The twelve months of 2018

Six days left of this year. I think it’s been a pretty good one, but let’s look back, month by month. The highlights, books and pictures. The usual stuffs. Oh and quotes!

January
Highlight of the month: Short weekend at the company villa with my teens. Some cards against humanity, some GTA, some reading, some hot tub and sauna. Prime quality time <3

Quote of the month: “The term atheist should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a ‘non-astrologer’ or non-alchemist.’ We do not have a word for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive, or for people who doubt that aliens traverse the galaxy only to molest cattle.” – Dan Brown (Origin)

Book of the month: Theodore Wheeler – Kings of Broken Things
Intriguing in a broken kind of a way. Reminded me of Jess Walter and the sort of ugly yet charming stories of life in all its sometimes not so glorious colors. There was a time and a place and a society and a life so very different from that of today. Yet so oddly familiar.

Pic of the month:

Tammela
Morning in Tammela, the company villa

February
Highlight of the month: Operation catch the mouse Meggie found lurking in my son’s room. In the end, son caught the mouse in a box and I took it to the nearby forest, uninjured.

Quote of the month: ”Honey, your hair is like the mane of a wild lion whether you brush it or not.” – my husband

Book of the month: Khaled Hosseini – A Thousand Splendid Suns
A truly touching story of a woman and another woman struggling under the oppression of men. Of war, and the decline of a society in Afganistan. A reminder to us western women of the unfortunate fact that there’s a lot of women out there who don’t have it as good as we have it here.

Pic of the month:

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Duck at Talinranta on a very sunny winter day

March
Highlight of the month: The X-Files season 11. Yup.

Quote of the month: “Really, a novel does not exist, does not happen, until readers pour their own lives into it.” – Emma Donoghue

Book of the month: Emma Donoghue – Room
The little boy who didn’t even know a world beyond their four walls existed until the day of the great escape. The boy and the mom, in a twisted symbiosis, due to the imprisonment they lived in. The reality of the world, that almost crushed them both.

Pic of the month:

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Across the ice from Hakaniemi to Kaisaniemi

April
Highlights of the month:
– My son got his transgender diagnosis, allowing him to finally proceed to hormonal treatment and name changing.
– Bicycling with husband and daughter.

Quote of the month: “I think truth in fiction comes from how the words make you feel, rather than a reference to the facts behind them.” – Layton Green

Book of the month: J. Randy Taraborrelli – Madonna
The interesting story of the interesting super star.

Pic of the month:

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Out bicycling

May
Highlights of the month:
– My son got his name changed.
– Long weekend in Lisbon with my daughter – sightseeing, dinner at Hard Rock Café, a lot of shopping. Just great old time with my kid <3
– Trip to Tallinn with some friends.
– Building our garden.

Quote of the month: “Sometimes I feel like on different days I connect to different FE servers of reality, and they’re out of sync like one’s already got a patch installed that another one doesn’t have yet.” – me

Book of the month: Lucy Dillon – One Small Act of Kindness
Light reading, a feel-good story, even with the slight twist of evil in the midst. But then again – you will never truly appreciate the good without a touch of bad.

Pic of the month:

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Reading in our backyard

June
Highlights of the month:
– Movie night with my teens – Thor Ragnarok.
– The Scottish ancestor! my cousin found after digging a bit into our family history (on mom’s side): Guilhelmus ‘William’ Andresson Udnie of Tillery, whose son moved to Vyborg to become part of my ancestry. Still tickles something in me.
– Working on the garden remodeling.

Quote of the month: “Jokaisella meistä on oikeus olla omana itsenään. Ilman että kukaan syrjii tai kenenkään tarvitsee kokea pelkoa. Vielä niin ei ole.”
“We all have the right to be ourselves without judgement and fear and discrimination. This is not a reality yet.”
– Anne Kantola, about Helsinki Pride in Helsingin Sanomat

Book of the month: Nina George – The Little Paris Bookshop
A story about love and life and obsession. Slightly blah with the “it’s been 20 years but I still can’t let go” but then again, the growth when he does <3 Oh, and all them books in the book!

Pic of the month:

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The lady and the pickaxe

July
Highlights of the month:
– My daughter’s “protu-juhla”, ie. the 15yo growing up party, the secular version of a bat mitzvah or “rippijuhla”.
– Summer vacation!
– New car <3
– Weekend in the Turku archipelago with husband, dogs, daughter and step-daughter <3
– Week in Lapland with husband, dogs and daughter <3 BB-gun shooting, archery with a horse bow, kayaking, road trips, hot sun, reindeer.

Quote of the month: “Mä haluan nähdä sellaisen maailman, missä voin kävellä kadulla ilman, että joku tulee sanomaan, että vitsi sä oot rohkee kun sä oot oma itsesi. Missä mulle ei tarvi tulla sanomaan, että sä oot rohkee kun sä uskallat olla erilainen. Mä haluan nähdä maailman, jossa mä en ole rohkea.”
“I want to see a world where I can walk down the street without people coming up to me saying wow you must have a lot of courage to be yourself. Where no one feels the need to tell me it requires courage to be different. I want to see a world where I am not courageous.”
– Vili, 19yo, in Satakunnan Kansa, about being transgender

Book of the month: T. H. White – The Once and Future King
Long read with a lot of mythology, a lot of wisdom, a lot of philosophy. Enjoyable! A book everyone should read! Long live King Arthur!

Pic of the month:

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Meggie getting ready to jump – fuck this boat shit!

August
Highlights of the month:
– Mamma Mia – Here We Go Again. Cried through the movie. Love it <3
– Sausage making for the first time

Quote of the month: “You know it’s hot when you prefer wet shorts over dry sweats” -me

Book of the month: S. S. Taula – Vilkas vuorokausi
Loosely translated: An Eventful 24 Hours. A funny Finnish comedy book, old as shit. Summer, love, crime, serendipity with a little nudge from a couple of mischievous guys. Love of this book and returning to it every once and again is something I share with my dad.

Pic of the month:

Timmy
Timmy chillin’ at our summer place

September
Highlights of the month:
– My son turned 18! I became the mother of an adult :o
– Dinner cruise with husband <3

Quote of the month: “Truly, as the ancients taught us, there is nothing under the moon, however fine, that is not subject to corruption.” – C. J. Sansom (Dark Fire)

Book of the month: Ernest Cline – Ready Player One
Intriguing. Virtual reality in the aftermath of a global catastrophe. Trailer stacks and piles of abandoned cars and virtual reality everything. And a quest.

