, , , , ,

The cold I had last week that was moderately annoying took a turn and I missed work Thursday and Friday, staying home to sleep half the day and moon around in a cold medicine fog. I am feeling much better now, though as these things go, the symptoms take longer to leave than they do to arrive.

Mrs Dashwood sucks at hide and seek. I mentioned last week how Mrs. Dashwood sets up a honking when she doesn’t know where the other three are. We’ve decided that there might be some kind of game going on. Elinor, Margaret and Marianne will wander off together, leaving Mrs. Dashwood alone. When Mrs. D realizes she doesn’t know where they are, she starts honking (I know chickens don’t really honk but that’s the closest I can come to describing the noise she makes). They usually ignore her. Bookman or I will go out and chat with Mrs. Dashwood. The others sometimes come over, lately not so much. But we can kind of point Mrs. Dashwood in their direction.

By the time Mrs. Dashwood gets to where the three had been, they have casually moved elsehwhere, sometimes to the elsewhere of where Mrs. Dashwood had just been! For instance, the other day Mrs. Dashwood stood on the bottom step of the deck calling out. The three were under the raspberries at the back of the garden. I went out and had a chat, pointed her toward the raspberries. About 20 minutes later she is calling out again. I go out to look. The three are up by the deck and Mrs. Dashwood is in the raspberries. They have done this to her enough times that we are pretty sure it is deliberate.

Poor Mrs. Dashwood is always “it.” I am not sure what the three are thinking, whether they find it funny or if they are testing Mrs. D’s authority. But Bookman and I think it is hilarious. Mrs. Dashwood is not amused.

One of our neighbors across the alley knocked on our door yesterday afternoon. He had just come back from the lake four blocks away and had seen a big black rooster there and was worried it was ours. We thanked him for his concern, but we only have hens and a quick look out the window accounted for all of them. And then we gave him some eggs, which made him really happy.

The Dashwoods get lots of attention. The kids in the neighborhood love to stop outside the back fence and look in at them. We hear small children walking by with their parents making happy chicken noises. When we are out cleaning in the coop, people will stop and chat. This is something we did not expect but it makes us happy that our neighbors see the Dashwoods as an interesting addition instead of an annoyance.

I have decided that I love growing cowpeas (aka black-eyed peas). The variety I am growing is “lady pea.” The bean is about the size of a large lentil and the plants are big and lush and extremely prolific. I picked a big bowl of pods yesterday — you let the pods dry on the plant before picking — and haven’t managed to shell all of them yet. And the best part is there are even more to pick. The plants like the heat and humidity of summer but also don’t seem to mind the cooler days. And with the record-setting rainfall we’ve had this year, they have stood up to that as well. If you have hot, humid summers and haven’t tried cowpeas in your garden, I highly recommed giving them a go!

The garlic and spring bulbs arrived in the mail Friday. I saved a few heads from what we grew this year and then ordered some additional heads of the same variety — porcelain, a hard-necked variety. It is too early to plant them, the days are still too warm and if I plant now the bulbs will sprout and that would not be good. So I have to wait for a hint of frost, which will also give me time to figure out where I am going to plant them this year.

The spring bulbs also have to wait to be planted. They will go in the green roof. I got some small tulips and scilla, hardy and good spreaders. I hope. We’ll see how they do up there since the roof is still an experiment in progress.

I don’t know if you have heard the depressing news about global warming. While governments are still congratulating themselves on the Paris climate change agreement (and doing nothing to implement it), a group of top scientists announced that the carbon emissions cuts agreed upon in Paris are not enough and unless more drastic cuts are made, and made now, Earth will reach the 2C mark everyone has been trying to avoid in 35 years.

That might seem a long time from now, but keep in mind that the increase in temperature happens over time, not all of a sudden, and as we get closer and closer to 2 degrees, it’s going to get worse and worse. We are already at 1 degree of warming and I am sure most people who are paying attention have already noticed some majored changes in climate.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust that the governments are going to save us on this one. It is up to us to get the job done by cutting our own carbon footprint as much as possible and encouraging and supporting others to do likewise. I will probably sound mean saying this, but if you think that recycling and changing lightbulbs is doing your part, you are wrong. Recycling is great and so are lightbulbs that use less energy, don’t get me wrong, but it is not enough, not by a longshot. I am not perfect, I am not carbon neutral, I admit to still having a ways to go. If anyone wants to email me and exchange ideas or wants to cut back on meat consumption and needs some good vegan recipes, or heck, just some mutual encouragement because yeah, it’s hard to change, I have an email link over on my sidebar there.

I did not feel well enough Saturday to go out on a ride with Astrid so we stayed indoors on the trainer and did an easy hour and a half of spinning, keeping my heart rate low and my breathing easy. While I pedaled I watched an excellent documentary on Netflix called Bikes Versus Cars. The film followed cyclists in Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Toronto. It talked about car culture and bike culture and explodes a good many of the myths of car culture (you can get places faster is the main one but are you really getting somewhere fast when stuck in traffic on the freeway?) It is projected that by 2020 the number of cars on roads worldwide will be 2 billion. Think about that a second, and think about how much that is contributing to climate change. In 2011 in Los Angeles, a large portion of the 405 freeway was shut down over a two-day weekend for road work. This is a major freeway that is always filled with traffic. It was dubbed “Carmageddon.” People were told to just stay home and off the roads altogether, and they did. During that weekend the air quality in Los Angeles improved 85% and air pollution in the region dropped 25%.

Consider the trade-offs we are willing to make by being dedicated to a car culture. The average American spends 55 days a year in traffic. We are so tied to our cars we would rather risk asthma, death from air pollution, irreversible climate change, death in a traffic accident, and spend thousands of our hard-earned dollars every year, than give up our cars for something else. I take public transportation every day to work and I felt bad about that while watching the film. Why am I not riding my bike instead? I used to bike to work before my current job. So come the spring thaw, I am going to start doing that. I don’t have all the equipment I need to begin now, namely lights, cold weather gear, and a good route mapped out. Winter will give me time to get my act together.

Also, Astrid now has a sister! Sister will make a perfect bike for commuting when set up properly. The new bike is a Felt V85. She is a sleek black and red number with disc breaks and 30mm tires with room for 32, possibly even 35 or 36. Her main objective is gravel racing and maybe ultra-distance cycling. Because her geometry puts me in a more upright position, I’ll be able to go and go and go without putting strain on my neck and shoulders.

The sibling has not made it home yet. I left her at the bike shop for them to put on a new seat (the one it comes with pinches my ladybits) and pedals as well as water bottle cages (I could do this myself but it all comes free with the bike purchase so I will gladly take advantage of that). I will be picking her up tomorrow. I plan to take her out for a long test ride this coming Saturday (expecting my cold will be all gone by then!). She does not have a name yet but I have a list of prospects.

And don’t worry, Astrid is my first love and will not be neglected. She will be much relieved that I don’t abuse her on gravel anymore and treat her to the kinds of road adventures she was meant for. Photos of my new lovely next week and hopefully a name by then too!