Happy New Year

January is here, with eyes that keenly glow,
A frost-mailed warrior
striding a shadowy steed of snow.
– Edgar Fawcett

 

I just wanted to say Thank you to everyone reading this blog. I know I don’t update enough but that’s just life, it happens.

In the beginning of this year I made a promise to myself to read more and spend less time in social media and I managed quite well, today I’ve read 90 books instead of the 80 I had planned to read. I’m quite happy about it and I’m planning to continue it on 2020. You can see my read books here.

Other thing I need to do on 2020 is to lose weight. I’m turning 50 at the end of September and I don’t want to weight this much then. At the end of May we’re probably celebrating Middlest son’s graduation and since all our relatives and friends will attend I need to do something pretty quickly and I know what it’ll be: low carbs for me since it works best for me.

I still have a week off work left and I’m thinking about having a Hobbit and LOTR marathon while knitting.  I’ve already finished Eldest son’s scarf and my cardi is coming along nicely.

Here are some pics; Sirius is planning her next attack on the Christmas tree (actually she’s been very good with the tree this year), the ice skating Santa I gave to my dad when I was about 7-y-o and now it’s been ice skating in our tree for several years, Middlest son baked a rye bread (I haven’t got the patience to make a root), and the last one is from Dec 27th when we had -5C degrees which was pretty nice. I didn’t mind the sun either, it’s been raining forever here.

 

Sunday again

So another week has passed and we are in December now. Hubby put the Christmas lights up inside and outdoors which is nice. We’ve got a bit of snow so it’s pretty now but it’s supposed to start raining again next week. That’s Helsinki December, the sea is still open and the snow won’t stay on the ground.

On Tuesday I had my last Pilates lesson for this year but I’ve already enrolled to the next Spring and it begins in January. Now I just need to do something during this month. I have the hula hoop I bought in October and it’s fun and I can also do Pilates at home but I’m lazy and mostly don’t.

On Wednesday I went to movies with my friends Heidi and Kristiina, we watched ’Last Christmas’ which was quite okay. Funny and some romancing and good acting by Emma Thompson and Henry Golding (I’m not so keen on Emilia Clarke). It was nice.

Middlest son had the physical and psychological tests for the AirForce on Wednesday and it took all day, from 8 to 5 but it looks like he’ll get in, at least for now. The results come later this month.

On Thursday I was going to take part to a trade union meeting for library people but I really felt so tired and just wanted to go home so I did and it was good. I enjoyed a nice home evening knitting with the cat and telly.

On Friday we had a meeting at work, just for our ’unit’ which means me and my colleague and the language teachers and the social studies teachers which makes about 14 people. After the meeting we went to a local restaurant for a nice lunch covered by our employer the City and then we had two hours of bowling also paid by our employer. It was so much fun and we had awesome time.

Yesterday we had eldest son and his godmother Leena with her little boy for dinner at our house and it was nice too. We’ve last seen Leena and her son in August so it was nice to catch up. She used to visit us more often but now her son has started to play football so it makes the weekends quite busy too. We used to travel together when our boys were smaller and her son was just a baby, it was nice. She was my good friend in the Scouts when we were teens (here in Finland the Scouts have been in one organization about since the beginning so we don’t have Girl Guides and Boy Scouts).

Today I’ve read one Finnish novel and it was quite good. It tells a story about Ojibwa indians and the Finnish settlers near Duluth and the big lakes. Did you know there’s a word Findians? Also both Finns and Indians were forbidden to enter a saloon in many places because both get violent when drunk.

Netflix and chill

Has been my motto during these last days. It’s November which means the darkest time here in Finland because it usually rains or has just rained or will be raining and the clouds are wet and heavy and near the ground. The new season of The Crown begun and I’m already halfway through. I’m also finishing knitting a pair of socks for my cousin and then can begin a new cardi for myself.

I also got my deep stomach and back muscles so sore last week that I couldn’t breath very deep, even yawning made me wince with pain. I fear that the pain will return as I just got back from my Pilates lesson.

