Monday, 16 May 2011

All sorts!

You have to use a bit of imagination here but that will
look really nice once the grass grows. Must admit we are a
bit tired of it looking like a muddy mess, but hopefully we
won't have to disturb the ground too much more soon
"The nights are cutting out," so goes the refrain in our house but unfortunately this is a multi-functional phrase depending on the time of year. In Spring it refers to the lengthening days, and in Autumn the longer nights. Anyway it is rather nice to see the days getting longer and to still see a glimmer of light in the sky, even well after 10pm. It's also nice to see the signs of spring and last week I posted some photos of our new residents in the bird house that Ian made (eventually anyway- do take a peek if you missed them), unfortunately we haven't seen them around the last couple of days and wondering if they have changed their mind and moved into a quieter neighbourhood. I would guess it has been pretty noisy around there as Ian has spent this last week re-sculpting the pond area and filling in the middle one a bit with some clay from the bottom pond to try and retain the water. We weren't expecting that pond to fill again until winter but one nights rain and it is full to the brim and instead of planning to put a pipe in at the end of the year to drain excess into the bottom pond Ian is now planning on doing that this week before we get the summer deluges. At least it filled up again anyway which is encouraging.

The muddy pool looking towards the forest
My eye is much better this week and I don't look like I have been punched in the face anymore but it did entail yet another trip to the doctors to get some more of the same antibiotics. I had taken the drops for 7 days and thought that would be fine but one day without drops and my eyes started to itch again, I managed to eke out the other drops until I could get a new prescription. I am very proud of myself as I went without a translator, but I did cheat, I got my friend to phone ahead to explain what I wanted and then all the doctor had to do was look at my eye and write a prescription - at least this time she didn't go "sheesh!" That was not the only time last week I managed without resorting to English or to a translator, I managed a whole phone call in Latvian. Mind you it was just the electric company who wanted our email address so they could warn us when they are doing work on the electric line, so nothing particularly difficult, and it must have worked as I got an email to tell me that there would be work done on the lines .... the day before they sent it!!!! Hopefully next time we will actually get to know ahead of time and not ten minutes after the electric goes off, like this week. It's very nice of the electric company to send a text when the power is off as at least I know they are dealing with it and I haven't got to go and find out what is happening.

The Cathedral, aka the new greenhouse
The electric going off is not terribly helpful when I have work to write up on the computer though, but at least having a laptop I get half a days work out of it and if I had been organised I could have got a full day by using our back up computer, but I wasn't so I didn't. Well actually I didn't know the electric was going off, that's my excuse and I am sticking to it. So by the afternoon with power low on my computer I decided to take the rest of the day off and go with hubby to one of the large towns to see if we could get some plastic for the new cathedral, aka the greenhouse (well we think it just needs a spire on the end and it would be perfect, what do you think?). We didn't get any plastic in the end, as we weren't sure that it was the right stuff or whether to spend about a third of the price of the last lot. The plastic on the original polytunnl was good stuff and maybe too good, would the polytunnel have survived if the plastic had ripped and let the snow through is one of those questions we will never know. Anyway in the end we got some plastic from another trip out as we decided that it was better not to pay too much for plastic if we end up having to replace the whole thing again. What we did get on our trip out though was a nice meadow grass mixture to spread around the ponds and on all the filled in pig holes to compete with the ground elder. At least I hope that is what it is and not some rampant grass that will take over, so I hope my translation was correct.

Tonights rainbow. We needed the rain, it has been rather
dry and our potatoes will have been gasping
For some reason the builders of our cathedral needed some extra wood and so they toddled off to one of the local wood supply places. Apparently the owner used to be a builder and sometimes worked in Riga but since he doesn't do that any more it meant he had a caravan for sale. Our workmen were relating this piece of information to Ian, or at least trying to but they were using an American term "trailer," and so when one of them asked if Ian wanted a trailer and he was stood right next to our trailer he was a little confused at first. Eventually they came to some understanding and we decided to take a look. It was a little tricky to sort out a time as the owner is now also a bus driver, who drives to and from Riga everyday, and so we managed to fit it in between bus runs. The upshot is that soon we shall be the proud owner of an ancient caravan, but at least it doesn't show any signs of leaks and it won't be travelling anywhere so hopefully it will provide us with a dry place to sit in comfort out on the land and even somewhere to rustle up a meal. It's a bit battered and a bit dusty at the moment but then it will give Ian something to do on the wet days when he is not working in the cathedral. It also means we now have the super budget option of a place to stay - anyone interested?

