From one type of busy to another

The heat finally broke today! I don’t think it got to 80 or just barely. We even took a walk. The past few weeks we have had Grandson 1 in residence, beginning with a basketball camp for a weekend, followed by having him here to visit and help out a bit. During his stay, we took a rail to trails 17+ mile bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail and took his almost 10 year old female cousin too. Another day we went to a very dry Falls of Dismal for a swim, there were still a couple pools deep enough for him to squat and immerse. Friday night, his Dad arrived for the weekend and toted down 3 kayaks on the top of his little car. Those kayaks were ours when we lived in Virginia Beach and often went kayaking, then they moved to the mountains with us and visited Claytor Lake and the New River a few times. Later those kayaks which weren’t getting much use here were driven to Son 1’s house as he could access the Shenandoah River and have gotten much use. Yesterday, those three kayaks, daughter’s two tandem sit on top kayaks and 7 of us ranging in age from 9 to 78 years old launched on the New River and floated a 5 mile section with a class 1 rapids. It was hot even on the water unless the breeze blew, but it was a great time. I enjoyed being back in the yellow boat with the yellow paddle I used to use.

The kayaks were loaded back up in the late afternoon for the trip back north today.

Before we left yesterday, Grandson helped me finish picking the peaches from our tree. We brought in a plastic tub full, most in decent shape to put in the fruit bowl, sent more than a dozen home with them, but the rest were very ripe, bruised, or had some damage. After they left, I began processing peaches. Excited that we finally got real fruit from the peach tree.

Three different peach jams were in the plan. I got the Peach Sriracha jam done and a second batch peeled and cut and realized it was time to prepare dinner for Daughter and her two kiddos who came over this evening, so that batch was doused in a bit of lemon juice and stashed in the refrigerator. After they left, the second batch became Ginger Peach jam and while it was processing, the last batch was peeled and cut and a batch of chunky peach jam was cooked and processed. The jars are all sitting on a towel on the kitchen counter until tomorrow and all the sticky peach juice has been wiped up. All three batches are low sugar jams and each tasted wonderful from the warm samples.

We will never eat that much, so I’m sure some of them will find their way to other homes. If the forecast holds true, we have several more milder days and a bit more rain that we finally got this evening, so I will tackle the two bags of tomatoes in the freezer and the bag of tomatillos and see what they become. The tomatillos will likely become Tomatillo/Jalapeno Jam and Tomatillo simmer sauce. The tomatoes may just be canned as plain tomatoes that can be later turned into pasta or pizza sauce or added to chili. I’m sure there are more tomatoes, tomatillos, and ground cherries ready for me to pick as I haven’t harvested in a few days.

Very soon it will be time to harvest the apples and Asian pears, before the wild critters get them all. Though canning has gotten a late start this year, it will be nice to fill up the shelves for winter.

Readjusting to Just the Two of Us

At 8 a.m., Grandson 1 was put on a bus home to get ready for his next adventure, his first away from home camp. He and his Dad messaged me when he arrived. That means readjusting to meal prep for two seniors instead of two seniors and a 16 year old boy that eats more than the two of us combined. It means our walks are a bit slower as we aren’t trying to keep up with his long legs and teenaged energy. It means doing the mowing and other chores on my own again. We do enjoy having him here, for his companionship and certainly for any labor he provides. It means hubby doesn’t have his Ping Pong competitor to harrass him into games twice a day.

He got our lawns mowed twice, on the “go cart” as he calls our riding mower, did Daughter’s twice with her AWD mower (while her teenager was visiting his other grandparents), helped me refill the huge hole that was dug to get the septic pumped, toting the 40+ pound bags of soil, mulch, and the animal feeds that were purchased during his visit. That area is now reseeded and grass growing except in the edged bed filled with large pots of blooming perennials to mark where to dig next time. He helped me make prestaining repairs to the chicken coop. We didn’t get the staining done or the deteriorated chicken tractor totally dismantled, but some fun had to be tossed in to his visit. There were a few walks and hikes, a bike ride, some basketball time, a pool visit, and a couple of cookouts at Daughter’s house, one with fireworks and S’mores. And lots of beating Granddad at Ping Pong.

