Monday, 30 April 2007

Vappu balloons

The weather is awful. Even though the sun is shining from an almost clear blue sky the wind is blowing from north and it is cold and many households were cut off from their electricity suppliers due to falling trees in the countryside.

Well, guess this is not going to prevent the Finns from celebrating the arrival of spring with Vappu.

This is the day spring begins according to the Finns and that is literally according to the almanac and no concern to the weather. I can remember one Vappu’s Eve when it was freezing cold and snowing and the people in town were still dressed in their summer clothes for the first time of the year.

Anyway, today the student’s, both the graduating ones and the ones who graduated log ago celebrate their achievements. Customary champagne breakfast pick-nicks take place and the traditional white hat of graduates is worn.

Vappu is also celebrated among the whole population with the customary drink Sima, or mead and doughnuts and Tippaleipä, “Drop-bread” (you can read about it in the Socialguide in the food section if you are interested). Homes are decorated with serpentines and garlands and almost everyone buys them selves a Vappu-balloon. Well, it is compulsory to buy a balloon for the kids at least or to your cat like we have to now with the off-spring not wanting balloons any longer. It is kind of funny, this tradition Vappu we now have with the balloon for our cat.

He is ever so happy when the balloon arrives and he hangs on the rope at all times, playing with it happily hopping around after the rope when it bounces up to the ceiling pulling it down again. He even sleeps holding the balloon a couple of inches from the ceiling and he is ever so sad when the balloon begins to sag and no longer bounces up to the ceiling. It is thrilling to see how long this years’ balloon will hold, the record has so far been a couple days short of a month.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Soup day

A friend of mine suffers from soft tissue neuralgia, so called fibromyalgia with pains since years. She was just recently diagnosed and has since then been trying different medications for her condition with various results.

She has tried all the antidepressants which are said to be good use in this particular condition but has had to discontinue using them due to everything from violently itching rash to allergic reactions with her throat swelling up and difficulty to breathe. She continued with some beta-blockers but they did not do the trick as the anti-depressants did disregarding from the side effects.

Now the latest one for her to try is a medication also used for epilepsy and neuralgia. This medication is told to have the side effects of making you drowsy and giving you nausea. Well, quite the opposite, for her at least. She has now been on the medication for three days with first dose taken at nights to taper on steadily increasing her dose for two months time. Well, she has so far been sleepless with her pains increasing since she began to take the medication.

Three hours sleep since she began with it, no need for uppers for her but need for more painkillers though.

Anyway, off-spring is quite quiet today, there is a flu that is passed around and bed is the place to be with mummy making soup and chamomile tea. So I guess I could do with some of her medication to keep up with the cooking.

So I better get some more soup going on the stove!

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Sun or sunblock?

Nokia, the Finnish company and manufacturer of mobile phones sells 1 million mobile phones every day of the week including Sundays. And so far they have been the biggest supplier of mobile phones worldwide.

Anyway, now with more sunny weather the campaigns to use sunscreen protect our skin and not get burnt in the sun. It is vital not to burn your skin when basking in the sun to avoid getting skin cancer.

New guidelines concerning cosmetics advertising was just published in Finland. All cosmetics have to keep what they promise in the ads and it has to be proven scientifically. So now your skin actually has to look 5 years younger, or your eyelashes have to become 400% longer and thicker as they promise in some ads. Guess this will make it easier for us women to choose between all different lotions and potions in our desperation to become more beautiful than we originally are under the makeup. But who is to measure it?

Guess it now only is what they leave out to mention about their products we have to be cautious about. So we have to decide between the sunblock that causes cancer and the sunburn that does the same thing.

Did you know that Nokia actually is a little town in Finland just next to Tampere, the second biggest town in Finland?

Friday, 27 April 2007

Veteran’s Day

Today is a national flagging day, the national veterans’ day, the day to commemorate the veterans that fought in the war. And the war usually referred to is the World War II.

There are still surprisingly many of veterans still alive, they are old, many of them handicapped and the rehabilitation of veterans in Finland has been first class and prioritized among other things. The veterans have themselves so far every year at Xmas time had a collection of their own to help them get by in their daily lives, but now I have heard that this tradition is to stop, no more raising funds for the veterans. Why?

Today I know that young men doing their compulsory military service are collecting money in the streets on the behalf of the veterans. So if you are out there in the streets and see them, give them some money.

If Finland had not been as fierce fighting for its’ freedom the whole of Scandinavia might have been occupied as Estonia was, with fights today about removing statues being symbols of the oppression.

On the news we are told that last night big clashes took place in the centre of the capital Tallinn between the police and demonstrators in the vicinity of the statue I told you about a month ago, some demonstrating for the removal of the statue and others against it and the statue was removed during the night and I guess that is not the last we have heard of it.

