Saturday, January 21, 2023

One Degree of Temperature and Separation

During all the commotion in the garden on Thursday, this little robin retreated to the forsythia bush by the bedroom window and sat watching expectantly. Robins are very social birds -- they'll often flit around when I'm weeding or doing other outdoor tasks, waiting for me to uncover a savory bug. I imagine it was thinking there would be a bonanza of insects available after all the trimming, raking and moving potted plants!

Today I need to pay the tree crew. The total bill was about £1,200, of which our landlord will pay roughly half. We are obligated to maintain the garden under the terms of our lease, but I asked the landlords if they'd pay for trimming the walnut tree, since that's a bigger, more long-term property investment, and they agreed. So I'll make the payment and the landlords will reimburse me.

Here's how cold it's been the last few days:

The birdbath is frozen solid. That pot behind it contains a dahlia (and some weeds, which are the leaves you see -- the dahlia tubers are below the soil). It's the only dahlia I didn't put in the shed for the winter. I left it out last year and it did OK, so this is an experiment to see if it can survive a second winter outdoors. I have too many dahlias anyway, to be honest.

There's a pot on the patio where some honesty seedlings have sprouted, and when I heard it might snow I covered it with an old towel. The snow never materialized so I pulled the towel off Thursday morning and found it had turned into a modern sculpture!

Yesterday an engineer from British Gas came to replace the timer on our boiler, which had mysteriously stopped working. We use the timer to turn the heat on and off at certain times of day. I had to stay home and wait for him to show up, but fortunately I was early on his service list so I was able to get to work only about an hour late.

In the "Small World" department, a co-worker loaned me an interesting book last week called "Dignity," by Chris Arnade. It's a book of interviews and photographs of people living in what the author terms the "back row" -- the lower rungs of the economic and social ladder in the USA. Arnade himself is a former Wall Streeter who left his job to travel across the country and document the lives of these people. He's a good photographer.

The funny part, though, is that I recognized his last name. I had a professor named Arnade when I was a student at the University of South Florida. He taught my Florida History course, as I recall. It's not that common of a name, and I wondered whether this author was related -- and sure enough, it's his son! Chris Arnade grew up in the Dade City area, just a stone's throw from where I grew up in Land O' Lakes. (Though I considered Dade City somewhat exotic, being a much older, more self-contained community with more local history.) He's about my age too, but we went to different schools so I'm sure we never met.

Anyway, it was funny to think I'd been randomly handed a book written by someone so closely connected to my own life. It's a good book, attempting to explain the political and social perspectives and frustrations of many people who have been left behind by American prosperity. It's well worth a read.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

£1200! That's £400 for each of the men for what amounted to just over half a day's work. If they got six similar jobs in a week they'd be earning £2400 a week. However, I have conveniently missed out the cost of their equipment, their vehicle, insurance and the day-glo uniforms... £9600 a month. Good job the landlady is coughing up half the money.

Andrew said...

I guess you like the heating to come on during the day when you aren't home for some time to keep Olga warm.

The robin photo is lovely.

Your landlords sound like fair property owners.

You should contact the book author about your connection. It is the kind of thing and I do and there is always a nice reply.

Moving with Mitchell said...

I love that kind of serendipity. Like recently learning that an old school friend's mother (whom I don't know) reads my blog and enjoys it so much that she started telling him stories from it. I like the towel sculpture.

Jeanie said...

How serendipitous about the book! And I can't tell you how much I love the English robins. There is a sweetness to their appearance that American robins, handsome as they are, don't have. I feel for you with the tree and boiler bills. It's always something, isn't it?

Boud said...

Your landlords are onto a good thing, with a gardener as good as you maintaining the garden per your lease. But I do think they should bear the whole cost of long-term high end items such as trees.

I love pictures of the English robin, a completely different species from the so called American robin. I've heard of them sitting on spades, even, eager to catch whatever good food is turned up.

I have never dug dahlias, well I had only a couple, and they came back for years with this neglect. I guess they'd show me, negligent gardener. Maybe yours will have a similar approach.

Bob said...

I once found a frozen t-shirt "bowl" in mid-winter; sadly by spring it was just a dirty shirt again.

Ms. Moon said...

From this angle, your frozen towel could be a fancy hat for one of the society ladies. I can even see one of a similar shape on Camellia.
Look at that pretty robin! Darling bird.
It is strange that you were handed a book by the son of one of your professors. It is a funny little old world sometimes.

NewRobin13 said...

I love seeing that robin there. It's so interesting that my parents named me Robin because I am not very sociable. Maybe American Robins are a bit stand-offish!
I also love that frozen towel. It's like a crazy interesting sculpture.
Nice connection with the author of that gifted book.

Pixie said...

I took a look at some of the photos from that book. The US has a poverty problem, or rather a disparity problem, as does much of the world. The number of homeless people in the US is just over half a million people. It's heartbreaking.
It's not like there isn't poverty in Canada, but because we have a much smaller population, there is a smaller number of deeply impoverished people. In Edmonton there are about 2800 homeless people. We were doing well until the pandemic and then the numbers doubled. Edmonton has been making a concerted effort to find homes for the homeless, many of them are indigenous people or drug addicts or mentally ill.

ellen abbott said...

The US is seriously flawed with its 'pull yourself up from your bootstraps' mentality. Hard to pull yourself up if you don't have any boots. The richest country in the world should not have a poverty problem. Interesting about the book and how it came into your hands. Tree work is expensive, I guess because it can be dangerous, which is why I haven't done anything about our oaks.

Margaret said...

I'm glad that the landlord is chipping in half because that's expensive! Those coincidences are amazing. I once went to a film where the director turned out to be the wife of one of my daughter's professors at Columbia.

Kelly said...

Funny how weird connections like that happen! I learned a new word in a book I just finished and would you believe the same word came up in my next book!?

I like the frozen towel AND the sweet little bird.

Ed said...

Yikes! I paid $1600 last summer to have seven trees completely removed on my property. But with 3 acres, it isn't a hard to work in area so they got it done pretty fast.

Sharon said...

That little robin is so cute. And, I love your towel sculpture. You got your hard freeze. So far, we haven't, thank goodness. That book sounds interesting. I'll look for it.

The Padre said...

So Dig That Birdbath Photo - Your Modern Sculpture Reminded Of A Message I Sent An Old Roommates Boyfriend On Time - The Lazy Prick Would Always Leave His Jeans On The Couch Armrest When They Would Go To Bed - After Numerous Occasions Of Falling On Deaf Ears - After They Retired To Their Bedroom, I Took His Jeans Out Back And Laid Them As Flat As I Could - Saturated Them With Good Ol H20 - Frozen Them Solid All Night - I The Brought His Pants In When I Heard Them Stirring About The Next Morning And Leaned Them Up Against The Could Where He Left Them - Message Received


P.S. Whats Under Olga Girls Pink Blanket

Catalyst said...

My god, that seems like a lot of money to just trim a tree.

Linda Sue said...

sculpted towel is inspiring.
Book of's a small small world!

Janie Junebug said...

I'm glad you didn't pay the entire cost of the tree trimming. That didn't seem fair to me. That's cool about the book.


Red said...

It's a small world. I sometimes wonder how many times we walk by people we met a long time ago.