Another unexpected guest out on our land. Looks like he
needs a haircut
We had some unexpected guests this last week which is why my post of the pictures were later than promised. We bumped into someone we knew in the local shop, but we had only met in Riga before, at some meetings we used to go to, so it was a bit of a surprise to see her there. We were so pleased they accepted our invite to come around and were even more pleasantly surprised that they suggested that evening, not had guests pop round of an evening for a long time. We had a strange mix of conversation from the importance of relationships in the body of Christ to maintaining trees, as the girl and her friend had been spending time at the local technical school learning how to climb trees and cut them. They don't quite look the lumberjack types but fits in well with landscape design which is something else they are doing at college.

Our haul, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, forget-me-nots
and a roll of plastic for the greenhouse
We were meant to be going to a conference this weekend as part of the prayer team but it got cancelled as more people were interested in going to a conference on learning tips for leadership. It's sad really as the cancelled conference was going to be based on building relationships to mentor and disciple youngsters in the Christian faith, using camping as a starting point. If there is one thing we could do with in the body of Christ it is spending more time learning how to relate to each other better and less time learning how to be boss. We can't all be leaders, but we can all relate to others. Still it meant an unexpected free weekend and we decided to go and visit our friends who had tried to get the conference together anyway. We had intended to set off early to be able to have a lovely long day with them but it wasn't to be. We generally stay at the other apartment at the weekends, even though it is only 10 minutes away but it feels like having a weekend break away from home, and I went to step into the bathroom and had a rather rude awakening as I stepped into a cold puddle of water. Fortunately our Swedish friend had made the place watertight as the plumbing components here leave a lot to be desired but that still meant a rather large puddle of water that needed to be dealt with and so the next couple of hours Ian dealt with that while I went to the butchers for some meat and made a sausage mixture. Eventually all was sorted and away we went

Cowslips. Often rare in England but abundant here
Despite the late start we had quite an entertaining day with our friends and their young boys, as they were learning to call us Mr and Mrs in preparation for when they go to live in Canada, where their Dad is from, in Autumn. Apparently it is better to be more formal in their Canadian circles. We met in a town part way to their house so we could both do some shopping and have lunch and then boys rode in our big red truck on the way back to their house, which for a 3 and 4 year old is very exciting, apparently! So exciting they didn't go to sleep as expected  (by the way if any of our American friends are reading this, it is not as big as an American big truck, it is only 2.5litre engine not the huge 4 litre engine, but big for Europe). Our friends have a lot of fruit bushes and grapes in their garden so we also came back with a lot of cuttings and suckers and we were so pleased to get a blackberry bush. We have missed having blackberries as they don't seem to grow wild here in quite the same way as they do in the UK, so getting a whole plant was fantastic - blackberry and apple crumble here we come.

Horsetails, lots of these too
One thing I have come to expect with living abroad is presents at odd times of the year, certainly it is rare for anything to arrive on my birthday. Mind you it is rare I am organised enough to send anyone their presents on their birthdays too, so fair's fair. I did get three books from my daughter this week, only three weeks late so not bad going really. There was a book on Wormeries, one on keeping chickens and one on preserving - do you see a theme here! Perfect for the year ahead anyway. Just waiting for the parcel to arrive from my Mum too, so I think I will have plenty to read once I finish my course in just over a weeks time.

The start of next winters wood for our fires
My trawls through the internet netted a gem this week it was an article where the independent internal auditors of the world bank are chastising its investment arm for not evaluating their methods properly or doing what they are supposed to be doing which is providing private investors with funds in order to make an impact on poverty. Also it chastised them for going after rapid growth instead of seeking a pattern of sustainable development - wonders will never cease! Any branch of the World bank actually evaluating their policies is a major step forward, and actually deciding that rapid growth is not the way forward is even more amazing. Not that I want the poor held back at all, but it is not fair to expect rapid growth which does not usually improve conditions for the poorest of the poor anyway, and certainly does not eventually trickle down to them as economists used to think would happen, in fact it can often make things worse and so I am really pleased that finally the World Bank has listened to the NGOs that have been telling them this for a long time and may actually be doing something about it.


ju-north said...

Pleased your eye is getting sorted! What an interesting life you lead!

Joanna said...

I am glad my eye is getting better too. I was a bit worried the other week it was going to affect my ability to get my work done by the end of term.

Our life is not filled to overflowing but varied it certainly is

karen said...

a caravan?? a couple of happy campers then...!!

Joanna said...

Well maybe! It's not exactly the Ritz shall we say

karen said...

and I forgot to say...I love your rainbow!