CLOUD 9 …


Cloud nine
gets all the publicity,

but
cloud eight
actually is

cheaper, less crowded,
and has a better view.

George Carlin said that and I find it very apt.

Photo by Rii. All rights reserved.

PS
Me entries are on the light side at the moment….
but am brewing some stuff with more substance,
so get ready, Folks!!

(Cloud Nine explained on Using English site online.)

Knitting or Stitch ‘n Bitch

“Those of you who feel knitting has changed your life, welcome to the club. I can think of no better occupation to reveal your own creativity.”

Kaffe Fassett

Wikipedia defines knitting as “a method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth. Knitting consists of loops called stitches pulled through each other. The active stitches are held on a needle until another loop can be passed through them.”

We had to learn knitting at schools in Finland from very early ages it being compulsory; I do have to admit that my ’products’ at that time were the most sorry sights ever! Really. What I managed to produce after much sweat ’n toil was one mitten, one sock instead of pairs of the same as required, a whirly-twirly scarf that looked like waves, and so on; you get the picture, for I absolutely disliked handicrafts then. That we had a sour teacher on the subject who did not like me, did not help either, it must be said.

Then years later I moved to Sweden where the girls were very partial to knitting and sewing — surprise, surprise!! as the reputation of the Swedish females would bring to one’s mind something totally different interests, eh?! — I learned to love the knitting, sewing et al. And from then on I have been doing my own patterns and whatnot, I absolutely love knitting nowadays.

Ireland, had I in my mind’s eye painted as, THE land of great yarns with the numbers of sheep the land has grazing in the fields, but when I reached the shores of the Emerald Isle, the selection was minuscule and pitiful to the ultimate as far as a variety of yarn was concerned. Sure, the meat of the mutton et al was and is ab fab over there, but as I said…The Irish, of course, are spectacularly gifted at spinning the verbal yarn, that is well-known world over.

It is funny as in ha-ha! to see that when the males want to ‘beat’ the women in females’ own games aka in cooking, etc., and even knitting — even though, Ezer Weizman said this: ‘Honey, have you ever seen a man knitting socks? ’ — they quickly become super celebrities as is Kaffe Fassett. What a brilliant name for kaffe in Swedish means coffee, by the way, and the beverage of choice in knitting sessions many a time. Here is what I found about KF on the net:

”Kaffe Fassett is known as the U.K’s King of Colour and Design – for interior and garden decoration, needlepoint, knitting and mosaic designs; also for his award-winning 1998 Chelsea Flower Show garden. Now he is designing sets and costumes for the Royal Shakespeare Company. His books include magnificent examples of tapestry, knitwear, painting, patchwork, fabrics and the latest mosaics, but the emphasis has to be on his original and daring use of colour.
Born in San Francisco, Kaffe Fassett’s earliest influences were the beauty and colour of his mother’s garden. In 1964 he moved to England and gardens are still what he loves most.” (Radio National Australia)

Great chefs carry their sets of knives, able artists carry their brush sets, and serious knitters have their knitting needle cases!

Stitch ‘n Bitch is a brilliant book of 258 pages on all things as per title; seriously, it seems like a handy guide to everybody who wants to have a fun and comprehensive reference on this grand pastime.

This is an absolutely hysterically funny video about knitting made by sharp-witted Finns:

”No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.”
Edvard Munch

Tis for now, Rii — who finds that knitting eases the frazzled nerves very much indeed!!