I have difficulties to even try to imagine how it would be not to be allowed to say aloud what you think, even less that there would be a totalitarian government forcing the media into strict censorship what they tell, not having freedom to speak. This actually in a way has existed in Finland ever since the war and still is going on today.

Okay, off topic again, I must get me some more tea!

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Gold fever

The biggest goldmine in Europe happens to lie in northern Finland. It lies in the vicinity of Kittilä to be more specific, and this has caused gold fever.

The mine is in foreign ownership and this far has got more than 200 workers employed. The city council must of course be thrilled given this opportunity of new businesses establishing them in the area giving employment, not only at the mine but with all the other work opportunities coming with a bigger population needing services such as housing, schooling, shopping and medical care only to mention some, especially if the miners bring their families up there.

This goldmine is estimated to give 5000 kgs gold out of 1 million kgs rock and ground mined, and the mining was first begun as an open mine but now a 800 ms long tunnel has been made into the rock. Wonder how deep it will go in the end?

I have been in a couple of silver mines and they were deep ones. The one I had the opportunity to visit was driven into with huge dumpers, and they had kms and kms of road under the ground. And the place being so huge inside you never really realised you were under ground and did not get claustrophobic. Only thing was that it was pitch black and really cold even it being in during a heat wave.

Kittilä as it happens is one of the airports you to fly to from southern Finland when going skiing in Lapland. And if I recall it correctly it just was damaged in a fire last year and has recently been restored, so with the goldmine the traffic probably increases even more with all skiers in the winter, tourists, miners and wannabee gold diggers hoping to make their luck in the wilderness of Lapland.

As I already have my own pair of genuine Lapland gold nuggets as earrings, so I do not have to go gold-digging.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The wrong time

Summer savings time was introduced in 1981 in Finland to “save electricity”; well the cows still had to be milked when they feel it is their time so I wonder where it was useful, if at all, to change the time. The only thing I have noticed about changing the clocks is that it takes about a week for your body to adjust to the new earlier time when changing the clock to an hour earlier, and adjusting into having changed the time one hour later is much easier, even though it is more depressing to suddenly find out that it is darker than it used to.

I just found out the Finnish winter time is not the correct time either. When it is noon, 12 am here in the summer the correct time is about 13.30 am, so the Finns have been thinking about changing their time to the CET that is the European Central Time, as it would be nearer the “real” Finnish time. So then the rest of Europe is on the wrong time too!

Anyway, Madonna has been around now for decades and still is going strong. Now she is once again featuring in an ad for H&M, and this time even has designed some items for them. And a lot of the world famous artists have been touring in little Finland lately. This summer is going to be full again with the usual, annual various festivals and also big rock concerts. Aerosmith is coming again; Iron Maiden just was here, as well as Uriah Heep, (who even remembers them anymore?) George Michael comes this summer and so does Black Sabbath and David Bowie were here a couple of years ago. And not too many years ago no big artist had ever been touring in Finland before, the nearest was Sweden or Denmark.

Wonder why? And has Madonna been here yet?

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Desperation of Fame

As you might know Finland won last year’s Eurovision song contest with “Hard, rock, hallelujah” performed by the hard rock band “Lordi” which means that the next song contest will be held in Finland.

Just after they won the contest the Lordi fever was quite high here but now it has calmed down, one thing that is getting worse is the Eurovision contest advertisements shown on TV. The ads shown are really bad as they are not even done by professional advertising agencies, they are just as amateurish as they can get as there was a competition so anyone could send in their own ad, and everyone seems to have done so. The desperation to get on TV has become ridiculous recently, all the celebrity wannabees, you just want to get in TV and become famous, and no matter for what ever reason. I can not really understand this desperation of people to get famous.

I think it is pathetic, really sad with all these reality-TV shows they come up with, surviving on a desert island, living in a house for a month, become the newest top model, date two at the same time and dump the other one in public only to mention a few of the ones broadcasted and with the same concept used around the world in different countries.

They create a craving to become famous, as anyone can be the lucky one. But how funny is being famous really, as anyone ever thought of why so many celebrities have problems with alcohol or their relationships break up even faster than ordinary people’s?

How fun can it be to be in the tabloids all the time, having paparazzi following you around at all times when having a bad hair day, reading in the papers you spouse had “just a fling” with your best friend?

I most certainly do not want to have my life made public to the whole world and do not want to get on TV, ever. I do not even think it is appropriate for a “proper lady” to get her name in the newspapers more than to advertise births, engagements, marriages and deaths. But maybe this just means that I am getting old?

Monday, 23 April 2007

New acquaintances

According to research done by one of the major TV-stations here in Finland the Finns are not prepared to make any changes in lifestyle to avoid climate change, which means bad news for our fishing friend, shorter winters to go ice fishing. Well, our mad fisherman has now persuaded my husband into trying fishing during the summer, so guess our cats will be kept happy all summer long.

