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.


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.

Movin’ In and Movin’ On

Yesterday it rained and no more hay was picked up as they don’t want to drive the length of our farm on soggy grass. The rain and front cooled down the temperatures and dried out the humidity. The hay crew will return as soon as they feel it is safe to get to it without getting stuck or damaging the grass. There is still some equipment to move as well.

The fields are already greening back up after the rain. The fig that I dug and put in the half barrel is doing great. We are in one of the states where birds are dying, and though it isn’t in our area yet and the authorities still don’t know if it is an illness or a toxin, we have been asked to remove feeders and birdbaths. I know it is for the best, but it saddens me to not see the flocks of little birds gathered at the feeders while we eat.

We took Grandson 1 out on another walk today and on the flip side, returning to the car, this gorgeous box turtle was hightailing it across the asphalt path toward the tall grass and creek on the side. It’s yellow colors were so vivid and it was in a hurry. I don’t remember how you age them, but it was about the size of a grapefruit.

Once home, Grandson 1 and I tackled some repairs on my chicken coop. I fear that in another year, the egg lid door and the east side siding are going to have to be replaced. They are spongy and rotting. I may replace them with hardy backer board and paint the coop instead of staining it. The frame is sound, just the siding material. On the way back to the house, I noticed that the Mason bee house that was just placed about a dozen days ago has residents. At least 6 of the tubes are plugged. You can see 4 of them on the left side. They don’t seem to be using the center section, just the bamboo tubes, but that is cool. I need to read up on what to do for winter and next spring. I placed it under the eaves on the east side of the garage in the midst of a flower bed that has various blooms until frost.

I love watching the native bees at work. The house was a gift from Son 1’s family to me.