Friday, July 21, 2017

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Well, kids. I only got through our first day in Decorah for my blog posts and it doesn't look like I'll get much farther in the next week. We're heading out on OOBRAI (our own bike ride around Iowa) tomorrow. We'll ride to Waterloo tomorrow and it mostly be on a nice bike path.

I will miss my garden a lot. I have such great conversations with the bees and butterflies and birds that hang around in it. I will also miss our cats. My kids will be house sitting. Stinky has to be out of her old apartment on this Tuesday, but she can't move into her new apartment until next Tuesday. Hopefully, we'll come back to the place still all in one piece. Fingers crossed!

I'll be sure and write it all down when we get back. Until then, happy life and fun Summer!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

And the Air Was Beautiful. The Night She Fell All Around.

Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh did we have a great weekend for my birthday celebration. John and I both took Friday and Monday off of work. So, Friday morning we woke up and headed over to the new cyclocross park we are working on and met the department of parks and rec and checked out all of the progress on the course and talked about the grand opening festivities.

When we got back from that, I got to work in the garden for a little bit and was surrounded by birds and bees and butterflies and made another pretty big haul of peppers and zucchini and green beans and salad greens. Then I finally got to the business of packing the car and we left town a little after 1.

We made it to the campsite in Decorah at around 3:30. We set up our tent and headed out to find the mountain bike trails.

They have great trails in Decorah, although some of them were pretty scary. Skinny trails with steep drop-offs on one side and lots of rocks and roots to ride over.

It was also hard to pay attention to the trails because we kept getting distracted by the jaw dropping scenery.

We rode for about an hour and then got a text from the girls saying they were finally here. So, we headed back to the campsite.

Stinky bought a new tent and she did try hard to set it up herself, but I thought this photo was hilarious, especially with the caption, "The girls setting up their tent". John really only did help them with the few tricky parts.

Once that was done, we went out for dinner to a cool pizza place. The food was good and we had a nice talk.

Everyone was telling us to check out Toppling Goliath brewery. It was nice and we had a couple of beers and my girls didn't bicker too much and I tried to tune-out when they did (that has taken YEARS of practice).

We got back to the campground and tried to sleep. Apparently, we chose the biggest party campground around and none of us (except John who can sleep through anything) were able to sleep very well. We decided not to stay at the campground a second night and payed way too much for a hotel for Saturday night, since we reserved it at the last minute. Even after that part, we had a great half day in Decorah and we were excited about what the next day would bring.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Everyone's Feelin' Pretty. It's Hotter Than July

 Well, now we're up to the 4th of July. Since it was on a Tuesday, both John and I had to work on Monday. We knew we had a lot to do with that day of vacation, so we got up early. John went to the cyclocross course to get some work done there and I went out for a run before it got ridiculously hot.

Then after I got back, I worked on using our friend's chainsaw to cut up the trees that we chopped down over the weekend. It was crazy how long that took and how many bags it took to get all of the yard waste ready for pick-up. I'll tell you what, though. If I lived out in the country, I would have made a gigantic bonfire of it all and called it good.

So, I spent most of the day getting all of that crap sawed up and bagged (10 big yard bags and one big garbage can, yeah) and then John and I went to Shakespeare's (our neighborhood pub) to eat lunch. The Cubs game was on and the food was good and I had an ice cold Coca-Cola and that was just the fuel I needed to get ready for round two. We came home and I mowed the lawn. John was going to try and work outside, but it just got way too damn hot. So, I ran to the store to get a few things and he worked on cleaning the inside of the house.

When I got home, I had a little time and I used it to rest and read my book and have an ice cold Arnold Palmer. Aaaahhhhh. Archie kept me company, although, he was pretty tired from having napped all day.

