Monday, 10 May 2010

Oh dear!

Bear Lake, Colorado, a site that Ian paid for with a sore
back the next day
It was turning out to be a pretty mundane week and was wondering what I was going to write about this week about life in Latvia, until today that is. I was just enjoying the peace and quiet in the other apartment and working well on my assignment, when Ian rang to say he was coming home he had hurt his back. Now he is having difficulty moving about and in quite a bit of pain which is worrying. He assures me he wasn't doing anything he shouldn't, just moved wrong and it went. I think that personally he just doesn't want to put any more potatoes in as he was up at 8am this morning planting some in the garden outside our apartment. It is not the first time Ian's back has gone in a major way. The last time was my fault as we were out for a walk with some friends in the Rocky mountains and because we were at high altitude about 10,000ft (3000m) I was having difficulty breathing, so Ian was helping me by pulling me up the hills - bad move! The next day he was the one who could hardly move and he ended up taking a trip to the chiropractors, the first of many visits. The time before that he was mixing concrete many years ago for our kitchen floor back in England and when I got back from the weekly shopping trip I could see there was something wrong as he was trying to mix concrete with a straight back. I ended up mixing the rest of the concrete and wheeling it in the house in the wheelbarrow. Boy did I ache the next day but at least my back didn't go. The good news is that we have a great friend who knows how to do massage for sports injuries so he came to massage Ian's back, so hopefully that will do the trick.

Losing our view
A similar view in February of this year
I can't get out in the garden this week to plant potatoes or anything else as I need to get my work finished on my course before we finish next week for summer, then I shall be out catching up with all our neighbours and getting seeds in. Mind you it has been cold this week so I don't think it matters to wait a week anyway, the wind has been bitter at times. One thing we will probably not be doing though is planting potatoes on the land, we have been told by many people the wild boar love potatoes and so we are just asking for trouble if we do. If we do plant some just to see if how they do then we will probably fence it off somehow. We were at a bbq the other day and we got chatting about the wild boar and the explosion of numbers and problems farmers have with them. The wild boar are fed over winter to keep their numbers up for hunting and one of our friends has seen the feeding troughs 10m away from the boundary of his property but for some reason the local authorities that deal with that sort of thing don't seem to be anxious to deal with farmers' concerns. The wild boar cause many problems through what they eat and how they go about it. They eat the eggs of ground nesting birds, many of which are protected, they root up the ground for different roots and tubers which can destroy vulnerable species of plants and these areas then can become infested with invasive ground elder. The digging that they do also means the ground is so uneven that it is uncuttable, reducing the amount of land that farmers can utilise fully. Uncut fields quickly turn to forest in Latvia which is fine in some ways but does mean that the numbers of birds adapted to meadowland are further reduced, the Corncrake being one of them, a protected species. It also means that farming is increasingly not viable when farmers are already struggling to make a living. I think it is about time the authorities take notice of this problem as these problems are occurring in protected sites designated by the European Union. I think there will be some letters heading in certain directions and I shall be finding out how to get the attention of those who need to take attention. Busy summer I think! 

So much green after so much white
So different to February

The rest of the week has consisted of trying to work out what trees we have on the land and it is getting easier and easier to identify trees as we get to know them either by their bark , by their buds and now the leaves that are unfurling. We are also beginning to find out what uses the trees have, which hopefully will be useful in the future. I find it is incredible though how much attention to detail that God has put into the design of trees, it never ceases to amaze me. How can anyone think all this arrived by accident? Aspen has diamond shape marks on its bark and the leaves appear to flutter all the time, Norwegian Maple has yellow flowers that make it look frothy in Spring with a sweet scent that you catch on the breeze at times, the Rowan leaves have unfurled revealing their charm so gradually. Did you know there are two types of birch with peeling bark, downy birch and silver birch? Silver birch has weeping branches whereas downy birch is more upright but they can also hybridise. So many differences, so many uses, God is not boring at all, otherwise he could have produced one multi-functional tree that does everything but then the world would have been far more boring.

