Monday, 4 October 2010


Yes more mushrooms, there are loads of them of many sorts
now to get an edible field guide for mushrooms 
*Update - well here are the pictures, finally!
(Sorry no pictures tonight but I will upload them in the morning, otherwise I shall be up until the wee hours trying to get them uploaded.)

Beetroot dug up - check!, Carrots dug up - check! Hamburg Parsley - check! Small plastic greenhouse taken to polytunnel - check! Peppers harvested and dug up and dried- check! Cushion embroidered for the rings for our son's wedding - check! Friends and neighbours recruited to look after our apartments and stuff -check! And so the countdown begins for the big drive across Europe, just as foreign offices are issuing warnings about possible terrorists attacks across Europe. Smart! So does this mean that ferry operators will be on high alert? Wouldn't be surprised! Oh what fun we may have in store. At least we are getting done what we need to get done, even had my haircut again today so that's ready for the wedding. We also have a list as long as your arm for things to bring back, little things like cornflour, vegemite and cutter bars for two wheeled tractors and the list grows daily, Ian is hoping he will still be able to see out the back window. We will also be bringing back some sewing machines for the orphanage due to the fantastic efforts of one of our friends who has single-handedly organised getting the information out to people that we needed sewing machines and organised for them to get down to our son's in time for us to take back to Latvia. It remains to be seen how many we can actually get in the car to take back with us, but at least there is a later shipment where more can be taken.

There is a thornless blackberry plant in there somewhere
This week the Latvians have voted in parliamentary elections and they haven't gone for glamour and empty promises they have gone for integrity. They decided not to trust the old politicians who had rebranded themselves and were telling everyone that they would not follow the IMF guidelines nor would they make savage cuts but not where the money was going to come from. The Prime Minister, however, promised more cuts, more pain and the Latvians acknowledged that is the only way forward by increasing his coalition numbers so that his minority government is now a majority government. That does not mean that I agree with all the cuts, the rich could still do far more to alleviate the pain of the poor in this country, without the indignity of handouts but under the current system we have and the likes of the IMF breathing down their necks there is little choice. I am impressed with the Latvian voters who chose to reject glamour and hype, something many countries could learn from.

Our blueberry bush looking very fiery
On the subject of the IMF there was a small snippet of news where some influential economists wrote an open letter to the IMF demanding that governance is improved. Not much but at least it is a start. Who these "influential" economists are I have no idea and really only recognise two of the institutions that two of them represent but it is a start indeed. If the Western nations are calling on developing governments to show more transparency to counteract corruption then influential organisations like the IMF and the World Bank should be leading the way, not being dragged kicking and screaming into more transparent dealings.

One of only two aubergines we got from loads of very
healthy looking plants. We let this grow big for seeds
and I half expected it to be brown in the middle but it was
still edible, amazingly!
I decided to use a different template for the blog, you may have noticed, as someone commented that my blog was hard to read. Must admit the font wasn't easy on the eye but I couldn't really find another font that I liked and looked okay on the blog so I have gone for a different background design instead. So I hope this makes it easier for everyone to read, wouldn't like anyone to miss out :o) In messing about with the backgrounds though I found one I liked but then it decided to corrupt everything I had written and turned out jibberish; at this point I thought I had lost a whole months blogs before I had a chance to save them. Not happy was I! I tried yet another background and found, much to my relief, the blogs returned back to normal but I am not as keen on this background but I daren't mess around with it again just yet. Another problem I had was with google analytics because we are just plain nosey to know where people come from who read the blog or rather glance through it (well at least I'm honest). Everytime I change the background though it messes with the analytics and I have to try and work out how to correct it. So for my reference and anyone else out there who struggles with this, this is my version of how to do it.

How to add the tracking back to a blog
First get the tracking code from google analytics (this is assuming you have already opened an account)
Click “Edit” (on the same line as your blog address)
Click “Check status” (top right hand side)
copy code from the section "paste this code on your site" (do this exactly, don't copy any extra spaces)
Now go to web page dashboard
Click Design (on the same line as new post)
Click HTML (tab at the top of the page)
Search for  "< /head. 
Done - easy when you know how!!!!!!!

