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It’s a brilliant day

Today, it is. The heat has decreased and the humidity torture is less depressing, as well. My blog posting gaps have increased, though, thanks to all kinds of unexpected issues. It is a time when I am aware of all things I still have to tackle and bring to some conclusion, yet, I don’t do anything here and there. The privilege of older age is that you can mentally sort through the urgent things and make a reasonable decision: there’s hardly anything that cannot wait for a bit longer. For instance, posting a new article which won’t be seen by that many anyway.

It’s a wrong decision from the point of being present on the internet, but a very beneficial from the view of general feeling-and being-well-aspect. Ever since we became billions on every social media site and every blogging platform, the importance of one single post lost its meaning. Life is not long enough whatever way you look at it. I’d prefer much longer stretch of feeling like in 35-50 period. I find that around 50 it was when I had still huge energy and motivation to fight every internet battle and to squeeze myself out like a lemon to grab attention. Over time, the need to be present everywhere has really lost its attraction.

Being present in moments which matter for me personally has become more important. Sooner or later, we all realize that there will be things which we aren’t destined to do, learn or pursue. Time limits our ability to perform everything at the same level of devotion and achieve the same level of success in all areas which appeal to us. It takes huge time to achieve adequate skills in any area nowadays. However, the abundant numbers of experts and people who do counselling means there’s too much advise about everything. 

Let’s talk about how-to posts. Mainly, there are 2 groups. The first group, usually, in technical aspects of using software, app, social media or blogging platforms, writing or drawing and painting tools are helpful. The second group is where the heading says “how-to”, but the article lists reasons why and immediately takes you to the button to purchase something. We already know why, if we are looking for the practical application of this new whatever it is. I’m really interested in finding examples of using a tool, a strategy, I want to see how it looks in reality, but that’s not possible. There are immediately ads and all kinds of offers to buy. Food takes very much space on the internet, as well, too much for me personally. I stick to the old and extra simple recipes, better yet, the ones which consist of a few ingredients. That’s also very beneficial for our digestive system.

Then there are the numbers articles: 10 things what to eat and 10 what not to, 7 ways to wear an outfit, 6 ways to relax, 5 ways to prepare a particular food and to exercise. Very often it is “how to be happy” in numerous ways. It’s usually a list of things which we all know, have or do not intend to have, do or do mind doing. It’s something which we are aware about, but we have a reason not to engage in it, or we are already mastering that aspect. This type of list provides with no discoveries. One advice can never suit all. The most interesting articles for me are about personal experiences, the diverse ways we live.

Today, it is a really brilliant day. Just with the right amount of heat and sunshine. With well-formed attractive clouds sailing the bright blue sky. With bees still working blooms and butterflies hurrying from one flower to another. With tomato branches almost touching the ground because of the heavy fruit. With fantastically orange and perfectly round pumpkins. I also saw hummingbird 2 times this year. That’s so cute for my location!

The summer has been too short as always. It was too hot, we had too much rain, it was too dry sometimes, too stormy here and there. And it will be definitely too cold in the winter. No perfect weather for us, and here I laugh a little. Our feeling of entitlement has spoiled us. I personally do not complain, I take summer over winter any time. The virus has had big impact on our life here in Ontario, as I suppose, in the place where you are at. We thought it will be a fairly swift battle and we would be done with it. Maybe you have lived as you wanted, but I here couldn’t. Restrictions are still all in place, except, there is no lockdown.

I have such insanely huge amounts of produce, I’m not sure what to do with it. We are giving away part of it to husband’s colleagues, sometimes to anybody who will take it. I am seeing all benefits of growing vegetables and flowers from my own seeds. These plants are very strong, they practically do not suffer from the regular plant diseases. It makes a lot of sense to take care of your own seeding material. Since I haven’t been anywhere, only at home (almost 2 years already!!!), I am attaching a few pictures of my garden. It can be enough, but dreams and memories take me to other places; where I have been, which I will visit and what I’m not going to see. Well, the Earth is small and big at the same time, just like this life: so uncomplicated and manageable one day, but absolutely stunning or overwhelming the next.

Have a good September which is just around the corner! Thanks for reading!

