Monday, 22 January 2018

Surprise

On my chilly walk to the other apartment. I love the
reeds in the frozen pond though. 
It has been a week full of surprises. Most of them pleasant ones. The first was not though. We went up to our other apartment to heat it, so we don't have frozen pipes and to have a bath while we were up there. At one point the people upstairs must also have been having a bath and let the water out. We heard it gurgling through the pipes and it didn't sound good. I went into the kitchen to find that there was water gushing out of an outlet pipe. Sigh! I quickly got the wet and dry vacuum out and started to suck the water up. Fortunately not much, but still more water seeping into the floor probably on top of those other occasions when we've had a leak at that apartment. It would probably have gurgled up into the bath if we hadn't already had the plug in and water in the bath. We know where the problem is because there have been previous problems with the outlet pipe and so we will call a local company, who hopefully have the right kind of equipment to unblock the pipe.

The sky was glorious though. Winter sky at its best. 
At least the rest of the week was much more pleasant. First of all we got a call and an invite to dinner. It was much appreciated as the call came before I had thought about what we were going to eat. It makes a nice change not to have to think about it. I do all the cooking in our house and Ian washes up - I sometimes make that a difficult job for him. Hahaha! Ian got out of washing up too as they have a dishwasher, so a win all round. I did take a cake but I needed to bake as Ian has now recovered his appetite since we are no longer the house of plague.

As Ian wasn't out on the land today, I had to dig out some
photos from another week. This is Lady V about to eat the
snow
Another plus is our friend's house is warmer than our apartment has been all week. It would seem that the new company does not seem much better than the old one. We are back to temperatures around 16C on normal days like last winter even though it hasn't been too bad up until recently, more like 17-18C. The school apparently wasn't warm enough after the holidays either. Not a good reflection on our local government - again. I was doing a lot of typing one day and so sitting around and suddenly felt rather chilly. The cold had been creeping up on me and when I looked at the thermometer it was reading 14C. No wonder it was a bit chilly for sitting around in.

Not a very good picture, as the barn was rather
dark and the kids wouldn't stay still.
We had to go and update the details for our farm, which a friend of ours does online. When we got to their house they were eating and since we hadn't eaten yet they quickly got out some more plates and we joined them for food. Two meals out in one week. It is so nice to be well enough to visit friends. It would be nice to be able to update the details ourselves but the website is not particularly user friendly even for Latvians. It's a good excuse for a visit anyway and we had plenty of time to chat, until it was time for our friend to go and see to her goats. They are starting to pop at quite a rate again and I think about 2/3rds of the pregnant goats have given birth so far, which I seem to remember was over 40 kids. Phew!

Here the kids are jostling for a place on a
cardboard box. These are all the bottle fed
ones
The next surprise was kind of mind-blowing. I was invited to a meeting in Riga about hosting refugees. I was asked if I would share my brief experience. I hummed and I hawed about it. In the end I thought I was being stupid; just because I was tired, just because I'd been ill, just because it was winter and would mean either an early bus ride in or taking the car and leaving Ian without transport out on the land was not sufficient excuse. It just did not compare to the refugees' often perilous journeys to get to Latvia. I decided I really should go and Ian felt I should too. The next decision was whether to take the bus or car. What decided me was kind of selfish, I took the car as it meant I didn't have to get up so early.

Chanel and Freddie sunbathing next to the alpaca house
To continue a rather bizarre chain of events, at Christmas time my mother had given me some beads to give to a refugee family who were earning a living making jewellery. I asked the family what time they went to church to see if I could arrange a time to pass these beads on. I thought it might clash with the other meeting that I had now decided to go to and was happening at another church, elsewhere in Riga. As it turned out, they would be having coffee before their meeting and it was perfect timing for me to still get to the other meeting. So I arranged to go there first, have a coffee and meet with the couple who ran the church who were British but I hadn't met them before and then make tracks to the other meeting. As I was having my coffee a young American couple were chatting to the the husband about refugees.

