Sunday, October 27, 2013


On the Friday after my trip to Lounakeskus, I arrived back in Elva to have tea with the mother of the American guy I met at the kid's day event thing. I met her in front of the big(er) store and we walked back to her house.

Once we got there, Peg and I made had tea and made brownies. While we baked we talked about family and cooking, and I learned that it is extremely hard to find vanilla in Estonia, as it is not sold in stores. Apparently there is one company that imports foreign foods and baking supplies that has it occasionally and I heard from a friend that there is a baking shop across the river in Tartu that might have it.

After the brownies finished baking, we took our taw and went into the living room. While eating the very delicious brownies, we talked about our families and it turns out that Vermont is her favorite state and she used to go on skiing vacations to Killington, which is just up the road from where I live. It was like an experience one of my uncles had, when he started talking to some random stranger on the plane and it turned out to be someone who knew Grampa. That's what it felt like to meet someone who had gone skiing near my home halfway round the world.

We also talked a great deal about dogs, especially very large ones, for which we are both overly fond. Books were something we both enjoy immensely, and so when it was time to go, I had a book on dogs to borrow. Peg walked home with me and I told her about Grammie and her read-it list and how we shared book recommendations, then proceeded to tell her about Stormdancer which I got for her when we got to the house.

I read the dog book that night and cried my eyes out as one dog and than the other died.

The next weekend there was a workday near the lake organized by one of the political parties trying to get votes for the upcoming election. There were lots of people there and the project was to clear out the forest area by the lake. There were several guys with chainsaws and others with weedwhackers. I helped load up a trailer with pieces of trees that were dragged out of the woods. Later I helped pile branches on the fires that were lit to burn up the smaller brush. They were encouraged to burn in the same way as the fire during Lunar Quarry: i.e. Throwing copious amounts of gasoline on the fire. Peg arrived an hour or so after the event started. We worked together and talked about different things, and then she showed me where a beaver was trying to bring down a birch tree and dam up the river. After a while we walked home together.

The woods were quite nice afterwards and you could definitely see how much work was put into it.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Days of Thunder

On the Sunday after Aksel's birthday, the Austrian girl who was looking for a host family came to our house. Everyone except Aksel was there to meet her. We visited and learned about her and the work that she is doing here. She is working at the orphanage in Elva, but has nothing to do for most of day because the children are in school. She is also living in the old orphanage building all by herself, which is incredibly cold because there is no central heating, so she just heats her room by building fires in the fireplace.

We all talked for a long time and eventually moved to the living room. She stayed for several hours, and I hope she ends up staying with us, but we haven't heard from her since as far as I know.

After school on Monday, I went to Lounakeskus, a mall, with two friends from school who are both exchange students. One of them had wanted to get doughnuts, so I suggested Lounakeskus and so we went and we went straight to the doughnut stand as soon as we got there. To get to the mall, we just caught the 18 intercity bus and it goes there as its first and last stop. After getting doughnuts to share, we wandered around the mall for a bit before Brittney pulled us into the pet store.

It was a big pet store and in the back were cages and pens with a variety of animals. There were parrots, songbirds, squirrels, and a kookaburra in the cages. In the pens there were hedgehogs, prairie dogs, and lizards. There were also two porcupines and an assortment of rabbits, spiders, and fish. There were only two cats and no dogs. It was just like a miniature zoo.

Afterwards, we made a beeline for the bookstore, Apollo, on the second floor. After some meandering through the movie section and aisles of Estonian novels (and books in English on sex positions) we found the foreign language fiction section. Here I struck gold with a book called Stormdancer. It was highly recommended; genre: Japanese Steampunk. On the back I found a review praising the book from my favorite author, Patrick Rothfuss. It was love at first sight.

On the trip home, I started reading. The beginning was a bit hard to follow because of the Japanese names that I found hard to follow because of there foreignness, a bit like Estonian names to me, truth be told. A day or two later, as I started to read in earnest, I found the writing wonderful and quite thunderous, just like the characters. I highly recommend it to Josh and Emily and Dad and Grammie, and all others reading this post.

Magnificent book, full of poison and thunder. The sequel came out last month. It's called Kinslayer. I don't know much about it, only that the author doesn't like happy endings and people have cursed him for it.