Monday, 16 November 2015

More to come!

It’s that time again. The time I promise to post some more content. As always life gets in the way of blogging for me but I have recently purchased some software that should make posting more convenient.

This is a quick update to let you know that I am still monitoring this site and that I have HEAPS more information that I intend to post.

It is also a bit of a test to make sure this software will publish photos, videos etc the way I want it to. SO here goes…

Will youtube embedding work?

or this

or this?

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Friday, 12 June 2015

Letters from Latvia - Nīca 30th of April 1955

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

This is the 19th Letter in the series. 

You might notice a little paranoia in this letter - not unfounded I might add. You will note a lack of full names. In this letter, Kate refers to "Uncle P". I believe this refers to Peteris PIRTNIEKS, Janis's uncle who was deported to Siberia - see the post Postcards from Sibīrija

Nica, 30.4 (1955)

Sincere and loving greetings to you, dear brother, from - me, mum and dad!!!

It’s a week now since mum greeted me on my arrival home from work with the words that today is again a very happy day, we have received a letter from Janis. We read the lines you had written with indescribable joy and emotion, for which we say thank you, but even more so for the photos, which gave us great pleasure. It seems to me, my dear brother, that you have not changed very much – your features are just as dear and familiar as before – long ago….. Also I would not say that you look older. Your goddaughter has grown a lot though, become much taller over these years. And, dear brother, it made us very happy and reassured us to see that you have settled in so nicely and I must say prosperously, that at least materially you are not poorly off, and have been able to settle in so nicely and well through your own efforts! – On Sunday I took the atlas again and traced place by place where you travelled till you got to the shores of your present place of abode. We thank God that you got there safely! You, dear brother, as I remember, used to admire the life of a sailor, now you have been able to experience a long sea voyage.

Next Sunday I am going to the cemetery to plant jonquils and tulips on grandma’s grave, and I will then give her your love, from you, her grandson far away…Mum and dad were very moved by your words of gratitude for the care they gave you, and that for now is the most beautiful and the biggest gift that you can give them and also the knowledge that in exile you have kept your sense of honour, a pure heart and your health.

You, dear brother, speak of repaying your parents in some way now. We know that it would be as great a joy for you to send something as for us to receive from you. Not because of the material value or need, it would give more pleasure as a proof of love. Still, dear brother, better not to do it now! Not because anything bad would happen to us because of it, but we are afraid that it might be noticed, or possibly cause envy and that then our contact through letters might be stopped. That is for now the most precious and joyful thing to us, that we can communicate. We are not in poverty, dear brother, we do not lack anything. We are a small family and know how to manage and to work. Last summer we bought furniture for me as well, a wardrobe, couch, bookcase, table, bedside cabinet, we only didn’t have enough money for chairs, we will get those later on. We sold the smoked bacon from one pig, were able to save a bit from a heifer and the strawberries, and that is how we were able to do it. That’s how mum wanted it and it’s not bad. At least for now….. The furniture is really nice. You say, dear brother, that we should not deprive ourselves and save for you. But we have sheep, mum knows how to weave cloth herself, knit gloves and socks, we can’t wear it all out ourselves. And it gives mum pleasure and comfort that she can put aside something useful while waiting for you (pl.). – You say, dear brother, that you would like to exchange letters at least a couple of times a year. I think that that would not be quite often enough, we would have to wait too long. In my opinion five or six letters would not be a lot and not conspicuous, nobody will forbid us that, and we can permit ourselves that much. Better not the parcels, though. The greatest joy to us, to our parents, will be you yourself, when fate permits it!...  I could have taken the easy road in life, as they say, but have never wanted to do that, and the illness that mum had assisted me in that, as if by fate. “Smoke-filled and dusty work, but let the sky remain bright.” We have helped uncle P.’s family a lot with parcels. Dainis has now grown into a good-looking and strapping lad, 18 years old. Little Janis with diabetes is now resting in the earth over there. Peteris S.’ father and young brother as well, we still correspond with his mother now and again and send a parcel. It is better for them all there now. Some have returned. Old Mrs Str. asks if you know anything about her V. With loving greetings and all the best! Until we meet!

-  Kate

PS. I am enclosing two photos. In one mum and dad by the veranda, in the other cutting the rye at the kolkhoz by our house. Mum had brought out the afternoon snack, we were reaping by the edge of the field and so she is with our group. Pretending we are having our snack. 
Katrine and Mikelis standing by the veranda

Cutting rye at the kolkhoz near the family house. The workers pose for the camera pretending to have a snack. 