One thing really comes in mind here, even with all the jokes about the Finnish men considering sausages and hot dogs being vegetables, many of them actually like fish!

Not just fishing, the hunting and catching part of it, but they really enjoy eating it too. Well, fish is more considered to be women’s food where I come from, so this was a surprising revelation for me. I really just hope that it is not contagious, this ice fishing all winter long.

It is always nice to meet some Finnish friends, like our friend that came for dinner yesterday; you get to learn new things about this country and the people living in it. People coming from different counties actually do behave kind of like their stereotypes, and this guest was the silent type. The silence in-between was not an awkward one, but it still bothered me as I was not used to it as it was the first time I met this colleague of my husbands.

One funny story though, our guest just having read a book about the late war hero and famous general of Finland, told us a story about when the late general was visiting the eastern neighbour, again, this time invited, after the war. He was invited to see a ballet and was asked by some journalist what he thought of ballet, he answered by: “It is so nice to see our former enemies on their toes once again.”

Anyway, the yesterday served meal consisting of simple steaks, pommes gratin and rhubarb pie were a success, the off-spring behaving impeccably during the meal, being polite to our guest with the result of the guest promising to be back, and this was no “just being polite” compulsory saying, he really meant it.

Here the Finns rather not say anything instead of just say something to be polite.

And he will be back again given the chance, maybe not a single anymore next time.

And I will have a new acquaintance to make one day to look forward to.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Increased need

Last year record many people moved to Finland, almost 22.500 which is 1.100 more than the year before, and with only 14.000 persons moving abroad.

What I would like to know, talking statistics as we are again, how many of the immigrants were moving back to Finland, and how many went abroad to study?

It is like statistics about how many people that are unemployed, depends on who counts them and how they are counted. I know about at least two persons who are retired because of health reasons but still are counted as unemployed as their paperwork is not through yet, and that has now been for several years, or one being on maternity leave but still receiving unemployment benefits.

Anyway, we went for a walk again with the weather being so nice my husband and I, to get some fresh air before I have to start cooking for the Sunday dinner we have today with some friends coming over. When we were just leaving I told my husband that I’ll just get the camera, which resulted in a grunt from him “Oh, one of these days again”.
What on earth did he mean by that?

Except that it might be more of taking pictures than walking. He should be happy I decided to go with him instead of staying home trying out my brand new, sharp knife! Which I will today cooking dinner, later. I just have to check if there are any plasters left, and if not, today being a Sunday I might be in trouble as the shops are not open and I’d rather not take a trip down to the pharmacist to get some.

At least this statistics the husband and off-spring at least are sure about, mum getting a new knife normally means an increased need of band-aids for the next two weeks.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Etiquette and politics

Politics are different in every country and now with the French presidential elections there is a good chance to compare it to the Finnish parliamentary elections and how the publicity of the candidates is formed.

In France there have so far been great men of the world as presidents, great seducers and all the male candidates tend to emphasize this. One of them just recently separated managed to get a rumour going about seeing a female journalist, just to emphasize his manhood.

The one female candidate is dressed in virgin white on all occasions; she is cool, friendly and not flirty in any way and only shows her demure side. I guess a flirtatious woman would not be considered trustworthy, whereas a male is. Why?!?

Well, a president in office needs “cojones” so I really hope she has got them if she gets elected. I know that the Finnish president has got them. By the way, she was not even married when getting elected, but she did marry her partner after being installed in office. Guess it makes a lot of things easier being married when having banquets, with the order of the table seating to only mention one thing.

Well, here in Finland the demure style of the French presidential candidate could work, but not the French male seduction campaign, it would probably be considered very manly yes, but not trustworthy. And a politician must seem to be trustworthy when people are voting for them, at least look like they can be trusted.

The newly re-elected Finnish prime minister is single for the time being and this must cause some trouble for many host for various occasions considering the seating order, who match him with this time.

And if he is to become engaged well that would be the day, he should be seated next to his bride to be at all times according to protocol. Or is there another protocol and etiquette for engaged prime ministers, kings, princesses and heads of state?

Friday, 20 April 2007

Herring and red wine

On rare occasions we have the opportunity to be home alone just the two of us, my husband and me, and today being one of them my husband taking some time off from work to spend some quality time with me. The sun was shining nicely so out for a walk down to the market and get some shopping done for the weekend, and of course being on the water side you come to think of fish so we got some smoked herring.

Imagine, smoked herring on Finnish rye bread and some red wine, yummy! I just love it, it is one of the best inventions in this country. The smoked herring and the rye bread the red wine is my own culinary combination, it might sound odd but it really is worth to try!

I know they say white wine with the fish but I can not help myself, smoked fish is delicious with red wine, especially one with a bouquet to match the heavy smoke-taste.

My husband also bought me a brand new knife, a Laplander one, a very sharp one that I have already had the opportunity to cut myself on. And knives a woman can never have too many of, especially if she is fond of cooking like me.

