Friday, October 30, 2009

Hallowe'en wizard

I found this Wizard wandering in my yard this foggy morning. I thought he might be looking for the Friday Faery....or then again, seeing as he has a shrunken apple for a head, he might have today mixed up with tomorrow--Hallowe'en--and has started his haunting a day early...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

some stumps I saw

Last Sunday my husband and I went for a hike in the woods.

The trail we took starts at Balsam St. just north of the Expressway.

It is an old logging road.

It goes all the way to Trowbridge Falls.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kauhajoen miehet

This morning I walked a big loop counterclockwise. It was a wonderful warm foggy morning. This is unusual for late October! It felt like spring in the air but of course we have winter on our doorstep, so it is just a trick of nature. I walked to Hillcrest Park,

then down the Bay St. stairs. Sometimes I run these stairs the other way. That's on days when I'm feeling energetic. Today I went down them, walked along Bay St., did not find Urho playing his haitari in front of the Hoito, then continued on my way, turning down the side of the Finlandia Club, and hoho! Ketӓ tӓӓllӓ? who did I see unexpectedly?

The Kauhajoen miehet. The men from Kauhajoki .... or 4 of them, that is.

So, I said in my Finnish murre, this is where the men go to hide?

Well, Kauhajokilaiset (those from Kauhajoki) have to have a meeting somewhere, replied the youngest one. Each of the men are in their late 70s or early 80s.

So, I said, I've come to the right place then! They all laughed.

We're here on this side to enjoy the sun, said the tall skinny one who walks with a limp and always carries dog biscuits in his pocket.

And the sun is shining nicely today, I said.

Are you planning to go to the hituuni tanssit (fancy dance) with the Hyvӓt Herrat? said the man with the gold piping on his cap, pointing to the sign up on the side of the Finlandia Club.

I turned to read the sign. Hyvӓt Herrat, I read out loud. November 13. I don't know them.

They're from Kauhajoki, said the one with the cap like a sea captain.

Hmmph, I said. What if a girl doesn't know how to dance? What if she lost the way to dance because she's become too much like the Kanaatalaaset? (the Canadians). What should she do? How can she go to the dance if she doesn't know how to dance?

The man with the broad face and wool cap said, Isn't it the band that's responsible to get the dance moving?

Everyone laughed.

When the drum strikes, said the man with the cigarette, cutting his arm through the air with a flourish, just jump to it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Finn Forum IX call for papers

In 2001, my sister, Katja, and I traveled to Jyväskylä, Finland, to present a paper at Finn Forum VI on research that we did with women and girls of Finnish descent here in Thunder Bay. Our paper, "Roots and Wings. Re-writing identity, tradition and culture: the shifting notion of self and community" was subsequently published in the book Entering Multiculturalism: Finnish Experience Abroad, the cover which you see above. The cover painting is by Aura Jylhä -Vuorio, "Isoäiti ja Ameriikan arkku II" (Grandmother and the American trunk II")

The Finn Forum is a series of Finnish-themed conferences with a traveling venue, from Finland, Sweden, US and Canada.

The next one will be in May of next year here in Thunder Bay. Find some information here and here, and the call for papers here. From the English language call for papers:

"The theme for Finn Forum IX is Finland and the World: Past, Present and Future. We welcome submissions dealing with Finnish history, migration, culture and language. In this era of globalization we also encourage submissions for presentations and panels focused on contemporary cultural, social and economic aspects of the Finnish Diaspora and the country’s impact on the on the world."

I hope that folks out there send in some art-based proposals! Some innovative methodologies! Some challenging progressive interdisciplinary work using critical theories. New ways of seeing. Provoking re-thinking....

not the tried and true.

Enough of the dusty corridors of a celebratory history or tradition. Finnish studies, as some of you may be aware, has not exactly been cutting edge nor progressive. Of course I am speaking in generalities, and there are exceptions (a conference held in Thunder Bay a few years back called Finnish Immigration During the Depression was great!). But it's not like any one who is not of Finnish descent is rushing to conferences on Finnish areas. That's one of the problems with Finns: exclusivity. Staying within safe, predicable areas and ideas. Tell me, why do Finns like to stay on familiar ground? While in the past some Finns challenged orthodoxies, I can't say that is the rule these days. More Finns ARE the orthodoxy, especially in Canada.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Garbage Poem

The 350 event held in Thunder Bay at Waverley Park was just one of more than 5200 held around the world. Here is the banner hung on one of the huge old cottonwood trees in the park. After a short program in the bandshell, which included local speakers, politicians, and the poetry word construction crew of which I am part of (my poem is below), we all walked to Hillcrest Park to have our photo taken on the hill with the Sleeping Giant in the background. We then walked back en masse to Waverley Park where John Cutfeet gave a closing speech. John blogs at Noopemig, which means "the forest" in Oji-Cree.

Below, my Garbage Poem:

Dear Universe,

We have made a mess of Earth.
Earth—a small crumb in the cupboard of your house.

We have sent tons and tons of garbage orbiting
a halo of space scrap circling in a cosmic stream above us.

Grandmother Moon—we bombed her.
Her serene face now littered with our military fallout.

We have dumped tons and tons of waste into the waters of Earth
oil sewage solvents detergents pharmaceuticals bilge chemicals
Barrels of unpronounceable names clearly stamped skull and bones.

We have set a sea of plastics swirling in the Pacific Ocean
a Texas-sized gyre of plastic rubbish
combined weight: 3 million tons.

We rub our bodies with chemicals hidden
in soul-satisfying seductive guises. We call them:
Moisturizer. Body shampoo. Make-up. Deodorant.

We feed our children chemical-based food-like products,
give them dead liquids branded The Real Thing.

Our homes are entombed in vinyl siding. We breathe
vapours of volatile organic compounds. Our stuff—
rugs, shower curtains, computers, electronics, walls, furnishings
poisoning us, slowly.

Polar ice shelves snap off, melting
tarpits, ravenous, swallow entire flocks of birds
yet still we drive to the mall to buy more stuff shipped in
from China transported to us across highways of roadkill.

How dear Mother of Blackness, stars and mystery
can we change our ways?

Our future has been written on the leaves of trees

but our trees are uprooted daily in clear cuts
by giant forest machines disrespected
1000 flattened per day.

How can we read the leaves to see our future
if we’ve torn down the trunk and shredded the body
into pulp to blow our noses?

Our Mother who art the Universe
give us this day the wisdom and the resistance
to stop the destruction of our holy home.
Grant us the anger to kick out the politicians
whose heads are in the oilsands, who defile
our small encampment in space in the name of
development and democracy.

Dear Mother, help us.

Tamil Nadu 350 Action for Climate Change event

The number of 350 events held and the creativity of the events is truly inspiring! Photos and videos are pouring into the 350 website, a few of which I've posted below.


"Today together, children, young people and the elders, all of them Totonacas, an ancient native tribe from the northern region of the State of Veracruz in Mexico, gathered to create a splendid 350. The message is clear: TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT! The chosen place is one of the most important archeological sites in Latin America, called "El Tajín." The "Voladores de Papantla" an ancient dancing ritual of the Totonacas, have just been recognized as Cultural Heritage of the Humankind by the United Nations. We all sang and danced to make it happen, to reach a better world for all!!! Greetings from Mexico, Víctor Alvarado"

# And what does this 350 number even mean?

350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide—measured in "Parts Per Million" in our atmosphere. 350 PPM—it's the number humanity needs to get back to as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change.

If we're already past 350, are we all doomed?

No. We're like the patient that goes to the doctor and learns he's overweight, or his cholesterol is too high. He doesn't die immediately—but until he changes his lifestyle and gets back down to the safe zone, he's at more risk for heart attack or stroke. The planet is in its danger zone because we've poured too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we're starting to see signs of real trouble: melting ice caps, rapidly spreading drought. We need to scramble back as quickly as we can to safety.

"This is a very special shot, for which we owe great thanks to our friends at Friends of the Earth Middle East. The 3 -- That's on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea. The 5 -- Down the beach, in Palestine. The 0 -- It's on the Israeli coast. The Dead Sea is dwindling, and we need to take action to keep this remarkable corner of the world livable. If there's any image that illustrates the ability of people to come together across political boundaries, this should be it."

The video above shows what "Susi Newborn at Oxfam helped coordinate in New Zealand yesterday. Sending a message that New Zealand's Pacific Island neighbors are being "hung out to dry" by climate change, they erected a massive series of washing lines in the sea.

Pacific Islanders waded out to the lines and hung 350 T-shirts, each printed with the name of a different island, on a series of giant washing lines to highlight the insufficient action being taken to combat climate change.

Jane Filemu, a 9-year-old Samoan girl, walked through knee-deep water to hang the final T-shirt--a poignant reminder of just how high the stakes are, and an incredible sign of how intergenerational this movement has become."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

350 at Waverley Park

image from

Today is a global day of action on climate change. 350 An International Day of Climate Action gathers people and places around the world to do something directed at changing current policies. In our city, there is an event at Waverley Park this afternoon: "The Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU), Environment North, Earthwise, and local MP Bruce Hyer will participate in a common call to climate action that will be echoed around the world.". I've been invited, along with some of my fellow Random Acts of Poetry crew, to read a few poems. When I get back, I will post my Garbage Poem.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Door of Roses

gate of my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house in the village of Bishmezzine, Lebanon

yellow jasmine shrub outside my mother-in-law and father-in-law's back door of their house in the village of Bishmezzine.

my garden mint, which grows outside my back door, drying in my all-purpose baklava pan.

Today, I am sharing with you an excerpt from "Door of Roses" by Munia Samara, trans. Amal Amireh


doomsday of wind
talk of the garden
ambush of rubies
hiding in its sleeves
the leaf of the scene
and painting
the tea of the poor.



embellishments on the shirts of houses
and a perfume for the hands of the passersby
it amuses the picture of time
and when wind shakes it
it releases its seagulls
toward the villages.

Munia Samara is a Palestinian poet; this poetry excerpt is from The Poetry of Arab Women, ed. Nathalie Handal

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

leaf ~ lehti

a leaf, drifted down to the cotoneaster that rests on the stone retainer wall bordering our front yard.

In Finnish, a leaf is "lehti". Lehti is also a page in a book and a newspaper, too.

Monday, October 19, 2009

a dove's breath

Sadly, I found out tonight Leila Abu Saba, who writes a blog that I read, Dove's Eye View, died earlier this month. She had been struggling with cancer. She was a brilliant writer, a compassionate woman, with an incredible vision. She will be missed. Her particular contribution to this world will be missed by many. She was writing a novel, and has written poetry, short stories, among other writings. Her death notice on her blog notes an excerpt of her inspiring words (below). It is part of a post she wrote, "Hello Kind World," addressed to a despondent online diarist:

"Upon returning from her family home in Lebanon a year ago while living with metastatic breast cancer, Leila wrote:

“So please, friend, bless what you have and let go of fear for the future. Today is the only day you have got. You are breathing. Enjoy your breath. You are alive. Enjoy your life. You have a daughter and parents. Love them. Bless everybody who comes across your path. And the work? Whatever. Bless your work, too. Bless your town, your bills, your possessions. You are lucky to be here for all of it. If some of it gets taken away, well fine, something else will take its place. You are an amazing confluence of billions of variables and nobody else is having your life right this minute.

Enjoy! And don't worry about hope. Just breathe and appreciate your breath. Everything arises from that.”

the shopping cart: technology of buy more

Sometimes, the eye of the earth stares at you. Like a wise old sage. Patient with your failure to learn your lessons.
Sometimes, even though you look back, you have a hard time making out what is there. What are you supposed to see?
There they are, the mallard couple. Paddling away.
Have you any idea how many shopping carts I have pulled out of McVicar Creek? How difficult it is to drag a shopping cart out of water?

Invention: shopping cart in 1937
Photo courtesy
Function: noun / a handcart that holds groceries while shopping
Definition: A device whose concept was simple: make shopping easier for the customer and they’ll visit the store more frequently, and buy more.
Patent: March 15, 1938

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Development does not match our dreams

Today, I stopped to pick up the dogs, Musti and Tassu, and like most Sunday mornings we walked along the shore of Lake Superior. The water was calm, no fierce waves today--or at least for the morning. Canada geese, hooded mergansers, and mallards paddled serenely about, yet swimming further out of reach when the dogs came into sight. The heavy flap of wings of a flock of 9 Canada Geese broke the silence. They looked like they were going to land on the water but they chose to skim its surface, careening out of sight around the bend. This bend, and what lies on its other side, are more or less all that's left for us walkers to walk at the downtown waterfront due to "development." I thought, as the dogs panted along beside me and Tassu drooled, that previous "development" made it so that we can't actually reach the water anwhere along this part of the downtown waterfront. As you can see [click on photo to enlarge], large rocks line the shoreline preventing anyone from actually touching the water. I thought how unfortunate as the dogs panted for water beside me. I find it odd that folks push for "development" of condos and hotel on the waterfront to "bring in tourists" yet the images of Lake Superior that we desire and imagine are, like the 'fierce waves' photo I linked to above, of its more rugged untouched shores. I believe the photo that I linked to was taken on Fort William First Nations, east side of The Place Where Thunder Birds Nest. There are reasons beyond the bottom line why shorelines should remain out of the reach of "development." Too bad we don't seem to learn our lessons.

Around the bend, down the road, earlier "development." Much of the shoreline along Lake Superior along Thunder Bay city was given to industry. Most of it looks like this.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Garden Scrapbook

Here is the cover of My Garden Scrapbook. I haven't added to it for a couple of years at least, although there are many blank pages waiting to be filled. Tick tock. In My Garden Scrapbook, I have written down the names of flowers and plants in my garden, their medicinal or healing purposes, historical information and other tidbits of lore, drawn maps of what I planted where,

pasted in photos I have taken (like this butterfly on the Mock Orange bush by our front steps), images from magazines (like these china plates from an Irish magazine), and other scraps and snippets of paper and other errata that I keep saving in a large box...or two.

Hmmph. Where was that now?....I mutter as I rummage through boxes and rifle through papers...

In my Garden Scrapbook I also make pages on my dreams. Of what I hope to do. Sometimes the plans are beautiful, but time-consuming (like this healing garden idea by Marjorie Harris), so I postpone things knowing how much work it will be. Don't get me wrong, as someone with hardworking Finnish ancestors laboring away in my DNA, I love hard work and have learned to just keep working no matter what. My problem is I have too much work so sometimes my dreams stay in the pages of my journals. Also, too many dreams.

Sometimes I get carried away. Take this mishmash collage, for example. I must've put it together in November when it was gray and gloomy.

Yesterday, while I was crawling the web, I came across an interesting site that allows you to make mish-mash collages online; it's called Polyvore. Unlike my archive of snippet filled boxes, spiral bound scrapbook, scissors and glue, one's snippets online are taken from websites. Many of the creations (called 'sets') focus on fashion, clothing, shoes, jewelry, perfume, brand names, and other consumer goods. So, when you use a "scrap" for your set then you link the looker to where one can buy it. Of course. TO embed one onto your blog you automatically link to a brand name (see below).

Along with Rising Trends and Celebrity Styles, there are also sets categorized under Art and Expression. Of course, you can see how many hits a set gets so you can get quite popular (or dream to be popular)and get quite competitive in your creativity. Such is our capitalism. It is inside our heads. What I find interesting is that you can read the sets for their cultural meanings (I think I will include this site in the syllabus of my next Consumer Culture and Identity class). You can read them /decode them to see how their makers construct representations of themselves through consumer products. What is selected and what does that say? How do the pieces selected inform each other? What cultural narratives are revealed in the sets?

And, of course, people are very creative. Some of the sets transcend the set aside boundaries, while also participating in consumption, and perhaps...

challenging some stereotypes along the way. Like this set called American Muslimah by Hajar Zamzam Ismail.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Suheir Hammad's poem of her Mother

Suheir Hammad performs in Ramallah at the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre as part of the Palestine Festival of Literature


By Suheir Hammad

Complexion Medium Certified

not too sweet not quite hot not too black not quite white

what was so middle about her

hands detangled parted and quilted

thick black waves

into braids rolled

grape leaves with style and speed

scrubbed ovens knees and backs of ears

clean with love nails always looked neat

but on closer inspection chipped and tugged tired

her voice singing um kolthom to foreign raised ears

Certified Citizen Natural Complexion Medium

how would hips be categorized


or nose semitic

would your butt be your

african trait eyes indian hair mulatto tongue arab

mama you natural woman

of sun water air

given a nation though no land

palestinian woman loss embroidered on your forehead

more than thin -ass pieces of paper which

never certify your aspirations

dreams heartbreaks

you can make vegans eat your lamb with relish

rip your heart out to feed your man

you who makes rhinestones

sparkle diamonds sequin your daughters? ears with your laugh

memorized (but didn’t have) dead presidents backwards

and forwards for citizenship a place to lay your head

but always told us

take me home when i’m dead

woman natural medium middle to nothing

never can they certify

what they don’t


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Canada's (war)head is in the (oil)sands

image from

Fellow blogger, Merche Pallares, passed on a message from one of her fellow bloggers who asks bloggers to post on climate change today.

Of course, many readers will know that Canada is one of the worst nations in the world for polluting and failing to address the climate havoc we are causing. The Alberta Oil Sands project, which is an environmental destruction visible from the moon (should I say the bombed moon from now on?), is our premier claim to notoriety as polluting giant. The horror and extent of the environmental and social destruction is huge (forests, land, water, health, First Nations people and communities), demanding nothing less than a COMPLETE SHUT DOWN.

The oilsand project is destroying northern boreal forests in Alberta so quickly that soon an area the size of the state of Florida will be gone! Really, think about that. A forest area the size of Florida ruined, gotten rid of, bulldozed, lost, damaged, destroyed, contaminated, killed. But apparently that fact is not shocking enough for Canadians as polls show that our corrupt leaders headed by Stephen Harper, the notorious denier of the holocaust brought upon the First Nation's peoples through colonialism, would most likely get a majority government if an election is called.

The proof is staring us in the face: most Canadians don't really give a damn about the environmental or social destruction caused by the Oilsands. If we did, why aren't we rising up in outrage? In fact, many are rushing to Alberta to go to work (big money) and so participate willingly and greedily in this massive wholesale state and corporate TERRORISM on the environment and the people, primarily First Nations who live within its boundaries, but also everyone in the world due to its impact on climate change.

Indeed, while many people at home are asleep at the wheel (that is, busy with entertaining themselves with junk tv, shopping, holidaying, and other ills of consumer culture) not everyone so privileged has put their head in the (oil)sands. Just last week, "G77 delegates walked out on Canada’s speech at Bangkok climate negotiations last week" because we have failed and are "in fact the very worst in the world when it comes to meeting our Kyoto obligations and cutting greenhouse gas emissions." So reports Diana Bronson in "Canada Still a Rogue State in Global Climate Negotiations."

Why didn't I hear about this walkout on mainstream media? Why is it important for the Canadian media to tell me when Harper's government walks out on Ahmedinejad or the UN Conference on Racism but does not tell me when the world walks out on him?

The current Canadian economy is a war economy, that is, we profit (make jobs, build technologies, sell technologies, make money on, add to our GNP) by going to war. We profit by occupying Afghanistan and in our "hunt for Taliban" killing innocent civilians. War is Canadian business. Our war economy also gains by supporting the state of Israel which is in the business of killing innocent Palestinian people whose only crime is that they are Palestinians who refuse to go away. Israel is Canada's Business:

"Les Abelson, an international businessman who lived in Canada for five years doesn't need to calculate dividends to see Canada's effect on Israeli culture. Now living in Israel, he notices it everyday. 'I wake up, drive on the Canadian-financed Highway 6, and as I get close to Tel Aviv I see the lights of the Canadian-built Azrieli shopping centre, where I watch the double-decker Canadian Bombardier train speeding past me'."

Indeed, we are so supportive of the military state of Israel our Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently received the Presidential Gold Metal for Humanitarianism from B'nai Brith International, the first ever Canadian to receive the award as well as the first time a sitting PM has received it.

The old truism, "war is good for business" rings like an alarm bell in Canada today yet many cannot hear its clanging. The military industrial complex is a linking of the economy and war, with social damage, environmental destruction, and climate change as part and parcel of the business of war and war economies.

Below are some excerpts from some recent articles that address the links between war and environmental damage and climate change.

In her article Fight Climate Change by Ending War, Andrea Peloso writes:

Given the immensity of pollution caused by war, peace may be the only solution to global warming.
War devastates ecosystems with radiation, wasteful burning of oil and destructive use of resources that are needed for positive social purposes. [Barry] Saunders [in his book The Green Zone] explains:

“Here’s the awful truth: even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the Earth would still be headed head first and full speed towards total disaster for one major reason. The military…produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all of it’s inhabitants large and small, in the most imminent danger of extinction.”
Peace activists and ecologists have both known since the inception of the Iraq War that it is a war about oil, a war to continue the North American consumption and economic model as is -- an impossible illusion as oil is non-renewable and running out. Rex Weyler, founding Greenpeace member and ecologist, says, “Global warming is a symptom of human overshoot: the consumption and waste that exceeds the biophysical capacity of the Earth. If we attempt to reduce the fever, but ignore the disease, we will, at best, extend the suffering.”

The same thing could be said about war: war is a symptom of the consumption and waste that exceeds the biophysical capacity of the earth, and its people. War is a tool to maintain the current economic model of consumption for the powers that be for as long as possible."

In his article The Canadian Armed Forces & the Environment, Yves Engler begins by stating:

"Reducing the size of the Canadian Armed Forces should be a priority for those of us that want a more peaceful world. It should also be a priority for anyone concerned about the environment."

Below are some excerpts from his article:

"Military pollution reaches the highest clouds and bottom of the ocean floor. According to Navy guidelines, Canadian submarines are permitted to dump oily bilge water into the sea. Similarly, naval frigates are allowed to use the ocean as their trash can. In September 2007 the Globe and Mail uncovered changes to Navy policy that allow ships to dump food waste in the Arctic sea.
Government files suggest that there are 92 underwater spots in Canada potentially laden with unexploded ordnance. For nearly half a century, the Army pounded Lac Saint-Pierre, near Trois-Rivières Québec, with shells as big as 155 millimeters (the size of a fire log). DND admits that more than 300,000 projectiles have been tested in Lac Saint-Pierre and they maintain a year round 'caution zone' at the lake since there are an estimated 5000 live shells on the lake's bottom.
The Tsuu T'ina [First] Nation, close to Calgary, was littered with weaponry (such as air-to-ground rockets, 60-pound shrapnel-filled howitzer rounds and explosive mortar shells) used during the Boer War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. But the Army made a halfhearted attempt to clean up its mess. At the start of this decade Tsuu T'ina community member Samuel Simon complained: "In 1981, the military had 1,000 soldiers in here for 16 days. They certified the land free and clear of explosives, and then dumped it back on the nation. Since the military declared the land cleared, we have pulled out one million items of ordnance, expended rounds, live rounds.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the story on my kahvi myssy

Eukko. Sininen hame ja punaiset sukkat. Blue skirt and red socks. Her white apron and headscarf suggest she's wearing her best.

Ukko. Mutta aika pitkӓ tukka. But quite long hair. He looks more like the son; she like the grandmother.


