Lapsuus/Childhood – Q&A

Tämä on taas näitä Facebookin kysymyspattereita. Ja koska minusta on hauska näihin vastata, vastaan. Ja vein tietenkin tämänkin askeleen pitemmälle, kuvin.

**This is one of those Facebook Q&A thingys, and because I find them fun, I answer. And of course I had to take this one step further and add pics.

1. Missä synnyit?
**Where were you born?

– Naistenklinikalla Helsingissä.
**In Helsinki, at Naistenklinikka

2. Onko sinulla sisaruksia?
**Do you have siblings?

– 6v nuorempi pikkusisko
**a sister, 6 years my junior

Ihmettelen siinä vastasyntynyttä siskoani – Looking at my newborn sister with bewilderment

3. Olitko päivähoidossa?
**Were you in daycare

– En, mutsi teki freelancerina töitä himassa
**No, my mom worked as a freelancer from home

4. Oliko teillä lemmikkejä?
**Did you have pets

– Yhteensä kolme kania; yksi kun olin ala-astella, kaksi ollessani lukiossa
**3 bunnies altogether; one when I was in elementary school, 2 when I was in highschool

5. Muistatko aikaa, kun ei vielä ollut lapsilla turvaistuimia?
**Do you still remeber a time before kiddie seats in cars?

– Toki, minua nukutettiin auton takapenkillä skidinä, kun olin huono nukahtamaan sänkyyn. Takapenkillä ei tainnut siinä Minissä olla edes turvavöitä.
**Sure, I was not good at falling asleep and my parents used to put me on the backseat of the car, lying there under a blanket. I don’t think that Mini even had seatbelts in the back

6. Oliko sinulla mielilelua?
**Did you have a favorite toy

– Jose-koira, ehkä. Jose kävi jopa eläinlääkärissä, missä ell Ilves tutki myös Josen tutkittuaan ensin isoäidin koiran Dellan. Tai ehkä nukke nimeltä Jerry, jolle isoäiti ompeli samanlaisia asuja kuin minulle. Tai ehkä nalle tai apina tai mutsin tekemä kummajainen, kuka enää tietää 🤷‍♀️
**A dog called Jose, maybe. Jose even went to the vet where the Vet Ilves examined Jose after first examining my grandma’s dog Della. Or maybe a doll called Jerry, for whom my grandma made similar outfits as for me. Or maybe the teddy or monkey or this oddity made by my mom, who knows anymore 🤷‍♀️

7. Muistatko mitä sinusta piti tulla isona?
**Do you remeber what you were supposed to be when you grew up?

– Aika pitkään meinasin että lääkäri. Siinä teini-iän kynnyksellä haaveena oli eläintenhoitaja-tanssija-näyttelijä-kirjailija-kombo 🤷‍♀️
**For a long time I wanted to be a doctor. Then at pre-teen or so I dreamed of becoming a combo of animal carer-dancer-actress-athor

8. Olitko ns. näkymätön kiltti lapsi vai jokapaikan apina?
**Were you a so called good invisible child or a rambunctious monkey?

– Sekä että. Jokapaikan apina, joka oppi jo nuorena vetämään ylleen kiltin tytön kaavun
**Both. A rambunctious monkey who learned early on to pull on the good girl cape

9. Kuljitko pihalla kotiavain kaulassa roikkuen?
**Did you have a key hanging from your neck when playing outside?

– En, mutsi oli himassa kunnes olin 9 ja siinä vaiheessa avain oli taskussa kasarityyliin vaaleanpunaisella kierreketjulla vai mikä se oli
**No, mom was at home until I was 9, and at that point my keys were in my pocket attached to a pink eighties style twirly phone chain or whatsitcalled

Spiraaliavaimenperiä – Spiral keychains

11. Lempilastenohjelmasi?
**Your favorite kids’ TV show?

– Pätkis eli Smurffit
**Pätkis, i.e. The Smurfs

Smurffit – The Smurfs

12. Muistatko ensimmäistä koulupäivääsi?
**Do you remeber your first day in school

– Jep. Valitettavasti. Olin potenut kipeää mahaa (jännityksestä) niin että aloitin koulun varsinaisesti pari päivää myöhässä, kesken koulupäivän. Olin siis outolintu alusta saakka.
**Yup. Unfortunately. I had been sick with a stomach ache (from anxiety) so I actually started school a couple days late, in the middle of the day. I was an oddball fron the very beginning.

Ensimmäisenä koulupäivänä – First day of school

13. Keräilitkö jotain?
**Did you collect something?

– Kiiltokuvia, pyyhekumeja (kasari…), tarroja
**Kiiltokuvas (the best translation I found was “die cut scrap”, but can’t very well imagine any kids using that; anyhow, definition: glossy and usually embossed little pictures, kinda like pre-stickers, that usually came in a sheet, and girls collected them in their scrap books), erasers (oh, the eighties…), stickers

Kiiltokuva-arkki – A sheet of kiiltokuvat

14. Mikä oli lempiaineesi alaluokilla?
**What was your favorite subject in elementary school?

– Oliko mulla lempiainetta? Lukutunneista tykkäsin, ja kuviksesta varmaan.
**Did I have one? I liked reading and art classes, I suppose.