Anyway, having time without any off-spring to mind I suggested to my husband that we should go to a bar pretending not knowing each other and either him or me hitting on the other one and book a room in a hotel to spend the night in.

Well, the bar thing with hitting on me was interesting, but he was not at all keen on going anywhere else than home. And as the night is still young we will see what comes out of it. So in the end I guess I will have to be pleased with the smoked herring and red wine, and as I have a good book to read I have no need for any other entertainment.

Just like any ordinary day with the kids home.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Happy meal

The President held a dinner on Tuesday for the diplomatic corps at the residency or “the Castle” as it is called here in Finland and at the dinner there was served a soup of wild asparagus, how wild can an asparagus get? And quails with morils.

Who knows that morils actually are poisonous and if they are not prepared correctly you can actually die eating them?

Anyway, dyed morils are commonly used as a cheaper substitute for truffles in food and a couple of years ago natural truffles was found growing in the ground here in Finland. And if I do not recall it incorrectly, the truffle specie found was one of the most expensive and rarest one, black truffles, and now there is research done to investigate if growing truffles would be possible in Finland in a larger scale.

According to recently published research the Finns are the second happiest people in Europe only second to the Danish.

So are the Finns happier only because they never know when they are going to die, if the chef does not know he, or she, is doing?

I guess it was a happy meal at the residency, as there has been no reports of dying diplomats, and the chefs were real professionals and knew what they did.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Safe disposal

The newly elected government has now agreed upon their Ministers to the cabinet and the president will officially name them on Thursday.

The prime minister will be the same as before as to my surprise he got elected by the parliament in a voting. I thought that was decided in the public elections and not by the parliament. And imagine, this is the most feminine government ever here in Finland, as there has never been as many female ministers in office before 42%, and there were also created two new offices for ministers!

Anyway, two of the biggest electricity suppliers are planning to build one more power plant each, one to run completely on biological fuel and the other one on nuclear power. The nuclear reactor would be the 6th of its kind here in this country. Well, guess this is a good step towards the end of carbon oxide using oil into non-polluting energy sources as planned to cutback with the carbon oxide emissions.

But how environmentally friendly is this, as there is only a temporary and no final solution of what to do with the waste, just "temporary storage" in the meantime?

Well, the capital area today got its’ millionth inhabitant, a little baby girl was born as first in the hospital, so Now Helsinki can call itself a metropolitan area. Maybe she will live to see what way they come up with to safely and once for all dispose of the nuclear waste one day in the future…

Safe disposal

The newly elected government has now agreed upon their Ministers to the cabinet and the president will officially name them on Thursday.

The prime minister will be the same as before as to my surprise he got elected by the parliament in a voting. I thought that was decided in the public elections and not by the parliament. And imagine, this is the most feminine government ever here in Finland, as there has never been as many female ministers in office before 42%, and there were also created two new offices for ministers!

Anyway, two of the biggest electricity suppliers are planning to build one more power plant each, one to run completely on biological fuel and the other one on nuclear power. The nuclear reactor would be the 6th of its kind here in this country. Well, guess this is a good step towards the end of carbon oxide using oil into non-polluting energy sources as planned to cutback with the carbon oxide emissions.

But how environmentally friendly is this, as there is only a temporary and no final solution of what to do with the waste, just "temporary storage" in the meantime?

Well, the capital area today got its’ millionth inhabitant, a little baby girl was born as first in the hospital, so Now Helsinki can call itself a metropolitan area. Maybe she will live to see what way they come up with to safely and once for all dispose of the nuclear waste one day in the future…

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Just breathing

Strange how some days there are a thousand things I could Blog about and other there seems to be nothing I get an idea from!

Like today, the only thing that comes to mind now is that my eyes are itching, my nose is running and I have a bad cough, and all this only from it being spring and me being allergic to pollen. There is not yet much but enough to make me have to begin to take my medication.

I always look like an albino rabbit with red eyes this time of the year, and it is so nice with all the parties in spring to attend to! This is the busiest time of the year, graduations, confirmations and a lot of birthdays to attend to.

I like the spring with all it brings of leaves in the trees, green grass and flowers to take photos of, but not the air to breathe that makes me sick!

Monday, 16 April 2007

Clogged drainpipe

Some countries express their great concern has been announced how bad customs and border control in the EU-countries and especially Finnish customs perform their duties and act against illegal immigration. This coming from countries with great coastal areas and long borders to attend to them selves you might think they knew what they are talking about, but according to their statistics there are millions of illegal immigrants in these countries.

How many illegal immigrants can there be here in Finland or in the EU for that matter to compare with millions?

Anyway, just recently a victim of human trafficking was granted asylum for the first time here in Finland. And I think that is good, trying to get into a country out of your own free will is one thing, but being forced to and getting exploited in any way by ruthless villains just in order to make money is just not acceptable.

