2021 Wrap-up

I think I’ll go about it a bit differently this time. Not month by month, but just some highlights and books, music and pictures, of course. And only in English this time.

Starting with road trips

  • Tuomarila-Tuusula on a crisp winter’s day
  • Myrskylä and Porvoo on May Day
  • Kerimäki-Savonlinna weekend in May was a cool mini-break for us
  • Mid-summer weekend in Vesanto, visting my relatives and Kuopio
  • Hanko-Fiskars on a hot summer day
  • Billnäs on a cold November day
  • Inkoo on another cold November day

Some other major markers of the year

  • My eldest kid got a kitten and I babysitted him a couple times
  • Helsinki Book Fair
  • Late Night with Anders – my youngest kid’s fab school play
  • Company party at Lehmonkärki, Asikkala, where I also received my 10 years at Sulava award

And then some…

Corona or no Corona, most of our days are spent with the daily routines of work, eat, sleep, walk the dogs. During the summer time we routinely walked around the Tali golf course, multiple times a week. Obviously I took off to the Munkkiniemi beach a few times too, with or without a dog or two. During the summer we also visited our summer place several times.

The biggest change this year brought on us was Timmy moving to live with our youngest kid.

Also, we got a second car, an AMG V8 Mercedes Benz CLS 6.3 after I kinda wrecked our GLK (which was repaired, not totaled).

All of our three moved into their own apartments this year; eldest and youngest from shared apartments, middle kid from her mom’s. We are officially empty nesters.

Empty nesters who spent the whole autumn remodeling the house. New paint, new cabinets, new look.

Tattoos and piercings

There were a few…

Books

Read quite a bit more this year than in several decades. I guess the empty nest DOES give me more time for books 😉 63 is actually 66 for one of the books is Hobbit + LOTR bundled into one.

My top picks:

Most of my reading year was spent in different fantasy worlds, and I think that trend will pretty much continue, though there’s always some (auto)bios, detective stories etc. in the mix too.

Music

Spring time was emotionally quite difficult for me, and I ended up looping some 45 minutes of select songs mostly by Rush, Foo Fighters, Disturbed and Linkin Park. Oh, and Apulanta. That heavy rotation is clearly visible in my Spotify year, but it’s not really out of the ordinary in any way, since those + Muse are my heaviest rotation in any case.

With that, it’s a wrap

I hope for a good year 2022, despite the pandemic still going strong. It’s not fun no, but doesn’t mean life needs to suck.

Happy New Ye… sorry, JUMANJI!

Processing my books

I think when most people buy books, they stick them on a bookshelf or dresser top to await reading. Maybe take off the price tag, maybe not.

Me, I’m not like that. I process the books.

It’s book fair weekend in Helsinki and yesterday my husband and I braved the masses and went to the book fair. I equipped myself with a tote bag, but came home with two of them full of books. So there’s a lot of books for me to process before sticking them in my library!

The book fair was a deeply satisfying experience, even with the masses. I hate masses of people, but I can suffer them when the reward is golden enough, like it is in a rock concert or a book fair. Two and a half hours of live music from my favorite band. Hours of perusing through thousands and thousands of books. Bringing home a cool new band tee or hoodie. Bringing home bags full of new books.

Last time I visited the book fair there were some interviews of authors I attended, and some book signings too. This time there were no interviews that would’ve interested me, nor any book signings. Actually, there would’ve been but not during the time span of our visit. I did stop to chat with and old friend of mine, who is a poet and author and had her own stand at the fair. And bought a few of her books since I never did get around to order them before.

Exited at the book fair

So I bought a shitload of books. And didn’t buy some books that sort of called to either one of us, but I – or we – decided against after all. I didn’t buy the leather bound volume of full works of Edgar Allan Poe. The book was beautiful and all, but Poe is not my cup of tea, and husband has read it all. We didn’t buy this illustrated volume of Kalevala, even though it was beautiful too; it just wasn’t the exact version H wants. I didn’t buy the hard cover version of The Silmarillion, but settled on the paper back version. If only for the reason that the cover was prettier.

That was, by the way, the same reason I ordered the paper back version of Good Omens from Amazon.de once we got home – as I did not find it in English from the book fair – and noticed only after order that it’s temporarily out of stock with no clue as to when it would be available again. Bugger! I’m in no hurry though, so let’s see if I ever get it or if I need to cancel the order and get the hard cover.

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Edited by Christopher Tolkien

So anyway, I came home with bags full of loot and now it’s all sitting on the dining table waiting for me to process them.

First, I glue my Ex Libris on them.

Taina Latvala, Torinon Enkeli, signed at the book fair

Then, I book them in Goodreads. Sometimes I need to create the book, as was in the case of the books Bullterrieri and Elina Salminen’s Kirjoita se kauniiksi.

