under the willow tree

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to bring you a post which may best be described as a salmagundi. You may remember me from such posts as “Some Adventures”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. And, I should say, a favorite pose, too.

This next picture is me, yesterday, waiting for the beeper on the oven to go off, signalling that whatever was being broiled is done, and that I don’t have to worry about it any more. I don’t like beeping noises. 

It turned out that the guy I live with had forgotten to clean the broiler pan from the last time, and the oven started to smoke, so he decided not to broil whatever it was he was going to broil. So I was able to come back inside. You can see, though, what kind of a day it was. Dry.

Things changed today. It snowed. The guy I live with said it was the strangest January snow he’d ever seen. It was wet, like a spring snow. Maybe because it wasn’t very cold today. Usually if it snows here in January, it’s cold. He said that maybe for once the snow would be like rain in January, sinking into the ground instead of evaporating.

One thing I should say, as an aside, is that we are not entirely sure why replies to comments don’t always appear on the blog. I answer everything, as maybe you’ve discovered, using the email program, so there should always be an even number of comments, but sometimes there aren’t. Who knows why.

Bunches of other things happened today; most of them not hugely interesting, but so little happens around here that I thought they might be worth reporting.

The guy I live with got a cane in the mail yesterday, from Brazos Walking Sticks. It’s really nice; made from Texas oak, though it might not be. He doesn’t really need a cane, but thought one would be nice, and maybe he could fend off some of the unleashed dogs we encounter on my walks. That sounded pretty unlikely to me. There are quite a few canes here, all of them inherited, I guess, but he wanted his own.

Then there was the ocular migraine. The “light show”. Or, as the guy I live with called it, a”pre-migrainous scintillating scotoma”. The guy I live with said he had had about fifty of these in the last thirty years. They aren’t dangerous; just annoying. Lots of people have these; I think more woman than men get them. They last about twenty minutes. He doesn’t get migraines, with a headache. His doctor said, though, that he should have his retina looked at when he mentioned them, and when he got his eyes examined for glasses he got to see things like his optic nerve, which he said was cool. Everything was okay.

The reason behind this has more to do with the uninvited guest that anything else. His doctor told him to go on an aspirin regimen quite a while ago, and the ocular migraines stopped. When he had the biopsy, he had to give up the aspirin a week before, and then forgot to start again afterwards, and the day he remembered was the day he had an ocular migraine.

So since he’s having “a procedure” next week, he had to stop the aspiring again, and sure enough, he had another ocular migraine. He can hardly wait to be able to take the aspirin again.

Today he shoveled the walk, driveway, and sidewalk, then shoveled the walk, driveway, and sidewalk of his neighbors two doors down, and three doors down, and across the street. He’s supposed to be exercising more, these days, so I guess that was a good thing.

And the snowdrop catalog came in the mail yesterday.


Of course, snowdrops were ordered.

Snowdrops are also being read about. (Not aloud to me.)

Apparently this is an utterly delightful book, full of pictures, and stories of gardeners who were “rather keen on snowdrops”.

Which leads me to the actual snowdrops in the upstairs bedroom. Some re-arranging took place today, then everything was re-re-arranged when the re-arrangement turned out to be unsatisfactory. The snowdrops are growing about two millimeters a day. 

Galanthus elwesii ‘Abington Green’.


Galanthus angustifolius.

Okay, enough of that. I don’t find snowdrops anywhere near as interesting as my walks, which are almost always totally excellent. Today’s were no exception.

This is me, if you didn’t know, on my way home this evening. I didn’t know right then that I was being watched.


This is what being watched looks like.

We walked under the willow, and looked back. You can see the owl if you look closely. In the first two pictures, it’s more or less directly above the piece of branch lying on the canal road.

Then it moved.

I had to be dried off with a towel when I got home. I like that a lot more than I did when I was little; I would attack the towel and make it impossible for the guy I live with to get me dry.

I’ll end this somewhat discursive post by showing another picture of the kitchen, taken last night, when pozole was being cooked on the stove. Pozole rojo con pollo, if you wanted to know. Some people spell it posole. The guy I live with doesn’t. 

Until next time, then.