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The rainy July, uncertainty and assumptions

Summer never disappoints, even when there’s more rain than in the fall or more heat than in Mexico. Just knowing, that the days are long, and light stays on longer is so satisfying. Recurring certainty gives a feeling of stability, but we are not yet 100% there in Ontario. We are fairly uncertain also about the length of vaccine efficiency and what happens next and so forth. Questions which will clarify themselves as time passes by.

The last 2 years have been a huge test: they have tested our patience, endurance, tolerance and self-efficiency. I am usually aiming for predictability and certain order of upcoming events, just like in nature: summer comes after spring, and then there’s fall, and winter. Clarity, simple sequence of events. During this period, it’s been knowing nothing about what to expect, misinformation, lies, doubts and promises which often didn’t turn into actions.

Time doesn’t take into account whether we like being in this mess created by virus or not: it just runs away and, in some cases, – out. This time period will stay in our memory for quite a while. Is the pandemic over yet? In some places and countries, it seems we are winning, and then, a new variant occurs, and we start losing. It looks like this is not the end of pandemic yet. I wish it were, though.

Are you also so much used to wearing a mask that it will seem strange leaving house without it? Or disinfecting surfaces and washing hands for hundred times? I’ve heard that people are having more anxiety attacks, more upsetting days, spending more time doubting themselves and the future. I’d say that is normal taking into account the circumstances. We feel very much entitled to many things and we often take them for granted.

Maybe this is a time when we simply allow the flow to take us? I’ve been always against the flow, against the rules, against demands, commands and external control. However, I find that most current requirements make sense and I comply with them. There is a lot of scientific evidence on how we survive. I’m happy that after spending more than a full month on a computer and on the phone, we finally got both vaccine doses. It’s three weeks now. It is a relief. Some feeling of order? I’m not saying that I feel very safe now, but it’s somewhat reassuring that, most likely, nothing bad is going to happen.

We are not back to any normal yet, although, we’re trying to pretend everything is ok. It will never be the same as it was pre-pandemic. Globalization has its plusses and minuses. One of the biggest troubles: any disaster affecting health becomes global in no time. Unfortunately, global trade is fine, global pandemic – not at all because it is handled inefficiently and as bad as only possible. Do two doses of vaccine ensure you’re done with the virus? Probably not. We’ve already heard Pfizer saying they detected the immunity was weaker after 6 months.

Depending on where you are, you might be fine or not at all. We in Ontario are trying to return to life without virus. I hoped people would love to attend the outdoor art classes now, after almost two years of everything online. It doesn’t seem so. Not much response because there’s also no place where to get attention, not even one specific place. Facebook just wants me to spend more money so that they would show to somebody what I publish. Well, Facebook, it’s been two very tough years, so nothing goes to you. I won’t even mention other media sites. If you’re not an influencer, post whatever you want, hardly anybody will see it. The problem is also that everybody is selling something, and buying happens mostly from the huge global outlets, go outcompete those.

I was reading how a marketing expert said she just made a million giving advice. Have you also noticed that teaching somebody to make money always results in high profits? Everybody is attracted to read about “make-money-quick”, or watch it, or listen to it. Unfortunately, it will always depend on your location, digitalization level, type of thing you do, demand for what you do and the basic mindset of your potential customers. However, it will mostly depend on how much you can invest in what you do, how much you can spend on advertising, help and specialists and creation of your product. Do you think I’d had any problem if I could run my ads every hour on numerous TV channels or have them everywhere sneak up on you on the internet?

The presence and visibility are the biggest problem.

When I started writing this blog and created the other blog and art website, I thought it would result in some extra attention. I’ve got blog friends, nice people to talk to online, that’s true. I spend a lot of time posting, returning likes and answering to comments. For art blog, a post usually takes about 2 weeks in making because I usually have to paint what I’d like to show, then take photos (what a hassle!) and then, putting it up is easy, but, altogether – very, very time-consuming. Basically, I’ve spent abnormal hours dealing with both blogs, and return is great when it comes to online following and friendships, but financially, it’s practically nothing to show for. It still makes sense compared to spending many hours on social media and not getting any traction. Well, it is like this: whatever you do, be influencer and famous, and then even dumb things you say or publish will get lots of publicity.

