Monday, 6 November 2017

I remember this place

Sofie has found another warm spot to sleep, on our
dehydrator. Not helpful for evaporation when she sleeps
on the vent though
Yes we are back in the apartment. Until this week we have only spent one night here since April and only been back for showers, to do washing or prep food for winter storage. It is kind of familiar and kind of not. Sometimes I am not sure where my things are. Are they here? Out on our land? Or have they disappeared in the chaos of having such a turnaround of visitors? I know we have accumulated a few things that are not ours and maybe the same the other way around or more likely I have forgotten that it had already disappeared or been broken at some point. I'm getting to the stage that I'm not sure what I have, not due to the onset of some form of dementia or anything but just the result of things spread over two apartments, a caravan, a greenhouse and a barn. It's not an issue and rather amusing really, especially when I find something I haven't used in ages. It is also almost a novelty of being able to walk less than 3m to find all my supplies and equipment when I cook- well when it is actually in the apartment at all that is. I had to send an email to Ian to bring home my blender, so instead of pureed leek soup for lunch, it was soup with large pieces of leek in it.
Frederiks is still feeding from Chanel. Must be good stuff
he's on as he is putting on weight well and his coat is getting
very long. He looks to be a good fleece producer 

Chanel looking like she is having a chat
Most of last week I was in Tartu and got back to our village on Saturday evening. I was staying with my missionary friend and we have talked and talked and talked and... well you get the idea. I did get some work done as well, honest! It was nice to challenge and be challenged in an atmosphere of seeking to find answers to our questions. It was nice to see issues from different perspectives and have a chance to speak out about my own perspective without feeling I was being argued with or someone getting defensive. That isn't to say we agreed on everything, after all we are from very different backgrounds, different countries, a Texan and a Lancastrian, Southern Baptist vs Methodist/Charismatic/Apostolic/Assemblies of God/Unchurched (in other words a rather mixed bag).
The view from my friend's window. Despite being in the
middle of town it was nice to overlook the large garden. As
my friend said, a nice view without all the hard work
The newest addition
The best part of the week, however, was welcoming our youngest grandson into the world. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to see a photograph soon after he was born and my friends forgave me for having the phone on the table whilst eating lunch so I wouldn't miss out on the updates during the day. The timing was perfect as I saw the news of his birth on Reformation Day (500 years after Martin Luther is said to have nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church) just as I was heading into one of the churches in Tartu to listen to a lunchtime concert. I was switching my phone to silent when I saw the message. I had warned him that there were going to be times I couldn't take a call from him if the baby arrived during a presentation or something like that, but it would be nothing personal. I was glad he didn't do that though. By the way, the lunch after the concert was wonderful and I had a mushroom brûlée. Never had mushroom for dessert before but it worked surprisingly well and my friends were happy to indulge me in showing off the pics of the little one.
The view from the balcony where my
friends and I listened to the lunchtime concert

A pattern on a set of gloves at the Estonian National Museum
I had a presentation to do to a meeting of Estonian planners on the Thursday. Last year there were some English speaking presenters but not this year, I was the only one presenting in English. There weren't many in the room when I presented either, but there were more in than for the first few students. The meeting proper started after my presentation and the first session was primarily for students to present their work. My Estonian speaking colleagues from the department were there though and they liked what I had to say. My supervisor came up and said it was a good presentation, he enjoyed it and he enjoys hearing me speak, there was just one thing wrong with it, I sounded like a professor and not a PhD student. Not a bad complaint I felt. I know a friend of mine who thought it was perhaps inappropriate as the hierarchical format of institutional learning is outmoded and we can learn from students too, which I totally agree with, but the spirit of what my supervisor was saying was that I hadn't really explained how I got to my thoughts; in other words I hadn't outlined my methodology, which would be expected from students. I was in many ways presenting my conclusions, which is different. It amused me anyway and the lunch was nice.
Embroidered detail on a dress. This was my
favourite dress because of the embroidery
 on it 

Carved symbols on a chair at the Estonian National Museum
I do have problems with methodology as I often make leaps in thinking and I'm not always clear myself sometimes where my ideas have sprung from. When I start to analyse what I am thinking on a topic it becomes clearer and I am often then able to trace the thread of these thoughts and how I got there. It is not always easy though to fit it into a single methodology - how do you sum up a lifetime of experiences and linking of ideas from disparate topics? But that is often the way with shifts in ideas, they are culmination of concepts and ideas that coalesce at a point in time. They sometimes look like ideas out of the blue but often they are just the pieces of a jigsaw suddenly all coming together. Like cracking a code and then suddenly everything makes sense.
An Estonian farmer's table. I love the detail
on the container

Dowry chests at the Estonian National Museum
The previous week I had watched "Amazing Grace" about the life of William Wilberforce. He had battled with ill health and battled with his direction as a member of Parliament over the years, sometimes losing his way and sometimes losing his will to fight on. At various points people re-directed him and gave him courage. This year has been a tough one for me too. I kind of lost the plot with the PhD, it was clashing with other work I was trying to do, I got too busy, I was experimenting with new challenges and the year was difficult one for growing food and haymaking. I know I am usually running to catch up with myself over the summer, but this year it seemed to linger a bit longer and I was tired. I could relate to William Wilberforce's battles.
Not a great selfie but the weather wasn't too
good. Aggie spat on my knitted alpaca hat
so I wore the poppy hat I bought from one
of the participants at our August felting course
and the scarf was made for me by Galina
the tutor of the course