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34 Responses to under the willow tree

  1. Barb K says:

    Well, Mani, my Rosie was attacked by a loose dog one time. A Pit Bull. Luckily there was a low fence nearby and I picked her up and tossed her over it. Rosie, not the other dog, who had no interest in me. Rosie was shrieking in fear. So now I carry a can of pepper spray and a bag of treats. I figure I would try the treats first and hope they distract the attacker. I walk both dogs now too, which may be a deterrent. I had a great deal of trouble seeing the owl in those pictures and I even embiggened twice. I get those ocular migraines and I usually get a headache after the vision problems go away. I didn’t know aspirin helps so good to know. At what distance can TGYLW begin to tell the difference between snowdrops? Can he be in an upright position to see the differences? I know I am unsophisticated but I am curious. I looked at a selection of snowdrops once but the prices were a little off putting. Well, more than a little, so that was that.

    • paridevita says:

      I was attacked once but the guy I live with picked me up super-quickly and so I was safe. Unleashed dogs are becoming more common but we noticed two new signs for the field—which technically is a “park”—posted, with larger print, but people who wouldn’t read the earlier sign probably won’t read this one. People like that are in the minority, fortunately. I guess being tired or dehydrated can trigger the ocular migraines but they totally stopped after the aspirin regimen began. And start again after not taking aspirin. Not every day, but the guy I live with takes that as a sign. It’s the 81 mg tablets. In the first willow picture, embiggened, find the branch lying on the canal road, then that first piece of grass sticking up, little to the right of that, then go up, up, up, and you ‘ll see this gray circle which is the well-camouflaged owl. In the third willow picture the owl is just to the right of dead center. There are about twenty-species of Galanthus, and all are readily distinguishable except Galanthus rizehensis and G. lagodechianus, which differ in chromosome counts and geographical distribution. Since they’re not very big, you sometimes do have to look at them closely, but that’s true with a lot of other plants. You don’t need a 30x lens though. The prices, well, some of the species are quite rare in cultivation, so there’s that. The selected named ones are a different story and people get crazy over them. The guy I live with is more interested in the species, really. I might do a post on how to tell the species apart.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    The Galanthophiles?!? Seriously?!? I so need to grow these things to see what all the fuss is about. I just do not get it. There are so many more colorful and more impressive bulbs out there. Even common daffodils are more colorful. Well, I suppose I should not fuss about it too much until I grow some.

  3. ceci says:

    We are pozole verde people here, possibly because that is the first kind of pozole we had, at Mesa Verde in Colorado (just now realizing the verde/Verde link, duh). We used to dog walk in a neighborhood where carrying a stick to fend off the unleashed dogs was a necessity, not a thing here, thankfully.

    Good luck with the procedure!


    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with would have made verde had he had tomatillos, green pumpkinseeds, and hoja santa. He’s made it before. It’s good. He says thanks; the “procedure” is having gold markers, as a target for radiation, shot into his prostate. He really knows how to have fun, doesn’t he? (He said the biopsy was like someone shooting a staple gun in his innards.) If you wanted to know, which was probably not.

  4. Linda says:

    Is E.A. Bowles in the book? Is he on the cover maybe sort of in the middle?

    • paridevita says:

      Yes, E.A.B. is definitely in the book. Lots of stuff about him. He’s not on the cover. If you like stuff like this, which the guy I live with certainly does, though he is not fabulously wealthy and so that part is a bit hard to relate to (the gentle, rainy climate is even harder to relate to, but he can daydream), you might like A Bouquet of Garden Writing by Ursula Buchan. Samples of writing, biographies, pictures. Gertrude Jekyll, William Robinson, E.A.B., Reginald Farrer, and Vita Sackville-West.

  5. bittster says:

    I wonder how many owls I’ve just walked by without seeing. I’d like to think it is quite a few because to think we don’t have owls here is sort of depressing. They really are amazing.
    More snowdrop pictures? They really do all look the same, I don’t know why I ordered even more within hours of that same catalog arriving in my own mailbox. I ordered a couple different white ones to add to all the white ones I have, and I’m sure the new ones will be even more excellent.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says “Lol” (which he pronounces just like it looks, loll; same with “omg”). A lot of the named varieties do look alike. The species, not so much, but then, he had to do a lot of close looking when he was writing books, back in another life. You would know if you had owls if where you live was swarming with rabbits. The guy I live with has a word for it: bunniful. The little ones are adorable but they do a lot of damage; so do the big ones. We also have mice, of course, pack rats, and a few regular rats. All very tasty to an owl. The guy I live with was grossed out when we found a dead regular rat.

