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It is the middle day of a three-day holiday weekend here and the weather could not be more perfect. Cool at night, warm and sunny during the day, but not too warm, comfortable.

No chicken video today. They are free ranging in the chicken garden and really, how much video of them scratching in the leaves can one really want? They do make wonderful chicken noises now though, no more peeping. They have happy sounds and distressed sounds and angry sounds. Their happy sounds are soothing and pleasant to listen to, the chicken equivalent of a cat’s purr.

Picked the first peas from the garden today. It is not a banner pea year, unfortunately. This makes me sad because I love peas so very much. It just got too hot in early spring and at least half the plants are stunted, some of them have died. Only a few are truly vigorous. I will really be appreciating these peas since there won’t be many more! I am going to try and plant some peas in August and see if I can’t get some in October before the freeze. Fingers crossed!

Black raspberry cocoa muffin

Black raspberry cocoa muffin

It is a banner year for the black raspberries. We’ve already frozen about two pints and Bookman made a third pint into muffins today ( I know I owe a certain someone a muffin recipe—coming soon!). There are still lots out there too. The red raspberries will be starting to get ripe probably in a week or so. And it appears that the blackberry I have given up on and was planning on pulling out might have decided to live and produce some fruits. There are little green berries on it. We’ll see how that goes.

It is still too early to tell but it looks like it might end up being a good year for beans. All of the beans I have planted are looking really good and growing into strong plants. They will start blooming in another couple weeks and then I’ll know for sure, but so far, so good.

The zucchini, pumpkins and cantaloupe are also all looking strong. We planted lots of zucchini because last year we made sweet zucchini relish and Bookman loved it so much he wants to make and can jars and jars of it. The stuff is great on sandwiches and in salads too. We use it like sweet cucumber relish and it is perfect for when the zucchini grow a bit too large.

Several weeks ago Bookman found an old seed packet of broccoli and asked what he should do with it. I said whatever he wanted to and he tossed them into an untended area of the garden by the chicken coop where we used to have a red twig dogwood growing. I noticed earlier in the week that there are a good many broccoli sprouts that are already putting out second and third leaves! Of course the two years we have actually tried to grow broccoli on purpose, we got nothing, not even a sprout. And now old seed randomly sprinkled has grown up strong and healthy!

This seems to be the year of garden irony since none of the lettuce we planted came up but arugula we did not deliberately plant is growing very well all over the garden. I have a packet of winter lettuce mix that is two years old. The end of August I am going to randomly sprinkle it somewhere and see what happens. Of course, irony will take over and my deliberate “random” sprinkle will do nothing.

It's called wild bergamot for a reason

It’s called wild bergamot for a reason

In a pollinator patch by the clothesline pole I planted a wild bergamot last year along with prairie smoke and butterfly weed to go with the already well-established anise hyssop. Prairie smoke is a delicate spring flower and it did fairly well. The butterfly weed may be doing well but I can’t tell for certain because it has been consumed by the wild bergamot that is attempting to take over. I have bergamot planted in the the front yard and it has been well-behaved and fairly contained. It stays kind of short and has not spread anywhere. The pollinator patch by the veg garden must be the ideal location for the bergamot because it has turned into a monster! It is tall and sturdy and spreading wide. It is just beginning to bloom and will very shortly be covered in pale purple spidery flowers. I love the smell of the bergamot in the front yard so I hope this backyard monster will smell as good or better.

Happy trails

Happy trails

I went out on a long bike ride yesterday with my trusty Astrid. No accidents this time! The scabs on my chin and lip from last week’s mishap are gone and I have bright pink skin that does not match the rest of my skin yet. My teeth are feeling much better too. They are still super sensitive but every day just a little less so. It has been difficult to not be able to bite things and I expect it will be even harder once my teeth are no longer sensitive. Eight weeks is going to feel like a long time. I love sandwiches and I usually have one at work for lunch. They are quick and easy to make and so very portable. Bookman has been hard pressed in the creativity department for my lunches and resorted to lots of noodles last week. I told him Thursday that I was tired of noodles and he is going to have to put his thinking cap on. We shall see what he manages this week.

It was a perfect day for a bike ride yesterday. I was out just after 7 in the morning and was glad for the early start since by the time I turned back for home the trails and roads were getting really busy with people out and about for the holiday weekend.

So pretty

So pretty

I rode out on the same trail I did last weekend but then detoured onto a county road and headed to the town of Stillwater on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border along the St. Croix River. The county road turned out to be a lovely ride. It was good, smooth pavement and had some great rolling hills. From the number of cyclists going by on the other side of the road it appears it is a favorite riding area for folks who live nearby.

From Stillwater I picked up a trail that connected me back to the one I had ridden out on and spit me back out onto the rutted and potholed streets of St. Paul just north of the state capital. I thought Minneapolis streets were bad! There were many long stretches of pavement that were bumpier to ride on than gravel. At least gravel is a constant vibration, but the streets are just jarring bump after bump after bump and do not make for pleasant riding at all.

I made it home safe and sound and super hungry because I didn’t pack enough food for 70 miles/112 km. Hummus never tasted so good!

Wolf sculpture with Stillwater lift bridge and the  wilds of Wisconsin behind

Wolf sculpture with Stillwater lift bridge and the wilds of Wisconsin behind

The Tour de France got off to an exciting start yesterday. Normally I don’t follow it that closely but this year I am very excited for it mostly I think because I have a few ways to follow it other than brief reports on the radio. Even Bookman is finding it exciting to watch.

Oh, and we got our “new” car Thursday night. A white exterior/grey interior 2013 Honda Fit with just over 7,000 miles on it. We were expecting the whole start to finish of the transaction to take maybe an hour. Hahahahaha! A little over two hours later they finally gave us the keys and we drove home. It was after 9, past our bedtime, and we were so tired from the ordeal that we didn’t stay up reading for even a few minutes.

The car is a hatchback and the seats fold down making the back quite roomy. Bookman and I both have Independence Day off and he has consented to go on a bike ride with me. We are going to drive out to a trail and see how the bikes fit in the back of the car. Hopefully they do well since the bike rack we had for the old car will not work on a hatchback and I really don’t want to have to buy a new rack.

I am making plans for several autumn rides and races. More on those soon!

Happy Independence Day to everyone reading in the U.S.!