Monday, 8 October 2012

The sun has got his hat on - I wish!

At least we have seen plenty of rainbows.
I love rainbows
Well it's wet! The wetter than normal summer has morphed into an even wetter autumn. It is still incredibly mild for this time of the year and so things are still growing, that is if they don't succumb to rot or split like the cabbages due to too much moisture. My Borlotti beans blew down in the wind too, but fortunately there was a good crop of beans about ready for harvesting anyway and so it just meant having to pick them there and then rather than waiting a few days, also found a few more of Thelma squash growing amongst the beans. There have been a few crops that we are really pleased we tried this year, Thelma squash being one of them, they taste a bit like sweet potato with a similar texture and have produced enough small sized squashes that are about the right size for the two of us. We will still grow the bigger squash next year but mainly so that we can feed the animals with them. Another good cropper is Sangria chillis, there is no heat in them whatsoever, but in a year when the normal peppers have struggled to produce any peppers, these little conical shaped chillis have been producing their little heart out. In fact the plant that I took home and removed all the peppers from so I could grow a pepper for seed isolated from the rest of the plants is once again covered in flowers. It is advisable to do this so you don't get a hot pepper crossing with a mild one and vice versa. These little chillis also add interest to salads and stews with the mix of purple and red peppers (I will have to try and remember to get a photograph next week). The other success has been Amaranth and I produced a rather nice tasty bread today using 2 cups of white flour, 1 cup of ground Amaranth seeds and 1 cup of ground split yellow peas, some sesame seeds and home-grown poppy seeds. With a long proving time it also rose well.


Still pretty stormy looking
One of the comments on the blog last week was from my good friend Mavis, who came to visit us last year. She commented that she knows I enjoy the special moments when God speaks to me through the ordinary day-to-day things and she is so right. I love it! I know some folks have discovered gold and diamonds in special meetings, but I see diamonds glittering all winter, from the ice crystals that fall in the morning winter sunshine to the diamond encrusted fields of snow and I feel so incredibly rich. If you have eyes to see, then the world is filled with awe and wonder. Her comment also reminded me of our trip back from the bakery when we caught in a shower of rain; the sun was shining too and I knew there had to be a rainbow somewhere and sure enough it was high up in front of us and the bow seemed to finish over the local council offices. There needs to be a transformation of that place, a place where people have become hardened to the poverty outside, where little kingdoms of power are maintained and old ways perpertrated. Nothing very, very bad that I know of, but could be so much better, kinder and more considerate, more forward thinking, instead of resigned to "that's the way it is here in Latvia." The rainbow, spoke to me of the possibility of change coming to that place, something I have been praying for for months now. Now that excites me!

Ian has been feeling like Dr.Frankenstein
creating monsters, Here is his monster table.
I think it might be robust enough for him

Following on from the comment I made about thinking deeply last week there was an article by Anna Coote, who is head of Social Policy at the New Economics Forum which suggested that people should "slow down and think carefully about what really matters in our lives - and change our daily habits accordingly. Sound advice I think. If we don't give ourselves time to think, how can we ensure that what we do is inline with what we really care about? Or think is important? If we don't give ourselves time then we blindly stumble along from one thing to another not really checking to see which direction we are heading in. I'm looking forward to the winter, as I've said before it is thinking time. All gardening jobs are at an end and there is time to breathe. 


His monster sink in the barn. Never throw
anything away in our household. This sink
came out of the caravan. and the wood is all
wood leftover from other projects. Waste not
want not!
I managed to replace my hand blender, it is not as powerful as the last one but better than a bust one, it was also fairly easily obtained. I wanted one that had a detachable handle, I also wanted one with a pot that you could whizz up small items like herbs or breadcrumbs. Now that was two additional requirement and that is what I found. Success!  Now that might not seem like a big deal to you if you live in a city, or live in a different country to Latvia, but here it is. Finding something that fits the requirements can sometimes be a frustrating job, where compromise is the order of the day. You can get most things in Riga these days if you know where to look, but out in the smaller towns it is a bit hit and miss, it might be there and then again it might not be. We learnt in Denmark that if we saw something we thought we might need, we bought it, because when you did need it it wouldn't be in the shops. It is just because Denmark and Latvia both have small numbers of people : about 5.5m in Denmark and around 2m in Latvia. This does not represent a huge market and Latvians have less buying power than the Danish, so you can imagine the effects on the product availability. Thank goodness for the internet for some things.


