Sunday, October 1, 2023


Here's another shot of the little sunflower, about a foot tall, blooming at the edge of the garden. When it came to producing that flower it was like the Little Engine that Could: "I think I can! I think I can!"

Before I talk about yesterday's fascinating activities, let me just add a couple of links in support of my skepticism over lending my phone to that guy on the bus. (See previous post.) Borrowed phones are in fact a vehicle for thievery, both in the UK and in the USA. From what I can tell this most usually happens via money transfer apps like Venmo or Zelle, neither of which I have on my phone, so maybe my risk wouldn't have been the same.

I was glad to see most of my commenters seemed to share my skepticism. And as Mitchell and others pointed out, even dialing the guy's wife and letting him talk to her would have revealed to them my number -- and here's quite a story about why that can be scary. I have belatedly realized the ideal solution to this dilemma: Block the phone, call the wife, put her on speaker but don't hand the phone over, and then disconnect and unblock.

However, the part of the story I failed to mention is that when the older guy first approached me, we were getting off the bus at the next stop. So there wouldn't have been time for all that anyway.

Now, having spent a ridiculous amount of time on The Old Man and the Phone, a la Hemingway, I'll fill you in on yesterday. Not that anything all that exciting happened.

I spent the morning cleaning like a fiend. I cleaned the bathrooms, I cleaned the windowsills, I washed the window behind the Hypericum bush that was demolished by the construction guy (as you can see in that post it was quite filthy), I did two loads of laundry. I also tended to all the houseplants around the back door, moving several of them outside for a wash and cleaning the floor around and under them.

Then I mowed the lawn, and...TRAGEDY! The mower caught the head of the Little Sunflower that Could and POPPED IT RIGHT OFF!

Well, at least now we can enjoy it in the kitchen.

We have one more stunted sunflower that also has a bud, so I don't think we'll be deprived of a miniature sunflower in the garden. But still, I couldn't believe that happened!


Andrew said...

The phone matter certainly had me thinking. I will read the link in a moment.
Are we to believe the sunflower beheading was an accident? Maybe you subconsciously wanted to extend the flower's life by it becoming a freshly cut flower. If you don't have your heating on yet, it should last a while.

Andrew said...

Ah, behind a paywall.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Oh, the sunflower! They do last a long time in water, don't they?

Ursula said...

Following on from my comment re phone: Let's just hope you'll never find yourself in an emergency, entirely dependent on a stranger's good will and good faith. As to what you say about payphones: Is that some sort of joke? And anyway, imagine, I had no coins on me? Then what? Trust me, there are moments in life anything that can go wrong will; only worse. Ah, the kindness of strangers.

If someone refused themselves, like you did, to my son (should he find himself minus his Smartphone and in a quagmire) I don't know what I'd do. Probably write an essay or something on the shit hole this world and its paranoia is coming to. My goodness, I have had total strangers handing me their babies to hold, their kids to keep an eye on, in a moment of dire need. And, yes, as you say, I do have that face. Think sunflower.

Hot tip of the day: When all else fails enter the lobby of a four/five star hotel. The concierge will be your friend. Though, admittedly, that'd be difficult on a Number Thirteen bus.


Tasker Dunham said...

The mower could have been worse - Philip Larkin's hedgehog.

Boud said...

I knock off the heads of day lilies by trying to deadhead, so annoying to be a clumsy gardener.

Pixie said...

It's nice to see that "No good deed goes unpunished" still applies. Sigh. Thanks for the heads up.

NewRobin13 said...

I'm sorry you beheaded that beautiful little sunflower, but you still have it blooming where you can see it in your house. And... you have another one to love and tend to in the garden.

Marcia LaRue said...

Well, I have no clue about the whole phone thing ... since you were just getting off the bus, it seemed a poor time to ask to use the phone!
At least you get to continue enjoying the little sunflower 🌻 in your kitchen and, hopefully, the other one will push out a bloom! 🌻

Ms. Moon said...

I think you have an entirely different variety of sunflower there. It's supposed to be tiny. And now it will brighten your house with its tiny, sweet glory.
I still think you did the right thing with the phone. From what I've heard, London is rife with this sort of crime at the moment.

Jeanie said...

I'm sorry to hear about the sunflower head but yes, you can still enjoy inside.You've been a busy guy. Today is laundry today for me -- and I think it might be two loads also! Have a great Sunday.

Sharon said...

