Monday, 22 December 2008

Greetings from snowy Latvia

Well it has been snowing on and off again this week and the snow ploughs were out again today, at least we didn't get as much ice as the previous week. That stuff is not nice. I also got registered with the British Embassy today. Did you know they recommend that you do so every time you travel? I think it is something new so they know if something happens such as a major catastrophe then they know if they have any of their nationals in the area. It is also recommended if you are moving to another country - didn't know that and we left nearly 6 years ago. Lol!

Unexpected happenings are still happening, this week's out of the blue occurrence is an email from one of Ian's old school friends who was rifling through old Christmas cards and found one of my email addresses and sent an email to us. We haven't been in touch for a while as his last address for us was Copenghagen, it is really nice to be in touch again and catch up a little on some news.

We got a goose for Christmas, a bit pricey and the girl on the check out asked us if we were sure we wanted to buy it, bless her. Always wondered what a goose would be like and this one is a small one so will fit in the oven. Could have got a duck but there is not much meat on a duck. Will also be interesting to see whether it might be worth raising geese instead of turkeys for next year - or both - or none. We will really need to sit down at the beginning of the year and work out exactly what we do want to be heading towards as far as raising animals and food, although that does also depend on what resources we have available next year.

Had one of those moments when I forgot which country I was in. We were listening to KUNC which is a radio station Ian used to listen to at work in the US as he like the range of music they played and they don't saturate the air time with adverts, they were talking about the airports that are shut in the north of the US due to winter storms and for one moment I was desperately trying to think which airport Mark (our middle child for those who get mixed up and a photo that kind of sums him up - crazy at times!) would be flying into. We and our kids have flown into the US via Chicago, Newark, Houston, Atlanta, and Washington and then it dawned on me that unless Mark was going to take a humungous detour he wouldn't be flying into any of those airports, he would be on a direct flight between Gatwick, London and Riga. Oh boy! Think I might be losing it. At least we both didn't lose it and we managed to get to Riga airport at the right time on the right day. It has been known for me to mix up days (suddenly found out once that Ian was actually going to arrive one day earlier than I had thought. Whoops!) and times, which I did this time as well. I had organised for us to call in at our new friends Roger and Valerie, we always have a riotous time of laughter and we chat such a lot which is absolutely refreshing. The problem was that I organised to call in for lunch on the way to pick Mark up but he was actually not going to arrive until much later than we anticipated, fortunately our good friends were flexible enough to allow us to arrive for an evening meal instead. Phew! Unfortunately it also meant we didn't roll into bed until 3am. 

On one of my jaunts around the net and having got fed up of bad news I typed in "good news" as you do and found this "Riling against the ills around me won’t change them nor [does] real change, the personal one, require any special powers- only some commitment. In early 2006, I decided I would search and care for a piece of derelict land and make it productive. A small part of India where nothing had ever grown, a land that had been abandoned as worthless, an orphaned part of India as it were, seemed a good place from which to begin a new journey."

This was such a wonderful concept I had to include it and wondered what we can do to return derelict lands in our own lives, real or spiritual derelict lands with just a bit of commitment.

I was reading in my course book about "social capital" which is how groups work together and how trust is so necessary for that to happen. Kind of obvious really and yet it is not obvious. Trust is a major factor in development. Without trust power games become prevalent. The fostering of trust is more important than many strategies as many of these strategies will fail without trust. Latvia lacks trust between political and institutional structures and the people, this is partly due to recent experience but also due to 800 years of occupation which does not lead to a trusting nation. Communication between participants is necessary as well as more open and sympathetic institutions. Our experience has been very good here and positive but it is easy to suspect that this is because we are from another EU country, if you are from the country itself there is far less trust expressed. Latvia has come a long way but trust is lost so easily and difficult to gain and so much work needs to happen. 

Oh I could go on but I won't, instead I will wish you all a blessed Christmas from snowy Latvia and may you discover a richness and a depth to this time of year that you have not experienced before, a sense of peace that transcends all understanding.

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