15. Olitko koulukiusaaja?
**Were you a bully

– En. Olin se kiusattu
**No. I was the one bullied

16. Harrastitko jotain? Mitä?
**Did you have hobbies? What?

– Kuuden vanhana yleisurheilua VU:n väreissä, partiota ala-asteen ajan, about. Pianoa soitin pari vuotta. Lukemista, kirja tai pari päivässä parhaina aikoina.
**At six years old I was part of the VU track and field team for a year or so. I was a girl scout for a few years while in elementary school. I played piano for a coupole years. I read books, lots of books. A book or two a day at best.

17. Ystäväsi
**Your friends

Aina niitä jokunen oli, kirjekavereita enemmän kuin livekavereita
**I always had some. More pen pals that IRL friends

18. Mieluisin muistosi jostain ensiluokkien tapahtumasta?
**Your favorite memory of something during the first school years

– Ensi-pusu: ekaluokkalaisena ihastukseni asui samassa talossa ja leikittiin usein pihalla yhdessä. Erään kerran leikittiin tuijotusta ja ihastukseni pussasi minua saadakseen minut nauramaan. Onnistuikin.
**First kiss: when we were on first grade my crush lived in the same appartment building as me and we often played together in the yard. Once we were playing stare and he gave me a smooch to make me laugh. And succeeded.

19. Minkälainen oli ensimmäinen opettajasi?
**What was your first teacher like?

– Tiukka nunna, varmaan liki kuusikymppinen. En tykännyt
**A strict nun, probably almost sixty years old. I didn’t like her.

20. Oliko vanhemmillasi tiukka kuri?
**Were your parents strict?

– Oli. Siksi kiltin tytön kaapu.
**Yes. That’s the reason for the good girl cape

21. Miten perheesi lomaili?
**How did your family spend vacations?

– Enimmäkseen isovanhempieni mökeillä (järvenrannalla toinen, Nauvossa saaressa toinen)
**Mostly at my grandparents’ summer places (one by a lake, one in an island at sea)

22. Lempiruokaasi natiaisena oli?
**What was your favorite food as a kiddo?

– Siskonmakkarakeitto
**Sausage soup

23. Tupakoitiinko teillä vielä sisätiloissa?
**Did your parents smoke indoors?

– Jep, mutsi poltti töitä tehdessään kun olin skidi, mutta lopetti ollesani varmaan neljän vanha
**Yeah, mom was smoking indoors while working when I was small, but stopped entirely when I was maybe four years old

9y ANniversary

Yep, it’s been 9 years since that fucker was removed from my head, mostly. I had my most recent MRI checkup a year ago, and the remnants were stable, the same as they’d been ever since the first MRI after the surgery. It think the dr said we can have the next MRI in 5 years, then even 10 if everything looks good (and no new symptoms appear).

Last year I listed in my FB post (and my Healing Diary page) the things that define my new normal, as in, what it is for me to be an AN warrior, in a nutshell:

  • My right ear compensates the deafness of the left one rather nicely, but I still don’t usually have any clue as to the origin or direction of sounds.
  • Tinnitus is a life-long companion, but I’ve learned to live with it.
  • Balance is sort of ok, but I do side-step A LOT.- I get tired easily, especially if I need to concentrate on balance or hearing.
  • Headaches, check.
  • Fuzzy brain symptoms, mainly some amount of dyslexia, forgetting simple words, being confoozled at times, all the while having the sharp problem solving mind I’ve always had. Sort of a conundrum.
  • Sensory overload – when it happens it’s instant and nearly causes a panic attack and I just need to get away.

Let’s visit these in a bit more detail, or put more meat on the bones, as we say in Finnish.

Hearing – SSD

“My right ear compensates the deafness of the left one rather nicely, but I still don’t usually have any clue as to the origin or direction of sounds.”

There are moments when I hear things my husband doesn’t, because my right ear hears perfectly given the chance (ie. little or no background noise), while my husband has some high frequency hearing loss in both ears. Then there are moments when I try to understand what he means when he says that the weather won’t get freezing again until “up cider”.

Quite often my brain figures out what was said, but it takes a few seconds to register properly. I ask “what” but then reply accordingly even before he has a chance to repeat, but I think that’s more related to my ADHD than SSD. But then there’s the cases where words get jumbled on their way to my ear, due to wind, rain, faucet, dog barking, too much distance, whatever. I hear something totally strange and cannot figure out what was said for real.

Up cider == next Friday 🤦‍♀️

Things that are impossible for me:

  • Making out words spoken (or shouted) from the other room (doors closed in between)
  • Making out anything while working in the kitchen for there’s always something: water running, dishwasher running, fan blasting, stuff sizzling in a pan…
  • Finding the source of a sound, e.g. where my phone or airpods are when trying to ping-locate them
  • Understanding where a person is, when they answer “Here!” to my question of where they are
  • Hearing 99% of people talking on my wrong side, ie. left side, because usually people talk VERY quietly around here
  • Being able to hold a conversation in a noisy environment with a group of people; I can pick out words or sentences here and there and participate sporadically
  • Talking on the phone while dogs are barking
  • Using computer audio in meetings – the quality is so poor that I lose syllables


“Tinnitus is a life-long companion, but I’ve learned to live with it.”

