Friday, June 4, 2010

ota ja istu: Have a seat

These two photos illustrate the article I just wrote for New World Finn. This one is of my maternal Grandmother and Grandfather in their tupa, or central room of their farmhouse in Juonikyla, Finland. They are both deceased now. As you can see, they are dressed in their Sunday best for the photo, and although the muuri is an important part of the tupa, they have positioned themselves in front of the tv. The muuri, the old big stove and heater, signifies work, work, and work, but the tv? Ahh, a bit of leisure ...

not that my Mummo had much time for leisure having birthed 17 children.

Now, as you know, if you are a regular reader of my blog, my sisters and I write an article for the quarterly New World Finn, which is published in Minnesota, US. Once a year we write a collective piece, and for the other three issues we take turns writing. Last issue, which you can read online as a sample, my sister, Katja, wrote a story about Aino. (you can also see her images of Aino that she created). The story is her retelling of Aino, the female character who Elias Lonnrot invented from other fragments for his epic The Kalevala, a collection of old Finnish runes, poems and stories.

The photo above was created by three people: Mr. Hautala who took the photo of me, my mother and my father in the late 50s, my sister Della, who made a photo copy and made it into a card, adding a frame and some text, and my sister, Katja, who digitized it and added some of her own magic to bring it alive!

My article for the next New World Finn issue is called "Ota ja istu: have a seat." That's a Finnish expression extended to someone who has dropped by; you are inviting them to sit down while you make them a cup of coffee. My article is a story about immigrating to Canada in the 50s and learning how to become middle-class Canadian in the 60s and 70s. I do that through talking about the changing rooms and furniture, the changes of what was part of the agrarian Finland we left and what came to be in Port Arthur, Canada, and how those rooms and furniture shape who we are as individuals; indeed, moving us more into individualism in the North American capitalist context. To read my story, however, you will have to buy the spring issue of the New World Finn!


20th Century Woman said...

My husband, Jerry, is 100% Finnish. His parents were born here, but spoke Finnish (as well as English, of course). He knows no Finnish, and very little about Finnish culture, but he would be interested to learn. I will try to get this publication, and I will read your article with interest.

northshorewoman said...

Hello 20th c woman,

Does he know what part of Finland his ancestors came from? That will make things even more interesting for him in his return to his roots.

Lots of Americans and Canadians of Finnish descent know very little about Finnish culture. The problem is it was so easy for us to assimilate.

btw, I am going to order Lila the Werewolf, the novelette that you had read way back in the 70s. It seems to have great reviews and I might use it in my class.

Jorma said...

Eivät tainneet etelän Mummo ja Paappa tietää 1960-luvulla, että 2010 ovat katseltavissa mailmanlaajuisesti, istuessaan omassa tuvassa.
Niin aika muuttuu, mutta seuraavia lintukuvia katsellessa ei suunta ole kovinkaan toivottava. Valitettavasti vanha suomalainen sananlasku pitää paikkansa:"Rahalla saa ja hevosella pääsee."

northshorewoman said...

hello Jorma,

Imagine! Mummo and Paappa in cyberspace! No, they would never have imagined that back in the 60s. Mummo got mad at me once for changing the channel on her radio.