That grey pipe in the picture is part of Ian's
drain repair to fix the broken pipe at the base
of one of the barn foundations. He had to dig
down a long way to sort that out and has been
an ongoing project all year.
Another challenge we face is not knowing the language yet (I know, I know, it is about time we did). This means tagging along with folks if they are going somewhere that we need to go. This week one of our friends was going with her daughter to the eye hospital for a regular check up and so we got her to book us in too, as it is a long time since we have been to have our eyes checked. It was good news all round, our friend's daughter no longer needs glasses to correct her vision, our friend doesn't need glasses either and Ian and I don't need to change ours. Sorted - till the next time! One funny incident happened in the café where we went for a cup of tea, while some drops were taking effect on Ian's eyes. There was a lady at the counter who had previously tried to talk to Ian outside the eye clinic while I and the translator were inside, she leaned across the counter and loudly whispered in a conspiratorial tone that we spoke English, just so the lady at the counter would know!!! Or words to that effect anyway. Ian seems to think she might work at the hospital since a few folks stopped and chatted with her, but it was funny that she thought she felt the need to warn the lady behind the counter, after all, we might not know much Latvian but we can order a cup of tea and decline any sugar without too much difficulty.


Man does not live by bread alone, but
a good cup of tea to hand is also very
helpful
Ian is in his element with his new cycle computer. He loves to make charts and along our last 30 years that we have known each other - yes we passed that milestone this week along with our 28th Wedding Anniversary- he has made charts of things like our daily electric usage, and his daily blood pressure. Well the cycle computer takes this to a new level, there are even more parameters he can keep track of, the temperature when cycling, his geographical position (a bit of a joke when he is not able to get out and must use his stationary trainer bike, although one day the computer must have been having difficulty locating the satellite as it recorded him going up the road to the technical school and then straight back down through the allotments and that was really without leaving the comfort of his training room) oh and oh so many oodles of other little tidbits of information. So happy!
Master bedroom

I have spent a lot of the weekend on Skype talking to our son about design ideas for our new house - well maybe! Our son is studying automotive design and so loves to play around with new concepts in design and has the right kind of computer programmes that can put flesh on ideas. I have an idea of what kinds of things are needed in our new house - my dream list if you like; we have an outside measurement - much greater and we run into problems with steep slopes and disturbing the land too much, we also know what we will use the house for and so fitting it into the area in an aesthetically pleasing way has been a lot of fun. Still not sure how it will work out in practice but we have enjoyed the process, altering things according to my knowledge of the lie of the land and some practical considerations and his ability to fit things into a space and think of some novel ideas. 
A little dark, but I hope you get the idea. A utility room
under the stairwell. This would be situated next to the
outside door, essential when there are animal bowls etc, to
clean and vegetables to wash.

We went to an agricultural fair this last week and we see we have started a trend. There were two stalls who had started importing small balers this year. Now why couldn't they have done that last year when we had to import ours from England? We have cards from both of them so we can check for spare parts, which is useful after a slight altercation with a tree stump during the baling season this year. It is about time too as the smaller bales are much more sensible for people for many people to use than the big bales. We saw the difficulty our neighbour had trying to collect the big bales off her steep slope. She thought our bales were small because our baler was broken, bet she's wishing that the baler they used on her slopes was broken too.

5 comments:

karen said...

beware the English in a Latvian cafe!!! Maybe she thought you were football fans....I adore your rainbow. I love rainbows and saw one myself the other day.

Joanna said...

I shudder when I see the English guys walking through Riga in their football shirts, they do not do our country any favours. I wasn't wearing a football shirt at the time, so i don't think that was the problem :o)

I love rainbows too, the only bright spot of a season of prolonged rain

Pene said...

I really like the colours in your storm cloud photo - great for a quilted picture.

Pene said...

One idea you might consider is adding a ceiling fan in master bedroom. In winter all the heat accumulates up in ceiling so with a fan with adjustable speed it will push the warm air back to the floor area. And then you can also cool the room in summer.

Joanna said...

I see what you mean Pene. When I get all this time, I am going to really enjoy myself going through lots of pictures for quilting ideas. Good point about the master bedroom, we will bear that in mind and see how it goes. It will be on the North side and so maybe cooler - we'll see