I finally got up and got going. Stinky and her fiance were coming over for dinner and true to my usual form I had to cook WAY too much food. I grilled salmon and barbecued chicken and stuffed and grilled peppers from our garden and I sauteed eggplant, zucchini and green beans from our garden. I also took a huge risk and got some corn on the cob. It was early, so it could have gone badly, but it was excellent. After our bellies were so full we could barely walk, Stinky and her fiance took off and John and I watched an episode of Seinfeld before we went to bed.

It may not have been the most fun Fourth of July I ever had, but it felt to get some stuff done and now the neighbors should be happy that our yard doesn't look so much like crap.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Problems Left Alone, Weekenders On Our Own

So, this last weekend was crazy busy. We are trying to get so many projects done, while still playing on our bicycles, but I think something's gotta give here. In a couple of weeks, we'll go to Decorah for my birthday and then we'll be on OOBRAI for the next two weekends after that, so we are feeling a little pressure...Or a lot of pressure to get as much done as possible.

This will be a mostly photo post about all of the things we tried to get done this past weekend. As always, every day starts with the chore of dealing with a fat orange cat...

Saturday morning, our friends Burne and Chelsea came over at about 8 am. The plan was for John to  help Burne fix up his new pretty orange bike frame in exchange for the use of Burne's battery operated chainsaw.

They worked for a while on the bike, and since I have no mechanical skills, I opted out of that and rode my bike to the farmer's market. I got some coffee from Cafe del Sol for the guys. They loved it and it's a local company which is always important. I also got some beets and some sweet breads and monster cookies.

I headed home and we got to work on the trees that were growing too close to our foundation. They have been there since I bought the house, but I haven't had a chainsaw to use until now.

I got to use a chainsaw for the first in many years. Yea!. It was nice to have Burne help me figure out how to cut the trees without hitting power lines and our next door neighbor's roof.

 Burne's girlfriend also helped me drag the brush to the front yard.

 We got the first tree cut and the brush dragged out of the way,

 And when we were working on taking down the second tree, I was putting pressure on the stump. Of course, it snapped at the last moment and all the pressure I was applying threw me down on top of the pointy stump of the other tree. Ouch! You should see the bruise on my butt...Well, you really shouldn't see it.

My next order of business was to cut that stump way down where it couldn't do anyone any more harm. That'll teach it.

After all of our hard work, we rewarded ourselves with a 35 mile bike ride and a nice dinner. The other kids had regular bee and I got a nice, refreshing, Millstream root beer. Ahhhhhhh.

John and I weren't done with the work even then. We had to go to the bridge at the cyclocross course we're working on and clean it. Then we went to Lowe's and got paint and sand for it. We finally stopped at the grocery store and went home. We were both exhausted.

On Sunday morning we were back at the bridge. Since we'll be riding our bikes over the bridge when it's raining, we had to mix sand into the paint to give it traction.

We also wanted to match it up to the same colors as the rest of the buildings in the park.

I think we did a damn fine job. There's about 50 lbs of sand on the bridge now. We could probably play some beach volleyball on there if we wanted to...

Of course, Sunday was no different than any other day in the fact that we had to listen to the constant complaining of our fat orange cat. He was hungry, he wanted to play red dot, he wanted us to brush him...No, not there. Right under his ears. He was hungry some more. Why won't we just let him go outside and kill birds like the other cats?

So, we decided to get away from the cats for a while and go on a bike ride with our friends.

At one point, me and the other woman riding, got a little ahead of the boys. You know, boys can be so slow sometimes...Anyway, the other woman had never ridden the route before. I had ridden the route about a hundred times, but that didn't mean that I wasn't going to miss the turn-off and get us lost just all the same, though.

Some accidents are happy accidents and this one led us to a goat heaven. Look how cute they all are!

The boys finally caught up with us and gave me a hard time for having no sense of direction.

They didn't stop there either. They then gave me a hard time for taking goat selfies.

Apparently, this is what I look like when I'm trying to take a selfie with my new goat friends. Crazier than usual.