Today we have nice summer like weather and I am going for a walk, to see if I could get some more pictures of the awaking nature, and this time I will be careful not to trip on anything.

That is after the service guy has been able to fix the kitchen drain. He has been here now for two hours and I still can’t see an end of it. When he first arrived he had the wrong packing, and getting a new one form the hardware store he just found out that the drain was not properly cleared by the solvent used on Saturday, so here I am just waiting for the kitchen to be in order again. Hope it will be fixed soon so I can get my stuff in working order again.

Good thing is though that we have a dishwasher, it has proven to be a good place to stack the dishes waiting to be washed in.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

TV Sunday

Interior design has grown popularity here in Finland lately, and a couple of programs on TV are worth the while in my opinion. Unfortunately they are broadcasted at the same time on Sunday mornings when I like to watch the re-runs on TV so I have to choose between which one of the two to watch.

I am quite fond of Finnish design as it is in itself quite distinct in being plain and straight forward without too many frills or extravagnzas but I do not agree with the whiteness they have adopted into everything in interior design. First it is hard to keep clean, with kids and cats, and I like some colour as you might discover from my e-cards for instance.

Another thing I enjoy watching on Sundays are all the cooking programs that are re-run their second time. Most of the program I watch also post their featured recipes on the net, which is good as I do not always get them while watching the program itself.

At least today there is not going to be any try-outs on any recipes even if the ingredients would happen to be in stock et the moment in my cupboards, not with the kitchen in the mess it was left in yesterday after the service guy!

Anyway, soon all the shops are allowed to be open on Sundays again, sometime in May if they have not changed anything about it this year so I can even enjoy trying the dishes I have not got the ingredients to at home.

One sure thing in Finland is that you will never stay secure with anything here, the Finns surprisingly change their minds. Not maybe the average citizens, they have their opinions which rarely seem to change, but the politicians and with them the authorities suffer from a great obsession to change everything from how the last government, or city council for that matter, decided upon it to be once and want a change, to alter it the complete opposite if only possible, just to make a difference, no matter if good or bad.

And now with a new government soon to begin their rule, with it consisting more of right-wing politicians than for decades we might be in for quite a few surprises these coming years. So with any good luck there might be a better consistency in when the shops are kept open as the opening hours of the shops here in Finland do not seize to amaze me in one way or another.

Why are the shops only allowed to be open from early morning until 6 pm on Saturdays and on Sundays they do not open before 12 am but can stay open until 9 pm? Has this something to do with the traditional Saturday sauna or what? And I am not even going to get into the opening hours on days preceding or following a public holiday like at Xmas or at Midsummer’s Eve!

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Lucky unluck

The weather has been real nice so we went for a walk, which I now regret very much. Being accident prone and enjoying photographing is not a very good combination. As the spring flowers are beginning to bloom among the last year’s dead grass I just had to take some photos resulting in me falling out in the rough. So now my wounded knee is aching again. And of course it always is the same knee I already injured in a skiing accident 20 years ago.

Coming home I just discovered that the kitchen sink had clogged, and I strongly suspect the porridge maker for this, so I had to ring the service guy.

Clog was fixed in two hours time by some super solvent poisonous substance, at the same time spreading all over the cupboard as well. So the service guy found out that he had no new replace packing for the sink. Monday they’ll come with a new one so now we have to live with the water seeping from under the sink until then.

And all this time with the dustbin on the kitchen floor instead of in the cupboard instead of the worse dustbin being flooded in the cupboard and all of it running over the floor. That would have been some serious cleaning to do; now it is just the sink cupboard. What luck nobody is coming for dinner or anything today, so I have to make special arrangements, and that we were invited over to some friends tomorrow so I don’t have to look at it.

One good thing though, I have a good excuse for not doing anything again, so somebody else will be cleaning, and were not talking about the just washing the burnt pot anymore.

Good luck for me, unluck for the porridge maker.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Accident day

Why is the number 13 considered unlucky?

I have not considered it be any worse or better for that matter, than any other day. There are hotels that do not have a room with number 13, or a floor that is the 13th. Why? And you are not to be seated 13 at a table either, and they say it is because they were 13 at the table at Jesus’ last supper. Why should that make any difference, a number?

Anyway, today on Friday the 13th it is the national accident day here in Finland. ?!?

And about 1000 people have an accident every day and have to seek medical advice for it with most accidents happening in the home and the near vicinity of it. Being a housewife I know that accidents can happen. Cutting yourself with a knife or burning yourself when cooking, slipping on the wet kitchen floor or the bathroom floor and falling badly, like in my washing machine incident I have told you earlier about. Or you forget your mobile in the pocket of your trousers washing it, or it drops out of your pocket in to the toilet…but I guess these you do not need to seek a doctor’s advice for.

By the way, why all these Father’s day, Women’s day, Water day, against racism day etc during the year as most people have no idea about them anyway as they are so badly advertised?