PS. When the apple trees are flowering, we will get our cousin Peteris K. to take photos of us all. – The spring is late this year. A few days ago there was a wild snowstorm, it stopped the car traffic. Now the snow has melted. The winter flowers are showing above the ground. I have a lot of jonquils and white and red tulips.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Letters From Latvia - Nica 15th of March 1955

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

This is the 18th Letter in the series. 

A long break between this letter and the last and how things have changed for both Janis and Kate and the family in Latvia! The family farm had been seized by the Soviet government and turned into a collective farm. It would take about another 50 years before the family could claim part of their hard earned land back - and give it away again to a deserving family as it turned out. Will the Cirksis family ever return to Latvia? Who can say - certainly Janis would never have guessed where life would take him! Again we are confronted with the mystery of what ever happened to Peteris CIRKSIS?

A happy and bright Easter to you all! Please send us a photo or two, we are longing for your reply.

Nica, 15.3. (1955?)
Our dear brother and son!

Sincere greeting to you from mum, dad and your little sister at home!!! 

Yesterday we had such a happy day, we received your letter! It was such an immeasurably happy surprise for us, at first we could only cry, even now, as I am writing, I can’t help it. But that’s nothing, those tears are not harmful, for they are tears of joy. Yesterday because of the great, happy surprise, mum already had to take some drops. All this time, even though we knew and believed that you are alive somewhere in the wide world, still we worried and sometimes had doubts. Our only comfort was knowing that the flow of letters from over your side had stopped altogether. Now, in the last couple of years, we have heard from here and there that someone has received a letter, especially lately. And now we have also experienced this enormous joy, my dear brother, of receiving a letter from you from so far away! Truly,  where has fate not scattered Latvians now? ... I took a small atlas and geography book straight away and looked for the place and read about the country where you are living now. I found the port city Melbourne, which is not mentioned in your address though, but clearly legible on the stamp. Then I read that it has a hot, mostly dry climate, and the sun doesn’t even shine from the south there, but from the north. – You are so far from us, I can’t even imagine by what route your letter came to us. I think possibly by air, for it has reached us in 20 days, that seems to me unexpectedly fast for that distance!

First of all, my dear brother, we would like to know if your family is as before, or has it had some addition? If that has been possible in your difficult circumstances. What are you working at, what are your wife Lida and son Ilmars doing? Are you living in the country or in the city? Have you got a job that is suited to your education or a manual job. – We just wonder if you have not had too hard a time all this time? …Still, your energy and understanding have always helped you, dear brother. Are there still, and have you been able to see, the real original inhabitants of Australia?

You will want to know, dear brother, how we are living and how we are, here at home? The main thing is that we are living in our own home. We are kolkhoz workers. Father and I are working in the field brigade. The kolkhoz was founded in the spring of 1949. The first summer mum and I milked cows. Then in the winter she looked after the young cows and I worked as a bookkeeper for the neighbouring forestry. Then in the summer I was free, mum from the cows as well, then we both went to work in the fields again, father too. In the autumn I did not do bookkeeping again, for the working hours there were unlimited and too long, so I could not help at home. Then that winter I worked as a domestic at the school. In the summer I started to go to work at the kolkhoz again.  Father was then for several years the miller at the stock feed mill set up in the granary of the manor house. – Then - in February 1952, mum fell ill, it started with pneumonia and then she was bedridden for four months. After that she almost had to learn to walk again like a child. Thanks to a good doctor, whom we called out from Liepaja, she gradually got better. And this winter she is quite fit again. We don’t let her go to the kolkhoz, but she busies herself at home again now. She has woven cloth, in preparation for her sons. Just this winter she wove blankets. The cardigans have been ready for a long time already. She makes everything for Peteris as well. We don’t know anything about him but we hope. Oh yes, I have to tell you now that I have been an old maid for 3 years now. I still haven’t had any serious thoughts about marriage yet and I don’t know when I will have. I don’t regret this yet. – There would be a lot more to ask and to tell you, but there will be another time. – Still, it is very painful, dear brother, that we have to be apart so long and that you have to be so far from your homeland and your own people. Oh that fate would let us meet again soon! Sincere, warm greetings to you and your dear ones, health and strength!!! – your little sister Kate.

