Friday, June 24, 2022

Defeating Roy

Well, we did get some rain yesterday after all. Not a lot, but enough to dampen the ground and liberate the snails. This one was gliding across our daylilies, perhaps nibbling on fallen blackberry petals.

I had to go out this morning and unlatch the gate to the street before I sat down to write. The Russians told me they were having "plumbers" come yesterday and today and they needed access to the side of the house. I am putting "plumbers" in quotation marks because these guys are doing more than fixing a leak. Yesterday they drilled a huge hole in the exterior wall up near the eaves, which resulted in chunks of brick and dust and all kinds of stuff raining down into our side return. (And crushing the campanula and breaking the foxglove, much to my annoyance.) Then they ran a big pipe up the side of the house and into that hole.

I have no idea what the Russians are doing. Putting in another bathroom, maybe? At any rate, It was a noisy job. I hope the worst of it is over.

I've said it before but I'll say it again -- the upstairs neighbors mystify me. They are on a constant campaign of home improvement. There is literally a project going on all the time. I'm just not that kind of person. I live with whatever I've got.

Here's one of our dahlia buds, getting ready to open. This is the bright red variety and it looks like it will be our first dahlia flower of the season.

I did a bunch of work in the garden yesterday, mainly weeding. As I've said before, although I like our weedy, casual approach to gardening, I'm trying to keep it neater this year. It is much easier to see the plants when they're not buried in weeds. I suppose that shouldn't be surprising.

Also, reducing some of the ground cover will help with another little garden problem we're having -- rodents. Specifically, rats. You know how we were getting all those beautiful parakeets and chattery starlings on our bird feeders? Well, they were dropping crumbs of suet and bird seed on the ground, and in the last few days Dave and I have seen brown rats scurrying around in the grass. We can't have that, because God forbid they should get in the house. So I have reluctantly taken down all our bird feeders -- the birds should be fine, given that there's plenty to eat out there in summer -- and we're going to hope that Roy the Rat and all his family move elsewhere.

About a week ago I listed our two old lawnmowers on Freecycle, offering them up for anyone who wants them, and so far -- much to my surprise -- I've had no takers. I thought they'd go right away, perhaps to someone who wants them for parts or who's handy with repairs. But no! Maybe they're just not worth it, even to someone who fixes lawn mowers. I may have to send them to the landfill after all.

This picture may not look like much, but here's the impressive thing -- it was taken at 4 a.m.! I happened to wake up (briefly) at that time, and inspired by Keith at Hiawatha House, I thought I'd take a photo that shows how light it gets at that time of day around the summer solstice. It was a cloudy morning but you can still see plenty of detail in the gray light. I am still not used to living at such northern latitudes where we have daylight so early. (Granted, there's also a street light, but trust me -- most of that light was coming from the sky.)

I am reading "A Gentleman in Moscow." I've heard so many people rave about this book, but I have to say, so far I am not impressed. I'm about 125 pages in and I'm finding it pretty tedious. It's about an aged aristocrat wandering around a hotel where he's under house arrest in early Soviet Russia. I expected a bit more action or intrigue. I'm not quitting, but when I sit down to read I find my mind wandering.


Frances said...

My book club read " A Gentleman in Moscow" a couple of years ago. I quite enjoyed it, as I think most of us did.
I was at the bottom of our garden a few nights ago, at 3.10 am and was surprised at how much light there was in the eastern sky! ( The dog had a blip in his toilet arrangements!!)

Andrew said...

The workers of course came and cleared up the mess they made in your side return.

People with the knowledge of how to repair things must be disappearing at a similar rate to machines that can be repaired.

Do the Russians rent or own? They are certainly good blog fodder.

Tasker Dunham said...

I blame all those home "improvement" programmes on television for stoking up dissatisfaction. The standard of workmanship these days is that it often leaves you worse off, and it will need doing again in 5 years.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Uff. Rats would really creep me out. I hope they lose interest in your garden. We’re never satisfied with our surroundings, but we make improvements in bunches because we can’t stand the mess and disruption -- and noise and mess that affects the neighbors. You have the greatest variety of beauty in that garden.