There’s the high-pitch A. And a less aubible mid E. And then the low hum. Sometimes I hear music. Sometimes it’s instrumental, sometimes there’s also “vocals”. It’s like hearing lyrics in a foreign language; you know they’re words but they make no sense. Sometimes I think I hear an airplane, but then it doesn’t pass. Sometimes I think a helicopter is hovering above our house, except that there’s no helicopter.

It’s often difficult for me to understand if a sound is in my head or actually outside my head. I try to block my good ear, but then THAT causes a humming noise that further blocks everything else; so not helpful at all.

At home, in relative silence, the tinnitus is ok and I mostly forget about it. In noisy environments it can get so loud it alone causes a sensory overload and I need to flee. If I can’t get away immediately, I try closing my eyes, to block at least the visual input, and block my hearing ear to muffle the sounds, but in the end, I really just need to go. To the toilet, if no other option is available, but preferably outside, away from it all. And ultimately back home to my peaceful refuge.

The only thing that really covers the tinnitus, is blasting music on full volume to my good ear with my airpod. Even my brain can’t compete with that, for some reason.


“Balance is sort of ok, but I do side-step A LOT.- I get tired easily, especially if I need to concentrate on balance or hearing.”

I went out to eat with my youngest kid (a couple months shy of 20yo) the other day. We met at Forum, this shopping mall in the center of Helsinki, and decided to walk a kilometer or so in the slush (remember, it won’t freeze again until up cider, and it’s been raining water and sleet for over a week and the streets were a goddamn mess) to a kebab joint because daughter really wanted a good kebab.

She grabbed my arm as we were walking, telling me she didn’t want me to fall down. I was a bit offended, told her I’m not about to fall down, I can walk perfectly well on my own, thank you very much! She told me that she’s not taking any risks after I allegedly stumbled several times on curbs and kept sidestepping constantly. “It’s a bit difficult in this slush, but I’m fine!” I argued. “You were walking sideways even in Forum, on solid floors,” she retorted and held on. And I let her, if only because it felt nice.

Yes, I do sidestep all. The. Time. I couldn’t walk a straight line if my life depended on it. Trust me, I’ve tried. Basically every time I walk alone to our front door, down our little walkway built of bricks, I TRY. I try to walk a straight line along the bricks, but every time I fail after a few steps. And walking the dogs I need to wear shoes that allow me to occasionally step into the mossy forest, because it’s impossible for me to stay on a narrow path.

Climbing on ladders while doing renovation stuff at home? Dangerous. At least after a few hours when I’m tired. And I really do tire of anything physical in only a few hours time. Most likely because I need to constantly focus on keeping my balance while working in spaces and places and holding tools still etc.


“Headaches, check”

These actually come and go. I guess a year ago I had a worse headache time going on, which probably was one of the reasons I got my MRI checkup a bit early (I remember asking for it instead of waiting until later in the spring when it was due anyway). Sometimes I have daily headaches for weeks and months on end, sometimes nothing for even longer. Right now I’m quite happily headache free.

Anomic aphasia

“Fuzzy brain symptoms, mainly some amount of dyslexia, forgetting simple words, being confoozled at times, all the while having the sharp problem solving mind I’ve always had. Sort of a conundrum.”

This seems to be getting worse by and by. And it’s not actually dyslexia but most probably anomic apahasia.

I am verbally talented, I have always been verbally talented, having a vast vocabulary in my two main languages (Finnish and English) since a young age (earning me comments about how I’m so precocious) and picking up new languages easily. Now I can barely speak either of those two languages properly anymore. I’ve long called myself semi-lingual (or, the better version I saw a while ago somewhere: bye-lingual), because I keep forgetting words in BOTH languages equally.

At some point I thought it was due to my home language changing to English and Finnish becoming sort of the secondary language in my life (though, ok, work language and also spoken with my kids), when I moved together with my now husband in 2012. But more probably my lingual decline has to do with the AN and/or the surgery. My husband often files my speech problems away as “English not being my native language” (though I’ve spoken it since I was 5 years old; it was my school language). What he doesn’t see (hear) is that I encounter the same problems in Finnish. So yes, it’s a systemic issue, not related to one language or the other.

It’s difficult for me to really pinpoint when this issue started, so I’m not sure if it was already due to having that tumor bugger in my head or if it was caused by the surgery. Hell, it could even STILL be caused by the tumor remnants in my head, for all I know.

All I know is that the issue is gradually getting worse. Usually aphasia caused by surgery is temporary and subsides within months or a year or so. But sometimes it persists. It’s rare-ish, but that specific type of aphasia called anomic aphasia, and the symptoms fit me like a glove:

Anomic aphasia is a mild form of aphasia in which the individual has difficulty with word-finding, or naming items.
In anomic aphasia, speech is typically fluent and produced with seeming ease. However, the individual might have trouble retrieving specific words, especially nouns and verbs.

