Monday, 13 November 2017

Moving on

It's been a bit damp just lately, can you tell? 
This has been a week at home, wherever that maybe. I have spent much of the week tidying up the paper I am writing and so nearly finished to the point where I can send it to my co-authors to go through. It has taken far too long to reanalyse and re-write, I shall be glad when it has gone off for review, it will be such a relief. I also heard that I should be getting the other one back soon that has been in for review since about April I think, so good timing as it will probably need more work on it, they always do. I shall be very shocked if it does not. Some jobs seem to be never ending but one day this phase of life will be over.
All our leaves have gone from our trees  now

Where has all the grass gone? Shock! Horror! 
It would also appear that my students have been catching up on work too, as I have had what to me is an avalanche of work to mark. I did find out though that for some students, if they get more than three weeks behind, they lose privileges and that might have had some bearing on the sudden influx. One piece of work was remarkable in its brevity, but I had to laugh as it reminded me of one of my own children and the problems I had in getting him to focus on work enough to get it done. It was a challenge to get the best out of him when his mind was somewhere else completely for much of the time. We got there in the end and I hope we do with this student too.

Teaching a class to wet felt. Some had done needle felting
before and maybe some had done wet felting but never
with alpaca
This week I went to do a bit of felt tutoring for a friend's ladies's group. It was good fun and I had seven ladies altogether. I did a little presentation of the different alpacas and they were amused to be deciding who's fleece they would be using to felt with. Some pieces worked better than others and some decided to finish off at home, but we all had good fun. I didn't charge a huge amount as it was a bit of an experiment to see how it all works. It was also a good opportunity to introduce myself to someone who will hopefully be selling some of our stuff later on in the year. Mind you I have to get my act together and start making some things. I have some ideas anyway.

Not quite the glowing brown colour
The tutoring was in the evening and so I joined my friend during the day, as we don't get much chance to meet with each other. We go back a long way as we have known each other ever since Ian and I first visited Latvia. She and her husband were some of the workers in the camps where we used to go to to teach English and that was before we even moved to Latvia. We have also stayed with her in the apartment we now live in when it used to belong to her and her husband and we helped with their camp preparations. She was also the one who owned the land where we now have our alpacas. So a lot of history really and so much has changed over the time we have known each other. My family have grown up and left and having their own children and my friend got married and has her own rapidly growing family of three boys in the time since we first knew each other 17 years ago.

Mr. P without his over long teeth. He doesn't look such a
toothy alpaca now. His teeth will continue to grow, so
may need trimming again at shearing time.
As it was going to be a late night and I needed the car, Ian stayed in the caravan and I went back to the apartment. The next day though I had to get out to the land, to help with the boys' pedicures and a little dentistry on Mr. P. We managed quite well with most of the boys but Brencis was just such a fidget and is now so tall that I couldn't hold him still,. In the end we had to put a harness on him. When he does have the harness on, he is much better and doesn't need so much holding. Quite a relief really that he is such a gentle giant really, but he's almost as big as a llama now. Poor Mr. P though had to be fully restrained so we could do his teeth. He needed his front teeth trimming and his fighting teeth removed. They have grown such a lot since shearing time, which is surprising.

Freddie running through the puddles at the bottom of their
Ian was reading an article about family friendly attractions in Latvia a short while ago and noticed that there was a mini-zoo with alpacas that we didn't know about. He wrote an email to make contact and this weekend we got together at their place. We spent about 2 hours chatting and had a really good time of sharing information and we got to see their zoo. It was the first time that I have ever seen porcupines, especially close up. I was quite amazed at their quills and I was given a fridge magnet with a picture of them and Ian was given one of angora goats. They were interested in Ian's shearing services for next year, so that is good. It is nice to be able to help and for Ian to get to use his skills.
A picture from the minizoo's own website of one of the

Our track, if you can call it that! More like mud bath. Our
well has been filling up slowly but after the rain over the
weekend it jumped suddenly by 40 litres, instead of the 7
litres a day before that
On this snowy Sunday I made my way to the old station where there was a meeting to talk about projects that people had completed and the process they went to. I didn't understand much of it at the time but it was nice to just let the Latvian language wash over me and absorb the flow of the language, as well as have fun trying to pick out words I did know. I got a summary of it at the end though on the way home. What was lovely was that the lady who lead the meeting, told me how encouraging it is to have me at the meeting because it meant that people from the "world" were interested and actively wanting the best for our village. It made sitting there much more meaningful knowing it was encouraging someone. I was also encouraged that people were sharing experiences with a view of helping others and so they could learn how to develop their own projects. It is much needed in this area.

If you look carefully you can see how much bigger that
Brencis is compared to the rest. He's the one on the right.
It has been a bit of an odd week too. I have had two emails that surprised me. One was from the place where Ian used to work in the UK. Why it came to me, I have no idea, but it was to request an address to send an invitation to a retirement party of his old boss. This is bearing in mind that he hasn't worked there for 14 years. Ian sent a message off to his boss to fill him in on life since they last had contact about 12 years ago, so errr quite a bit. Another email was for a request for me to give a lecture. It seems to be a bit out of the blue, but the title was not quite my field and so I probably won't be going. There are lots of spam type emails within the academic field but this one I think arose from my presentation (a bit different to an actual lecture as it is only 15 mins) to the planners in Estonia the other week and so intriguing.
Brencis' wet, soggy fleece

He might be the biggest but he's still our friendly one
One of the thoughts that has gone through my mind just lately is "God remember me" as I felt a bit like Joseph in prison where no one remembered him. I have had people thank me for my input and had great conversations taking a look at different topics but it never seemed to go anywhere and it is not helpful for planning the future and which direction to take, especially as I am coming to the end of my PhD. These emails this week therefore seemed to feel like finally something is turning. I don't appear to be the only one as someone we know from our days back in the Pioneer church in the UK has also gone through a season where he felt forgotten, even forsaken and is beginning to feel like he is finding his voice again. Even my new grandson's name means "God remembers" how awesome is that?


  1. Talking of felting I love the scarf you sent with Ian when he stayed with us for a few days. It will be coming out again soon as the weather here is getting colder and winter sets in. My son takes great pride in informing people that it is unique and something you can't buy in the shops. Alpaca wool is really very warm. Thank you again. Hope your felting courses take off in a big way. Thinking of you also as you look for direction for your future in the academic world.

    1. So glad you like it Mavis and I am glad it is keeping you warm. I agree it is a great fibre for warmth. Thank you as well for all your encouragement, not just today but for the time you have been following me on this blog. It was great that you could come out and see what are doing and I do hope we get to see each other again sometime


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