We were sad to leave them and our new goat friends were sad to see us go.

We made it to Kalona and had a nice meal and then we headed home to more incredible views and sightings of deer, chickens, sheep, horses and most importantly, goats. And none of them whined at us like Archie does.

We got a lot done last weekend and still got to play, which means we were kind of excited to go to work on Monday so we could finally get some rest.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

There's an Air of Love and of Happiness

Ode to Summer:

Last night when John got back from having dinner with his mom,

We sat on the porch with our cat.

The sun was just setting, leaving brilliant streaks of peach and coral in its wake.

It would "not go gently into that good night".

It would make a grand exit.

And as it sunk and the sky darkened, we noticed the blinking lights in our yard -

On and off. On and off.

Lightning Bugs.

Our cat lifted his head and became very attentive, thinking it was something he might hunt.

But quickly realized it was outside of his domain on the other side of the screen.

He laid his head back down and we all enjoyed the second act.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

And the Leaves That Were Green Turned to Brown. And They Wither With the Wind and They Cumble in Your Hand.

Man, if you ever want a lot of extra drama and conflict in your life, grow a garden. People make it seem like it's some kind of relaxing, zen type experience, but let me tell you, baby, it's war. War!

The Monday after I came back from TOMRV, I woke up with the worst migraine I've had in months. Stupid hormones crashing...I had to call in sick to work, take my migraine meds and pass-out in my bed for most of the day.

When I finally did wake up, having shaken off most of the migraine pain and dizzyness, I went outside to obsess over my garden and then I was hit with the garden devastation. The deer had discovered my plants and seemed to REALLY like our Swiss Chard, green beans and beets. Damn them!

I'm not sure what other kinds of bacchanalian, debauched, animal, solstice, celebration took place in our yard on Sunday night, but I also found a dead vole on our driveway. What the hell?

Because my husband is an incredible person with an eye for detail, he looked up ways to dissuade the deer. It is amazing some of the creepy things people tell you to do. John's co-worker said his grandpa always collected human hair from barber shops, stuffed the hair into panty hose and lined his garden with it. Ew! Fortunately, John found an easier, affordable way to keep them out of the garden. He bought some very tall stakes, placed them on the corners of the garden about a foot away from the fence and then we strung fishing line around the garden. It's supposed to work because deer can't see it at night, so when they try to jump in the garden and feel it, they don't know what it is and they get scared. It's been working so far, but deer have an annoying ability to adapt and we'll see if it works for the rest of the growing season.

For an extra measure, Stinky and I, with some supervision from the grand puppy, spray painted cat food cans that John and I saved and cleaned and we hung them up around the garden, hoping that the noise they make works to scare critters off as well.

Even if they don't work, it was a beautiful day and a fun project with my baby girl.

Right now, our garden is kicking so much ass. We have baby eggplant starting to grow...

...And most of the flowers are blooming.

I was even able to pull the garlic up a littler earlier than usual.

Of course, this week my garden was visited by those awful Japanese beetles that want to eat everything. This war, I fought alone. I bought some Neem oil, mixed it with water and sprayed it on the leaves of most of my plants. It's supposed to kill aphids and bugs and mites (which we also have). I ran into a friend of mine who told me that I should kill the beetles in soapy water and leave the bucket with the water and dead beetles by my plants because beetles can smell the other dead bugs (I smell dead people?) and stay away from the garden. Nature is so weird.

On a more positive note, one of my co-workers found out I lost most of my beets and she gave me some from her garden. So nice.

So, we'll see what happens with the critters and the bugs and I'll have to figure out different strategies to deal with the next garden invasion. Get a garden, they said. It will be so peaceful and good for the soul, they said...Lying bastards.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

And Either Way, These Days We're Not as in Control as We Think

So, I'm going to try really hard to play catch-up with blog posts this week. We'll see how that goes...