During the weekend I read two YA novels. The other one won a national book prize on the year it was published (my cousin was the main judge bc she teaches creative writing for kids and teens in Jyväskylä) and the other one was a quite recent Finnish YA-fantasy novel that had gotten good reviews. Both were good but I liked the first one more which is a bit surprising since I usually like all kinds of fantasy novels but there were some things that bothered me in the fantasy world.

We are in the middle of a postal strike here and it seems it will spread as the other unions support the postmen so I’ll probably have a day off on Monday as the public transport will probably be stuck. I was going to have a free Friday but now I can change it to Monday, I don’t actually mind.

Now I’m off to the English royal family and coffee and knitting.

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Culture and cows

I was going to write this earlier, like last Friday evening but since I was so awed and also tired I try to write something now.

Last Thursday I met my friend Mirva. She lives north of Helsinki, in a city called Jyväskylä which is near our summer cottage. We first met and became friends some years ago when we were studying Information sciences in an Open Uni web course and met on the first live study group-day as I sat next to her and we begun chatting like old friends. Some people just are like that and it’s wonderful.

Mirva was here on a work business and we had dinner and then went to the AmosRex Museum to see the Ars Fennica finalists. Mirva had not visited the museum before and liked it a lot. The exhibition was awesome too, I especially liked the painting of a forest which took up a whole wall and also Aurora Reinhard’s little dolls were awesome. Afterwards we had coffee and a long and nice chat about all things at a nearby cafe and it was lovely.

Friday morning we woke with a downpour, it rained so heavily that the Main railway station’s underground stop flooded and still the lifts are unavailable. Helsinki got about 6-7 cm of rain. I had my red wellies and a raincoat plus umbrella with me so I didn’t mind. At my work we got some of it right inside at the 4th floor too, the caretaker guys were furious. Last time 4th floor was flooded in spring when the snow begun to melt on the roof.

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At home before leaving to work

On Friday evening me and my friends Heidi and Kristiina went to see the latest Tarantino movie ’Once upon a time in Hollywood’ and I must say it was very good. None of us is a great fan of neither Brad nor Leo but we all agreed that they did good roles and I personally think that Leo is quite a talented actor. The story was also very though provoking as in ’what if..’ sort of scenario.  I loved the little details and photography, and I really liked Margot Robbie ans Sharon Tate. I think it also shows how much Tarantino loves movies as an art form.

The weekend passed.. On Saturday I had terrible migraine. I haven’t had one in about six months and this one was really awful, I didn’t know if I should throw up or not or faint or not and it made me a cry-baby too. Not nice. Luckily after two pills I managed to even vacuum the house and read but I still felt dizzy and sweaty. On Sunday I felt all right and managed to sew new curtains to the kitchen, I really like them.

We are having a late summer and lovely nice and warm weather so on Monday morning I biked to work. My biking route is 14km from door to door and it goes via the University cow pasture which is quite nice. I really love cows 🙂 What I don’t like are the two or three hills I have on my route, they are loooong and slow and drag all my juices off.I almost fell at one point as I accidentally gripped the front brake and did a really short stop and now I have a deep bruise on my left calf from the pedal. I was lucky not to go over the handle bar.

Yesterday evening I finished reading ’Fools fate’ (Tawny Man trilogy part 3) by Robin Hobb and I think I need to have a short break of the Six duchies and River Wild for now since I tend to drown into them and forget everything else.

I took the bike also today and now I must say I’m exhausted now but I have biked 113 km which is good. Tomorrow We have the new teacher’s night at my work and I’ll do a longer work day and Thursday we have the all teachers meeting night.  They are always fun happenings and it’s nice to meet old and new people.

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The brown lumps in the middle are the cows
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Some crops coming and the Viikki suburb (middlest son’s high school is there)
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Vanhankaupunginlahti = the old city bay. This is where Helsinki was first located when Gustav Wasa established it. The technical museum is under construction but the rapid was lively. There were also some hook and line fishermen long the banks.

