Monday, 26 March 2012

250 blogs and still going strong.

You could be forgiven for thinking that I have reposted
last week's picture but I haven't as it snowed again.

Fortunately it was a minor blip
Nearly gone!
Today is my 250th post, who would have thought it! I'm still blogging after all this time. Must say thanks to Doug for suggesting I start it all that time ago (wonder if he still follows, I know he has other things on his mind just lately, such as anticipating a new arrival). When I started this blog I didn't realise I would also connect with different people through it. Mavis had followed my blog for quite a while and found me through a mutual friend, Martin Scott's blog. She came out in September to see for herself what we do and to experience Latvia for the first time and in May we have some more friends who we have connected with through Martin's site coming out to visit. Paul is a regular contributor to Martin's blog and the other guy coming out is from Ian's neck of the woods, so I suspect there will be a little bit of Geordie flying around, think we may have to do some translating for our Latvian friends though, but at least they may begin to understand how Ian's accent has changed over the years.

Rivers of water running down from our access road area
Spring has sprung here at last and that's definite, but also many springs have sprung on our land. Any land not covered with snow has been like a river, as the snow has been melting fast, although it is beginning to slow down now. We have found one end of the leak from our top pond and we now have a lovely water feature, but we need the other pond ice to melt and the water level to drop to see where the inlet is. The barn unfortunately continued to get wet, and some places have got a little soggy, but Ian is just about managing to keep on top of it to stop the whole place getting completely waterlogged. At least we think that next year will be better because the drainage around the greenhouse is now working really well and we only have a little damp creep which is what we need really, so with some work in the summer we hope to manage to get the drainage sorted for the barn too.

Swiss chard showing signs of recovery in the greenhouse
We have seen lots of signs of spring, we have seen two caterpillars crawling across the snow if you can believe it - looks really weird, I have also seen a Clouded Yellow Butterfly, Ian saw a frog and there was a peacock butterfly in the greenhouse, which I released to fend for itself outside. This week it was flocks of geese that have been seen heading north, now we just wait for the storks - shouldn't be long now. We were surprised to see some snowdrops have appeared in front of our other flat, we didn't know we had any there, but many other things seemed to have survived the winter as we wandered around the garden today. All my herbs such as sage, thyme and marjoram have survived well and even one of our little roses is budding. Swiss chard is making its usual fast recovery, it is not a vegetable we eat a lot of, but it is a very welcome addition to the menu early on in the year. Our garlic is also popping up already which again surprised me as I have never grown garlic before. Some of my tomato seedlings have popped through already and are even nearly ready for potting on. I also tested some sweetcorn seed saved from last year for viability and they have germinated too - so pleased as our attempts last year failed miserably and we ended up buying more seed, which are expensive and you don't get many in a pack. 

Garlic in our garden
I wish I could say that there is a spring like feel to the Latvian economy but I can't unfortunately and certainly not in our village as two supermarkets shut last week. One whole week with eerily shut doors on the one shop we had come to rely on for most of our shopping. Fortunately for us there are two other shops that opened up this year, not that they are likely to be the cause of the demise of the two other shops, as they were part of a chain that went bust. Times are still tough here. The Government seem intent on making it harder too as they have introduced a new law where you have to declare who you owe money to, how you pay for it, who owes you money, what expensive pictures, jewellery you own and what underwear you are wearing. Okay not the last one but they may as well. Lending is often ad hoc and unofficial, but I suspect it keeps the economy going. There is corruption in Latvia, let's be honest about that, but in tying things down too tightly they may strangle any chance of people making their way out of the mess, without driving the economy even further underground. They will of course catch some folks, who are not dealing legally, but I guess it will not be those who steal and rob the national economy of huge amounts of money. This new law does trouble me. I have no problems with declaring the profits from lending, but the information they want is far too intrusive.

Still lots of ice 
I have been perfecting the art of procrastination with distractions galore, how can you not be distracted when the snow is going and sometimes the sun is shining? Amazing how interesting everything else looks compared to the project that needs to be completed. I guess I must be moving into the project as a master stage, not quite a book but I think the same principles apply (yes I did post this before).
and ice sculptures at the side of the road
“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.” (Winston Churchill)
Talking of roads, mud soup anyone? You can imagine the
colour of our car at the moment and the bone jarring rides
 with all those potholes.
Hope I can progress quickly through the next phases then! Admittedly today wasn't too bad as I managed to shave around 5000 words from what I thought was my word count last week - don't ask! The count was not quite the whopping 22,500 ish that I thought it was, is all I'm going to say. I still have around 2500 or more words to go though, but at least it is progress. 

