Monday, 30 March 2015

Reboot Spring please!

The scene this afternoon
Will whoever turned off Spring and re-inserted Winter please stop it! I mean, we have had some lovely Spring like weather and now we are all white again! Heh ho! The joys of living in a northerly latitude. At least I don't feel too bad being stuck inside doing my writing, and yes I finally did get started on the actual writing phase. It was a good job that nobody visited me today, I had bits of paper all over the floor trying to organise my thoughts. It was only after I had printed out all the quotes to help guide my thoughts that I thought of a way that would be less paper intensive. I am sure I will get to test out my theory soon. I have plenty more writing projects to do yet.
Pieces of paper all over the floor

The beach at Tūja
It hasn't all been reading and writing though, I actually got to do some more interviews this last week. I headed off at the crack of dawn to rendezvous with my Masters student and we headed up the coast to a little village called Tūja. It is very popular in summer but rather deserted this time of the year and rather miserable in the rain, but we still managed to find some wonderful folks who agreed to be interviewed and tell us about themselves and the place where they live, even if we did nearly freeze to death in the process. The cup of coffee and biezpiena cake offered by one lady was most welcome. The place certainly has a few different issues to the ones I have come across elsewhere, but that is more due to its location on the coast compared to more inland rural places that I have studied before. At least that proves one of my points that each village will have its own particular issues and so there are no one-size-fits-all solutions beloved by the developers and policy makers.
A beach famous for its large rocks. 

A happy big brother with his lovely little
It wasn't the only excitement this week, we became grandparents for the fourth time to a lovely little girl. She has been given the middle name of Lolly after her recently departed Great-grandmother, which I think is rather lovely and one that she would have appreciated. Our granddaughter's big brother is paying her lots of loving attention and reminds me of when we brought home our second child, his big sister enjoyed her role immensely and loved having a cuddle. We were alerted to our granddaughter's imminent arrival by text at 11:22pm and were awoken by repeated texts at around 5am to say she had arrived- oh the wonders of modern technology. It would have been even better if I had a smart phone, as my son tried to send a photo, but that phone packed up in the summer and I am back to a phone that Ian had in the States; so rather ancient by today's standards and certainly not capable of receiving picture texts.

Love the atmosphere in this shot. Ian can certainly take a
good photo
I am trying to be good and rest my brain properly for a couple of days a week. One of the days off  is on a sunny day of the week and so it varies. This week we took off to the nearest big town, as the car needed to go for its technical. We were hoping that it would fail so that we could bump the test to the following month. It is difficult if anything goes wrong for Ian to work on the car in the cold weather. Instead the car passed, but even better, for some reason we don't quite understand we got an extra few weeks anyway and it won't be due for the next test until April 22nd 2016 (yes we did double check that it wasn't for 2015). It was quite a productive day, as we managed to find a replacement printer at a reasonable price, bought food for the alpacas, got Ian's passport photo done and found some more Sodium Hydroxide for soap making, all that and even managed to stop for some pizza at our favourite Italian pizzeria - the real thing, made by an Italian.

Ian drawing pretty pictures with his plough. We are trying
out another experiment to reduce the water flow down the
hill, which causes flooding in the bottom half and washes
away nutrients and ungerminated seeds if planted at the
wrong time. Ian has roughly followed the contours of the
slopes with plough lines to give the water somewhere to
run into and then seep into the soil. 
The other day off is usually a Sunday when we head up to the other apartment for bath night and to watch a DVD. It also keeps the place heated, so pipes don't freeze. Before I went I made two scarves using a darker base material to felt onto (nuno felting if you want to look it up). It seems to work, sorry no photos yet. I also attempted to decant some liquid soap that I had made into a bottle. I wanted a soap base that I could use for hand soap and ended up with something the consistency of thick snot. I only intended to make about three litres, but by the time I have added enough water to it to make it liquid enough to pour, it is more like 6 litres. Those manufacturers sure know what they are doing when they sell hand soap for such a huge sum of money compared to a bar of soap, when so much of it is water. Only approximately 1 litre is oil with about 125g of Sodium hydroxide to turn it into soap. It should keep us in hand soap for a while anyway. I just need to play around with scent combinations now.
Frog spawn

There has been a short film by a 12 year old American girl of Latvian descent doing the rounds just lately on facebook. I watched the film, which is about the Baltic Way and wept. There are evocative scenes of so many people standing hand in hand against Soviet oppression, with nothing but a sense of determination on their faces and dreams in their hearts. I didn't weep for the image I saw of those people, I wept for the broken dreams. I wept because some on the video who spoke about that time with such emotion, used their freedom to leave. I don't blame them, I really don't, it is just that freedom has been so hard. I see those who stayed here who work and work and work to do the best they can to keep this country alive, buried under a layer of exhaustion. I see those who found the adjustment hard and are slowly drinking themselves to death. I see those who are trying to work out their painful past and not quite figuring out how they fit in today. I see those who had dreams in their hearts which turned to sawdust in the reality of a cold market place and wondering what they have to do to earn a living? I see neighbours not trusting each other and seeing a building fall apart because no one wants to take on the responsibility of doing something when all they get is aggravation for their troubles.

A sign of Spring, can you see it? Okay I know, I
have to learn to zoom in with my iPad, but I was
in a rush and it was cold when we opened the
window to take this shot. The stork arrived back
this morning, just in time for the snow. 
But I also see a beautiful country with signs of spring after a long winter, even despite today's snow. I see a people who long to see a better world and trying to figure out how that happens. I see the potential for those dreams to reawaken and grow like a pruned bush in warmth of the early spring sun. I have hope in a group of people that can appreciate a herb tea, picked by their own hands at the height of summer because they know which herbs are good to pick and which are good for health. I have hope in a group of people who know how to raise a garden of vegetables and think it is the most natural thing in the world to do. I have hope in those who struggle on despite the setbacks to reach for that dream of something better that cannot be bought with money. Putin maybe causing us worries from time to time and the American army might be over here to "reassure us" whatever that might mean, but I still have hope for the future.


  1. Congratulations on the safe arrival of your new grandaughter

  2. Congrats on the new addition to the family! Arrival of the granddaughter and arrival of the stork? Coincidence? :)

    I'm smiling at all your bits of paper on the floor. It wasn't that long ago (was it?) that we wrote papers using notes on 3x5 note cards. I'd write mine out by hand then type them. Once typed there was no way to shuffle the words around. If you wanted to do that you had to retype the whole thing. Now with word processing editing is so much easier. But as I rearrange the words in my manuscript for the thousandth time I realize that all that shuffling is evident in the way it reads. It probably would've been better if I'd just left it alone (as I would've in the old days). :)

    1. Thank you Bill for the congratulations.

      I remember writing out lecture notes by hand and typing up my Bachelors thesis. Editing sure is easier these days but I do find there is nothing like reading a printed copy to make sure something reads right :D Old school I guess!

  3. Congratulations on the new family member!

    Also, thank you for that wonderful link. I'm so glad I finally made time to try to catch up on your adventures. It's always well worth it, but life has a way of getting in the way at times.

    1. Thank you and I'm glad you are enjoying the read.


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