 

 

Wild things

I’ve been so tired every day during this first working week that I have only been reading in the balcony with the cat in the evenings.

I’ve had fun in the work too. On Tuesday we stood two hours on the street to give passers-by our new study catalogue and it was nice. Most were very eager to chat with us and some cyclists even made a de-tour to come and grab a copy. Luckily the weather has been good too, not too warm but a bit windy but not rainy.

On Wednesday as I was trying to find a seat in the underground train I spotted a young man sitting with both legs up on the bench so I went to him and said ”Take your legs off the seat and let us people sit” and he did. Maybe I sounded like a mother since he didn’t complain.

On Thursday I received an e-mail from the Finnish blood donor bank and since I had time I went there after work. I got a nice nurse and we chatted all the time I was laying there. here blood donors don’t get any payment but we get a nice cup of coffee and different sandwiches, cookies and ice cream afterwards.

Yesterday I met my good friend Kristiina at one of the City museum’s called the Hakasalmi Villa which used to belong to a lady called Aurora Karamzin. There is an exhibition about Helsinki during the 1920’s and it was very good, funny and charming. It was inspiring and I’ve always loved the 20’s, my granny used to show me how to dance Charleston.

Later we had coffee in a small cafe situated in the museum’s garden and a little wild something ran from behind us to the nearby flowerbed. Ladies next to us asked if we saw what it was and we said that we had just agreed it was a yellow-necked mouse and we all laughed.

Well, now I’m going to watch Downton Abbey since the movie comes out in September and I can’t recall anything of Seasons 5 and 6.

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Sirius saw a new friend
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The amusement park Linnanmäki. My workplace is almost next to it.
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Two old villa’s. The one on the left is called Villa Kivi, it’s the local authors working recidence. Hubby’s aunt had her wedding there since she is a poet, it was a very nice place. The Blue Villa has a very nice summer cafe.
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The Caretaker’s house at the museum’s garden. Now it serves as the work rooms for the museum staff.
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A bright Dahlia at the museum garden.

 

Fall is coming

Youngest son’s school begun yesterday, he is now on middle grades and at least two of his teachers remembered his big brother. His ’own class’-teacher teaches Finnish and her husband is the Math teacher who was middlest son’s ’own class’-teacher, they were nice and good teachers imo.

We are having an abundance of cucumbers and zucchini. I have tried to eat them but every day we get more so I barely make a dent in the numbers. I must check zucchini baking recipes.

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I’ve once again listened to audio books. I finished one (The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston)  I started in May because it was such an annoying novel and I deeply disliked the female protagonist. After that I’ve listened to Kelley Armstrong’s Lost souls (Cainsville 3.5) which was nice and short and the reader had a lovely voice, especially when he narrated Gabriel. Oh my.

After finishing that I’ve once again started ’The Tawny man trilogy’ by Robin Hobb and totally dived into Six duchies again. It may be I’ll stay there for a while, except my work begins next Monday *sigh*.

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ETA Once again I don’t know why the Goodreads widget doesn’t show all of my read books, it’s really annoying.

Summer reading

Some of the books I’ve read during this summer holiday. In June I read mostly chick-lit due to the travelling and easy beach reading.

Trollope, Joanna: Marrying the mistress

Well, just as the header says. A judge finally divorces his wife of decades and decides to marry his longtime mistress. The ex-wife is mentally ill, the older son acts like he was the spouse and not son and younger son has delightfully a decent head on his shoulders. The mistress is a reasonable woman and in the end the whole thing wraps up nicely but not quite like one expected. I gave it 2 stars in Goodreads just because it was a bit too long.

Kelly, Cathy: Once in a lifetime

I had to check the story from Goodreads since I couldn’t remember anything. Normal Kelly novel, nothing surprising except the white witch woman who was introduced in the beginning and then forgotten.

