Monday, 25 January 2010

Yikes its cold

Over four months after starting our epic journey to get a woodburning stove installed in our apartment we finally made it. It was a bit worrying as they drilled holes in ceilings when it was -18C (0F) outside and I was praying there wouldn't be gaps left or the pipes partially installed. Bless them they got the indoor pipe installed and quickly sealed to the outside air as they carried on working upwards. It was perfect timing as this week has been oh so cold with temperatures down to -29C on one night shortly after the installation. I then spent the whole day cleaning the living room which was thick with dust from making the hole and guess who forgot to take the curtains down and the pictures off the wall!!! Serves me right I guess.

Whereas we were appreciating the extra heat from the woodburning stove our car sat outside was not. We took a trip into our nearest big town so that a neighbour could get to lessons and an exam and we needed some odds and ends anyway so was not a problem - well we didn't think it was a problem until the morning when Ian went downstairs to start the car 15 minutes before setting off. The car was definitely sulking and not impressed at being woken up on a morning when the car thermometer read -29C, I am sure it was thinking "You have to be joking don't you?" After a few attempts and a very rough sounding engine noise the car eventually began to warm through, just in time for our neighbour but also her husband who needed his van to be towed so he could go to work, his van was worse than sulking, it was point blank refusing to cooperate but with a lot of coaxing and a bit of uniced road (not much of that in our village) it eventually got going and we were on our way.

It has been one of those weeks when lots happens. One young man joined us this week and has been helping us out and he has certainly impressed us with his ability to work hard and get on with things, he is a joy to have around. He makes sorting out a little easier as well because his English is reasonable and he translates for us and this meant that Ian could go and get the tractor back from the little guy who can't speak English. The two of them then started clearing a path on the land with the tractor, problem was that the bucket for some reason stuck part way through the job, it seems to be low on oil for some reason. Something else to sort out, if it's not one thing it's another! We hope to be able to build a shelter and a woodshed and so need a path onto the land so that equipment can be carried on by car rather than transporting it through a field at least a foot deep in snow, carrying a saw table across a snowy field I believe is not easy!

 Our Swedish friend also carried on with getting the walls in the toilet sorted - he would get on a lot faster if it wasn't for the hours of interesting chat that Ian and he have been having, putting the world to right, well that and the fact that it has been so cold that the walls have been drying too slowly. One day a bucket of plaster was mixed and left to firm up while they had a chat and a cup of tea, and they chatted and chatted and chatted, so much so the plaster set and another bucket had to be made up. Hey ho! Good times!

I finally got one of my assignments back this week and I got a distinction so feeling pretty pleased with myself as that means I have passed the whole of my Human Ecology unit with a distinction, I'm over the moon to put it mildly. I have thoroughly enjoyed the topic which helps but it also helps to have moved countries and having to adapt to different cultures. It means I have had to learn to look at life from different angles and I appreciate the different perspectives I have come across, very helpful when looking at a subject that looks at the interactions between the society, economy and the environment in different cultures.

This week I have also started teaching English to a group, they are so keen they want two hours next week. Managed to convince them that two hours of a foreign language is too much (them and me) so it is two hours but with a break in between. They laughed a lot and all took part which is fantastic, in many ways much easier than teaching children who are often in a class because they have to be there, not because they want to be there. I know people say that it is easier to learn when you are young but it is not always the way, sometimes life helps you to learn better and also concentrates the mind on the subject and if you have chosen to learn the subject you have the desire to learn which helps enormously.

Been doing my usual pondering this week as I look around at the people in our community and realise that some are struggling for lack of work I wonder some more about where our money should go. We already try to think very carefully about making sure that, where possible, our money goes into the local economy, which is all well and good for things we actually need done or things we need to have, but when things are really tight for others should we dip deeper into our savings and give our money away to numerous worthy causes and individuals, does that help? Yes and no! In Petworth, England there is an enormous wall surrounding a big house, evidence of yet again the landed gentry separating themselves from the peasants you might think, and in one sense maybe it is but the story also goes that it was built in a time of need when the peasants were suffering and needed employment. Did the gentry need a wall? Maybe they did and maybe they didn't, it could conceivably keep animals in or out as the case maybe. Could the gentry have just given their money away - yes but would that have robbed the peasants of the dignity of earning the money? Was there dignity in being seen to be building a wall? Everyone knows around here in Latvia that if you are out cleaning streets you need money, but they do it so well and the place is so tidy and paths gritted, so is that employment dignifying or degrading? Is there value in creating employment for the sake of it in times of hardship for others? Is it fuelling the consumerist problems? Questions, questions! All goes to show there are no easy answers but one thing I am certain about is that we cannot do nothing.

Photo 1, 2 & 3 Winters morning
Photo 4 Me
Photo 5 Great tit
Photo 6 Nuthatch


  1. today was +29c after dark here, such a contrast!

  2. Don't know which I prefer :oD

  3. Congratulations on your success in your studies! And good that you are able to help othes in their studies of English.

    I am with you in the dilemma of how best to contribute and help others in a practical way. It is so easy just to give money but it is sometimes important to know where to give and to whom and what would serve the best purpose in the long term - not always easy to discern.

    Is that a photo of yourself in photo 4? If so then I think that the great tit and nuthatch have come out in your blog one on top of the other. Seems there are actually 6 photos!

  4. Thanks Mavis and that picture is me studying. I was sure I had put that down obviously not. When you say the nuthatch and the great tit have come out one on top of the other do you mean that you can't see both pictures properly?

    It is indeed not easy to discern but I suppose that as we get to know people better discernment should be easier but not always infallible. I also think it is never an excuse to do nothing which I think happens frequently.

  5. That's right - you can't see both pictures properly. You can see the nuthatch ok and behind that you can see there is another photo but not what it is. You can see about 2cm at the right hand side showing only a part of a branch. So I guess that's the great tit.

  6. How bizarre! It works fine on mine, have you tried widening your browser page? Which browser are you using? I usually use Safari, which is a Mac based browser and Firefox and they are both fine

  7. Just thought about it Mavis, I moved the picture so hopefully you can now see the nuthatch and the great tit properly


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