Monday, 24 February 2020

Home again

It's a hard life being an alpaca. It doesn't look like a
comfortable way to lie to me. 
It's a good job that I'm not a fan of routine. It sure would bore me silly. So last week consisted of a day in the Estonian office, a day of travelling back home to Latvia, a day out discussing alpacas and explaining my research, two days working from home, a day trying to think what I should do on a day off at home and a day off for an Estonian national holiday - Independence Day. So I make my own routine and get the job done.
Moving projections of flowers in Tartu

Relaxing in the local garden centre
The day in the office was as productive as it could be and so worth it to get the chance to go and meet up with everyone. Wednesday morning was the day off for the friend who I was staying with and so we pottered around a garden centre before I set off to go home. I haven't done that in ages. I bought some cacti to put in some decorative cups. They were a present but too small for me for my tea breaks but perfect for putting cacti in. I also got a weeding tool. Success! I'm not really a shopper but a garden centre or a craft shop works for me, especially if they have a restaurant to sit and chill with a tea or coffee and cake. I wasn't skiving either, I worked on the buses and trains using their Wifi.
I liked the ceiling patterns

Our alpacas relaxing in the sunshine. This was taken after a
bout of rising hormones brought on by the rather spring-like
weather. We won't go into details, bearing in mind these are
all male alpacas.
Next I was given a choice of whether to go to our friends with alpacas on Thursday or Friday and decided to take the Thursday off because the sun was supposed to shine that day. It did peek out but it wasn't stunning, better than the cold wintry squally showers later in the week though. It didn't really matter that much about the weather as we sat around chatting for most of the time. We chatted mainly about alpacas of course, but as I mentioned we also chatted about my research. It was interesting talking to someone who has studied rural tourism and moved back into the countryside, about the expectations of the younger generations who take similar decisions to start a rural business. I would love to do a study on the outcomes of those who make that move and see how they find it after five years, especially as children come along.
Mr. Tellus looks pleased with himself

Errr! Winter sunshine?
I have been doing so much on my thesis and work on projects that I have almost forgotten what to do when I take time off. I ended up doing some fairly random jobs as I saw what needed doing. I cleaned a windowsill that had got muck on it from some squashes that have been sat there since they were harvested last year. I brushed the floor. I made felt balls. I did some washing. I started on the leaflet for our felting course in August. Mainly though, I sat around wondering what I should really be doing. I definitely need a list of things I could be getting on with when I am not writing.
Brencis gazing out over the fields. Is that spit I see on the
back of your neck though, Brencis?

Will someone tell the honeysuckle that it is not spring, but
winter and it could be sorry for this burst of enthusiasm
It's still a weird winter here in Latvia, it is near the end of February and still no deep cold days below -20C, in fact it's been rare this season to even touch -10C and then only briefly. That did mean that after a morning of visiting friends I could still get in the garden and do some weeding today, even though the wind was a bit chilly when the sun sank behind the trees. The main thing is that the ground was not frozen, neither were the well rotted hay bales that needed the string taking off them. Instead of being impossible jobs with everything well and truly stuck to the ground or under a deep pile of snow, the very wet and soggy bales were fairly easy to move and the weeds easy to pull.
This has been acting as a reservoir for water rather than a
storage shed. Ian did a little sorting out so it doesn't keep
collecting water. 

Jakobs sporting his well brushed Elvis look
On my day off, when I didn't really know what to do, I watched a talk on revolutionising capitalism, by Dr. , where he argued that the economy needs to move to a system that relies more on relationships. I agreed with much of what was being said, but found myself thinking about the problems too. The argument was that the government have taken over the role of families, which is true to a large extent but we have to look at the reasons for that. We have to acknowledge that when families work well, they are good, but when they don't they can be very destructive.
Here Jakobs looks like he needs a brush. Decidedly wind blown

Flowers? February? How can this be?
Families cannot be isolated as that can be a recipe for abuse and neglect. He argued that families should relate to others through local institutions, but I have also seen where local institutions are not helpful to the local community or the families within them. Families have to be seen as part of the wider society and not untouchable units. There is a need for structures that allow families to flourish. As Michael said, capitalism does not help this, new ways of doing markets are needed. We have to understand that capitalism is not the only way of that markets can operate and that it is not capitalism vs communism, there are other ways, as neither works well.
Jakobs makes me laugh. Did he paint that moustache?

So many signs of life
The problem is that we have to be careful not to think of families within the nation as static things. Too many leaders are following the populist route and demanding that the traditional values be put first, which supposedly adheres to the Christian faith - not one that I recognise though. We have to be aware that static families fixed in some rigid view of traditional families can lead to parochialism and inbreeding. There needs to be fresh blood. As they say, travel broadens the mind, and I think it also helps to show us that we are all the same with the same needs but expressed differently and that is okay.
Hollyhocks coming through in the greenhouse. Some early
spring greens anyway

Chives starting to peek through
We still need the safety nets, the balances and checks that outside authorities can help with. We have to acknowledge that not all family relationships are healthy and be wise when to intervene. We also have to think of families as open units and not fixed, some will move and some will stay. They should not be forced one way or another. I for one need new challenges to keep my mind active, whereas some prefer routine. We need the life blood to flow to in our communities, in our families and local institutions, refreshing them and bringing oxygen and nutrients. New people coming in with new ideas that can also refresh tired old ideas.
Mr. P's teeth look much better since they were trimmed.

Mr. Turbjørn sat on his own as he seems to like to do
When I think of the Celtic Church, I think of it as a fluid community. There were those who stayed and tended the land, providing hospitality for those who moved through. They provided healing, teaching and then encouraged those who should to move on, to find their own place in the world. Traditional families have their value and they are under threat from rampant capitalism but we need to take care what we demand. It should not lead to the demand for an exclusive and elusive ideal that stifles innovation. Not that I think that is what Dr. Michael Schulter was suggesting but just some of the thoughts that sprang from what he said.

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