Saturday, January 30, 2010

Intrepid or just plain nuts

We went ice swimming today! We rode the bus to Ispoinen Beach and as we approached the sauna building I realized that there were men chopping through the ice to be ready for the 3:00 pm opening time. That gave me pause.

Sophia and I went in the women's locker room with a crowd of women and I realized I had no idea what we were supposed to do. I went back out to the woman in the office and asked her and she patiently explained that since it was our first time we weren't required to go in the water first.

Soph and I donned our swimsuits and crocs and followed the crowd. I took these pictures before it opened so you don't get a sense of the crowd. It was a single file march down the walk way to the water and then back up to the sauna.

We went in and out 4 times. Each time it was easier to enter the water. I didn't make it past my knees on the first dip, but after that it was up to my chin.

The sauna was a real experience. Everyone was chatting and seemed to know each other. The real social hour was taking place in the sauna. Speaking of social hour, here and there in the snow were small liquor bottles filled with a light purple liquid. I must discover what that was.

Here are some pictures of our journey, but none of us in the water. Maybe next time. The top picture is Chris and Soph out on the ice waiting for the sauna to open at 3.

Aren't we crafty

Sophia is in an art class on Thursday evenings. She is also taking technology at school. Here are pictures of her clay bowl from art class. Notice her school shoes and apron...requirements at the art school. Also pictured is her balance man from technology class. She is enamored of all the tools she was able to use. And lastly, I am trying my hand at crochet thanks to Niina, a very patient teacher. Turtwig is the beneficiary of all my crochet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Flap about Ear Flaps

It has been so cold in Turku....My Finnish teacher said yesterday that, with the windchill, it has been -29 C. The wind has been blowing. Snow, like powdered glass, flies around.

To deal with the chill, I made myself supremely happy by buying an ear flap hat. Chris was the first in our family to get the flap hat. His was presented to him by the folks at SCHR as we headed to New Hampshire. Chris' hat has real fur of some kind. Santa, spotting a fashion trend, gave Sophia a white flap hat with fake fur for her trip to Finland. I was jealous of their ability to fasten the flaps around their faces. Not just your head, but your entire face needs protection.

Now I am also sporting a white, fake fur flap hat. I hum Lara's Theme as I fasten the flaps under my chin and head into the cold. The thermometer says it will be another chilly day in Turku, but with my flap downs I will be fine.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taking the plunge into a the world of color!

Have you ever gotten a haircut in a foreign country? What about cut AND color? It was the color part of the equation that made me take the plunge. I had a half inch of my true hair color showing on either side of my part. It was a memento mori, well not quite mori, but I was showing my age. I chose the hair salon closest to our apartment for my experiment.

I did not engage in chit chat with the hair stylist, for obvious reasons! But I love the result. I decided to go for a red, red, red! A red that I have seen in Turku, but never in Concord!

I will have Chris or Sophia take pictures for the blog. Yesterday was a brutally cold and windy day so my hair and most of my face was covered by my faux fur trapper John hat all day.

Sophia spent some quality Skype time with her class in Concord! Thank you Mrs. Broadbent and Kimball School. She has been invited back for class on Friday at 12:15 (7:15 for us) where her friends will be reading their stories. She is working on a story to read out loud as well. Her story involves Lapland, Norway, and soup.

I went to Kerttu last night for a yarn swap. I bought some hand dyed sock yarn, but I forgot my camera. It was a large group of knitters and a pile of yarn. I am learning how to crochet thanks to Niina! I have seen some beautiful crochet scarfs that I am eager to make.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Silver Screen

I love the Finnkino. It has 9 screens and plays something for everyone. Tonight I saw "Seraphine" in French with Finnish and Swedish subtitles.

Here are some of the movies playing:
Plenta Saatoa
Alvin Ja pikkuoravata
Hassut hurjat hirviot
Poutapilvia ja liha pullakuuja
Paha Polissi Maarasatama New Orleans

Want to know what they are?

Tie = Road
It's Complicated
Alvin and the little squirrels
New Moon
Silly wild monsters
Cloudy and meat bun moons
Evil police ....

