Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's a mom's life.

We’re back in little Latvija, Gaŗezers, amongst family and friends. First the basics: it is 20˚ cooler here than in SC, I’ve brought with a total of two pairs of pants for each of the boys and (0) warm long-sleeved shirts for mom. But isn’t that how it goes, it’s harder for mom than it is for the boys?

Lauris attended his first day of Biz Biz yesterday, the morning program for 3-6 year olds. As I left him crying with the more than capable counselors I repeated to myself all the reasons we had decided he would attend – the Latvian atmosphere will be good for him, he needs to learn to interact with other children, I can’t keep him with me forever, a week of mornings with only Mikus will do us all good – and then I cried, as what kind of mother leaves her 3 year old behind, crying for her, without looking back? It’s harder for mom than it is for the boys. (And of this I was sure upon returning, as Lauris came flying towards me with tales of all he had done, the cepumiņi he had eaten, the other boy he had met… and of course the refrain of mēs ejam caur’, mēs ejam caur, caur veco Rīgas tiltu which was repeatedly sung all afternoon.)

Mikus provided me with the biggest parenting scare of my life so far, after taking a tumble down some stairs on Saturday night. Used to his antics resulting in various bumps and bruises and not having seen the fall, I scooped him up – only to have him loll back in my arms, seemingly unconscious. All the years of first aid training I’d received during my years as a firefighter were replaced by pure panic as I calculated our distance from the closest ER, so luckily I was surrounded by calm and rational friends that guided us to the first aid station where we were met with a pediatric ER doctor, an EMT and my mom. When it became obvious that Mikus had just had all the air knocked out of him and was emerging from the experience with just another bump, all attention turned to the frantic mom – it’s harder for the mom than it is for the boys.

We attended the boys’ cousin’s birthday party on Saturday, where both Lauris and Mikus were truly in heaven; surrounded by kids and loving family members they enjoyed an entire day of play in the sand and surf, with almost unlimited access to shovels and trucks for the sand, fishing poles for the lake, and cupcakes for the stomach. Meanwhile mom tried to remain calm despite the close proximity to all kinds of dangers; water, stairs, cars, cupcakes… It’s harder for mom than for the boys.

That evening was a wonderful program at the Gaŗezers summer high school, muzēju nakts. On the campus are three museums: Klinklāva galerija (the art museum), Skautu un gaidu muzējs (the Latvian scout and girl guide museum) and Grīna muzējs (the museum of Latvian culture). Based on similar museum days in France, the museums had coordinated this festival to introduce visitors who might not otherwise visit these wonderful cultural resources to the treasures within their walls. This free event allowed us to participate in various activities such as baking bread on a campfire with the scouts and guides, painting a masterpiece with the art museum and listening to kokles being played by students from the high school. In addition we feasted on foods specially prepared to reflect the three museums, including pīrāgi and Jāņu siers at “Café Ūsiņš,” representing Grīna muzējs. The boys loved being the center of attention, getting messy with oil-based paint, getting up close and personal with a campfire and occasionally taking off into a throng of people. Again I repeat – more difficult for mom...

The adventures will no doubt continue, as tomorrow marks the arrival of my cousins from Chicago and this weekend is the annual volleyball weekend that brings hundreds of Latvians to the Latvian Center every summer. Maybe at some point I’ll have the mommy angst more under control to be better able to enjoy these summer days, however until then we’ll try to keep ourselves busy in the sand and sun.

PS I’ve heard ice cream (for the boys) and wine (for mom!) helps, I’ll keep you posted…

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer is for kids!

We received a package in the mail from Congaree National Park, which we visited a few months ago on our way home from Charleston. The deluge kept us from hiking the boardwalk trail that day, but we obtained a Junior Ranger booklet to complete at our convenience. Lauris and Mikus took turns coloring and drawing animals, and I worked with Lauris on some of the more difficult activities; when we had finished all we could I sent a copy in. What was in the package? Both boys are now proud owners of Congaree Junior Ranger badges.

We were lucky enough to buy one of Greenville Drive’s “Playcation" packages, a family-friendly bundle that includes 4 tickets to a Drive baseball game, the Greenville Zoo, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate and a Greenville Rec waterpark all for only $35. I will admit that I missed the advance sale, and therefore stood in line for over an hour with the boys to nab ours. On the other hand, the game that night against the Asheville Tourists was rained out, and so Roberts and Lauris have their pick of which game they want to attend.