Global pandemic, global competition, global trade, global profits or losses, – but the effects of all that are very personal, very individual, very painful frequently. I do sometimes long for the time when somebody just drops in, they are happy with what I have to offer, they do not run around to 100 other places before making decision, and life is so simple because everything is in balance, everything happens. I am just wondering how could life become so complex? Getting a simple “yes” or “no” is practically impossible. It takes numerous emails, text messages, back and forth, numerous explanations and waste of time, and then you still don’t know whether you achieved what you wanted.

As always, I will post this very delayed article with a few pictures from my garden. Just like summer, garden never disappoints. Even when I don’t have time, plants just do their thing: they bloom, grow and bring fruit. Compared to everything else, it’s such a winning and rewarding effort. I do take great care of my pictures, but I suppose since I’m not emphasizing the photography aspect, they go unnoticed. As you know, I used to post more frequently, but cannot right now: life is too complex. I am re-opening the studio, moving art classes outdoors, preparing materials, and that takes about 10 hours a day or more.

Wishing you to recharge and rest during the summer! Thanks for reading if you did!

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June, the Midsummer thoughts

Nothing can stop flowers from blooming! Not pandemic, not wars, fights, struggles and bad economic times; not even people who are not fine with where they are and what they are. The symphony of colors flows over the backyard making the adorable petal shapes the best artful creation there ever was. To hold one’s breath and to simply adore something which is way better, more complete than humans. The nature.

Midsummer and June: the fantastic time of the year. Although, flowers were rushing, the rich and lush green is embroidered with bright colors of scattered blooms under the pure and clean sky where white and happy clouds sail towards the sun. Standing in the middle of it, my heart says to just stop doing whatever I am busy with, and look around.

So many summers have blossomed away! Latvia is always in my memories when June comes around. It would be great to spend this time over there, more than 8 thousand miles away, across the ocean.

We went a few times to the Canadian Latvian community place called Sidrabene which translated would be like “silver lined spot” on this earth. We wanted to see what Midsummer celebration looked like there, and it was interesting, but not the same what people can experience in Latvia. Singing, dancing, beer and the special caraway seed cheese were included. Singing in the second part was mostly in English, and the Latvian accents of those who at least tried to say something in Latvian had a strong English note, too. Well, obviously, many of these Latvians have lived in Canada since early childhood or are even born here.

Latvians have numerous folksongs which have travelled to nowadays mostly verbally without writing them down. In the 18th century, enthusiasts started to categorize and collect them and eventually compile in enormous volumes. It is said that every Latvian has his or her own folksong. As I have explained in previous years, Midsummer celebration in Latvia is probably the most fantastic event with traditions going back for many thousands of years, so are the folksongs. We can sometimes wonder what does one or another thing actually mean, so unusual it sounds.

Wherever I would live, whatever I would do, I remain in my heart a Latvian. Part of this tiny (all Latvians, scattered around on the globe, would not fill even a third of city of Toronto), tough, hard-working, wise nation which stays very close to nature, opening its ancient soul to song, dance, arts and everything that is beautiful.

Our roots go deep, and in this technologically advanced century we still are admirers of ancient traditions, handmade outfits, jewelry, herbal medicine and help of the Universe as we walk through the life. The knowledge which comes to us from people who lived many thousands of years ago and whose names remain unknown, makes Latvians very specific, very charismatic and talented people. If one comes from a tiny nation, they simply have to master many languages, many skills, and to stay determined, or otherwise the big global forces will smash us.

I will attach a few links from the most unique event which will celebrate 150 years in 2023: the Latvian Song and Dance Festival where tens of thousands of people from kids to very old ladies and senior citizens join in songs and dance. Every region has its own colors, costumes and they all shine during this festival.

The famous Latvian song and dance festival, a few glimpses
To my native land, watch at piano, the best Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls, lyrics by Janis Peters, a very much loved Latvian poet

Enjoy the midsummer and stay close to nature!

Can gardening save your life?

I know people who have survived thanks to gardening.

So, are you the lucky one with a garden?

That could pretty much be an answer to many of your health problems and even save your life, because doing gardening will make your life so much more enjoyable and even support you financially and save money.

It just said on the news that one-third of the world’s population was obese.

That is the most recent statistics. When we imagine how many places on the Earth cannot provide people who live there with any food or clean water, it becomes very clear that so-called developed countries are the ones mostly suffering from this disaster. It’s no surprise it comes as a combo of all kinds of cancers and dementia, plus diabetes and cardio-vascular fatalities. Diseases are getting younger. We thought stroke was more likely to happen after 40-50, it’s affecting now people 16 years old and even younger.

