10 years.

Blogroll, Finland, Picture a day, Traveling

Of this blog. It’s hard to believe. I have gone through so many blog phases, and, yeah, appealed to different sorts of visitors and followers. Still can’t believe it, time flies! But at the same time I feel quite pride that I’ve managed to pull it through these times. Cheers to that, and a few pictures from yesterday’s after-work walk, overseeing Sibo archipelago.

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… the last picture is of Porvoo Refinery. In the middle of woods, such an industrial beauty. The scope, the size, the power – I think it deserves further exploring but I simply did not have the time this time (pun intended).

Bearers and keepers.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Immigrant integration, Lifestyle, Picture a day, Sunsets

I spotted them today on numerous occasions. They appeared inconspicuously. Overnight. Unremarked by (social) media. Yet we are talking about the unequivocal sign of winter. Bearers of darkness and sub-zero temperatures: I’m looking at you, all those thousands of aurauskepit (“ploughing sticks”) sown all around Finland. These plastic sticks of varying length are placed along curbs and those no-man areas along the roads, those random patches of grass, narrow concrete passes, etc.

Their obvious purpose is to mark road raises and descents, such as curbs, pavements, road shoulders, ditches etc. once these get covered in snow. What else is there to add?

The weather was surprisingly mild today, but the temperatures get very close to 0°C at night, and I suspect that they might make it below zero this week. We shall see.

Today we went through yet another flat viewing. Or house viewing. It went surprisingly well for a village quite far away from Helsinki. The surroundings were pretty autumny. Dusky. With few colours left.

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miu_3795(I particularly like the one above. Sums it up all. Graveyard. Autumn. Time.)

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Also, I managed to slip to the nearby cemetery and found the grave of Charlotta Lönnqvist, the benefactor of Aleksis Kivi, one of most famous Finnish authors of all times. Charlotta is still cherished and loved by many people, particularly for her kindness, love for Aleksis and art and down-to-earth attitude…

… and then we arrived home and a sunset happened:

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Now, I’ve been somehow busy with all kinds of home improvement and decoration lately. I blame the daily dumpster diving sessions – so far I’ve found 2 brand new (!) ikea Ribba pictures shelves, a collection of white flower pots (the largest of these is now serving as a storage bin for posters, wrapping paper, etc.), a retro kitchen jar trending on Finnish auction sites and this awesome Fazer biscuit tin (probably rather aged). These have been appropriately cleaned and have been stored for future use 😉

The dumpster diving procedure goes as follows: 1. Check out the situation in the inner yard. I’m not too confident going through rubbish in front of others. Yet. 2. Look into the bin and identify any interesting items. Empty boxes and bags which might contain more items. 3. Quickly grab the haul and walk quickly towards the door. 4. Walk into the janitor and about 57931 other people in the elevator hall, despite this being otherwise empty. Greet your neighbour and have a small talk with them. Blush. Be sure that one of the people you’ve just met was the one who threw out the item into the bin. 5. At home, think again about what you just brought with you. On the next occasion bring half of the items back into the bin. 6. Clean the sh*t out of the hauled items. 7. Bring most of them upstairs in the attics, cause you don’t want to use them just yet. 8. Tell your better half. Be pleased with yourself.

So why am I doing this?!

I’m a sucker for old, quality things – and of course I can appreciate a bargain. Most items I find in the recycling centre/thrift store/bin are items of timeless design, are quality (!), have been almost always made in Europe (if not in Finland) and have some direct connection to this country. Or to the time and place they were manufactured.

Besides, I would like my children to be able to inherit some items with a (hi)story. Either I get the item from the above-mentioned places, or I buy hand-crafted or designer items, or I make and reuse a plenty – typically I would make or order-to-be-made cushion covers, as I think cushion covers are great for saving random bits of fabric which would otherwise not be used or shown. Chances are that some of these items might not be appreciated by the kids, or my better half – but that’s fine. That is their choice. But if I just followed lifestyle trends, what would I end up with at the end otherwise? A batch of poor quality IKEA glasses and dressers of mass character or Pepco/Lidl/KiK ceramic stars or “Home” signs made in East Asia..? Meh.

What else has been going on – hmm, I have been thinking about “my” immigrant families, I have been trying to – rationally and emotionally – understand their situation, especially that of those who will be most probably excluded from the Finnish labour market for some time (or forever) and  I have some thoughts. I’ve made myself present in the course, kinda tried to establish contact with the students and gain their trust. Once I’ve collected enough of material I will share the conclusions with you, but not quite yet. But, inshallah, soon!

