Today was cherry picking day!

Our cherry tree is unpredictable. I think we last had a great harvest three years ago. We got almost no cherries last year, or the year before. This year’s harvest was pretty OK.

Ingrid and Adrian quickly divided up our two step ladders and got started. In fact I believe that for them, climbing on ladders is the best part of the whole cherry picking thing.

My job was to help stabilize the stepladders (especially the taller one is a bit wobbly) and to ooh and aah over all the cherries the kids got. Adrian especially loved showing off how much he had picked.

Once we started picking we noticed that the quantity may be OK this year but the quality was not so good at all. We always have to throw some out because the birds have been at them. But this year, many cherries had a different kind of damage: they had split because of the rain we’ve been having all throughout June and July. I can’t recall having seen that before.

Today I learned that commercial growers actually use helicopters to blow-dry their cherries to keep them from cracking. Luckily for us, we don’t need our cherries to look perfect or to store well, so we kept many of the cracked berries for making jam and syrup.

Here’s the cherry sorting station, where Eric sorts them into three groups: undamaged, damaged but OK, and inedible.

Cherry jam is awesome. But we still have a fair amount of jam left from three years ago, so we don’t need any more.

Cherry pie is probably the next best thing you can make out of cherries, so that’s what I did.

Ingrid and I went shopping for hiking gear: she’ll be leaving for five days of scout camp on Sunday. Well, we really only went shopping for rain clothes, but came home with some eating equipment as well, including this collapsible bowl that Ingrid keeps using as a hat.

Cleaning out old stuff from the basement, including a whole lot of old PC games.

On the ferry, our way home.

After a week of mostly urban life, I needed to see some greenery around me. So this evening Adrian and I went to the botanical garden of Tartu University.

Vudila playland. Lots of activities for the kids; lots of waiting and hanging around for the parents (but I did get to go on a pedal boat ride). The day was a bit chilly, like the rest of the summer, so the park was less crowded. Despite the weather the kids spent a surprising amount of time in the pool.

Running out of things to keep the kids busy. Normally I’d just take them to a beach but the weather is still semi-crappy. Today we went to the trampoline centre. This is Ingrid diving into a pit of foam rubber.

We went climbing at Tartu adventure park. As much fun as last year. Ingrid fearlessly went first and helped her less-experienced friend Katariina, and was disappointed that she still wasn’t nearly tall enough for the last two routes; Adrian mostly stayed on the ground as this really wasn’t his kind of thing.

Adrian, very tired at dinner.

We went to the Ahhaa science centre today. They had a spy themed exhibition with a lot of activities that we really enjoyed: recognizing fingerprints and tire tracks, trying out an airport-style baggage scanner and a hand-held metal detector to find fake guns and such, climbing and crawling through a dark corridor criss-crossed with green laser beams, and a “stepping stones” memory game (just like the entrance to El Macho’s lair in Despicable Me 2) and so on.

We also saw an awesome “science theatre” show about the chemistry of fire, which was basically a demonstration of lighting things on fire, and of different ways of making the fire burn stronger and faster. I love fireworks and explosions – at a safe distance.

The fires ranged from tame (a cotton ball in normal air) to really impressive fireballs (a propane-filled balloon). The final fireball (another balloon containing a mixture of 1 part propane and 5 parts pure oxygen) was such that all members of the audience were first instructed in the proper technique of covering their ears, and the presenter wouldn’t proceed until everybody was following those instructions. It made a very satisfying bang and the heat could be felt several rows away.