Monday, 30 September 2013

Getting older

Mushrooms in our forest. We still have to
identify these though
We are getting older, happens to us all, funny how that works! I noticed it when going to Hamburg and despite the fact I have taken to wearing my glasses all the time now, I still couldn't see the underground map properly at the train station to plan my route, so that meant a trip to the opticians when I got back and a new set of glasses ordered. Ian's eyesight is getting worse too, he used to have 20/10 vision or is it 10/20 vision, not sure now but it was certainly a lot better than average, so good that once a nurse complimented him, as he was the first person she had seen with such good eyesight. Whilst out shopping though he had to ask me what temperature some grease was able to handle, because he couldn't read the small print on the tube and fortunately I had my glasses on. For your information it goes down to -40C and up to 120C, so that should be alright.

Our pond is still low, despite the rain.
Good job we are not really watering
the things in the greenhouse now
We had quite a successful day the day we went to the opticians, as we also managed to hand in the paperwork to the land office as the first part of the complicated process of getting projects planned and already built onto the land book (the official record of what a property is made up of and if there are any debts associated with the property). It went pretty smoothly in the office, there was only a minor tweak that the lady made and she hand wrote the necessary addition and had us sign it - that was it! Unbelievable, it had taken us three visits to get that far. The problem came when we went to the post office and we were trying to sort out the payments for paperwork, it was here that a little knowledge of the language proved to be a dangerous thing, because it sounded like she wanted something that she already had the information for in front of her and so I was well and truly confused. Eventually we did manage to sort it out and pay. Well that was two things completed successfully and in addition to that we also managed to buy a fridge for our guest apartment - we've only been going to do that since the beginning of June. We were spurred on by the fact that we have guests there for two months. It is one thing to do without a fridge for a week, quite another to expect people to cope for two months.

They have eaten this lot down fast. Now where to move
them too? The pigs dug up the obvious next step
It is not just us getting old, so is the year. The temperatures have dropped quite dramatically and Ian, especially is feeling the cold. It has been damp and chilly some mornings and we have got used to the heat over the summer. It seems really peculiar to feel cold when it is 7 or 8 C, when that will feel warm in the Spring - but then again that is six months away and after temperatures that have dipped to -20C and lower. The alpacas have been on a feeding binge and the hens had all but stopped laying, we haven't had an egg for days, until today that is. So it is not just the trees preparing for winter but the animals are sensing it too. We finally managed to get Herkules' teeth sorted and it was a bit hairy to say the least. Our vet's husband is a builder and he came with an angle grinder. He was full of confidence that he could do it with that and to give Herkules credit he was very still for the whole thing, mind you there were three of us sitting on him at the time. The advantage with the vet's husband doing the cutting, is that he is very used to using an angle grinder and kept the angle grinder quite still and into his body, but it was still scary to watch - apparently. I was sat on his rear end and so didn't see what was going on, thankfully. We also managed to get his toe nails cut at the same time, but not with the angle grinder, I hasten to add. We joked that it would be interesting for our new acquaintance to put alpaca dentist on his CV

Guerilla knitting in Tartu. Take a close
look at that colourful tree
I'm now toing and froing from Latvia to Tartu in Estonia again. This time it is for the didactics course. At least now I know what it is and it is just a course in higher education teaching. The didactics being the processes of learning and the ethics of teaching. When I look the word up though, I am still not convinced it is used correctly. I have a feeling it is one of those words not often used by English speakers but regularly used by those who have English as a second language, like the word pedagogue that crops up often in different countries and is still a word that confuses me. At least the class went fairly well. Most people are reasonably confident to voice an opinion in a nice enough way, which makes class discussions interesting instead of forced. It is quite an interactive class that aims to draw out the values you have as an educator or a potential educator, since one of the requirements of the doctoral course is to teach some classes at some stage. It is nice to see them teaching something that is more interactive, as it is not something that comes naturally to educators in the ex-Soviet countries, where classes are more about the information than the learning process and it is the sole responsibility of the students to make sure they learn for themselves, regardless of how boring the lecture/class is. Fortunately this is changing gradually.