If you look to the bottom of the flag pole you can see a
greenhouse covered in plastic and finished!!!! Not worked
out why it is covered in yellow plastic though. Any ideas?
The same greenhouse started three weeks ago!!!!! Okay
ours is much bigger but I don't think that explains why
ours has taken 6 months.
Our poly tunnel is nearly finished amazingly. Only the doors need finishing now, they are up just not fitted properly, but at least both layers of plastic are up. It is still frustrating the way the workers disappear for days or even weeks at a time without telling us what they are doing and what the problem is but at least we have got this far and we can put plants in it now. Our workshop is nearly finished too- the poor guy is fed up with it now, he just wants it finished. 

On a completely different note, times taken for post to arrive has been interesting. We had one piece of post from America to tell us the IRS have lost a piece of paper from a filing for 2008 (of course they didn't say that they had lost it, but since they had one sheet and not the other I somehow think it was they that had lost it and not us; after all they did not shout earlier and it is over a year since it was filed), it did, however, require a response within 30 days and since it was dated 1st April and didn't arrive until the 3rd May that was not going to be possible? I think a delay due to some far flung volcano  on some out of the way piece of rock had something to do with it. In contrast our son sent his wedding invitations off on the 5th May and our daughter got hers today (10th), the same as we did, only we are in Latvia and she is in Australia and our son is in England. So that seems to mean that if you are going to post something somewhere you may as well post it to Australia it doesn't take long at all.

My course Managing Sustainable Rural Development is very informative and certainly in the early days excited me greatly as I read through the literature but a lot is repeated and crosses over a bit with a previous course on Development Management and so has become more routine in places but one academic writer in particular does excite me, he has a sense of humour and a humility which is commendable and he also writes some interesting articles, his name is Robert Chambers. This is what he writes in his paper 'Reflecting Forwards"

"We have agency, the ability to act and change the world, and this brings with it responsibility for the effects of actions and inactions. Responsibility is an unsmiling word, often used critically – ‘That is your responsibility’, ‘Who is responsible for this?’ and ‘Who can we pin responsibility on?’ meaning who can we blame."

Snails anyone? Unfortunately not the beginning of our
snail farm. 
How true that is, and yet he advocates that for those who have money, who have privileges and that includes most who read this blog no matter how small you feel, should be taking responsibility for the state the world is in with all its inequalities. We do have the power to act, no matter how small those actions, we also have the power not to act and to ignore the injustices. Take the example of this film student who put together a simple yet profound video, an anthem for the youth of today perhaps. A rallying call to put the destructive practices of this world into reverse. A call to action!

A proposed design for our business. What do you think?
One thing I have liked to do ever since I was a kid was to play about with figures from time to time and the recent sale of the Picasso nude for a record sum of $106m reminded me of the song "Nothing ever happens" by Delamitri where it talks about a painting going for the price of a hospital wing and wondered how much of Latvia's debt would it have paid for had the money been put towards that and not a painting and found it is a small but not insignificant amount of 1.4%. Also if each Latvian owed $3260 - (that is the IMF loan divided per person and is equivalent to 5-7 months teachers wages- all figures are approximate by the way) then it would pay off the debt for 32,515 people which is a rather large number of people, instead it paid for a painting! 


Diane said...

I remember the Delemitri song and it has always come back to me when I hear of things like that painting. Seems so immoral. Though I do wonder how much we do in small amounts too that we could give to others.

I think you are brilliant to be so controlled about getting your assignment finished and not getting out on the garden. God is talking to me more and more about time management and prioritising, though I think I could do with some lessons at times!!

Joanna said...

How true Diane, we can so often look at the big flashy purchases and feel very smug and yet justify all the little treats for ourselves which add up. I wonder how much we do need those little treats to keep us going, well sometimes, I know the little treat of chocolate from time to time does wonders for me :oD.

I am quite amazed at myself getting on with assignments rather than getting out in the garden but then again I am paying for the course and I think it does concentrate the mind somewhat. Normally I am pretty bad at discipline, I can be very organised but not just very disciplined