School holidays mean disappearing to the country for extended periods of time - summer is finally upon us and the weeds and grass is growing so fast that you can HEAR it growing if you stop and listen.  Nightingales and cuckoos are singing in the woods beyond the house, and the perfumed air is soft and warm, even when you wander out into the permanent dusk that is "nighttime" in midsummer in this part of Europe.  Midsummer eve is but a week away, and the fields are full of wildflowers of all description.  The other day I needed to race back to Riga to do some folk singing, and managed to make a traditional wildflower wreath for wearing with my folk costume rather than the dour headscarf I usually wear in the colder months. Gotta love the array of blooming plants to choose from!The boys have willingly taken to the great outdoors, and disappear for hours into the yard, playing fantasy games of riding on magic carpets (the hammock), or finding bewitched swords (sticks) and going on magical adventures (bashing through shoulder-high weeds).  We bought the boys pocket knives, and they have been very responsible so far, proudly clipping them to their belts, and using them to scrape bark of sticks and cut this and that.  Back to Riga next week, sadly, to do a bit of work and such. Being in the city at such a glorious time of year is no good.  No good at all.  The beer gardens in the old town make up for it a little, I guess, but we will definitely be racing back to the country asap!

I've been watching the peonies in our garden burst into bloom, from fat, round-ball buds.   Ages ago, when I was into a jag of reading novels about China, I always wondered what peonies looked like, because they were mentioned so often in these books.  I then fell in love with "pujenes" in Latvian gardens - their luscious, joyous, frilly extravagance in  in early summer - and was pleasantly surprised later on to find out that these were the very same peonies I had read so much about.  I am planning to plant more and more, white ones and pink ones and reddish purple ones.  I'm told that they're quite a "lowbrow" flower here, not really the de rigeur bouquet to give when going visiting.  Don't ask me why.  You can give me bunches of peonies any day. 

It's also the perfect season for making salted cucumbers - not marinated - yummy, crunchy, salty.  A total no-brainer to make, even I can get the recipe right.  Cucumbers in a jar.  Dill, garlic.  Pour over water with salt + a bit of sugar added.  Voila!  In about 5 hours you've got salted cucumbers.

Who are these cheeky kids making themselves cups of tea?  A big hit has been the Donald Duck camping and survival book, which got pulled out the other day.  Under its influence, we've been digging fire pits and making damper-on-a-stick (which, of course, the kids insisted on making but refused to eat.  I couldn't even convince them to eat it by saying "this is what they eat in AUSTRALIA when they go camping... )

I think I've mentioned it before, but now is a good time to remind you.  Latvia has the LONGEST SUMMER SCHOOL HOLIDAYS OF ALL THE COUNTRIES IN EUROPE!  And yes, I am well aware that the use of capital letters in a blogging context means I'm yelling.  Three months of freedom.  Pleasure and pain, I tell you.

Tiss and Mik had their school/kindy break up parties last week.  I did manage to control the flood of nostalgia because I went to the last kindy events my kids would take part in - my 'baby' Mikus is well and truly full of attitude, a real "bosiks" as they call it over here - and very much ready for the challenge of school.

But before that, we have three months of summer bliss.  Just waiting for the weather to warm up!
In a concerted effort to create summer peace-of-mind for those of us who work from home now and then, we made a financial investment.  Yep, we got a trampoline.  Best 100 lats I've ever spent, if it keeps the boys as busy and happy as they've been in the last couple of days.
So bounce, bounce, bounce...  and happy summer!!

I think I've always been drawn to the asian aesthetic of wabi sabi, but only in the last few years have I put a name to it and done some reading about the philosophy.  Things look best when they are a bit worn, a bit mismatched, a bit wonky, a bit lopsided.  Natural objects with wear patterns  - wood or leather or pottery which have been well made, well loved, well worn are my thing. I found out about the concept in a formal sense at a Korean pottery exhibition at the Queensland art gallery.  I was greatly impressed by the concept that the blemishes that occur during the process of making or firing pottery are admired and revered in Korea; a nod to the inherent imperfection in life.
 I assume that a lot of the time, other people don't share my love for the worn and faded - and that's why I get such great bargains at flea markets!  Like this bowl, which my mum and I spotted this morning.  My heart leapt for joy when I tucked it's weathered beauty under my arm.

Meanwhile, Jem's heart did a somersault when he picked up this entire collection of mini Soviet picture badges: 

And then there was the sad moment when I thought the watch parts box wasn't at the market this year - legendary Jem spied it on leaving the market.  Double the price from last time, but he managed to talk the bloke down eventually.

And last but not least, one of the best buys of the day - a piece of 1920s (?) costume jewellery for a couple of lats, spotted and lovingly polished by my mum!

Now... what will we do with all of these finds?  Wear one badge a day for 3 months? a watch repair shop? Or go the opera in all our finery? Hmmm?


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