Rachel Phillips said...

A more accurate description would be that they have the builders in. I agree about the book, I also found it uninspiring and left it unfinished.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

"I'm just not that kind of person. I live with whatever I've got." That sums me up in relation to home improvements but my spouse is always looking for change - never satisfied with the home we share. It creates unwelcome tension.

Peter said...

I had to do the same thing with my bird feeders a couple of years ago when the rats showed up. They did go away. And stick with Gentleman.... I remember finding it slow at the start but I ended up loving it.

Ed said...

It is the wrong time of year for getting rid of lawnmowers as everyone has their situation figured out by now. Early spring as things just start warming up is the best time.

Running pipes outside the house doesn’t seem to code especially if it originates from inside. Curious to know what is going on?

Michael said...

Rats totally creep me out, so I would be getting rid of the bird feeders too. Years ago, the first time I was in the UK, I was astounded that it was still light out way past 10:00 PM. I was in Edinburgh and was coming out of a pub, and it was my first night there. I will always remember walking outside and expecting it to be dark.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Sent to "Spam" again!

Ms. Moon said...

We've been having rats in the hen house. Funny how you're in London, I'm in Lloyd, and we have so many similar creatures in our lives. Not quite sure what we do about our rats- we can't stop feeding the chickens and if we set traps, we'll probably get a hen in them.
Ugh. I do not like them.
Those Russians are certainly busy, aren't they?

Boud said...

My next door neighbor is a serial renovater. He even renovates his renovations. There is always tappity tappity from next door at all hours.

You're at the point in G of M where I decided life was too short, and it wasn't well enough written to persevere with, and gave up.

Bob said...

I like improving the house, but not all at once. Dribs and drabs keep me interested and then loving the results.

Debby said...

I am confused why the Russians spend so much money renovating a rental unit.


I always find it interesting that you're such a disciplined reader. You complete the reading even if it is not to your liking. If a book doesn't engage me, I have no problems tossing it to the side and finding something else to read.

The Bug said...

Maybe you having to read A Gentleman in Moscow (which I ADORED) is revenge for me having to read The Goldfinch (which got on my last nerve). Ha!

Edna B said...

You might try putting your bird feeders at the back of your yard. The sky is actually quite light at 4:30 a.m. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

NewRobin13 said...

It is never a good thing when the rats show up. I'm glad you took the bird feeders down.
I'm surprised that your neighbors have so much work done there. It's definitely an ongoing project for them.
That's a lot of light for 4:00 am. Wow!

ellen abbott said...

Rats in the walls are not a good thing. We had rats in the very old house in the city, their gnawing at night would wake me up, but there were so many holes there was no way to keep them out. Then we moved out here and I heard a rat in the wall. Fortunately it had made a nest right behind the access panel to the plumbing for the bathroom and I was able to kill it and completely block the hole it got in from the subfloor with steel wool and expanding foam. So far so good.

I always take my bird feeders down during the summer so the birds won't become completely dependent on them. Not good for them to forget how to forage.

Ellen D. said...

Keep going with the Gentleman in Moscow. I really enjoyed it.
I had to take down my hummingbird feeder because it attracted too many ants and wasps and the wasps would chase the hummingbirds away.
Dahlias are so lovely. Get your camera ready for the blooms, Steve! I will be watching for photos! :)

Kelly said...

I think renovations taking place above me might make me a little nervous. And I find buds can be just as appealing as blooms! I was taking photos of some on our althea bushes just this week.

I loved A Gentleman in Moscow, but will admit it was slow going at first. I hope it's worth it in the long run for you.

Sharon said...

I love that 4am photo and that pretty snail.
I really loved A Gentleman in Moscow. Keep going.
It's been a stressful time here. Yesterday I watched the Jan 6th hearing and thought it was the most damning evidence so far. I can't believe we still have people and elected officials who pledge allegiance to DJT and believe the big lie. Then, on top of the concealed weapons ruling, today the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. This country is going to hell. I'm so discouraged.

Allison said...