Well, now it is water day again here, the lake has no ice left on it and it is so nice looking at the waves on the surface of it, makes s a nice difference from the ice that was there. And do not get me wrong, I like the ice too when it just arrives. I am just fond of the change of the seasons.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Artistic disagreements

A great deal has lately been heard about the disagreements in the Finnish National Opera house.

Their top conductor has given his resignation due to inconsistent disagreements with the board about the artistic and financial running of the Opera and the staff walked out of their job supporting their conductor in protest of the Board. In the summer the staff will be given notice as the house will be renovated and business as usual in the autumn. It will be exciting to see what this develops to next as new members of board were announced after the old ones were dismissed with a new chairman beginning on the 1st of April. The new board is expected to get the finances into better shape, decide who is in charge of what part of the activities as well as stabilizing the working atmosphere with possible lay offs and hiring new staff.

And as some dancers are retiring so staff changes are to be expected anyway as dancers usually only can pursue their dancing career into their forties and retire from active dancing, that is if you listen to your body and what it is saying. And that is a fact, our bodies are not as fresh anymore after becoming forty whether we like it or not, and not only the dancers should listen more to what our bodies are telling us about how we feel. Learn to prioritize important things in life and not try to do everything because it is expected of you. Who is there to thank you in the end after your burn out anyway?

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Thunder and lightning

I was this morning woken up by the very first thunderstorm of the year. Ka-boom!
The sky was all dark, it was raining sleet and hail and there was thunder and lightning, still with the cold weather that has prevailed here lately.

Did you know that the lightning bolts reach not only from the clouds to the ground but way up high into the sky for hundreds of kilometers and that there are different forms of lightning? There are so called “sprites”, “light sprites”, “sprites in a bottle”, “blue jets”, “elves” and ball lightning. The thunderstorms consist of the light and the sound of the thunderbolts as well but they also create radio waves that you can measure and there is more lightning in daytime than during the night and more thunderstorms occur over land than over the sea.

Anyway, according to the latest weather forecast it is going to be warmer in the weekend, they promised almost summer like temperatures, which can mean about 10°C a bad summer when it is raining all the time but in this case meant about 18°C. So it certainly has been an eventful year this last one, weather wise, having been the warmest and longest summer so far and the coldest winter temperatures, even for just a short period of time, since we came here!

Oh, by the way, this friend of my husband that wanted to go fishing on the ice, well he never did but now he is all the time whining about not being able to anymore and that the ice fishing season was too short!

At least his family is happy now as they get fed up eating fish all winter long, and our two cats will be missing all the left over fish they got from him instead.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007


Today the newly elected announced that they have agreed upon forming a four party government , a blue-green government, and the present prime minister is presumed to be continuing in his office. I wonder how four parties with as varying priorities can come to an agreement from where to begin their reign and be successful in it. But then, as they say, “The loveliest harmonies arise from differences”. Who was it that said that, some French philosopher? Or German maybe?

Anyway, the Finnish customs are now investigating suspected fraud and tax-evasion in steel exports and the actions of some employees in the company suspected in the case, and if I have not got it all wrong, the company in question is part owned by the government. The Finnish government is currently part-owner of 440 companies to subside their operations and helping them to get started and Finland is the least corrupt country in the world according to International research, but what does this suggest?!?

I know, it was Heraclitus! And the full quote is:

“Opposites always complement each other.
The loveliest harmonies arise from differences.”

Stand off in kitchen

With the off-spring getting older new situations earlier unheard of arise from time to time, the newest one is cooking porridge.

Cooking porridge for breakfast, for snack in the afternoon when back from school or late at night before going to bed. Nothing bad in that, really, I am just amazed at the creativity of what the porridge is eaten with.

Jam, sliced banana, a little butter, milk and sugar or even honey I can understand but chocolate or hazelnut spread mixed in it! Or cocoa! Why not try the Finnish egg-butter that you have with the Carelian pies or bacon and eggs in it for that matter while you’re having a culinary creative fit?!?

Cooking the porridge without my help is nice, but the not cleaning up, or the not washing of the pot where the porridge is burned to a black crust on the bottom is definitively not to my taste. For the time being we do have a pot in the kitchen sink awaiting its’ cleaning.

Anyway, I just heard on the news that a war criminal from the Balkans has been transferred to serve his 20 year sentence in a Finnish prison after his sentence was announced, and also that this is not the only case, that there are more war criminals in prison here which I was surprised to hear about.

Well, the burnt pot has been taken hostage and a “prison sentence” in seclusion in the culprits own chamber for the rest of the week is soon to be ruled by this mum, if nothing happens with this particular pot, and soon! And the culinary experiments with porridge are off in my kitchen for the time being. One stand-off with pot in the kitchen has to be dealt with first.

I better put the kettle on, I do need some more tea this morning!

