25 August, 2009


The kids have started it, and it's a bit of a mixed thing really. As predicted, the opinions on its merits swing wildly between "awesome" and "suX0r", if you care to ask the children. They're particularly displeased about some mornings beginning at 8am.

Overall they seem fairly ok about it all though. I can only imagine how tough it must be when you don't really know anyone and the teacher resists translating to English.

Jay complained about this loudly during the week, and then commented, "How can we ever learn Finnish if we don't understand what he says?!" Then not five seconds later he said, "Half the kids in my class all know heaps of Finnish, they 'blah-blah-blah' so fast!"
I waited a moment to see if he understood how those two sentences were related, but no penny dropped. I had to explain that perhaps the teachers' idea about using exclusively Finnish might have had something to do with the fact that the other kids had learned a fair amount of Finnish in his class. Jay wasn't impressed. We shall see how much soaks into their brains over the next nine months.

23 August, 2009


Power points in Finland never have switches!

This just feels so absolutely wrong. Even once I can cope with the ridiculously UGLY plugs in this place, it's just ingrained in us as children to switch off the wall before we unplug everything, and then these supposedly smart Finns just go and delete the switch altogether! A rip in the space-time continuum, my internets, a rip in the space-time continuum.

Related: Light switches are reversed. Down is off. Up is on. THIS TOPSY-TERVINESS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE! I quite fear for my sanity. This issue is causing me to continually second-guess myself. It doesn't matter how long I look at a switch, I can't tell if it's on or off. Flick. Oh, it was already on. Well, now it's too dark in here. Flick. And before you suggest it, NO. Looking up at the light fitting would be
cheating. We have a few double switches in this house that have two of them side-by-side, and if one is in each direction, my head almost explodes. WHICH SWITCH IS ON? WHICH ONE IS OFF? HOW TO TELL? And here, I can't cheat, because even if I know the kitchen light is on and the bench is off, I DON'T KNOW WHICH SWITCH MATCHES WHICH LIGHT. Ai ai ai, my brain.

21 August, 2009

I Heart Sauna

As the title might have hinted to you, we heated up the sauna tonight. Rachel and I went in together. She wasn't brave enough to be naked but once we had done ordinary conversation in there she says she will strip off next time... I think it is an Australian conditional thing to expect that if you're naked, people will stare. Sauna is a whole new ball game because it just isn't the way things go.

In the sauna it is acceptable to be naked among people you have never met, even if you wouldn't EVER speak to them fully clothed outside.
Josh wouldn't even come into the sauna. We think it had more to do with the fact that City of Heroes had just been installed. Kahvi and I went afterwards by ourselves. I feel so refreshed and invigorated. Sauna win.

19 August, 2009


Finns drive on the wrong side of the road. My dear husband shakes his head and says, "No! We drive on the Right." Well, yes. And the right side is the wrong side. If you're confused by that, well, so am I. I can stand at a roadside and the thought process is as follows:

Me: Normally, I'd look to the right before I cross. So, it's back-to-front here, so I should look to the left instead.

Me: But what if I am getting used to Finnish roads? Then "normal" would be to the left! So I should totally look to the right instead!

Me: But what if I'm just confused and I look the wrong way and then I step out and get flattened by a bus!?
And so I end up just looking both ways, even on dead-quiet streets. My paranoia can feel all the other pedestrians staring and privately thinking, "Guffaw. Tourist! Guffaw."

17 August, 2009

Weather 'n' stuffz

It's been perfectly reasonable, survivable and mild so far. In fact, so far it feels like... well, like Autumn does in Oz. I know, I know, just wait until the snow falls and then I'll be clicking my ruby slippers together non-stop.

Things to notice: All doors are wrong. That is to say: All doors open towards the outside, including front doors. I fear it will take a long, long time before I can stop myself from automatically leaning on every door that I try to enter (and in the process, look like a completely retarded fool).

Apparently there's a very good reason. And of course there has to be, since this is Finland, and everything is logical. It's for safety reasons. If there's a fire, you can run out a door by pushing it much faster than you could stop and pull it open. So I guess the Finns are saying: We do it the smart way. The rest of the world is too stupid to do things the smart way. And now I am torn between (1) applauding Australia for conforming to convention and making their doors the same as the rest of the world... and (2) thinking how dumb it is to just blindly follow convention even when it isn't nearly as smart.

