Monday, 26 March 2012

250 blogs and still going strong.

You could be forgiven for thinking that I have reposted
last week's picture but I haven't as it snowed again.

Fortunately it was a minor blip
Nearly gone!
Today is my 250th post, who would have thought it! I'm still blogging after all this time. Must say thanks to Doug for suggesting I start it all that time ago (wonder if he still follows, I know he has other things on his mind just lately, such as anticipating a new arrival). When I started this blog I didn't realise I would also connect with different people through it. Mavis had followed my blog for quite a while and found me through a mutual friend, Martin Scott's blog. She came out in September to see for herself what we do and to experience Latvia for the first time and in May we have some more friends who we have connected with through Martin's site coming out to visit. Paul is a regular contributor to Martin's blog and the other guy coming out is from Ian's neck of the woods, so I suspect there will be a little bit of Geordie flying around, think we may have to do some translating for our Latvian friends though, but at least they may begin to understand how Ian's accent has changed over the years.

Rivers of water running down from our access road area
Spring has sprung here at last and that's definite, but also many springs have sprung on our land. Any land not covered with snow has been like a river, as the snow has been melting fast, although it is beginning to slow down now. We have found one end of the leak from our top pond and we now have a lovely water feature, but we need the other pond ice to melt and the water level to drop to see where the inlet is. The barn unfortunately continued to get wet, and some places have got a little soggy, but Ian is just about managing to keep on top of it to stop the whole place getting completely waterlogged. At least we think that next year will be better because the drainage around the greenhouse is now working really well and we only have a little damp creep which is what we need really, so with some work in the summer we hope to manage to get the drainage sorted for the barn too.

Swiss chard showing signs of recovery in the greenhouse
We have seen lots of signs of spring, we have seen two caterpillars crawling across the snow if you can believe it - looks really weird, I have also seen a Clouded Yellow Butterfly, Ian saw a frog and there was a peacock butterfly in the greenhouse, which I released to fend for itself outside. This week it was flocks of geese that have been seen heading north, now we just wait for the storks - shouldn't be long now. We were surprised to see some snowdrops have appeared in front of our other flat, we didn't know we had any there, but many other things seemed to have survived the winter as we wandered around the garden today. All my herbs such as sage, thyme and marjoram have survived well and even one of our little roses is budding. Swiss chard is making its usual fast recovery, it is not a vegetable we eat a lot of, but it is a very welcome addition to the menu early on in the year. Our garlic is also popping up already which again surprised me as I have never grown garlic before. Some of my tomato seedlings have popped through already and are even nearly ready for potting on. I also tested some sweetcorn seed saved from last year for viability and they have germinated too - so pleased as our attempts last year failed miserably and we ended up buying more seed, which are expensive and you don't get many in a pack. 

Garlic in our garden
I wish I could say that there is a spring like feel to the Latvian economy but I can't unfortunately and certainly not in our village as two supermarkets shut last week. One whole week with eerily shut doors on the one shop we had come to rely on for most of our shopping. Fortunately for us there are two other shops that opened up this year, not that they are likely to be the cause of the demise of the two other shops, as they were part of a chain that went bust. Times are still tough here. The Government seem intent on making it harder too as they have introduced a new law where you have to declare who you owe money to, how you pay for it, who owes you money, what expensive pictures, jewellery you own and what underwear you are wearing. Okay not the last one but they may as well. Lending is often ad hoc and unofficial, but I suspect it keeps the economy going. There is corruption in Latvia, let's be honest about that, but in tying things down too tightly they may strangle any chance of people making their way out of the mess, without driving the economy even further underground. They will of course catch some folks, who are not dealing legally, but I guess it will not be those who steal and rob the national economy of huge amounts of money. This new law does trouble me. I have no problems with declaring the profits from lending, but the information they want is far too intrusive.

Still lots of ice 
I have been perfecting the art of procrastination with distractions galore, how can you not be distracted when the snow is going and sometimes the sun is shining? Amazing how interesting everything else looks compared to the project that needs to be completed. I guess I must be moving into the project as a master stage, not quite a book but I think the same principles apply (yes I did post this before).
and ice sculptures at the side of the road
“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.” (Winston Churchill)
Talking of roads, mud soup anyone? You can imagine the
colour of our car at the moment and the bone jarring rides
 with all those potholes.
Hope I can progress quickly through the next phases then! Admittedly today wasn't too bad as I managed to shave around 5000 words from what I thought was my word count last week - don't ask! The count was not quite the whopping 22,500 ish that I thought it was, is all I'm going to say. I still have around 2500 or more words to go though, but at least it is progress. 

I have had time to trawl the internet as usual but before I tell you about it, humour me and read this first

Matthew 18:23-31(From the Message version) "The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
 The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
 The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!'
 The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

I scattered ash across the veg patch next to the orchard to
encourage the snow to go
Now read this and see if the similarities between that story and the story from the bible strikes you too. Maybe it is just me. I do hope our economies start to right themselves, but it is certainly proving to be a messy process as people hold onto the strings or power and try to manipulate policies in their favour instead of supporting polices that benefit as many people as possible, especially the poor. There are times I wonder if all this pondering on the economy and what can be done is worth it, but I love this idea from Czech dissident Václav Havel  in "The Power of the Powerless,"where he explains how one person “living in truth” can shine a light on unspoken questions, revealing the automatism of our usual assumptions: “When a single person breaks the rules of the game, thus exposing it as a game—everything suddenly appears in another light.” Well if following Jesus is supposed to be "living in truth," then we all have the potential to be that light that shines on those unspoken questions, revealing those games. Jesus came to usher in the kingdom of God on earth, shining the light of truth into places that needed exposing, just as we should be doing today.

Skiing anyone? Our neighbours only just got the bales of
hay off with their sleigh in time before the snow started to go


  1. Wow. The snow seems to be disappearing fast and you already have things coming through. You have achieved so much since you first went out to Latvia. When are you going to set up your farm shop? Lol!

    I'm glad Paul and friend (another Geordie - HOWAY THE LADS!)are going out to see you in May. I'm so pleased that more people are wanting to connect with you and Ian in person and get a real insight into what you are doing. I'll keep looking out for future reports.

  2. I am amazed at how fast things are coming through too. I can't work it out at all, one year the ground froze fast and then snowed and things came back okay. Last year the snow came before the frosts and things rotted and didn't survive well. This year things have survived well and again the snow came before the ground froze. We were away from the country during part of last winter and I wonder if the freeze thaw that happened while we were away had anything to do with it, or maybe sheer weight of snow last year? Who knows!

    It is great to be able to show folks around but also just to sit and talk about life and faith, really looking forward to this.

  3. Well bonny lass, ye'll enjoy the lads' visit! there'll be a lot of taakin' goin' on!

  4. I remember writing my essays and those last words NEVER wanted to come didn't matter how many times I clicked the word count it never seemed to rise! Good luck!!

  5. Eeeee Ju, I think you're reet about that!

    I guess you have the opposite problem to me Karen, I've got to get that word count down and still do justice to what people had to say.

  6. Congratulations on the 250 milestone. And a bigger congratulations on 'still going strong' - not just with the blogs but the work. Keep writing your journey I am sure is a sign for many to leave the well-trodden paths.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement Martin, greatly appreciated

  8. Wow! 250 is quite an accomplishment. It has allowed us to continue hearing your story long after you have left Colorado!

  9. I can't believe I've made it too. Glad your still following along. Maybe you could come and visit sometime, although I guess it won't be anytime soon :o)


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