An Estonian costume
I am not going to overturn the slave trade, which unfortunately still goes on, even though it is now at least illegal, but I am still doing what I can to think about and articulate what heaven on earth might look like in rural areas, particularly Latvia and Estonia. There are still battles to fight to hand a planet over to our children in a better state than we were given. In fact the battle is worse due to the rate at which we are trashing it, but at least eyes are opening and the gears are starting to turn to overcoming some of the lifestyle habits that are contributing so much harm. There is a recognition that we need to touch and feel the real world around us, to connect with others and nature and that is as true in the countryside with all the pressures on it, as it is in the urban settings. This is what spurs me on.
A male costume, I think this one was from the
Volga region

Female costume. I think I needed to label my
photos or maybe go again.
There is a story called the Horse and his Boy, written by C.S Lewis and the young boy is heading back to Narnia where he was born, but he has to go over the mountains, when he doesn't know the way and he can't see the road ahead. The light is beside him but he doesn't know who it is or what it is and unbeknown to him the light keeps him on the road and on track. I feel rather like the young boy, not being able to see the way ahead, just trying to keep moving. Not really sure where I am going but just having some vague idea that I am kind of heading in the right direction. The way ahead is getting lighter and I feel that soon I will be able to see the path clearly. Hope is rising again.
Embroidered detail on a collar. Some of these pictures I
needed to take to see the detail myself as they were a bit
high for me to see clearly. And before any of my more snarky
friends/children comment, they were on pedestals too.

Geared up for the warmth with a fleece lined coat
Well after all that thinking, talking and processing it was nice to be invited out for a drink at a local cafe near the conference centre that afternoon. It was a lady I had met in Vilnius and really enjoyed chatting to. I have met her again in Tartu but I had forgotten to contact her to say I was in the area. I'm so pleased she spotted my message about being in Tartu on Facebook and we were able to arrange to meet up. It was nice to be able to talk about some of my observations of Estonian life and explore some of the motivations from an Estonian perspective, as well as just chat about life in general.
This lacework reminds me of the crochet that my grandmother
used to do. She was the one who taught me to embroider

Embroidered shoulder detail. So much effort by hand in
these outfits
For my last day in Tartu I suggested to my friend, who I was staying with, that it would be good to just get out of the apartment and go somewhere together, as I had spent quite a bit of time inside working on my paper, or my presentation, or marking work and we had both been doing a lot of talking. She suggested we go to the Estonian National Museum, which is in Tartu as they had an exhibition of costumes. I have done an embroidery course and used costumes as some of my inspiration, so it was wonderful to reconnect with my more artistic side after all the academic work. We didn't have a huge amount of time to look through the large collection of both ancient costumes and modern interpretations and so I took lots of pictures to just give me a flavour of the construction of the costumes and the details of the embroidery that I can go back to and study at a later date. After a couple of hours of wandering around we had lunch before heading back to the apartment for me to do more work my paper and my friend to take an English lesson.
This reminds me of some Jacobean embroidery. I have a book
of designs somewhere and I had a go with a few of them as
a child

Not bad for a snack bar. I had to take a picture of the radish
On Saturday I took my usual one train, three buses journey home. I have my particular places where I know I can go to eat along the way, but this time the usual place I was intending to eat at, next to the bus station in Valmiera, was shut. I was anticipating having a pizza instead when I spotted a snack cafe. It didn't sound too inspiring but I knew I needed to eat. When I got in I found the menu was in English and so looked through, eventually a lady appeared and told me in Latvian the Latvian menus were on the counter ahead, which I found amusing. At least it meant that despite a lady in a shop where I bought some work gloves speaking to me in English, I didn't look particularly English - until I opened my mouth of course. Still I managed to order my food in Latvian and I understood I would have to wait for change, especially when she wandered out of the door with my €20 note.

Frederiks, Chanel and Aggie
The adapted ark in its new location
I had set off from my friend's house at 10ish in the morning and arrived back just after 7 in the evening to our apartment. I wasn't particularly hungry but I was definitely glad to hear the sound of a cup of tea being poured. The next morning it was nice to get out onto the land and meet the alpacas again, even if it meant hanging onto the girls while they had their toe nails cut. I don't think they were so pleased to see me. After our morning coffee we sorted out the end of the greenhouse so that we could move some chickens. The chicks were not happy with each other and it was probably due to being too cramped, as really they are nearly full grown now. I had to get into the ark to extricate the smallest of the chicks and we put them into their new quarters. For the last one we had to resort to the net. They all seemed a lot happier about the situation. That will probably change a bit when the cockerels start crowing, but I think that might be a little bit longer yet - maybe!
Knitted socks. Many Estonians still knit socks

A modern interpretation using Estonian motifs

Detail on a modern jacket

A tabbard style top inspired by the past

I like the double collar, maybe not the colour
but the design 

Details on a wedding dress

A smart modern outfit based on Estonian motifs


  1. very beautiful embroidery...some of the detail is exquisite. The double collar appeals to me too and the wedding dress looks encrusted, I wonder how comfortable or otherwise that was to wear. Congratulations on your new arrival too :) x

    1. I thought you might like the details, they were exquisite indeed. I did wonder how comfortable the dress would be too but it certainly looked different.

      Thank you for the congratulations :)

  2. my grandmother used to say that "Christians all read the same book its a shame they cant get over the different covers"

    1. I think your grandmother was a wise woman. I'm glad my friend and I in Estonia have got beyond the covers and it certainly adds to our discussions


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi