Friday, October 17, 2008

Look Twice before You Pick Stuff up off the Ground.

Barely made my train of choice this morning. Dutifully joined the masses in lining up to get in. Before I'm even on the train I can see that there are 5 minutes (a "quick-fix" free newspaper put out by the same folk who bring you Diena) scattered about the floor of the entrance. I finally get on the train and see the woman in front of me do a double take and bend forward to pick up one of the papers (maybe it's still readable), but then recoil in a kind of awkward horror; the newspapers had been scattered to cover someone's morning upchuck all over the one side of the entrance floor, the stairs, the door.


I had almost planned on standing in the entrance (no point in standing since the ride to the centre is only 15 minutes and I basically sit all day anyway), but the upchuck played a big role in my decision not to. Hey, at least they covered it with something. It's better than nothing and there's not much you can do but wait until it's time to clean the trains. Which might not be until a down-time in the schedule.

And, of course, the upchucked-upon side of the train was the side from which we had to exit once we actually got to the city centre. Of course.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

One Violin Richer

Monday after work I went out to the psuedo-boonies of the city centre to pick up a violin from a guy who was recommended to me by a guy who my grandfather knows. turns out to be this really nice elderly gentleman (and I mean GENTLEMAN. holding doors every which way, walking me out of the building, etc.) who has an apartment full of string instruments and books. In the process of getting the violin from him we also started to talk and I found out his life-partner (she had passed away a few years ago) and he learned I worked as a translator. this led him to telling me of his own interest in languages and, a few minutes later, how his son is a writer and how his life-partner Vizma Belsevica had also been a writer and he himself was interested in Scandinavian languages and how one has to really love the language from which they are translating (in a literary translation sense).And in my head I go "HOLD up. VIZMA BELSEVICA?!!?" and then I almost started to cry. Maybe it happened because I was in Vizma Belsevica's apartment, in the room in which she had passed away, talking to who was probably the person who knew her the best after herself. Maybe it’s because I’m just a big fan of her work. Vizma Belsevica was and is one of the hands-down all-time best Latvian writers, female and in general. The woman knew how to use words in her poetry, how to get the gritty yet emotionally sensual, the politically charged. Through her writing it is clear to see she was a fiercely intelligent woman. And I’m there. Thanks to my grandfather who either didn’t remember or just failed to tell me who I was going to see.

After a few more items were passed into my bag (an article from the 1920s on translation and a copy of Belsevica’s "Bille" to borrow) and a few short anecdotes about his and Belsevica’s son and grandchildren, I went on my way in a whirl of emotions and one violin richer.

And my assignment, apparently, is to have "Bille" read by December.

This past weekend we went to Sigulda to look at the fall colours and sort of celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. This involved riding a skilift down a hill, having a picnic on a small beach by the Gauja River and then booking it back to the train station. We took pictures with giant canes, as well. Look for those photo-moments at!