Monday, 9 April 2007

Flag Day

Today the 450th anniversary of the death of Mikael Agricola is the celebrated with a national flag day.

Agricola was the boy of a farmer, as you can detect from this name and became the inventor of literary Finnish. Before Agricola thought about putting Finnish, and how to put it, on paper there was nothing written in it, thus becoming the inventor or creator of the Finnish written language. He translated the holy bible into Finnish and also created the first

“Aapinen” , the very first spelling-book where you could learn to read Finnish and still today 60% of the words Agricola invented are used in their original form in Finnish of today and he is the man we are to thank for Finnish being such a complex language for all us foreigners to learn.

Agricola was also a great reformer of Christian faith as he was there to reform the Roman Catholic Church and beliefs into the protestant Lutheran church. Wonder what he would have thought about what is going on in the church of today?

So today we are flagging off Easter as well and going back to normal routines tomorrow. Enjoy last day of the holidays! To tell you the truth, I am glad it has come to an end; too much is too much and being without my own, home-alone-quiet time is making me crazy! So I am celebrating going back to normal tomorrow.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Thread Saturday

Yes, today is Easter Saturday, here called “Thread Saturday”. Why?!? I have not got the slightest idea.

Today is just an ordinary Saturday and the shops are open as normal and we had planned to go for a walk and window shopping in the city centre… but with the cold northern wind that has been blowing now for almost a week has not yet shown any signs of stopping, we decided to stay at home and just be. And guess most of the day, at least mine, will be spent cooking our Easter meal today.

Hmm…a thread, does this have anything to do with loosing the thread in the conversation, or your own thoughts?

So if Jesus was crucified and died on Good Friday after having been betrayed after his last supper on Thursday and as he is to rise after three days, showing himself to his apostles, when was he buried, on the Friday or the day after?

If he dies on Friday and is buried the same day, well then the second Easter day is when he rose from the dead. So why do we then celebrate the first Easter day?!?

I mean today, as it really seems to have no more importance than having a long weekend with four days off work.
Enough of this, I better get on with the cooking!

Friday, 6 April 2007

Looong Friday

Well, today is Good Friday, here in Finland called “Long Friday” or should it be “Looong Friday”?

According to the old tradition you were not allowed to enjoy yourself and certainly not to smile with your teeth showing today. And all this to join Jesus in his pains when he some 2000 years ago, well guess he dies in his thirties, so sometime 1970 years ago really, carried the cross on Via Dolorosa and got crucified.

Anyway, still today this is one of the days the whole country really shuts down and is quiet. You are not supposed to be visiting or have parties, and the neighbours that are either not Christian or too young to care consider or respect anything had a party that went on to the early hours. So it really was a long Friday, it felt like it would never come to an end.

The music went on for hours until the early morning, and so did the shouting on the balcony.

Even having a party on Easter Thursday, which here is called “Busy Thursday” would have been easier to accept, anyway, the noise way not bothering really until their balcony door was opened for going smoking outdoors smoking, and having had a couple of drinks you tend to talk a bit louder than really needed.

One more summit, and this time a major summit took place today about what to do about global warming, and according to the information I have it was a long one, so maybe the name “Long Friday” would be appropriate.

So we had just fish to celebrate the end of lent and fasting, which we did not really do, but to even more enjoy the Easter food tomorrow. Prawn-cocktail as starters, poached salmon with asparagus and sauce Hollandaise and a mousse au chocolat noir as dessert. And this really is according to all the rules of Lent, even the most puritan Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox could have eaten this on Good Friday.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

75th anniversary

In the 1900’s the Finnish government tried to influence on people’s drinking habits by alcohol rationing, with it only resulting in illegally distilled, and too often impure, alcohol and bootlegging of the same. The rationing finally ended and alcohol was let free with it today being 75 years since when the first Finnish Alko shops opened.

Funny, all these attempts by “Big Brother” in different civilizations and countries trying to watch the whereabouts and doings of citizens, and it’s been going on ever since the beginning of mankind.

I guess it will be easier in the modern society with easy accessibility to mobile-phones, the Internet, credit cards, GPS tracking of cars etc. How long will it take before we all get a microchip inserted into us at birth so “Big Brother” knows where we are at all times like in the X-Files?

Maybe this would have been useful to the Finnish ministry of trade and industry when investigating the illegal search and test drilling of uranium here in Finland done by a foreign company last summer in the vicinity of, and in if I have not got it completely wrong, a national park.

There are rumours that this is the biggest source of Uranium in Europe. Lots of money to make maybe, but with what costs as being hazardous to the surroundings, the environment and nature itself by opening the ground by mining it and making it radioactive all over, the material was not rich enough to use just piled in heaps in open air (?), or the final disposal of the waste after being used in a reactor...

Anyway, happy 75th birthday Alko, the only licensed shop to sell booze in Finland!

