Saturday, August 26, 2006

Busy season starting. Welcome autumn!

Publishing and media businesses are loaded with get-togethers, parties, celebrations of all kinds. Also, the whole city of Helsinki is blooming. The artistic, lively autumn is starting. Concerts, exhibitions, opening nights... Sleepy summer is over – busy autumn, welcome!

The weather is still exceptionally warm, and the smoke from Russia does not smell so bad any more. They have either been able to put out the fires in forests and dumps. Or it really has rained. Not here it hasn't. Not enough.

Is the world coming to its end?

This photo is NOT manipulated, this is a cloud over the southern Helsinki: Eira and Ullanlinna. I took this photo at the annual crayfish party of publishers and booksellers (of Kirjakilta, "Book guild"), right outside the Restaurant Saari, "Island" (which is on an island, surprise, surprise).

...but getting miss Funnybunny back home from her Granny is among the best moments. It is nice to have fun with friends and colleagues, but I do miss her so much when she is away. (She is not far, though, but still...)

When Mr HP and I fetched her, we stopped to have cake and coffee (and juice for miss F) in Cafe Tamminiemi, Meilahti. I used to live there in Meilahti. And today I was going on and on about the fact that I wish we could move (back) to Meilahti. My favourite area in Helsinki. Next to the cafe is a modern art gallery of the city of Helsinki, and the next big villa is the official residence of President Urho Kekkonen. See yourself:

Tomorrow we will go to a film festival near Helsnki, to Espoo Cine. All three of us. But no films for us; I don't want to leave Miss Funnybunny anywhere, not again.

We will go to a short but slow walk by the sea. Miss F likes to watch geese and ducks.

I like to watch her doing whatever she enjoys.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tartu, and I'm easy

Funny, but somehow Tartu reminded me of Nice.

Or perhaps the time we spent in Tartu had something in common with the holiday in Nice we had more than a year ago.

But why? Miss Funnybunny was not even 1 yr old in Nice, and now she is more than two. She walks, runs and talks. And eats steaks and tasty Russian soups. In Nice, it was just mashed vegetables with some milkymilk.

And, Eastern Estonia is really not like Southern France. Not really.

But in both of these places we - Mr HP, Miss F and I - had some peaceful and happy time together. And we had some privacy: were able to walk around the town, just hang arnour great looking places and cozy cafes, be together and take it easy without any too dramatic disturbances from work work always work.

Not that Helsinki is not peaceful, but... you know.

Our time in Estonia was like the the following part of "I'm Easy":

"That's why I'm easy
I'm easy like Sunday morning
I wanna be high, so high
I wanna be free to know
The things I do are right."

(Hummm hum hummmmm) it was NOT at all like the "leaving you, girl" part.

By the way, the first entry ever in this blog contains a photo from Nice.
<- CORRECTION: it is from Menton, right next to Nice. But the same holiday anyway!

Monday, August 21, 2006

USA, for a change, and Yurop

Dear Net,

I have been doing/donethat/orjustbeenthere

three (3) important and interesting things:

a) We came back from Tartu, travelling through Estonia again, but different route.

b) I ate crayfish in an island, in a fancy but traditional and cosy restaurant, with my colleagues from Finnish publishing houses and bookshops. A traditional Finnish (or Nordic?) crayfish party, that was.

About crayfish and parties celebrating these poor creatures:

c) I was attending Finncon (Science Fiction Convention) in Helsinki, and there I addressed large (the largest than EVER!) audience about science FICTION and the REALITY of ecological problems resulting (almost) to the World Ending. Gosh.

More about the Con:

But, as I don't have the photos of these occasions put in order yet, I decided to put the funny world map instead. There always is time and a place for amusement, especially at the expence of American stupidity.

A biased blogger,

Friday, August 18, 2006

Narva -> Mustvee -> Tartu

Narva was great! The castles were. Have seen nothing like that before.

The negative thigs were the thick smoke coming from Russia. Huge areas of forests were burning, and that was taking place right on the other side of the border - the border line being only a very narrow river (in which the representatives of the minority, ie. Finnish-Swedes, swam. At 7 am. See the previous entry.).

Lots of people were standing in a line and waiting for a permission to walk to the Russian side. And it seemed that much more people were coming from there to the EU. Without drugs and weapons, I hope.

Only 3-4 percent of people in Narva speak Estonian, the rest being of Russian origin, and many of them Russian citizens. (And, unfortunately, there is a big drug problem in Narva, and getting worse. That is one of the major transit cities along the Russian border.)


There are two castles on the both sides of the river. The Estonian castle, in Narva, was built by the German knights, but the Russian castle, in the town of Ivangorod ("Ivan's town") is much bigger and looking more respectful.