Well, you get the picture!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Martha Organization and the marttanukketeollisus

As I search for a copy of the book Sata Kansanomaista Kuviokudinmalla by Eeva Haavisto, I have wondered why Finnish knitting isn't better known in the US. We all know about Bohus knitting and Selbuvotter. A friend and I, knowing that Bohus knitting and Selbuvotter knitting became well known because they were female crafts used for economic survival during depressed times, wondered if there hadn't been a similar craft movement in Finland.

I learned today about one movement implemented to help the economic development of women in Finland. It is the Martha Organization. Founded in the late 1800s while Finland was still under Russian rule, the Martha Organization was formed to help women learn basic skills about home economics, nutrition, and care of the family. Part of the organization led to the home production of dolls, now highly collectible, known as Martha dolls. This was a way for women to make money at home. There was even a doll factory in Turku.
According to this web site, Martha dolls were made in Turku from 1908 until 1970.

"Mrs Aurora Johansson and other members of the Finnish Martha Organisation started Turun Marttanukketeollisuus, a manufacturer of dolls, in Turku in 1908. This business became one of the best known and long lived doll manufacturers in Finland. The idea of the Martha Organisation was to offer housewives the chance to make money. The dolls were made at home according to instructions and only the finishing touches were given in the organisation’s quarters. The first Martha Dolls were girl and boy dolls whose head was of German origin whereas the torso was painted cloth. In the 1930’s every little girl’s dream was to have the Martha Bebe Doll. The beautiful Bebe had a flounced dress and glass eyes. Other favourites were the Maija Doll, whose head was made of pulp and who had her hair in a bob, the Lotta Dolls, and the many dolls in Finnish traditional folk costumes. At first Martha Dolls were sold at market places only but from the 1930’s on, you could buy a Martha Doll in a shop anywhere in Finland. But by the beginning of the 1970’s, the production of Martha Dolls was stopped since it was unprofitable." from the web site of Suomenlinnan Lelumuseo.

Chris, Sophia and I visited this doll display, a tribute to the Martha doll along with some modern felted dolls and elaborate doll displays.

Walking on water!

Here we are on Sunday afternoon, about 1:30, walking on the Aura River in Turku. In my new coat I resemble a sofa with a head! Well, I am warm.

Success with pullat!

I made pullat this morning! My foray into baking was a huge success. The buns were delicious and the apartment smells wonderful.

Shopping for groceries

We had a request for more pictures of grocery store offerings so I brought my camera along yesterday. Chris and I went to Stockmans and to the kauppahalle for some tasty comestibles. The top 2 pictures were taken in the kauppahalle.

The little tiny cubes next to the orange juice are hiiva, yeast. There is no dry yeast for sale here.

Voi is butter.

Cardamom is sold in long thin plastic tubes.

And of course...smoked fish!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pullat pt. 1

Laskiaispullat: sledding sandwich

Appears in bakeries around Shrove Tuesday. This sledding sandwich has mantelimassa (almond paste).

This is the first chapter of what is becoming my semi-regular exploration of Finnish pastries.

Buns (pullat) are very important in Finland and can be eaten at any time. My friend Mari has explained that the Pullantuoksuinen, pulla-scented woman, is the ideal of Finnish womanhood. This stems from a time when mothers made home-made buns every weekend. I sent Chris out for our buns, but I am working up my courage to tackle the home-made bun.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Here is part of the family reflector collection artfully displayed on Sophia's "walking to art class in safety" vest. Without and with the flash.

What to wear in Turku

This picture shows some typical street fashion for women of a certain age in Turku: Fur, unabashed fur. You will see lots of fur on the most comfortable shoppers.

Note also the reflector hanging from the snazzy leather backpack. Reflectors are everywhere. People have reflector flowers hanging from their purses. Some people have reflector ghosts safety pinned to their shoulders. I already own 3 reflectors. I bought a reflector Muumi Mama. And I have been given two as freebies by shops. I love looking at the variety of reflectors flashing by me in the dusk.

Look, listen, learn.