Luckily we were closer to the front of the line...
On Saturday we tried out the Greenville Rec’s Otter Creek waterpark with our Playcation passes, and although crowded it was a hit with the boys. Lauris refuses to cut off the wristband, and asks to go back at least twice a day. The splash pad and “zero-depth entry pool” were appropriate for both kids, while the tube slide and tadpole slide were more for Lauris (and on the tube slide mom or dad had to go with). Once they’re older I’m sure the two body slides will be the favorites. Note to self: arrive as early as possible to beat the heat (and the crowds), bring snacks as to avoid the expensive concessions and nab seating in the shade, making that your central location to store stuff, relax and take breaks.

Zero depth entry pool, my boys tubing the blue slide and cooling off in the pool
I’m very proud of both boys, Lauris especially, for completing the Greenville library’s summer reading program. Lauris read (with a little help from parents) over 60 books to receive his prize, and together with mom & dad Mikus finished his early literacy checklist to get a free board book. On our stop at the library to pick up the prizes we found this yarn-bombed bicycle, to match the theme of “Books and Bikes Summer Reading 2013.”

At another Greenville library program we heard a concert from Roger Day. With popular tunes such as “It’s a no no to kiss a Rhino” and “Ghost Crab” he’s found a fan in mom, too. Educational, environmentally sound yet still catchy – and he was kind enough to autograph a sticker for Lauris to put in his sticker book.

Sunday we made a trip to a co-workers home in Woodruff to help with the veggie harvest while they’re out of town. The heat was oppressive, but we managed to gather enough to last us for the week. In addition to the exploring the garden, the boys insisted on petting the horses, watching the goats, meeting the two dogs and checking out the chickens, ducks and geese; sometimes I wish for a home in the country. Thanks to Jack for all the veggies and a super-fun Sunday!

Afterwards we visited the last of the parks on our list for the Annual Park Hop Scavenger Hunt. A quick reminder to send in your sheet or fill out the online questionnaire before August 9th, and the closing celebration will be held at Conestee Park on Wednesday August 14th. In addition to a scavenger hunt there will be a short ceremony and prize drawings will be announced – see you there!

P.S. Creating Artists for Tomorrow, the local art studio we go to for "table time" is having their annual Living Social deal right now; the 10 and 3 visit passes are half price. Table time is ideal for children ages two and up, although Mikus has been attending since we moved back to Greenville. For those who have not yet tried the art sessions, this is the perfect time!


P.P.S. Now that the construction on Main St. is winding down, the Mice on Main are all back in the game. For the clues to help find Marvin and Marcley, the two mice who have been relocated to new homes, please visit the Greenville Mice on Main scavenger hunt page.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weather forecast for the Upstate: more rain

We’ve had our fair share of rain recently – maybe more than our share. The drought was officially declared over in April, and although it can take a couple of years to replenish groundwater reserves after a drought cycle ends, the spring rains have done that and more. So far this year rain totals taken at GSP put the Upstate on track to meet the record for most rain in a year, which was in 1901. For example, the month of June saw 5.5 more inches of rain than average. Lake Hartwell, which saw the lowest water levels in years last summer, has overfilled, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to open all 12 of the dam’s floodgates. The last (and only) time the lake was this full was in 1964, two years after it was built.

Hartwell dam with floodgates open, source here
I will not complain, especially with the dry and hot conditions out west wreaking havoc for firefighters and farmers. In fact the rain has really not disturbed our daily routine, nor has it changed many plans. We were in Latvia for a few weeks of the constant rain which worked wonders on the garden; the rate of production increased trifold while I was not tending it (check out this cucumber, it’s a pickling variety!).

A spur of the moment baseball game at Fluor Field (Greenville vs. Asheville) was delayed due to rain, but we stayed warm and dry at a nearby restaurant, watching the lightning and deluge while enjoying a BBQ plate and local beer. The blueberry festival, a hike on the Swamp Rabbit Trail and a few other outside activities might have been cut short by storms, but mostly we have found enough indoor activities to keep the stir-crazies at bay.

What have been suffering from the heavy rains are our trees. One of the main reasons the North Main area is such a sought after neighborhood to live in are the gorgeous mature oak trees that line the streets of this historic community. We’ve lost too many to developers squeezing oversized boxes onto subdivided lots; now they’re falling of their own accord. A few weeks ago we lost electricity when a giant limb took down some power lines, and a lightning strike broke off a large limb off a neighbor’s tree last week, assuring that the whole tree will probably have to be cut down.

An old, mature water or live oak is usually not a threat to homeowners, as oak is dense, strong wood that resists rot, disease and insects. Too many times homeowners or the city will react in fear, pruning branches to “prevent” future problems. Oftentimes it’s the pruning that causes the problem, allowing insects or disease entry to the healthy tree, forming a space for water to collect to cause rot. Nearby construction can hurt the root system, increasing potential for wind or water to topple a tree. Even irresponsible mowing and weed-wacking can wound trees, leading the way for insects and disease to cause eventual problems. A few months ago the city did a hack job on several of the large trees on the block, but they left the rotten limb that eventually caused the power outage; of course hindsight is 20/20, but there was no reason to lopsidedly trim healthy trees, leaving large rotten limbs (that had been reported ) to do their damage.

Crate myrtles and a shower of flower petals
When the sunshine does emerge, it reminds us that it’s July in the South. We stay in the shade (of the large trees we are fortunate to have in our backyard), hide out indoors (where the AC is on but is boosted by the shade thrown on the house by those same trees), head out early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the hottest hours of the day, and wonder how or relatives and friends are faring through similar hot temperatures… only they live up north, in Illinois, Michigan, New York…

Watching the yard waste truck deal with the pile of debris
Yep, the rain I will not complain about, and the heat we’ll deal with, but the mosquitos, now that’s a different question. Hope everyone had a great weekend, and wishing everyone a cool week!

The very first instruction...

Monday, July 22, 2013

Blueberries, blueberries, blueberries!

As my garden has not been especially productive this year, I had few qualms about leaving it for two weeks with only an occasional water by the neighbors who were caring for the cats. We might lose a few beans, cucumbers and tomatoes, but those would not be missed. No, it was the blueberries that I mourned, because I had been watching them grow for a month, weighing the branches of the three bushes my parents had presented us with upon buying the house. I worried that there would not be enough rain for the shrubs, as they have only had 8 months to root. I thought for sure the birds would find the berries, as they would ripen before our return. I was sorry for not telling the neighbors to help themselves… until we returned. And then I wasn’t sorry at all. Our three little bushes yielded a whole big bowl of sweet giant blueberries that leave the mouth blue and the stomach asking for more. It’s blueberry season.

Of course the one bowl didn’t last long, and in order to fulfill demand for the pancakes and muffins I’ve had to turn to farms like Blueberry Hill, but we are celebrating the return of the superberry. And what better way to celebrate than the 3rd annual blueberry festival at Roper Mountain Science Center. The same educational center that often pulls us to the butterfly garden, and that boasts the annual Holiday Lights and Green Halloween holds this celebration of all things blueberry. It took place on July 13th this year, and turned out to be a great outing for our family despite the rain.

We started in the Hall of Natural Science & Technology where we learned about vermiculture (worm farming) and bees. There are always fun arts & crafts at the science center, this time it was making butterflies  (pollinators of the blueberries along with the bees) out of filter paper, dye and water. We also saw the aquatic room for the first time, and Lauris bravely touched the manta rays. Mikus liked the mammals better, he could have spent hours playing with the rabbit. And although both were fascinated by the various snakes, neither wanted to touch, which I’m glad for considering the occasional appearance a black rat snake makes in the garden.

On our way to the Living History Farm we looking at the various stands set up by vendors and sponsors of the event, and listened to some live bluegrass music, which was even more enjoyable with an ice cream cone in hand. But by far the favorite area was the farm; between the farm animals in the barn, the giant garden and woodworking with Home Depot, they would have gladly stayed for hours.

The woodworking didn’t quite stick to blueberry theme, as the boys made a helicopter and a birdhouse, but they sure enjoyed it. Lauris was able to participate in more of the hammering/gluing than Mikus, and while he was busy painting all the various creations Mikus ran wild in the garden. At this point the rain started, and while we could hide for a while under the pop up tents, at a certain point we decided it was time to start heading out. (And somehow during all this we missed the pie-eating contest, which I surely would have won if it was blueberry pie….)