In spite of activities with him, I managed to fulfill one of my spindle challenges and I’m working on the other. The “July” challenge actually coincides with the 18 days of Tour de France, so began in late June and ends in mid July. My challenge was to learn to ply on the fly (Ply at the same time you are spinning), instead of creating turtles or balls that are wrapped together then plied in a second effort. With that yarn, then create a finished project. I could have spun it and used it for blanket squares, but wanted to further challenge myself to get both done. The TdF yarn was thicker than I normally spin on spindles and it became a hat.

It ended up being about 56 g of yarn spun and 43 g of it went into the hat. I made two stripes of yarn left from blanket squares as I wasn’t sure I would have enough of the other.

Toward the end of May, I purchased a small spindle from a gal in Sweden. She mailed it promptly, but it sat in customs in the US for the month of June, arriving here finally on July 1. She packed the spindle in enough Havre wool for me to make a blanket square, which was such a nice surprise and wonderful gesture. She had seen a blog post where I mentioned the Breed Blanket. She had washed the fleece herself.

When I finished the hat, I began combing and carding the box of wool, making rolags to spin. In the past two days, I have continued the Ply on the Fly with the Havre, getting it fine enough for a blanket square and have spun 11 g of it on the tiny 9g Finch spindle in which it was packed.

As soon as there is enough spun, I will wash the yarn and knit a special square for the blanket. Thank you, Lisa. With much of the month of July remaining, all of that wool will be spun and knit, then I will move on to a second breed of Navajo Churro that arrived in a trade for some wool that I had too much of. I love these groups. They are great social contacts, enablers to keep spinning, and provide challenges to keep me active in that skill.

Celebrations

The U.S. Independence Day would have been my Mom’s 97th birthday. It was also the adopted birthday of the Patriarch of the Greek extended family that shared our rural neighborhood as I grew up. It was always celebrated with a pool party at the home of one of his sons with a spitted lamb, burgers, hotdogs, sides of every description all provided by neighbors, swimming, chasing, eating, and in the end of the night, a 21 gun salute over the woods to end the day. She has been gone 33 years, Pappous for many more than that and the son that had the pool, passed away shortly after the last one of those parties I remember at too young an age.

When our children were small and we lived on the coast of Virginia, we went to one of several different events over the years. Harborfest was one, a street festival with food vendors, music, tall ships, culminating with the symphonie or one of the Military bands playing, ending their show with the 1812 Overture that started the fireworks over the river. We watched them from city parks, the oceanfront once in awhile, but always crowds and so much traffic.

Once here, we often would go to the town park in Blacksburg and watch them there, still crowds, but not as much, some food vendors, and usually a 5 or more block walk to get from parking on a neighborhood street of the nearest large parking lot to see them.

On Friday, I messaged daughter and asked if she had plans for the 4th and she said she wasn’t sure yet. I asked when Christiansburg’s fireworks were as the rest of their activities were yesterday on the 3rd. Many of the towns up here had their celebrations on the 2nd, 3rd, or planned for the 5th since today is Sunday. Christiansburg’s fireworks were on the 3rd. She and I put together a quick get together with some of her friends, us, and Grandson 1 in her back yard with a cookout, cornhole, and a front row unobstructed view of the town’s firework show from her front lawn, followed by a box of backyard fountain type fireworks for the 16 year old to enjoy (I think at least a couple of the older than 16 year olds might have had as much fun as he did). It was a surprisingly chilly evening for July and the firepit was lit, S’mores made over the fire by those who wanted them and the warmth enjoyed by the rest of us. It was a very nice, enjoyable evening.

Before it got dark, she tried to take a selfie with the young one and he wouldn’t cooperate. I had her walk up behind him and caught a picture for her. She is not short, he is tall, but the perspective made it look even more extreme.

He will be returning home on Tuesday morning to attend a residential gaming/coding camp. We will miss having him here. He has been very helpful with chores, we have had some play time, too. Yesterday before going to daughter’s, we took our two bikes, rented one of the e-bikes in town and went for an hour ride on the Huckleberry Trail. My knees didn’t take kindly to it, but there was no residual pain once we were done. He has taken walks with us, played basketball, gone to the pool, and whooped his granddad repeatedly in Ping Pong. We look forward to his return near the end of the month for a bit more time here to go to basketball camp and a bit more play and work time with us. So we have had work days, play days, and quality time with a grandson. We are so grateful that he is allowed to come stay with us for extended periods in the summer, knowing that this could possibly be the last one makes it bittersweet. He is of an age where he wants to be with his friends, wants to get a parttime job, and coming here to hang out becoming less of a draw. We are grateful the years he has come.