The beans were once screening the
chicken arks. But the frosts we had
this week have killed them off. The
chickens are also busy eating their way
through the old strawberry bed and
fertilising it for the next crop, then
 they will be put in the greenhouse
I didn't take the bus or the train up to Tartu though, as someone kindly lent me their car. This meant that I could bring up enough clothes to have some spare, which is much easier than carting a suitcase through Riga, which was one of my plans. It also meant I didn't have to travel up on the Sunday for a Monday afternoon lecture and it means I can travel back at a reasonable time tomorrow. It was a lovely day to travel up as well, the sun came out and lit up the already brightly coloured trees. It is proving to be a gorgeous autumn with some intensely coloured leaves after the dry and hot year we've had. I wished I could have had time to get out of the car and take a picture for you, but there wasn't enough of a leeway to do that, as I needed to make sure the paperwork was complete for the first lecture (paperwork seems to be featuring rather heavily here) and I wasn't too sure of where I was supposed to be. I did get a little lost, as there are rather a lot of parks at the top of steps in Tartu near to cobbled streets which were the descriptions I was working on. Fortunately a very nice man was able to show me on a large map where I was and where I needed to be. I was a block away from where I should have been, but fortunately got there just in time.
And there are the Borlotti beans, already
for de-podding. I love Borlottis beans
and hate them all at the same time. They
are mainly creamy white with varying
speckles of pink on them, some are deep
red, but they all look like the chocolate
eggs I used to get as a kid. Makes me
hungry to see them
Oh yes! More beans. Don't worry we
won't be eating all these, we will be
feeding them to the chickens over
winter too
Life at the moment is like juggling balls, not only are we juggling some of the different demands on our time, we are also switching some of our roles within our marriage. Ian used to be the one who travelled a lot and I stayed home, now it is the other way around and so some of the things I used to do, now have to be taken on by Ian and vice versa. It's not easy and sometimes we end up dropping the ball or having to re-negotiate priorities and even that is a shifting from month to month. Take this month, the alpacas have been quite a high priority on our list, not because we think animals should have a priority over anyone, but because we have four new ones coming and two are pregnant. We have been negotiating for a long time to get them and only have a small window to transport them owing to their condition and also the condition of our roads in winter and spring. If you add into that mix that the guy we are buying them from has only a limited amount of time when he is at home, to make sure they are sent off in good condition, our transporter fits delivery in around transporting horses and we have other commitments you have a recipe for confusion and a headache. Plans are coming together and now we wait for the confirmation of the date of delivery.
More empty spaces. The long grass is
where the squash plants had crept across
the orchard grass. The frost finished them
off too
I should have done a before and after picture of this herb
bed. The weeds had taken advantage of my travels and
done a take over bid. They are sorted - for now!
If that was the only headache inducing decision making we had to make it wouldn't have been so bad, but we also have some family dos that we want to attend and that has been a bit of a nightmare to arrange and I wasn't doing most of the planning. It all got very complicated, but hopefully it is sorted now - well maybe. All this would get a bit too much for me, if it wasn't for my faith and belief that what I am doing is part of God's plan for me and my life. Not that I think he has a plan set in stone for me, but it is part and parcel of my walk with him. There are new things for me to learn and explore as part of my journey with him. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that and to reflect on how far I have come. Being at home with three young children many years ago felt like an important thing to do and it was, but God had other plans for me as well. Plans that would have absolutely scared me if you had told me then what I would do, such as helping to lead children's work for hundreds of children, preaching in foreign countries, not just moving house but moving countries and so on. Sometimes I get a bit apprehensive about what my next role will be, but a song from my first days of stepping out came back to me again this week "Beyond these shores" by Iona. It talks of stepping out beyond our known shores and casting off, confident that it is the path laid out for us and even if it isn't, that the path won't take us beyond the love of God. It is based on the life of St. Brendan who set off from the West Coast of Ireland, not even knowing if there was anything out West, just feeling the call to go.
The nearly empty side of our greenhouse. All the tomatoes
have gone, except for these red currant tomatoes that seem
to go on forever and very tasty they are too


karen said...

you have two pregnant ones??? are they two that are with you now or two that are coming? I hope they are ones that are with you and then if we asked nicely we could have ''newborn'' pictures. I think you are amazing by the you go here there and everywhere without full language skills and now you're driving too!! I take my hat off to you. I have been visiting Sweden for over 20 years and have never driven there...too scared I will forget, drive on the wrong side of the road and kill someone.Even as a passenger I cannot bear to go the wrong way around a roundabout.

Joanna said...

The two pregnant ones are in the group that are coming. You will get to see the newborns - hopefully anyway - next July or maybe it is the end of June (must check with hubby, wouldn't want to be away if I can help it)

Fortunately speaking English does get you far (and the reason we don't as a nation learn more languages), but I do understand smidgens of other languages and please and thank you always helps and I can do that in several languages - only I get muddled up at times.

As for driving, it is more natural for me to drive on the right now, it is nearly 11 years after all since we left the UK and I am more frightened of ending up driving on the wrong side in the UK than I am anywhere else.

ju-north said...

Love hearing about your life and your journey - mine seems positively 'ordinary' in comparison - and I use the word 'positively' positively!

Joanna said...

Thanks Ju and I'm glad you are positive about your "ordinary" life. I love seeing your pictures as they take the ordinary and make them extraordinary