Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Snow and storks

Nooooo! It snowed again on Saturday. Snow is exciting in winter but not in April, at least it didn't stick but it just felt chilly - our oilfired heaters are working overtime and revising is done with my nice fluffy dressing gown wrapped around my legs  (thanks Emma for that Christmas present it is certainly coming in useful). Saturday was also the great clean up day here in Latvia, I am not sure that many of our neighbours ventured out into the snow showers on Saturday but there isn't a huge amount of rubbish (trash) around here anyway. Latvia may have crumbling footpaths (sidewalks), and some rundown buildings but rubbish strewn about the place it does not, it has to be one of the cleanest countries in the world - probably not the cleanest but certainly up there in the top ranking. Even the drunks if they leave their bottle seem to do so neatly. We were shocked when we went to Cyprus and saw the amount of rubbish in the mountains and it just made the place look scruffy, and I am sorry to say that England is a dump as there is so much rubbish about, especially along roadsides etc. Latvia maybe crumbling but it is doing so neatly and orderly, the women (and it is mainly women) who sweep the paths make such a good job of it, they seem to take great care with it and I pretty sure they don't get paid stack loads of money to keep it that way, I take my hat off to them! 

Folks have also been out in their gardens this week, now the snow has cleared, it is quite amazing to watch. One old couple have a tractor in every year and you see her walking up and down the garden supervising the tractor, trees are also being cut back and the Latvians do like a nice smoky fire, we even watched one lady flatten the top of the fire with fresh stuff, making sure it was nice and smoky - wouldn't want to let it burn up properly now would we? Good job the air is relatively free from all other pollutants otherwise it would be quite awful. I would have taken a picture of Ian digging away amongst the snow showers (I only stopped revising for a coffee break - honest!) but unfortunately he hasn't dug past the obstruction of the tree yet so I couldn't get a clear shot at him (I mean with the camera of course).

As far as updates go from last week, Mark and Kerry got safely back home so our home is rather colder (literally) this week and quieter as there is not so much to talk or laugh about. Oh well! Still I can  enjoy the peace and quiet instead. Our youngest is recovering well from his appendix operation but now having to talk to the University he applied to to accept his "unusual" qualifications. Having spent three years in Denmark and around 18 months in the US before returning to do a BTec in England he doesn't have GCSE's (16+ exams UK). Shock! Horror! Of course he doesn't but he does have an International Baccalaureate Middle Years Certificate with some pretty good results but apparently they count for nothing. So a well renowned prestigious international organisation's programme counts for nothing in the UK - rather short sighted I believe in these days of international movements of workers. Poor kid he is having a tough time of it at the moment, after all this has been his dream for years to do car design at this particular University.

An invite arrived this week to the British Embassy for St.George's day so we thought we might go along and see who turns up to these kinds of events. Should be interesting, at least I hope so having never been to anything like this before. Now all we have to do is work out what smart casual dress is and persuade Ian that jeans and a fleece does not correspond to that. 

Well here is your pontification alert! One of the things I keep reading is the debate as to whether the IMF is going soft? Well it would appear that they still do not appear to care where the cuts come as long as the cuts are made as they have postponed two payments for Latvia because they have not conformed and cut enough from their budgets, meanwhile telling everyone else to spend, spend, spend.
 They are supposed to have learnt from their disastrous days of imposing conditions on poor countries that devastated services for the poor and made the poor even poorer and more vulnerable to ill health and a lack of education.
 Latvia has to cut its budget because it cannot spend what it has not got but some of those cuts are in small cottage hospitals and small rural schools. England knows how cutting small rural schools hurts the community and means long travel for children to get to school. Here in Ergli the local hospital will lose its Accident & Emergency (ER) and that will mean a trip to Madona, a trip of 45km away. This community has poor health as it is, with many alcoholic or at least abusing alcohol, many are suffering from the hard times this nation has gone through, particularly the initial years after independence when the social care was none existent as well as the tough Soviet era times. 
Many of the inhabitants look 20 years older than they really are as every hardship they have suffered has been etched on their faces or in their backs, some women are bent over unable to walk upright. These are the ones who are going to suffer from the cuts. To put it in perspective, the IMF chief earns $500,000 per year, so in approximately two months he could pay the whole of the benefits payments for the parish of Ergli for a year, that would help a bit! "Asked whether teachers' salaries could be reduced more  if the government approves stiffer budget cuts, Stale the Director of the Financial Department at the Education and Science Ministry said that it is outright impossible, because in such a case teachers' salaries would not even reach the minimum subsistence level." whatever that means, but one thing for sure is that subsistence level is pretty low here. 

The sermon this week was good, it was in English so that helps, most weeks we play spot the words to see if there are any we know and try and build our vocabulary. I can't remember much about it as my head is filled with Millennium Development Goals, Structural Adjustment Programmes etc etc from my course, but what I do remember is the speaker talking about the fact that Jesus wants to dance with us, no matter how dirty we are in our hearts, and heads, and he will forgive us if we step on his toes - pleased about that! Well this week I want to dance with Jesus, I want to let him lead this week and see where we go.

Well enough pontificating for now as tomorrow I sit my first exam in absolutely years errr lots of years, clue the day after is my 45th birthday. The stork in the pictures has been nicking grass from our compost for its nest. It is quite amazing to have such large birds just wandering about the garden in front of our flat, they do seem to scare off the little birds though which is a shame.


  1. English sermon after we go!!! was it marvelous?

  2. It was rather a good sermon. It is nice to hear of one that affirms how much Jesus wants us around.

    I presume your RSS feed is working! :P

  3. It was a good sermon and I love dancing with Jesus even in my dirty jeans and fleece, smart casual or not! hehehe Bring on the British Embassy says the American rebel.

  4. Oh oh! I am beginning to wonder about taking you along Kathleen. Lol. What a group of reprobates we are going to make.

  5. As you like your christmas present from 2 years ago so much, does this mean i can get away with forgetting about your birthday?! Well i haven't forgot, i'm just not very organised. But Happy 45th Birthday. Getting on!!! Would it make you feel even older if i reminded you, i'm nearly 23? :)

  6. Your organisation is no better than mine so I am not too worried. Lol It sure does make me feel old, like the when other students were moaning about it being 10 years since they sat an exam, and for me it is 24 years.


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