As we aren’t members of the Roper Mountain Science Center there was a fee to enter ($6/adult, children under 4 free), but the boys had a blast (and hopefully learned something). There were blueberry bushes, berries and various blueberry products for sale, but plenty of activities and crafts to keep the kids busy. We’ll be back again next year – now, to resume my search for recipes utilizing blueberries!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Creek ranger hike at Paris Mountain State Park

It’s been rain, rain, rain here in the south, and while I don’t mind the super-cucumbers the garden has been producing, the boys have not been their usual selves. I imagine it is partly due to lingering jetlag, but probably more to cabin-fever, as any opportunity to get muddy in the yard is quickly taken. When sunshine appeared last Friday morning I knew it was an ideal chance to get out, and we packed the baby carrier and headed to Paris Mountain State Park for the Creek Ranger Hike for Families.

During the summer months (June through August) every Friday morning at 10am a Ranger leads a group of up to 25 on a 2 hour nature hike looking for animals and their habitats in or near water. We circled Lake Placid on the lookout for beavers, and although we didn’t spot any (they are nocturnal) we did see numerous ducks, turtles and frogs as well as the beaver lodge. Soon we turned off onto the Mountain Creek trail for a short hike to a preselected spot in the creek.

The kids were all given nets and shown how to dip them into the water and disturb the rocks, using the current to wash any insects or animals into their nets. Dragonfly and mayfly nymphs, crayfish, beetle larvae and worms were among the creatures found and deposited into a bucket. My boys were more concerned with enjoying the creek than catching anything, and soon were soaked up to the waist despite the water being only ankle deep.

We took our finds back to the Park Center for an up-close look under the park microscope, and again the very nice Ranger patiently answered each and every question the kids (and adults) had about every insect, animal and forest discovery. I would suggest this program to any parent of curious children; Mikus (age 1.5) enjoyed it, Lauris (3) learned quite a bit, and the older kids (teens) quickly became enthralled with the process of fishing for and finding of aquatic life.

The program fee is $5.00 per person over 3 years old but park admission is waived. Registration is required, and this can be done by calling the park office (864-244-5565), or emailing ctaylor@scprt.com.

While in the area, be sure to stop at Blueberry Hill. It’s definitely blueberry season here in South Carolina, and although our bushes were full on our return from Latvia, the demand has been outpacing the supply. The blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins alone used up three cups, so we incorporated a stop at the you-pick blueberry farm for supplies. Open Monday through Saturday from 7:30am until around 7, the berries cost $18/gallon and $6/quart (or $24/gallon, $7/quart pre-picked). No pesticides used, and we can vouch for their taste - although the ones picked in the garden remain the favorites… Blueberry Hill, 222 Tanyard Rd. Greenville, SC

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bastille Day brunch at the Passerelle Bistro

Celebrating La Fête Nationale (Bastille Day) in France the last few years has spoiled me forever; the longing for a crusty baguette, a good smelly cheese, saucisson sec and a glass of rosé wine is especially strong on this holiday. Despite being back in the US we decided to celebrate the birthplace of my son Mikus properly (and with rosé) – with brunch at Passerelle Bistro, the new French place in town.

Right on the Reedy River, overlooking the falls from what formerly was Overlook Grill, the restaurant has an ideal location. Passerelle is the French word for footbridge, and as the Liberty Bridge is just a few steps away the name is quite appropriate. We had reservations and so were quickly seated in the outside patio area; luckily there was still space under the awning, as it rained on and off the whole morning and the seating under the umbrellas looked to be a bit wet.

The brunch menu was heavily French-influenced, and while several options looked good I finally chose the moules Basquaise, with chorizo, peppers and herbs. Roberts chose the Benedict Passerelle with ham, fries and hollandaise, and the boys split a croque monsieur, a grilled ham & Gruyère on sourdough bread topped with Mornay sauce that also came with fries. The service was professional (although the tab was incorrectly calculated), and the kids were warmly welcomed; a great Falls Park coloring book was immediately provided, water came in spill-proof cups and splitting a dish was absolutely no problem.

The rest of my experience just didn’t have that viva la France! feel. The mussels didn’t have the chorizo kick I expected, and although they weren’t bad, I’ve had better. The boys' croque monsieur tasted just like I remember from France, but then came the highly recommended profiteroles – light cream puffs, black raspberry ice cream and chocolate sauce. The “light” cream puffs were heavy and tasteless, the chocolate sauce not enough to make them edible. We finished off the ice cream but I wish I would have stuck with my gut and ordered the crème brûlée, maybe the experience would have left a better taste in my mouth.