Day one.

Blogroll, Comments, Finland, Immigrant integration, Likes, Picture a day, Traveling

As a part of my degree I’m participant-observing an integration course in a small town. The course’s length is about 4 weeks and the purpose is, well, to introduce the newcomers to the Finnish society and Finnish and Swedish languages. It is unbelievably rewarding and eye opening – made me realise how hard it is to draw any kinds of conclusions: political decisions, personal opinions,

Two participants caught my eye, and I cannot stop thinking about them, and about how integration policies and other integration efforts on national and local levels leave out these groups of immigrants: the elderly. Typically the parents and grandparents of the ordinary immigrants in productive age, people who have been living all their lives in traditional ways. Now they find themselves in safe environment, for the first time ever maybe, for the first time abroad. Their only living link to the society are the translators who assist them in contact with the authorities and their children and grandchildren.

These two course participants, an Afghani couple in their sixties (?), were not at all opposing the idea of learning a new language and settling down in a new society, quite the opposite, but realistically, how… how can we (yes, we, all of us) do this?

What are their chances of getting “integrated”? If our integration policies are heavily labour market orientated, what does integration of the elderly entail? What can we offer them? How can they feel integrated in our society? And what can they offer to us if not work force?

I’m sure that they would love to continue living as valuable citizens in their new home, give and enjoy life and their families. They are thankful for having found a safe place and people willing to help them, and surely they would like to give back. But how? Has anybody at all thought about these groups who fall between the categories? 

An individual integration plan has been the most efficient solution so far, but of course it had to be adjusted to the ordinary immigrant: a healthy person in productive age, speaking some English, no higher education completed, with prospects to learning Finnish or Swedish to B1 level at most, work prospects typically in transport and housekeeping… every single person who has relocated to Finland knows who am I talking about. They must have been referred to as one of those on numerous occasions – and guess what, the ordinary man may not even exist! But the reality is that the further one is from the definition of the ordinary immigrant, the harder it gets to receive suitable assistance in the process of integration into the host society.

Trust me, I’ve been there.

I hope that we as people lucky enough to have been born into a secure society can make the ‘tweeners fit in in one way or another. Culture bearers and specialists? Reliable and positive people you would enjoy to live next door to and possibly let babysit your children now and again? Sources of  cultural knowledge and an asset for us to learn how to live differently, better, how to assist those who seek security and reasonable life prospects.

*sob*

In order to contemplate a bit more on this topic – and to get over the fact that I received an unjust parking fine!! –  I took a little ride to Kråkö, a lovely little island about 15 km south of Porvoo. Houses, fields, boats, water. A little paradise for those who enjoy living in small, safe communities (still for my liking too far from the city) of Swedish-speaking people;)

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Oh and a little piece of news:

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Ha! Cannot wait to get this beauty serviced and going ❤

Sun-mary.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Picture a day

I understand that a picture per day is pretty hard when it’s cloudy outside – or when you are stuck inside day in day out, or when you’re depressed and cannot really see the point.

But here we go. Things happen nevertheless. I went for a cheer-up ride to Espoo (the horror), more precisely to the gateway to Suvisaaristo, and even more precisely to Matasaari. There is nothing particularly exciting about the space, maybe the chapel (the red house pictured below), the sheer number of couples getting married in here and the fact that there was no-one to be seen. With an exception of an elderly couple fishing.

 

And a bit of summer reminiscence. A dried-out waterfall (algae really) and the last purple of the year:

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Oh and today we visited a place many Finland/Helsinki-located folks must have passed: it’s just off the main railroad between Helsinki and, well, anywhere really, just off Pasila stop. The place is not unlike Villa Mehu we visited a few weeks ago, except for that it is less artsy, less over the top and reachable by public transport, and it is known to the locals as Kivilinna. A complex of one-woman-made simple building and walls made out of stones found around Pasila, an attempt to live on one’s own and build an alternative world, disturbed maybe by the passing-by trains. A popular place to visit by old and young alike. It has made it to the news a few times recently, mostly because it has been fenced and people have been showing they disagreement. Now. Why. Unless you are blind, drunk or totally irresponsible, the place is no more dangerous than any other foresty OR urban jungly spot in Pasila… thankfully the locals took matters in their own hands and the fence has been quasi-professionally opened for anyone curious enough… a big thank you to you!