Fabulously in-vogue pages of knitting et al on Vogue online:
http://www.vogueknitting.com/vkm/?q=node/79
http://www.vogueknitting.com/vkm/

Victoria and Albert Museum great links:
http://www.vam.ac.uk/index.html

Other handy links:
http://www.knittinghelp.com/
http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/learn-to-knit
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knitting

(Revised) MEMORIES of CHILDHOOD in LAPLAND


'Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.'
Oscar Wilde "The Importance of Being Earnest"

You might think that I come from the sticks or that I was born and grew up in the middle of nowhere but that is not the case at all, as there was quite an influx of travellers to Tornio Valley, Lapland, already in the 17th and 18th centuries of the Common Era. In 1736-1737, for example, came an expedition to Tornio Valley to determine the shape of the earth. The result of these measurements was that for the first time the maps of that time included the Arctic Circle! I have truly enjoyed being and interacting with persons of foreign extraction and generally with all things international all my life and no wonder as my family roots go to several nations as well. It came sort of naturally by the way the life was there in Tornio Valley being the border and frontier country. The Finnish television did not reach that far north that time, so all we could watch with clear reception was the Swedish television so that I am well used to watching television without the subtitles into Finnish and ‘hearing’ words in a language which has been an excellent aid in learning a whole lot of other foreign languages that I have done ever since.

Ylitornio, the place where I was born and where I grew up is also where The Arctic Circle goes right through the villages of Ylitornio, on the Finnish side of the Tornio River* and Övertorneå, on the Swedish side in Lapland. It is said to be the most peaceful border on the globe. This latitude also marks the southernmost parallel at which one can experience the Polar Day – when the sun does not set – another name for it is the Midnight Sun between the 15.6-7.7. In fact, the sun does not go-to-bed there for several weeks over the summer months. It is also hard for the humans to hit the sack, as it is simply too sunny right through the night to even feel tired. We had the perfect excuse for not having to go to bed early as we could say: ‘it is not dark yet!!’ The opposite time is The Polar Night that begins on September 23, at the autumnal equinox culminating on December 21, when the sun does not rise above the horizon for 24 hours – and it is dark all day. Talk about the TWILIGHT ZONE. During the Kaamos -the dark period- everything is in these fabulous shades of blues, pinks and lilacs. It is terribly picturesque altogether. I am quite certain, that you would have seen photographs of Lapland in these gorgeously soft pastel colours, even though it did not cross your mind at all, that they were taken during the Kaamos. It could be that the talent, for sleeping anywhere, anytime for me, comes from having lived in Lapland. Finland also is very bright all-over in the summer – not just Lapland. The only difference is that the sun does not set but stays above the horizon in Lapland and in Finland it eventually sets – maybe 2-3 am and then rises up nearly immediately back!!

Another astonishing thing were the Nordic Lights, the Aurora Borealis, which were very common and at their most stunning at this latitude; and, especially, when there were no street lighting to hinder the prime seat viewing of the same. These lights would be in massive thick sheets that covered the whole sky in all the rainbow colours and more or less 360 degrees – all around one. I think that is where my deep love for colours comes from, actually. Did you know that Aurora Borealis has a sound that is majestically loud and absolutely, thoroughly awesome, though not scaring? Is it not true that light is sound, and sound is light?!

In this border country where I grew up, as anywhere in a situation alike, a special, local culture, both Swedish and Finnish has emerged; yet it is somehow distinct from both. A majority of the residents speak Tornio Valley Finnish – Meänkieli – the native language and the bearer of the culture which is also my own first language. Culture, that is distinctive in religion, in the local cuisine with its eastern influences – spices used for example – even though it is on the western border to Sweden. The local population uses several languages, Swedish, Finnish, Saami and Meänkieli, ’Our Language’ – that is what the name means in English – is a language spoken in both Swedish and Finnish Tornio Valley. Living in the border region has given the people of the valley a characteristic mentality and a genuine pride – a deep awareness of who they are, rather than the ‘nose-up- in the air’ -variety. The local population is meant to be even more fanatical about hot-hot sauna baths than the rest of the Finns. Well, one must try, in any which way, to keep warm – somehow! The temperature difference between summer and winter is roughly 60ºC. Whopping or what?!!

