Can it be April already? 2022

Can it be April already? 2022

Do you ever tell yourself, “I will get to it when I get to it”? And when the time comes, you still have not gotten to it. Six months go by, and you still haven’t gotten to it, and you realize that you just need to do the thing.

In other words, I have not posted in a long time.

Reflections on Turning 50

I turned 50 this year. For 4 long years, I got to be the only Grinvalds’ kid still in their 40s. Now we are 1/2 50 and 1/2 60. All of us the age that our old relatives were when we were young. I am reading a book recommended by my Latvian friend called Permutation City by Greg Egan. It is a futuristic novel about living in what basically amounts to the digital cloud. Anyway, while reading last night, there was a love scene in which the young female protagonist describes the man she is with who is all of 50, and how he is withered and old.

Maybe in 1994, 50 was 50, but I like to think that even at 50, I am not yet so withered and old. Maybe that is just wishful thinking.

We spent the day in a hotel in Old Town, Riga so Karu could celebrate their 18th birthday with a good old-fashioned house party. I think it was a good deal for both of us. I got views of rooftops and a delicious steak dinner. Karu got to clean up after the party.

I had some ideas to have a big party or to do something special. I wanted to go to Liverpool and London. I wanted to climb a mountain. At least I still had some desire to do something bigger. Maybe in the future I will follow through on these plans more effectively. But there was something about the melancholy of Covid and turning 50 and physical existence that prevented me.

And here we are, time flying by and all of us just holding on.

Photos of 50

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The End of Covid?

Here in Riga, on April 1, we could celebrate the easing of Covid restrictions. Masks are no longer required anywhere except public transportation. Businesses no longer check for Covid certificates. Despite this easing of restrictions, two of my coworkers ended up with Covid, and one of them said he got really sick. They are both young and healthy, so I have high hopes for a full recovery, but the threat is still very much there despite all of our desires to move past it.

I am triple vaccinated with Moderna, which, I have heard, is more effective than Pfizer against the latest strains of this mutating virus that seems to just love making life miserable for all of us. I continue to knock wood every time I think about it because I have a feeling that if I catch Covid, I won’t get off as easy as my young friends.

War in Ukraine

A lot of people reached out to me when war broke out in Ukraine checking to see how Latvia is doing. I like to say that I cannot speak for all Latvians, but overall there is definitely a lot of tension about this. The one hope we cling to is that we belong to the EU and NATO, while Ukraine had no such agreements. They did have a memorandum that was supposed to protect them from Russian aggression in exchange for giving up their nuclear weapons. I guess it lasted for awhile, but for some reason, Putin thought that now would be a good time to attack.

The other day, I did my little part to help some refugees get used bicycles through Pilsēta Cilvēkiem, which is an organization devoted to making the city more livable. It wasn’t much, but I just kept thinking of my own family who left Riga in 1944 to escape Soviet aggression. Who would have thought we would see this again in our lifetime?

Each day the news brings us more devastating news, and I feel like all of us are just hoping that Ukraine will hold on, like a dam against a raging river, to hold the Russian military back. What happens if Ukraine falls? Where does that leave the rest of us? The world definitely feels like it is on a tipping point, and we just all have to do what we can to make sure it tips the right way.

You can do your part by telling your friends and family who blame America or Joe Biden for this to blame the only person responsible: Putin. No amount of explaining or rationalizing will take the onus off of him, and it needs to be remembered that all the atrocities and horrors that come from this war can be traced directly to him and those who support him.

Here, we have an auspicious holiday coming up: May 9th. This is the day Russia celebrates its victory over Germany in World War II. In Riga, it is typically celebrated by the Russian population going to Uzvaras Park and putting flowers on the monument there. They also have a big party with drinking and music and such. This year, the Latvian government has decided that might not be a good idea, so they have curtailed the celebration and made it more of a remembrance of what is happening in Ukraine. Not only that, but today I learned that the monument itself has been declared unsafe, so there is going to be a fence around it.

Here are some photos of Rigan support for Ukraine across from the Russian embassy (and a couple murals from Sporta kvartals)

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What else is new?

Easter is coming up, and it has always been one of my favorite holidays. This year, we have red cabbage which is supposed to color eggs blue. I will definitely test this and share my results. Usually, it sells out, so this year I planned ahead and grabbed a head of cabbage well in advance.

This time of rebirth and new beginnings will hopefully bring warmer weather and sunshine to Latvia. It has been a long, cold, dark winter, and we all need some sunshine and fresh air. The world could also use some good news, so here is to hope!

Other photos

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