The next time we have company in town we might try Passerelle Bistro for dinner, as the scenery is a major plus especially for showing off Falls Park. However my palate has been spoiled by the real thing, and the French-influenced brunch menu just didn’t impress me.

Passerelle Bistro on Urbanspoon
As the drizzle let up for a few minutes we crossed to the other side of the river farther upstream, and got to the old mayonnaise factory (now Wyche Pavilion) just before a downpour. The two-story brick paint shop was built by J.E. Sirrine in 1904 for the Greenville Coach Factory, but was sold in 1911 to Duke's mayonnaise. Now it is a beautiful spot for a wedding, catered by Larkins on the River just next door, and the ideal spot to wait out the rain (when there isn’t a wedding reception taking place). It turns out we need not have bothered, as the boys both managed to get soaked before returning to their car…

Monday, July 15, 2013

The twelve days of Latvija: Day 12, pazudušais dēls

Our trip had come to an end, and in the early morning twilight we were already in a taxi on the way to the airport with two pajama-clad children in arms. I glanced back at the Rīga skyline from the Vanšu bridge, in disbelief that our time in Latvia was already over. As always, the days passed much too quickly for my liking, too rapidly to accomplish all I wanted to do and see in the small country that owns such a big piece of my heart.

This mass exodus of people after the festival, by car, train and bus back to cities and towns all across Latvia, by plane and boat to countries across the globe, it brought me back to the parade that took place on Rīga's streets last Sunday, the final day of the Latvian National Song and Dance Festival.

The Dziesmu Svētku flag leading the parade
On Sunday morning, before the 7pm start of the final concert, more than 40,000 people paraded down Brīvības iela, starting at the Freedom Monument, Brīvības piemineklis, and ending at Dailes teātris, about 1.2 kilometers away. Every single participant was a member of one of the 1,500 choirs, folk-dancing troupes, folk ensembles, brass bands or theatre companies from across Latvia and the world, and it took over six hours for the entire procession to complete the route.

The famous 100 year-old conductor, Roberts Zuika
According to police estimates, over 100,000 spectators lined the route. Cheering on the participants was a sport, with “lai dzīvo ….” (long live, and the town/name of group) echoing up and down the boulevard. Often the lines of onlookers would break, as someone ran out to greet a friend with flowers, only to dart back in without the participants having missed a beat.

Our crew, awaiting the chance to shower friends with flowers
The brass bands filled the streets with their lively music, and many a choir marched while singing, raising arms filled with flowers to acknowledge well-wishers. Despite the heat of the day the dance troupes advanced dancing the polka, or occasionally other complicated dance steps.

Best seat in the house
Row after row of colorful national folk costume paraded past, representing every region and city in Latvia. The ornate vaiņagi on the girls’ heads were each more beautiful than the last, and the metal mēlītes lining some of the costumes and men’s boots rang with a harmonious jingle.

Alsungas region folk costumes, what I wore as a girl
For me the most emotional moment came when the seven American groups marched past. I have a few friends in the folk dancing group Namējs from Washington DC who have been busy this past year learning the steps and organizing fundraisers, and family members in the NY Latvian choir that numbered over 50. My hometown Chicago was represented with the men’s choir that has traveled to Latvia for the festival since 1990, and Jautrais Pāris from Indianapolis was there with dancers 3rd generation American born, giving me hope that Lauris and Mikus will have this opportunity one day. California was represented with a choir and a folk dancing group, and watching these familiar places and faces march past, I reflected on the distances traveled by each of these individuals. They had crossed vast expanses, not only to practice and now perform, but also bridging a gap between the US and Latvia, proving that Latvians across the world can come together and sing/dance as one.

This is the thought that stayed with me until we reached the chaos that was called the Air Baltic ticket counter in RIX; that despite the geographical divide, the differing speech patterns and the divergent paths our lives took, even far from the homeland we’ve never lived in - we still have much to offer, we still can come together as one, we still are Latvian.

