Sunday, August 19, 2007

Some more trees

Juha's mom planned a trip to some museum at Kanajärvi (no idea where it is. Like 70km from Tampere in the middle of nowhere) which is maintained by some relative of hers. I didn't really get who is the Jorma and the Kaisu and whoever else about whom she talked. Shitty Finnish of mine, that's it. But it was fine, it was a house of some local intellectual and I'll have to milk Juha for some relevant information because I got like a fourth of all the explanations.
The birch forests reminded me of Klimt's paintings. (Pics will be added when I find some. I guess that Klimt aint particularly famous for the painting of forest interiors.) Or paintings of other Art Nouveau guys. (Maybe some other pics will be added later) And of impressionists. (even more pictures possibly added later. I damn fucking regret that I didn't get the book on Impressionism in Copenhagen or that I at least didn't write down it's name or something because there was a nice chapter on Monet in Norway and his paintings of snow. I read somewhere that winter landscapes are sorta strange chapter of art history, because they have no classical precedessor.... whatever. No-one is interested in art history anyway)
We dropped at the St. Birgitta's church in Lemmäälä, they wanted to please me with something medieval (thanks). It isn't in the book on Medieval churches in Finland I got a day or two later so I guess I cannot supply some cool information... I feel somehwat out of knowledge here in this area and it sucks, folks. Indeed.
No knitting these days, nothing to knit - you can happily relax. The cats know. This little one is Nipsu who owns Juha and Kata. He owns Juha a bit more, I guess, and he's sweet. And tiny. And, as any cat, he is able to find the most comfy place in the house.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More trees

I dropped at Henri's in Oulu (something like seventy rains and seventy times of sunshine in one day. The front was passing. Otherwise fine) for one night, Hannu didn't show up (serves him right, now he has to travel 2000km somewhere and he got no chocolate and anyway) and then I continued down to Tampere. The journey was exciting. Imagine that there's six trains stopping in Oulu in half a day, it feels almost as busy as Paris. And there are, lemme recall it, three whole stops on the four hours trip between Oulu and Tampere. The landscape was exciting, I saw a zillion of birch trees and spruces and pines. Before Seinäjoki I dozed off and in that while there was a radical change in the landscape, there appeared some bushy willows along the way. Or bushy poplars, not sure about that.
Anyway, I got to Tampere, Juha the best flatmate picked me at the station - I really adore that guy and I was glad to see him again. Tampere looks like a town, not like a crossroad in the middle of nowhere where the local council added a few buildings and some school and park to make it look funkier. Juha remarked that this is the only street the German idiot talked about (I didn't write about her on the blog, maybe I had decided to write only positive things then. One of my students. I invited her for a coffee when Juha was at my place for a week or so... so we were sitting in the kitchen, I was telling the German girl where the university is and all that stuff but at a certain point she started to be somewhat... annoying. She asked where Juha is from and then gave a half an hour lecture on Finland, how boring and useless country it is, that Helsinki sucks because there's only one shopping centre which is closed on Sundays so what the people there do on Sundays and that there's only one street in Tampere, otherwise it's all boring crap. At the end she asked whether Juha and I sleep together and luckily she left, otherwise I would throw her out through the closed window. I tried, very succesfully indeed, to avoid her since. Juha and I got to drink a bottle of burgundy to settle our shattered nerves. End of flashback).... well, it looked like a street indeed.
Juha and Katariina have a new flat (nice) and a new kitten (nice, too) and I'm really happy to see them again. Damn, some people should be cloned to make the world better.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dear commenters:

(Yes, hi Jane)
So, I'm for some research in Sweden. Got a research grant by some huge mistake - the crap I wrote in the application was all boasting and half-lies. But.... my original application was okay with my conscience and okay with reality and the guy at the research department wanted me to correct it. So... I was assigned some 3000 euros worth of money to spend. And the guy who did some similar stuff teaches at the Stockholm university, I'm meeting him next Friday, meantime I'm sitting in the Royal Library of Stockholm... or travelling in Finland. Visiting friends and buying books and stuff.
And good that you like my rants. I will sort them out and add pictures with more rants...

Lots of trees

Yesterday I was shown around Rovanieni. The weather still wasn't photography-friendly and the pictures will be added as soon as I'll be able to connect my laptop to the internet. I don't want to make mess at other people's computers and I want to do some photoshopping, if needed, and normal people do not have Photoshop. But my Oulu friend is more to the geeky side, as far as I reckon so maybe tomorrow.
Anyhow, Rovaniemi is made by two streets that cross and that is the main square. Between two shopping malls or something.* The rest is scattered settlements somewhere among the trees.
Speaking of trees, there's a plenty of them and the sights from Ounasvaara were very reassuring in this sense. Lots of trees, some occasional stone or a piece of swamp. I like trees. They don't bite, don't talk back and co not most of the stuff people perform on daily basis. And I grew up in a city so I'm fascinated by forests. Niina laughed quite a bit about it indeed. And since there was a bit of sunshine in the evening, I even have nice pictures. Two whole hours of sunshine. After a week or so. Well, there were five minutes of sun in Stockholm and seven in Linköping, to be absolutely fair. Just for your information, it's cloudy today but the weather guy (or gal? I watched the weather, not the announcer) on YLE said that it should be something like sunny in the afternoon. I don't believe anyone, though, they've been promising nice and sunny even down in Sweden and it never worked.
I discovered that my Finnish is totally shitty. I thought that it is only shitty whereas the totally shitty thing is my swedish but it's the other way round. And I should have tattooed on my forehead that I do not speak Finnish, don't look that weird at me, I told you.
I hear that in some languages there's one word for foreigners and idiots. I'm starting to get the reason.

*Mind that I grew up far down south in a Medieval city with city walls, university dating back to the 16th century and cobblestones and all that stuff. I will always feel better in, say, Siena. Which is definitely not a practical place to live in.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dear Mommy,

I'm in Rovaniemi. Find it in a map if you want, it's somewhere in northern Finland.
I have enough warm clothes, exactly as you instructed me. The warm clothes are namely one long-sleeved T-shirt.... and that's all. It is pretty warm here. Even sunny in the last three minutes:D
No, I don't tease polar bears when they sleep. There are none, just for your information. They live on Svalbard and other places where I'm not going. I will thus not eat polar bear liver and I will not die of vitamin E poisoning.
No, I haven't seen any reindeer and moose and polar foxes and polar idunnowhat here, it's a city. You don't see moose in your front garden either, after all.
Yes, I take care. I stilll wasn't killed, raped, robbed and buried in 27 different places. It's not done here. Actually it's not done in most places and on most ocassions, you just watch TV too much. I wasn't killed, robbed and raped even in more peculiar places, such as Genova, I was only robbed and it was in places like my hometown, which you love so much and of which no-one is allowed to utter a negative word.
No, Mommy, I'm not on Skype. No, I don't care a damn abuut what you think about my thesis. You've told me like a million times and if you found one more typo, you can mail it. I told you that I have the final version and I work with it so it's really no use if you mess with the copy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

On the road again

I'm in Rovaniemi. (And where that damn place is? A hint: in the middle of the nowhere and a bit north. Google it yourself.)
Yesterday I was in Linköping (And where the hell is this? What is it good for? And what of a godforsaken place it is that they need to add dots over the letters?) to see Elisabeth. I brought her the fox sweater and she loved it for which I was immensely happy, I wasn't sure that there's something likable about that. I found out that Beth does not only silversmithing but also all sorts of bead stuff and she complained about general lack of decent beads in Sweden and after all I'm from the country where Swarowski studied glassmaking. So I promised her all the stuff I can find at home and anyhting she wants.
As for the Linköping cathedral, I will have to find out some relevant art history stuff, it puzzles me. Some elements inside seem to be pretty retarded in style, nice Romanesque, weird Gothic, the windows from the outside have some sort of English feel... I'll have to browse the second-hand bookstores around Drottininggatan, one had lots of art stuff in the windows, to find some general book on architecture. I want to know.
Pics will follow.
When I was leaving Stockholm, the weather reminded Seychelles. Just under 30 degrees, very humid air, i mean, reaslly humid, you make five steps and sweat like a pig.
I made it to Arlanda a bit too early and the airport there was boring. Not that any airport would be exciting but in Stockholm the architect didn't bother to hide the fact that the airport buildings are jsut barns made to hold people and stuff without getting them wet or blown away with the wind. So all that I could do was sit and knit and read. I managed to get the cheap paperback (take it easily. Nothing in Sweden is cheap. Translated to normal language, it was an expensive paperback) balanced on my bag so that I could weigh the pages with my Nookie and read while knitting which is hard with paperbacks, they tend to keep themselves closed.*
Next time I go to this general area, I will have to get myself a T-shirt that says No, I do not speak Swedish. No, for real, but go on telling me, I understand it better than your lousy English. And something for Finnish too. As Elisabeth had it, I blend in too well. And I even left the Marimekko bag back at Stockholm because I wanted to take my laptop along and it wouldn't fit. Actually it would fit but I wouldn't squeeze even my passport there.
Anyhow, Stockholm-Arlanda: shitty rain, bad hair. helsinki - Vantaa (or Helsingfors - Vanda, should you be pro-Swedish) - sunny, bad hair. Rovaniemi - Comecavolosichiama**: after rain, normal temperature, bad hair. Maybe I could find the advert for the hair spray, it features a kitschy blonde on the airports and her hair is for sure polyethylene.
Helsinki etc. airport is even more of a big barn. In some places they are at least trying to put a layer of marble over the barn construction to make it look posher but it still doesn't work. You know, I hate flying and I would hate it even if the airports looked like the Moscow underground, with crystal chandeliers and mosaics. The only true airport building is in Mahe, Seychelles. Stockholm was inspired there, I'd say.
Anyhow, Niina and Riikka picked me, we shared our weird feelings - That feels weird that you're here on their part, That feels weird that Iäm here from my part.
I have to go, the reindeer is being served.

*Note: I had a bamboo circular. 5mm. The 6.5mm circular was tied to pens with a piece of hair elastic, the people at the security do not notice, as proved by ignorance of many security people on major European airports. In Helsinki I left the sweater on the needles. No-one noticed either but because my big belt with studs beeped in the frame, I was hand searched. And, at Arlanda, they wanted my passport only when I was boarding the plane. Swedes don't have terrorist weirdos, apparently.

**That's Italian. Means Whatthehellitsisnamed. The plane was full of Italians. Wonder why.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I got up late. I deserved some sleep and such stuff and it was raining outside anyway. Then nI decided to get to the center, get a map and explore.
I h ad asked Sophie, my host, yesterday how to get to the centre, I go to the Central Station, found a map, wandered around, got lost, found myself exactly at the other end of Drottninggatan than where I expected myself to be (were there some sun, I wouldn't be that puzzled) but when I identified my location in the map, I also found the Royal Library. I registered there, solved some problem with the access codes, explained to around five people tha tI do understand Swedish, I just don't speak it (and no, I'm not any goddamn Finn. Even non-Finns can have Marimekko bags and blonde hair...but what the heck) and settled at the computer. I'm addicted, you know:D
I'll check the rain situation and go exploring, next time I should get the Lonely Planet nicely ahead.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Recent developments

On Tuesday I just sat on my fat ass generated during the phase of obsessive-compulsive chocolate consummation while writing and worked on some final touches to the Big Piece of Crap, known also as my thesis. Numbering pics, rearranging footnotes, whatever. Mom did further proofreading and poked in the layout. Next thesis will be written in Word and the footnotes will be at the end and so will be all the pics. As the last thing I found out that the second chapter starts on the even page instead of odd.. not that I wouldn´t notice it before but I wanted to start both chapters with an additional sheet of paper where on the odd page something like Capter one, two would be and the chapter itself would start on teh following odd page. And the layout has left and right. Changing it means rearranging like 15 pages. No way, so I need to add one page of something at the beginning.
On Wednesday I copied ton of some articles and stuff, some for me since I had to bring books back to the library and I also promised some stuff to Professor Aili. Then Dad drove me to the Vienna airport. I was there way too early, he got the departure time wrong so we set off an hour earlier and another hour earlier for the traffic jam in Bratislava - which didn´t happen, they built a new bit of highway so we were done with the place in 10 minutes.
I couldn't help some sentimental thoughts - the idea of studying in Bratislava and Prague at the same time was totally crazy. And yet totally exciting and i enjoyed it, although sometimes in pretty perverted ways. Note that the two places are five hours on the train apart and that I went there and back twice a week. And in third town I worked. But I have a weak spot for Bratislava. I'm not longing for it as I'm longing for Florence, it's just a weak spot.
I got to Stockholm (the greedy bastards of Scandinavian Airlines even don't have free refreshments and stuff on board so I couldn't get drunk. However, I hadnät had slept too much so I just dropped off on the board), I even found the place where Mathilda of CouchSurfing is staying which was a bit hard because I didn't get the instructions or she wrote them too short for my blonde brain so I got lost in the neighbourhood and couldn't find anyone who would know where the hell the Lilla Sallskapet Väg is. Some Armenian guys weren't sure where it is but wanted definitely to guide me there, asking people on the way so at one point I was surrounded by like eight natives who were arguing where the damn street is. One girl knew and guided me there. The street is actually a block of winding roads on a slope so I would have a tough time even during the day.... so the special thanks of the day go to the stranger who was walking around with me looking for the right street number.
Today I was lazy, sitting at home and reading the alst book of Harry Potter and catsitting Mathilda's new kitten. After two months of sitting at home and being hooked up at the comp it feels strange that I should go somewhere out and do something.....

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Reindeers in progress

Sandy is visiting so I dragged her around the town today. Banks are closed so the exchange booths are happily offering 21 crowns for 1 euro (the rates of the National Bank are around 27 something). I persuaded Sandy that she is not going to exchange anything, that I can survive when I pay her coffee or book or something although it took me a while before she understood that the exchange rates are all the same all over. I live in this place long enough to know that everything in the centre is a cheat on tourists by definition. Exceptions possible and strictly individual and I'm not telling you where you find the best cafes and places. It's usually hidden within the university buildings, for that matter. University makes the islands of normality along with the National Library.
Speaking of the National Library, first, I have to print my thesis for tne manuscripts guy, second, they are planning to build a new building and move away from the former Jesuit college and there's a petition that the Jesuit college should go to the University. THe director of the NL seem sto be planning to create some sort of conference centre there, turning the Baroque refectory (reading room now) in some posh restaurant and what the hell. The whole thing was built to be the University, lecture rooms do not need any complicated facilities - just a heap of chairs does.... We'll see.
I started the actual reindeer sweater two days ago. I had some errands, one appointment at 11, then pick someone at the airport at three... so lots of time for nothing. I sat in the bookstore in the cafeteria, read and knitted. Well, read only as one can when knitting Selbu.. on the other hand, this patterning was easy, just counting to 8. Usually even like two, one, two, three... etc. It's Noro's Silk Garden, colour unknown, I don't have any tag at hand. In some cases I used the bluish bits with the pink ones to make it actually three colours in one row. And I started cutting the greenish pieces of the yarn out. It just stands out too much and I will use it for another pattern. The white is some alpaca. And, to paraphrase Terry Pratchett: "Only a bad artist can paint the sunset in Surgical Appliance Pink, because such colour is disgustingly kitschy. So they [characters] were looking at the Nature's work, the amazing sunset in the wildest shades of pink. It was beautiful. But not tasteful." When I was in the middle of the white field with the dots and rosettes, I was desperate. The white and the purples and pinks made it so sugary and girly and tacky. I was thinking to keep this sweater for myself but the yarns just do not look like my colours when combined so it'll go to Etsy. It's beautiful although not tasteful:D