Friday, August 28, 2009

Tourujoen lehto -luonnonsuojelualue - The Tourujoen lehto Nature Preserve

This nature preserve is located just a short stroll from downtown Jyväskylä. No dogs allowed, no littering. Be carefull when walking on the planks and bridges. Some of them are in rather questionable shape. I decided to check it out on my way to the studio the other day.

How find the nature area. The blue points indicate the two entrances.

Näytä Tourulanlehto -luonnonsuojelualue - The Tourujoen lehto Nature Preserve suuremmalla kartalla

You may want to have more appropriate shoes than these.

Some people are just jerks. The same area was littered with bottle caps and cigarette butts.

The entry near Taulumäki Church. The sign reads "Nature Trail Temporarily Closed" There have been some landslides that may make the path unsafe. I found the path to be in reasonably good shape, although some parts of it required a bit of sure-footedness.
A bit of video from this nature area in Jyväskylä:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Garden at the end of August - Kasvimaa elokuun lopussa

I took this photo earlier in the week. I'm really starting to think that I'll be eating some fresh sweet corn this year.

The green beans have already been harvested and eaten.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

lastenneuvola - children's health clinic

The lastenneuvola (children's health clinic) services are available to all Finnish children who have not yet reached school age.

Reino had his first visit with a public health nurse when she visited our home shortly after his birth in July. My friends jokingly told me that the true reason for the home visits is to allow the nurses to snoop around for ashtrays and liquor bottles. Really the nurse that visited us just weighed him and checked up to see how we all were doing. It was actually nice to have someone stop by right away to let us know we were doing things right.

The other week he had his first visit with a nurse at the lastenneuvola (Children's Health Clinic) here in Jyväskylä. His neuvolatäti weighed him and measured him and then talked with us, answered our questions, and actually gave us some helpful advice concerning a few issues that we were having.

Reino has a bunch more visits scheduled throughout the next few years. I guess sooner or later he'll be getting his shots.

For more information about lastenneuvolat (Children's Health Clinics) in Finland check the following link: Finland's Ministry of Social Affairs Health page regarding Maternity Clinics and Children's Health Clinics (in English) here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Marinoitu liha - Marinated meat

One of the things that I've noticed while living in Finland is the "marinated" meat for sale at every grocery store. The stores and meatpackers have been acting like they are doing the consumer a big favor by "marinating" the meat in advance. Far too often I've been frustrated by the lack of a non-"marinated" option when purchasing chicken or pork. The suspicious "marinade", if I am forced to buy it, is inevitably rinsed off with water before I start cooking it. These marinades are usually just salt, sugar, and "flavor".

According to this article in the Helsingin Sanomat there is far more to be suspicious of than just the ingredients of these so-called "marinades". Turns out that less-scrupulous mongerers of meat and fish use these "marinades" to disguise old, stinky meat at their meat counters. Wow, thanks for "marinating" that for me dude!

Of course vegetarians out there won't be affected by this news but food quality issues affect us all, regardless of dietary choices. This story reminds me a of how butchers in the States used to dip chickens in bleach water to make them look and smell "fresh".

On a positive note - according to the article health inspectors will now be inspecting "marinated" meat products. On the other hand, nobody seems to have gotten ill from eating the old meats yet, so maybe there isn't really a problem. Just know what you are buying when the employee at the meat counter tries to push the "marinated" option next time you are shopping.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Riding a Tunturi through Jyväskylä

Riding my old Tunturi in Jyväskylä from the train station to the Rifle Factory (Kivääritehdas)where I paint, and then towards the church park (kirkkopuisto) and Yläkaupunki.

The music in this video is Kaljalasi by Muuan Mies.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finnish Cultural Assimilation Lesson #28

My fellow immigrants, here is yet another lesson from my course dealing with Finnish culture and how to make yourself a part of it. Far too often I run into immigrants who can't speak a word of Finnish even though they have lived here for years. Usually they come from English-speaking homelands and they make the claim that Finnish is so hard to learn. The fact of the matter is that they don't try, or if they ever did try, they gave up early years ago. This is a pity. Without the necessary language skills one will never be able to fully understand the complexities of the Finnish soul.

Fingerpori is an excellent comic strip by Petri Jaarla. Usually the humor in Fingerpori is based on puns and wordplay, therefore nearly impossible to translate into English. Every now and then I run across a Fingerpori strip that translates well.

Click on strip to enlarge.

Learn and use Finnish my immigrant brethren! If for no other reason learn the language so that you too can appreciate the humor of Fingerpori.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

tuohiköysi - birchbark rope

Tuohiköysi is a rope braided from birchbark. Birchbark (tuohi)was once an essential part of Finnish household economics. It was used to make shoes, backpacks, baskets, and kitchenware, among other things Article concerning items made of birchbark here (in Finnish, great photos).

Birch ropes were especially handy for nuottakalastus, a type of seine fishing that would often involve the whole village, neighbors cooperating to pull the net to shore. Tuohiköysi was well-suited for this purpose since it floats and does not waterlog easily.

The segment of rope in the following pictures is at least 200 years old. The tuohiköysi fell out of use in Finland after the introduction of rope made from hemp or sisal.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kasvimaa elokuussa - Garden in August

My little garden is coming along well. Peas have been picked and eaten. The leaf lettuce has run its course and gone to seed so I have planted some more to be enjoyed in September. The cilantro has flowered and gone to seed. The other herbs are thriving. The past few weeks had been pretty dry so I did some pretty intensive watering last weekend.

Carrots coming along nicely.

Green beans are possibly my favorite vegetable.

Leeks. I've never grown these before, so I have no idea if they are doing well or not.

Beets. One short row, just enough for a pot of borscht.

My ongoing sweet corn project. Male flowers aka tassels.

Sweet corn. Female flowers aka silk.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ateljee Autio

Near the village of Ylipää, on a ridge called Tapolanvuori, not too far from the southwestern shore of Lake Lappajärvi, you will find a troll's castle, a cave with paintings on the stone walls, a controversial church, and statues of concrete. These are all a part of Ateljee Autio, the studio of artist,stoneworking expert, and police officer Tapio Autio.

Open during the summer from 10-18. Otherwise, call one of the numbers on the sign to arrange a visit. Adults 5 €, children 2 €

One of the first statures that you will see.

The Ateljee Autio complex as seen from the parking lot.

Statues in and around the Troll's Castle.

A few of the Kalevala-themed paintings inside the rock-painting cave.

At the artist's request I didn't take any photos inside the church or the shrine. I was impressed by details that were found within. There is a warning posted outside stating that people have had physical and spiritual reactions from the church itself, ranging from repulsion to rapture.

There is also an observation tower that is well worth the climb.

Looking towards Lake Lappajärvi.

Looking down towards Ateljee Autio

How to find this place that is located somewhat off the beaten path:

Näytä ateljee autio, ylipää suuremmalla kartalla

Thursday, August 6, 2009

S/S Suomi

The S/S Suomi is a steamship that has been plying the waters of Lake Päijänne since 1906. We went on a cruise this afternoon with my mom and niece. A 3 hour ride - from the Jyväskylä harbor to Säynätsalo and then back again. 15 € per head plus tax. The ship has a a restaurant, a cafe, and a bar.