Monday, 30 August 2010

Creative moments

This picture of Riga was from 2004 but then my photos
were not so good that I took this year. Not a good idea to
take photos in a travelling car.
We visited a textile exhibition this last week in Riga which was well worth the trip, just a shame that the main reason for our trip was to pick up Ian's powerbook which couldn't be fixed. He's not a happy bunny! I have to say though, that creativity in others excites me and inspires me, I can't wait to get out the paints and the fabrics and get creating again. I just now have to find some time. Creativity also reminds me what an exuberant, creative God we have, as he did not settle for one tree for example with one colour but such a range of trees, such shapes, such colours, such uses, it's breathtaking. The joy of creating something helps me to identify with our creative God and the sheer joy he must have put in to creating the universe, I wonder how much experimenting and tinkering he did before he got the creation just right. I know some folks think that he spoke and that was that, but since his creation reflects him and artists have as much joy in the creating as the creation I am sure God must have had such fun creating stuff, the sheer pizzazz of creation speaks of it - well it does to me! The sheer abundance of ideas he had for each piece of his creation amazing, I can almost imagine him going "well what do you think blue or white butterflies? Spots or plain? All of them? Good! Just what I was thinking. Now what else can I do with this model?" Now if you don't believe me, take a look at this site to see the process of creating ideas for artwork and look through the sketchbook projects. One idea leads to another creating spin offs and rabbit trails of ideas, now if God didn't do something similar how come we ended up with duck-billed platypuses and the range of butterflies we have? 

Our Amish tomatoes were looking a little sad
and not likely to produce much more so they
were uprooted and some autumn veg put in.
Lettuces, swiss chard, mustard greens,
cabbages, not shown are beetroot and calabrese.
This is a bit of a trial to see how far into autumn/
winter we can grow stuff in the polytunnel.

Isn't it just typical! Not all of creation has a happy ending. The first time I can recall seeing a thrush in Latvia was a dead one after it broke its neck flying into our window. We threw the last bird, that died after flying into our window, over the balcony expecting a cat to pick it up in the night but instead one of the little chaps from downstairs picked it up and was carrying it about the next day. Whoops! Didn't think of that. Where is a hungry cat when you need one? Talking of typical it was also typical that I dropped a full litre bottle of milk on the step outside the only family in our block ie the one with little chappie that picks up dead birds, the family where the kids regularly go outside without shoes (not because they haven't got any but because they want to), the only family in our block that has a dog that they let in and out without supervision and so is often outside their door, also the ground floor (first floor) step and we live on the second floor (third floor - confused! We were when you realise that most folks count from the ground floor as first) and so I had to dash upstairs to get suitable implements to deal with it, hoping that someone didn't walk in it in the meantime. I wouldn't have minded quite so much but I had forgot to put out a milk bottle the night before and so had only just hurriedly got dressed to put out the milk bottle for our milk lady before she disappeared off and pick up the milk that had already been put out. Emotiocons at this point would be wonderful to express the exasperation of that morning. Definitely one of those mornings when you just want to crawl back into bed and start again. Why is it that dropping a bottle of milk always seems such a tragedy? It's not the expense that's for sure. 

Barn foundations. Unfortunately those trees nearby are not
big enough for our barn supports. By the way, how far is the
forest from the barn? Where would you measure too? We
found out the other day it should be 4m away, but they
didn't tell us that before and goodness only knows if there
is a definition of the forest edge to measure too.
For anyone following our long running sagas to get things built we now know why there is not enough wood in the country of Latvia, exports have increased by 43.1%. So if you are in Sweden, Germany or Britain could you send a little of it back so that we can get our barn built? We may have found a possible solution in our friend who has recently started up a firewood business as he has a large saw, no not the one Ian brought back for him last week but another one - it's huge. Now all we have to do is source enough trees to cut down to build a barn - easy peasy heh? Somehow think not. At least the foundations will be well settled in. We did get a demonstration of the saw that Ian brought back last week though, it is an amazing piece of equipment, cuts the logs to length and then it has a log splitter, which makes cutting firewood a whole lot easier than by hand (should have had a video clip here I think, my words don't conjure up the ease of the whole thing) and the power of the log splitter. Scary! It is a good job it is so easy as last weekend he cut up 54 pallets worth of wood, and that is a lot of wood as a pallet is about a metre cubed. Ian ended up helping him out again this week by taking 3 pallets of wood to a collection point to make up a delivery load. Our neighbour's wife expressed thanks to us for helping them out again when they needed it and yet they have been such a blessing to us too, so how can we not help out? We would also be daft to pass up the chance of being connected to some Latvians and getting to know them a bit better, it's also good to hear the language being spoken. All good practice! It is nice to be appreciated though, even if we are only doing what is asked of us and sharing our resources - that's what we are supposed to do, right? 