It has been said the castles represent the two corners of historical Europe: on the other side there was the catholic (later: protestant) Northern Europe, and on the other side the Slavic and orthodox, Greek catholic East.

Very impressing.

After walking around the old town of Narva, which was not big, as it was almost completely destroyed by the Soviets in the war, and carefully avoiding going to the newer districts, we packed the car and headed for Mustvee. Driving there was an adventure as the road was in a bad shape but being fixed bu the EU, as the signs were stating. Finally we found Mustvee and the Lake Peipus!

(No-one could actually miss such a huge lake.)

From Mustvee, and the little village (or "manor"?) of Vötikvere, and from a very bad and untidy roadside restaurant Kultkala (Goldfish), we started looking for getting to the CITY of Tartu.

Mr. HP and Miss Funnybunny were napping, I was driving, the sun was shining, and the air was getting clearer the more we drove to the South.

Life is good, I was thinking.

Estonia: Tallinn -> Rakvere -> Sillamäe -> Narva

Dear Blogspot

Once again, I am thrilled to experience new kind of Estonia. Or, new to me. These places are quite old. Older than almost anything in Finland.

We drove through Estonia, Mr HP, Miss Funnybunny and I. Decided not to eat before Rakvere. And, as you can see, the centre is quite modern. (the first two photos.) Perhaps they need to built ugly and ridiculous landmarks because they have one of the oldest ruins of a beautiful stronghold in Estonia. There must be some balance in life, you see.

Then to Sillamäe. There were pipes and plumbs circling all over the place. They always, always have pipes some 2-5 meters above the ground in the Soviet Union where ever they have nuclear installations. Been there, seen that. Are they trying to capture the extra heat, or what?

The Sillamäe architecture is neat and Soviet. Yet kind of good-looking. Especially according to Mr HP!

During the past decades, things must have been ok for the Chosen Ones, who have been priviledged enough to work in the Secret City.

We came to Narva at night. No, it was 8 pm really, but for tired and bored Miss Funnybunny it was like night. We relaxed just for a while on a terrace of hotel King next to our hotel Etapp, and met friends from Hufvudstadsbladet, a Finnish daily . All these 30 funny (and tipsy) travellers represented the Swedish speaking minority in Finland, and they eventually sympathised the poor Russian minority in Estonia. To burst out this feeling of stregth they sang "March from Pori", Porilaisten marssi, in Swedish, of course.

That was when Miss F and I realised it is time to go to bed now.

(We would have sang, too, because we sympathise quite a bunch of minorities, but did not know the words. How lucky!)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Estonia, here we come!

Stop the war. Another Lebanese blog I recommend:


We will leave for Estonia soon, my dear Mr HP, Miss Funnybunny and I.

On Friday, first by ferry to Tallinn, then we drive to the town of Sillamäe, from there to Narva. There we stay overnight. Then, on Sat, we proceed to the litterary happening of the village of Mustvee, by the Lake Peipus. And from there to Tartu. And back to Helsinki on Monday evening.

The following quote is stolen from the net. The City of Sillamäe pages are proudly stating that

"Sillamäe is one of the most enigmatic, captivating, and fast-developing towns in Ida-Viru county. The town was long time closed to visitors and kept secret because of its military industrial function. After closing down the highly secret industry, the town, which was built at the seaside based on a compactplan and filled with well-styled architecture, is finally open, for both visitors and new ideas. Sillamäe, is a “bridge” between the European Union and the Russian Federation, where a free trade zone, a harbour, and working industrial enterprises have been established, along with other developments. And this is why its slogan is: Sillamäe – the town of fresh sea winds."

THE TOWN OF FRESH SEA WINDS"?!?!?!?! That's where a huge low-level (and perhaps intermediate level) liquid nuclear waste dump is located. There used to be a nuclear fuel factory of some kind during to Soviet era. (No reactors in estonia, thank God.)

And, of course, the dump is the reason for my wanting to see the place. You see, the pools are is nightmarishly only A FEW TENS OF METERS FROM THE BALTIC SEA! They say it has been covered, but it has been suspected that they leak to the sea.

Gee. I'll give you a report soon.


Ps. I was not able to download photos today. The blogger was not functioning as it should. But go and see yourself:

Time-saving Tips #3 and #4

And back to the Tips.

M. asked how to find time for long-term creative work, like writing. Or translating, editing, or drawing, whatever. No, you can not do the kinds of things in the middle of other, smaller things. Just take some time off, organise day care for your kid(s), or write at night, or whatever. But these Tips are for us bloggers, for example. I need at least half an hour per session for this, and at lerast twice a week. And I do find time for this, quite easily.

