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This time of year there isn’t much to do in the garden except weed, water, watch, wait and harvest. Actually, now that I type that out, that’s quite a lot! The harvesting right now is bush beans! Yellow wax beans to be exact, though I don’t remember what variety. Bookman made us a delicious dinner with beans, garden peas, tofu, couscous and a cashew “alfredo” sauce earlier this week. He just made it up as he went along. When I asked him if he’d be able to replicate it because it was so good he said “probably.” That’s the thing with cooks who make things up on the fly, they don’t know what they’ve done half the time so an exact repeat performance is not likely. But he’ll be able to make something close so I shouldn’t complain.

The zucchini has been flowering heavily but there are no zukes on the plants yet. We planted lots of zucchini this year instead of cucumbers. We never have much luck with cucumbers and I can’t eat them (they give me really bad indigestion) so the ones we do get Bookman always has to eat on his own. I’ve been saving up recipes for things like zucchini pickles and zucchini relish and there are the old standbys of zucchini “noodles” and bread. So we are ready for a zucchini bonanza!

The tomatoes are flowering and there are even a few green tomatoes on the cherry variety we have growing. The bell peppers this year were a complete disaster. All the plants we sprouted died and the two plants we bought, one died and the other has two very tiny peppers on it about the size of a big marshmallow and they are not getting any bigger. A gardening friend tells me all of her pepper plants are stunted and only have tiny fruit too. So I can comfort myself and say it has nothing to do with me.

The cantaloupe is vining and flowering like crazy. And I noticed yesterday the pumpkin is starting to vine too. The popcorn has tiny ears of corn on a few of the plants. None of the stalks ever got taller than me and I am not very tall! I’m not confident that we will get many ears of corn, but we’ll see.

broad-winged hawk babies

broad-winged hawk babies

The big thing this week are the hawks in my neighbor’s tree. With our handy Birds of Minnesota Field Guide, we have identified them as Broad-winged hawks. Also, it seems there are three youngsters and not just one! Three hawks were sitting on our garden arch at the back of the garden. We thought one was baby and the other two were the parents. Then a fourth hawk came swooping in, much sleeker than the three on the arch, and landed on the power line not far away. Since our identification of them and learning a bit about them, we figure that was mama hawk. Papa hawk doesn’t really hang around much with this species. I managed to get a photo of the three babies, they are nearly as big as the mother but have a fluffier look about them yet (click on photo to enlarge).

This afternoon as I was hanging laundry out to dry, one of the babies was drinking and bathing in my neighbor’s bird bath. It was a rather amusing thing to watch!

We are expecting some hot days this week at or close to 90F/32C. It will make the zucchini, tomatoes, corn and lone okra plant very happy. Me, not so much.

Biking

Yesterday I did 56 miles/90 km and averaged 14.9 mph/23.9kph. My goal is 15 mph/24 kph which is a little slow on the racing side of things, but I’m still pretty pleased. I signed up for the Gran Fondo on September 27th. They have the course posted (a metric century!) and it has some big hills in it which scares me a bit. I might have to go drive the route in a car before the race date just to get an idea of what to expect. Bookman will not be joining me for the race but he will be at the start and finish to cheer me on.

I am finding that long rides involve just as much psyching myself up as they do physical exertion. The big hills on my route are mostly between miles 22-30 (km 35-48) and mostly come one right after the other. But there is one steep hill at about mile 40/64 km that I have always made it up but that some days, like yesterday, really kicks my butt. It was warm and humid by the time I got to it, I had been feeling nearly my entire ride like my legs were tired and by the time I got to this last big hill I had convinced myself it was going to be really hard. So it was. For the last month I have been able to make it up this hill without shifting down from my big ring, but yesterday I was so convinced I wouldn’t make it I shifted out of the big ring at the bottom of the hill and ground my way up. So when I got home and discovered I had almost made my 15 mph average speed goal I realized my legs weren’t as bad as I had convinced myself they were. Then of course I started making up excuses. Oy.

I had company on my ride yesterday for the first 13 miles/21km, a coworker who wants to up his biking fitness joined me. It was fun to have company for that short while (about 50 minutes) and we chatted away the whole time. I think I did most of the chattering as he was working hard after a bit to keep up the pace I was setting. But it was fun for both of us. He plans to join me again, not next weekend because Bookman and I will be attending a wedding, but the Saturday after that.

Bookman and I both registered for the Jesse James fun ride on September 12th. It too is a metric century (100 km) but because it is a fun ride it is not timed and we can take all day to ride the course (as opposed to the Gran Fondo that requires you finish in 5.5 hours). The ride is an hour south of the Twin Cities and the course is over country roads with some lovely rolling hills. It will be good practice for the Gran Fondo two weeks later.

I have a feeling August is going go zooming by. Why not, it seems like the whole summer has been on continuous full-speed. And I still have a chicken coop to build!

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