Thursday, 8 December 2011

Petulance abounds

Starting to melt a bit now, but a wintry scene nonetheless
Petulance: Easily annoyed and behaving like a child! And what a petulant week this has been. I think winter has kind of flopped in like a petulant teenager, only appearing because it's supposed to be, but being very grudging about it in the process. It has snowed, albeit the wet, slushy, slippery stuff; give me minus 5C any day rather than this hovering around 0C/1C nonsense during the day. It has meant a shift in the tasks that Ian can undertake from the mainly outdoor jobs to indoor ones. The land is just too wet to do anything with and the trees are covered in snow, so they are not ideal to be felled and moved about. The days are also so short now, just light by 9am and dark just after 3 ish depending on how dark the sky has been. Some days we haven't even turned the lights off.

Our snow covered land
Our heating company has been just as petulant. We had good heat on Friday night and we have had good heat Sunday night, the rest of the week has been cool, sometimes down to around 16C, a wee bit chilly for sitting around in. It is a good job we have our wood burner but not everyone does and ours isn't the house that gets the coldest either. The good news is though, that there are a few of us who are monitoring the temperatures and hopefully the heating company will be taken to task over it this time. More likely they will do what they are supposed to do and provide us with adequate heat, but only because they know that people are watching everything they do and know they are not sticking to the regulations. Apparently the regulations are hung up on the wall in the boiler room, so there is no excuse for water that has not been heated up hot enough, unless of course you think you can get away with it that is!

Snow clinging to the trees
Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, is in petulant mood too - it troubles me and partly because it makes our stay in Latvia precarious if the UK ever did pull out of the EU. I am not sure whether he was right or wrong to do what he did, but I don't think his motives were good or the way he went about it. It is bad enough that the world leaders are, as usual, giving scant disregard to those who will suffer the most i.e. the poor, and it is they who will take the rap for all of us living beyond our means for too long, but to put British business interests at the forefront of the decision making, not just any old business either, but City business, is wrong and to go about it in a petulant manner is even worse. The City has had a huge influence in getting us into the mess we are in and it won't get us out of it. The system is dying and needs to change and propping it up will not help one bit. We can't let the system collapse entirely immediately, I know, as it is needed while new growth springs up, but it needs to be allowed to die gracefully.

A snowy bridge into the forest
We have had another bank scare in Latvia, although this one seems to be based on rumour rather than on substance. People are twitchy about their money, as some people had a lot of problems when they could not get their money out of the recently collapsed Kr─üjbanka. People just cannot afford to have their money locked in banks when they need food to eat and many ATMs ran out of money, although they are being restocked. It is not that long ago when other banks did go under, such as the Parex bank at the beginning of the crisis and after independence some banks folded, so the nervousness of Latvians is very understandable.

On a completely different note I did my first interview for my project this last week. It was a chance to make sure that the questions were okay and it gave me some indication of how long it will take to do each one. I hope to get some more interviews sorted out this week and then really crack on with them in the New Year. The first ones are likely to be the easiest to arrange, as they are people I already know, but after that I then strike out into unknown territory, as I start to try and get people I don't know talking to me, hopefully after referrals from friends though, but even so they will have to trust me to open up! I am looking forward to it though, as I hope to meet lots of new people and hopefully get some new perspectives on living in this place. Who knows where it might lead.

It might be a bit snow covered now but that
is a present from the wild boar that Ian is
standing in. A hole up to his knees
As usual I read the meters and then went online to pay the bill but I was in for rather a rude awakening, our electric had gone through the roof this month. It has been steadily climbing up recently, but we put that down to drying veg, which takes a long time and compared to the costs of running a freezer all year to keep them in or finding the space even to put another freezer, it was fine. Maybe it was drying the clothes this week which we haven't done too efficiently or maybe something else, not sure, but we are on the case though. We don't let that kind of bill happen all the time, just need to isolate the problem. So my daily monitoring of the electric is keeping us on top so far. At least it doesn't appear to be a fault on something as my recent daily checks have not thrown up any excess usage. If we keep this rate up for the rest of the month I will be very happy.

