Monday, 14 March 2011

An ordinary life

I think by next week this will look very different with the
start of the thaw. The tracks in the middle are a lynx
It's hard to write about ordinary life just after reading of such devastation in Japan, but ordinary life does go on and I am grateful for the ordinariness of life carrying on around me. I am grateful for the smiles and enthusiastic waves from neighbours (not really quite sure why the greetings were so enthusiastic, but still grateful nonetheless), I am also grateful for a warm house and food on the table. All perfectly ordinary, nothing remarkable until you realise how precious they are, how precarious it could be, how in an instant it could all be swept away by some quirk of nature, or by some revolution. In most earthquakes we read about, there is a concentration on the rescue stories, on the triumphs and the tragedies of ordinary people, but no not this time the media appear to have moved on to the threat of the nuclear reactor meltdown, or is that just the BBC? Or they are concentrating on the effects on the economy I to be honest I do not really care what speculators think of the economy of Japan, they should not be distracting the Japanese's Government from the mammoth task of clearing up and putting things to right, I think they have enough on their plate. I want to hear the stories, I want to hear how the Japanese people are? How are they doing, not the flippin' economy.

Ian dug out the drainage ditch for the
barn so the water can flow. He needed
me to give it a little perspective
So what has our ordinary life been like this week? Actually it hasn't felt that ordinary at all, things are changing - the sounds of Spring have rushed in upon us. For the first time in ages we hear the steady drip drip of the snow melting off our roofs,  we find out once again which roads are the dirt roads and which ones are actually tarmac and which ones are in desperate need of repair after the winter, it all seems so long ago since we saw them. We also discover there really is still grass under the snow and it still amazes us that it has managed to survive under its winter blanket and only needs a few rays of light to change from a dark murky green to the vibrant hue of spring. It was so warm the other day ie about 6C that we sat outside our workshop on the land on our patio chairs, Ian had to sink his chair into the snow, up to the seat, as there was not enough room outside our workshop for us both to put our chairs, but it was so good just to be soaking up the rays. I would have taken a photo but it was a long walk to get the camera along a path that was only half solid enough to walk on, part of it was still soft and meant sinking in up to my knees. After two days of warm temperatures there is still a lot of snow to melt and lots of puddles everywhere.

Not quite as deep as by the barn but a
pretty good indication of how deep the
snow has been
Post winter slush and dripping roofs seems a small price to pay for the return of the warmth of Spring. It is the promise of warmer days ahead that means I don't notice the pain of having to walk in the wet slippy slush, or the fact our car is not nice and clean now but the usual two tone colour it normally is. It is part of the process of transition, not entirely pleasant maybe in some ways, but the promise of the future is enough and the rays of sunshine help to make the slush bearable. As I said there is still a lot of snow to go, as there are mountains of it piled up all over the place; the snowploughs this year ran out of room to push the snow and had to have additional vehicles just to scoop up the snow to get it off the road. Of course a lot of buildings suffered damage with the weight of snow, not just our polytunnel and we see many collapsed buildings around. Ironically though buildings are still coming down as the snow melts off them, it is almost as if the only thing left holding them together was the ice and as that melts it all comes crashing down. We were round at our friends farm to see the new baby goats and we had a look at one of their buildings that had slowly been coming down over the winter, and Ian stepped in with our friend to have a look at the bent beams, only to find out that later that afternoon it finally gave up the ghost and fell down. Scary!

Cute heh! One of friends' new baby goat
Talking of our polytunnel we have finally made a decision on what to do. We have pulled the guys off building the barn to build the polytunel instead, as right now that is far more important to us. They can't really get going on the barn yet anyway as there is far more snow down there as you can see from the pictures, than on top of the hill where the polytunnel is. They are going to start off with beams left over from the barn and try to re-use what they can from the polytunnel and then we shall see what is still needed. They said it was going to be far quicker to take down the old framework still standing and start from scratch and so will build it using a different shape. They are also going to use sturdier beams in the corners and in the middle than use the same sized timber, so hopefully it will be far more robust. Well here's hoping anyway.