Awwww, that poor little sunflower. I'm so glad you welcomed it into your home.

ellen abbott said...

and so what is Dave doing while you are doing all that? I find that the sunflower seeds from the bird feeder that fall and sprout rarely get more than 2" high and only produce one flower.

Kelly said...

I'm ashamed to admit I burst out laughing at your sunflower story!! At least it wasn't Olga's fault. You'll probably get far more enjoyment out of it in the house anyway.

Margaret said...

I don't know how to block my phone! Perhaps I should figure that out for any future circumstances. I mowed both front and back lawns and got over 15,000 steps. I also took a walk and a trip to the cemetery with my mom. (my dad's 95th birthday would have been yesterday)

Colette said...

Now you will see it more, sitting in the kitchen.

Allison said...

Tragic! The little sun flower did his best, only to be cut down in the flower of his youth. He does add a pop of color to the inside of the house. The phone thing was interesting. There's always a scam on the horizon.

jenny_o said...

I heard the Psycho-like shriek of violins when I read about the mower and the sunflower - seriously I did :)

That's a great solution to the Old Man and the Phone problem. Thanks for sharing it. His motives do look pretty dubious, asking to use it just as there was time pressure for you. But even if he was above board, if there was no bleeding it wasn't necessary for you to be his secretary.

The Bug said...

I thought you were going to say that a squirrel had knocked the bloom off the stem, which is what happened to us in Ohio all the time. However, it really brightens up your room so maybe not a tragedy after all!

Ed said...

I would probably have offered to call his wife but I wouldn’t have handed over my phone either. If we were still all with flip phones it would be different but smart phones are the keys to our kingdoms.

Cloudia said...

You are so conversational that you should perhaps have a podcast! So many thoughts about loaning one's phone! Best wishes, Aloha

Debby said...

I have to admit that the spate of 'all caps' in the saga of the beheading had me giggling. I 'heard' it in shrill outraged tones. Too funny.

River said...

At least the mower didn't chop it to pieces. My volunteer sunflower is crawling with ants, I discovered this when I stepped outside to water it this morning, I think they moved in on a "suffering" plant when I forgot to water all last week and the leaves drooped badly. I suspect the soil in the pot is now an ants nest, just like every other pot around here.

Debby said...

River! Top your pots with a heaping helping of diatomaceous earth.

Steve Reed said...

Andrew: Sorry about the pay walls. (On the NYT site, I assume?) I thought you'd get a "free" article or two before that kicked in.

Mitchell: We'll see!

Ursula: Well, you and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. I'm happy to help people out in the right circumstances, and as I said, given more time, I'd have come up with a solution. But if that guy is traveling with no phone and no coins, the responsibility for his predicament is solely on him.

Tasker: True! I've never even seen a hedgehog in the wild, and I sure wouldn't want that to be my introduction.

Boud: Deadheading can be dangerous business!

Pixie: I don't mean to foster paranoia, just awareness!

Robin: Yeah, I'm so glad we have another one coming!

Marcia: Yeah, the guy's timing was abysmal. When we got off the bus right after he asked us, he probably figured that's why I refused.

Ms Moon: It could be a different type, but all the seeds in that packet were supposed to be the same! Who knows.

Jeanie: I enjoyed laundry day a lot more when I had a clothesline in Florida.

Sharon: It was the least I could do!

Ellen: He's making a living, grading papers and preparing classes. Since he's the main breadwinner I'm fine managing the house. (Plus he does all the cooking.)

Kelly: It's just so ironic that I was admiring it all morning, taking photos of it, and then managed to kill it!

Margaret: I don't know how to block mine either, but I'm sure I could figure it out.

Colette: This is true! I always think that when I bring in flowers: "I should do this more!"

Allison: Nature is cruel, especially when lawn mowers are involved. (Which are admittedly NOT nature.)

Jenny-O: Ha! And yes, that's the thing -- he wasn't in any evident crisis.

Bug: If it was a squirrel I'd feel a lot less guilty!

Ed: That's exactly right. There's just too much information there.

Cloudia: Oh, I can blather on about anything! Ha!

Debby: I'm a very EMPHATIC writer. LOL

River: Well, ants probably won't harm it, but don't bring them inside! See Debby's comment about diatomaceous earth. (Which I've never used, but maybe it works.)

Debby said...

It does work, and very well. The best part is that it is completely non-toxic. It is fed to cattle as a dewormer. I sprinkle it around the foundations of our house at the first sight of an ant. The best time to do it is just before a hard rain which pounds the dust right into the earth. For your plant pots, just spread the stuff on top of your potting soil.