I have had time to trawl the internet as usual but before I tell you about it, humour me and read this first

Matthew 18:23-31(From the Message version) "The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn't pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.
 The poor wretch threw himself at the king's feet and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.
 The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, 'Pay up. Now!'
 The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, 'Give me a chance and I'll pay it all back.' But he wouldn't do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

I scattered ash across the veg patch next to the orchard to
encourage the snow to go
Now read this and see if the similarities between that story and the story from the bible strikes you too. Maybe it is just me. I do hope our economies start to right themselves, but it is certainly proving to be a messy process as people hold onto the strings or power and try to manipulate policies in their favour instead of supporting polices that benefit as many people as possible, especially the poor. There are times I wonder if all this pondering on the economy and what can be done is worth it, but I love this idea from Czech dissident Václav Havel  in "The Power of the Powerless,"where he explains how one person “living in truth” can shine a light on unspoken questions, revealing the automatism of our usual assumptions: “When a single person breaks the rules of the game, thus exposing it as a game—everything suddenly appears in another light.” Well if following Jesus is supposed to be "living in truth," then we all have the potential to be that light that shines on those unspoken questions, revealing those games. Jesus came to usher in the kingdom of God on earth, shining the light of truth into places that needed exposing, just as we should be doing today.

Skiing anyone? Our neighbours only just got the bales of
hay off with their sleigh in time before the snow started to go

Monday, 19 March 2012

It's official! Spring has arrived!

Last Monday
Friday - ground starting to appear
This Monday: I do believe I see grass!!!

The swans flew in this week, I heard them after Ian beckoned me outside the greenhouse to listen, he actually saw them flying. Heralds of spring! Stupid birds! They should have listened to the weather forecast first before flying in. The snow certainly has been melting quite fast and there are, or I should say were, definite patches of green appearing, unfortunately they have just all been covered up by some rather heavy snow showers this evening. The melting snow, however, means that the Spring time ritual has ensued of channeling water to where we don't mind it ending up and away from where it will create havoc. Our greenhouse is doing okay as the drainage system is now working properly, although Ian has had to use a mattock and spade to chip away the ice as the ground is still frozen but at least it is all flowing in the right direction. The question we ask though is, where is it all flowing to? The channel of water runs neatly to our top pond from which we draw water for the greenhouse in the warmer months, but ....... it isn't building up in that pond, it is building up in the pond below it and we don't know how. Sometimes we have had a structural failure on the side of the top pond, but that would mean the water runs straight down to the bottom where it makes a quagmire, not so this time - well not at the weekend anyway. Somehow the water is going straight through into the second pond and so there must be a different breach of our defences. Ian tried to relieve the pressure on the top pond by breaking through the ice so the water has somewhere to flow and preferably not through any holes created by animals earlier on in the year. After breaking through a spades depth of ice i.e. about 20cm there was still no build up of water in the top pond, now all we can do is wait for the ice to melt and try to see where the breach is.

The new attachment for the two wheeled tractor
You know why Spring has arrived though don't you? It is because Ian got a new toy, a snow blower!!!! So of course the snow started melting. Having said that it has still been useful as Ian cut a path down past our orchard which means we can get in there quicker when it all goes, he also cut channels down hills to give the snow melt somewhere to run rather than where we don't want it to go. It has also been useful to get rid of the snow from the side of the barn to try and reduce the water seepage, unfortunately that hasn't worked. We or rather Ian has managed to keep the area relatively clear of snow, but still the water is pooling badly in the barn and so that means we (or do I mean Ian?) will have a big job later on in the year digging major drain works down the side of the barn to prevent a reoccurrence next year. The snow blower was bought mainly because we know that next year it will be a lot harder to clear the amount of snow we will need to for the alpacas, to allow them plenty of opportunity to be outside. It will be a lot easier to take the snow blower than using the brute force of the tractor again, useful though that is. Ian has been happier though that the preparation he put into last year making sure that surfaces were as flat and clear of logs, stones etc. as possible has paid off as clearing snow this year has been a far easier job - well that and the fact there hasn't been as much. We have felt a lot more prepared though this year and I am sure that if we can get the barn drainage sorted then we will have an even better chance of keeping on top of winter and early spring duties next season.
A path to encourage water to move past
the barn and into the forest. 

