Well we had another weekend without heat this week. It is amazing how powerless you can feel when you do not have the choice of having heat when you want it or not as the case maybe. I know I said that last week as well but it is true that choice is a wonderful thing if you have it. We at least have a choice of putting on a fan heater to raise the temperature but have more often than not resorted to the old fashioned idea of a hot water bottle and a quilt. My heart does go out though to those who are unable to afford the heat that will come on sometime soon (I can see the chimney stoking up for the day as I write this, so there is hope for heat for today) and it will be nice for us to have heat on all the time at this time of the year, better than sitting in a room at 15C (59C) but I know for some that will be a slide into yet more debt.
The pension here can be as little as 100 LVL (Latvian Lats) a month and if the heat is 50 LVLs a month that does not leave a lot left for electric, even if it is only 7 santimes a KW/h or food. There is some social care here and if people are really poor they can get free meals up at the technical school but I am guessing they will have to get themselves up there first, as well as sign on to get the help. There are some who milk the system just as in most places but there are many more who are genuinely unable to support themselves. A past hard life is marked on many of the faces of the older people who are often younger than they look and often in the backs of the stooped older ladies, alcoholism is rife as they seek to obliterate the harshness of life and the hopelessness they feel inside. That sounds bleak and that is true but that does not paint an accurate picture of this place we call home, there are signs of life here, the bakery is warm and the food tasty, the hotel has times of being quite full which is good, our friend Victor who is making our kitchen has more than enough work. The new shoots are here but the old still hangs as a shadow over the place.
Well Ian has got on with the rewiring and not too many swear words have been uttered. Good job really as I threatened to go out for a walk if ever the language deteriorated and right now that is not an inviting prospect as the weather has been wet to say the least. During the Soviet era aluminium was the metal of choice for wires but they do not carry the current very well and can lead to fires, so we are replacing the wires with copper wires but because these walls have also been peppered from so many 6 inch nails Ian is surface mounting all the wires in trunking (since this is underlined as I type then I am guessing that trunking is not an American term but basically it is plastic protection for wiring), not so pretty but much easier to do something with if there is ever a fault.
Our new flat was used this week and it was nice to be able to provide some restful hospitality, our friend slept well into the morning and so recovered from a hectic week of meetings and shuttling around the country. He brought his godson out as well later on in the week and his godson thought it was wonderful, much better than being in the city and on that I have to agree mightily.
Although the weather has not been good this week one day was quite nice even if it was a bit breezy and I managed to get three loads of washing done, out on the line outside and dried. This might not seem such a big thing but when the heating is not guaranteed, we don't have a drier and washing needs doing then it does indeed become a big thing. I am having to rediscover what it is to have to choose when to do the washing, this was practically second nature in the UK but then I did have the option of putting on some heating if the worse came to the worse. Colorado was so dry, especially at the later end of the year as the temperature dropped that I dried washing inside the house just to increase the humidity and clothes could be dry within an hour or so, it was certainly a novel thing for me. One evening as I was heading up the garden to get some vegetables from the garden I was treated to a wonderful sunset and it was so nice I called Ian and told him to take some photos, unfortunately it didn't do justice to the colours so you have one of the original and one which I have tweaked with iPhoto because I could!