This happens due to food production which is very distant from the way we were having food even 50-60 years ago. With every year, more newly discovered chemical combinations, supplements, taste enhancers, coloring and thickening agents, preservatives and so on and so forth, have been replacing natural food. Not to mention 90 types of artificial sweeteners which replace sugar.

When we think dairy, do we imagine pure chemicals in the container with a label organic cream? We don’t. Yet, it isn’t even a cream, but some mix of things that make this substance look and to some extent taste like cream. The whipping cream isn’t a cream, and milk that comes from powder or egg mix that doesn’t have real eggs in it: that’s all processed already. Cheese is the most affected because it’s easy to replace real ingredients with chemicals in cheese. Your breakfast flakes: they are already processed, if they were not you’d have raw grains. Natural and good fats such as organic butter have been replaced with chemically created fats for some 80 years. That refers to any margarine, oils of not organic origin and obviously all pastry includes that: bread, bread type of snacks, etc. since it really needs some fat or it goes stale the next day.

So, what difference does the produce you have grown on your own make?

Huge. If you have ever tried freshly picked cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini or peppers from the backyard, you know how much richer the taste is. At some point, it’s impossible to compare garden produce with fruits and vegetables from the grocery store. Greens and herbs such as green onion, dill, parsley, basil, thyme and sage from the grocery store wilt right away and they never feel really fresh because they soak them in water by spraying all the time at the store.

Farmer’s market is a good place, however, sometimes prices are extremely high (at least in Whitby, Ontario) and the produce does not look that great.

By growing our own vegetables and fruits we know what they contain.

I love that I know exactly how my vegetables are grown: what water I use, what soil, etc. Small gardens can be easily weeded manually; there is no need to use chemicals to conquer weeds. It’s also easier to control any pests in case they would appear with simple household supplies.

It makes an incredible difference for me: I just walk outside and choose whatever I feel like having for meal. Being in fresh air and having so much stuff for eyes to enjoy is definitely an added bonus.

Plus, one does not need any gym to stay in a good shape: thankfully garden work involves all kinds of moves, exercises and tasks.

I know that not everybody can live in a house with a decent size backyard. I live here also because we rent this place. Yet, there are millions of people who only have lawns everywhere: in the front and in the back. If we would start with lots of people growing healthy chemical-free vegetables and fruits not only for themselves, but also for a few other people, we might end the cancer, cardio-vascular, diabetes and obesity epidemic. We might just also have better mental abilities because of that; and some garden work is always useful as opposed to scrolling through screens or snoozing in front of TV.

This is how gardening will make you healthy:

You will get lots of exercise without paying fees for gym or designating specific time for it;

You will be rewarded with crops that are clean and contain many times more nutrients;

Naturally occurring minerals, vitamins and other good substances are only found in FRESH garden produce;

You will avoid harsh chemicals by using in your gardening only natural fertilizers and composted plant food;

You will have something to take care of and you’ll never feel lonely;

You will have peace of mind, place to relax and ability to clean the bad energies when being in contact with the soil;

You will save money on organic herbs, fruit and vegetables which we really need, but which are not in a good shape at grocery stores and very expensive;

Kids find gardening attractive because we can monitor the steady development and growing;

Gardening is suitable for any age or condition: we can always find ways to do things easily;

You don’t have to travel far to be surrounded by the nature;

Garden can become the most inspiring thing for writers, artists, designers and other creative folks;

By doing gardening and consuming only fresh and chemical-free produce you will literally help your body and brain fight diseases and manage easier the existing conditions.

So, gardening might save your life, especially if gardening becomes your passion.

Please enjoy the purple blossoming in my garden!

Chives in bloom

Purple iris

Close-up

Lovely faces of pansies

Isn’t it pretty?

The many shades of beauty

Easy to grow, always smiley

 

The soothing Sunday thoughts: This warm August night

August garden 1

I would love to take this warm August night

that stretches like a soft fog over the garden

and preserve it as a green fragrant scarf

for the cold winter nights.

I would love to wrap around me this warm August night

when everything is so tranquil and we are all alive,

I would weave my thoughts like threads into this scarf

for all dark days with clouds, but no silver lining,

for times when I am lost and floating in an unfriendly universe,

for days that happen to show up from nowhere

when something persistently nags my subconscious mind.