Lūgšana, Leonīds Breikšs (izvilkums)
Tāpēc lūdzam šajā dienā: Kungs, no sava troņa kāp!
Nāc un pārstaigā šo zemi, kamēr tā vēl sauli jauž,
Nāc un sakausē mūs klintī, lai neviens mūs nesalauž.
          Nāc un svētī mūs un vieno un mums darba spēku dod,
          Lai reiz liktenīgā stundā negaida mūs briesmīgs sods.
Šodien, Kungs, mēs tevi lūdzam: neļauj latvjiem mirt un zust,
Liec mums vienmēr tavu sauli brīviem pāri galvām just -
          Līdz tiem laikiem, kuŗus šodien nezin vēl no mums neviens,
          Mūžam brīvs lai latvju ērglis, savus spārnus sizdams, skrien!
Lai pret nezināmiem laikiem cauri mūžiem ejam mēs,
Dod mums spēku, dod mums drosmi, dod mums vienprātību, tēvs!

Prayer, Leonīds Breikšs (loose translation of an excerpt)
And so we pray on this day: Lord, descend from Your throne!
Come and walk this land, while it still feels the sun,
Come and melt us into a rock that no one can break.
          Come and bless us, unite us, give us strength for our work,
          So that in the final hours a horrible fate does not await us.
Today, Lord, we pray: do not let the Latvian people die and disappear,
Let us always feel Your sun on our heads -
          Until the times, which today not one of us yet knows about,
          Forever free may the Latvian eagle fly, beating its wings!
So that we may face the unknown through the ages,
Give us strength, give us bravery, give us unanimity, Lord!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The twelve days of Latvija: Day 11, saying our goodbyes

With an early flight the following morning we wanted to make the most of our last full day in Latvia, and so despite the late night at the final concert we tied up a lot of loose ends and packed the day as full as possible. A few of the family members who had been in town for the concert stopped by for lunch, and it was interesting to hear from a local who has been attending the Dziesmu Svētku concerts for years, how this years differed from previous years. According to Dzidra the biggest differences were in length, in the addition of orchestral and dance numbers, in the stage changes (the singers left the stage for the orchestral portion of the concert only to file back on for the finale) and the sadziedāšana after the concert that lasted until 7am. For a first time viewer the concert was much as I had expected, except the unofficial portion was much more commercial than I had pictured it to be, and I wondered at the lack of baltie lakatini (white handkerchiefs). Every final concert I’ve attended at song festivals outside of Latvia ended with the singers waving farewell at the audience, and the audience doing the same. We had brought ours with but never had the chance to wave them, and I don't know if the tradition is one that started overseas or if it died out in Latvia during the song festivals that took place during Soviet occupation.

The official flag of the song festival, en route to the final concert
We hurried to meet a couple of my relatives at the closest thing Latvia has to a chain restaurant, Lido (Vērmanītis). A buffet-style eatery, they have a reputation for a great karbonāde and šašliki. We settled in with ķiploku grauzdiņi (the buttered garlic rye-bread toast), porkchops, fries and grits; when I ordered friti the cook misunderstood and loaded my plate up with griķi – please tell me this happens often…

Then one last walk in Vērmaņu dārzs to give the boys a chance to use up some energy. It was hard to stomach that Lauris would soon not be able to communicate on the playground again, as he would be back among children that don’t speak Latvian.

Errands and commitments brought us back to Vecrīga, full circle from our first day in Latvia. The streets were once again empty, the song festival over and everyone back to business as usual. We had a last local beer in one of the scenic beer gardens and soon were on our way home to pack.

Here are a few links that truly reveal the heart of the Latvian Song and Dance Festival. This first is a YouTube video of the Latvian Center Gaŗezers choir (in Three Rivers, MI) joining in the final concert via simulcast; truly amazing, not just because of the technology but because of the global connections signified.
In a similar vein, here is an article about the Japanese choir that participated… (The article is in Latvian)
For a nice little overview of the festival in English, click here. Also, this TV reportage gave a good feeling of how it was to be a participant.

For the whole concert, please visit Latviešu Estrādes YouTube page.
Looking for a Latvian folk song app so that you can sing along with all your favorite Latvians? Look no further!
A WSJ article about the 100 year old conductor we luckily happened to be on the same flight with on our way to Rīga.
And last (but not least), the official Flickr page for the Song Festival. If you only take a look at one of these links, this should be it, as I believe the essence of Dziesmu Svētki is captured in these pictures.


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