized after I clicked “post” that maybe the full name was indiscreet. He has a beautiful garden and blog btw. All the botanists I know say “ay-see-ee” for -aceae, so I just ignore them.

      • paridevita says:

        You’re welcome. We can edit the heck out of posts, though think it’s appropriate to tell people when we do. The guy I live with says “acey” for –aceae. (The diphthong AE is classically pronounced as “I”, which is how you get from Caesar to Kaiser, but variably pronounced in English. The Oxford English Dictionary no doubt agrees. We are, incidentally, not in the business of telling people how to pronounce botanical names; just the opposite. We’re in the business of providing people with defenses against people who try to tell others how to pronounce botanical names, if their pronunciation is “Latin” or “Greek”. I mean, the guy I live with asks who in California says “kee-AN-o-tus” instead of ceanothus, the way it looks like it should be pronounced?

      • Max says:

        I do have a friend in California who says Ceanothus with a hard c. He also pronounces Aloë with 3 syllables, and devotes an incredible amount of time to learning how to say things the way they “should” be pronounced. As long as it’s consistent.

        The guy you live with is probably my favorite living garden writer, and I am familiar with and approve of his pronunciation position even if I don’t agree with it completely, but I am too lazy to correct people. I also had to give up gardening after leaving Calif. for less hospitable climes, so this is a spectator sport for me now.

      • paridevita says:

        Thanks; the guy I live with only corrects people when they say “oggostokky” instead of “uh-GAS-ta-kee” for agastache, since the former hurts his sensitive ears. He pronounces aloe with three syllables too, and nerine, and silene, but rarely when people are around. Check out how people pronounce “callirhoe”. He also left California, kicking and screaming, for an incredibly less hospitable climate (though the “sun-blinded streets” of Los Angeles are similar to Denver’s in their brightness, minus the smog, though Denver has that too), but that was back in the days when a working person could earn, say $75 a week, and own a home.

    • Vivian says:

      Not many people know this, but “Cicero” is also properly pronounced with a hard “c”. Something to do with a couplet composed by a contemporary who rhymed or punned it in a way that convinced a certain panel of experts to abandon the mellifluous sibilant. Makes me sad, very sad. I live on the east coast so whenever I have a query about tawkin rite I call up Boston Latin.

      • paridevita says:

        Yeah; the guy I live with says that was a nickname he got for having a funny nose. As the late Christopher Lloyd observed, the English language has enough sibilants in it already. His example, on the subject of the plural of clematis, was “She possesses sixty-six clematises.” But, anyway, knowledge of Latin and Greek is of no use when trying to pronounce botanical names. There are some attractive ones, like Zingiber (now Alpinia) zerumbet, and Liquidambar styraciflua, and some super ugly ones, like Bolax glebaria. My favorite sound is the sound of breakfast and dinner being made. (They’re the same sounds, but at different times of the day.)

  6. “The first flower on Cyclamen confusum (or Cyclamen hederifolium var. confusum, or just plain hederifolium.)”

    Hi Chess,

    sounds like the bloke you live with might have a few issues with current taxonomic trends as well . . . ? Cheers, Marcus from Down Under

    • paridevita says:

      Yeah. He says it was published as Cyclamen confusum a few years ago, and before that it was hederifolium subspecies confusum, and before that it was hederifolium variety confusum. ….. The guy I live with has serious issues with cactus taxonomy, and compared to that, “nothing is really anything”.

      • You can chuck the crassifolium handgrenade into that mix as well. I think life might have been simpler if we had stuck to phenotypes (is that revisionist blasphemy?). Phylogenetics seems to have opened up a gold rush so now whenever anyone goes for a walk they find a new species. I’ve made enough lynchable statements so better take my leave. But one puzzlement: I thought taxonomy was about understanding relatedness but this current approach appears to be doing the opposite??

        Cheers, and dry tidings, from Marcus

      • paridevita says:

        Indeed. The guy I live with told me that Backeberg was said to have described a new species of cactus that he saw from a moving train, so nothing much has changed, there have just been more people around to change stuff. When you’re into cactus, and you have a species that has fifty (50) synonyms (so you could buy fifty cactus, all with different names, and just wind up with fifty of the same thing), you become, according to him, “jaded”.

  7. Knicky Twigs says:

    “uh-GAS-ta-kee”!! Thanks. I’m a neophyte as garden hobbyist, and have found garden blogs very helpful; far superior to what I expected in terms of depth of knowledge, willingness to share, and sheer civility. I was just hoping to get ideas from the pretty pictures! I never get to “talk” gardening, however, and really struggle with botanical names, whether pronounced Latin, Greek, or English. Usually gloss right over them, or write them down for further reference. If I am ever in need of actually pronouncing a name, I would prefer not to embarrass myself or scratch chalkboards, so I really appreciate the phonetic spelling. Also, thanks for tolerating we less knowledgable.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; we pronounce all botanical names as though they were English, just like we pronounce “rhinoceros” as though it were English (instead of Greek), because it is. It would probably be better if everything were numbered instead of named. “I have a nice form of 846740.869 which you should see…. Oh, and the 233978.044 that you gave me is really beautiful. Much nicer flower than 233978.037.”

      • Knicky Twigs says:

        Oh, no numbers please! Rhinoceros seems obvious, but maybe because I’ve known it since childhood. Somehow I know hederifolium, but I’m not sure about callirhoe. Like cal-lyr-ho? Loved Christopher Lloyd; brilliant!

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with can remember numbers. Like the serial number on a dollar bill which he glances at and then remembers for a very long time. But anyway, he says “calliROee”. Just because, I guess. He may not be right, but he says that people who offer a “correct” pronunciation are almost always wrong. Figure that one out, huh. See here for more.

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