The coldest temperature in Ylitornio that I have experienced in my entire life was all of -44ºC!! The first snow, in my childhood in Lapland, came in September and the snow was all gone by mid May! Each year there was a bet with great prizes for the person, who guessed the day and the hour when the ice would break in the Tornio River. I remember that the breaking ice made a terribly loud and powerful noise or sound that lasted for days and days until all the ice was driven by the strong currents to the sea. Just think about the length of the winter – my reaction to that was that it was insane and that I wanted to live in warmer climes. I was crying, because I was so frozen as I did not have any extra insulation on me, i.e. I did not have the layers of fat to pad me up. The siblings and those around me at the time thought, that it was rather invigorating with all that chill ‘n snow. Not me! To think of it, the snow was on the ground for best part of the year aka Sept/Oct – mid May!! INSANE.

I remember that the summers in Lapland were so cool that it did not get over 20 C degrees hardly ever at that time, yet we did so much swimming in there year after year and all other outdoor things. It must have been in order to keep from being chilly! We just kept moving and running like anything!! Then when finished with the playing, went indoors and we were drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate. Internal central-heating, eh? My childhood memories of the summers are full of fun, activities and playing games of all kinds.

There was a boy in my class, that I think am, almost 100 per cent sure was a Saami. He looked like one very clearly. Anyhow, he did mention me how many reindeer his family owned. (Years later somebody ‘offered’ a million camels for me; this Lapland chap did not name the number of reindeer he was ready to part for me hand!! I do kind of wonder that how many beasts he would have been ready to part with, actually. lol) That would be the same as saying publicly what one’s bank balance is. Later on in my life, as I pondered that boy and his tormenting of me with tacks and stuff on my seat and generally harassing me, was that he fancied me. It did not hit me at the time, for the eleven-year-old boy’s tokens for love are rather painful, so that one would not put them into the category of love in a hurry! Would you?! He would sit behind me every other month, a month, that is still in my memory as sore; that is, my behind was tender with those sharp objects he’d leave on my chair as I would plunk myself down without looking over and over again, and OUCH…!! Sore. He sure got me attention: I was ready to trounce ‘im every other month to pulp!!! Ladylike**, I know to say that. Heehe That must be where we get the saying ‘Love Hurts’. Sure! If you think that after all these years my first memory of him is still PAIN, SORE etc., – you can be sure that it was VERY PAINFUL. Why the lads just cannot say their affections to one with nice words instead of pulling one’s hair, causing pain with all sorts of imaginative ways and so on is beyond us girls? Any theories/explanations gratefully received.

When we moved down to the Southern Finland, our life in Lapland and in Tornio Valley came to a very sudden end: it is by far the most dramatic move of my life. It was HORRID to have to move away from there. Southern Finland at the time was very strange and more ‘closed’ as introverted than Lapland, where masses of tourist from all over the world came all the time, and also living by the border made people more interesting and whatnot. And I sure have moved a lot in my life; from country to country and from a place to another, at times, at break neck speed! This is the most dreadful change, the hardest breaking away and the most costly move in my entire life. No other move has come even close to what this one was.

What are Your Memories? Tis for now. Riihele xx.

* The Tornio River is 520 kilometres long – that is 324 miles – and in certain places 3 kilometres wide – that is 1.87 miles – one of the few rivers in Europe that is not harnessed for electricity.

**I looked like a small doll, but I hadn’t got the dolly way about me for I just loved climbing roofs/trees, playing football et cetera more than the girley stuff. I do have four siblings, so I wasn’t the only daughter. That photo is Ikkle Rii. Cute,eh?!!

Tourists always complain about the mosquitoes, but the thing with the mozzies is that they do not bother the locals as they will only tuck into the strangers. I never remember once being that much bothered by them in my childhood. They know the blood of a Finn in the south and the even more exotic blood of a foreigner is so much more juicy & tender than the Lapland people’s, I reckon…!!

