Monday, 15 December 2014

It's Christmas time......

The proof! Christmas decorations up early with Santa
looking on.
Now that you all have that tune well and truly fixed in your head, I shall begin. First of all I have to warn my boys to sit down while reading this, because there was a momentous event in our household this week. Are you ready boys? .............. The decorations went up this week! Now I know that most of my readers will be wondering what on earth is the big deal as many people put there's up around mid-December if not before, but it is a virtually unheard of event in our home for the decorations to be put up more than one day before Christmas Eve. In fact when our children were small they used to be put on the night of Christmas Eve after they went to bed, then it became on Christmas Eve to keep the little darlings entertained and eventually the day before Christmas Eve when we went to Denmark as it fitted in easier with going to Christmas services. The reason for this extraordinary event was the fact our daughter and granddaughter were visiting, as I mentioned last week and so we decided to hold Christmas early.

I love this pensive look
The Christmas tree we collected, that I also mentioned in last week's blog, was propped up in the shower overnight to melt off the ice so as not to flood the floor and the next day my daughter and I set it up. We both ended up with a bit of a rash from the needles, some of my spots turned a little nasty, so note to self - next year wear gloves! Our granddaughter helped to decorate the tree and so this year, all the ornaments that could possibly break, ended up at the top of the tree, with all my non-breakable ones down below. She was very good though and the most she did was to poke a finger at some of the ornaments quite gently. We followed up a day of decorating the tree with a trip out to see our friends on the goat farm. The wee one, loved the goats but wasn't enthralled by the noisy chickens, ducks and turkeys or the very quiet rabbits. She did like the goat's cheese though, in fact she likes cheese no matter what. If all else failed some cheese would work for a quick lunch.

All kitted up and ready to go
Our daughter then treated us by making Christmas dinner. It was lovely, both the taste of it all, but also the fact I didn't have to cook it myself. She was very happy that for once the Yorkshire puddings came up to her grandma's standards, Ian's mother that is. One of the joys of visiting his parents were grandma's Yorkshire puddings on a Sunday afternoon and she set such a high standard. We often felt a little disappointed if ours didn't work out quite as well. For some reason, our oldest son seemed to have the knack of consistently making good Yorkshires, for the rest of us it was a bit hit and miss. We obviously don't have all the ingredients for a proper English Christmas dinner here in rural Latvia and so we had pork rather than turkey. The pork was done in a spiced up apple juice with some fermented apple juice that was meant to be vinegar, but tasted more like a weak wine, but it worked really well anyway and gave it a cidery taste. Our brussel sprouts suffered with the heavy frosts and not worth picking, so there were none of them, but there were carrots and squash, potatoes both roasted and mashed, a sausage stuffing and all followed by a baked cheesecake with a strawberry topping.

One little girl with a very red nose.
All too soon it was time for me to take a trip up to Tartu and leave Ian some time to get a word in edgeways. I had a meeting to present my research to my fellow doctoral candidate colleagues. I didn't set off at the crack of dawn this time though, we all took a trip to Sigulda for a bit of a day out, but it was so bitter and there is not much time when the days are so short that we only had time for our granddaughter to have a bit of a play in a large playground and time to have a meal. At least it was a few extra hours.

This reminds me why my daughter rarely had her hair up. I
was never very good at putting in pony tails
My presentation went well. I harked back a little to my children's worker days and took along some fabric and threads borrowed from my host to act as an object lesson to the way I work. I explained that the fabrics were like communities, some fabrics are more harmonious than others and like in an art quilt where the fabrics are linked by threads that bind them together, so there are common threads that bind communities together. I explained that I look for those relationships of harmony and linkages that are already there in communities and I am looking for ways that might help link them together better, in much the same ways as I use embroidery to alter the fabrics to tone in, or stand out. It did surprise them a little, but my supervisors seemed to relate to the metaphor.

Grandma and granddaughter time
I have found the internet on the train very useful for working and managed to send off a few emails that needed to be dealt with, as well as look up some details about some academics who I needed to make contact with. One of the trains I take even has plug in power
points, but I have to remember they don't work when the train is stationary. It all feels very productive. Not sure if that is a good thing or not, as it means no time for just staring out of the window and taking in the view. I think I will have to do that sometimes just to make sure I give my brain space just to be. The conductors are usually quite pleasant on the trains, they may not smile like some would expect in say America, but they are not surly. In fact the conductor on the train I was on going to Riga on Saturday was lovely to one of the sleeping passengers, as he very, very gently woke him as we were approaching the main station. I thought that showed a good deal of care and concern. I guess it also makes sure that no one is left on the train at the final destination, but at least that sense of responsibility was taken gently.

Melting ice
I had arranged with Ian and our daughter to meet them in a shopping centre in Riga, but when I got there it was chock-a-block with traffic and not a car parking space to be seen. It was not heaving with folks as I know it can be in England, and there were no queues of cars to get in on the road, but it was still quite full. Fortunately I had arrived a while before they could as Ian had had to put the animals away first and by the time I had finished a pot of tea, people were starting to leave and car-parking spaces beginning to appear and not be instantly replaced with another car. We went for a meal and I got the chance for a few more hours with the wee one. Of course waiting for food is far too long for a little one and so I kept taking her off for a walk while we waited. It was great fun to look in all the shop windows and look at the small round tiles on the pillars. We also stared down at the people on the floor below us. All the sorts of things you can do when you are wandering around with a little one, but looks a little strange to do it yourself.
From this angle it looks like an agate slice. That takes me
back to the days I used to help my parents sell gemstone
jewellery at the agricultural shows around the north of

A little cold on the toes I think
So now our home is quiet again and normality returns - whatever that is! The new normality seems to be our sheep making a bid for freedom on a rather regular basis at the moment. Ian has had to pen them up in the corral which now has a line of string along the top to dissuade them from jumping out. The blue string makes them tilt their head too far back to climb out and I do mean climb. Ian even put a brand new fresh bale of hay into the paddock area and they still went walkabouts. The problem is that electric fencing run off batteries doesn't work well in the cold, as it drains the batteries too quickly and so the fence hasn't been electrified and besides if they chose to they can jump it, as we have seen them do. The snow would also short out the apparatus. Although much of the snow has gone, there is still some, so in the corral they have to stop for the time being until a new paddock area can be sorted.
We had an ash tree that looked pretty sick and it finally
came down in the overnight storm over the weekend. Ian
had to clear the road of the tip of the tree before going home

Still snowy, but less than there was

I put the half done picture of this box for business cards up
on the blog previously. Well it is now finished with a little
copper colour added to highlight the surface detail.


  1. Sounds like you had some lovely family time.

    1. It was a lovely family time indeed Gina.

  2. You have a very pretty little girl there, she is adorable. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.....x

    1. Thank you Karen and a happy Christmas to you too

  3. We don't have our decorations up yet either. Whether it will happen at all this year remains to be seen. Here the trend has been to start decorating earlier and earlier. Some folks put up their tree in mid-November now. In my father-in-law's family in South Carolina the tradition was for Santa to bring the tree. It didn't appear until Christmas morning.

    So glad you had quality time with family (and your granddaughter is such a cutie!). It's nice to have our granddaughter staying a few days with us. And our daughter will be home soon too.

    All best wishes for continued joy this season.

    1. I like that tradition of waiting Bill, especially as it cheers up the drabbest time of the year. Here the lights stay up for ages, but then it is pretty dark here over the winter, especially if there is no snow.

      So pleased you get to enjoy some time with your granddaughter too. All the best to you and your family as well.


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