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Amaranth

Amaranth

Autumn has finally truly arrived. High temperatures during the week hovered around 60F/15C. Nights got chilly and I had to wear a sweater or light jacket to catch the bus in the early mornings. Waldo and Dickens are both behaving as though it is freezing already and stubbornly curl up against me at night and refuse to budge even when I roll over or begin to flail around because I am too warm with them laying on me.

Some of the flax is still blooming but I wanted to plant garlic in that spot so I clipped off all the seed heads from the spent flax and pulled the plants out for the compost bin. In went garlic cloves. I bought a pound of porcelain garlic, a hardnecked variety that will produce delicious scapes. Last year I think I planted Spanish red and most of it got heaved up with all the freezing and thawing from a winter that was warmer than normal. With a super el niño in the Pacific this year, winter is expected to be mild and possibly snowier. When planting the garlic I kept telling Bookman, make sure the cloves are 2-3 inches deep! I said it so many times he got a little annoyed with me, but I don’t want another garlic disappointment next spring. The patch where the flax was didn’t turn out to be big enough so we also planted garlic in part of the strawberry bed and with the Egyptian walking onion we planted this spring. A pound of porcelain garlic was six heads with 4-6 cloves in each. If it all sprouts and bulbs up, garlic paradise next summer!

Currently the garden is a pumpkin paradise. We picked the first one today. Pumpkins have to cure for about a week before they get cut up and cooked but that doesn’t stop me from imagining all the pumpkin-y goodness that will be in store!

Some of the amaranth was obviously ready for harvesting too. I cut off two big flower heads and put them in a plastic bag to dry. Normally something like that would go into a paper bag, but amaranth seeds are so tiny that any seeds that drop out while the flower is drying would be lost in the crevices of a paper sack. The biggest flower is still going strong though and is it ever gorgeous. Bookman has decided he likes amaranth flowers so much that even if the grain harvest turns out to be negligible, he wants to keep planting them every year just because they are cool looking. And I must agree, they are pretty cool looking. At the moment some of the flowers are developing longer strands in the middle that stand up above the rest of the flower so it appears they are giving us the finger. Maybe they are.

We have a squirrel Bookman has named “Jimbo” who has decided it thinks screens are really awesome things to climb. Jimbo keeps climbing the big screen on the sliding glass door to the deck. This freaks out the cats who have thus far not tried to climb up the screen from inside the house in order to have it out with Jimbo. I don’t think they realize they could do this and I hope they remain ignorant for my sake and for the screen door’s. But it isn’t just the screen door that Jimbo likes. The other day I hear a big thunk! at the kitchen window and move the curtain aside to look out only to see a big fat squirrel belly! I pounded on the window and Jimbo didn’t seem to care. So I pounded and yelled and he reluctantly jumped off. It would be funny if it weren’t so annoying and if we weren’t convinced that Jimbo was trying to find a way to get into the house for a cozy winter hangout.

We didn’t make any actual building progress on the chicken coop this week. Time was spent priming/painting boards while the weather was dry and not too cold. Next weekend we will be able to start building the frame. In anticipation, today we got a square at the hardware store to make sure our corners are aligned so the coop doesn’t end up crooked. To test it out we put together the base frame of the coop which amounts two 4×10 foot boards and 2 4×5 foot boards screwed together in a rectangle. The corners are square but one of the boards is sightly warped so the edges aren’t coming together perfectly flush like they need too. Since this rectangle base is what the upright support boards get screwed into, I am not sure how critical perfectly joined boards are. No doubt it is one of those matters where we will find out just how important it is when we start framing the roof and everything begins to come out crooked or something. Before we begin building up next week we will make a valiant attempt to get these bottom boards as perfect as possible.

Biking

Sailboats on Lake Minnetonka

Sailboats on Lake Minnetonka

I still felt under the weather due to my reaction to the flu shot earlier in the week but my outdoor cycling days are numbered and I wasn’t going to let it keep me from what could be my last really long ride of the year. Hoping the cool weather had brought more color to the trees, I rode out to Carver Park Reserve, the same place I went to last week. The morning was cold so I wore a long sleeve bike jersey underneath a windbreaker jacket. Should I manage to get hot, both the sleeves of the jacket and my jersey are removable but I never did get hot mostly because the wind picked up and I rode directly into it nearly all the way home. At least when I am riding up a hill I might not like it but I can see the top and know there will be an end to it. When riding into the wind it feels like riding up a hill that goes on forever, I never get to reach the top and I certainly don’t get the pleasure of zooming down the other side of it after all that hard work. I did stop at Lake Minnetonka and watch the sailboats that were out taking advantage of the wind. They were really flying across the water too!

Hardly anyone was around at the reserve, at least not when I first arrived. As I pedaled along I saw something out of the corner of my eye come swooping down out of the woods. When its swoop took it right across the path in front of me I saw it was a hawk and it had just caught something. As it flew up into a nearby tree I was so busy watching it and trying to see what it had caught I almost rode off the path into some bushes!

A little while later while coming around a curve in the path, I saw what I first thought was a big orange tabby cat heading into the undergrowth. Then I saw the white tip of its tail and realized it was a fox! I have never seen a fox before and thought they were bigger than that. It moved pretty fast so I didn’t get a very good look at it but I was thrilled nonetheless.

I stopped at a different lookout than last time I was in the park. It was in bright

Me at the park lookout

Me at the park lookout

sunshine and Strava said I had ridden 33 miles/53 kms so I thought it was a good time to stop for a bite to eat. I had gotten really hungry while out riding the week before in spite of my date bar snacks so I had Bookman make me a banana-rito (peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla wrapped around a banana). I sat in the sun eating my banana-rito, listening to birds sing and watching the breeze move across a lake and through the reeds and grasses. It was absolutely marvelous and I could have sat there all day.

Sumac just past peak color

Sumac just past peak color

Back on Astrid we continued our tour through the park. The trees were stubbornly not changing color. The sumac did, which was nice, and was just past its prime but still beautiful. A good many trees had dropped their leaves but the leaves were brown so I don’t know what that was about. It was still beautiful. I got through most of the park without seeing another person, but as I got closer to the park entrance more and more people were coming in on bikes and skates and I was glad I was leaving, having had the chance to enjoy the peace and quiet.

When I got to my street I checked my mileage and it said 69/111kms. Since this was probably the last really long ride of the year — next weekend is NerdCon and who knows what the weather will be like the following weekend this being Minnesota it might be snowing — I decided I wanted to do 70 miles/112.6 kms. So I took a tour of the neighborhood until my mileage clicked over.

Astrid and I are both quite happy with our adventures this year. Hopefully there will be another short ride or two around the city before the weather gets too cold, but the big outdoor adventuring is done for the year.

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