Here is the other baby, obviously otherwise engaged. Mum
is not much older as she is the one that escaped to go to the
boy goat when she wasn't supposed to.
It seems like its been a week of preparation for the coming year, from finally making a decision on the polytunnel to planting seeds. It seems the promise of Spring is all that is needed to spur us into action. One of the things that crossed my mind is that if we are going to have alpacas then I really need to get up to speed on the knitting as the hope is to have some gorgeous alpaca wool from them. I have never really been a great knitter, as Ian's mother was a prolific knitter, but I do have a go from time to time and made a couple of jumpers (sweaters) for Ian and myself and knitted a few baby clothes. I decided that since I have wool stored I would start off with knitting baby clothes (no pressure kids!) and so I pulled out a pattern I have kept from years ago and got started. Well I thought I understood the pattern but as I knitted I realised I had forgotten a few techniques like how to increase stitches in a pattern, I had also never come across the instructions K1B before, I have come across KB1 and thought it was the same. KB1 means knit into the back of the stitch but it didn't give me the nice chunky fisherman's rib as the picture showed me in the pattern. I pulled that piece out four times, checked on the internet three times before I got the hang of what I am supposed to be doing ie knitting into the row below but the good news is that it is flowing nicely now.

Trying it out for size! Ian decided to move the tractor to
higher ground and it is a good job he did as this will be
very muddy by now. When it has its roof on and a concrete
floor it obviously won't be so bad.
Ian also has done a few finishing off jobs on our other apartment, like put up a coat rack. We are quite pleased with it as we used a piece of wood which was heading for firewood but we liked the design of it so put it to one side, added some hooks, and voila! Easy and very cheap. A lot cheaper than the nice coat racks in the DIY shop. He also used panelling from the apartment we live in for a bath panel. We ripped it off the walls  because someone in their infinite wisdom had cut into them to put a radiator in and there was no chance of matching it up again. The bath looks pretty smart now and so we decided to christen it. Well actually we thought we had best test it out, to make sure it didn't leak, as it hasn't been tested since it was put in and we may have a visitor sometime in the next week. So we had our first bath in ages! Bliss! A bath that is long enough to lie down in and one which is deep enough to be submerged in - our American baths were so shallow they were almost pointless.

Makes our ponds look like they have sunk but we think
that it is the sides that are so deep with snow. Not sure
if they have reappeared from under their blankets yet.
It hasn't all been sweetness and light this week for me as this last week I was quite poorly for about 24 hours. I started to feel a bit achy one afternoon but by the evening I was really bad, so bad I went to bed before Ian which is errrrr very bad! I was so cold and I just couldn't get warm, so I was tucked up with the old hot water bottle trying to get some heat into myself.  I was very achy the next morning too and felt really unwell when I woke about 7am, so one cup of tea and a couple of paracetamols and I went back to sleep. I slept till 12pm and that is not like me either. I don't do sleeping in! I think I could count on my hand how many times I have slept in past 9am and that is even as a teenager. Just can't do it. No idea what it was but after my sleep I felt much better and apart from the odd bout of tiredness I am fine now.

Lynx tracks. Two large paws at the front and two smaller
paws at the back. Lack of claws means it is not a dog or fox
I posted a picture of a possible lynx track the other week but we weren't sure if it really was a lynx or not. Now we are pretty certain it is a lynx and it is a regular visitor to our land. Its also probably male as our polytunnel ruins has a slight whiff of "Essence de Tomcat!". Down by our lowest pond are lots of very characteristic cat tracks and, as someone commented, the only other cat besides lynx with a similar gait and foot pattern is a leopard, and there are not many of those in Latvia, so we go with lynx. Funnily enough since the lynx tracks appeared we don't seem to have as many deer tracks, can't think why. Some of the tracks are quite incredible as there is a huge distance between each set of tracks. The lynx must have been on the run but what a colossal stride it has, certainly would not like to meet one on the run.


  1. An ordinary life? Digging a ditch in the snow the height of yourself, seeing the year's first new born goats, sorting out the future of the polytunnel (at last)planning for the next year's plants, learning new knitting stitches and having a lynx in your back garden! Not so ordinary methinks.

    I know what you mean about our lives compared to those in Japan, though. It does bring home the fact that for all our inventiveness and technological know-how and so-called progress and civilisation, we are no match for the sheer force of nature. It puts life into perspective, doesn't it and makes you think about your priorities.

  2. Well I guess it beats the 9-5 game, Mavis :o)

    The earthquake does indeed show you can't prepare for everything and causes us to look at our priorities. Mind you it does also show what can be done to minimise a loss of life if people are valued, as the loss from the earthquake of that magnitude would have been so much worse in many other places.


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