Monday, 28 July 2008


Ok I confess I got sunburnt! How embarrassing after all those lectures to my kids and husband. I am normally much more cautious about the sun because I burn easily but the strong sunshine in Colorado which was practically year round seems to have built up a layer of tan that means I don't burn so easily these days, apart from places like my back that rarely if ever see the sun. I didn't think the sun was quite so strong as it was intermittently quite cloudy but it was too much for my unprotected back just above jeans level due to my t-shirt not being quite long enough. As you can tell it has been rather hot just lately and I have to confess to resorting to shorts, not a pretty sight so definitely no pictures. I haven't had to resort to wearing shorts for a long while, as it was so dry in Colorado it did not matter, and Brazil was so damp with not much to do except sit around and drip and this stickiness and trying to get things done is not pleasant. Still Ian is enjoying the sunshine.

After doing a bit of internet research I discovered that vinegar could be used as a water softner and to get rid of sweaty smells. Ideal when you have a husband who cycles so much and being so hot and sticky just lately, ordinary soap powder does not deal with all those sweaty smells (not that you really wanted to know that). Well the vinegar seems to do the trick, not perfect but certainly better than before and hopefully over time the clothes will get better. The clothes do kind of smell a little vinegary as they come out of the wash but it is more like the smell of dry cleaned clothes so is bearable and certainly better than stale sweat. Yuck!

We had an action packed week this week watching a video about composting toilets (see if you can count how many times the three different electrical options are mentioned). Now why should we be looking up such interesting and riveting articles? The reason is that quite a few homes in Latvia do not have indoor flushing toilets and we wondered how viable are the new composting toilets over the revolting outhouses we remember as children when visiting certain relatives. Mind you the little gems we were looking at turn out to be £1100 ($2204) not cheap!

We also spent one evening looking at houses in Australia. No it is not because we are thinking of moving but it sure is a fascinating glimpse into the priorities of another nation. The website is not as good as the Danish website as there is so much information on the Danish site which gives floor plans as well (Villa is a house, "vis bøliger" is "see houses" and remember that it is very approximately 10 kr to the £) . It is interesting to compare the houses though and how they present them. In Denmark they didn't always tidy their rooms for the photos, in America they like vaulted ceilings, in Australia they like the open plan in much the same way as the Americans and the Danes. Not as many houses seem to have really nice kitchens in the Australian photos though. One thing I did like about the Australian houses were the covered areas for seating outside which there didn't seem to be so much of in America, which I thought was a shame when it was so sunny and I couldn't sit out in the sun, but under shade that would have been nice. 

I had two strange dreams this week. On the first one I woke up just after someone had called me "Dr. Storie", it seemed rather convincing. I wasn't a medical doctor but not sure what field I held a doctorate in. I will have to file that one away in case God is trying to tell me something. In the other dream I was packing up baby things so that our daughter, Emma, could take our baby away for the week. I remember being really excited about a baby free week, but as I was waking up I remember thinking "What baby? I don't have a baby". I do hope that is not a case of God telling me I am going to have another baby, not now that all my kids have left home. I don't often have dreams I recall and so it is all the more unusual, especially such vivid ones. It is not as if I am broody because of empty nest syndrome either. I have enjoyed hearing what our children are doing now they have flown the nest, and I enjoy not having to organise things for them as well.

Continuing on from previous weeks regarding the wildlife around us we had a pigeon fly into our house this week. It flew straight in through our open balcony door and straight over Ian's head and into the office on the other side of our flat. Poor thing was a little confused that the light at the other end of the flat was not going to let it through. As Ian went to catch it it took off and flew back the way it had come but veered slightly so that it hit the window next to the door. Ian fortunately then caught the rather confuddled bird and released it outside.

In England I was always conscious of the need to provide natural areas where the insect life is to be encouraged. It always seemed like a good thing to do. Here however I want natural areas to encourage the insects as far away from me as possible; the Latvians cut back their grassy areas for a reason, to keep down the abundant insect life like horse flies which are vicious beasts along with deer flies and if you do not cut your long meadow plants (not a lot of grass in them like I explained last week) then you get bitten to death. Our friend, Marvin who visited us this last week for a meal said he had not seen so many biting insects even in Africa. Just in case I have put you off ever coming to Latvia to see us then June seems to be a good month as the horse flies don't seem to have got started before then, it is pleasantly warm and with all the flowers in bloom as well it is lovely. July and August seem to be months to avoid if you get bothered by insects of the biting kind. I must admit to not being bothered with them as much as I thought I would, but then again I do tend to be as cautious as possible so I don't get bitten. It was one issue I was not looking forward to, it used to be bad enough for the two or three weeks we used to come but a whole summer seemed too much but God has been gracious and the insects don't seem to have such a bad effect on me, I still swell up occasionally but not with every bite.

No pictures this week our internet is so mega slow I would be trying all night with no guarantee of success.


  1. 2 things...1) was it Australia for any particular reason, huhh? and 2) You can forget the baby lark, even if you had a baby, i ain't looking after for it, for a week!!

  2. Like you, I find it interesting seeing how other people live. At the moment I am in the process of selling a flat and moving into a house so reading your comments about the toilet puts any wishlist of mine in a differnet light. I too have lived abroad (in South America for 10 years) so totally relate to the biting insects.

    The 'looking after the baby' scenario seems a bit of role reversal - it's usually the mother who looks after the daughter's baby (don't get any wrong ideas, Emma) But maybe there is something you will 'give birth' to.

  3. Emma it was for a particular reason but not the one you are thinking of :o). Someone near to us is selling a sheep farm and wanting to move back to Australia and we were wondering what you could get in Australia for the money.

    So you wouldn't look after any little ones for me, oh that is a shame :o(. You would make me struggle on. Lol

  4. Mavis, it certainly is interesting looking at other homes and it makes you realise priorities can be completely different. Round here a flat could mean having an internal toilet, running water and heat in winter that stays on which is almost taken for granted in the UK.

    I did wonder if my dream was something to do with giving birth to something, once I got over the shock. Having said that it is almost inevitable that something new will have to happen soon as our money won't last for ever, we have to start earning money sometime.


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