On June 10th and 11th we rode TOMRV with our friends. It's a long touring ride up and down the Mississippi River. 106 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing on the first day and 90 miles with 4,000 feet of climbing the second day.

This was the 4th time I did TOMRV and it was a doozy. Most of our group had some kind of issue. One of the guys crashed on his bike the week before and had stitches that he wouldn't quit messing with, the other guy pulled his hamstring doing farm work, I got my period for the first time in a couple of months and I was weak and in pain. John was fine, though. So, one out of four ain't bad?

The first part of the ride was just great. We had a nice tailwind and the the big hills didn't start until later on in the day.

We made it to Sabula (the only island town in Iowa (on the Mississippi River)). We decided to stop and get ice cream and it was a brilliant decision.

I had to stop and get a photo on Broad Street. I'm sure all of us broads have to.

We crossed the Mississippi for the first time that day without a hitch.

We stopped in a little town right before we got to the bigger hills. One of the guys and I split a very large bottle of chocolate milk that seemed like a good idea at the time, but turned sour once we were trying to ride up very long and steep hills.

I was able to get an album cover shot photo of the boys on the stairs of a motel, so that was good...

By the time we left the ski resort and started heading for Galena, I started to lose it. Lose my strength, lose my emotions and lose my ability to function properly.

I was hoping the rest in Galena would help, but even after a salad and some iced tea, I had some serious struggles on the way to Dubuque.

My legs were so weak and my breathing so shallow and labored, that I wasn't sure if I was going to make it up even some of the smaller hills. I did have a bit of a panic attack at one point and that was a lot of fun...Or not. Then, when we got to the bridge to cross the Mississippi again to get to Dubuque, there was a crazy cross wind. So, we are riding a highway bridge with semi's passing us at over 60 mph on our left side and a strong wind trying to blow us over the railing and into the Mississippi River on our right. Another time in my life that I was glad I weighed 15 lbs more than I did last year at that time.

Anyway, we made it to Dubuque, ate good food and I passed-out around 9 o'clock.

Sunday was another day. I wasn't sure how I would feel and if I'd be able to ride after Saturday. We got up, ate breakfast. Fixed the slow flat I got on Saturday, in addition to everything else that day, and headed out.

The hills were crazy at the beginning of our ride. It was about 95 degrees out and a strong headwind. I was able to ride okay at first. We met a few other friends and at about 29 miles in, we reached the town of Belleview. It is gorgeous and right on the Mississippi River.

We found this great place to eat called The Flatted Fifth. It was an old Mill and it was right on the river. As you can see, it almost looks like a little Irish Cottage by the bike racks.

Our friend, Mr Heck, was having problems with his ankle that had the stitches, so he decided to get a ride back home with our friend, Burne's girlfriend. The rest of us headed back onto the road

We rode another 20 miles or so, when our friend Burne just turned his bike off the road and rode to a farm house with a big tree in front. My foot was killing me by then. I think it was just swollen from all of the water I was retaining (pretty) and so John and I followed him and sprawled out for a bit to collect ourselves.

When we got to Goose Lake, my goose was cooked. I told John that I was going to take the sag wagon to the end and wait for him there. When I asked the driver if he had room for one more, out friend Burne yelled, "Two! Room for two more." I asked John if he wanted to still ride or hop on the wagon and he said he'd keep riding.

We made it back to the end in Bettendorf and some other friends of ours, who also stopped in Goose Lake showed up to get their cars.

We had a nice talk about how brutal the heat and winds were and then they took off for home.

Burne went to the store and got some beer, and gatorade and ice cream, so that John would have something when he got done. He finished up and told us his riding stories and said it was tough riding the whole way back. Then a few women racers we know showed up. They had ridden the whole thing too, but said they were dying. We all sat around and told stories about our rides and drank a beer and then we packed up and headed home. 

Will I do TOMRV next year. Sure. Probably. Hopefully, the winds and my hormones will control themselves and it will be a better weekend.