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 ❤

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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Savonia.

Art, Blogroll, Finland, Lifestyle, Traveling

I realised that I would probably burn out of life if I skipped all the travelling, walking, exploring, sitting in the car and observing the landscape. I know it is one of the thickets clichés out there, but travelling inspires me and calms me down so much. We went to Savonlinna this time to see La Bohéme by Teatre Regio Torino and it was awesome; the theatre group was unforgettable, the venue (Savonlinna castle) magical and the company great. Oh and we did take a little walk around the centre; it is not beautiful, but it is somehow genuine. Little businesses, market square where you could actually buy local produced goods – oh and the town is totally empty on Saturday nights!

The cultural life (opera) after that was neatly confronted with the wilderness of the archipelago and the summer cabin life. Small municipalities, a lot of water in all its elements. Green, lively and giving.

And in the end we had to stop in Parikkala and check out the local statue park. I guess everything has been said about the park and its father, local artist Veijo Rönkkönen – all left to say is that… try imagining walking onto one of those concrete statues in winter (note the teeth, eyes, etc.!).

A rather refreshing trip with an unexpected ending.

Saturday ping.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki

I’ve been feeling pretty emotional lately – too many upsetting things keep happening, some of them over and over again, and virtually all of them are so hard to change. If I could wish one thing for the humanity it would be for everybody to realize that although personal liberty is absolutely essential aspect in one’s life, the choices we make every day should be, well,  informed, or at least conscious. And not just informed in the sense that we’ve read an article on superfoods online, but more like… like that we all have a lot of responsibility to this planet and too the humanity. What we buy, what we say, what and how we dispose of, all this affects so many people.

Will we ever run out of excuses why not to take responsibility for out actions, for casting the blind eye?

*end of the melodrama nobody cares about anyways*

I’m well if you were wondering. Last week the weather was absolutely fantastic… Oh and I do know that I write about the weather in like every single blog post – but the weather affects me so much, and even so more since I’ve moved to Finland, quit all sorts of hormonal products, started listening to my body and appreciating living side-by-side with the nature. Consequently, my mental wellbeing has improved and I’m generally much more content. And don’t mind becoming “old” all that much.

Where were we… ah, the weather, the sun, the light, an absolutely wonderful week. And the two weeks before – since I last time updated my blog SHAMEONME – were not too shabby either, equally sunny yet slightly crispier. Either way: Finland in spring and summer equals paradise.

First, a set of lakeside pictures taken with my new-old camera. And I discovered my first shipwreck!

We, too, celebrated the May Day, and it was really nice. Spontaneous champagne tent invite extended to a circle of friends -> encounters of joy. After the celebrations in the Kaivoupuisto and after having suffered through 20 minutes in the toilet queue we proceeded to the market square (read: we wanted to sober up a bit and I craved some cotton candy). Just like in the previous years we found the guy selling iconic foam lizards, symbols of vappu/May Day for the previous two generations. The guy was still a bit reluctant to agree with an interview: “not quite yet.” – Well we will be back next year. At least I managed to take a sneaky pictures of him!

What else do we have here… ah, some snippets from Helsinki (Pasila concrete moments, Olympics velodrome and an somehow unexpectedly decorated window on the way to the city centre)…

… and from Turku. If you wonder what is so special about it, I’ll tell you: those were the first signs of leaves a couple of weeks ago. And scout lilies 🙂

From Tampere, with love:

 

The following set is from the botanical garden in Kumpula which I visited a tad too early. Most of the flowers are still waiting for the full bloom, but this magnolia seems to have already been through it a while ago. And that just added to its delicateness… those angles, those geometric shapes, those bright whites! I’m so incorporating these in my coming art/craft projects.

And what would a Finnish blog post in May be without a picture of blooming sakura trees of Roihuvuori? An obligatory social media haul, a cheesy background for your phone-portraits and selfies, well, at least I can say I did it the cool way – when *I* visited, around 9:30pm, there was only a handful of people, and a beautiful, warm evening light…

Disclaimer for my previous post.

Blogroll, Finland, Helsinki

Don’t expect any major confession in here, I just wanted to put you in the big picture.

So I was feeling a bit sad. It does happen sometimes, doesn’t it, and thought I’d just take a walk in the nature, get rid of the headache and the thick black spleen. I went to Nuuksio and had a blast. And on the way back I stopped at Koivusaari, one of these exceptionally interesting spots along the Länsiväylä (a very busy road for Espoo-Helsinki commuters).

Koivusaari is conveniently located only a few hundred meters from a metro-station-to-be-very-soon, and despite the vicinity of Länsiväylä it is quite calm. I’m sure somebody else noticed how conveniently located this island is, so unless the boat owners have some kind of a union, we might soon see the end of Koivusaari as we know it and get ready for yet another developers’ experiment.

I had no particular reason to visit the place, just because I wanted to see what is there…

.. well, boats apparently, and boat owners getting their vehicles ready for the season. I did not really fit in; my response to this identity misplacement was that I accidentally hit my head on that fin-like thing (you know, right, that thingy which goes under the water) of one of the pretty vessels. I hope nobody saw that.

In joyful moods (as joyful as my head bump was) I continued walking around the island – it is tiny and used solely by boat owners, occasional picture hunters and – quite surprisingly – boulderers (there are no cliffs, don’t get excited, just a somehow biggish piece of rock overlooking the sea).

I’m sure  you remember what the island looks like from my previous post: boats and innocent sea views.

Wait. Did you see that?!

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Look closer. Closer. Even closer. No, I’m not enlarging the picture for you.

Above that big rock is a pier and an army of naked Finns taking a dip after having obviously been to the sauna. One by one, in an orderly and natural manner. This sight made me giggle for a few long minutes…

And what else did I do today? Collected birch sap. It went surprisingly smoothly, and the result tastes very refreshing. We should have waited a few days or week though, the sugar content is still pretty low.

The plastic bags with our ca 1hour yield of sap from 3 different locations (hence the numbers). Looks plastic, tastes fantastic. And being

Ah, and a few snippets from a short with a tussilago picking mission in Nuuksio (especially love the blue flowers screaming here we are, at last!). The older I am the more and more I appreciate living in the countryside, alongside the nature. I live in the middle of the city and I love it here – and I absolutely adore the flat we are lucky to live in, I should show you why at some point, especially as we are due to move out soon. And I hate the suburbs and even so more those unlucky and antisocial satellite “housing projects” (collections of wanna-be-upper-class horrendous houses located some kilometres beyond the city border, either in the middle of nowhere or as a part of small villages or settlements which had respected traditional urban growth patterns).

It is incredible how the proximity of real nature has helped me to get over some rough times, it is not just the scene and the smells, it is the whole system, the immense power of the nature to revive itself over and over again.

Sob. Living in greenery. I’m getting old and I’m loving it.