One ripe melon
It has been a good week of getting to know our neighbours better. The neighbours to the land jokingly said that we should invite them to a melon fest once our melons ripened in return for the bbq we had with them. Well our melons ripened and so the invite was duly extended and we hosted our friends for a meal. Trying to decide what to eat was a struggle, what would give them a taste of English cooking, well my version of it? Do I go for the roast? How English do I go? Well in the end I decide to make a mince and onion pie, only with minced (ground) pork instead of beef since that is hard to get, teamed with Mediterranean roast veg since we had loads of peppers and our first aubergine and a good way of using up those dratted errr I mean wonderful patty squash, potatoes and broccoli. We would have had beans too but forgot to get them out of the pan. Duh! Dessert was coffee cake, melon (of course) and apple (with grated patty squash, but don't tell anyone) crumble. So we had a great time talking about food again, and life in Latvia and England, showing them where we lived on the map and getting to see photos of their life too. It's fascinating seeing the photos of them collecting hay by horse and cart and seeing how they stack it on their Latvian style hayricks and all of this in the last 13 years. In fact the family are thinking of getting another horse to help on the farm as it is cheaper than a tractor. A horse is certainly tempting from our point of view (well maybe more mine than Ian's- can't think why!) as it doesn't make as much of a mess on wet ground as a tractor, the big downside though is that you can't park a horse up over the winter and sort of forget about it and that at the moment is important. We know that once we have animals it won't be as easy to travel and so we are holding off on that for a while longer, after all we have just booked our tickets to Australia to see our daughter getting married this winter (well summer, err winter, well you know what I mean!). 

We have had a number of big thunderstorms
over the summer this year. This is one brewing
Going back to the melons it has been interesting raising them, seeing how they grow and try to take over the world in the process requiring several hackings to keep them under control; I think they sulked and rewarded us with just one melon per plant instead of 5 that we were expecting. It does mean we still have a lot of melons but judging when they are ready is really hard. I thought it was when they were soft at the end, but how soft is soft? I hadn't realised that one type of melon goes yellow when it's ready and we ate one a bit early as it seemed soft enough, it tasted alright but nothing to write home about and we were a bit disappointed. A quick look at the seed packet later though, which fortunately I kept, revealed the truth that we should have waited till it changed colour. Well we waited and we waited and the melons just sat there looking very green for ages and then suddenly quite a few of them all turned yellow in the space of a few days and caught us by surprise. Some of them, however, exploded! Not a pretty site, or a particularly nice smell. Not sure if a certain little visitor to our polytunnel is responsible for some of it by nibbling some of them and encouraging the rot. He or she had better beware as the traps are set!!!! 

I love stormy clouds!
I found a surprising fact about Latvia this week, technically it is the only European country to retain the death penalty although in practice no one has actually been executed since 1996, thank goodness. Still, I did find it strange that it has not been struck off the statute books yet, especially as they have now joined the EU which is abolitionist as regards the death penalty. The death penalty now only remains for murder in wartime or treason in Latvia and so is not likely to be enacted, fortunately or at least I hope not.

The corncrakes packed their bags last week, or at least we
hope so as we have now removed their summer residence
and cut all the grass in the main field now.
As many of you know Latvia has undergone radical cuts prompted by the global crisis which hit this nation particularly hard and resulted in Latvia having to take out a loan from the IMF. The new cuddly IMF apparently does not "dictate" to countries that they "help" as they have done in the past, which is widely reported to have resulted in wrecked economies where the rich get richer and the poor suffer badly, all for their own good of course! They just have to understand that they are undergoing a "bit of pain" so that their country gets better. Yeah right! A slight case of death by starvation or illness you can't afford to treat is okay then to pay off the loan incurred under a despotic regime? Anyway off my rant and back to what the cuddly IMF has being saying recently "Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania should make sure wages do not rise faster than productivity, that business is not taxed excessively, that public finances are kept tight and that prices do not rise faster at home than abroad." Well that's okay then, after all they only said that is what they should be doing and included Estonia and Lithuania who do not have loans with the IMF, so it is only an opinion right? The fact that once again the poor should be kept on a tight rein and the rich businesses should not suffer unduly is okay? That if Latvia chooses not to follow this advice they won't get any further installments of their loan, is okay isn't it? That's not pressure or dictating to after all! Yet the most equal countries in the world such as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden all tax their businesses and the rich heavily and have generous benefits for the poor which most of the people accept is the right way to do things (well they do in theory, I know the practice is not quite as squeaky clean as they would like you to believe but people are people!) and their economies are doing fine but of course they are exceptions to the rule. Perhaps!

And the game is Ian! You would think he would find
a better hiding place than that at his age.
Talking of all things cuddly, cuddly Monsanto and DuPont, the saviours of the world - well so they seem to think and like to let everyone know it, are up to old tricks by touting the benefits of drought resistant corn that yields up to 13% greater yield than non-drought resistant corn in times of drought (doesn't say how it compares in years when there isn't a drought). Roedale has been piloting trials in organic methods of raising corn and in drought years their methods produce 31% more than using conventional growing methods. I know which option I would prefer. It also makes a lie that choosing organic methods always leads to a loss of production. 
Our baby oak grove.


Mavis said...

Wow, what a busy time you're having.

I liked the comparison of creation to an artist's work. I am not an artist but have seen how they seem to do a basic outline and paint all the background first then stage by stage add the detail. It just seemed to me that that is exactly what God did. At each stage He kept adding a little more detail until the sixth day and when He had finished He stopped and rested and I like to think He looked at and admired His creation.

Joanna said...

I have been busy indeed, I thought I might have more free time than I did. I will be glad to get back to studying for a break!

That is the kind of picture I have of God's work on creation too. I know when I set out to make something, I might have a vague idea of where I am going with it but as I work the material I am working with almost seems to suggest different ways of doing things or it requires just a little flourish to transform it from something ordinary to something extraordinary. In the process it becomes much more a part of yourself and less a technical piece of work.