PS Father is guarding the shop at night now, starting from the autumn. He was sick as well for about a month with pleurisy. He is well again now. Grandmother died on the 20th April, 1951 – on Peteris’ birthday.

PS We are fed and clothed. We have half a hectare. We keep one cow. We have a little one as well now, when it grows, it will have to be sold. We keep 2 pigs a year. We keep and then take to the market some cream and cottage cheese. I make clothes myself. Only not coats and jackets. Yes, we can live. There is more work to do because the fields of the kolkhoz are extensive. In the winter we are at home.

PS I am enclosing a four-leaf clover, I remember you used to like such greetings from home.  – Kate.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Letters From Latvia - Nica 5th of August 1949

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

This is the 17th Letter in the series. 

PS Greetings from old Mr Meiers)

Nica, 5.8.49
Very loving greetings from home!

We received a letter from you again, dear Janis, about which we were again so very happy, for we had been waiting for a long time. But now we know that they won’t come so often and we don’t worry in vain about why you are not writing. Thank you so much for the letter and the greeting cards for Whitsun and Jāņi! You have such pretty, typically Latvian postcards there. I am glad that it is possible for such cards to be made there. – I haven’t written to you for such a long time either. We were waiting for a letter from you but maybe could write a bit more often. I will now tell you briefly how things have been for us, how our work has gone, what your birthplace looks like now. – Weeding time is finished, and our Latvian Jāņi came. We passed them fairly quietly. There was a ball at Reingals on Līgo night, our new brass band played for the first time. The weather was fine and it could be heard beautifully over a wide area. I was late with my jobs and did not want to go in the dark, but I was sorry about that. But still, it was maybe even better at home – in a room decorated with birch-boughs and flowers with the window open to feel the spirit of Līgo night and be with you in my thoughts and with all Latvians in exile – don’t your hearts ache also, and even more so, that you cannot be in your homeland and each in your own place and celebrate happily…the day of Jāņi after that was rainy, the firefighters had planned an event at the manor house,  but it didn’t happen, because of the rain. Mr Pirtnieks had come with his family as he is a firefighter and the forester’s children came and we played games inside – after that it was very rainy and cool till the middle of July. We managed to get the clover in fairly well before the rainy period really started. It finally ended with rain and thunder that lasted more than a week nonstop, several hours every day. After that the weather cleared again and only then did the summer show its real warmth and loveliness. There wasn’t a drop of rain while we were getting the hay in. Now it’s beginning to rain again on and off, but it doesn’t matter so much now. Soon everyone will have cut their rye. We would have finished by tonight but there was a bit of rain after lunch, we will finish tomorrow. Tomorrow we will go and help the foresters, there will be more reapers there. We did ours by ourselves this year. – We have made quite a lot of jam as well, only the red currants still to pick and preserve. - I went to Liepaja too to take part in the song festival, even though our choir has petered out, nobody went to the rehearsals, but we had to go to Riga for our national costumes, I didn’t go there as a participant, Vera went too and the forester couple. Vera and I stayed with Baris’ sister. Baris is back home now and working as a gardener. It was lovely and very worthwhile to see our Riga, since I had the chance. We visited all the most notable places, cemeteries and monuments. Vera went to see the school she will be teaching at as well in Zemgale and so I got to see Jelgava too and go on the Lielupe in a boat. In short, it was a worthwhile excursion, even though I was away from home for a week. On account of the singers, they didn’t issue train tickets for two days. So I have seen a part of our Homeland again. In the end though, I wished to be home and it was so good to return there, when you return from being away you feel the love that binds you to your home, your birthplace. I can better understand now what you feel, being far away…Thank God that you are doing reasonably well, you are all fed and clothed, that you can study and achieve something and have achieved something already and can thus live better while you are away. We are also glad that you have your own little plot of land, small garden and chickens. I’ve also got quite a lot of cucumbers and tomatoes and they have grown well, and will start to produce soon. Only no one had much joy with their strawberries this year. But other berries and apples were plentiful. I don’t know if I have told you everything now but if not, then we’ll tell you when you come home. It’s a pleasant evening at the moment, calm and dark already. There are yellow dahlias by the window and the grasshoppers are chirping. I will enclose some aster and phlox petals. Give our love to Lidija and Ilmars, and all our love to you.  All the very best! - Kate

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Letters From Latvia - Nica 2nd of February 1949

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

This is the 16th Letter in the series. 