This is the handmade kahvi myssy (coffee cosy) that my mom gave me that used to belong to Alma. It is made of pellava. What sort of story does the myssy tell? Well, eukko and ukko are quite far apart, even though the difference between them is one letter. They face each other, as if in a duel. Maybe they don't talk to each other too much. Eukko carries a basket, but ukko is empty handed! In fact, he has his hands in his pockets, quite relaxed. Does Eukko have to always do all the work? They live in a little log mökki, surrounded by forest flowers. Even though they are far apart, and even though they stand on different sides of things, nonetheless, love is the sun that shines on them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


vintage Finnish copper kahvipannu(coffeepot)

Try some Finnish today! Here is the pronunciation of kahvipannu

Which Finnish Canadian household does not have a model of this copper kahvipannu hanging around as a decoration somewhere? The "old way" of making coffee on the stovetop is still the way I make it everyday! I never use a coffee maker unless I have a huge crowd over. It's never hot enough. And besides, who needs to make such a large pot? I never throw coffee down the drain. How to make "old style" coffee? Just boil the water in a pot on the stove, take it off the element, add your coffee grounds, put it back just for a sec than put it on the side, preferably covered with what in our house is called a myssy. I use cream in my coffee, too. I will make a great old Finnish lady one day....although...while I make coffee every morning using the tried-and-true Finnish stovetop way, I use fairtrade organic coffee beans that I grind fresh (Kultamokka available here is not fairtrade) and my kahvipannu is actually a small Arabic coffee pot...hmmm. What kind of Finlander am I, anyway?

Monday, October 12, 2009

coffee time

photo by Kari Leo: Metsän emäntä

This amazing photo by Kari Leo won Finland's nature photo of the year. My cousin, Ari, who lives in Finland, sent me the link to this photo. What a beautiful photo! It really captures the sense of having a sanctuary in the woods...with an unexpected visitor coming to join you for coffee! The contest attracted 9000 entries, and I'm sure the other photos were great, too. Kari Leo's winning photo of a Siberian Jay coming for coffee in the backwoods won him 5000 euros. On the ESS Finnish newspaper site, it says that the judges especially liked how the photo captured the backlight coming through the dusky woods. The light exposes the wings and tail of the descending bird like an xray. The judges also said the photo highlights the cultural heritage of nature, and through that allows the viewer to return to his or her own memories of this legacy. The photo is called "Metsän emäntä." There is really no translation into English that will do it justice. While some might translate it as Forest Mistress or Forest Mrs. in fact the word "emanta" does not translate across gender without knowing the historical context of the word. Emanta is more like the female director, manager, or overseer of all matters in the domicile. So, this Siberian jay is an impressive visitor dropping by!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

the cat came back

Yesterday, I had a visitor.

She walked along the window sill of the front porch, turned the corner, then stopped to groom herself. After she was happy with herself, she sat staring inside. What caught her eye? She's curious and wants to come in. She's been here before with her big grey eyes.

Today, I had another visitor, although this one is not eager to come inside. She comes by the rock garden looking to see if I've set out any peanuts. She wants to get them before Crow and Bluejay or the other squirrels, especially the big gray tree squirrels that'll chase her out with a snarl.

We had snow last night. The black-eyed susans are covered now.

The owl didn't mind the cold and snow although the plants in the garden were struggling against the bitter winds. My hands froze as I picked a basketful of arugula.

This is part of the yard that I call "the jungle." It just grows its own way no matter what I do, so I leave it alone.

The Chinese wishing ball has a snow cap, too. I was wishing that snow and cold didn't arrive just yet, but my wishes went with the wind. Tomorrow, I'd better get out in the yard and put the wishing ball, Lily, and the cherub water sprite away into the garage as they can't withstand the cold when the hard frosts come to stay. I'd hate to see Lily in pieces.

Friday, October 9, 2009

vintage photo of the women of Hoito

Vintage photo of female workers outside the front of Hoito Restaurant. It looks like a summer or a beautiful sunny fall or spring day. The women, I am guessing from their clothing, all work either in the kitchen of the Hoito or perhaps as servers. They not only all wear crisp white aprons, they even have the same bob hairdo! Maybe the two women on the far right are the head cook and assistant? There strong arms and big hands tell me they mean business. The woman on the left in black--who is she? I don't have any information about this photo but perhaps she is the manager of the restaurant?

Regardless, all the women workers belonged to a union, a powerful union.