Tip #3: Do some things, not many, but some, at the same time.

I, for exaple, listen to my Estonian language course CD's and drive. Or I listen them in the kitchen and cook. That's why I boought the CD's. I don't have time to go to any evening classes – which would be much more efficient for sure.
And if I have to queue somewhere for a long time, I usually write my lists. I stretch my aching back and watch the TV news at the same time.

Tip #4: Don't waste your time. Regularly. (Occasionally it is FUN to watch a bad film and polish toe nails. But NOT every evening!)

I don't have time to watch violent crime TV series, like that C.S.I shit. They make me sad and almost sick. And I never, ever let Miss Funnybunny see them! (Not before she is 21.)
And I am not at all interested in cooking gourmet food. I love to invite people over, and I always give them something to eat, but I usually make something very simple, and usually the bread and danishes are bought frozen and put into the owen just seconds before the first guests arrive.
Every time, like once a year, I start cooking something more complicated I get the feeling that life is too short for this nonsense. And then I stop and start reading, or playing with Miss F. instead.

(But I appreciate good food. The fact that I am not interested in coking does not mean that I eat bad food. No, I am very careful and always prefew organically grown food. But I just don't want to prepare 4 courses a day and bake huge cakes.)

And always remember that time spent with your kids, or with other poeple who need you and your company, is never wasted. But kids and old parents like to do useful things, too. Miss F. likes travelling in Estonia (last summer she loved to visit a concentration camp museum area in Latvia. Hmmm... But she was only 1 year old back then.) And she likes to gather mushrooms in forests. Quality time spent with kids does not need to be just expensive amusement parks.

Now I have to check out the latest news about the forest fires in Russia. There has been some smoke today in Helsinki.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Time-saving Tips #1 and #2! * At last (I had time for them)!

I promised some time ago, especially to you, Mohammed, that I will give my tips about how to save time, or be more efficient. Well, I must back up a bit and humbly doubt wether I am so efficient, but I am constantly trying to be more organised. Because, despite the fact that I am a happy mother of a demanding little girl, I do have an intresting and fulfilling job, hobbies, friends, and I travel and study and wander around second-hand music shops. So, as promised, I give my tips anyway:

#1: Stop complaining that you don't have time.

This does not sound like a tip - BUT IT IS. If you complain all the time that you are too busy to do thisandthat (what you'd really love to do), you'll lose a lot of energy.
Ans soon you will start believing yourself, that, you actually can do only few things in your life, in general. That is a pity.
BUT on the other hand, there are people, like parents of toddler twins, who really do not have time to do everything, when taking care of the little ones is their priority. (But maybe, just maybe, even they will be in a better situation a bit later. At least when the kids go start the university.)

But do not complain. Negative attitude is a big obstacle.

#2: Make lists of things you have to do.

I do them all the time, every day. For me listing things, and putting things in order is the best way to organise things quickly.
For example, when Ms. Funnubunny had a cold and we had to stay home, I could only go to the office for an hour or two. (Her father came home, of course, to let me go.) Then I had to have on a list all the people I needed to reach by e-mail, or by phone, and in a right order: I put the deadlines that were day before yesterday first, then the things that were extremely urgent, then the tasks that had to be be done just then, or else... , and after those, the things that would have caused me severe discomfort and sleepless nights, if not completed immediately...
You get the picture.
So when I arrive at the office, I will know at once where to start from, and if a number is not answering or some missing piece of information is preventing me from writing a certain e-mail, I will quickly move on.
Without the lists(s) I would, both be too slow and forget things.

Of course, not all of my work is so quick. Most of my work consists of reading huge piles of papers, or writing, or even THINKING. Those are things you not be done quickly. But the lists are good for doing many little, but yet important things in a short time.

And, lists make your life easier at home too, if you have to organise many things in short time. When you start writing down things like: X) do the laundry X) fold the laundry, X) call Mum, X) write the blog, X) make dinner for Funnybunny and everybody else, X watch the BBC documentary on WWII (I watch them ALL THE TIME), X) watch the news, X) listen to the Estonian language course... ETC, then you realise which are the ones you have to start with, and which could and should be done at the same time. (The tip #3 will be: Always - if possible - do many things at the same time! But I will tell more about that later.)

In domestic life tough, one will soon get a good routine. I don't need lists at home, not often at least.

But if you feel you run out of time EVERY DAY, and at home, too, then you should try listing things. That might be helpful.