Pic of the month:

september
Warm autumn with bright colors

October
Highlight of the month: Helsinki Book Fair – went alone and fully enjoyed the event <3

Quote of the month: “I don’t hate [people]…I just feel better when they’re not around.” – Charles Bukowsky (Barfly)

Book of the month: Lisa See – Shanghai Girls
An enchanting story of two sisters making a narrow escape from Shanghai as the Japanese proceed to invade China. Settling to California under false pretenses of false citizenship of their in-laws and husbands, they struggle to scrape up a life for their new family.

Pic of the month:

Patu
Tatu (a kids’ book hero) and me at Book Fair

November
Highlights of the month:
– Another weekend at the company villa, this time with all three teens. Pizza, hot tub, cards against humanity, GTA, the works. Great times <3
– Muse Simulation Theory released + I got myself a ticket for their next summer gig in Helsinki <3

Quote of the month: ”Out of their context, she had behaved out of character. It made one wonder at the independence of character from place and from there to the strange, malleable liquidity of character itself.” – David Duchovny (Miss Subways)

Book of the monthDavid Duchovny – Miss Subways
A bit of mythology, or a bit more. A brain twister in a true Gaimanly manner. Entertaining and surprising with a nice touch of philosophy and unexplainables.

Pic of the month:

Library
My very favorite place at home: my library and fatboy <3

December
Highlights of the month:
– My son got his driver’s license.
– Phantom of the Opera at the Finnish National Opera, with my husband <3
– Company trip to Amsterdam.
– Christmas break with all that Christmas baking and good food!

Quote of the month: “Home country is kinda like a sibling. You criticize and bitch about it but if a foreigner complains, you’re ready to punch them for saying a bad word about your beloved homeland.” – me

Book of the month: Kari Hotakainen – Tuntematon Kimi Räikkönen
I haven’t exactly finished the book yet as I got it for Christmas, but I’ve read enough to know it’s definitely worth the read. The story of Iceman, Kimi Räikkönen behind the scenes where the ice melts. Written in an entertaining way.

Pic of the month:

Christmas
Our little pre-Christmas with teens (not here for the actual holidays)

High five, Mimmi Lehmä!

Tosikoinen vailkaisi kuvaa Kirjamessuilla keinuneesta Mimmi Lehmästä vähintäänkin välinpitämättömästi ja mulkaisi sen jälkeen minua silmissään katse, jollaiseen vain teini kykenee. Äiti sä oot niin lame! Miks joku kuva ylisuuresta lehmäpehmosta kiinnostais mua? Äiti mä en oo enää viis!

Lienen syyllistynyt siihen vanhempi-synneistä suurimpaan: nostalgisointiin. Siihen samaan, joka minua teininä isässäni ärsytti, mutta jolle hymähtelen nyt hyväntahtoisesti. Ehkä pyöräytän vähän silmiäni joka kerta nähdessäni pikkumökin oven yläpuolelle naulatut kangaskenkäni vuodelta noin 1977. Pohjimmiltaan se ei ole sen kummempaa kuin se, miten minun sisälläni läikähtää lämpimästi nähdessäni kirjamessuilla Mimmi Lehmän ja Variksen, sekä Tatun ja Patun.

Lasten ollessa pieniä, en lukenut heille läheskään niin paljon kuin mielikuvissani aina ajattelin. Vaikka heidät halusin tutustuttaa kirjojen mahtavaan maailmaan, huomasin, etten jaksanut lukea heille ääneen ollenkaan niin paljon kuin olisin halunnut – oli heillä onneksi isäkin. Lukuisia lukuhetkiä silti heidän kanssaan vietin. Hauskimpia olivat seikkailut Mimmi Lehmän, Tatun ja Patun, sekä Viirun ja Pesosen kanssa. Oli hauska huomata kirjamessuilla, että nämä mainiot hahmot yhä seikkailevat lasten kanssa!

Vietin kirjamessuilla lauantaipäivästä hyvän palasen ihan keskenäni. Tai siis tuhansien muiden joukossa, mutta kuitenkin keskenäni. Kiertelin hissuksiin osaston kerrallaan, tutkailin kirjoja ja poimin lukuisia mukaani. Kotimaista historiallista kirjallisuutta – Kaari Utriota, Kristiina Vuorta ja Johanna Valkaman Metsän ja meren sukua – ja kaikenlaista muutakin lähinnä kotimaista, sillä muut luen englanniksi Kindlestä.

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Kuljeskelin kirjakasseineni katselemassa messujen muutakin tarjontaa. Ostin yhden kirjanmerkin,

pohdiskelin kelttikorun ostamista, moikkasin Tatua ja Patua ja heitin Mimmi Lehmälle high fivet. Katselin hetken Muumien laululeikkituokiota kierrellessäni antikvariaattiosastolla. Siinä vaiheessa alkoi olla jo melkoinen ähky, enkä osannut edes aloittaa niiden pöytien ja hyllyjen selaamista. Sen sijaan pysähdyin pläräilemään ExLibriksiä Suomen Exlibrisyhdistyksen pisteelle.

Hypistelin erilaisia ExLibriksiä, joita olisi saanut ostaa 50 sentillä kappale. ExLibrikset ovat kiehtoneet minua pikkutytöstä saakka, sillä meillä on suvussamme niitä yhdellä jos toisellakin, mutta en minä ole koskaan ajatellut, että haluaisin niitä keräillä. Enkä haluakaan. Minulle on oleellista, että omissa kirjoissani on oma exlibarini ja minusta on mahtavaa, että hyllyssäni on niin monta isoukiltani “perittyä” (lue: landelta hivutettua) kirjaa, joissa on isoukkini ExLibris. Kotona yritin etsiä, mutta ei, hyllyssäni ei ole yhtään kirjaa, jonka olisi ensin omistanut isäni (jos ei siis lasketa niitä mitkä isä on ensin ominut ukiltaan ja minä isältä), joten hänen ExLibristään minulta ei löydy.