A person with anomic aphasia will typically speak in complete, grammatically correct sentences. However, they might use vague words like “thing” or describe an item that they cannot name. For instance, someone who cannot think of the word “apple” might say, “I ate a red, round fruit for lunch.” Speech therapists can work with people with anomic aphasia on tasks to improve their naming and word-finding

People with anomic aphasia usually have good comprehension; they can understand spoken messages
They usually are able to read
They might have the same difficulty with word retrieval when writing as they do when speaking
People with anomic aphasia are often able to successfully communicate using strategies to work around their word-finding difficulties
People with anomic aphasia are sometimes able to produce the word when given a cue, like the first letter of the word


It’s annoying as it has started to affect my ability to work. I work with customers a lot and sometimes, especially when I get tired after a tirade of meetings, my ability to form sentences and say what I’m trying to say gets real bad, and I feel a bit embarrassed about it. My speech comes out haltingly as I struggle to find the correct words and often times I need to figure out alternative constructions instead as the intended word simply does not emerge.

It’s easier when writing because I can stop to fumble around in my mind and if I come up with the word in the wrong language I can google translate it. It’s more difficult when talking, when it should flow and I would need to appear a competent expert and then I can’t even get the simplest words correct on occasion.

Sensory overload

“Sensory overload – when it happens it’s instant and nearly causes a panic attack and I just need to get away.”

Sensory overload doesn’t actually require a loud environment like a party or something. It can happen just because too many thing happen at once. Like husband comes through the door, dogs bark and rush to the door, my phone rings (read: buzzes on my wrist) and husband tries to hand me a bag of groceries.

Or we’re out for a walk with the dogs, husband chatters about something, a car goes by, and the dog I’m walking keeps pulling this way and that, requiring my attention.

Or we’re sitting at the table, husband is talking and *something* in my clothes is bothering me. A dog hair that’s weasled its way into my shirt, a sock that is crooked, the remnants of a label I cut out but now has a loose string.

It may actually have more to do with my neurodivergence and HSP (high sensitivity) than AN, but being single sidedly deaf and having defective balance sure don’t make things easier.

As I wrote about noisy environments, even with these smaller cases I really need to get away or reduce at least some of the input. Like get husband to stop talking for a while, fix my clothes, manage the barking, just get to a place with less sensory input. Sometimes it’s close to a panic attack, sometimes I’m simply really irritable and might snap at my husband – can’t you just shut up for a while! Can’t you see my shirt has a little pinprick somewhere causing me constant irritation!

Be as it may, I can’t stay in the situation, it needs resolving one way or the other.

So ok, life’s not easy and some day I’ll die. But life is ok, even more than just ok. Despite.

Just a bit of annual stats

I used to be active in my blogging, but not so much anymore. I write the occasional post here in SFFM, sometimes some recipes in From Kitchen, with Love. I post photos in Instagram, but not daily, and really am no influencer 😉 Still, the stats are kinda cool at the end of the year, so let’s have a look.


I wrote all of 5 posts this year (I suppose this would be number 6 then), with a total of 8312 words in them. What would that make? Like 1662 words per post in average. That’s like an average high school essay there. No WordPress likes, no comments. Not that I expect any; they’re usually spam anyway 😂 I seem to have 10 followers, though.

However little I posted this year, there’s plenty of content in my blog, 1302 post spanning over almost two decades (starting with the stuff that was in Live Spaces looong ago), so there’s always more views than the just the new posts would bring, this year a total of 915 views by 625 visitors.

Disregarding the home page views (333), my six most popular posts this year were:

Of the pages, The Healing Diary had 25 views, and The Quote Collection 16 views (most my own probably 😂).

It’s a pity search terms aren’t available anymore; I always had such a ball looking at what searches brought people to my blog!

From Kitchen, with Love

This food blog of mine has way less posts, all of 308, 5 of which were posted this year. The views, however were a bit more than SFFM: 11200.

Top 5 posts all had over 100 views this year, and out of the top 10, only numbers 9 and 10 had less views than the top post of SFFM. And I don’t think I’ve checked out any of these top 10 posts this year myself. Oh, maybe that feta spinach pie. Possibly. At least I made on earlier in the autumn.


Hunh. Flicker still doesn’t really offer any yearly stats. There’s all time (Pro since 2008) and then there’s the most recent month.

All time. I have 13274 photos in Flickr altogether. So I guess an average year would see about 885 photos uploaded. That is approximately 8% of photos I take during a year. I think. At least used to be.
Past month. In the amount of photos you can see that I uploaded a bunch (since July) only yesterday.

My most viewed photos of all time:

Somehow those leather jackets and boots keep on keeping on in the top, still gaining new views. And I can’t help thinking that people who looked at my pussy willow photos were actually looking for pussy pics (yes, those exist in Flickr too).


I shared 213 photos in @sannamarilka, and got a total of 1498 likes. Here’s the top 9 photos of the year:

In the dogstagram, @hdd_doggos, I shared 193 photos and got 658 likes all in all. Top 9 of the doggos 2022:

2022 wrap-up

The year is almost over, time for the annual wrap-up. Books, music, pictures, tattoos, and highlights.


Starting with books. Muches of booksies.