Our life has so many broken dreams and forgotten promises.

I would love to take this warm August night

and fold it neatly as a green fragrant scarf

and put it away,

put it away so far that I hardly can find it,

so far away that when I find it

I can recall this warm August night

and believe the sadness disappears with the fading darkness of night

and this scarf feels again like a warm fog around my shoulders

to prevent from death and frost.

August night

The Midsummer magic in Latvian style

Midsummer or Summer Solstice is celebrated in quite a few countries, nations and places; however, I don’t know any other place than Latvia where people love so much the Midsummer night which is called „Līgo”. This is practically not translatable; it comes from ancient times and is used after every line of Latvian midsummer folk-songs. The closest interpretation might be “sway” or “swing”, just like plants or trees are swaying in a light wind. There are plenty of folk-songs, and these songs have come to us through very many centuries, they have originated some 1500 years ago and given verbally from generation to generation. No powers, natural disasters or governing rules could make these songs and the Midsummer celebration extinct, even though, many tried to prohibit Latvians to celebrate “Līgo”, especially Germans and Russians, and especially after the WWII during the communist times.

Latvia is such a tiny country, but the spiritual and intellectual side of life is a big deal over there. Latvians are a nation of singers; they were overcoming all troubles and all disasters cheering themselves up with such folk-songs. I will attach a link which shows one adapted “Līgo” song performed by Latvian choirs during the Song Festival which takes place every 4 years.

Magic rituals, superstitions, simply traditions and solstice magic: everything is carried out and present during the night of June 23. It is supposed to be the shortest night, although, we know June 21 or June 22 are the shortest nights.

Ligo My small Midsummer treats

We have special foods to enjoy: special cheese with caraway seeds, beer, special small pies and similar treats.

I managed to make my Midsummer cheese this year, as well. That is definitely my most favorite cheese of all of them. It is difficult to make it using Canadian products because they are not quite the same as in Latvia. However, the taste is excellent, I tried some slices already.

Latvian Midsummer

This night is celebrated outdoors with bonfires, dancing and singing. This year I’m not going to Sidrabene where Canadian Latvians have Midsummer Festival, it is not the same anyway. “Līgo” belongs to Latvia, we can imitate it, we can try, but it still is very different from the original celebration in Latvia.

Midsummer treats: caraway seed cheese

The nice thing is being able to wear a flower wreath: women wear wreaths from any flowers, grasses or leaves, men usually wear large wreaths made of oak leaves.

Fresh midsummer strawberries

Latvians have names’ days and celebrate them even more than birthdays. June 23 is the day when Jānis has his name’s day. Jānis (we say this not with an English “J”, but like in “young”, just with long “a”). Many Latvian men are given the name “Jānis”. It said 58,400 men will celebrate their name’s day this year, meaning, they all have name “Jānis” and wear the big oak leaf wreath. “Jānis” in Latvian mythology was supposed to be the God’s son, who rides around during this night and blesses fields, meadows, forests and homes. He brings fertility, abundance and good luck.

Latvian Midsummer caraway seed cheese

The Midsummer cheese, Midsummer wreath and Midsummer bonfire are all meant to honor the Sun and to celebrate its victory over night. Nights are very short around this time in Latvia, there are only few darker hours between 12 and 3 pm, and afterwards the light returns.

Young and not that young couples are going to look for the blossom of a fern. Ferns according to the Latvian mythology are blossoming only during this night, only in rare places, and not everybody can find or see these blossoms. The folk-song says: all flowers were blossoming; only the fern did not. It was blossoming on the Midsummer night with golden blooms.

Ligo 7

Midsummer is the moment of full blooming when the beauty becomes so obvious that it is impossible not to notice it, when love is so close that it becomes touchable. It is a time of fertility in the nature and among humans. It is a time when the human becomes part of nature again, forgets about civilization, its rules, limitations and restrictions. The Midsummer night is wild in its purest form.

Folk-song adapted to song festival

Just like thousands of years ago, a clear and loud “Līgo!” goes up to the sky, echoes in lakes, rivers, hills, and forests, fields and meadows respond with an echo, too. This is believed to be the most magic night when everything is possible and everything can come true.