Juttelin siinä tovin yhdistyksen herrojen kanssa, näytin heille oman ExLibrikseni, sillä minulla oli repussani hyllystäni mukaan otettu Haadeksen kutsu, Max Seeckin signeerausta varten. Isoukkini ExLibris löytyi heidän luettelostaan, mutta isäni ei, joten herrat pyysivät minua lähettämään heille niitä ja omianikin pari kappaletta. Sainpa mukaani yhdistykseen liittymislomakkeenkin. Ai että tunnen itseni nyt vanhaksi! Faija taisi arvostaa todella, sillä vaikkei hän vieläkään ole saanut aikaiseksi lähettä omaa kuvaansa, jota pyysin jo kuukausia sitten, sain sähköpostiini kuvat ExLibriksistä (isän, setäni, ja parin muun) vain pari tuntia puheluni jälkeen!

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Sormet paperipussien kantamisesta jo vähän kipeinä, selkä hivenen jo väsyneenä seilasin kuuden maissa viimeiselle etapilleni, Akateemisen pisteelle. Sielläkin olin jo kirjat skannaillut (muistiinpanoja niistä, joita en ostanut) ja yhden joululahjan ostanut, mutta jäljellä oli vielä se ainoa haastattelu, jonka olin ohjelmakseni ottanut. Ella Kanninen haastatteli edellä mainittua Max Seeckiä, minkä jälkeen Seeck oli hetken Akateemisen signeerauspöydän äärellä. Hain signeeraukseni ja vaihdoin pari sanaa kirjaa pakatessani. Tyytyväisenä päivään kävelin hyytävässä tuulessa bussipysäkille ja palasin kotiin saaliineni.

Messusatoa2

The Philosophies of Merlin (according to T.H. White)

It is really no wonder that my idealistic pacifist mind so loves the legend of King Arthur and his Round Table. Of course, up until now, my take on the legend has been a very feeble one, based on children’s books and the movie “The First Knight”, which actually pictures especially Lancelot in a very different manner than T.H. White in his brick of a pentalogy “The Once and Future King”. Reading this lengthy narrative of silly little Wart becoming the confused Arthur becoming the kind yet troubled king becoming the defeated old King made me hope that these legends are indeed true and that King Arthur will indeed come again and set the world straight.

King Arthur was a king who loved jousting and warring while despising the cruelty of arbitrary Force. He was the king who sought to fight that Force with a righteous Force while building his democratic Round Table. The king who tried to slay the greed for power by equal distribution of power – how could anyone need more when they all had a just amount of power? The little bit too kind hearted king who was betrayed by everyone close to him: his wife, his best friend and first knight, and even his (illegitimate) son. The king who meant well, but was helpless against the brutal realities of humankind.

In the midst of an age, where disputes were solved by duels, King Arthur was a king who loved justice so much that he came up with a nonforcedriven justice system. He valued justice so much that when presented with the undeniable fact of Lancelot’s and Guinevere’s affair – which he was aware of for his whole life but decided to overlook for the love of them both – he saw no other choice but to act justly: he almost burned his wife alive, and was utterly relieved when his dear Lancelot did not fail him nor his Gwen but indeed came to the rescue and rode off with his wife.

Even then he was not done making decicions between love and justice for to make his life as miserable as possible, he still had to wage war on his best friend, the one huddled in a castle in France with his wife. Poor Arthur would have just left them there, for the sake of love and kindness, but Mordred had made sure that there was a feud that forced the King’s hand by way of justice for his own family. In the chaos of the Queen’s rescue, two un-helmeted nephews of the King were slayed. Lancelot swore he did not kill them, but if not he, then who? Cunning. evil Mordred, getting his revenge, setting his stage.

King Arthur was and illegitimate child himself, born of a relationship unjustly forced by the might of war. He was chosen by the magician Merlin to become the great King of England, one who would, with the help of wisdom from the animal world, end wars and human cruelty. It was a noble attempt and definitely something one would’ve hoped for him to achieve, but I guess nobody is surprised that in the end it all failed, even in a legend. Not even the sligthtly goofy Lancelot was able to help King Arthur in the end, for he had been banished for his traiterous sin of being the Queen’s lover.

Sir Lancelot, the Ill-Made Knight, was indeed ill made. Not even so much because of the apparently ugly face (which I had a very hard time picturing after seeing Richard Gere take the form of him in the aforementioned movie and thus in my mind more than two decades ago), but because of his rather feeble character. He was kind to a weakness, soft at heart to a fault, weak enough to absorb King Arthur’s ideas so throughly that he himself almost seized to exist. None of the arrogance of the movie character.

Lancelot was the boy whose only goal in life was to be the best knight in the world, serve King Arthur, and be blessed by being allowed to perform a miracle. Meek, yet strong. Childish, yet powerful. Feared, but not scary – unless you had to fight with him, and not only because he always won, but as much for his unrelentless mercy. Nothing more humiliating to a knight than to be spared by your opponent in addition to being held at his mercy by losing.

Sir Lancelot did indeed become the gratest knight in the wolrd and did perform his miracles, which in the end only served to make him ashamed for he understood that he was not worthy of them; no, for the betrayal of the King whom he loved before he loved the Queen, but did not love enough not to surrender to the love of the Queen, he knew his miracles were only due to the mercy of God and maybe King Arthur. For King Arthur had so much mercy and kindness in him that he let himself be influenced by Mordred and his whole thinking became muddled.

Queen Guinevere then? She was as fickle and fiery as Arthur was stable and solid. She was as feisty as Arthur was calm. She wanted to keep the cake and eat the cake. She did not much plod into her husband’s politics, as was the custom at the time – damsels were helpless and needed to be saved by the chivalrious knights from towers and boiling baths and other such atrocities – but she was active enough in her own court. She was particularily active in keeping the affair with Lancelot going. She would not let poor weak Lancelot go even when he pleaded for his freedom (to serve God).

King Arthur and the knights were at war a lot. There was the total war Britain and wars in France and wars to end all wars and in a way King Arthur was successful enough that he actually destroyed the feudal system and united the kings of Britain if only for his lifetime. When there was no war, there were the quests to fight Might with better Might and when that was done, there was the biggest quest of all: the quest for the Holy Grail. Finally there was the war started by the deceptive Mordred, heir to Arthur’s throne.