Motherhood Finnish-Irish Style

MOMS
“The art of motherhood involves much silent, unobtrusive self-denial, an hourly devotion which finds no detail too minute.”
Honore De Balzac

The brilliant thing about an international motherhood is that you can take the best of all the worlds and combine them into a tasty mixed salad of varied ingredients. That is: when both the parents are from the different nations with the clan roots of each one going to a whole lot of other nations. Also, when both have lived in various nations it all adds up to a pretty interesting mixture all-in-all!

When I got pregnant with my first baby, I took it for granted that the maternity care and the whole set-up would be like the Finnish one – the previous link tells the official Finnish Government information about the topic and this one is about the system in Finland – this link tells about having a baby in Finland written by two American journalists. It was published in The Washington Post in 2005. But, oh, how wrong I was! The antenatal care of the newly-baked mother begins well before the birth in Finland as one is to register in the Maternity and Baby Clinic within a few days of the confirmed pregnancy. That is the why that the lowest mortality rates in the world are in Finland for both the mother and the baby. In the clinic there are the midwives that are main caregivers and only if there are major complications or other health reasons, such as diabetics, does the mum-in-waiting be referred to the doctor for the all the care needed for during the pregnancy and the delivery of the baby.

The brilliancy of this system is that the clinic and the parent/s get to know one another really well and the aftercare – the postnatal care – is of a much higher standard when people are familiar with the whole situation from beginning to the end. The midwife is actively involved with the mother and the baby for the first few years of the child’s life – again adding to the continuation of the care.

The system in Ireland – the links tells about the Irish point of view into matters of maternity care and delivery of the baby – is not like that, but one has to go – as in my case – privately to the special doctor, that is the obstetrician – the link explains what is all about – to ‘get the show on the road’ – to have the baby-project going to its final end for the entire nine-month period of expecting the baby. Also, in Ireland you do not see neither meet the midwife until on the D-day. Some people do the home delivery-thing but for me the reason that the birth mortality rates have gone down in the west and elsewhere is the very fact that there are the modern hospital facilities at one’s disposal right then and there. In my case that is the only reason we – the babies and I survived – there would have been no change of survival otherwise!

These people at the La Leche League of Ireland were of great help to in my early days of motherhood in the alien land. One time I had some difficulties with Becki crying all evenings for days on end so that this new mama was absolutely shattered, through the grapevine of this organisation, a person living locally was dispatched to see what the situation was and she had it sorted out in a few minutes. The trouble was that Becki was sucking too greedily and getting a build-up of excess wind in the tummy which caused the crying. The remedy was to let her suck each time for 5 minutes only, then taking her off the breast and winding her and after that she could suck as long as she wanted. That was it. It stopped then and there for good.

Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.
Meryl Streep

This for now, Rii xx

The photo is off the net.


The GOOD LIFE: GALLSTONES

The Good Life

“Lack of pep is often mistaken for patience”

Kin Hubbard

There was a BBC comedy called ‘The Good Life’ – that was about two couples who were direct opposites to the other, and that is what made the comedy, comedy, and so very funny, but what I am telling now is not comedy per se, just about the Good Life that causes illnesses such as Gallstones.

The populace at large in the Western World is eating better and richer food than ever in the history of mankind. Yes, we are eating like the kings and royalty were in the olden times, every day. We were talking about this the other day with friends and I mentioned that not so long ago there were foods that were considered to be special treats for very special occasions which were consumed only ever a few times a year; what I mean is the rich fatty foods — the kind of gallstones and other illness building nosh. People used to eat simple dishes most of the time, only eating rich foods in the events of joy and merriment such as weddings, feasts and such like when the buffet table was laid out in great abundance and variety.

When I was working in a hospital in Sweden, to see if I suited and wanted to be a nurse, the thing that surprised me the most was, that when the patient had been registered in, the first person even before the doctor to meet him/her was the dietician, who would chart the eating habits, the foods eaten and diet of the said patient. And, without an exception, everybody’s eating habits and the foods they ate were drastically changed. The dietician would put together a schedule of the recommended foods for the patient with the right amounts nutrients and other health promoting factors taken into account.I changed my own eating habits and what I ate, dramatically, from that time on. Here is a link to very interesting study in WHO Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases.

