Black Balsam

Riga Black Balsam

bitter liqueur

A favorite drink of the Latvians is Riga Black Balsam.  The locals drink it to warm up their insides during the long winters, saying it brings on a “warm inner glow”.

Made in Riga since 1752, it is a liqueur made from 40 herbs, spices (cloves?) and a pine nuts.  During a walking tour of the Old Town, I stopped at a sidewalk cafe to try one.  It was only mid-morning, but I knew I’d never pass this way again.

Woooeee!  That will grow hair on the bottom of your feet!  Very thick, lining your throat like cough syrup and extremely bitter.   The alcohol content must be very high; a warm glow is an understatement.  I  tasted it again every time I swallowed.  But, it grows on you.

Thought for the Day:  When in Rome …

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Fish Story

New Record

My 16 year old grandson set a new personal  best a few weeks ago when he landed this large mouth bass.  He was fishing with his friend at their secret fishing hole, an undisclosed location where we have a cabin.

The monster weighed 6.13 lbs, well beyond the minimum (5 lbs) required for a Nebraska Master Angler Award.

Congratulations, Isaac!

Thought for the Day:  There are only two occasions when Americans respect privacy: prayer and fishing.                                                                                      Herbert Hoover

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Painted Ladies

Painted Ladies

Often mistaken for Monarch Butterflies, the Painted Lady is a little smaller and not quite as vibrant.

The Boltonia bushes in our backyard were blanketed with Painted Lady butterflies this fall.  Swarms of them were our guests for 2-3 weeks, which is amazing since their lifespan is not much longer than that.

We were blessed to witness the spectacular beauty of their brief life.

Thought for the DayThe caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.                                                                                               George Carlin

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2018 World Cup

2018 World Cup Stadium

St. Petersburg’s new soccer stadium for the 2018 World Cup.  Night shot taken from the cruise ship.  Slightly different angle from the one taken from the highway bridge(click here).  

Thought for the Day:  I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.                                                                                                     Vincent Van Gogh




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Riga Harbor

Steel Insects

If there is such a thing as a “blue collar” harbor, I would say Riga, Latvia would certainly fill the bill … and possibly be the poster child.

Latvia is a small country in Eastern Europe situated between Lithuania and Estonia on the Baltic Sea.  Basically flat, 98% of the country lies below 656′ above sea level, with the highest elevation being only 1,024 feet.  This West Virginia-size country is mostly woodlands with few natural resources.  Coal is a major import, which keeps these cranes working around the clock.

The cranes’s likeness to praying mantis caught my eye.

Thought for the Day:  Formula for success; rise early, work hard, strike oil.                                                                                                                                      J. Paul Getty

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Riga’s New Town

Riga’s Left Bank

Latvia’s capital city, Riga, lies on the banks of the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the Daugava River.

From this vantage point, Riga looks like an ultra modern city.  This is a view of the new town, called “The Left Bank” by the locals.  Out of the photo on the left lies the medieval old town, which is considered a cultural center of the Baltic states.

There is really nothing of historical interest on the Left Bank, but the sleek suspension bridge and stainless steel sky scraper looked “photo-worthy”.

Thought for the Day:  You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.                                                                                                                                     Will Rogers

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On a wide, pedestrian-only cobblestone street in Tallinn, Estonia sits a quaint little coffee shop.  Across the street are several flower shops with no store fronts, just three walls and a canvas roof that extends over the sidewalk.  Flowers are everywhere: on tables, shelves and afoot.  Shopkeepers are rushing to and fro trying desperately to satisfy customer demands on the first day of school.

The old woman in the coffee shop is reflective, perhaps thinking of days gone by when she was a young girl taking flowers to her teacher on the first day of school.  The two coffee cups and empty chair suggest she is waiting for someone, or maybe the other person has left her alone.  There is plenty of activity on the street to attract the woman’s attention, but she appears to be lost in her own thoughts.

Meanwhile, the two pigs chatter about the latest trend is social media.

Thought for the Day:  Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.                                                                                                     Albert Schweitzer

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