Path past the orchard

A path down to the pond. That looks like a lot of fun
Something else I have been working on, is a memory quilt
for my parents. I am not sure who did the background but
 the pieces added are all from pieces of cloth and embroidery
that came from  my grandparents or pieces I did when I was
younger. The crinoline lady was a very typical piece of
embroidery and I am fairly sure both my grandmothers
sewed some. I have added the grass at the bottom with
 the dandelions and the blue sky to anchor it to the cloth.
The lace is a piece of tatting that my granny did many pieces of. .
I have spent the whole week working on my thesis for my project and it has been flowing along nicely, until today that is. My inspiration has got up and gone after taking the weekend off, but by the afternoon it was starting to come back. I am really pleased with the questionnaire I sent out, to date I have 207 back, which out of a population of 3486 for the whole district is not bad at all. Although it is around 6% of the population it is skewed to mainly the village I live in and not the rest of the district, also to the younger end of the population - not that that is a bad thing in itself. Knowing what the most active members of the community think is perhaps more important for the type of questionnaire I had as I wanted to know if people broadly speaking supported the farmers in their battle with the wild boar, and if they were supportive of hunting to do that and it is was fairly clear that people do. To date 74% or people don't think the wild boar should be allowed to dig up the farmers' fields and 70% agree with hunting the boar. Now before any of you get upset with me about advocating hunting, there are a few facts that maybe you should know. The first is that populations around here could be around 2-3 times higher than the point where academic papers say wild boar feeding should stop because numbers are too high. The second is that studies have shown that capturing animals and relocating them is likely to end up in either their death or them moving back, it also disrupts social family groups, hunting is actually kinder because it is quicker, with the result of possibly more ethically raised meat than in your local supermarket. Thirdly, fences don't keep out the wild boar and makes travelling around difficult for other animals. Lastly and not least before I boar you all to death, the ecosystem maybe suffering because of the high numbers of wild boar, with some farmers talking of reduced ground nesting birds, even the absence of ants and so they are not good for biodiversity at all - although that does need more research of course because I am not an ecologist, botanist or a zoologist.

The flowery piece top left is a piece I started many years
ago and never finished and so that is one of two pieces to
adorn this quilt. The triangular piece has lots of french knots
underneath, some of my favourite stitches. The white flower
is crocheted - hard to believe some of the fine crocheting that
my granny in particular did. The piece in the corner is some
cutwork, again both my grandmothers did many pieces of
cutwork so not sure who is responsible for it, but it was
never finished as it still has the blue outlines from the pattern.
Talking of ethical meat there was a report in the press this week and would you believe it they find that red meat is harmful, surprise, surprise! Is that really news at all? That statistic has been bandied around for ages. The one thing I do find is sadly missing is the details from differently raised kinds of meat. Is the meat from corn/soya fed cattle as detrimental as meat from those allowed to range freely on good quality grass? Feed animals well and they will feed you well! And it seems that the Soil Association were listening to me as they posted a report too later on in the week stating that most meat in the UK is grass fed beef and that is different to the report from an American university. Well that's a relief, but it means that vigilance is still required, as companies try to introduce, so called efficient forms of producing meat and milk. But do tell me, how is it more efficient to have someone feeding animals and tending to them because they get sick when they are all cooped up together, when they could be out in the fresh air, gathering their own feed? Saves tractor time too in cutting all that hay etc. when they can gather their own feed. Anyway when we get some eggs and hence chickens I shall be eating a lot more chicken, as I don't really fancy raising a cow just yet and although they will not be free range, they will be allowed good access to the outside in their movable ark, hopefully safe from predators.

Monday, 12 March 2012

What did you expect to see?

What did you expect to see?

What did you expect to see 
when you crossed that ridge? 
Did you expect to see 
the sea glistening in the distance? 
Did your heart sink to see
the dusty prairie flowing out in front of you? 
Another bone wrenching days ride

What did you expect to see 
when you crossed that ridge? 
The mountains stretching to the sky 
forming an impenetrable barrier for those wagons of yours 
hemming in your dreams 
or did you see the cottonwood trees 
and the promise of water and shade from that relentless sun?