Elina Salminen, Kirjoita se kauniiksi; Bullterrieri

Then, I flip through them, turn them in my hands to get their feel, scan through their pages to get their feel.

Then, finally, I place them in their rightful spot in my library. Sometimes I need to look around and ponder a bit to figure out the correct shelf and who the neighbors should be. Sometimes it even prompts some reorganization of the shelves. Sometimes it’s a straightforward process to just make space on the shelf and set the book in it’s new home.

All the books we own…

Books (most of them in Finnish):

  • Lisa Strømme – Mansikkatyttö
  • Jelena Chichova – Muistista piirretty kaupunki
  • Jean-Dominique Brierre – Edith Piaf Hymni rakkaudelle
  • Dennis McNally – A Long Strange Trip (the story of The Grateful Dead)
  • Karolina Kouvola – Pohjolan jumalattaret
  • Vanessa Kairulahti & Karolina Kouvola – Helsingin henget
  • Johan Egerkrans – Kuolemattomat hirviöt
  • Elina Salminen – Kirjoita se kauniiksi
  • Elina Salminen – Kuin lempeä laulu
  • Elina Salminen – Jos minä jostain alkaisin
  • J.R.R. Tolkien – The Silmarillion
  • S.N. Pires – Karhunkiertäjä
  • S.N. Pires – Yökulkija
  • S.N. Pires – Rummunvartija
  • Bullterrieri
  • Terry Pratchett – Wintersmith
  • Sofia Lundberg – Kuin höyhen tuulessa
  • Nelli Hietala – Maailmanlopun kahvila
  • Kiego Higashino – Uskollinen naapuri
  • Taina Latvala – Torinon enkeli

H got one book from the fair: Merlin Sheldrake – Entangled Life. He’s more into reading non-fiction.

Take-aways from the tales of Dave Grohl’s life and music

Yesterday I finished Dave Grohl’s book The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. It was one of the best books I’ve read this year, right there at the top, alongside T.J. Klune’s books The House in the Cerulean Sea and Under the Whispering Door, and Max Seeck’s Kauna. I think any fan of rock music – not just Foo Fighters or Dave Grohl and his numerous other music projects – would enjoy the book what with all the encounters and the tale of punk rocker Dave growing up to be a world-renowned musician.

That said and out of the way, I did not love the book simply because it is a memoir written by my all time favorite musician; I loved it because it tasted like life. Somehow Dave Grohl managed to make his nearly fabled life sound just like an ordinary life, like my life or your life, just any life. His job just happens to be a rock musician who’s been rocking the fucking world for decades, but that aside, it’s a life, and one I could relate to in surprisingly many ways.

Fake it till you make it

This is one of my life mottos. I’m not a world-class musician, not a world-class anything, but as a trainer and consultant I have often felt like Dave wrote in the book on many occasioons. How did I get here? What am I doing here? Ok, I’ve got this. Because I fake it till I make it. And make he did, and so do I, in my own world of Microsoft consultation. Life is about challenges and living up to them.

Anger vs. frustration

Somewhere in the very first pages of the book Dave talks about his daughter Violet and how she was extremely verbally talented, and from a very young age could wield words like a way older person. Not only was I like that, and my son was like that, but I was especially amused by the story of Violet having a breakdown in the kitchen and telling her dad: “I’m not angry, I’m frustrated!” Dave noted that he still doesn’t know the difference, but apparently Violet does. Go Violet! I know too, and can’t even count how many times I’ve said that exact sentence to people claiming I’m angry when really I’m just fucking frustrated!

Fresh pots!

Oh, that coffee consumption! Goes a bit with fake it till you make it, as it is supposedly a remedy for too little sleep and too much to do while being awake. Thus you drink pots and pots of coffee just to make it (through the day awake). I too used to drink shitloads of coffee, go around like a Duracell Bunny on steroids, until I had the AN surgery. After that I started getting vertigo from caffeine. Slowly, but surely I pushed my caffeine limits, but never returned quite to the same levels as before. Just a cappucino or three a day, plus some 😀 Oh, and don’t miss on the Fresh Pots video!

Making a short story long

Sometimes while reading the book I felt a kinship of sorts as the style of writing felt so familiar, kinda like my own. Each chapter was constructed in a similar way as I construct my blog posts: around a theme, starting with an event and going from there. I am a storyteller, I come from a family of storytellers, and I found a fellow storyteller in Grohl. Another person able to write a short story about rescheduling a show to fly from Australia to LA to attend his kids’ Daddy-Daughter Dance and back to Perth, Australia witihn the same 36 hours. I mean, you can list events and give details, but that’s not a story. And I think that’s what most biographies lack. They’re not stories, they’re recitals of a life.

