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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Little Love Apples

So far I've failed to kill the cuttings Julie gave me, so while these guys have a long, long ways to go compared to the four and five foot high monsters growing out back, I may yet have a Berkley Tie Dye and a Japanese Black Trifele or two before the season's over.

Even the one that was just one leaf after I removed the obviously diseased ones is still green, so I assume it's still biologically alive. I moved them to a partially shaded area on Worley's advice, so they could focus on root development. They better not dick around about it, it's July starting tomorrow.

I have more zucchini germination going, too, three plants now. One has some icky looking edges to its leaves, and being it's just starting out, so I wouldn't advise it to buy any green bananas.

Speaking of icky leaves, much more pruning of low branches on the tomatoes and peppers. Whatever perforated my bell pepper plants (both California Wonder and Lilac look like they sustained machine gun fire from a platoon of GI Joes), I hope getting rid of the bottom third of the foliage will keep that critter at bay.

Some of the other peppers are starting to flower, especially the Kung Pao.

And I've got fruit set on fourteen of the fifteen tomatoes in the raised beds. Tigarella has flowers but is holding out on me with actual tomato formation.

I was blown away at how much bigger the Kellog's Breakfast fruits have gotten since Sunday (when I last paid close attention). One is almost baseball sized already.

I am trying to decide whether to water in the morning. Its been a few days since the rain stopped, and the soil at the surface feels dry. Time was, when I grew tomatoes, I figured if the leaves were curling up in the late afternoon, that meant they needed water. Which I gave them, by blasting the leaves with the spray attachment on the garden hose. Knowing what I now know, I realize that's like a homebrewer who doesn't boil his wort, only dumps & stirs malt extract with dried yeast in an unsanitized plastic bucket.

Believe it or not, I actually had tomatoes to eat despite that treatment, so I'm sure I'm over-thinking things here to some extent, but after a few hours stooping to prune and weed and whatnot, and applying fungicide weekly, not to mention the backbreaking work of putting the beds in in the first place. I'm also reasonably sure that the quantity and quality of tomatoes I've grown in those half-assed efforts were far below what I could have achieved and that there was a good deal of luck in my plants surviving at all.

A neighbor managed to kill a couple of her tomato plants by over-watering them (watered them every day even when we got five inches of rain that day), but I'd hate to go too far the other way and put all this expense and effort in for four or five Micro Tom fruits (what I've harvested so far).

And, sadly, the Micro Toms are apparently dead. I don't know what disease they got, and they managed to ripen a few tiny but delicious fruits while dying of it, but they have definitely shuffled off this mortal coil and joined the bleeding choir invisible (as the story goes).

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Going the Distance

30.8 miles was the official total of this evening's ride. I ended up riding slower than I could have, I wasn't very focused and there wasn't anyone to keep up with since it ended up being a solo ride.

This'll be the last ride in June for me, and I do feel good that I've set another PB (earlier in the month, I set new records for both average speed, 16.0 mph, and top speed, 44.6 mph). So while my lazy-ass 11.3 mph average this evening was kind of shabby, I've shattered my previous record for miles ridden in a month (285.1, September of last year which was skewed just a bit by Bike MS).

As of this evening, I logged 360.5 miles in June, more than April and May combined.

Which means I'm readier for Bike MS going into July than I was going into Bike MS itself last year. Sponsor me? Pretty please? I'm doing the Century loop this year.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Brewery Ride Dance Mix, Y'all Come

This is my planned route for Tuesday, 6/29. We leave earlier than the Prairie Village Yacht Club guys, 6:00 p.m, and we go further north and further south, though there's a lot of overlap in the middle.

Me and Roj are for sure, I think Dr. Jill is coming, and everyone else is invited. We'll probably average about 13 mph, which is as fast as I'm probably capable of on this route (my riding mates are faster, even Roj with the crazy mods he's made to that ridiculous bike of his).

Recovery Ride: Tour of Flags

Merriam and Shawnee are all decked out for Independence Day. It's cool, seeing all the flags, though they're at head level so when it comes to doing a scan for traffic before, say, hopping on Johnson Drive, they're a bit of a hazard to navigation.

I wonder how much of the feeling I got seeing the is actual patriotic sentiment and how much is just the visual impact of those bold colors repeated like that, waving in the wind. I bet if they were Mexican flags or Irish flags or whatever, the effect would still be impressive.

Though I'd have to wonder in those cases when Merriam got so hard core about St. Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo.

It wouldn't really work with the black flag of anarchy, you'd need some color to get this happening.

And just when we all thought Roj's Speed Racer act couldn't get weirder: now, not only does his 1979 Mongoose BMX have shifters (a six speed), he has aero-discs on his rear wheel.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Evening Ride

They've finally finished Lone Elm over by Olathe Medical Center, and what used to be a narrow two-lane road is now a gorgeous four lane wide affair with bike lanes marked off almost wide enough to allow riders two abreast.

The only unfortunate stretch of this ride is 159th after you get past the new stuff (West of the bridge over I-35), the pavement gets a big ragged; right before you cross the train tracks there's a short stretch of maybe 15 feet that's actually gravel instead of blacktop.