Mr. B. It makes us realise how big he is after seeing another
herd of alpacas today. He would tower above them
It turned out they worked with refugees in Texas and had come across to help friends make their own connections with the refugees here in Latvia. It hadn't turned out the way they had hoped as their friends had backed away from the initiatives as they felt it was too hard to help them here in Latvia. People generally have a very negative reaction to refugees for many reasons, mostly out of fear but also historical reasons from Soviet times. The young couple therefore had come to the church I was visiting briefly after finding out the church had had some connections with refugees in the past. They had come to see if they could finally get the kind of connections where they could help out and be of use. The pastor was telling them they didn't really have much contact these days when I chipped in. I told the couple that I was heading to a meeting that afternoon and they would be welcome to join me. I thought the meeting would have the kinds of connections they were after.

Herkules with fully fleeced ears. It is so nice to see this after
all his health issues a few years ago.
So how bizarre is that? This was their last ditch attempt at making the connections they had come all the way from America to make and I just happened to be dropping off a bag of beads to a Syrian jeweller and had the car to take them to a meeting. If that wasn't bizarre enough, I thought I actually recognised the young chap from America. I asked him if he had been to Latvia before and he had. He had lived over here for about six years. I asked him if he had been to our village before (bearing in mind we are about 100km outside of Riga in the middle of nowhere) and he had. It turns out we had met before about 12-13 years ago and he had even worked with one of our sons on the camp next to our land. We met him when we were still only visiting Latvia and hadn't yet moved here, in fact we were still living in Denmark at the time.

Herkules almost looks like he's smiling here too. Such
bright eyes as well.
The refugee meeting itself went fine and we were all able to make connections that should enable us to help more refugees in the future. I returned back home in a bit of a mind-blown daze after dropping the young couple off in town. Just one more bizarre fact, the young American couple are expecting a baby around the same time that our son, who he worked with and his wife are expecting their third. Ian and I ended up eating at the local bakery, as I wanted to process what had happened rather than having to think about what to cook. Well one excuse is as good as another and our bakery does make rather nice cakes.

Tellus in contemplative mood, chewing a piece of grass
Today's adventure was off to a place quite close to somewhere I know quite well. I have visited the little village of Kaldabruņa a few times to meet with an organisation there who are doing fantastic development work with the local people. It turns out that a couple have bought a house and some alpacas quite close to there and so we went to pay them a visit. Any excuse for Ian to talk alpacas really, even if it is quite a trek to get there at this time of year. I heard about this couple from two different sources, there was a lady who had visited recently who had met one of them on a veterinary course for small agricultural animals and then through a friend of a friend of theirs who have three alpacas. I found out about the three alpacas and their owner from the couple who are buying our apartment. Are you still following all this? Life never ceases to amaze me at times with type of networks you can make when you are open to making new contacts.

Sunbathing
After a chilly chat in the barn looking at the alpacas we were warmly welcomed into the home for home-made pizza and apple strudel. Every time my plate was empty the mother of the family put more on my plate, so I was well fed, but Ian talked so much he didn't get to eat as much. The mother commented that Ian's eyes were shining when he was talking about the alpacas and I had to laugh. It sure is a topic close to his heart.

Turbjørn in contemplative mood too. Having alpacas was
not on the horizon for us ten years back. 
And to cap a week of surprises, it is a surprise I am still blogging after 10 years. My first blog was the 18th January 2008 and I started it as we were preparing to move to Latvia. My blog sure documents how much can change in a decade! All three of our children have either got married or got partners and now had their own children. So our family of five is now a family of fifteen and soon to be sixteen. We have gone from one apartment when we moved here to two apartments, 13ha of land, eleven alpacas, three sheep, two cats and 25 chickens. We have got to know people from so many different places in that time too, including people in Estonia on alpaca farms and in Tartu where I am attempting to finish off my PhD. What a journey it has been and little did I realise when I named the blog a Journey to Somewhere, quite what a journey it would be. I wonder what the next ten years will bring?

2 comments:

Pene said...

It is wonderful to see how God is blessing you, your family & farm. Happy 10th anniversary!

Joanna said...

Thank you Pene. It is amazing how he works