Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Talking stuff and shifting stuff

Preparing for my Skype conference, thought I had better
check how I looked 
Skype has been immensely useful this week and I wonder how I would get on without it. First of all I did a Skype video presentation to my tutor and a colleague on the topic I wish to research for my Masters. It was a very technical experience, as I used two computers - are you impressed? My old laptop, that was repaired, has a bigger screen than my new one and so I could have Skype on and see my tutor and his colleague as they listened to my presentation and have my notes in front of me for the presentation; on my newer laptop (no I'm not greedy, it was just we didn't realise that Apple would repair the computers before I bought a new one) I had my presentation slides, so I could see the slides that were being viewed far away on the Isle of Lewis where my tutor works. There was also the usual chats with children on Skype and the not so usual, the usual how are you doing and the not so usual hope you are okay and help my computers packed in and I haven't backed my stuff up and I'm panicking sort (have to admit to that being a wake up call and I went and backed mine up immediately after that call). We also had the opportunity for a fantastic chat with some old friends from our church back in the UK and one of them even treated us to a bit of ukulele playing. Modern technology can be an invasive experience but for us it has allowed us to do the things we are doing, while still maintaining contact with friends and family. Which is especially good when our daughter had a car accident this week and it was good to know that she was fine.

A lovely sunset after a busy day
Of course it wouldn't be much of a life if we lived it solely online and we have a couple of great opportunities to enjoy good company with some good food this week. A friend of ours and an old friend of his from overseas joined us in the hotel this week, not planned, but one of those lovely impromptu moments  that just happen. It was a really pleasant experience chatting about accents and misunderstandings and different experiences that life has thrown our way. Our next meal followed an impromptu invitation to some neighbours of ours who are working hard and one day looked like it was going to be worse than normal; with two little ones in the household I could just picture the evening arriving home and the lack of energy to do much in preparing a meal - I have been there quite a few times when our children were little, at one point we had three children under the age of four and life could get a bit fraught at times. In the morning I had made use of the slow cooker to start a meal off with chicken stock and some borlotti beans, then added some salted beans, barley and beaver sausage and I knew that meal would stretch to a small family with addition of some potatoes and baked squash. An easy meal knowing we would also be busy during the day. In fact they did us a favour by accepting as the bean casserole needed the additions to make it a great meal, the casserole on its own needed toning down with the potatoes and we got to be entertained by the little ones to. Bargain!

The moon added to the show
Our kittens have also been a little surprising this week. They had to go back to the vets for their second injection and it was there that we found out it wasn't just Bella that has surprising agility. Sofie, our usually calm, placid kitten is beginning to show streaks of not being quite so calm or placid and in the vets she was decidedly not happy with the injection and twisted herself around in a way a cat should not be able to and ended up giving the ver some rather nasty scratches. The vet was rather apologetic because she said it was her fault as she was not expecting that reaction at all - neither were we to be honest. This is from a cat that likes tummy tickles and paw massages!!!!! Bella was well and truly pinned down between us though, as we weren't going to have a repeat of that episode. Reminded me of the time I used to help out at a vets as a teenager to find out if I wanted to be a vet or not in later life. The other episode involved Bella, our mischievous one, who managed to get up onto the higher rafters of our greenhouse but was struggling to find a way down. Several times she crossed backwards and forwards looking for a way down, even walking on the fleece that is stapled for shading below the apex - at which point I felt sure she was going to come through it. Ian was just about to head off for the ladders when she decided to make a jump for it, it was rather a long way down but although she looked a little shocked she is none the worse for the event. So far though the kittens have not caught a mouse that we know of but I found one out in our allotment patch and ended up killing it with the spade - not something I enjoy doing but we do need to keep the population down to manageable proportions.

Our new beds with the sawdust path
Most of the week seems to have been spent shifting things around. I had to shift some old manure and compost around the garden to make room for some new manure. Ian used the tractor to shift two loads of manure, one to each garden and two loads of wood chippings, one load to our neighbours garden and one back to our land, plus a car trailer load. Having written that down it doesn't look a lot but it took two days to do, albeit short days due to the shorter days and being dark by 4:30pm. One thing Ian discovered today is that all this transporting things by trailer has improved his ability to reverse them. He had to reverse the tractor trailer with one load of manure quite a distance and managed with just one or two small deviations from the path and today he drove a trailer into a building with a heavy saw on it that needs renovating, not only did he reverse it, he had to turn the trailer into the building to put it where it needed to be put. All I can say, is it is a good job it wasn't me, I am getting better at reversing our truck but it is still tricky as it all has to be done by wing mirrors and not looking over my shoulder. There was more shifting on the land as all those wood chippings needed to be put somewhere as there are still more to come, so I started putting rotted straw down where the vegetable beds should be and then put a good covering of wood chippings on the top. It won't be perfect for vegetables next year as they will need a good lot of compost added to give the roots something to anchor into but the year after it will be great and hopefully easier to manage for weeds. I also began laying the sawdust paths, not sure that they are deep enough to stop the weeds coming through but decided a light going over with a blow torch to any that dares to put its head above the sawdust will do the trick (and no I am not going to set the sawdust alight in the process!!!!! Trust me!)

It was like this all day, on one particular day, the frost lay
on the ground all day, never bothering to shift
I read a lot about sustainability issues and I had to laugh this week when I read an article about building with sand filled water bottles. Comments were made that there was now a worry that the area would run out of sand due to the amount required in the building. It harks back to the idea that if you find a sustainable building method then you multiply it and replicate it lots of times, but that is not sustainable. Sustainability is about applying principles not blueprints, each area needs to find creative solutions bearing in mind the type of area it is. Sustainable solutions will not be mass produced, but small scale. Reliance on single products for the answer to all problems is not an option, that is what got us into the mess we are in now. I suppose that is similar in principle to the Occupy protests at the moment, the world is looking for "one solution fits all" answers from the protest groups, but the groups are not providing answers, they are seeking first the right questions and then looking for principles that can be applied, not blueprints that once applied with help us to live happy ever after - that just won't happen. Sustainable solutions to today's problems will take a lot of time to work out as they are going to take some massive rethinks in how we do business, how we live and how we interact with each other. Interesting times indeed!

Frosted grass

Okay I know you have to tilt your head to see this
it won't turn round. It is correct on my computer but
Picasa won't turn it around. Okay now I have moaned
what you can see is a dusting of snow. Winter is on its way


  1. Your mention of the shared meal reminded me of the words of Jesus - I was hungry and you fed me. I love your preaching in action.

  2. If only all preaching was as tasty! :o)

  3. do your talents know no end??? manure, tractors, cooking, harvesting, and the fact that you even attempt to reverse a truck!!! You have no idea how useless I am at parking and reversing...I need an empty street or 3 empty spaces at the supermarket, I kid you not!

  4. My parking and reversing have got worse with our car/truck, as it is not possible to look over your shoulder, which is how I learnt to reverse I also find it much more difficult to reverse in a car designed for the right hand side of the road. It is hubby who is the tractor driver and ace reverser not me :oD


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