Since that time I have eaten daily vast amounts of fresh fruit, berries, vegetables and eating a mixed diet of varied meats, fish at least twice to three times a week. I began to use good quality olive oil and less salt and sugar as well. Although, how pure & clean the nature where they grow, is particularly after the Chernobyl ‘accident’, another matter altogether! That nuclear incident is still affecting Europe very much. It’s rarely mentioned in the media these days but the affects and the consequences of it are very present with us still. Isn’t it rather odd that all this so-called healthy foods – fruit, vegetables, et cetera – are so very expensive everywhere, and yet, they are the foods that are promoted and advised by the health ‘experts’ for the populace to eat in huge quantities! Mind-boggling as to why then they are so costly even in the countries that produce them.

Stamina or pep, whatever one calls it, is most necessary in order to keep one’s vitality in the art of living & life as is also to have an attitude of courage, contentment and guts. I am saying this as there since a few weeks back I seemed to have been suffering from something that I just could not put my finger to. I thought, maybe, it is the tail-end of the hay fever with the last of the weed pollen before the autumn sets in? But no, not that either. I do have love/hate relationship with the nature.

The what?! I wrote about it in this entry: ’Nature of the Nature: Hay Fever’. And the reason for my lack of stamina, which is so unusual as it rarely happens – wheat sensitivity – at present suspected, but to be confirmed. I know that the Wheat Intolerance – affects among other things: the gastro-intestinal tracts = stomach and the Wheat Allergy – affects the lungs etc., and can lead to an anaphylactic shock. So I know it’s not the allergy definitely, but most likely the first mentioned. Although, to what extent I am to avoid the wheat and/or other grains. I have to sort this out and get me menu corrected.

It may be it is the nasty thingies that are put aka sprayed on wheat to make the harvest to be huge, makes it so that people do become allergic to the whole thing more than the ‘wheat‘= the grain itself. I just wonder with all these sensitivities which are so common world over nowadays that, you see. People have been eating wheat for thousands of years and now suddenly, we are getting so highly sensitive to it!

Hmm… makes me ask questions.

I think also that the pollution, the fertilizers etc., and whatever GM- Genetically Modified stuff are done to the food we eat, is causing a build-up in our bodies and hence the feeling of unwell, ill-health and so on in the populations round the world. Hmm…

Interesting.

I think that the feeling of unwell last autumn that I thought was wheat that caused it, was a kind of prelude to what was to follow in these past few months. It was the food poisoning in June this year that set the show on the road – so the say – with the most horrendous pain and agony-ivy, and then the rich & fatty meals eating out other times that put the finishing touches on this Finn’s gallstones!! There is a whole selection of them in me gallbladder apparently – the ultrasound showed them, you see. I did ask the doc doing the ultrasound what the inside view was like in me guts and he said that it was jammers with a row of pepper-sized gallstones!

Quite galling really – innit?!!

Tis for now, Rii xx

*I think that a lot of the time when there is a lack of stamina or pep, it is food related and not depression per se; so really the patients should be given allergy/intolerance tests by the dozen and then as the last resort the pills!

Some Handy Links:
Wikipedia Portal: Health

NutritionData.com online

Bloodindex – Find nutrition values for common foods

WORLD HUNGER online site

MEME: ‘Tis Me

Roses are Pink...

Rose is not a Rose by any other name.

“What’s in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

–From Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

I was tagged by LearningNerd the other day. The rules of this meme are simple: share eight random facts about yourself, pick eight bloggers to keep the meme going, tell the eight bloggers that you tagged them, and of course include these rules in your post.

1. I like to cook and try out my own inventions as well as recipes from all over the world.

2. My favourite ethnic food is Persian; number two is Middle Eastern and the third favourite cuisine is the Mediterranean.