But overall, especially on a Sunday evening when there's little traffic, it's a pretty tasty route. There are a few climbs, none intense. There are a lot of stretches where you don't have to stop, so that's a plus, too. Once I passed Madison on Gardner Road going south, there's no stop signs or lights until Dennis & Parker. In an unlikely turn of luck, I timed that light and the one crossing 56 Hwy and didn't have to apply brakes until Lone Elm and 151st where it was flashing red.

23.1 miles, averaged 13.1 mph.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Family Reunion

My Dad got into genealogy when I was a kid, in a pretty big way. As a result, he's served as editor of a family newsletter with a last name I'd never heard before I was an adult, and he's traveled all over going to reunions held by other branches of the family, often very distantly related, organized by other genealogy nuts.

I talked World Cup soccer with a man who had my last name at this shindig, but as far as my Dad knows, he's not a blood relative of ours.

Go figure.

I got to thinking, given how few of the people in attendance were anyone I'd ever met, about a character sketch, the basis for a funny and sad tale about a guy who crashes family reunions to feel a sense of belonging, to scam free food and community with people who he's not really related to.

I was talking about this with a woman named Jennifer (I've never met her before today but apparently we're kin, though distantly), and she said it actually happened at one of their picnics, that some people everyone assumed was part of the family just wandered over and joined the party. Except when asked which part of the family they came from, they said, 'No, we came from the camp site over there.'

Em surprised me (and I think herself) by actually enjoying the whole thing. Lots of little kids, a raffle, a large pot luck meal with lots of sweets for after, she was in hog heaven.

Mo didn't dig it as much, though she did eat heartily.

My nephew put his raffle ticket in for this Hot Wheels thing, and thought that meant he could just take it. When he learned that he only had a chance at it, he completely melted down. Then, hours later, when he'd settled down and all was right, he ended up having the winning ticket. Everyone seemed glad he'd won what he was so set on, and by his reaction it was like winning the Power Ball, but I had to wonder what kind of Pavlovian reinforcement it was. Wouldn't a reasonable child conclude that the tantrum had actually caused the good luck?

Fly In

The vintage airplane fly-in was at the municipal airport this weekend. The girls did not want to go to it, but I stopped and took a few snaps of the old planes from a distance. Not quite as cool as the Great War Fly-In where the planes are replicas of WWI aircraft, but pretty cool still.

Not sure what was up with these legs. Is the idea a fallen barnstormer/wingwalker?

Lunar Mission

Went by Moon Marble today, watched Bruce make an Alien Swirl, but the real reason for the mission was to retrieve the one-of-a-kind Sara Sally LaGrand marble I commissioned on an impulse last week.

She's made about a million frogs, lizards, that sort of thing, but this is the one and only Lobster she's ever done.

Came with a little display stand and a little bag. And she signed it (I hadn't expected that, since she was getting ready to leave town and I'd been told I'd have to have her sign it at a later date).

Yet More Decals

I don't know why it took me almost a year to get around to making decals for my bike. And even longer for me to decide to deface my helmet.

Well, the new helmet being a boring white color, even duller than the red my misfit helmet was, got me to start in on that.

Honestly, I don't know why the people at Trek don't go ahead and make a helmet with a rubber chicken already imprinted on it.

I need to stop in at a motorcycle shop sometime and investigate getting one of those Spartan broom toppers, see if they can be latched onto a cycling helmet as easily as to a motorcycle helmet...

More Fruit Set

Mortgage Lifter, Tom's Yellow Wonder, Cherokee Purple, and Stupice have started setting fruit, making a total of seven of my fifteen varieties that have made good on their threats to grow tomatoes.

And, surprisingly, I got three more ripe ones off my pitiful, sickly Micro Toms. They're not healthy plants, but one of them seems to have managed to bear fruit despite being practically leafless at this point.

They taste fantastic, it's a shame there's not more of them.

And at least one zucchini has germinated. Not having done a lot of gardening, I always wonder if I'll be able to tell a weed from the plant I'm trying to grow. But I'm pretty sure these guys don't look like any of the volunteer leaves around my yard.

My Kung Pao pepper plant is the healthiest looking plant of my peppers so far, and has quite a few flowers on it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nobody Will Play With Me!

Okay, it was very last minute that Jennichild sent the notice about my little Thursday evening alternative to the Lockton training ride that wasn't going to happen.

And besides the normal ride leader being out of town and the team captain backing out, I mapped out two possible routes, both of which are roughly 30 miles long. The 'long' route this group normally takes is 20 miles, so maybe I spooked some folks.

Maybe I should have mapped two routes, one of which was considerably shorter, offering a peel-off for people who wanted to do something besides ride their bicycle this evening.

I was pushing the clock getting to Porter Park myself, because when I stopped at a convenience store to fill my Camelbak, the Powerade (I'm sick of lemon-lime Gatorade) was out and I waited for the dude to change the syrup bag.

At 5:58, I roll into the parking lot and there are lots of cars. There was an old, beat up Toyota pickup with a shell, but, alas, it wasn't Roj's.