What did you expect to see 
when you crossed that ridge? 
Were your hopes dashed and crushed 
beneath the wheels of your wagon?
Or did they soar like the ospreys 
at the promise of the water and unclaimed land?
Pioneering along the Overland Trail, Colorado

Spring? No not yet!

Our neighbours horse drawn hay rake, still where it was left
waiting to rake up hay before the weather changed last year
I'm not very good at anniversaries and birthdays and that sort of thing. Facebook kind of helps by reminding me when it is someone's birthday but that is a bit late if I actually wanted to send anything. And anniversaries are only remembered if I set them as alerts on my computer. Well I missed one anniversary last week. Ian remembered it on the day, but I forgot to comment on it in the blog. And the anniversary? It is on the 4th March 4 years that we arrived in Latvia to live. It's hard to believe that four years have flown by, but what a lot has happened in between times. We now manage a piece of land, two of our children are married, I am in my final year of a Master's course and we still haven't learnt much Latvian. We have made some lovely friends and are thoroughly enjoying being here, even if at times we still wonder what on earth we are doing here.

It was still deep on Friday
I did think of updating last week's post, but didn't think it was worth it as there was something else I had forgotten too. At the drumming concert we went to last week, we were sat on a table with another couple and fortunately the guy sitting there could speak English, it turns out he knew rather a lot of people we knew, in fact one of our good friends who is the reason we are even here in Latvia has stayed at his house quite a few times. Small world as they say. It was funny to start talking about someone and go "Oh yes! We know them too." He is a pastor of a church in Riga and as one young man went past he said, "that's our church's youth pastor." The brain cell started whirring into action and I thought "I know that face," sure enough I did, another person we both knew. The young man had been in the Netherlands translating for a team of Latvians that I had travelled with to a conference and Ian and I met him at another friend's wedding. It is strange to meet someone and know so many of the people he knew and yet we hadn't met, or not that I can remember anyway.

And yes, Ian was still shovelling snow this last week. Mind
you this was to clear the road to get the horse box down
This week has seen some glorious days and I had been stuck in a lot of the week writing up. One day I was looking at the weather forecast and I realised that Friday was going to be another glorious day but the weekend looked poxy as we say. The forecast was for warmer temperatures and a mixture of snow and sleet, so rather than miss the good weather, I declared that Friday was the new Saturday and took the day off. I'm so glad I did as that meant that I could enjoy the sunshine and walk around in the snow for what will probably be the last truly glorious wintry day of the year. I would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn't slipped on a sloping path that had iced over so hard that even my Yaktrax wouldn't grip. I ended up on my knees having twisted my ankle and there was no way I could get up easily without help and so my gallant hero, Ian, leapt to my assistance, that's twice this winter he has been my Sir Galahad. Makes a change from being laughed at anyway. Fortunately my ankle wasn't that bad and I could still sit in the greenhouse (20C that day) and sip coffee. We even managed to get the horse box into the barn, which meant Ian reversing it by car all the way down a hill with a sharp turn at the bottom and I kind of directing, well saying "stop, stop" and waving frantically every now and again when it was obvious that the trailer was not going in the direction that it should do or a bit too close to the barn door.

Horse box safely ensconced in the barn. It is now easier
for Ian to change the brakes and the wheel bearings
even if the weather changes.
I've changed my homepage on my internet browser this week, not momentous news I know. I like the range of articles in the Guardian, especially as they have a section on development, but I hate the language. It is almost as if they seek out uses of the "f" word. A report on the protest in Russia, seemed to single out any badges or banners which had on the "f" word to report and that was the final straw. The "f" word for me does still have a shock value, but not to many people around me, they think it is normal part of the language and indeed it is for some, but that does not mean that it should be bandied around in the English press. Now if all the banners had the "f" word in the protest I would have seen that a fit place to report it, but not the odd one or two and I am sure that the Russians have more in their vocabulary to express their protests and if they had then what were they? So it is back to the BBC for me, a bit staid and not as interesting at times, but at least the language isn't as bad.