Not taking oneself too seriously

“Anything for a laugh,” writes Dave in the chapter Down Under DUI, about whizzing through the fest goers in a silly little scooter with Taylor Hawkins. I could totally do that, allow myself to be the laughstock, even revel in it. I learned somewhere along the way that it’s not good to take oneself too seriously. Life is way too short for that! Take the adventure when it’s available and go for it! Even if it sometimes ends in a DUI sentence or a broken elbow.

Using the word fuck

One of the things I love about rock concerts is that there’s people (on the stage) who actually use the word fuck more than I do (when not angry or, krhm, frustrated). Dave Grohl definitely is one of those, though I promise this book is not full of the word; I think it was used there only a few times in places that rather needed it.

Those young talents ❤

The book begins with Dave talking about his daughters Violet and Harper. Violet is an extremely talented singer who actually once told his dad that he’s not even the best singer in the house (not in the book, actually, but in one of the Youtube videos I ended up searching and playing before I got further in the book) – and they’re right too! My god, they have a fabulous voice! Just check out them performing a cover of Adele’s When We Were Young or this collaboration of dad and daughter as they sing Nausea! Harper, several years younger, on the other hand decided on drums and has tried her hand in concert already too, see eg. the rehearsal of We Will Rock You cover in Notes & Words (with Violet singing) in 2018.

These two young talents lead me to other videos of daughters of famous rock stars and by god I expect to hear more of also Toni Cornell and Olivia Vedder. Just listen to Toni Cornell singing about Far Away Places, or Olivia Vedder singing My Father’s Daughter. I mean, their dads rocked our world, now it’s their turn and they totally rock!

Life 2.5

Throwback to March 19, 2010, via Facebook:

I pushed the red button. It sort of formatted my whole life. Now re-installation in progress, upgrading from Life v.1.0 to the new and enhanced Life v.2.0. Hopefully it is a bit more bug-free software. Wonder how modifyable it is, since there are quite a few const-type fields with set values. Nah, so far so good, the software seems to have quite a lot of possibilities. Been tapping all them radiobuttons during the installation wizard but still I feel that a lot is left to be modified later on along the way.

I installed Life v.1.0 quite a few years ago. It was good, can’t say it wasn’t. I made my choices while installing and they sort of set the path and the direction. Sometimes I felt like a passenger in my own life, drifting along the river drawn by my earlier choices. I was basically happy, though sometimes longing for somtehing I just couldn’t make happen, but for most of the time, very contented with my life.

Up until the river became murky and muddy. And my Life software began to corrupt and crumble from all the bugs in it. For a time there I tried to patch it, run service packs and install accessories. My harddrive became full and I needed more RAM – but it seemed to be out of stock for couldn’t get any. My Life became more or less dysfunctional since it could process only a limited amount of operations and kept crashing with certain ones.

It was time to reboot. And not only reboot to the old Life v.1.0 with all them bugs, for it didn’t fix any of the problems. I tried that too, but operation failed over time. Just like after any reboot, things seem to work fine for a time but then eventually after running buggy operation after another, all the old problems return and the system starts to fail and crash all over again.

So came the time to press the red format button and re-install and upgarde. The installation is still in progress, but one by one the configurations fall into place and Life v.2.0 will be up and running. Hardware is the same old, so some memory problems probably occur still. And the installation in itself does use up quite a lot of the available RAM so it really goes one configuration step at a time. It’s a slowish process when you look at it on a daily view, but as for the big picture, not so slow actually.

Sometimes this whole upgrading business feels like speeding head on to the unknown on the highway of life. Even though I can and need to make choices every step of the way, I can’t really know what each different configuration choice does and means in the fully installed Life v.2.0. But I believe in my future and cherish the good in the past. I’m not formatting my Life database, ofcourse not! Life v.2.0 needs it to build the basics of the system.

Leave it to a nerd to describe major life changes like divorce, new relationship, new home, new job… with an IT analogy.

In recent months my life has again been in a sort of a turmoil with winds of change blowing and often times I’ve been engulfed in a fog, not able to see the way. All of it is just part of the process of a life upgrade again, to Life 2.5. I’m not changing jobs or getting divorced or anything like that, but there’s new features to install.

One of the major changes was last of the kids moving out. In the beginning of September last year, we became empty nesters (with three dogs). This in itself forced new dynamics upon us. I admit that I like it this way. We are all a bit broken and fare better with our own spaces.

Some of the stuff that’s been going on is of such a personal nature, that I will leave it out. It has, however, had great impact on our lives and even though a lot of it is for the better, even that is a stress and causes anxiety and the need to adjust and learn new ways. Especially mixed with the stuff that wasn’t exactly positive. A lot of things, a lot of emotions. When it rains it pours.