Coming from Florida, your current latitude must have been quite a change. I only recently learned just how far north the UK is.
In Tucson, we never had seed feeders. Dropped seeds bring pack rats, pack rats bring rattle snakes. It's an entire eco-system.
Sorry about the foxglove.

Red said...

4:00 AM is beautiful time of day. Yes, as a teenager I got caught a few times coming home at 4:00 AM.

John Going Gently said...

Never second guess neighbours mine are driving me potty

Wilma said...

I greatly enjoyed a Gentleman in Moscow, but it might not appeal to you. It's not reading for pleasure if you don't enjoy it! That dahlia will be a beauty!

Margaret said...

I haven't read "A Gentleman in Moscow" but I did love his latest book, "The Lincoln Highway." I do an occasional home improvement but a steady diet of them is NO WAY.

Steve Reed said...

Frances: It's really amazing to see how light it is so early! I think I'm warming up to AGIM.

Andrew: The Russians own. The workers sort of cleared up after themselves, but I'm still going to have to do some sweeping myself.

Tasker: You're probably right. Those TV shows stoke "house envy" and are probably a boon for the renovation industry.

Mitchell: I've read about the rats-in-the-garden problem online (apparently it's quite common) and everyone says if you remove the food they'll go away. Fingers crossed!

YP: It does seem there are two types of people. My dad was a renovation enthusiast, while my mom was a leave-it-alone type. I take after her, but I'm sure if we owned our flat Dave would be wanting to make lots of changes.

Peter: Thanks for the feedback about both the rats and AGIM. I think I am warming to the book a bit. (Now that I'm halfway through it!)

Ed: It's very common to have external pipes in these old London houses. Usually there are big black metal pipes running down the side walls. I assume this is because the houses were built in the days before interior plumbing?

Michael: It's even more light up in Scotland, so I can imagine your surprise!

Ms Moon: Wow, that IS a dilemma. I'm hesitant to set outdoor traps here for the same reason -- we'd likely catch some poor innocent creature like a squirrel.

Boud: I'm glad to hear someone else struggled with this book and it's not just me!

Bob: I'm fine with routine repairs and DIY projects.

Debby: The Russians own their flat, while we rent ours. I almost never quit a book, for better or for worse!

Bug: Ha! Could be. "The Goldfinch" held my interest because I so feared for the safety of the painting itself.

Edna: I think for now we're just going to keep them down. We might re-hang them in the fall when food gets scarcer. The birds should be able to fend for themselves at this time of year.

Robin: They exhaust me with all this construction.

Ellen: That's good thinking about the feeders. I did wonder if we're harming the birds by creating dependency!

Ellen D: I will keep going, I promise. And don't worry -- you'll get dahlia photos! :)

Kelly: I wasn't too worried until I saw them breaching the exterior wall! But hey, we don't own this place. If things go wrong we'll just move.

Sharon: I agree with you about the country. It's shocking and alarming to see the deterioration in our government and public institutions, and in people's understanding of our democratic processes.

Allison: I think the culprit here was the suet, although it's embedded with seeds. I lived in New York before moving here, so that wasn't quite as dramatic a change as coming here straight from Florida!

Red: I came home at 3:30 one time and got yelled at by my mom! Didn't do that again!

Wilma: I think I just need to forge ahead. Sometimes I warm up to a book that I initially don't like.

Margaret: We have that book in our library, too. I might give it a whirl, especially if I develop a more positive relationship with this one!

River said...

A hole under the eaves and a big pipe sounds like an airconditioning unit to me. The dahlia looks like it will be a beauty.
I'm willing to bet the rats will disappear once their food supply is gone. It's one of the reasons I'm phasing out feeding my birds.

Jeanie said...

You'll get intrigue with "Moscow" but you'll have to wait a bit. Meanwhile, revel in the relationships he forms with the staff and the guests. Has Nina shown up yet? They are rich and beautiful and may well become your friends. Keep going! (The beginning is a bit of a slow go.)

As for the rats -- yes, time to remove the feeder. I looked out at mine here at the lake which I dutifully filled with seed. I hoped to see a bird, instead a squirrel. How he shimmered up that skinny pole is beyond me!

Hey, I have trouble getting thing repaired that need it. Home reno is too much!