And I better get going if I want to get any wine with the roast of lamb on Easter Sunday as today is the last day Alko is open until Tuesday after the holidays.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Coca or Cola?

A human rights organisation is accusing several European countries of having granted asylum to people suspected of having committed genocide in the 1990's in Rwanda.

Here, with Finland being one of the countries accused of protecting criminals against human rights, the officials state that there is currently only one Rwandan living in Finland and the conditions of a second one is investigated to see if asylum can be granted.

How hard is it to prove anything if you have no papers, and of course any legal documents can be stolen or lost when in war zones, or thrown away on purpose for that matter, not forgetting to mention about forging passports and driver’s licenses. How many people are there living just in little Finland with false identities, and no matter of what ever reason it may be?

Anyway, I just heard that the country of Colombia is considering naming the coca-bush, from which you extract cocaine, as their heritage plant…which would mean that the soft drink Coca Cola probably would have to change the name.

Imagine the world without Coca- Cola…I mean the name has been Coca Cola for what, more than a century now? And must be one of the best known brands, if the not THE brand in the world!

By the way, did not Coca Cola contain some cocaine in original version, in the beginning?

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Changing models

What is the 7 year itch? And when is it to occur? Is it the year before you have been married 7 years or is it the year after you were married? How do you count the seven years, does this reoccur every 7 years in your marriage or relationship? Does the 7 years count from when you first met and began dating, before you even were married? Or does it count from when you began going steady, or moved in together?

What is that “itch” then? Someone told me when I asked that if you have survived in your relationship for 7 years then you are in the safe, but many marriages dissolve even after that, after 20 years of marriage or more.

I know the cells in our bodies are renewed every 7 years; does this have anything to do with it?
That we want something new again as our bodies are new and refreshed…even though as we are just as fat as we were before all the cells were renewed.

Or is it spring doing it again, waking us up? With more light, the sun shining you feel better and begin to watch around you in a different way, some kind of awakening after the winter cold and you all of a sudden notice all the people around you in the sunshine, see a nice looking person, or someone is just being nice to you and there you go.

You fall in love again, and have a little fling and just carry on afterwards like nothing ever happened.

Or is the 7 year itch is just an excuse to tell your spouse that you are fed up with him (or her for that matter depending on your own sex of course), and are changing into a newer and less used model?

Sometimes I hope it was that easy to change the off-spring as well into a nicer model, one that is easier to handle, maintain and does what you tell them to do!

Monday, 2 April 2007

Music on a pike’s jaw

The Finns have an epic of their own, The Kalevala that is quite unique in the world as there is no creation story similar to it, as all the other original creation stories told around the world resemble each other in some ways.

Anyway, in the Kalevala there are all the tales as poems about how earth was created is and so on. In it the head character, Väinämöinen creates an instrument called the Kantele out of the jaw of a pike fish, stringing it up and playing music on it and singing.

The Kantele is still used and played at here in Finland but today it is not anymore made out of the pikes jaws, they are more like flat wooden boxes lying on tables with lots of strings and played traditional Finnish music on. The songs have normally been traditional poems and tales that have been sung for centuries, but I just recently found out that it is not quite as uncommon as I had thought.

There are actually classes at the conservatory to take, they do give lessons in playing the Kantele, and you can even get a degree in playing it. Last week I accidentally met a person that plays the Kantele, a lady that studies the art of playing it as well as gives lessons at the conservatory. She writes her own new contemporary songs to play on the Kantele and restores antique Kantele instruments ones as a hobby. Wow!

So Kantele is not only history, it still is going strong in contemporary life here in Finland.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Telling lies or getting candy?

Today is on very sad combination of traditions occurring on the same day here in Finland.

Firstly we have April fool’s day and then it is also Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. April fool’s day most people know what it is, the general idea is to tell a lie making people believe what you said is true but the Palm Sunday tradition here in Finland is probably more unknown.

What they do is kind of similar to like the trick or treat on Halloween’s, except the trick part missing totally. The kids dress them selves up as “Easter witches” and spend the day going from door to door, reciting a little poem wishing happiness and good health for the coming year in the house, giving away Palm branches, which here in Finland has been replaced by decorated branches of birch, or willow with catkins on, receiving candy and treats in return from the ones who “are home” or open their doors. I can somehow understand the fun of it, at least for the kids getting more sweets than usual, but with all the bad ideas in minds of people of today, well something might go terribly wrong.

Anyway, yesterday must have been one of the busiest days of the year in all the candy stores and supermarkets, and a good excuse for anyone with a sweet tooth to buy some extra candy to them selves.

So which tradition is the one most probable to hit you first?

One of the off-spring telling you a big lie, and all of them being teenagers there are bigger chances they might actually tell you something that is true, getting away with it with you not getting angry as you believe it is a lie, or the neighbour's kids ringing on your door bell 6 am a Sunday morning?