Monday, 11 March 2019

Winter's last stand?

An icy scene
Is it winter's last stand? Probably not, there maybe more snow again tomorrow, but in between spring peeks out and so did the poet in me
Chanel enjoying the snow. She is starting to show her
pregnancy

Winter’s last stand
The swelling buds speak of times to come
Peeking out from their furry coats
The soft wind whispers, “Soon”
The love-struck birds chirp in echo, “Soon”
The warming rays embrace the earth and murmurs sleepily, “Soon”
Winter screams back “Never!”
Covering the earth once more
In a blanket of white.
But already his power is spent
He recedes
Thrashing into the waters of the raging river.
Losing his grip on the earth once more
Spring rises drowsily from her long sleep
Then racing with abandon
Lights the ground with a creeping verdant layer
Trees rush to embrace the warmth
Bursting with wavering branches,
Unfurling flags of the brightest green
Eager to pronounce the coming season.
Spring has come!
At least we got to see the sun this week
Flags flying in the stiff breeze in Tartu
outside the gym of my university
It has been a week of meetings and writing. I had a meeting with my local colleagues in Tartu on the Tuesday and had the privilege of getting the key to the office for two whole days. I've given it back for now as I won't be up for a little while, or not that I know of anyway. The following day was a bit hectic and started early with a visit to the health centre for my employment health check. Everything was normal, little does she know then. Weight, a tad high because I've put some back on, but normal for my age. Waistline a centimetre too big, but normal for my age. Blood pressure, just towards the higher end, but normal for my age and not too high anyway considering I had to try and find the place first. Anyway you get the idea. I did find out I was a centimetre higher than I thought I was, so a whopping 153cm and not 152cm. Close!
Ian halter training Josefs

A view of the old and new parts of the university
The doctor asked me about the stresses of the job, potential risks etc, Did I have a proper chair to sit at the computer? Do I sit correctly? Errr! Of course... not! But I wasn't going to say that. I have installed an app on the computer to remind me to take my focus off the screen and to get up and move around though. The app started off at every 10 minutes but that drove me mad and so it is now set for every 20 minutes for a microbreak and longer breaks every hour. It still drives me mad, but I embrace the distractions as something necessary. She was surprised that I don't suffer from issues with my wrists as I don't use a keyboard for my laptop. I think I would have more issues with keyboards than my laptop, but each to their own I guess.
It was as cold as it looks

The benches by the river look a little empty at this time
of the year
The health check was an hour long and I had to get a taxi, paid for by the uni, to get to the office to join in the Skype meeting with my international colleagues. I was representing our team as one had to go to the doctors and the other was lecturing and couldn't get out of it - hence the taxi to make sure I was on time. This was followed by another meeting with my local colleagues since they were back in the office by the end of my Skype meeting to fill them in on what had been said. I then had a bit of time to work in the office before heading on down into town to get a bus card so I could then go to the Border Police to collect my new Estonian ID card. Phew!
Just a few days ago and we actually saw
grass, Ian saw some cranes were flying
over and we both saw geese. Today it
is back to white
This morning's sunrise
Thursday morning my friend took me down to the tax office. I had been told to go down there by the university personnel department, so I dutifully complied. I asked the lady at the desk if she spoke English, to which she replied "No!" very firmly. Hmmm! Good start! So in classic English style I explained very slowly what I needed. I suspected that she might know a little bit of English really and at least enough to get by and she did. She got out a form for me and I realised that it could be a bit of a problem for me, as it meant I would have to change my tax residency. Whilst it is okay to have more than one place to be resident, it is usual to choose only one place for tax residency. The lady at the desk called in a senior member of staff, who spoke English.
Someone's been out in the snow

Jakobs looking cute
I explained to the lady that although I work for an Estonian University, I worked most of the time from my home in Latvia. This would mean my tax residency should be Latvia. I also said, I really didn't want to change this at the moment due to Brexit, as it could cause me issues later. She smiled sympathetically and agreed. She explained the university just needed to put that I was non-resident. The university were worried about the travel expenses that were not covered in the budget to pay me for travelling up to meetings in Tartu. I explained that it was fine, just think of me as resident in Estonia for part of the time, just not the whole year and that would work. I also mentioned the B word to them too.
No alpaca was hurt in the making of this photo. 

The melting snow earlier on this week
has meant Ian was on drain duty, trying
to make sure all the water was running
away from the alpaca houses. 
The B word was mentioned more than once this week. I had to explain to my international colleagues that if they wanted a face to face meeting, then they would have to convene in Estonia because I might not be able to travel if the UK left the EU without a deal, until my status is settled. Oh yes! Less than three weeks away and I can make no guarantees to anyone about my status. Not as if we live in a war zone either. It is extremely exasperating, but there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, except watch the circus in the UK Parliament to see where it is going. What an absolute shambles.
Chanel, Veronica and Josefs all enjoying the sunshine

George thinks the sunshine is something to smile about
anyway
I had been keeping up with news on an expat Facebook forum and contributed a few comments from time to time. I was a little surprised to get a request to write an article for them. I took a bit of time to find out more about them and then decided to give it a go. It was only short and didn't take a huge amount of time to write. It was something swilling around in my brain anyway. I was quite pleased with the response to the piece, it seems to have hit the right note and people have been quite kind in their comments. (You can read it here)
So does Freddie. He wasn't so sure about having to stand
still to put cream on his legs the first time, but he now
just accepts the process

Even Herkules looks happy to see the sun
I finally made it out to the land to see the alpacas again. Not sure that the alpacas were so pleased to see me though, as the girls were given Vitamin D injections and Freddie had some of my magic cream applied to his legs. The first day I went out the paths were a bit icy but we could see more and more of the grass appear as the day went on. Today we are back to whiteout with heavy snow showers on and off in the afternoon. So I still haven't made it out skiing yet, but at least Freddie got some more of the magic cream and I Skyped with my Estonian colleagues from the caravan in a snow storm. It's a good job the caravan is still in the greenhouse at the moment.
George practicing his yoga

More sunbathing alpacas, this time Amanda and Silla


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