Our kittens have grown but are still cute. Sophie has found
her voice just lately, driven us barmy today but we think
the dehumidifier is unsettling her, but we need it on because
someone didn't use the litter tray again!!!!!!
It has been a week of computers, partly as I am deep into writing up my thesis now that I have finished the research phase and also because I updated Microsoft as well this week from a very, very, very old version (in computer terms that is i.e. 2001). It was so old that it wouldn't update automatically and so all my settings were lost - that wasn't the real problem though, the problem came on updating the email client that proceeded to delete messages off the server, ones I had kept for ages. I wouldn't mind but I have done that before when changing email clients for work from Thunderbird that got corrupted and wouldn't update to Mail. It is something to do with the difference between IMAP and POP accounts - I don't know, but what I do know is I am not keen of what happened to my emails. I am a hoarder I know, but in some cases I was keeping them for reference. Fortunately really important ones were downloaded and kept separate but general emails were not and now I have lost a huge chunk of my past. It made me feel very grumpy.

In pensive mood here, but occasionally still shows herself
to be the livewire she was as a kitten
I am beginning to wonder if God is saying something through this though, there is something about hoarding that keeps hold of "things" as security and my security should not be in things, or emails but in God alone. I wonder what else I need to let go of? I had seen so many posts on hoarding, the good and the bad aspects of hoarding. It is good that we don't throw away jars, because it means I can process so much of produce from the year to eat over the winter. Hardly a day goes by when we don't tuck into some of the food prepared over the summer, and jars were handy the other week when we found maggots in the plastic packets (still finding the odd one, but I think we have got the infestation under control now). But how much other stuff do I keep that I should let go of, or is it more a state of mind that hoards, that I should let go of? This was on my mind when someone posted a link to a song called Pioneer by Rick Pino on YouTube (thanks Paul). Not quite sure how all the pictures relate to the song, but the lyrics were what caught my attention. "You travel light and you travel alone," well I don't travel alone as I travel with Ian, but travel light? Perhaps, in some ways, but I'm a hoarder and along the way I have accumulated stuff. A hoarder cannot be a pioneer, a pioneer cannot be a hoarder - too much baggage to take with you.
Leduspuķes or literally translated as ice flowers on the
greenhouse plastic

Rick Pino - Pioneer

Pioneer, Pioneer
Keep pressing onwards beyond your fears
And only your Father goes before you, to your own frontier
You're a Pioneer

Uncharted wilderness stretches before you
And you thrive on going where no one has gone
Still it gets lonely when darkness rears
So sing by the fire until the dawn

You travel light and you travel alone
And when you arrive nobody knows
But your Father in heaven, He is glad you can go
Cause those who come after you will need the road

And what you have done, others will do
Bigger and better and faster than you
But you can't look back, you gotta keep on pressing through
There's a wilderness pathway and it's calling you

Calling you, calling you
Keep pressing onwards beyond your fears

And only your Father goes before you, to your own frontier
You're a Pioneer

Hoarding? Getting a little crowded in the greenhouse just lately
So what do I let go of? Where do I go with this? I don't know, I just know the season is about to change as I finish this phase of studying and move on. I don't think it is moving countries, but just into the next season of life. It excites me that others will follow, but do things better, faster and bigger than I will, and so I am happy to tread the road for others if that is what is needed. Well I guess I had better press on.

Hard to believe that these will be uncovered soon. Once
the snow goes and the fence re-electrified then the wraps
will be off.
(I'll also post a poem from years ago (see I said I was a hoarder) of the questions that occurred to me as I thought about the pioneers who forged a route across America, when I gazed across the landscape from what was then home in Colorado)

Monday, 5 March 2012

Spring on its way? Maybe!

Beautiful sunset to end a beautiful day
Well there we were sitting outside the caravan in the sunshine, in a lovely warm 18C and sipping coffee - that's the life. Don't get too excited though, thinking Spring has burst suddenly upon Latvia, as the caravan is currently residing in the greenhouse. The warm temperatures in the greenhouse do not reflect the outside temperatures, just the heat in the sun despite the weather turning decidedly cold again this week. Even though there was a downturn in temperatures, it still felt like Spring was on its way. In our greenhouse the vines are starting to show signs of life as the buds begin to swell (hopefully not too much though as the temperature is still pretty low at nights -10C last night) and the birds seem to agree too as they have started singing their little hearts out.