  6. Deb says:

    Crazy weather all around. A few days ago, I noticed daffodils were up about 2″ in a bed near the house here in Central Indiana. The temps had been mid-40’s to upper 50’s. Today we are getting 6″+ of snow. Crazy.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says that the average winter daytime temperature in Denver is fifty degrees. It’s not unusual to have it get to seventy, even. There can be snow on the ground and it can be seventy and nothing happens. He says because of the new melt-proof snow they have. It gets very cold here, of course, but usually it’s fifty. Snow with a lot of melting, like what’s happening right now, is totally weird for January; more like April or May. All of the shoveling work he did yesterday has been erased by a half inch of snow that fell overnight. Rain would be better; it doesn’t have to be shoveled.

  7. Nell says:

    Ooo, the fine white line around the marking on ‘Abington Green’ is most elegant! That’s something much, much more pleasant to study without kneeling on cold, damp ground — which vindicates the upstairs setup right there (despite all the rearrangements apparently required).

    Dan Hinkley has a hilarious shot of the brief fling with snowdrops at his very dry Windcliff garden in the talk he did a year ago at New York Botanical Garden about the development of the garden. It’s on YouTube and I highly recommend it for a winter lift; the link’s also at a recent post by Tony Spencer at thenewperennialist dot com with enjoyable photos of his October visit to Windcliff.

    I too get the ocular migraines a couple of times a month, followed by headaches if I don’t take ibuprofen at the first sign of the “dazzle”. It works like a charm if taken early enough, often cutting the dazzle short; hope TGYLW will be able to take that or aspirin soon.

    The shot of you accompanying the simmering pozole might as well have a big thought balloon above your head saying “Pollo. Pollo! POLLO!!”. Speaking of pollo, got to get off here and make a grocery run before our sleet & snow event arrives. Say hey to your watch-y friend in the willow!

    • paridevita says:

      What’s really happening in the kitchen picture is me wondering why the cabinet door containing my biscuits is still open and I’m not getting one. You can barely see the hand-thrown ceramic cookie jar where the biscuits are kept. The guy I live with’s wife got that as a Christmas present decades ago. It’s likely, I hear, that a lot of these snowdrops will be planted in his friend’s garden, instead of here. Her place has more sun in the winter; in fact, there were snowdrops in flower there just last week. The guy I live with says that’s a sign of how enlightened he has become; being able to see plants in other people’s gardens without being jealous. (DBG doesn’t count, of course.) He also said the list of things to stop taking before a “procedure” is amazingly long, especially herbal supplements. He does take vitamins. The doctor said he was low on Vitamin D, which is bizarre because Denver has intense sunlight all year round, and 33% more ultraviolet than at sea level. He blames all the cloudy weather last year.

      • Nell says:

        I remember being impressed last winter at the fairly un-jealous way TGYLW reported the strong snowdrop performance at his friend’s garden. It certainly would be nice to see fat patches of ‘Abington Green’ — possibly worth the damp kneeling involved. Sending best wishes for The Procedure.

      • paridevita says:

        He says thanks. And he can’t really be jealous of the snowdrops in his friend’s garden, because he planted them for her, and way more importantly, he likes her a lot. A really lot. So do I.

  8. karen says:

    Those owl photos are fabulous. Such a well camouflaged bird. A gorgeous scene. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Patrice Ryan says:

    okay, okay…now i’m ordering snowdrops!

    • paridevita says:

      Well, okay then. The guy I live with says he assumes no responsibility for what could become an all-consuming passion. Like a passion for any other group of plants.(Back in the last decade, here, it was roses.)

  10. Snowdrops snowdrops snowdrops. For me it’s all about the pozole, verde for choice but I’ve been known to eat red, both heavy on the condiments. At the Waterfront Tavern – oldest in San Diego – they bring a tray of condiments over which we set on a vacant stool. Oh, yum, but can be hot. The book is my kind of book, love that kind of book. Will have to go looking. Mani, sweetie, this is one of your great posts, and with great photographs of you too.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. The guy I live with says the galanthophile book is about fifty dollars and can be had from Amazon, or from the publisher. It’s really delightful, though I haven’t had any of it read to me on the couch. Yet. The guy I live with’s limit of hot food tolerance remains unknown. He is totally obsessed with food and cooking. His favorite story about hot food was one time when he made Thai green curry chicken and she said “I’m afraid of my food”. I hear it was good anyway. Flurry, the first purebred border collie who lived here, used to get to lick plates, and he would lick all the hot sauce off the plate, and lettuce, and, well, everything.

  11. leerecca says:

    Thank you for all the wonderful photos!

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