I've taken to riding early on Saturdays so that I can do whatever chores I need to do after I ride, rather than before, which leads to tuckered-out rides. Given the forecast, i.e., lovely on Saturday, blistering after that, I did my annual July 4th trimming of the shrubs Saturday afternoon. It was still hot, messy work, but it wasn't baking hot nor terribly humid, so it worked out.
The basic problem is that the previous owner let most the shrubs get too big. The hedge on the north side of the house is perfectly sized, and the shrubs on the south side aren't ridiculous, although perhaps there are too many, but the junipers, yews, and even my beloved small-leaf rhododendrons out front are all my height or better. The yews are tall enough to partially block the view from the windows behind them. I can't really cut them shorter, because the leaves end not far behind the new growth, and because they also got too wide, so the sides the plants that face other plants are completely barren of foliage. All six of them are pretty much hollow.
I don't even like the junipers, as I get a mild allergic reaction if I get scratched by one, and although I don't mind the yews, they're just too damn big. The problem is that if I cut them out of there, I'm left with two rhododendrons that will flower gloriously come spring in front and on top, but not at all on their sides. To do it properly, I probably need to take them out, too. Sigh.
Anyway, after several hours of wielding my electric hedge trimmer as though it were Excalibur against the shrubs that say Ni, they were trimmed for another year. Actually, I got a little over zealous here and there, and there are some definite bare spots where I went a little beyond removing current growth.
Sunday after the ride* but before it got ridiculously hot, I pulled out the loppers and my camp saw to do battle with the part of the evil thicket that was encroaching on the SE corner of the yard. Spent about an hour working on that, then continued training the tomato plants to their stakes. I have lots on teensy green tomatoes on the way, and even one tiny spaghetti squash so far.
* I rode the now well-adjusted 3-speed, and it worked flawlessly. I'm still surprised, though, at how badly it managed to get itself out of adjustment just hanging from a hook in the attic for the last year or so.
Afterward, I spent some quality time down in the basement organizing and cleaning up matted sawdust. Then I repaired to the a/c in the office to enter utilities and pay stubs for the last nine months into gnuCash. Still much to be done on both projects.
Today, as previously mentioned, I went for a ride on the Blackstone path with part of the v-ball crew. Apart from Blake, none of them had ever been before, so that was fun. It was blistering hot, which suppressed the usual pack of strollers, pedestrians, and other speed bumps from blocking the path. (I will note, however, that since we were constantly stopping to wait for the slower members of the group to catch up, we often became speed bumps ourselves.) Later we went back to Dale's for a pool party and barbecue which was great fun. Fun fact: wasps will catch crickets and haul them back to their nests for dinner. I know this because the nest in question turned out to be in the tubular steel chaise immediately to my left as I sat talking to Christina, who was sitting in the aforementioned chaise. Fortunately, the wasps turned out to be too stuffed with cricket to do much more than glower at us as Chris noisily vacated the chaise.
The one tiny silver lining to the temperatures was that it never got particularly humid (31% yesterday, 50-60% today, not Arizona, but neither was it business as usual for the Northeast). Tomorrow it's supposed to be even hotter. Yikes!
I didn't go to any particular fireworks display, since a couple of my neighbors put on pretty decent displays in their own backyards. This year Rhode Island rescinded the statewide ban on private possession of fireworks (a state felony). They had been banned in the late seventies after a couple of well-publicized accidents involving children. It didn't help that Connecticut legalized them a couple of years ago, and that there was a store just over the border on 95. Now you can get them in Wal-Mart and even Stop&Shop. The fact that it had been a felony had never actually stopped the displays in the past. They've been going on for the ten years I've lived in this neighborhood, throughout most of the summer.