The upgrade process is a lot of recalculation of old features, installation of new features, cofiguration of it all, and making choices of what to keep, what to remove, what to install, what to leave out. Sometimes anxiety takes over bigtime, when I feel I need to be making all these decisions right now. Like playing chess with life, trying to guess its moves five steps ahead in order to make my own move. It’s a little bit easier, if I remember to take it one step at a time and see where that takes me before panicking about the steps that are still days, weeks, months away.

Finding myself and especially updgrading my life, means more tattoos (and piercings) for me. This process so far has already resulted in three new tattoos: two orchids on my back and a bracelet on my right arm. My tattoos are all heavily symbolic, some more easily deciphered, some less. These orchids hold a promise of blooming, a memory and a hope. The armlet’s dreamcatcher hold a dream caught – one of the new features in my Life v.2.5.

The new coronormal

Tomorrow marks the anniversary of our Finnish #coronageddon. Tomorrow last year our government held a press conference where they announced all those temporary restrictions that have become our new normal – at least for the time being. It marked the start of an era that has yet to come to its end. We all thought it would be a few months, but here we are, a year later, waiting to get vaccinations that may or may not end the pandemic. Sometimes I think this stuff won’t be over until those who’re going to die of Covid-19 are dead, and the rest survive together with the virus.

Last year tomorrow Daughter was on her way to dance classa after school, for the first time in weeks, after being sick and sick again for quite some time. I called her two hours before dance class: “Sorry, kid. Come home. Dance school has closed its doors.” Everything closed their doors. Restaurants went into take-out mode. People stopped going to the office. Schools were closed. Everything became remote everything. Teams. Zoom. Something.

Year later, here we are still and again. After a less covidy summer the society started to gradually open up a bit again. Dance classes started again (though I did not attend and adviced my daughter not to attend either). Gyms opened. Restaurants opened their doors with limited seating. Most information workers I know still stayed mostly at home, even after the masks were finally introduced into our Finnish Corona fighting arsenal too, but I had started to go to the office in August, and just could not go back to staying at home all the time anymore. For reasons.

Now, after a half a year of using a face mask in public, it has become just a part of going out gear. No, I don’t don it every time I step out of the door, but I frequently forget to take it off when stepping out of the bus or coming out of stores. Once I was half way home from the bus stop almost 2km from home before I remembered to pull it off, when I started to wonder about the labored breath. I still have P3 (KN95) filters inside my cloth masks.

Another thing that has become a no-brainer already is avoiding to touch anything with bare hands out in the public. Pressing elevator buttons with cell phone, pushing doors open with elbow, pulling hand inside of the coat sleeve to pull a door open, leaning on escalator railing with forearm instead of hand, touching only what you buy in stores. And still using hand sanitizer at every opportunity.

Still, here we are, a year after it all began here, with Covid-19 case counts approximately at the same level as a year ago. Actually, there’s more registered cases, but there’s also a whole lot more testing. The amount of hospitalized people is still a tad less than it was at worst last year. And now things are being closed down again. Our government is thinking about curfews and other restrictions to people moving out and about – something they didn’t really do at all last spring. If you don’t count closing down the Uusimaa province as such.

The main difference is that people are not hoarding toilet paper. Or sanitizer. Even face masks are available everywhere, in all different formats. Cloth masks with and without filter pockets, surgical masks in every color, FFP3/KN95 masks with and without breathing valves, you name it. Last summer I bought this little purse with the idea that I can easily slip my phone into it, while otherwise just keeping it in my bag as a wallet, but now the space for the phone is taken up by a mask. So that I always have one with me.

I admit to living a rather normal life. I go to the office twice a week, I shop in stores occasionally, I’ve eaten in restaurants now and then, I get my hair done regularily, I have even had some tattoos and piercings done in recent months; my next tattoo appointment is tomorrow. Then again, otherwise my life is a boring life of a total homebody anyway. I walk the dogs, but as for hobbies, I’m fully content with my books.

Still, this time is taking its toll on me, too. All this everyone (erhm, husband) at home all the time. All this everything online (yes, certain things like trainings are immensely better done onsite, face to face). All this precaution. All this unease. The sheer understanding that we are living with an invisible enemy.

All these masks masking our faces. I do hope it won’t become a new normal. I do believe that a true smile can be seen in the eyes (even more than the lips), but still I would’ve wished that the old lady I helped off the bus would’ve seen me smile at her before I turned to walk away. That the other lady I helped on the bus a week ago when her groceries spilled all over the floor had seen me smile at her before I sat back down to stare out of the window, my mind blank again.

Then again, with the mask nobody can see my mouth agape when I sit dazed, lost in space, with music blasting through my AirPod, dulling my thoughts. So I guess there’s that silver lining in this.