19 March 2015

3 other posts in queue. weve been sick and whatnot so i havent had a chance. soon.

March 19 - minna canth flag day

this is also finlands 'equality' day.

minna was born in 1844 to a working class family. she went to college to be a teacher but ended up marrying her professor and leaving school. in the beginning of her marriage she felt it was necessary to become her husbands servant and give up all her ambitions. he was a good man though and minna evolved to change her opinion and behavior, husband and wife even edited a local newspaper together. when her husband died, she moved their 7 children to kuopio and took over her fathers business. in her spare time she wrote plays and stories that shaped the future of finnish society. she ended up being a feminist who wrote about womens rights and other social issues, including poverty. pretty cool lady.

so, in honor of her, i actually got my act together early and read two of her writings:

1. short story - the nursemaid (lapsenpiika). this is a very short story with what i would say is a very bitter tone. its definitely written to shame the upper class into changing their ways. possibly it did that, but it wasnt terribly moving to read.

2. play - anna-liisa (one of her more famous). i cant remember the last time i read a play, i suppose senior year of high school. this was not a very complex or challenging one thank goodness. it was straight forward and i thought rather dull (in the sense that the characters didnt have any memorable lines or thought provoking things to share). it relayed a powerful message in its day though, it helped to shift public opinion and gave a human face to some difficult events in a womans life. however, i cant say it holds the same power today.

its about a young woman who secretly had a relationship out of wedlock at age 15 which produced a baby. she was terrified at the repercussions her life would have due to the bastard child so in a fit of panic she killed and buried it. later she was blackmailed by the babys father. what i find most interesting about the whole idea is that the author herself nearly had a similar (infanticide) experience. a couple months after her husbands died she gave birth to their seventh child. she was overwhelmed no doubt, and she expressed to her children that they needed to keep an eye on her and the child because she felt she was in danger of harming it. she really was an amazing woman. the day certainly belongs to her and what she helped do for equality in society.

01 March 2015

March = Maaliskuu

welcome to march (maaliskuu in finnish)!

for this month there is actually no direct translation of 'maalis' , but the word 'maa' means earth or ground. in march the snow first starts to melt and the dirt/earth peeks out again. and as with the other two months this year, march is aptly named. we have been melting around here and the moss is pretty vibrant against the remaining snow and grey boulders. spring is in the air... :)

28 February 2015

February 28 - kalevala flag day

this flag day is in honor of the first publication (1835) of the national epic poem, the kalevala. it is also generally celebrated as finnish culture day.

it was 'written' by elias lönnrot, a physician, botanist and linguist. apparently, he collected the finnish folk songs/stories for the kalevala in between his studies and various posts as a doctor. from what i gather he made about a dozen trips to the karelian (western) border area of finland. apparently he didnt so much write the epic poem as weave the bits of songs/stories he collected together.

the collected work of finnish mythology has 50 poems. there are stories of creation, magic, love, war, etc. i havent had a chance to read a translation, though apparently 5 english versions exist. its on my list, i just couldnt get to it in time this year. maybe next year i can ramble a bit about my reading of it.

we have, however, read a childrens book that turns one of the poems stories into a picture book (illustrated by barbara cooney, of 'miss rumphius' fame), called 'louhi, witch of north farm'. beautiful book. i bought it and highly recommend it to anyone interested, its definitely very finnish.

it should be obvious that the poem is very important to finns and their culture, it tells the tales of them and their lands and beliefs after all. it still influences modern finns and finland and im sure it will continue to do so for at least another 180 years.

22 February 2015

Oscarsss Ssstyle: sleek, sophisticated, safe

and weve come to the close of another awards season. the oscars dresses were lovely this year, but its certainly a polarizing time when people tend to either go safe or stupid. this year most people went safe, and thats okay. id say perhaps more than most years people looked very mature and sophisticated, demanding that they be taken seriously. i'll bite. but, it did make it hard to find anyone to call a favorite standout.

(cate blanchett nails the hair, makeup and gorgeous necklace. i wish i could see more detail on her dress but its a lovely silhouette; rene russo just popped back on the scene for a minute with her feminine waves. i like it. and keira knightley has schooled everyone on how to do award season while pregnant. she wins.) 
(other notables: rosamund! THIS is how you dress a body, post-baby or otherwise. the hair, makeup, and dress work for you. not a big fan of the slit, but i can get over it. and emma stone, i dont know what to do with the color exactly, but it goes nicely with your coloring and lipstick. love the dress detail and hair. and gwyneth paltrow, youve gotten so weird in recent years and this color is obviously a nod to your iconic [and boring, in my opinion] 1999 dress. but, the fit of the dress and the color work for you. the flower reminds me of charlize therons 2010 flower boobs, or paula pattons 2014 fabric waves, but its not totally offensive here) 
(jlo, it was a step up from your golden globe dress and i thought it was lovely...and then i saw it on another person and felt a little bad that it had to share the spotlight [with robert duvalls wife])
(couples were just kinda 'meh' this go around. sophie hunter [plus baby bump] and benedict cumberbatch looked sleek. channing and jenna tatum looked sleek and sophisticated as well)
  (jen, this dress looks like chic beach wear. blah. reese, the waist area is nice but the rest is blah and the slick-parted hair looks kinda greasy. julianne moore...come on, this is shapeless and looks like a disease under a microscope)
 (musical mistakes aka red herrings. singer lady gaga terrifies with those radioactive-protective red gloves. singer solange knowles looks like a she-devil. behati prinsloo [with singer husband adam levine] also looks like a disease under a microscope)
 (post-baby bodies. again, i dont want to point fingers, i want to applaud them in other ways, but their dress choices arent a reason. scarlett looks lovely in green and i like the hair and makeup, but the necklace and boob area are not doing it. zoe saldana just had twins. her hair and body look great, this dress color and boringness arent flattering. her vanity fair party dress was much more lovely.)

05 February 2015

February 5 - runeberg flag day

happy birthday Johan Ludvig Runeberg!

so finland has a number of these 'flag days' that commemorate their most beloved/famous people. runeberg day is the first that comes each year and perhaps peoples most favorite, though i think this is primarily due to the dessert baring his name that can be found in the stores around this time.

anyway he was the national poet of finland and lived from 1804-1877. he wrote in swedish and mostly about rural finnish life and its hardships. perhaps his most famous poem of all is called 'the tales of ensign stål', about the finnish war of 1808–09 with russia (this was when sweden lost finland to russia). anyway, i looked to see if the helsinki library had anything by him in english...nope. this is a bummer, but perhaps i can read something in english from the other flag day people that come up throughout the year.

as for the desserts, it was said that he ate these 'runeberg tortes' (as theyve come to be known) each morning for breakfast. ive always seen them packaged as two, so im not sure if he ate two each morning or if its just convenient packaging. whatever, they are delicious. a dense spiced, almondy kind of cake with raspberry jam on top encircled by powdered sugar icing. i even found a gluten-free variety this year. devoured. i am however always startled by their nipple or breast-like appearance (being sold in twos doesnt help the matter)...then again, the favorite national snack of rice pies (riisipiirakka) looks alarmingly like lady parts...oh finland, you may not rival the french in tasty delicacies but you can match them for sauciness!

(gluten-free runeberg tortes)
(rice pies)

01 February 2015

February = Helmikuu

so here we are, at the top of another month. time is flying by.

this month (february) is called helmikuu in finnish. 'helmi' means 'pearl'. this refers to the ice on the snow and tree branches that form when things temporarily melt during warm spells and then re-freeze. of course its a perfectly suited description of the weather and scenery this month.