It is indeed daunting to realize that every Finnish child speaks Finnish better than you ever will. I reached out to a teacher who wouldn't talk down to me. Unfortunately, she was more interested in Sophia.

Here are Marley (my teacher) and Sophia at the Turku library. They both speak Finnish better than I do!

Packing for the family ski trip

The New York Times has an article on the perils of packing for the family ski trip. It made me laugh because I have been up half of Monday night packing for a Tuesday afternoon at Pat's Peak. Pat's Peak is practically in my back yard, so how will I cope with this...a trip above the Arctic Circle? Yesterday I purchased tickets for us to fly to Ivalo and stay at the ski resort of Saariselka. It is a "biggest ball of string" sort of trip: Ivalo is the northernmost airport and Saariselka is the northernmost ski resort. We are going here in February. Are we crazy. Yes!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An urge to try something new!

I took this picture outside the Tyovaenopisto. I hope it shows that I am top of a hill on one side of the river. Way in the distance you can see the Turku art museum on the top of another hill. Our apartment is near the art museum.

I took these pictures through the glass display window at the tyovaenopisto. This class is being offered in March. It looks like crochet, but must be different because it was invented by a woman who lived on the Aland Islands. Look at this link. You will get some idea of the beauty of this craft. I might sign up for the class although I was warned it would be taught in Finnish.

Here is another link about this art form. You can see why I am so intrigued.

Looking for the Finnish House of Pain

Could there ever be another Rob Fleischman in the world? I doubt it. The world is just not that big. But I decided to go on the search for a Finnish Rob and a Finnish House of Pain before things on the home front were too far gone for salvation. My friend Mari recommended Motivus, a gym close to our apartment, as my new "House of Pain". I joined on Monday and channeled Rob and Robyn while I did legs. Kristin was there with me in spirit saying "not so heavy".

Needless to say that today, Thursday, is the first day I can comfortably sit down. Chris was laughing at me yesterday as I hobbled down the street towards him. I looked like a cowboy who had been too long in the saddle.

Motivus has cybex equipment and some bar bells and dumb bells so I am putting together a routine though I don't know how to ask for a spotter. It is a woman only gym. Gold's could learn a thing or two from the large well equipped locker room and the sauna. I will miss the saunas when I return to NH.

So...all you residents of the House of Pain--I am there in spirit especially on leg day!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Here are some pictures that I took today. The Swedish Theater in Turku is a lovely building. It adjoins the Hansa shopping mall, a favorite spot. I took a picture of Sophia as she got off the bus at the kauppatori after another fun day at school. And, if you have to lug your dirty laundry to wash it at a laundromat, well the laundromat should at least be as comfortable as Kerttu. I can do the laundry, drink wine, help Sophia with her homework, knit and order food...all in one friendly spot. Best of all, Chris arrived in time to lug the clean laundry home.

FFF (Finnish for Foreigners)

We are all taking Finnish. Chris is taking a Finnish course at the university and reports that the students have already taken two prior courses. His homemade flashcards helped him rocket up to this level.

Sophie is in S2 as it is called on her school schedule: Suomi as a second language. Most of her class is in FMT: Finnish as the mother tongue.

And I am in Finnish for Beginner's--right where I should be. We had our third class last night. In some ways our third class was just like the first and second class because new students keep joining. The repetition helps me as the sounds slowly become familiar.

Keisha suggested that I post about our fellow students. The composition of the class is eye-opening. As an American, I am used to feeling like the center of the world, no.... make that universe. My father refers to our boundary with Canada the world's longest one way mirror. We Americans have no idea what goes on in Canada or the rest of the world. But we think all eyes are on us.

Here in Finland, Americans are in a distinct minority. Keisha and I are the only Americans in the class. In fact, except for my friends who are married to Finns, there aren't any Americans around.

Here is the class roll of nationalities as given in Finnish. Can you tell what nationality is mine?


Give up? Well, Yhdysvalloista can also be said as USA:sta or Usasta or in slang usta.
Venajalta is Russian. Ranskasta is French. The rest is obvious.

If you want to study Finnish here is a great web site. Let me know if you are commencing your Finnish studies. I can help!