Yes there really is progress on our barn 
We mentioned in my English class last week that Ian had had his birthday earlier in the week and this week when we arrived he was presented with a bunch of flowers - as they do in Latvia - and a cake stand on which was half a dozen apples. It was lovely of them to think of him but it did show the cultural differences between our nations. I don't think I have ever seen men being presented with flowers and a cake stand before in the UK and certainly not something I would think of doing, but here flowers are normal and an accepted part of celebrations, from the flowers given to teachers on the first and last day of school, no matter what gender the teacher is, to birthday and name day celebrations, a new house or a first visit to someone's house, the occasions are numerous where flowers are the appropriate gift to give. Just in case you are wondering what a name day celebration is, it is a specific day when all those with the same name celebrate and there are calendars you can buy with a list of names by each day showing who is celebrating their name day. Today Francis, Modra and Zaigonis celebrate their name days, and just so you don't get mixed up Francis and Zaigonis are men's names and Modra is a woman's name, men's names end in "s" and women's in "a" or "e". You can see a list of name days for Latvia here

A gingko biloba tree. This 7 year old tree will eventually
reach 20m tall, honest! Also gingkos grows in Siberia
I read an excellent article this week on the subject sadness and it asked if in the lifting of the stigma of depression we have lost the importance of just feeling sad? The article makes the distinction between the range of emotions that we go through, the way we go through ups and downs and how this is perfectly normal so why not embrace it, learn from it, but don't get bogged down in it or you may end up truly depressed. The article managed to do this though without diminishing the need for empathy with those who are depressed or even just sad, in fact it even argues that we should allow people more room to be sad, rather than hiding it and pushing it down. I find it very helpful to acknowledge that changes in life, even positive ones, can bring on a period of grief for the loss of something. I allow myself a period of mourning if you like but I also see it as a transitory phase, not one that will last. I think we so often push away sadness because we fear it and therein lies the danger to our mental wellbeing. Life is not all a bed of roses and sooner or later we are going to encounter down days and we may as well acknowledge them and acknowledge the grief we feel because the sooner we do so the more likely the down days will pass and sunnier times come around once again.

The spots of death
Ian and I were sad today as we went around marking trees which would be eventually removed from a portion of our forest. Some are easy as they are not looking healthy but some trees look perfectly healthy, they are just growing too close together and so we had to make a decision as to which ones to remove and which ones are to be saved. If we left them all then the forest would eventually lose vitality as the trees compete for space and so is a necessary operation to undertake for the sake of the health of the whole forest but sad as we don't like cutting down trees. Some trees are not so valuable commercially as others but then to remove all of them would also diminish the variety of life in the forest and so we have tried to maintain a healthy mix of trees, knowing that some will last many years like the oaks and the maples and some will not last as long such as the alder, a pioneer species that after 25 years or so gets diseased and dies off leaving the hardier species like oak to carry on. In one small section though we have found aspen, maple, oak, alder, hazel, spruce, willow, silver birch and rowan, not a bad mix of trees I think. As well as earmarking trees for the chop though we have planted some more, a gingko biloba tree and a cherry tree. Both trees have been planted in our orchard and importantly inside our electric fence for the time being. The cherry tree will stay in our orchard but we haven't decided on the gingko tree yet as it grows very tall. The gingko tree takes thirty years to fruit, so only 23 years more for this 7 year old tree, just in time for us reaching our 70s, how about that for forward planning. We have also planted a thornless blackberry type plant, not entirely sure if it is just a blackberry or some other cross, our Latvian is not that good, a red bilberry and a citronlianas or magnolia vine (apparently an excellent source of vitamin C and gives you lots of energy so we are told and not to be eaten just before bedtime). Trying to decide where to plant things is a bit complicated as we try and visualise what we want to do with the land and how big trees will reach that we are leaving and spaces where they will be removed but we are getting there.


  1. I know what you mean about not wanting to cut down perfectly good trees but sometimes it is beneficial for the greater good. I guess that's a bit like life - some things need to go, not because they are bad or a problem in themselves but for a better future. Oh dear, that sounded really serious!

    On a brighter note, I hope all your plans for the wedding and your visit to the UK go ahead without a hitch(especially with the current situation across Europe) and that you enjoy your stay.

  2. I think it is a good analogy Mavis, so often we crowd our lives with things which are good in itself that it doesn't really allow some things to grow and develop. I was discussing this with my young friend while gardening as we were weeding out over crowded beetroot and carrot beds. I don't think it is too serious really but something to ponder on.

    Must admit to being a bit nervous, not like me but doesn't help when I found out our comprehensive insurance doesn't cover England, it covers the most of Europe and our obligatory insurance (kind of third party) covers all Europe, so not the end of the world.


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