Peer pressure is a powerful thing.

15 August, 2009

Guess What

Hey, guess what I've been doing? Shopping.

I still haven't hit Fida, but I have explored the bargainy goodness that is the Malmi flea market. My first visit netted a coffee machine, three light jackets, a t-shirt and Winnie the Pooh wallpaper. I am still trying to work out what I should do with the wallpaper. It was just one of those things I had to buy merely because it was cheap. Mum has a lot to answer for with these genes she passed on to me.

Also, I got myself a basket for the bike, which is very cool. And a handful of schoolish things for the kids, since they're starting on Wednesday. We have an appointment with the teacher on Tuesday. So far, child #2 is convinced it will all be impossible and unhappy, and child #1 seems to think it will all just cruise along fine. I have a feeling it will be somewhere in the middle. We'll see.

13 August, 2009


Kahvi's sister has given me her bike. Have I mentioned how cool Kahvi's family is? Anna, you're cool. I fully intend to trek all over Finland* now.

There is also Ilkka's bike but just now it is locked, and unless we can find the key it will be quite a challenge to attempt to use it.

Also, tonight I made a bean salad that was edible. It was, in fact, pretty damned good. chick peas+kidney beans+brown beans/navy beans+handful frozen peas+whole diced capsicum+small diced onion+half a diced sweet apple+punnet halved cherry tomatoes+dressing: dash oil+3 squirts lemon juice+herbal salt+pepper. Win.

* I may ride to the shops. Actually I jest, I will definitely use it. I totally want to hit Fida and shop my life away, and Fida is well outside walking distance.

11 August, 2009

Witnessing Injury

What is wrong with human beings? Wait, don't answer that; we'd be here all day.

There is something just fascinating about watching other people hurt themselves. Even more interesting is watching them do so in bizarre or spectacular ways.

Banzuke is on the tv every weekday here in Finland. I think that translates as "Japanese game show involving weird and wonderful variations of a school athletics carnival for five-year-olds, except that the contestants are grown adults". So far this evening we have watched the Unicycle Obstacle Course, complete with swinging weights to knock the rider off his cycle. Next up is Neko de Drive - another raised obstacle course where the lucky guys push their women around on top of a flat-topped cat-painted wheelbarrow. Fortunately, there is a donut roundabout, giant soccer ball, watermelon ramp, broken piano and plenty of speed bumps. (You know... in case you go too fast on your Neko wooden wheelbarrow. Hey, I'm serious here, the rider and driver both fall up to 2 metres down to the ground, depending on how spectacularly they f*ck it all up.)

Ahhh. Good Finnish tv programming. Heaven.

07 August, 2009

Fresh Raspberries

I always hated raspberries as a kid. Anything red, keep it AWAY from me. But apparently, I just hated raspberry "flavour", which definitely doesn't taste anything like fresh raspberries, which rock.

They grow outside my bedroom window. I've been picking them this morning... I need enough to go in the vodka.

Also, I'll be needing the vodka.

(Photograph posed by models.)

05 August, 2009

Oh the food I could feed...

...and eat... and eat. Cheeses, salamis, berries, rye bread, OMFG I have been stuffing my face. It is all sooooo yummy. I will need to get some exercise happening soon before I am too fat to leave this apartment! So far I have been able to "cook" alright. I don't have the spices and herbs I am used to owning but I'll make do. Finns are far more used to plain foods, or else buying the seasonings one ingredient at a time. They are slowly learning that there are more exciting combinations than "Italian herbs" when it comes to blends. And I, for my part, will not be assembling celery seed, cumin, coriander and 30 other items just to attempt (and fail) to replicate McCormick Steak Spice. It would seriously threaten my reputation for laziness. There is gravy here. It's called brown sauce. But you have to cook it. Kim says she will send me some instant Gravox. It will feel like Christmas!

03 August, 2009


I'm not actually here right now... this entry uses the wonderous feature known as "changing the date of the post" since I expect serious jetlag. All things going well, there will be some serious sleeping going on in the land of the midnight sun. Looking forward to exploring!