Sunday, July 31, 2011

Body Oddities

Why is it, do you think, that I can go out on my bike this morning for a good, steady 35 minute ride around town and come back feeling great, but 10 minutes of trying to cut the grass yesterday left me overheated and pouring sweat? I'm sweaty today, but it's not the same.

Time of day was the same, weather conditions (temp/humidity) were about the same. I got less sleep last night than the night before. Could it be that the cycling is a positive, uplifting experience, and the lawnmower was a negative, deflating experience? Don't think that would explain the excess heat and sweat, but it could certainly impact my state of mind. I think it's just as likely that pushing that damned mower made the difference, because that was much harder than a good fast ride on the bike.

Today is shaping up to be another hot and muggy one. We finally got some rain late in the afternoon yesterday, which was great. Cooled things off, but didn't do much for the humidity level. When I went to bed my sheets felt downright soggy, and it didn't improve overnight. According to local weather sites, the humidity has been 100% since I first checked early this morning. I'm trying something new with the windows today -- leaving them open for awhile to see if the humidity inside will decrease as the sun comes over the trees. Ceiling and floor fans  are all going, to try and evaporate some of it. 

I need to walk up to the nearby grocery store before it gets too hot, and then it's going to be an exciting day of laundry and housecleaning.  Whoopee!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How sweet it is!

A cold front has swept down from the north and brought an end to our sizzling heat!  A temporary end, to be sure, but more welcome than I can even describe.  When I left work yesterday just before 3pm the temp on my car dash was under 80 for the first time in months.  The afternoon and evening got progressively cooler, all doors and windows flew open once I arrived home, no fans necessary through the night.

After a decent night's sleep, with the temp hovering around 70 this morning, I headed out early on my bike -- around town, this time, rather than on the Silver Comet.  It was wonderful!  Trails are great -- and the SC is one of the better ones I've seen -- but at heart I'm a road cyclist.  I love the feel of the open highway where I can fly on long straightaways, ridding my body of pent up energy and frustrations and stress and..... whatever needs to go.  Until now, I've been a bit squeamish around here, with the good old boys driving monster pickups and maybe even the little old ladies driving big sleds.  But it was early on a Saturday morning, and I knew traffic would be light on the streets I chose.  Actually, for the most part I was on residential streets right in town, but the first part skirted the edge of town.  All in all about 45 minutes, and it felt wonderful!

Freshly hand cultivated (have I ever mentioned how much I love the feel of dirt between my fingers?), plenty of compost and a bit of cottonseed meal, and it's headed towards being ready for fall planting. After the marigolds die and after I figure out where to put the other ornamentals.

Back home, after a little protein in my body, I headed out to the garden.  The sky was still grey, the temp cool.  Lovely.  I dug 4 or 5 or maybe more buckets of almost-finished compost out of my oldest pile and spread it here and there in the veggie beds, the blueberries and the dogwood.  There's plenty more in that big bin left for fall bed amendments and planting.

These guys are far too old and woody for my old teeth to enjoy eating, but after some cooking, I'm thinking they'll be pretty good as soup.  Wonder what would happen if I also put eggplant in the soup, since I have so much of that?

In the process, I opted to finally pull all the carrots out, but I left the green tops and flowers across the bare bed to keep cats out and to keep the birds happy.  I love that my garden always has birds popping in and out of the beds, getting seeds and/or bugs.  This morning, for the first time, I saw a pair of goldfinches fly from the wildflower bed after they noticed my presence on the back porch.  Lovely!

I've also noticed the presence of a surprising number of dead June Bugs on the cedar around the beds.  Enough, in fact, that I'm beginning to wonder if the nematodes got them.  June Bugs come from grubs in the soil.  Nematodes will attack the grubs with great relish.  I would have thought that it would be the grub that would die, but is it possible that the process was slow enough to allow the bugs to emerge, then die?  I don't know, but it's a thought.

All those carrots -- too big to eat comfortably -- are going into soup, since the day is cool enough for a little cooking.  Yum.

All this, and it's only 10 am.  What will the rest of this day bring?  I'm not sure -- but I think a shower would be in order at the top of the list.  And there are always errands to run.  This cool spell is supposed to last for a couple of more days -- we can only hope the weatherguessers are right on this one.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sixteen Months Later....

It's been awhile since I posted garden photos, and I know you are all waiting with bated breath to see how it looks at this very moment.  OK. So humor me.  I want to show you how it looks right now.

As I've mentioned previously, it's been a seriously hot summer, starting in May, with an almost unbroken chain of 90+ degree days for May and June and now into July with no letup in sight until September.  Hot. Now, the summer muggies are here.  It's not quite as hot as it's been during the day, but the difference is negligible, the nights warmer, the air is thick with humidity and we've had several thunderstorms that brought much-needed rain. Now, while I may not enjoy the heat or the humidity or thunderstorms, the garden loves all of it.

The big picture.  Remember when I arrived in February of 2010 this was all a sea of green?  Well, in February it was actually brown, but you know what I mean. Lots of hard work went into this, most of which is chronicled on these pages somewhere, if anyone is curious.

Marigolds, hurriedly seeded in a veggie bed because the holes in the concrete block weren't filled with soil yet.  I had the best intentions of transplanting the seedlings, but you know what they say about good intentions.  Note the big carrot greens and white flowers behind, and bits of the wildflower garden on the right.  Not to mention that big fat squash plant in the rear.

Echinecea and basil seem to do well enough together.  Another temporary home for flowers in the veggie bed.  That yellow crookneck squash is the only one of three remaining.  The other two, both patty-pan, succumbed to the dreaded squash vine borer a week or so ago.  This one was covered with squash bugs and had signs of the borer, too, but a good spraying with Eco Smart insect killer seems to have taken care of both.  It's thriving, at any rate.  The others were gone beyond salvation when I came home from work one day.

Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and okra.  No ripe tomatoes yet, the peppers are disappointing so far.  But, I've had eggplant and okra with plenty more coming along.  When the tomatoes begin to ripen, I'll have more than I want.  But, I'm all prepared to make a bunch of home-made marinara sauce and freeze it in pint jars.  Already have a bunch of pesto in the freezer, in single-serving ice-cubes.  This summer's bounty will last awhile.

I have a veritable forest of baby redwoods sprouting from the humus around what I guess is my 'mother tree', a twig brought from Oregon that I hoped would grow.  They aren't large, but they seem to be quite vigorous.

So that's it, people.  Oh -- I also got a whole handful of blueberries today from the three bushes.  More are ripening every day, but that bird netting makes it almost as hard for me to get to them as it does the birds. Definitely need an improvement to this system for next year.