It is worth noting that in 1949 Kate still believes that Peteris CIRKSIS may still return home. It is a puzzle I am yet ot solve: Where and when did Janis find out his brother's death? I never asked him for any details about it. All I was ever told was that Peteris was shot by the Nazis. I had always assumed either he or a family member witnessed this event but it seems not...

Nica, 2.2.49

“Let the storm rage, let the north wind howl,
Only upwards, upwards will go my road!”

Sincere greetings to you, dear brother far away!

Dear Janis, I am writing these words of our national poet Pludonis at the beginning of the letter, for you could say these same words about yourself, the road of your struggle is similar to that  of the “Widow’s son” described by the poet. We were again so very happy when we received another letter from you. Mum and I sat down on a heap of hay in the barn straight away to read it – and then this happy, heart-warming surprise, our dear Janis - has struggled and triumphed in a foreign place, has already reached the top of the mountain, become an engineer. Just like the “Widow’s son” was called by the white swan at the palace gate:

“Come, come with me, you winged spirit,
There beyond the mountains is the smiling spring!”

And what you have achieved can of course give you a lot more brightness in your life, as the spring does. And what we are the happiest about is that you have been able to forge a way through for yourself in a foreign place and achieved something that cannot ever be taken away from you. You can lose everything in life but intellectual values can be carried with you through fire and water. And I was moved to tears by what you said about how you strive in exile to raise the good reputation of the Latvian name. I don’t think that we, living here at home, could show such determination and tenacity. I think the strongest will to overcome everything is formed in the most difficult circumstances and against the greatest obstacles, so that in spite of everything you want to show that you can achieve what you want to achieve. But how you could achieve this in such a short time is something to marvel at and we can imagine that it was definitely not easy. And we are proud that you have shown this. I think it’s no use at the moment thinking about how our life will turn out, that will become clear when we are all together again, it is enough that we know that it will be much, much happier. Some of the people in Nica are also striving harder now to achieve the heights of knowledge and are doing tertiary study.  The daughter of Glamsts, the forester, is now already working in Liepaja as a dental technician. Janis Kamens is studying to be an architect, I think, and Ausma Silts and the Sprincis’ son are doing veterinary medicine in Perkongale, Klucis, who finished school at the same time as me, is doing forestry, Mum’s godson Fricis Eks is studying mechanics and Mirdza Br(?) agriculture. And some of the youngest ones, after finishing primary school, go on to secondary studies. And as for me, I hesitate and can’t decide what road I will start on when you return and maybe Peteris as well. I would probably like to study further but I feel that at my age I should be working at some productive job, but that will become clear when we are all together again. – For now it is not possible for me to leave the farm and my parents and I am content, although sometimes, when a good book turns up, then I will be absorbed in reading all evening, even over a number of days, even though I know there is a lot of work to do. But when I have no book to read, I get on with all the work with the same enthusiasm and speed, I make bed-linen, some item of clothing, I have made my first “best“  blouse and I can say that it turned out well. Mum is knitting socks for you, combing the remains of the wool, most of it was combed and spun in Liepaja. This year we will knit more, instead of weaving cloth.  We want to knit gloves for you. So we spend our days now doing ordinary, everyday jobs with the animals, the food, in the house and doing handiwork. We are all fit and well, only Vilnis the foal had a skin complaint, not mange, we called the vet and now he is alright again, he’s grown a lot, he will be big. He is affectionate, although he likes to nip, but we don’t let him do that and will break him of the habit. He’s only a foal after all. – And I can tell you the sad news that old Straupenieks, Valdis’ father, has died and won’t see his son come home…We went to his funeral on Sunday. They say he cried because he would not see Valdis again. He had some kind of spasms, a paralysis. Old Mrs Sipols died as well before Christmas. But the younger generation is growing strongly and multiplying. Mrs Pavils has had a daughter. – I am enclosing a leaf for Peteris as well. We will all look forward to letters from you. Sincere greetings to you and yours from your family, relatives and friends in your Homeland.

PS We received your letter on the 20th January, that is unusually quickly.The last ones we sent you were on 18.11, 2.1 and now this one. Kate

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Letters from Latvia - Nica 4th of May 1948

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

This is the 15th Letter in the series. 