Mordred came up with the cunning idea that he’d speed up the succession by claiming that the King was dead, while he really was just on a wild goose chase in France. In the end, that war ended the regime of the Pendragons, as both Mordred and fater Arthur died in the chaos of a misunderstanding in the middle of the peace exchanges. If King Arthur had his pick, I believe he became one of those mentioned wild geese and had a good second life with the tender Lyó-Lyok, who had just accepted goose-Arthur’s proposal when Merlin plucked him back to humanhood.

The legend of King Arthur and his knights, the Orkeney clan (who were actually Arthur’s nephews), of Lancelot and Guinevere and of Merlin is an intriguing story but more than anything it is a story about war and a story about humanity. That White would make it such a (war)-philosophical work is no wonder, when you understand that White wrote the books in the aftermath of the First World War, then the threat of the next one, with Hitler rising already, and finally in the aftermath of the Second World War. To have Merlin live backwards – having lived his youth in the 20th century he was an old dude in Arthur’s time, sort of living in each time at the same time – was a rather clever way of inserting modern day knowledge into his teachings to Arthur.

Merlin was a pacifist from the very beginning of the story. He tried to teach the slightly dense Arthur to think outside of the time box he lived in, and in ways, he did. Merlin taught Arthur – actually Wart in his boyhood – lessons by turning him into different animals and letting the animals teach him. Merlin’s hope was that Arthur would learn how to end wars and maintain peace by experiencing the different lives and lifestyles of different animals. At the end of his life, Arthur finds himself depressed and guilt-ridden for having failed his mission, especially after a rather black-hearted rant by Merlin.

“The Book of Merlin” is the intended fifth book of “The Once and Future King” even though the publisher did not originally include it in the publication. Ironically, this fifth book got sort of lost in the chaos of war and the years of shortage that followed. The pentalogy was published in its intended form for the first time in 1958. “The Book of Merlin” is a sort of revisit to Arthur’s childhood years, to the atmosphere of the first book, where Merlin actively educates Wart with his fables and rants and the visits to the world of animals. In this last book the animals from the first book are all gathered with Merlin to finish Arthur’s education. The weary old King has almost given up, but finally rises up to one more lesson from his tutors.

Not that it matters much to Arthur who dies in the process of making a truce with his son – thought there is something to be said about leaving this world with a peace of mind, especially after being troubled and confused most of one’s life – but maybe we, the readers of the legend, can take something away from this final lesson while pondering Merlin’s ideas on nature and humanity.

When King Arthur was all broken and despaired in his tent on the last night of his life and war, he came up with the notion that the humans are not really homo sapiens, “wise human beings” but rather homo ferox, “ferocious human beings”. Merlin himself had pretty much come to that conclusion as well, with the humans being the only species to kill just for fun and wage war just for fun and sport. For, as Merlin noted, humans seem to have the tendency to get adrenaline depraved and need something utterly dangerous to satisfy their need for excitement and need for some sort of cruelty.

The badger of the story, the wise in its own way, yet totally aloof and absentminded communist of the story, had his own opinions about humans. His first notion was that they are actually homo stultus, stupid, but then thought a bit further and came up with a more intelligent word: homo impoliticus, the non-political human beings. Now, as much as we have politics, one could argue that this hardly is an intelligent option, but if you consider it from the animals’ point of view, ther may actually be a point to it.

People are fighting over this and that – power, territory, imaginary lines between areas, women, men, ideas, you name it – and unable to come up with a unified political order to end the need for war. Apart from ants, basically, people are the only species so wholly unorganised. This, according to Merlin, is highly due to the fact that people have been around for so much shorter time and have yet to establish their system. And this, then, was the main reason for Merlin to inject little Wart into different animal communities; to learn from them and help the world of humans get  organized in a just and reasonable manner.

Merlin and the badger had had Arthur’s life time to banter back and forth about communism and capitalism and all manners of ideologies, still not coming to a full conclusion until Arthur (re)visits his life as an ant and then as a goose. It is only after these experiences which Merlin and the animals carefully watched, that Merlin came to the conclusion that communism, the ultimate state of everyone being a non-individual part of the state machine, was not the way to prevent war; rather it is individualism. The more collective the mind, the stomach, the thinking, the more prone to war the species is, while the more individual the species, the more it is prone to pacifism, was Merlin’s conclusion.

Looking at ants and geese, it seems rather obvious. The ants build their colony, their industry and their fort, where every single ant has its place and duty. In White’s ant colony there are no names, there are numbers. There is no moral system, there is only Done and Not-Done. There are no words for anything other than what the ant colony, the ant state needs. An ant straying into foreign territory, another colony’s territory, is immediately considererd a threat: it has no place here, it does not belong, it will disrupt and take our food and more will come and our system will break!

Where there is no state system, there is nothing that will break. There is no need to be territorial or jealous of land, collective possessions, system, where there are none. The geese fly through the sky without knowing any borders. They fly in flocks, families, and congregate in peace with other flocks and families. They don’t get jealous over a field they happen upon, just because some other geese happen upon the same field. They make their nests and only if that is threatened – the private property of a home – do they feel the need to defend what is theirs.

Anarchy! You might exclaim. Yes, anarchy seems to be what Merlin is after. He even states: “I am an anarchist, like any sensible person.” Merlin’s anarchy is not a destructive one, though, but rather constructive. He tries to find what is good in the world, namely the natural world, learn and teach Arthur what he has learned, in order to bring forth the individual kind of anarchy that would finally end all wars.

However noble the goal, he even concludes himself that it is not exactly achievable. Not because of original sin or any profound evilness of the human mind, but because of the way we are wired. Merlin goes into the anatomy of the brain, explaining that ants only have a corpus striatum, that acts like a one way mirror, while the humans – and geese – also have the neopallium, which is like a two-way mirror. This means, that the ants do not have a sense of themselves, only of the colony, the state, whereas humans and geese gain understanding of their own character through the neopallium, by seeing themselves through the eyes of others.

It is, according to Merlin, the corpus striatum that leads to a proletariat state and humans will never have that because of the neopallium. This double-mirror of neopallium is the doom of any communistic societies in human populations. There is way too much individualism for it to ever succeed. This seems to cotradict the idea of the wars being waged due to collectivism, but now the thing is that the human brain also has the corpus striatum. Thus, the idea of complete individualism is doomed too. While in nature animalscan be completely either, the human beings never will.

Somehow unsurprisingly Merlin and the animals never did solve the issue of warfare, the issue of stopping warring altogether. No, they actually came up with a list of pros and cons of wars. The pros including them being a venting system for the human need for blood or pent up ferocity as Merlin puts it, of wars being a population control system (a poor one, but still), and some more or less overlapping notions ot psychological and physiological needs for fighting. The cons, well, the royal we declares they know them already, so we don’t get a list. I suppose it could all be summed up in one word: misery.

Misery was definitely the state King Arthur found himself in on the last evening of his fight and life. Utter misery of a lifetime of trying to do right, but only ending up failing, being betrayed by everyone he loved and seeing the world no closer to peace than when he started. His misery only deepened when Merlin went into his diatribe of the failings and misgivings of the human nature. When Merlin snatched him from the sweet moment with Lyó-Lyok back to humanity, he broke down into a heap of nothingness.

It is, however, also in the human nature to be able to rise above oneself even from the throws of the deepest despair when needed. It was the urchin, the little overlooked flea-ridden urchin, who took Arthur’s hand and guided him to the spot on the hill, where he sang to Arthur while Arthur once again became the King he was. And not only the King, but England itself. He inhaled the country and his heart swelled in love for his country and countrymen and he returned to Merlin and the animal committee to finish his education. In the end, the student surpassed his teacher.

“Very good. We understand the puzzle,” said King Arthur as he rose from his chair and bid farewell – or Orrevoyer as the urchin said – to Merlin and the animals. Finally, it was mercy that ended his life as well as his son-enemy’s. King Arthur offered half of his kingdom to the rebellious son and he accepted. It was only due to a miserable mistake caused by a snake that the whole peace fell into pieces and both Mordred and Arthur died. Maybe from each other’s swords, maybe of someone elses. Lancelot never made it from his exile to King Arthur’s side. He only made it to bury his King and friend.

White is a very contradicting writer, a hugely troubled mind. Especially this Book of Merlin is more of a dialect of two opposing minds – in the forms of Merlin and the badger – than any kind of straightforward philosophy of a mind made up. This duel of minds makes it even more interesting for it offers more questions than answers, more suggestions and proposals than facts. It leaves space for one’s own speculation. It is not a polished product; can be refined further and a keen mind no doubt will. Mine was definitely intrigued by it – by the notions of positive anarchism, pacifism and individualism.

They say curiosity killed the cat. Idealism killed King Arthur. Long live King Arthur!

Kukkia, kukkia

En ole suuri puutarhuri, enkä mikään kukka-asiantuntija. En edes tunnista useimpia niistä, sen paremmin luonnossa kuin kaupassakaan. Puutarha meillä on, ja pidän siellä puuhastelusta ja sen kasvamisen seuraamisesta. Puutarhamme kukilla on pääsääntöisesti kuitenkin vain yksi tehtävä: tuottaa hedelmää. Kun tomaatti tai kurkku tai chili tai paprika kukkii, ei kukka ole komea eikä upea, mutta meille kauniinpi kaikkea, sillä tiedämme, että pian siitä kasvaa hedelmä. Olettaen, että mehiläiset hoitavat tehtävänsä ja useimmiten ne niin tekevät.

On meillä pihallamme joitakin tarkoin valittuja koristekukkiakin. En tiedä kaikkien niidenkään nimiä, sillä osan olen valinnut ihan vain siksi, että ne näyttivät kivoilta. Samettikukilla on tehtävänsä erinäisten tuholaisten loitolla pitäjänä. Talviaikaan meillä voi satunnaisesti nähdä leikkokukkia kuten ruusuja, tulppaaneita ja gerberoita maljakossa, mutta tuossa taisi hujahtaa hyvinkin kymmenen vuotta, ettei minulla ollut ensimmäistäkään viherkasvia, kukista puhumattakaan, kotonani. Ruukkuyrttejä ja -salaatteja ei lasketa, vaikka niitä keittiömme ikkunalla talvisin näkeekin.

Silti, minullakin on lempikukkani. Niitä on jopa jokunen. Ei ehkä niinkään yllättävää, että niihin jokaiseen liittyy jonkinlainen tarina.

Rhododendron

Jos aloitetaan ihan alusta, alussa oli rhodo. Meidän landella on iso rhodo. Se oli iso jo ollessani lapsi, joten nyt se vasta iso onkin. Tuo landen kallioisen karussa maastossa viihtyvä rhodomme tapaa olla täydessä kukassa kesäkuun puolivälin synttäreideni aikaan. Joka toinen vuosi se kukkiin hurjana, joka toinen vuosi vähän vähemmän. Opin rakastamaan rhodoa jo pikkulapsena, isoäidin kanssa landella. Siitä lähtien, kun minulla on ollut oma piha, olen halunnut rhodoa pihalleni. Nyt minulla viimein on. Luultavasti samaa landen rhodoa, tuossa etupihallamme.

Orvokki

Orvokki on toinen kukka, josta olen pitänyt lapsesta saakka. Isoäiti istutti niitä landella kukkapenkkeihin joka vuosi, ja ne olivat ainoat kukat, joiden kastelusta tykkäsin. Kastelukannua kallistellessani hyräilin itsekseni: “Orvokkini tummasilmä, kultasydän pieni. Katsot aina lempeästi, kun käy luokses tieni…” Äiti minulle tuota laulua lauloi ja osaan sen yhä ulkoa. Meillä on orvokkeja pihalla nytkin.

Neilikka

Ehkä jos yritetään jotain kronologiaa ylläpitää, on neilikka vuorossa seuraavana. Neilikka astui sydämeeni ollessani kuudentoista. Olin isän, isän vaimon, ja isoäitini kanssa Viipurissa käymässä. Olin reissussa koko viikonlopun, sillä yövyimme Lappeenrannassa pari yötä. Minulla oli hirveän ikävä poikaystävääni (josta sittemmin tuli nyt jo ex-mieheni ja lasteni isä). Viipurin kauppahallissa erään kojun myyjä alkoi ylistää kauneuttani ja nappasi naapurikojun kukkaämpäristä neilikan, jonka ojensi minulle. Otin neilikan vastaan ja työnsin sen hiuksiini. Mielessäni tuo neilikka oli ikäväni inkarnaatio, ja siitä lähtien neilikka on ollut yksi lempikukistani. Eräänlainen tunteitteni konkretisoituma.

Oleanteri

No nyt pääsemme niihin kirjakukkiin. Joskus nuoruudessani luin Eero Ekqvistin kirjan Oleanterin punainen kukka. Tarina oli minusta hurjan kaunis. Se sijoittui Rooman ajan Palestiinaan ja jotakin tekemistä sillä oli kielletyn rakkauden kanssa – en enää sitä juuri muista, vaikkakin muistan sen, miten suuren vaikutuksen tarina minuun teki sitä lukiessani. Myöhemmin sain oman oleanterin – joka myös muuten rhodoa kovasti muistuttaa. Se kukki minulla monta kesää, kunnes kerran unohdin sen alkusyksyllä parvekkeelle ja halla tuli ja söi sen.

Auringonkukka

Auringonkukka on toinen lempikukistani, jonka nimenomaan kirja on elämääni tuonut. Torey Haydenin Auringonkukkametsä on huikea kertomus naisesta, joka joutui natsi-Saksassa synnyttäjäksi. Naisesta, joka yritti sodan jälkeen rakentaa uutta elämää, mutta jonka koko olemista ja sitä myötä perhettä ja lapsia, varjosti synkkä salaisuus, lapsensa menettäneen äidin kipu ja tuska, häpeäkin. Luin kirjan tosin aivan väärään aikaan elämässäni, esikoistani odottaessani. Itkin vesiputouksen lailla.

Tiikerililja

Nimeni johtuu heprean Shoshunista, joka tarkoittaa laakson liljaa, täsmällisesti ottaen kai kieloa, mutta olen ottanut vapauden tulkita sen vain liljaksi. Lilja, myös kalla, ylipäänsäkin kuuluu lempikukkiini, mutta rakkain niistä on minulle tiikerililja. Tiikerililja on liljoista se, jolla on eniten luonnetta, asennetta. Oranssi ja musta tiikerililja on liljojen kapinallinen. Liljojen epäsovinnainen teini. Vähän kuin minäkin punaisten ja mustien hiusteni ja vähän ikiteinimäisen kapinallisine asenteineni.

Orkidea

Orkidea on oikukas ja itsenäinen. Kaunis kuin mikä, mutta hivene karu varreltaan. Samaistun myös orkideaan ja vaikka minusta on vaikea pitää kasvi kuin kasvi hengissä, orkidean haasteen otan vastaan aivan toisella pieteetillä kuin useimpien muiden kasvien. Kun orkidea kukkiin uudemman kerran hoivissani, tunnen suurta riemua. Ja orkideani ovat kukkineetkin. Olen onnistunut!

Kirsikankukka

Kirsikkapuut, omenapuut, luumupuut ja mitä näitä on. Niistä kirsikka vaaleanpunaisine kukkineen on suosikkini. Kirsikka itsessään on minusta paljon esimerkiksi omenoita maukkaampi hedelmä, mutta sillä on vain vähän tekemistä sen kanssa, että niin pidän kirsikankukista. Ollessani kahdentoista, olin äidin kanssa Japanissa siellä sillä hetkellä asuneen parhaan ystäväni luona. Oli helmikuu, eikä Tokiossakaan vielä ollut hirveän lämmin, mutta ensimmäiset kirsikkapuut olivat jo kukassa ja se oli minusta yksi kauneimmista asioista maailmassa. Ihastukseni kirskikankukkiin sinetöi joitakin vuosia myöhemmin lukemani Mailis Janatuisen kirja Koulu ja kirsikankukka, jonka tarina niinikään sijoittuu Japaniin. Japanilla itsessään on ikuinen paikka sydämessäni.

Bougeainvillea

Kreikka – tai täsmällisemmin ottaen Kreikan Aegeanmeren saaristo, Kiklades, ja vielä täsmällisemmin sieltä Tinos – on toinen maa, jolla on oma paikkansa sydämessäni. Siellä, noilla kuvankauniilla saarilla, kasvaa bougeainvillea valtoimenaan. Oleanteritkin siellä kasvavat pensaina kukkien komeasti kesähelteillä, mutta seiniä kiipeävät ovien ja ikkunoiden ja parvekkeiden yllä roikkuvat bougeainvilleat ovat aivan oma villi palansa noita Kreikan saaria. Bougeainvillea tarkoittaa minulle aurinkoa, suolaista tuulta, merta ja karunkaunista luontoa. Valkoiseksi rapattuja taloja ja koboltinsinisiä ikkunanpuitteita. Sielun vapaata lentoa tuulen mukana.

Verenpisara

Pieni sydämenmuotoinen verenpisara kosketti sieluani erään talon portilla, kävellessäni siitä ohi liki joka päivä koirien kanssa, sydämeni ollessa raskas. Äitini oli kuollut, isoäitini oli kuollut, teinini kamppaili masennuksensa ja itsetuhoisuutensa kanssa. Pienet mutta sinnikkäät pinkit kukat katselivat minua pensaastaan ohi kävellessäni. Kurkottivat sydämeeni lohduttaen ja rohkaisten. Tuntui kuin suruni olisi saanut muodon. Tuntui kuin nuo piskuiset verenpisarat olisivat joka kerta ottaneet palan tuskastani ja muuttaneet sen kauniiksi ja vähemmän raskaaksi. Pieniksi vaaleanpunaisiksi timanteiksi. Kuin kyyneleeni olisivat muuttuneet kukiksi.

Ahkeraliisa

Ahkeraliisa ei ole kummoinenkaan, eikä oikeastaan edes lempikukkiani sinänsä, mutta minulla on vahva lukkarinrakkaus sitä kohtaan. Isoäitini kasvatti noita pieniä ja melko mitäänsanomattomia oranssinpunaisia kukkia sekä stadissa että landella joka kesä. Niitä kasvoi vanhassa käytöstä poistetussa puisessa jollassa, niitä kasvoi pihamaan kukkapenkeissä. Ne olivat myös ensimmäisiä kukkia joita itse omin kätösin istutin ensimmäiselle omalle pihalleni, isoäitini niitä minulle tietenkin tuotua. Lapsena autoin isoäitiä keräämään liisoista siemenet. Kun siemenet olivat valmiita kerättäviksi, niiden kotelo poksahti hauskasti sormissani.

Year 2017 in stats, pics, and books

Countdown to the New Year, 2018, is currently 7 hours. Time to make a recap. I’m lazy and doing this in English only this time.

Overall, this year has been a rather good one. We’ll get to the highlights (and the lowlights) in a bit, but putting it all on a scale, this year definitely stays on the plus side of things. Blog-wize, it has been a slow year. I haven’t written that much, and the blog was down for a couple months, and thus, the amount of visitors has been an all time low of 1,979 this year. All autumn long I’ve been busy with a different kind of writing project.

My favorite thing about the stats (as I really don’t follow the visitor count too much) is the search terms that lead people to my blog. We’ll start with the top 6 list of those:

  1. fingerpori tulit mieleen (reference to my favorite daily comic strip Fingerpori, specifically one specific strip)
  2. kirous on ohi (the curse is over)
  3. sinirusettiseura (blue ribbon society)
  4. tiina saa rollaattorin (tiina gets a walker, reference to a preteens’ book series)
  5. lakunenät (liqourice noses)
  6. ruotsalainen leka (swedish sledgehammer)

As for my year, let’s take a look.

January

January kind of slipped by without too much noise. I think we were mentally getting prepared to move out of our lovely old house and into my late grandparents’ row house apartment.

Stats: 5 posts, 421 views
Book of the month: Lemmy Ace of Spades (Mick Wall)
Pic of the month: Dogs smelled a rat

February

Proud month for Finland: gay couples finally got their marriage rights.

Stats: 7 posts, 254 views
Book of the month: The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
Pic of the month: Blinis at dad’s birthday

March

My husband got his Finnish citizenship o/

Stats: 4 posts, 219 views
Book of the month:  The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe (Andrew O’Hagan)
Pic of the month: Icy waterdrop, taken with my new macro lense

April

We moved to our new home and started the kitchen remodeling that still isn’t complete, even thought the kitchen is fully funtional and has been since June. I also visited the ER due to some bad stomach pains that turned out to be codeine induced galbladder cramps.

Stats: 1 post, 93 views
Book of the month: The Loney (Andrew O’Hagan)
Pic of the month: My library <3

May

Kitchen remodeling and stuff. Blur of a month.

Stats: 3 posts, 1 view (not exactly accurate, since the posts were originally made to the old SFFM archive)
Book of the month: Hammurabin enkelit (Max Seeck)
Pic of the month: On the “Maapallokivi” (Earth rock) with dogs

June

Company trip to Tallinn. Foo Fighters at Rock the Beach I..I

Stats: 2 posts, 115 views (SFFM back online)
Book of the month: Somebody to Love – The life, death and legacy of Freddie Mercury (Richards – Langthorne)
Pic of the month: Mike Monroe on stage with the Foos

July

Got married with my husband for real, finally <3 Spent a week in Vuotso, Lapland on summer vacation / “honeymoon”.

Stats: 3 posts, 244 views
Book of the month: Lady Midnight (Cassandra Clare)
Pic of the month: White wine in Lapland

August

Finland was shaken by a disgruntled refugee boy, who stabbed eight people in Turku.

Stats: 2 posts, 99 views
Book of the month: H is for Hawk (Helen MacDonald)
Pic of the month: Kitchen got tiles on the walls

September

I don’t think too much was going on, other than the life as usual. Maybe some more kitchen remodeling stuff and putting up new lights in our home.

Stats: 3 posts, 167 views
Book of the month: Utopia (Sir Thomas More)
Pic of the month: Autumn sun and leaves

October

If the biggest thing in our life was getting along without our car for a couple of weeks after some part of the transmission stuff broke, I think our life was pretty good. Oh, Cats at Hartwall Arena.

Stats: 1 post, 104 views
Book of the month: The Sunrise (Victoria Hislop)
Pic of the month: Old Deuteronomy

November

I spent a few days in Dublin in the European SharePoint Conference.

Stats: 5 posts, 168 views
Book of the month: Born in Fire (K.F. Breene)
Pic of the month: Temple Bar

December

Finland turned 100 years old. Company trip to Prague.

Stats: 2 posts (not including this one), 94 views
Book of the month: The Island (Victoria Hislop)
Pic of the month: Orchids and the winter sun – a rare sunny and snowy day

Happy New Year!

Mummi revisited

Siitä on jo sellaiset kahdeksan vuotta, kun luin mummini – äidinäitini – elämäkerran. Vaikka mummini kirjoitti työkseen niin pitkiä lääketieteellisiä artikkeleita lehtiin kuin tv-näytelmien käsikirjoituksiakin, ei omaelämäkerran kirjoittaminen ollut hänelle mikään helppo tai itsestäänselvä pala, eikä hän halunnut edes tarjota kirjaa kustantamoille, vaikka hänellä niihinkin olisi suhteitakin ollut. Ensimmäinen yritelmä oli kymmenkunta liuskaa tekstiä ja sai äidiltäni ja enoltani tylyn tuomion: “C’moon, kyllä sä parempaankin pystyt!” Lopullisessa pumaskassa on nelisensataa lehteä.

Tämä elämäkerta, jonka kahdesta kopiosta toinen seisoo tuolla minun hyllyssäni, nousi tässä jälleen esiin serkkuni luettua sen “viimeinkin”. Meistä lapsenlapsista siskoni luki sen ensimmäisenä ja patisti ja patisti minua lukemaan, kunnes lopulta kirjaan tartuin. Olemme kaikki olleet vuoronperään lumoutuneita mummin elämäntarinasta, sukujuurtemme selvittelystä ja mummin valtaisan mielenkiintoisesta persoonasta. Kirja on kiehtovaa ajankuvaa, uskomattomia tarinoita ja humoristista kerrontaa.

Tuolloin kahdeksan vuotta sitten kirjoitin kirjasta postauksen Vuosisadan takaa. Nyt serkkuni kirjoitti englanniksi vähän pitemmän henkilökuvan mummista omaan blogiinsa: A Tribute to My Grandmother, A Survivor of War, and a Pioneer Science Communicator, 1950-1980. Tuota tekstiä varten serkku pyysi minua kuvaamaan hänelle muutaman kuvan kirjasta. Identtiset kappaleet eivät ihan identtisiä olleetkaan, sillä nähtävästi vain minun kappaleessani on kuvat paikallaan. Niinpä avasin kirjan pitkästä aikaa.

Meitä serkuksia yhdistää ikäeroista huolimatta se, ettei me kukaan oikein opittu tuntemaan mummia. Minä olin yhdentoista hänen kuollessaan, siskoni ja vanhin serkkuni vasta kuuden. Koko minun elinaikani mummi kamppaili imusolmukesyöpää vastaan, minkä vuoksi hän oli etenkin viimeiset vuotensa enimmäkseen aika huonossa kunnossa, paitsi kun oli vielä huonommassa.

Vasemmalla äidinäidinäiti Matilda, keskellä äidinäiti Aira, oikealla äiti Marketta ja minä

Minusta on aivan huikean mielenkiintoista ja mahtavaa, miten hienoista ihmisistä polveudun, miten mielenkiintoisista perheistä ja juurista tulen. Istun täällä isäni vanhempien rakentamassa kodissa, modernissa olohuoneessani, Ikean huonekalujen keskellä naama kohti tauluteeveetä, mutta kun käännän pääni, onkin edessäni isoäitini suunnittelema kirjastonurkkaus, jonka hyllyiltä löytyy mm. tuo mummini (painamaton) elämäkerta, isoäitini (painamattomat) muistelmat ja luontokirja, isoisoisiltäni perittyjä kirjoja, isovanhemmiltani perittyjä wanhoja Waltareita ja muuta historian siipien havinaa tuoreempien opusteni rinnalla.

Muuten, rakastan vanhojen nahkakantisten kirjojen tuoksua!

Lukeneisuus, lukeminen ja kirjoittaminen, kirjallinen lahjakkuus, kulkee suvussani monessa haarassa osin jo satojen vuosien päähän, kun 1600-luvulla Viipurissa satulaesepän poika Jacob Sigfridsson Ursinus pääsi yliopistoon ja nousi suorastaan logiikan ja fysiikan apulaisprofessoriksi. Meillä ei ole koskaan tarvinnut hävetä lukuintoaan, kuten joissain kodeissa. Niin lukemiseen kuin kirjoittamiseenkin on aina kannustettu ja uusia sukupolvia yhä kannustetaan.

The Book Thief

In the ever growing list of books that have left an impression on me, The Book Thief went straight to the top when I read it. The book that is a touching story about a girl in early WWII Germany, a girl who picks up a book, learns to read and learns to love books. The story would be touching even without the books. Without the narrator, who just happens to be Death. It would be touching just as the story of a girl who loses her dad to Nazis and her brother on the way to be given away to foster care, because her mom had to hide; her parents were communists. What makes it a spectacular read, is Death as the narrator, and the books, that are like salt in food. Not necessary, but brings out the true flavor.

The common thread begins when the girl’s – Liesel Meminger is her name – brother is buried by the railroad after dying in the train and one of the gravediggers lose their handbook in the snow. Liesel picks up the book, holding on to it like it could bring her brother back. At the time, she doesn’t even know how to read, but she keeps the book as a relic under her mattress until one night her step-father finds it and using the book, he teaches her to read.

That one book, as grave as it is, is the one possession she holds most dear. She reads it over and over again, until she gets her second book: she retrieves a smoldering book from a nazi bonfire, after everyone has already gone. She is overseen by te mayor’s wife, but she stays silent for her own reasons. The true paradise for Liesel opens up as the mayor’s wife invites Liesel to her library, telling her she can come over any time to read. She understand’s Liesel’s love for books and stories and she nurtures it. Liesel is in awe and for a while she can barely breathe.

Liesel and her foster parents are a humane kind of family. People who value people and refuse to hate jews while trying to maintain a balance where they wouldn’t be in danger themselves. The father with his accordion, the mother with her big heart and foul mouth, Liesel with her love of stories. The best friend who takes a swim in the icy river to salvage Liesel’s book. The jewish refugee, who writes his own story on the leaves of Mein Kampf (after painting them white) for Liesel to find and read when she is older.

The book grasps the horrors and fears of little town in Nazi Germany like none I have read before. And I have read quite a few of them, books about that age and time. Anne Frank was almost an obsession to me and visiting her hideout in Amsterdam an almost religious experienvce. Leon Uris with Mila 18, excellent book as well. Corrie ten Boom. And who knows how many others. Most of them haven’t stuck; I can’t remember half of what I’ve read. Only the most powerful reading experiences leave a permanent mark in my mind.

This book about the little book has all the makings of a classic. The extremely compelling storyline, the rich character of Liesel, the human tragedy that comes with the nazi/jew territory, the love of books, for all things. Not jewelry, not coins, not toys. A passion for books and reading and how it all starts and evolves. In the midst of the hardships of Hitler’s reign, of poverty, of missing family members, of the terrors of war. It is Liesel reading to the people in the bomb shelter that calms them all down. It is Liesel reading to the old lady missing his sons, that gives her a wee bit of joy each day. It is the stories that weave the stories. And the biggest stories of all, are our lives.

Quite often I like to watch movies made of books I have likes. Almost as often I am heavily disappointed. Like with the Veronica Roth’s Divergent. It was an ok movie, but the differences just were too much. And the second book-to-movie, Insurgent? The trailer was already so absurd compared to the book, that I completely dismissed the movie. Or like the Shadowhunters. Cassandra Claire’s books weave an awesome captivating world that you just want to dwell in. But the movies and series based on her books? Meh. I watch them simply because they give a tiny Shadowhunter-fix despite the differences.

With this in mind, The Book Thief movie was a really pleasant surprise. Of course you need to simplify things and cut some corners when making a two hour movie from a novel, but this movie made it in a totally classy way. The movie was every bit as powerful of an experience as the book. It captured the atmosphere, the feeling of the story excellently. So for once I can truly honestly say: if you’re not really a reading person, at least watch the movie. It’s a story every person in this western world in the era of Trump et al. should read or watch. Just to *remember*.