Did anyone else get to see the lunar eclipse? We did! I hadn't really taken much notice about the forthcoming event, but as we were heading out to the other apartment we noticed that only the bottom of the moon was showing and by the time we got up to the other place it was not showing at all. I wasn't sure if it was maybe cloud cover moving in at times, but the moon suddenly made a reappearance before being finally engulfed in snow clouds, so it confirmed we really had seen the eclipse. Shows what being in the right place at the right time can do, you get to see some pretty remarkable things at times.

And just in case you have forgotten what it was like last
week. No snow!
I had to include these thoughts by a 19 year old on education from my trawl through the internet this week. I don't agree with everything he has to say, as he does not agree with teaching children things they may not be interested in. I think there is a place for pushing through on certain things such as mother tongue language, maths and history. However, I do think that maybe if children were allowed to pursue their interests, as suggested, alongside doing some of the necessary bits of learning, then they will be more likely to understand the need for some of the other subjects that they don't feel are so important. Maths can look much more useful when it comes to accounting in a hotel, in the case that is talked about in the blog. Also a child allowed to make a proper construction will also soon learn the value of maths or the project will just not work. I home schooled my children for a period of time and my daughter joined a children's work course that was being run by one of our church members. She found writing up about children's work issues much better than anything I could have asked her to write about, as it was something she was interested in. To me it didn't matter what she wrote about as long as she had a mix of things to write about, and children's work covered story telling as well as report writing and research, so was perfect. She also learnt to do presentations and had to mix with a range of people in different settings, not exactly the kind of socialisation you get in schools and much more stretching. It was a very valuable time in her growing up and so I have to agree with the young man's concluding remarks

If we’re so concerned about building and strengthening the “next generation,” then we should also be doing something about it in the most important area of their young lives: education. 
Finally I thought I would post a link to a friend's site here, tales from a couple who have retired to Latvia and settled very nicely into their community. They do a fantastic job of supporting folks in their neck of the woods and loved for it. So stop by and say hello, I'm sure it will be a lovely encouragement to them.


  1. hmmmmm, the EU....I have very strong views on this and won't go into them here....shouldn't discuss politics and all that but the sooner we're out of it the better is all I will say.
    (and I would never vote Tory, even with a gun to my don't think I am a right wing extremist...pretty please!!)

  2. I'm content to agree to disagree, but I think all negotiations should be done with diplomacy and it really bugs me when people cannot sit around a table and talk properly. It is not healthy for anyone.

  3. never mind diplomacy...there isn't much Democracy in the whole system that I can see......

  4. Very true, but to have democracy we have to get involved and that means talking politics :o)

  5. Education will always be a topic that people disagree on.
    I think a 19-year-old's perpsective is interesting, but they really don't have enough experience in the world to set the educational agenda.

    When my girls were taking classes that they thought were pointless (and I agreed in some cases) I told them it was just a hurdle to jump to get to their goals. Buckle down, get it done and move on to what you want to do.
    We all have to do some things we don't find pleasant from time to time, and that is part of the education process.
    That being said, I love what I am seeing in some schools where they are really trying to make the learning more relevant to engage the students more.

  6. I agree Denise that some things just need to be got through and that does help to train people to push through to their goals instead of expecting life on a plate.

  7. Interesting post, Joanna. We've had a little snow here, but it keeps melting.
    DS2 didn't like History until he had a teacher who made the lessons interesting enough to engage him. I think the teachers here in Estonia tend to "spoon-feed" the students, but sadly the teachers are fighting for a pay rise & some rural schools are being threatened with closure.
    Happy Christmas!

  8. I think the teachers in Latvia are a little the same, but I guess that is partly due to the similar systems they were brought up under. It takes quite a huge leap to go from teaching facts to engaging children in their own learning, unless they are the sort who love to find out things anyway.

    A lot of rural schools are in danger too in Latvia because so many people are leaving and not enough children being born to fill the schools. I do hope that things improve soon


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