Nica, 4.5.48
A loving and sincere greeting to you far away!
Our dear Janis, we received your letter on 30.2 and that was a great joy to us again, for we had not received any news from you for so long, for two and a half months. We wondered if you had moved and were not writing because of that, or if something bad had happened to you. I wrote my last letter in the middle of March and would have liked to write again in April, but I decided to wait in case your address had changed. But we were so happy again now, for on receiving your letter we knew that things are the same, and happy that you have a better job and that you can study as well and get such good experience. So that you will have been able to achieve something during the time you are away, which could be useful for the whole of the rest of your life. We are also glad that your food situation is not too difficult, which is the main thing. I myself was happy to learn that you have become a silversmith and can make nice Latvian jewellery. Those things are so nice and I have been thinking of trying to order one of those interesting brooches with dangles which we are occasionally starting to see here, but I will be patient and wait till you return home and can make one for me yourself. I would like that much more. We also rejoiced to learn that you are making your own gardens there. So you have each got something like a small farm there, your own property, which is something to hold on to in exile and while working there, it would seem like the work that you did in your homeland, at home. I hope everything grows well for you there, it would be a help with food after all and grown with your own hands. 
Are there our own Latvian children living in the kindergarten where my sister-in-law Lidija is working, or are there all sorts of children? So you each have your own employment, and your son Ilmars wants to start learning a trade. In a foreign place, where you don’t own anything, you have to study and use your abilities to provide for your existence by the work of your own hands and you are making use of every opportunity to learn something. We wish you all the greatest success from our hearts in your work and your achievements! And you have been able to celebrate Easter properly too, with painted eggs and surprise gifts for each other. -  We celebrated it well too, quietly. On the first, the Sunday, we went to church, where I am still singing in the choir and intend to continue doing so. We usually exchange gifts at each festival with our neighbours, the forester family, with whom we get on well and whose children, little Ilze and Andrejs, are both little rascals but keen students and good friends to me. I have ten or so new books, some of which are really beautiful and worthwhile. 
The real spring has started now here at home. The grass and the rye fields are bright green, so too the berry bushes and the birch tree by the barn, although the birches in the forest are still in bud only. Father has already sowed all the fields. We have only got to sow the vegetables still and plant the potatoes, and take out the manure. We are going to plant the first potatoes this afternoon. 
Mum was still weaving, mending socks, chopping up the branches of the berry bushes again, that I had sawn off in the garden. I have also planted 26 new cherry trees and 8 plum trees behind the barn at the edges of the ditches, we will be able to plant apple trees in the middle of the plots. It looks like they will all grow well, also the ones planted in the previous two springs, along the roadside and at the end of the house. Today I was hoeing the strawberries, I might be able to finish once we have planted the early potatoes. Mum and Dad are having a nap after lunch, and I am quickly writing you some little bits of news from your home. I have also already dug over the flower garden and rearranged it, I sowed the summer flowers yesterday. The bleeding hearts, tulips and peonies already have visible buds. Inside the house, on window boxes which I put outside during the day, some tomato seedlings which old Meijus brought me are growing strongly. He is still the caretaker at the school. This Whitsunday I think you graduates of the technical college had arranged to meet at the school building, which is still active, but how many of you former members will meet there? Mum ran into Murnieks’ mother in Liepaja and she asked to give you greetings from her son, who is in Narva. Do you know anything about Horsts now or not? – I am enclosing photos of mum, dad and myself, although my hair is not tidy, for I had left my comb in the pocket of my coat. I had the idea of having some photos taken, and we are sending these three newest ones, such as they are. Best wishes from us, Lidija, Ilmars, and all our love to you yourself from us all. 
PS I will write when we receive a letter from you again, but I think that could be a bit more often. Though the postman told us during a friendly chat that you write most often. They are both our own people. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Letters from Latvia - Nica 17th of March 1948

Janis CIRKSIS was a displaced person (DP) after the Soviet union annexed Latvia and the Baltic states during WWII. This is a continuation in the series of letters that he received from his homeland, translated into English. To see the other letters in the series click HERE.

For more information on Latvian translations please see the Latvian Translations page.

This is the 14th Letter in the series. 

Katrine ČIRKŠIS, my grandmother.

In this letter two people are mentioned that I will have to dedicate a post to eventually: My grandmother Katrine ČIRKŠIS and her mother Maiga LAPIŅŠ. I don't know a lot about Maiga at the moment but if she was anything like her daughter or granddaughter, I have no doubt that there will be stories of her out there.