  • I read 82 books, a total of 31 185 pages
  • I DNF’d (Did Not Finish) 3 books, which means that the page count there is lacking a bit, but not too much
    Liam UiCearbhaill: Mother Rainbow’s Children: The Cave – I just could not with the way they spoke Yoda and recited tales like robots; made it maybe up to 10%
    William Joseph Roberts: The Flux Runners – A cool idea of a book, but jumpy and scattered. I read maybe 20%, skipped and skimmed another 25% and finally gave up completely
    Jordan J. Scavone: Night Warrior – Clumsy in the way that reminds you of the importance of editors. I read maybe 20% but simply could not go on.
  • As the new year approaches, I am currently reading 2 books that I don’t expect to finish before New Year’s Day
    James Patterson: 22 Seconds (Women’s Murder Club #22) in Kindle
    Sophie Anderson: The House with Chicken Legs in paperback
  • The shortest book of the year was a kids’ book by Astrid Lindgren: Lotta, Janne ja Minnamanna
  • The longest book was a re-read, one of my alltime favorites, that I have read probably a dozen times already: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  • The oddest book I read this year was The Winterset Hollow by Jonathan Edward Durham; it was a total wait, what?! Not bad, rather excellent in ways, but, well, disturbing
  • My most read author of this year (too) was TJ Klune. I read a total of 11 wonderful books of his in three series:
    Tales from Verania
    The Extraordinaries
    Bear, Otter, and the Kid
  • Even though I mostly read fiction (and mostly fantasy at that), I also love (auto)bios and such, and read 11 of those this year:
    – Neil Peart: Traveling Music
    – Kersti Juva: Tolkienin tulkkina
    – Martha Teichner: When Harry Met Minnie
    – Johannes Lahtela: Samuli – pimeydestä valoon
    – Dave Mustaine: Mustaine – A Life in Metal
    – Virginia Hanlon Grohl: From Cradle to Stage
    – Betty White: If You Ask Me (and of course you won’t)
    – Michael J. Fox: No Time Like the Future
    – Madly, Deeply – The Diaries of Alan Rickman
    – Alvin Yudkoff: Gene Kelly – A Life of Dance and Dreams
    – Matthew Perry: Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing
  • Even though I read mostly in English, this year I read a total of 18 books in Finnish, 4 of which were translations, rest of them Finnish lit. No, not gonna list all of them here separately

My Goodreads Year in Books looks like this:


Nothing surprising in music. No new discoveries, though one new album by Muse (Will of the People). I actually listened to a lot of All Of [artist] lists, album by album, earning me the title The Fanclubber by Spotify. This year the top 5 artists list consisted of Rush, Foo Fighters, Muse, Bon Jovi, and Seether. Partly this list is just due to Spotify algorithms (sic!), as I loop through my Liked Songs list with shuffle, when not listening to a specific album list.


Once again, I also got a few new tattoos during the year:

  • Flames on the side of the left calf, to accompany my Phoenix
  • Vines on the right wrist, continuing from the old ones, and twisting aroujnnd the wrist
  • Sun on the right hand
  • Love She Wrote – a quill drawing a heart on the left hand
  • Ravistettava Ennen Käyttöä – “shake before using” the title of an Apulanta song, theme song of my life
En usko että saa yleistä hyväksyntää
Näkemykseni kieroon kasvaneet
Voidaanko määritellä rajaa sellaista
Kun hassusta tulee pelottavaa

Ei saisi ajatella näin, näin, näin
Mut se ei oo ainoo mitä teet väärin

Minussa on ongelma
Jokin virhe ohjelmoinnissa
Puutteita koodissa
Korvaan arvaamattomuudella
Tuntuu että tekijät unohti otsaan kirjoittaa
Ravistettava ennen käyttöä
I don’t think I’ll ever be commonly accepted
My views all grown askew
Can one determine such a line
When funny becomes scary

You shouldn’t think this way, way, way
But that’s not the only thing that you’re doing wrong

There’s a problem in me
Some sort of bug in the programming
The lackings of my code
I substitute with unpredictability
Feels like my creators forgot to write on my forehead
Shake before using
Apulanta: Ravistettava ennen käyttöä

Pictures & highlights, month by month

Sometimes I took more pictures, sometimes less. So, a pic for each month, and the highlights with them.

January: We visited the Strömfors foundry and Valkmusa national park on a rather cold day. There was lots of snow.

February: We stayed in a cabin in Nurmes for a week, visiting Koli one foggy day. Lots and lots of snow! H started in a new job. At the end of the month we spent a weekend in Barösund where H made a drum.

March: I guess the highlight of the month was Ace turning 2y old.

April: Nothing special went on in April, either, but Meggie turned 10yo and the youngest kid 19.

May: Spring got finally into full speed. We got a Panasonic Lumix S5 and went out taking photos with that and my few years old Canon PowerShot SX70, e.g visiting the Cherry Tree Park, Lauttasaari, and Häme Castle. Timmy turned 10yo. Our bathroom renovation started.

June: We spent a hot sunny day in Suomenlinna (Viapori Castle) and visited our summer place for Juhannus (Midsummer’s) Day. I turned 47yo. Old.

July: I was on vacation, H was not. Our bathroom renovation was going on all summer long, so we didn’t go anywhere. I watched movies and read books. Once H and I went out to eat at Restaurant Töölönranta for a “date night” to use a gift card I’d won in an FB lottery.

