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!