Harris, Jane: Sugar money

This could have been interesting but sadly it was so slow, predictable and boring I just leafed it through. A story about two slave boys at Martinique who try to save their former slave comrades from Grenada. Part of the not-engrossing was the thing that the boys talk in Creole so I had trouble understanding them.

Walker, Fiona: Lots of love

Finally a chick-lit I enjoyed a bit more even thou it’d have been more interesting with fewer pages. Some nice witty bantering, crazy villagers and ’hot mess’ as someone said in Goodreads made it a nice beach book.

Matson, Morgan: Save the date

Oh dear, where to start. A highschool girl’s sister is getting married at their house and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. At first it gave some chuckles but in the end you just wait what the author has decided. The plot itself promised so much more as the mother is a cartoonist who has been drawing a strip of a cartoon family with nation wide following and the family is of course the base for the cartoon. One of the son’s isn’t talking to his mother due to that and there’d be so much potential for a different kind of book but it all gets steamrolled under the disasters happening. So it was okay but not what I expected. I also got mixed up with the family members since there was so many of them.

Hoffman, Alice: Rules of magic

A prequel for Practical magic which I read years ago and liked a lot. So I really enjoyed reading this one too. I like Alice Hoffman’s style and now I’m thinking of rereading Practical magic too. Beautiful writing provokes thoughts about living and loving and life.

Carey, M.R. : The girl with all the gifts

I seldom pick up books about zombies and I really haven’t watched many movies etc about them so I was a bit surprised when I realized this novel was about them. An interesting dystopian thriller about what it is to be human and what makes one human. For some reason I went to the Net and watched the movie trailer and it made me just angry. So don’t do that. This novel deserves so much more.

Ng, Celeste: Little fires everywhere

A novel that leaves you thinking about all kinds of things. Very good story about a small town and the people in it. I really liked the way Celeste Ng describes teenagers. I bought this one at Honolulu airport because I had just finished ’The girl..’ and I didn’t have anything to read on the plane and then I couldn’t read this in the plane because it needs commitment and space to think about it all.

Rowling, J.K. : Casual vacancy

OMG. Just saying that this one makes me feel sorry for the trees. A small town in England and it’s local people trying to bully and bullying each other to do what they wish. In the end teens save the day again. Really a waste of paper, ink and Rowling’s talent.

Edvarsson, M.T.: A nearly normal family (audiobook)

Okay. A Swedish detective story about a family with father (a priest), mother (a lawyer) and 18-y-o daughter. The daughter is taken to custody for killing a man. Firstly I really didn’t realize it was a Swedish novel until I heard RA saying the names in English (I do wish they had someone teach the Swedish pronounciation) and then I had trouble keeping listening to the story because Swedish thrillers are boooooring. Sorry. Secondly I really don’t like reading legal procedures since they are quite boring. I think mostly I just enjoyed hearing Richard’s voice in my ears because I knew the culprit quite early on. And I admit, I have a mild dislike on Swedish thrillers, they are usually slow and dragging.

Doerr, Anthony: All the light we cannot see

A lovely book. I had some distrusts with it in the beginning due to all the good words I had heard and read but in the end it was really a lovely story about how coincidental life is and can be. At the beginning the chapters changing felt a bit awkward but once the story got me I got used to it. A blind French girl and a poor German boy during WWII about once again being human and moral compassion and love. Luckily the story continued past the war too but a bit differently than one expected.

Tudor, C.J. : The taking of Annie Thorne (audiobook)

As I’m not a great fan of horror I thought that this was just another detective story. So I was not thrilled with it. For me it was also a bit sloppy mix of Stephen King’s ’Shining’ and ’Pet semetary’, I think C.J. Tudor climbed over the fence where it was lowest. Once again Richard’s voice forgave a lot, he is honestly one of the best audio book actors there is. The story itself wasn’t frightening at all, I liked some of the characters (especially the school mistress) but it’d have been better with more editing. Again sorry for the trees.

So there, some books were really great and some were really not and then there was the middle ground. All in all quite a good reading and I still have a week left to read from dawn to dusk!