The main reason I am so exhausted right now is because Bookman and I spent all day working on assembling our new shed! Woo! There has been lots of sweating and swearing I can tell you that. The shed is a kit and everything comes labeled and the holes are pre-drilled. The video shows a happy couple putting it together in eight minutes! It looks so gosh darn easy surely it will only take us a couple of hours. Ha!
We’ve worked on it all day in the heat and we still aren’t done. The walls were pretty easy to put together,the roof, not so much. There are a number of places where you have to line up holes blind and you can’t tell if they are aligned until you drill in the screw and the piece stays on or falls off because you missed the hole. What we have left to finish is the peak of the roof, the door handle and locks, and the outside corner finishing pieces. Once we finish the last bit of roof, everything else should be easy, keyword there being “should.” Strike that, as I was writing this, Bookman went out and put in the door handle and locks and the windows and snapped on the outside corner finishing pieces. So all we now have left is to secure those finishing pieces and screw down the peak of the roof. Bookman is an awesome fellow, have I mentioned that lately?
In the garden itself, there are butterflies everywhere, red admirals, monarchs, swallowtails, and what I think was a red-spotted purple, one I don’t recall ever having seen before. It was very pretty with its blue markings on black wings. There are also all kinds of bees and other tiny pollinators everywhere and the size of the dragonflies this year! As big as dragons some of them!
The real excitement for the week though has been the baby hawk that is in my neighbor’s tree. It is flying now and its parents force it to practice. They push it out of the tree and it flies down and lands on our clothesline pole. If it doesn’t move fast enough, one of the parents swoops down and gives it a poke to make it fly somewhere else. So then it will land on the roof of the garage of my other neighbor and sit until a parent pokes it to make it fly again. It is all rather amusing to watch. When I came home from work a little after noon on Friday, one of the parents was sitting on my deck railing keeping an eye on junior in the nesting tree. Parent hawk had just brought junior something to eat and junior was up in the tree digging in. I could not tell what it was eating, my guess is a squirrel. Meanwhile, Waldo and Dickens had spotted the parent hawk sitting on the deck railing and both were plastered to the closed sliding glass door making that weird chattering sound cats make. The hawk is as big as they are so I told them they shouldn’t get too excited since they would each make a very nice meal. Since they are strictly indoor cats, they have nothing to worry about and they can dream of catching and eating that really big bird.I planted flax in the garden this year and while it didn’t germinate as well as I had hoped, I still have a nice little patch. Today it flowered. The flowers are pretty little blue things and I had planned on taking a photo but when I got the chance late this afternoon, they had all closed! I’ll see if I can catch them some time during the week.
Bookman and I are really pleased with how our boulevard area in the front of the house is looking this year. It’s a hard place to grow things and I have lost count of how many varieties of plants I have tried and that have failed. The soil isn’t the best, it is hot and dry, and in winter it gets snow plowed up onto it from the street and shoveled onto it from the sidewalk. So you know the plants that end up flourishing there are pretty indestructible. At the moment they are gorgeous shades of purple and yellow in different shapes and colors. A couple of these plants migrated there from other areas of the garden and I doubt I could have planned their arrangement any better than nature herself has done. It is a great joy to come home work at the end of the day and walk by all these flowers and see bees and butterflies having dinner.
The popcorn is tasseling. It is only waist high. I didn’t expect the popcorn to be as tall as the sweet cornbut it seems a bit short. Nothing I can do about it though. The pole beans I planted to grow up the corn are going to outgrow it and I even chose a shorter variety this year than I had grown last year to account for shorter corn. I’m starting to wonder if it is even worthwhile trying to grow corn anyway. Maybe next year I will just make teepees for the pole beans and grow pumpkins beneath them and leave out the corn. It was fun to try though.
I am suddenly reminded I need to place my order for garlic before the variety I want is all gone like last year. I am very sad about our garlic fail this year. This fall we just have to be careful we don’t overcompensate for not planting them deep enough last year by planting them too deep! Gardening generally has a wide margin of error so when you miss it you really miss it good!
Adventures in Biking
My long bike ride this weekend was quite an adventure! As I mentioned earlier we had severe weather Friday night. Nature threw a party and left the place trashed. We had strobe lightning, a thunderous bass and the rain stick sounded like a waterfall. Saturday weather was forecast to be 90F/32C + with high humidity that would make it feel like 100F/38F. So I left for my ride around 7 a.m. when it was still cool. There was a light breeze and it was really pleasant. I saw right away the storm had left a mess. Just riding down my street there were a couple broken tree branches on the sidewalk and street. During my 55 miles/88.8km I was almost always dodging leaves, twigs and small branches, mud puddles and standing water. I came across seven trees that had fallen across the path. One of the trees Astrid and I were able to walk under as we had about four feet/1.2m of clearance. Two trees were small enough I could pick Astrid up and carry her over them. The other trees required detours. The first detour was through some light underbrush to the train tracks that ran parallel to the path. Not a big deal. Another was walking with Astrid off the curb, carefully around into the street and then back up the curb to the path on the other side of the tree. Another tree there was no way around and I had to backtrack a little along the path and take a nearby street as a detour.
Then there was the huge tree close to mile 21/34km. On the other side of it was where the path crossed the road on either side of the path there was nothing but trees and thick underbrush. The easiest side to get around it required I carry Astrid through the underbrush into a ditch and up the other side through more underbrush and the tops of the fallen tree. There was so much debris in the ditch I didn’t discover it also had water in it until I stepped in it and my right foot up to the arch was soaked. There were people who lived nearby out for a walk gawking at the tree. One of them told me that I’d have to get up a lot of speed to jump over it. We had a good laugh. I think he expected I would simply turn around. I was too busy concentrating so I didn’t fall while carrying Astrid that I don’t know what sort of reaction my bike portage maneuver was worth.
So I carried my Astrid into the ditch, up the other side, through the undergrowth and tree branches talking to her under my breath the whole time, come on Astrid, it’s ok, you can do it. And, good girl Astrid, we’re almost there. When I told this to Bookman he got a good laugh, finding it hilarious I was talking to Astrid as though she were the one doing the work. Well, of course I was really talking to myself but it felt like Astrid and I were working together as a team so addressing her seemed right. Once we got out to the road we surprised the group of gawkers on the other side of the tree who did not expect to see anyone come through it carrying a bike. I pulled a few leaves from Astrid’s spokes and a twig from the chain, we eased across the road to make sure we didn’t get blindsided by a car, and off we went on our merry way, quite proud of ourselves.
By halfway through my ride the fresh morning breeze had begun to turn into a wind. I have learned that if there is a wind while cycling, I will always be riding into it. By the time I was 3/4s through my ride it was getting hot and humid and the wind was making me very grumpy. I was tired and grumbling and just wanted to be done.
Then the wind suddenly shifted direction, an angel began to sing — oh wait that was Elvis on my iPod — and instead of laboring into the wind, it was pushing me along from behind! I shifted up just one shy from my biggest gear and was zipping along at close to 22mph/35.4kph with hardly any effort. It was exhilarating! It lasted for about ten minutes before the wind shifted back around but it was enough. I had found the fun again. I got to go fast, have a rest and even manage to cool down a bit. Those ten minutes were pretty much the best part of the whole ride, enough so that when I got home tired and sore from all the extra work of bike carrying and riding into the wind, after first being glad I was done for the day my thought was, I can’t wait to go again next week!