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Oh and I need a dog. Or a baby. And I need either of those even more after visiting the Rescue dog event in Suvilahti on Saturday. Those soft paws, kind eyes, thankful hearts and therapeutic souls, how can you… how can you enter and not fall in love with one, regardless of their “family” or placement status.

 

(… and a little urban landscape shot from Suvilahti🙂

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How is Finland otherwise? Ah well, getting cold, dark and more and more Christmasy. The first Christmas decorations were spotted in mid September, there are more of those to be seen. The one major wintery thing missing is sweets: I can’t wait for Lidl and their German Christmas/Winter goodies! Nomnomnom, marzipan and ginger-bread (and random liquor in combination with chocolate)!

I’m afraid I have quite a week ahead of me and it makes me feel partly excited and partly paralysed with fear. Avail or not. Disappointed or what. Hopeful either way, as this too shall pass and the things will start looking better soon? Right?

Golden hour. Or golden 16 minutes.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Picture a day, Sunsets

A few moments of joy after a day spent fighting migraines and other troubles. The beautiful light was followed by hot juice and bun – I bet that helped too!

I’m kind of thinking already about what to post about tomorrow. It has to be about my new hobby: dumpster diving. As some of you know, our beautiful  and beloved house is soon undergoing repair work, and we will have to leave our den (sob) at least for some time. The janitor was so kind and organised a skip in the inner yard where (rich) flat owners have been disposing of their excess junk. To cut the story short, so far I’ve rescued a glass jar which is now trending massively in Finland as an interior accessory and two shelves for framed pictures. I’ve heard rumours about a certain neighbour whom I truly respect and who might be throwing out a substantial number of books soon… Ah, bring the rubbish on!

I wash my hands and my newly acquired possessions properly by the way.

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Weekend. Week. End.

Blogroll, Helsinki, Lifestyle, Likes

Happy to see this weekend at the end. Why? Because F 33.0, maybe even F33.1. Either way, today we by total chance found this old factory (Labor) in Jorvas, just off Kirkkonummi. Whatever was made in here, I really enjoy this picture. Those angles, those shadows.

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While trying to get rid of the above-mentioned codes on Friday I think I discovered another liveable area in Helsinki – Kallahti. It had it all, vicinity of metro station, sand beach with full-grown conifers, a cosy café, a peninsula covered with forest… and overlyoverlyoverpriced tall apartment houses…

… it was windy and dramatic and there was sea. Kind of what I needed.

(friendly/hungry duck for a companion)

Uhm, what else. We went to our first common house viewing, just in order to get a grasp on what’s going on with prices and areas to live around Helsinki. I know, I know. The age has gotten to us, we are trying to escape to the nature, pick apples and keep bees. Or something. It doesn’t matter how it went as we can currently not afford the house anyways, but it was a positive experience nevertheless!

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Oh yeah, this is what I wanted to show you: another of my calming walks was meant to lead me (and you, m’dear readers) to a garden colony in Käpylä. How traitorous. The whole area was fenced and guarded by harpies and CCTV. I had to walk around the whole area, and I found this bush. Those silver flip-sides of the leaves, they were flickering so happily in the autumn wind. Kind of reminded me of fish scales. Or silver coins. Or chocolate.

 

Six pieces of fruit&veg and a picture or a post a day.

Blogroll, Creations, Finland, Lifestyle, Pampas, Traveling

In order to become more consequent in my work and other deeds I worked out that sharing my with the virtual crowd AND the handful of my faithful readers might actually help me crack the habit and prevent those rather unpleasant moments of not-accomplishing-anything in my life. So here we go. Sometimes – especially on those grey, hazy days when nothing seems to have happened – I admit I might cheat and use a picture from the day before or something, but at least we are still talking about a new photo every day.

Now, what have I been doing – oh yeah, I went to Österbotten. And – as per usual – I was stunned by the beautiful nature, kind people, fragrant forest and simply another life pace. Or different conception of life…

 

I spent some time in Kokkola, and visited Neristan – the old town. It was not unlike Rauma or Porvoo: a collection of colourful wooden houses, window displays, thick window glass, thrift stores and minigalleries, and as the destiny wanted it not tourists at all.

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Around the Österbotten countryside I found some lovely abandoned shops/banks/social gathering places (and smelly mink farms!). The nostalgia hit me, I can imagine life in those villages to have been much different while these institutions were still active.

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Oh and the pictures of the d.. week. Countryside and colours. 

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