August: I visited Tallinn with a bunch of friends (the 20y anniversary for our group of moms).

September: FINALLY, our bathroom was ready (except not sauna). H and I went out to have dinner at Farouge one Friday evening and they actually had belly dancers there 👌 H turned 56yo, oldest one 22, middle kid 21. Lots of birthdays in September for us.

October: Bath. I really enjoyed having a bathtub. WE really enjoyed having a bathtub.

November: Lots of snow already in November. We visited Inkoo for a day, had some coffee and tea in the harbor coffee shop, and walked around the old manor area. I flew to Oslo, Norway, for a couple days’ business trip.

December: I was sick most of December, on antibiotics with a sinus infection at Christmas time, but our offspring came on day before Christmas Eve (midlle kid and oldest one) and Christmas Day (oldest and youngest ones, and the latter’s boyfriend) for some Christmas celebrations and food 💕


All in all, 2022 really wasn’t too bad of a year, despite being pronounced 2020 too. Corona is still raging, but has lost most of its force and mostly can be treated as its cousins, the regular colds. Last bits of regulations were canceled in the spring and life is relatively normal. Most people who can, have stayed to work at home, and I hope companies won’t start trying to change that just because.

I fully expect 2023 to be good year, too. I don’t think I have any real reason to think differently, although life does have this annoying tendency to throw shit in your face when you least expect it.

…anyway 😉

Traveling again, or “left my travel routine in 2019”

“So, you gonna pack still tonight, right?” H asked as we were finishing our dinner at 18:30 or so on Sunday evening. “Oh crap! Yeah! I suppose I better go do it right now before the last dog walk!” And I shot up from my chair and dashed downstairs to figure out what I was gonna take with me to Oslo in the morning.

I have been known to pack a proper little flight pack with wheels even for a short one night trip such as this one, complete with a full change of clothes, maybe even a couple of different outfits and definitely another pair of shoes. This time, however, I decided to travel light and take only a change of underwear and top with me. Otherwise, same jeans, cardigan and boots for two days. *Gasp!*

So instead of my roly-poly suitcase I selected my small backpack for my travel bag and stuffed the clothes and toothbrush in the front pocket, laptop, headphones and a bunch of chargers in the main compartment. And then added some. Chargers that is. For the laptop, the travel charge station for iPhone and Apple Watch, for the power bank, for the headphones.

Everything was ready, except for the stuff I couldn’t pack until the morning. Don’t you just HATE morning flights! I folded my clothes ready for the morning on the shelf of my closet and set a note on top, a list of the few items I needed to remember in the morning. I set my alarm for 5, figuring it SHOULD give me sufficient time to get to the airport and through security since the flight wasn’t until 7:30.

Satisfied that all was in order, we took the dogs out, and then I hit the shower. Read a bit in bed after my shower before turning off the lights. Just like always. “Are you stressed?” asked H as I fidgeted next to him after lights out, pushing my forehead against his chest. “Yeah. Stressed and anxious. About traveling to a strange place. About missing my flight. About finding my way at the airport, when it’s all different than when I last flew. About the alarm not going off in the morning (like that’s happened like, ever!). I’ll probably sleep ok until 3 or so and then start checking the time every 45 minutes as usual”.

Which is pretty much what happened, but before that: “Fuck!” I tossed my blanket off and tore my mask from my eyes and ran into the Studio to find my passport. No, as a Finn, I don’t really need a passport to travel to Norway, but seeing as I only have a driver’s license for ID, and that’s not an official ID even INSIDE of Finland, better have my passport with me just in case. Not that I needed to even take it out of my purse once on the trip. Still, better safe than sorry.

Found my passport and set it nicely on top of the note on top of my clothes and went to sleep. I mean, after that I actually fell asleep. And woke up a few times before the alarm and was wide awake as soon as it went off. I hopped out of bed, got dressed, almost forgot my glasses, but since I couldn’t see to order a taxi without them, I didn’t.

Taxi was on its way, two minutes from our house, when I realized that I didn’t have that darn passport. How? Why? How did I miss it? I dashed downstairs to look for it and COULD. NOT. FIND. IT.  It wasn’t on the shelf, it wasn’t on the floor, it wasn’t stuck to my clothes. IT WASN’T ANYWHERE! How can a passport vanish like that? It CAN’T! I started panicking (“My taxi is waiting and I’ll miss my flight and I can’t find my passport!”), which woke up my poor husband and he came to look for it with me.

Finally I noticed the bastard between the sliding doors and reached out to grab it, pulling the doors out of their rails in the action, but I really couldn’t have cared less at the moment. I flew out the door patting my pockets to check I had my phone with me. The taxi was still waiting at the curb and we were off. “To the airport”, I sighed. I sat in the cab, felt like crying or vomiting or maybe both but did neither. I concentrated on breathing.

[Oh, this is gonna be a long one, you think, still not even at the Helsinki Airport. Yeah, I know, sorry not sorry]

Yes, the airport was all different. The taxi driver showed me where to find the taxis on my way home before dropping me off (not that it really helped anything; I still needed to navigate to them through the huge unfamiliar arrivals lobby with help of the overhead signs), and I stepped into the huge unfamiliar departure lobby with none of the confidence I used to have about flying.