What year was this photo taken, by whom and for what reason? Can we tell what year from the hairdos? Maybe it is the 1920s-1930s? It was before sneakers were standard foot wear as all the women are wearing flats. The building was built and open to the public in March 1910. The Hoito Restaurant was opened in 1918, but I can't remember what year the front of the building was changed

to accommodate a front entrance to the Hoito. [photo above also from the Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society online archive]

In the photo of the female Hoito workers standing out front, a group of people stands in the back on the stairs leading up to the Finnish Labour Temple, watching the photo being taken. The stairs are different today so whenever this photo was snapped, it was before renovations to the stairs, when the Labour Temple looked like this; so, it was before front stairs leading down into the Hoito were put in.

The sign in the background says, in Finnish, Ainoa Kuluttajien Omistama Ruokala Kaupungissa, which translates roughly to The Only Co-operative Restaurant in Town, although "kuluttajien omistama" translates more literally to 'those who use it, own it".

In 1926, J.A. McDonald, organizer of the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World union] visited the Hoito and Finnish Labour Temple. "One of the IWW's most important contributions to the labor movement and broader push towards social justice was that, when founded, it was the only American union (Besides the Knights of Labor) to welcome all workers including women, immigrants, and African Americans into the same organization." The same Wiki page tells us that for several years, the Finnish Labour Temple served as the IWW Canadian administration, and that many of the immigrants who belonged to the union were Finns. When J.A. McDonald visited in 1926:

"it was the activities of the women that he was most impressed by. According to McDonald all the waitresses were members of the IWW, and one of the cooks was a woman who had served a year in a Finnish prison for her activities on behalf of the Reds during the Finnish Revolution of 1918."

The original photo of the women of Hoito is from the online photo archives of the Thunder Bay Finnish Canadian Historical Society; the digitally enhanced photo that you see above was done by my sister, Katja Maki.

On Sunday, Oct 18 from 1 pm - 5pm. the TBFCHS is holding its AGM, which includes a film screening and a social; everyone is welcome. It is held at Suomi Koti, which is off of Wardrope Ave. See more info on their homepage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

what about the groundhog?

Way back when I first started writing this blog, I told you about this tree. Now it's a pile of logs..due to development. I know this photo isn't very good, but

this is as close as I can get to where this golden birch used to be...due to development. The city and the developers that they have given this tax-payers-paid-for land to, have most of the waterfront fenced off so they can do their developing without being harassed. They will, of course, say it is due to safety reasons, and that is partially true, but it is only partially true. They will say, too, that they are quite excited about this development.

The birch used to be on the right hand side of this viewing platform, under which lives a groundhog. The groundhog comes up, and to the annoyance of the parks' workers I'm sure, eats some of the flowers that they have planted

in the shape of the Canadian flag. I see some of the munched flowers lying around. Groundhogs are vegetarians and why not eat these pretty munchies right outside your front steps...that is, stones?

The groundhog is shy and hides away, scurrying away by the stones when he sees you. He's always by that platform, running underneath it when he senses danger, so I think the rocks hide the opening to his den, which must be somewhere under that platform. Musti and Tassu sniff around those rocks sometimes, trying to get at him.

If you don't walk regularly at the waterfront and stop and look around, however, you will miss him. I am sure the workers down there cutting down trees and moving around docks and getting ready to fill in piers haven't a clue the groundhog is there. The groundhog has gone into his den for the winter. I am sure the city councillors and all those folks who are excited about the condos and hotel going up have never met the groundhog.

Groundhogs don't visit their dreams.

This morning I woke up in the middle of a dream. In my dream there was a groundhog. He was inside of his tunnels, inside the home he had dug out and lived in for a number of years. He should've been sleeping, but he was pacing around in there. Running back and forth along the tunnels he's dug out over the years. He can't get out. I thought this morning when I woke up, maybe it's better that he suffocates in his lair, anyway. If he gets disturbed and thrown out in the lake, there is no way this late in the year with winter on our doorstep that he has time to dig out another tunnel home and fill it with food.

Maybe this is is all made up. Maybe that groundhog is not sleeping under that platform and maybe that pier is not going to get "developed" and filled in blocking that groundhog's home.

Groundhog medicine is Mystery of Death without dying. I'm not sure what that means. But I'm sure that if a groundhog's home, if the opening to his tunnels gets blocked by earth and water, the groundhog is trapped and will die.