Nica, 17.3.48
Our dear Janis in a foreign country! 
We send you loving greetings from your quiet birthplace! 
We received the last letter from you about a month ago, to which we then replied straight away. Now we are again waiting for a letter from you and I’m sure it will come, but every day, even if the postman has brought a letter from you the evening before, we quickly look between the pages of the newspaper, to see if there is a letter from you. …. But of course we don’t live so close and your situation is not so normal that we might correspond too often. Other families from over your way have not received even a line, they know only indirectly that they are alive and where they are. There are also still those who don’t know anything about their sons, where they are and if they are alive and they wait, and hope, and doubt. So we can be happy that we are among the lucky ones that receive lines written by your own hand fairly often. So is there something bad in that for us? – I will write once a month from now on. The last letters I wrote were on 27.1 and 19.2 and now this one, the latest. Although there is nothing we can do to help you, my dear brother, with a letter we can send you in a faraway foreign place a bit of the warmth of our love, which we have for you, our son and brother, for whom fate has decreed such a long exile and the hardship of that, the separation of a hot heart from its homeland. Even though our letters cannot give you any material benefit, you have to bear that and struggle for it on your own, but at least they can maintain a bond with your homeland, with everything old and past, that is connected to your free childhood and youth and that might give you a bit of joy, strength and maybe energy for life in exile. And your mother’s heart prays most fervently that God stand by you, protect you and lead you back home one day. And always at church in the resounding quiet there, prayers are also said about those of you who are far away and I am almost certain that it is then that every Latvian heart prays most fervently and most sincerely. 
Here at home we can sense that the new summer will be here soon, the cold and the darkness will recede again and leave room for the warmth and brightness of the sun, which will make everything shoot anew, grow, blossom and be fragrant and bear ripening fruit, as a blessing and a joy for  humanity. The roads had thawed completely already, and the highest ones dried out as well, the sun was smiling so warmly and lovingly, that you could, you wanted, to stand in the sun at lunchtime and surrender to its caress. We couldn’t make the chickens stay in the shed and Pidriķis the cat was snoozing cosily in the warm sun. Even the pale green and pink shoots of the phlox and the peonies     have already appeared above the ground. The lark is trilling high up in the skies towards the sun and the blackbirds are starting to nest at the edges of the forests. I have already seen the wild geese arriving in formation, cackling – from the distant, warm south, they are again traversing   the great distance to their northern birthplace, now the summer is approaching there. – But yesterday we had cold of -5⁰C again and the ground became hard once more and towards the evening tiny snowflakes started to fall from the dark sky, that the wind was buffeting about with his unruly steeds. It is still snowing this morning and you can hardly get to the cattle-shed in your clogs. But that is sure to be the last “skylark” or Lenten snow, which can’t go on for long and the spring will be the nicer for it and it will be more pleasant for starting the spring jobs. The yard has been piled full of firewood again, yesterday an old man came to help saw it up. Mum and I are taking turns in weaving cloth. After that we will weave towels, they will be much quicker. We will need to hurry up with the indoor jobs, so our hands are free when the earth calls for the seed to be spread. – This morning our young cow Rasa gave birth to a bull calf and her udder is now so big, that she looks like being a good milking cow. So I am writing and telling you things and it seems to me that we are living peacefully and well, but you over there are having such a hard time, don’t you have to worry and think hard if you can even have your daily sustenance, and what will your life’s tomorrow bring.  But truly I don’t believe that anybody could ever take away our hope and faith in a brighter, happier future for us all!  - Give our love to your wife Lidija and to Ilmars. Our love to you yourself too – your family at home.
Maiga LAPIŅŠ, my great grandmother.

(In Janis’ mother Katrine ČIRKŠIS's writing)
Greetings, my dear children. I am happy and thank you so very much for the namesday greeting. I will tell you that I am now spinning wool for the warp of the cloth and I have almost finished. Katy is doing the wool for the coloured threads and  when that is done we will set up the looms for weaving cloth, because we know that when you are able to return home you will need it and we will be able to clothe you, so that you can rest from the hardship of exile. I’ve got a bit of wine ready too, which we are saving for you to refresh your exhausted hearts. And grandma is waiting for you more than anyone, for she has become like a small child. She stands outside and waits for cars for when Peteritis and Janitis come home. We are having a really hard time with her because she goes up the road to wait, this morning I caught up with her again near the Pavils’ place. So I will finish and may this page be a caress and a blessing to you far away. Greetings from Dad.