3. I like to grow things. I planned, dug and planted my gardens in Ireland. I like the Old English Roses. Also I like the Callas and Lilies of various kinds and types.

4. I love to read, and read some more. If there’s nothing else to read, I will read the labels on the clothes, jars of food et cetera! Sad. I know, but true.

5. My all-time favourite movie is the WHITE NIGHTS with Mikhail Baryshnikov, Isabella Rossellini and Gregory Hines. I find this film an absolute nail-biter from the very beginning to the end.

6. I am a bit of an action woman but like to take it easy at times as well. Just to show what I mean read this and this!

7. My favourite colour is purple, the colour scheme on my other blog ye might have noticed. The next favourites are green and yellow, followed by the Royal Blue.

8. My favourite drink is Merlot – red wine – especially from Chile. Merlot with a Brie & other delicious cheeses plus a variety of fruit. Voila!!

 

Tis for now, Riihele xx.
© Photo: By Riihele. All rights reserved.

Unfortunately on this site, I do not know 8 people more to tag, so if you feel inclined to do this tag would you please let me know. Thanking you!

Looking Good: HAIR

CAMEO

“I’d luv to kiss ya, but I just washed my hair.”

Bette Davis
(American actress 1908-1989)

All of the females know the saying: ‘To have a Good Hair Day’ when everything of you and on you looks absolutely a million dollars! The opposite is also so familiar to us. I came to think of this subject because my hair is showing signs of needing a good crop, a sprucing up and a re-styling. Planning to get it done ASAP; i.e., the hairdresser will have a time slot for me.

Talking about hairdressers; the worst ones ever to cross my path were in Sweden, who simply had no clue as how to cut hair. I went to several highly recommended ones but to no avail. Disaster after disaster, I am telling you! My hair is silken in texture but thick and naturally curly – I keep it as straight as I can manage it, so when a hairdresser sees it, they think ‘ooh, easy-peasy…!’ But it isn’t, and shocking hairdos are dished out to me time after time.

My approach to a new country, to a new town and a new hairdresser therein is with the outmost caution these days – after so many woeful shocks what else could I be?! The very best hairdressers I have had, have all been in Ireland, in particular. Even there anytime my familiar hairdresser moved on or changes to another town, I bid them a sad farewell, thinking:

‘ Where to next?!’

In Israel the early adventures of my haircuts there were not positive so while living there the last time I fine combed – – an enormous amount of them before I trusted anyone to touch my hair. Why? Well, the last haircut I had in Eilat one time before travelling back to Scandinavia was the one where I was given a happy zig-zag all around the head in the various lengths et cetera. More of a very, very bad hair day in a nightmare. So this time while there my caution paid off as the ‘research’ – which was letting them wash my hair at the most in places, sometimes not even that, but it did give a feel of the place.

Finally I walked into a very stylish and posh looking place thinking that this could be it and saw four hairdressers sitting there and asked them in a friendly but no nonsense style:

Me: “Are you all hairdressers?

They : “Yes.”

Me: “Who is the best of you to cut hair?”

They: “Zvi is.”


So that was that. Zvi, the owner, became my hairdresser and Hanan, his sidekick, too, as they were both equally talented at the art of haircutting and styling. The salon gave Lattes, Cappuccinos and sodas on the house. Nice touch. My beverage of choice there was Espresso, which was done in a real machine, no instant packet stuff there. In Ireland one could have a cup of tea or the instant coffee-powder coffee. In Finland not even the packet stuff is offered in any of the salons that I have been in. (Anyhow, offering an instant coffee to a Finn would be considered an insult. This country takes its coffee very seriously.)

Now I am back in Finland and here again the research was done with a comb so fine that I thought that there was none to do the hair until I found Lea. And does she know how to cut, indeed, she does, and with such a flair to boot!

Do Have A Good Hair Day!

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

© Photo: By Riihele. All rights reserved.

Tips on hairstyles and such like in this link and this here.