No problem going through security, not even a line there. And man those new X-ray machines there are cool! No need to take ANYTHING out of the bags.

With over and hour to kill, I set in search of a coffee shop and spotted an Espresso House that didn’t used to be there, just like the bookstores and WH Smiths weren’t there either. Got a mocca latte thinking it might soothe my stomach and sat in the crowded coffee shop for a while, reading, until it was time to make my way to the gate.

Boarding happened pretty much right on time, we all settled into our seats that were way too close to each other for normal sized people, I mean the Oslo airport train had more leg space. I sat there feeling queasy, not sure if I wanted to nap or read. Just waiting for us to get moving. And wait we did. For a half an hour we waited for the crew to find an iPad(!!!) that worked. Apparently the cockpit iPad (apparently nowadays all of the flight control manuals and calculations and whatnot run on iPads) refused to fuction, and even the spare one didn’t work.

I sent an email to my customer contact that my flight was late, I’ll let them know when we land.

Finally we took off and were on our way. If there was one thing about flying in November: I got to see the sun. Sunrise, actually, but sunlight anyway. For 45 minutes or so I had rays of sun streaming through my little toilet seat window. Otherwise there seems to be a blanket of thick clouds over the Nordics currently. Not a crack in the clouds as we flew over Sweden, and the fog was thick until we were basically on the ground. The top of the Oslo airport flight control tower was inside the low hanging clouds.

I checked my phone for emails as soon as we landed, and found instructions to take the Airport Express to the Olso Sentral Station and a taxi to the office from there. What?! Somehow I’d checked that the office was so close to the airport that it was best to just take a room at an airport hotel, but I nope. Kicked myself about that. A city center hotel would’ve been better, but it was too late already.

Off to look for the train I went anyway, resigned and still or already tired. Got another coffee and a croissant on the way; my stomach finally felt like handling food now that I’d gotten that far. Bought a return ticket, making it through the menus and choices in Norwegian because I didn’t see the language menu at the top corner until I was at the payment part (at which point the language switched to English due to my foreign card anyway), and soon enough I was whizzing through a scenery that was uncannily similar to Finland. If I hadn’t known better…

At the Sentral station (yes, it’s with an S in Norwegian) I was baffled again. It was huge and had a mall or two attached to it and signs this way and that for different exits, and even some Taxi signs, but they kinda stopped before I got out and so I exited to a street where there were no taxis, only some trams and a huge ass scull on a flatbed. And a statue of a jungle cat, tiger, I imagine. I took photos of both and traced my steps back to the last Taxi sign I’d seen and tried a different exit.

I finally found the taxi station, or one of them as I learned later on, and briefly wondered how reliable the Norwegian taxi services are and whether or not I should prioritize one over the other. Shrugging mentally, I next tried to discern where the front of the taxi line was, i.e. which car to head to. And failed. The driver whose car I tried to get in, got out and started pointing at a different car at a different spot and I vaguely got the idea he spoke neither English nor Norwegian, but I might be wrong about the latter.

The taxi seemed ok enough, and I got to the office safely and for a decent price. People were already waiting for me, but hey, shit happens when you travel. Flights are late and you get lost and stuff like that. We had a very good workshop day nad around four or so we wrapped things up for the day and I got into another taxi, this time together with the contact person, and so there I was again, at the shopping mall of a train station.

I thought I’d try to do some shopping there, but as I walked past storefront after storefront, I noticed I really wasn’t intereted. I was too tired. I contemplated on having pizza at the station before heading back to the airport for the shuttle to the hotel, but decided to get the pizza to go from the airport where I’d seen a Peppe’s right there in the train and bus lobby. So I whizzed back to the airport in the gray bullet train with my return ticket and dragged myself to the Peppe’s.

I ordered my size S Chicago style pizza, Green Garden (with avocado and marinated mushrooms and bell pepper and onion) and sat down to wait. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. half an hour passed and I started thinking to myself that at home I can get a pizza delivered faster than that. So I got up to as about my pizza and there it was. Siting on the shelf just waiting. Why didn’t anyone TELL ME that my pizza was ready? I was sitting right there next to the counter, waiting! Airports, I tell ya!

Feeling slightly pissed off (not having enough energy to be majorly pissed off) I set off with my already cooling pizza, in search of the hotel shuttle. I thought I found the correct one on the info screen, jogged to the bus ready to be off, and tried to buy a ticket to Scandic Oslo Airport hotel, only to hear that the bus for that was a different one. Okay, no biggie, the platform was just 30 meters the other way.

The correct shuttle bus was due to leave in five minutes so despite my plans to eat my pizza in front of a movie in the relative comfort of my hotel room, I decided to grab a slice. I was still munching on the last bite of the slive when the bus rolled to the platform, so I let this couple get on board first to give me time to swallow before needing to speak. I got my ticket (8 fucking euros for a 10 minute shuttle ride! I bigger places like Brussels they offer it for free! Or at least used to back when the dinosaurs walked the earth) and found a seat in the back and off we went, into the darkness of the nordic November.

I had done my hotel check-in in the morning while on the train, so getting my key was the fast operation of stating my name and giving my credit card for scanning (“but I already gave it when I paid on the app” “we can’t see any card here” “ok, here”) and getting the necessary info of breakfast and restaurant schedules, not that the latter one interested me in the least.

The hotel was like a goddamn Swedish cruise ship with long corridors this way and that from the elevators. My room was almost at the end of one and I nearly lost my confidence halfway, but trudged on until I found my room. A very standard Scandic room. The kind of sterile looking nondescript room with beiges and light grays and no minibar – not that I needed it: I had my own iced tea and water bottles, pizza, nuts, and candy to keep me happy for the evening. At least that much I remembered from the olden days. Always have your own drinks and snacks. Rather too much than too little. You can always take the leftovers with you. As I did and finished the nuts today, stashed the rest of the candy in my drawer.

I set up the wifi on my laptop and struggled for a bit with Netflix as it tried to log me into the Norwegian site, failing. Finally I got in and started browsing the Christmas movies; I mean it IS that time of the year! Selected one that seemed both funny and fuzzy as it well should. Something where the main character has amnesia after a ski accident instigated by a local Santa, in order to fulfill the wish of a little girl. Can’t remember its name, and while it wasn’t on the level of Hallmark (unfortunately ever since Netflix started making their own, no more Hallmark Christmas movies for us here), it was cozy enough and left me feeling good. Purpose served.

After a call with H and the dogs (no, they didn’t really understand that mama was there on facetime and went back to napping after an initial ear perk from hearing my voice) I set my alarm and went to sleep.

As expected, I woke up some 45 minutes before my alarm, so I showered and got dressed and went in search of breakfast way earlier than needed. It was a very Sacndic breakfast with the scrambled eggs made of powdered eggs (I actually like that stuff!) and bacon, fresh bread, cheeses and meat slices, with some fish and fruits and stuff thrown in. Very much as expected. That’s one thing about staying in a safe bet. It’s boring but it’s predictable.

On my way back to my room I asked the reception to call me a taxi in an hour or so. I figured that between the shuttle fee, the train ticket and the last bit in a taxi, it couldn’ be much more expensive to just have a taxi take me to the customer from the hotel, plus it’s faster and more comfortable. It was somewhat more expensive, but worth it.

After another successful workshop day I was in a taxi again, on my way to the train station. I spotted an Espresso House on my way to the platforms and asked for a tall cahi latte to go, please. The girl behind the counter looked confused for a second, then lifted two fingers and asked: “two chai lattes?” “No, one, a big one.” “Oh okay! Because tall (tolve) is twelve in Norwegian so I was confused a bit!” she chuckled. Heh, I would’ve been too, but it didn’t cross my mind.

I bought another train ticket, one way and in English this time and was at the airport, again, in no time. Found the security line just to be ushered to the next one, which was the fast track, but “your ticket doesn’t qualify for fast track”. No no no, the NEXT one, 50 meters that way! I wasn’t the only one who got the guard all wrong.

Oslo Airport doesn’t have those fancy new machines, so it was the old familiar routine of take out every device from your bags and strip down to your underwear. Well, maybe no stripping involved and actually no routine anymore either, so just a big fucking hassle during which I managed to accident-dial my son. Plus I forgot to take out my liquids, but I guess it didn’t matter. Nobody asked before and nobody said anything after either. So just the devices, those darn culprits. Laptop, iPad and phone.

I checked the gate, well double-checked it. My boarding pass said D6 and the info screen agreed. So I set my course towards the D terminal. Going throught the doors to the international flight area I found myself in the taxfree shop and figured I might as well bring some candy home for the kids, and ourselves too, why not. Some mixed chocolates for the offspring and mixed Lindt for us. My favorite, but overlooked by them kiddos. In a souvenir shop I found a fridge magnet (I almost forgot!) for myself, a mug for the youngest one and keychains for the two older ones. Presents for kids, check.

I suppose I could’ve eaten something proper or at least better at some eatery or another while waiting for my flight, but my stomach was feeling a bit queasy again, so I just got a croissant, a chocolate bun, and a Froosh from one of the Kiosks and walked to the gate to eat and work a little before the flight. Which was late. Again. Started boarding at the time when we were supposed to be taking off. I just wanted to be home already!

The plane was even smaller than the one on the way there. Four seats per row; can’t remember the last time in a tiny tube like that. Some domestic flight for sure. The leg space was more, though, while the seat belt so short that anyone bigger than me must’ve needed an extension!

An hour and twenty minutes in the sardine can, “a blueberry juice, please” (I never speak Finnish on international flight, even on Finnair flights, for reasons I cannot exactly explain), and a bit of working, blog writing and even reading, and finally we landed at the Helsinki Airport. I couldn’t have gotten out faster, except if I hadn’t stopped to use the toilet on the way. I speed-walked towards the exits which were where they didn’t used to be. I followed the taxi signs and found the taxi lines, and selected Taksi Helsinki, because it’s the only one I basically trust anymore after the taxi scene became a wild wild west. Bring back the taxi laws!

So home, finally! Doggos practically flew to greet me when I came in, H following them with a bit more patience and a smile on his face. I’ve become a total homebody. Never wanna travel again. Except in a week and half from now, to Berlin for company Christmas party and stuff. No but seriously. I don’t miss business travel. Not. At. All.