The hawks have flown the nest. Oh they are still around now and then, but essentially they are gone. The squirrels wasted no time moving back in.

Now, I think I have mentioned we are growing popcorn in the garden this year instead of sweet corn. About a month ago Bookman asked, should we put nylon socks on the ears of corn? Nah, I said, the hawks have been keeping the squirrels away, nobody is going to bother the corn this year.

Except the hawks left at the same time the corn was ready to be picked. Want to guess who got the corn first?

One ear. One. That is all they left for us.

Yes, I am a stoopid hoomun.

Lemon squash

Lemon squash

Today I did manage to harvest quite a few things, however. Picked all the crabapples. Once they get cooked down I don’t know how much juice they will translate into, but there are a couple pounds of apples. We have cheesecloth now and are ready to go. Just need to carve out time to cut the apples open and stand over the stove stirring them while they cook down. We got half-pint jars too which will also come in handy for making zucchini relish.

Also harvested some carrots. We didn’t get many but the ones that did sprout are really lovely. And purple. Cosmic purple. Dug up the rest of the potatoes too. There were quite a few, enough to encourage me to grow potatoes again next year. Picked several softball-sized lemon squash. They are called lemon squash not because they taste lemony but because they are round and lemon yellow. Makes it really easy to see them in the green leaves for picking.

We already have a few small pumpkins on the vines. The cantaloupe is growing like crazy this year too and if all goes well it looks like we will have quite a few. The variety we grow is called Minnesota Midget. It is a short growing season cantaloupe that is not quite as big as the huge ones you get at the market, but perfectly sized for two people. The flesh is a lovely orange and the flavor is sweet and juicy. Another week or two and they will be ready for eating. I can hardly wait!

I cut back the comfrey for the second time this season. It had gotten huge. I must try to

Perennial sunflowers

Perennial sunflowers

be more proactive about cutting it back because the big stems flop over and the huge leaves cover and smother everything they land on. I had two big armfuls of comfrey that I spread around the chicken garden to build soil. I had planted an experimental patch of buckwheat in the sand and it sprouted but the plants were little things with tiny leaves and tiny flowers. They are now buried under comfrey. The rest of the chicken garden is mulched in a thick layer of wood chips. The wood chips will keep the weeds from growing, because weeds don’t care if they grow in glorious loam or stingy sand, and they will decompose, creating soil as they go. Wood chips take a long time to do this but we will also be adding leaves and straw to the mix. And we have a compost bin set up in the area too.

Regarding the chickens, Bookman called the city on Wednesday. We are not allowed to start building the coop until we get the permit process started. So the city is sending us a packet with all the information and forms and stuff. We should have it in a day or two. The city has taken its sweet time and not yet changed the rule about needing your neighbors’ permission, so we will have to get their signatures. We also have to submit a site plan for approval. I think once we get that done we can start building the coop. Hopefully it will be a long, mild autumn.


Have I mentioned lately how much I love my bike, Astrid? I thought I could still love my

The Ninja, brand new in 2006. I thought it was true love until Astrid came along

The Ninja, brand new in 2006. I thought it was true love until Astrid came along

city bike, Ninja, but after pulling it out for the first time this year to ride it over to the library —it has a basket, handy for carrying books and stuff — I realized for the first time what an uncomfortable bike it is. It is slightly too small for me, which explains why when we used to go on rides longer than to the library, I would get so frustrated. I never understood why. But Astrid and I fit really well and the difference is so obvious that I wonder why I never figured it out when I just had the Ninja. Well, I do know. It’s because I had never had a bike like Astrid that actually fit me before. It also makes me mad that the bike shop I got Ninja from let me out the door with it, that they didn’t bother to make sure it was the right size and all that. I have not been back to the shop I got the Ninja from since I bought it, and I will never go back to it or one of their many locations ever again.

Anyway, Astrid. I love her dearly.

We had a really fantastic ride yesterday. It was the usual training route. The day was one of heat and tropical humidity. At 7 a.m. it was already 70F/21C with humidity somewhere around 70% or more. One of the great things about cycling is you generate your own breeze when you ride so even while I sweat a lot, as long as I keep moving I don’t feel how hot and humid it is. When I have to stop for a traffic light though, I am suddenly one big puddle. So I guess you could say the hot and humid weather encourages me to keep moving.

Riley Lake, one of the many lakes along my ride

Riley Lake, one of the many lakes along my ride

And move I did! Last week I was so thrilled to have finally averaged 15mph/24kph. When I began my ride I told myself it was okay if I couldn’t do it again because of the weather. But I felt good, really good. Maybe the intervals I began doing twice a week two weeks ago are starting to pay off already. Maybe it was the overnight oatmeal I ate for breakfast. Or the zucchini bread that was my cycling snack for the day. Or maybe it’s that I am getting really good at drinking small amounts of water while riding instead of stopping every 45-60 minutes to guzzle some down. It could be a combination of everything. Whatever it was, when I got home and looked at my ride stats I averaged 15.3mph/24.6kph and I beat my Queen of the Mountain time by four seconds. Not too shabby! It just might be by race time at the end of September I’ll be averaging 16mph/26kph. It could happen, right?

I had a little splurge yesterday on some new cycling kit. I only have two jerseys, one pair of shorts and a skort. Team Estrogen is having a summer clearance sale so I thought I would take advantage. I ordered a new jersey, a jacket that will be great for spring and fall, bad kitty socks, and BOGO (by one get one free) shorts. I saved almost as much as I spent so I don’t feel too guilty about it. And now I won’t have to worry so much about when I need clean clothes for a ride and whether or not I’ve done the laundry. If you bike, tri, or run and haven’t visited Team Estrogen before, I recommend you stop by and take a look. They sell the good brands, have plus sizes, have frequent sales, and the whole site is geared toward active women and run by women too. Plus they have good customer service.

If you are looking for a little cycling motivation, or just enjoy the Tour de France, Bookman and I watched the movie Chasing Legends the other night. It is a documentary that follows team Columbia-HTC on the 2009 Tour. They were a new team that year and I believe it was Mark Canvendish’s first Tour. He made the most of it too by winning eight stages, the most any British rider had ever won. It’s a good film, exciting, funny, harrowing. The cinematography is fantastic. Plus it gives a bit of the history of the race during which at least one rider has died from exhaustion in the mountains. I was feeling pretty good about my average speed, these guys average 24mph/40kph over a day’s ride of 125-186 miles/200-300km!

Astrid and I won’t be riding in the Tour any time soon, or ever, but it might be a fun challenge some July to ride as many miles as the Tour over the course of a month instead of 21 days. I might be crazy but I am not that crazy! Ok so even a month would be kind of crazy since the Tour is 2,200miles/3,500km, which over the course of 31 days comes out to 71 miles/114km a day. Whoa. I’d have to save up my vacation time and take the entire month off! Might have to rethink that challenge a bit.