Thursday, January 24, 2019
Totoro's Broken Tail
Yesterday I went to a presentation by the managers of our workplace pension. I thought it might be a good idea to know how this thing works, even though I'm still (I think) quite far from retirement myself. The guy who did the presentation was from central casting -- very trimmed and conservative-looking, dark suit, all business, completely monotone. Despite the fact that I have a pretty good head for practical matters, I am flummoxed by some aspects of the plan (or "scheme," as they say in England). For one thing, there are something like 299 funds where I could choose to invest my money. Who on earth has the time to sort that out? I think I'm invested now in a sort of default mix, and I guess that's fine with me.
Seriously, the cynical part of me believes these "choices" are really just a way to convince people they need to consult with investment managers, thus boosting the profits of the financial services industry.
Some good came of the meeting, though. I am going to get registered on the web site and at least familiarize myself with how much money I have and how it's accumulating. I am not an investment dabbler -- I'm just going to let it sit there and do its thing.
Yesterday morning I looked out into the icy garden and saw that Totoro had fallen from his perch on the walnut tree. Not just fallen, but fallen and broken. Poor guy! I'll have to do some repair this weekend on our Shanghai souvenir. I blame the squirrels.
I just finished "Beartown," a novel by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman. It's been getting buzz and it was pretty good, but I had a hard time getting into it at the beginning because so much of it centers on ice hockey. I know nothing about hockey and, being generally sports-phobic, I had an immediate and visceral dislike for the book. Once I got past the hockey and more into the lives of the characters (which took about 150 pages!) I felt better about it. Have any of you read it? What did you think? I don't think I liked it enough to want to read the sequel.
Today we have some tree-trimmers coming to take care of some things in the garden. Dave has been very insistent that we remove the apple tree in the rose bed -- it's not really a tree, more of a scraggly, unhealthy bush, and in fact I think it was cut down at some point in the past and regrew from the stump. He wants to use the space for something else and although I'm ambivalent about it, I've given in. They're also going to trim some trees at the back of the garden to make more sun for the wildflower bed. I confess I have anxiety about how it's all going to come out.
(Top photo: An intriguing garden in West Hampstead, through the temporary fence that encloses it.)