The Lada freed from the icy grip. It is perhaps not so easy to
see in this picture but that dark patch on centre right drops
away quite a lot and that was what Ian was struggling to
get the Lada out of. 
We would have sat there longer sipping coffee if the Lada hadn't got stuck (I can almost hear my son-in-law sniggering already). It was meant to be a simple job. Go to the land, get the trailer out of the barn and using the Lada, pull it up the hill, okay so far. Then we took the trailer back to our other flat, dropped off some firewood which had been sitting in the trailer, popped over to the shop got some OSB (sheet wood for outside if you don't know what I mean) and back to the land. Great so far! I started making a cup of coffee, got the chairs cleaned off for sitting on and went to see why Ian was taking so long. Arrrh! Now we have a problem! The trailer had been towed down the hill to the barn area, taken off the Lada and backed into the barn, but the Lada, was stuck! Ian ended up getting the tractor out, it was a bit tight as there were lots of places where the snow was deep or hiding things under it. It took a long time and a combined effort to get it out. I had to sit in the Lada to reverse it out while Ian was pulling it with the tractor, but at times the wheel was so hard to turn that I needed help. So Ian had to get out and help me turn the wheel while we straightened the car up (sounds complicated and at times it was).

Des res, for some future chickens. This means they will have
protection from the sun and foxes (well when the wire is
It was not the only trying part of the week, we also had maggots in the pantry again, well in one of my food cupboards to be precise. I suspect it is actually one of the local shops rather than my cupboard because it is not an ongoing problem, but one that seems to surface from time to time. Well now all offending food items have been sent to the compost, where maggots can freeze to death and the rest of the food is now in jars and under quarantine. Bleh! From now on, all food will be put in jars and not left in bags. I am not discarding that much food again. I am also having difficulty getting into the write up stage of my project, I feel like I am tinkering around the edges rather than getting on and doing some serious work and so I could have done without the morning lost clearing out the cupboard and jarring things up. Today was a particularly bad case of procrastinitis but that was because we had a rather late night last night.

Okay it looks a little barren here, but that is grass, real grass
compare that with the picture below of what it is like
where we are and you will see why it is so exciting
Yesterday was one of those delightful days, even if I did pay for it today with a lack of work as I couldn't concentrate well. First of all we set off for some friends in a place called Stelpe, which is south west of us and as we drove the sun was shining. As we dropped down south and a little bit in altitude (we can't say there are big drops in altitude as you have to remember that Latvia at its highest is around 300m high), the snow got thinner and thinner; it didn't completely disappear, but for the first time in about two months we actually saw grass and suddenly we both felt like we wanted Spring to arrive. The roads around us were rather slick due to the sunshine melting the snow during the day and then freezing hard again at night but we still made it safely anyway. We spent a wonderful afternoon there and was treated to a proper roast lunch, which stood us in good stead for the second half of our day. I don't think I boared them too much though discussing all those boaring subjects I have been involved in over this last year. I lost count of how many times I mentioned the wild boar project, but our hosts were gracious and we left as always wondering where the time had gone.

Still lots of snow where we are
Our next stop off was a small theatre venue in Riga to see a friend of ours who we have probably known now for near enough 10 years, and he is not that old either. We first met him at Gančauskas Christian camps as he led worship. Our friend Andzejs is a drummer in a band called Gainfast and he also teaches drumming to youngsters. and the occasion we had been invited to was a concert performed by his students (link in Latvian). We weren't really sure what we were going to really  and wondered if it was just going to be drums, but it wasn't. He invited many of his friends in the music industry to sing, along with some session musicians and the youngsters drummed along to one song each. The songs were obviously geared towards the giftings of the youngsters, some were quite short, but all the drummers were given a chance to gain confidence and succeed as well as having the thrill of playing to a packed theatre with some talented musicians. Some of the youngsters were extremely talented and we were quite blown away by some of the performances. We didn't understand much of what was said, but as usual we watched and what we saw was an older generation of artists investing time and energy into the next generation and encouraging them. That kind of investment into the next generation I find inspiring and encouraging and gives me hope for Latvia. Too often older people want to hold onto power or knowledge here and not share with those coming up, fearing the competition and too often that attitude holds this nation back. The next generation need supporting and encouraging if they are to go further than the generation before. If this nation is to move on, then it needs everyone working together, encouraging and supporting and I saw that happening last night. Oh and don't get the wrong impression, some of the artists were not that much older than some of the drummers, but still they showed how to encourage those who come after them.
A pensive looking Andzejs from the days of Gančauskas

Inside the des res, some perches and a box for nesting
not sure how it is going to work yet and may require
modifications later, but it's a start anyway.