I'd tried Roj's number (a Skype line, not a cell; even my Mom who won't buy a computer has a cell phone, but not Roj), and it went to the machine. So I thought maybe he's on his way and running behind.

Like I say there were lots of cars there, and after I sorted out who all came to ride with me from people who were just using Porter Park, we riders posed for a group photo.

I wasn't sure we'd be able to get everyone in frame, but we managed.

Anyway, 'we' went pretty much the long route I'd mapped out, though I did loop through the Blue Moose parking lot to see if Roj was there. My reasoning was, if he was running late and assumed we'd left without him, he might have decided to head to the Moose where the ride wasn't supposed to start until 6:30.

Oh, and we kinda messed up in Roeland Park and took an unintended but short detour involving 48th street and the stupid, loop-the-loop logic of suburban street layouts.

Coming south on Lamar, I met Lawn Chair Larry and a beautiful woman I think is his girlfriend. Or maybe she's Mrs. Lawn Chair Larry, though she doesn't ride a recumbent. He asked where my 'buddy' was, and I said I was stood up. And then that I was the whole group that showed up for the Lockton Thursday night training ride.

'You getting ready for Ragbrai?' And I explained that no, Lockton is a Bike MS team, but as a matter of fact, Roj, freak that he is, is actually doing Ragbrai on his Mongoose BMX.

Which gets to why I'd wait 20 minutes for Roj to show: he's fun to ride with. Like Tuesday when we stopped at the park by the Leawood pool so he could get water since he was riding with a pitiful little squirt bottle he'd drained miles back. Four teenage girls were walking past him when I look up and see him pulling up the leg of his shorts to pour water down his leg. He was (or pretended convincingly to be) oblivious to their stares as he continued this bird bath routine until he was soaked on all sides, and had drunk his fill and refilled his bottle.

You can't buy entertainment like seeing Leawood teenage girls try to process a scene like that without losing their cool.

I more or less kept pace with Lawn Chair from Martway to 79th, which is were the paths divided: they went on to finish the Blue Moose ride, I went south to Town Center and then further south, to a hundred-and-thirty-something-th before coming back north.

Y'all missed out on a killer ride. The weather was absolutely perfect, not windy (so no obnoxious headwinds for the first time I can recall in awhile), not hot (86ºF when I took off, falling to 79ºF when I got back to my car), and the sun hadn't even sunk below the horizon when I got back (even with waiting for Roj and stopping to chat with a rentacop in Roeland Park).

The RP rentacop, I have an old friend who is a proper cop there in Roeland Park, and whenever I ride through that fair city I wonder if I'll run into him. As I rode past this security guy talking to someone, I thought I heard my name, and turned and thought, no, that's not Randy. But my stopping and turning had gotten his attention, and a brief conversation ensued.

I finished strong, too. In fact, I made the whole ride without using my Granny Gear (I know, I'm a Granny Gear Artist, but I have aspirations). Most of the ride without shifting out of my big front sprocket, in fact. And that final climb up Belinder from Somerset didn't' seem as long or as steep as I remembered. Which means I'm in better shape here before the end of June, as far as finishing Bike MS, than I was when Bike MS rolled around last September.

Sponsor me, by the way.

Anyway, ended up 31.5 miles, average speed 13 mph.

Grilled Boogas & 'Ketchup' Chips

I grilled cheeseburgers for me and the honyocks Wednesday evening. Just seemed like the thing to do.

As an experiment, I bought a pound of ground pork along with the ground beef and made two hamburgers that are actually (sort of) made of 'ham.' Just curious. They don't label ground pork with the ration of lean to fat the way they do ground beef, but judging by feel and taste, this is probably a sign that the fat ratio is way higher with ground pork (which is also way cheaper).

It's a great flavor coming off the grill, but no matter how much of that fat drips onto the coals, I'll bet more remains, too. Em loved it, and honestly I did too, but it's probably not the best move health-wise. I wonder about mixing lean ground beef and ground pork, if maybe you could strike a balance with some 97/3 beef where most of the fat is pork fat, but the total fat is still more in the 85/15 to 90/10 neighborhood.

And on a lark, I decided to try these supposedly 'ketchup-flavored' potato chips. Mo wanted them, then refused to even try one. They don't taste bad, but they don't really taste like ketchup either. More like barbecue potato chips with something missing. The something being a bit of heat.

The bad news is I'm the only one in the house that will eat them at all. The good news is, since I don't like them, I didn't just inhale the whole bag. That's why I don't normally even buy potato chips: I find them easy to resist at the retail level, but once I own the bag, no matter how big that bag is, it's consumed in one go.

The Rise of Tomatosaurus

I've got several plants that are moob high, and Kellog's Breakfast has joined Paul Robeson and Gigant Pellina in having fruit set. It's paler, duller looking than the fruit set on those other two, but then it's an orange tomato when ripe, so that stands to reason. It appears to have more ribbing to its shape, too, so I wonder if the ripe KBs will look like little princess pumpkins.

The plants I'm trying to grow from Julie's cuttings are looking iffy. I see spots on the leaves that would make me pull those leaves, but alas, there'd be no leaves left if I did so.

I did some additional tying, something I've been doing about twice a week now that they're starting to take off.