Monday, 23 November 2009

Further quiet times and musings

This week continued to be a pretty quiet week without Ian, I only had the radio on once while he was away. Some people might find that scary, I have often heard people remark that they cannot live without the sound of voices somewhere. I personally don't have a problem with silence, it gives me space to think and ponder and I guess I have had time to do that this week. I would have had more time to ponder if I wasn't catching up with coursework though. Still I got a lot of studying done too. There were no startling revelations this week in my studies but I did find out the Common Fisheries Policy is a mess, which I guess we all knew anyway. Still I will leave others to delve more deeply into that as I concentrate on more land base issues. Nice to find one area that I didn't really want to pursue amongst all the others that have come up. I have found so many areas to explore within the course that it can be quite overwhelming at times.

I did get out onto the land a couple of times since Ian wasn't around to keep an eye on things and to carry on digging ditches (oh the fun you can have playing in mud). There was one scary moment as my welly (rubber boot) became stuck and I suddenly thought "What do I do? I am out in the middle of nowhere and my phone does not often get a signal in that spot" I remembered that if I got really stuck I would have to throw myself flat on the floor in the mud and crawl out, I would then have to get back to the apartment and walk up three flights of stairs caked in mud, not a happy prospect. Fortunately at that point of visualising myself skulking into the building trying not to be seen, there was a deep squelching noise as my boot came free and I scampered out of the muddy mire.

A visit to our joiner friend revealed that shortly after I had been out on the land we had had visitors, they were finally getting on with constructing the poly tunnel frame. Since Ian was not around I asked our Swedish builder/plumber come general handyman to come out with me and check it out. I was a little worried about how they were going to manage when the area was so muddy. I had no idea how they were going to erect the ribs of the tunnel, they couldn't use ladders that was for sure, would we get there and find some half buried young men? As we came over the brow of the hill we saw the half constructed tunnel, it was so peculiar to see this upturned ark like structure stuck in the middle of a field, somehow they had indeed managed to put up the ribs. An inspection of the site revealed how they had cobbled together a prop for the ribs from some of the branches that Ian has been cutting down, very ingenious. Good news is that my trenches had made a difference and the land was beginning to drain a little too so we didn't have to dig anyone out.

Paid a visit to Jekabpils this week, the nearest large town to us, to try and find some fabric to make a traditional Latvian costume as some presents for littlies. Now I have been to Jekabpils quite a few times, it is quite a pretty town with lots of little wooden buildings and a few modern ones. We have walked around it many a time but I had never seen any fabric shops but, as usual here in Latvia, you have to know where things are to find them. Some shops are obvious with little window displays but many are not and you have to go inside to find out what is there, for someone used to the UK or America with commercial areas, shop windows and distinct districts, it can be a bit frustrating at times but also a bit like a treasure hunt. It is amazing where the Latvians can tuck a little business, and even some bigger businesses and it is definitely a case of not what you know but who you know in order to find them.

Went to pick Ian up on Saturday from the airport and I saw the sun for the first time, all five minutes of it. Although Ian didn't really get much chance to get out and about he did at least see the sun but he was still glad to get home. We'll see what he thinks after a few days rain though, the weather forecast doesn't look good. The trip went well and he managed to sort out some technical issues while he was there, as well as support and encourage his work colleague. He also met up with our youngest son's girlfriend's parents who are Greek Cypriot and in Cyprus at the same time, even though they now live in London. Ian got to meet more of the family and see where the father was born and grew up; he also heard some of the stories and exploits arising out of the more recent Cypriot troubled history of the 1970's. We are not sure if he will get the chance to go out again as his work colleague retires next year but we will just have to wait and see if anything else develops or not.

A friend of ours suddenly had a free day and decided to visit us before the snow came and so we had the pleasure of showing him around. It is great to be able to show him all the places we know now, and to pass on all the snippets of information we have found out in the last year. We took him out to the Everglades and we tramped through the wet fields, painting a picture of what could be, let him have a drive in the tractor and talked about the history of the place with all the evidence of the battle that had been fought in the forested areas. So much we have found out, and yet there is so much more to discover about the complicated history of this land. So much more to learn about the culture of the people and so much more to learn about what will grow in this land and more importantly what should we grow in the land. Is there a difference you might ask, and there is. Too often we can plant something that will grow well in an area, in fact too well. We do not want to cause problems by planting what will be come invasive weeds, whether they be spiritual, cultural or physical.

I said I had been pondering a lot as well and one of my ponderings has been about climate change. Someone posted a video on the discussion board of my course labelled "The most terrifying video you will ever see"..... well actually it is not but I think it does ask some good questions. I am a little tired of people saying we can't be sure that climate change is happening etc etc which is true, but..... if it is then we ought to be doing something about it, even if it is only remotely true we still should be doing something. Whether climate change is true or not, we are polluting our world and ought to do something about it. In Victorian times the rich lived in the towns but upwind from the factories and away from the overcrowded, polluted, disease ridden houses of the poor, now we live in different countries entirely. Our factories are still producing goods for our consumption just like in Victorian times but instead of it being a few miles away they are thousands of miles away. There is never any need to go down and see what providing us with our comforts actually does to those who make them, or those displaced so we can have the raw materials to have them. We are as guilty as those indifferent mill owners and the upper classes of the Victorian era, if we do not care how the poor are living, or open our eyes to see the damage being done. How can we stand by and say "Well it will hurt the economy if we start making changes", the damage to the economy has already been done, now let's start making a difference to our environment instead of fouling up what God gave us to look after, whether that is in our own backyard or in far flung places. We can stop being greedy and wasteful for a start and that is something positive we can do, we will then not have to work just to provide us with new things and maybe we will actually enjoy life more.

Another biggie to think about "Democracy" is it good for us? This was a comment by one guy on the BBC site on the appointment of the new President of the EU.
"The best top level appointments are necessarily based on the proven, and potential, ability to make and maintain relationships that will serve the best interests of the organization and all of its members. What support the chosen individuals have, and the quality of their staff and advisors, is a factor in any such decision. It appears that the EU Council had those factors in mind when the selections were made. Certainly a better system than popular public election where charismatic dictators and demagogues, party platforms, and the inept and unproven can sell themselves to a naive public, gaining power that they should not ever have. The roles in question are not starter jobs, with long learning curves, as is the case in some similar situations in some countries, but instead senior leadership roles that require experience.
Bob, Hamilton, Canada

So is democracy good for us? If so was the election of the EU president democratic, after all the decision was made by elected heads of governments, or was it undemocratic because we personally didn't get to vote? Does it matter? Well I think it does, we have to think about what shape of society we want. I personally wouldn't want an elected president with all the razzmatazz that goes with it, I am quite happy for our elected representatives to do that but I do want to be able to influence decision making in one way or another. I think my take on it was put rather well by Monbiot

"Our power comes from acting as citizens - demanding political change - not acting as consumers."

When we purely think of ourselves as consumers we are still wedded to the idea that the market can solve everything, our money can change things. When we start thinking like activists, no matter how small then we can start to act independently of our money and the market and start demanding a change to the system as well. Sounds like something I need to mull over some more.

Photo 1: Can you spot the blue bit in the sky?
Photo 2: The eerie structure in the distance
Photo 3: The poly tunnel ribs close up plus mud
Photo 4: Ian giving instructions on tractor driving
Photo 5: Our friend complete with the remains of an exploded bomb and Ian taking his picture.


  1. The polytunnel looks great! It's really exciting news. You are going to have such fun with it!

  2. We have an old stove that we can put in the polytunnel (there will be a place for the chimney to go don't worry) so we can set up our table and chairs and drink tea in peace and quiet - perfect!


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi