Monday, 4 March 2013

Not again!

Oh yes! More snow, just when it had been
melting away nicely. What a way to greet
the new month
Oh yes! I have managed to damage my other arm this week, just as my left arm heals up nicely I went for a slide on the ice outside our apartment block. There was no thought, "this is going to hurt,"this week, it was instant pain. Ian is not often one to give much sympathy, would hate that anyway, but when he worries then it is a tad serious. He had to help me up off the floor and by the time I got to the apartment I was a little pale. It is a bit of a problem considering I'm right handed and it is another study week, but at least it is getting better than when I first hit the floor. Fortunately I can manage quite a few tasks with my left hand, but it's not easy. At least my injury got me a ride right to the door of my accommodation in Tartu, instead of being dropped off at the bottom of the hill and walking up. I also got a lovely bowl of sweet and sour veg and mini meatballs and a little later in the evening, whilst working on this blog in my garrett bedroom, I got an email that said lemon cookies freshly baked in the kitchen if you would like some with another cup of tea, how could I refuse?

We have had some nice weather too. This is a view from
a friend's farm
The studies are going okay, I'm coping with the statistics and getting used to the Estonian version of English, but there is one thing that is guaranteed to make me feel stupid! Plonk me in a foreign country where I don't know the language and try to interact with a machine. Bleh! Last week it was the cupless cocoa until I discovered where the cups were (underneath the machine of course, doesn't everyone know that? Well everyone except me, probably). The next was trying to extract a twix bar from a snack machine. Failed! And somehow there is a 20c coin in a slot that wasn't designed for 20c coins. Oh oh! I think the machine still works though. At least I now know the words for greeting someone, tea, coffee, thank you, please, pasta and beef stroganoff in Estonian. What more do I need? As long as I can politely get myself a drink and some food, that's fine for me.

The snow piling up in the local petrol station. I had to take
this photo from inside the car, because on my side the water
was pouring off the roof and down the door. If I had got out
I would have been soaked
As I said I am coping better with the stats, but guess who was the last to leave by far for the practical! Yup you guessed it, me! Some of the young whippersnappers left after an hour. Now had they finished? Can they whizz through their work faster than me? Had they conflicting timetables? Who knows, but I slogged on until the end, fighting with the computer to get the work done. The software we are using is open sourced, but it doesn't like Macs, as much as PCs and it is acting a bit peculiar on my computer - either that I am doing something wrong, which is equally probable. I will get there in the end though.

A grand looking fella
On the whole I am finding that the Estonians are very polite. People always seem to greet the bus driver as they get on the bus, they all seem to say thank you as they get off and I have never had the door opened for me so often in such a long time. Mind you I think I realised that it was mainly young gentlemen holding the door open for the older lady - so I'm feeling old now! Mind you the manners of one Estonian driver could do with some improvement, or more likely their observational skills! I have to watch the path whilst walking, as it is quite icy and so I don't take much notice of the road, the problem is that there are quite a few puddles too as the temperature has been hovering above zero during the day. Well you can work out what happened! I got absolutely covered by icy water, right over the top of my hat too. It is not good to get covered in muddy water whilst wearing a blue coat and so you can imagine that I blessed the driver mightily, especially as it took two attempts to wash the coat and it still has muddy spots on it. Not a good idea to have a light blue coat I guess.

Taking care of his ladies
Travel is getting better, I feel much more comfortable taking the trains and buses now. I even learnt something about knitting on one train journey. I have tried knitting on the round needles a few times, but not been terribly successful and resorted to the double pointed needles. The problem I had was that the number of stitches was too few to knit on a round needle and I couldn't work out how to knit say a hat using the needles I had. On the train I saw a lady knitting a small round something, not sure what it was, maybe a sleeve, and she had the spare wire from the knitting needles poking out from the knitting. The stitches, therefore were not evenly spread around the wire, as I thought they should be. Not sure if that makes a great deal of sense, to anyone except and expert knitter, but it just goes to show what you can pick up by being observant of others.

We still have snowy roads
I know God provides and he has certainly done that in the past and the money we have had has lasted a ridiculously long time since we've been here, but it is getting to the time where we need to make some choices, as building a house is going to whittle away at our finances. I want to be sure it is in God's plan and not just a wild idea, if it is part of God's plan then he will provide the means. I was asking for some surety on this and I felt him say that we will find the finances, but in some expected ways. Just to make sure I wasn't making it up, I asked for confirmation - always a wise move I find, before moving forward. The first unexpected surprise was to find out that I have overpaid our electric bill - not sure how that happened, but it means we don't have to pay for about 5 months, which is rather nice. A few days later we were treated to a box of chocolates. Not that surprising if it was a friend visiting but it was someone coming to do a job for us of finishing off the wardrobe. We still hadn't had the baskets put in, even though it was a year ago that the wardrobe was put in, just not got around to it, but we hadn't expected him to bring chocolates too. It would be nice if God dumped a whole wad of cash into our laps, but I don't expect that, I do expect him to just keep us going and see where that leads.

"Tell me! When will this white stuff go away?"
Ian's towing ministry has been a little quiet of late, despite all the icy weather. In fact he hadn't been able to serve the community of Latvia in that way for quite a long time. That did change at the weekend. We had rather a large dump of snow, over the weekend, in fact we got caught in blizzard conditions on the way home from a meeting on the Saturday night, not pleasant. The next day one of neighbours who has a little tractor was trying out his new snow plough attachment and helping by clearing the road way at the back of our apartment, unfortunately he went too far into the deep snow whilst trying to move the snow off the road and got his tractor stuck. Ian had gone down anyway as he needed to move the car to allow him to clear the roadway and so was on hand to pull him out.

The path to the right of the picture was
obliterated over the weekend and Ian
had to get the snow blower out once again
It wasn't the only tow of the week though, he had to pull himself out using our own tractor on our land today as he was trying to come home to take me to catch my lift up to Tartu. Our roadway has got quite nicely packed down over the winter, but just to the sides is some soft snow and with the new layer it was more difficult to ensure that he got into the right track and managed to slide off. It hadn't been a great day, as snow clearing was not what he really wanted to do today with the short amount of time he had to work and to cap it all, one of our chickens had a prolapsed vent (google it if you want the full gory details), but basically the poor chicken had difficulty laying an egg and ended up with bits hanging out that shouldn't be hanging out. The chicken has been given a chance to see if she recovers by bathing the area and pushing the bits back into place, if she recovers she can go back to the ark, if she doesn't, it will be soup I'm afraid.

The subject of a facebook enquiry. Amazing
what you can find out by asking a few
friends. This mysterious object is a pickle
container. The white handled bit can be
pulled out and the pickles are ready drained
During my trawl of the internet I came across a surprising discovery. I always thought the secret ballot was crucial to democracy, but now I find that perhaps that is not always the case. The secret ballot was used to stop people being bullied whilst voting in general elections, but a secret ballot is not so good when the voting should be open and transparent. Local councillors, members of Parliament etc. should all be accountable for the decisions they make and so in these cases secret ballots are not the way forward. In the CITES conference (a conference to decide on world trading rules for endangered species) has a secret ballot format, but people are suspected of saying they are going to vote one way but instead vote another. There needs to be more transparency in this case, that would allow people from the countries represented by the voters to call these people to account for their decisions. One intriguing aspect of whether a secret ballot enables or hinders democracy is in the event of cheating. What happens if those who find filling in ballot papers difficult have to rely on someone doing it for them? What happens if the person filling in the ballot paper on their behalf puts down a different candidate to the one stated? Would the results be different if everyone knew who had voted for who? Interesting and depends on the possibility of bullying or vote buying. Getting democratic processes right is more difficult than just getting a secret ballot obviously.


  1. Hope your arm gets fully better soon! think he NE is the local Estonia - the bus drivers always get thanked here! I'm noticing that people are a bit more 'concerned' around me eg in shops - it's an age thing!

  2. Thanks Ju, I hope it gets better soon too. Fed up with it now, I think I did too much yesterday.

    I thought the grey hair was getting the respect, lol

  3. I hope your arm gets better soon Joanna.

  4. Sorry about the arms. Hope it all mends up quickly.Lovely sky pic. xx

  5. Thanks Liz. That sky picture was worth getting out and about on a wintry evening for

  6. is there such a thing as a secret ballot? I noted last time I voted that there is a tiny number on the corner of our ballot papers which, before they hand it to you they copy next to your name on the voters register. I questioned this and was told some mumbo jumbo that confused me to the point of distraction and left me quite uppity! secret? my eye! and I could have used a swear word there but I won't because I am a lady!

  7. and I am so sorry about your other arm....I hope it's better soon xxx

  8. I know what you mean, but in the event of electoral fraud there is a chance of being able to trace you eventually and check exactly how you really did vote. Not sure if that is a comfort or not really. In a place where it is not expected that violence would ensue, then maybe, but in other places the way you vote could be life or death. It is hard to know how to really get a just and democratic system really and maybe we just have to accept the best under the circumstances

  9. Thanks as well Karen for the concern. It is getting better but it is a literal pain most of the time at the moment. Must have bashed it good and proper


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