And don't forget to bury the lists in the bin at times, and enjoy the sunshine & be less busy!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The War. And then Helsinki, DuoDynamo, Kirkkonummi, and Wong Kar-Wai

Firstly, I must say, that everybody who likes to read blogs must find a good Israeli or Lebanese blog and read how things are there, where people are fighting for their lives, or just sitting in a shelter, or perhaps on a street, being scared for the lives of her loved ones.

The world is crazy, and this current crises, once again, makes me think much less of human beings. Humanity, is there such a thing? (Sadly, the Middle East is not the only place where there is a war now. In Africa "only", there are now more than 25 on-going & extremely violent, national or multinational conflicts.)

I have found this blog very interesting:

First some pictures my dear miss Funnybunny would like. (And so would you, dear DuoDynamo, L. and A.)

We have been on the move again, but not far from home: On Thursday we went to Laajasalo. A cosy suburban area, built in 1960s and '70s. Houses fit into the landscape, lots of trees (even forests), parks, seaside. Good connections. And not the hectic feeling of the center of Helsinki - NOT a bad thing a all. But the main reason for our visit, was that Ms. Honeybunny wanted to meet her friends, 2-year old twins, ie. DuoDynamo. Or actually, they will be two this week, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, congrats!!!! (We will send you a greeting card from Estonia soon.)

On Friday we visited Kirkkonummi, went to a very nice party where Miss F. introduced a new card game. She played it with 5-10 people and happily kept winning until it was time to leave. (Very good, she must start concidering professional poker career.)

It was so nice to sit in the garden and enjoy good company. It has been so very dry and warm in Finland for the whole summer, but soon these nice gardenpartyweathers will come to an end...

Yesterday and today we have been walking around Helsinki, running errands or just enjoying ourselves. This is such a wonderful town. It is good to live here. Home sweetest home.
Yesterday I went with V.H. to one of the best film theaters in the Universe, Kino Engel, to see Days Of Being Wild by Wong Kar-Wai. Very good film. It was about a (male) person breaking hearts of young ladies, and being totally unable to love anybody, no even himself, because of his broken heart. And that was because his mother had... NO, I won't spoil anything, go and watch it.

Enjoy the summer! Do it. Now.

As soon it will be Christmas.


Ps. Stop the war.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Faces, Billnäs, Snappertuna, and Helsinki All Night Long

Faces Etno Music Festival was absolutely wonderful. I have never been there before (I wonder why), but now I have decided I will go there every year.

Even though I was working there. Selling books. A lot of books, I am happy to tell. (Can you believe that? Working again. I never have my holiday. I don't even know what to do on holiday as I never have them. But I think Ms. Funnybunny is to change that soon.)

My little toddler girl Funnybunny visited me and my colleagues on Friday evening, but then she had to leave for her grand parents. Again. But I don't think she enjoyed the festival and its vivid and funky afro/cuban/midlleeastern/ rhytms surrounding us so much, as she grabbed my shoulders and said "Mummy, I want to go HOME. I think I am a little afraid of this".

I showed her little babies and said they are dancing, too, and, as she loves babies, that seemed to calm her down.

But now it will be only us at home for days and weeks to come. Except that in two weeks we will go to Estonia, but we will do that together.


What surprised me, was that partly it was not just ethnic music, but also like jazz. I love jazz. And punk. (And yes, I love that too. How strange and divided a person I am.) Jazz, actually, it used to be quite ethnic, not mainstream at all, in Northern America only a few decades ago. Punk on the other hand... well, only if you think the young unemployed British hooligans in the 1970's and '80s were an ethnic minority. But that was not mainstream either, it was mutiny. Very healthy for the stiff and dusty English post-war society.

The first night I spent in Snappertuna, in a "Vandarhem", ie. hostel. You guys who speak Finnish, check out the meaning of "Snappertuna" in the book "Elimäen tarkoitus". Snappertuna is a beautiful and very traditionally Finnish little village, but I just kept thinking about... Oh, never mind.

Than the second night I spent with my new friends Toni and Mia with my friend T. Thanks a million! Lovely apartment you have. T., not Toni, said I should not mention the vast amounts of beverages of various contents in this context, especially consumed by T. (as some people had to work on the next day!), and probably I shouldn't mention that we all stayed up until 5 am and talked about architecture worth saving, mutual friends (as in Finland we all do know each other, even when we don't know that we do), mutual enemies (now that was even more fun!), and Paul's dog in Meilahti. What was his name, by the way?

I have never been to Fiskars, either. (Some people were quite shocked when I admitted with lots of embarrasment I have never been there. As if it was the center of the universe. ...but what if it is? How should I know? But if it was, why should I visit it) So, soon I will pack Funnybunny and lots of juice and raisins and we'll go to Fiskars to see our old old old friends. Nowadays quite a bunch of them lives there.

Best wishes and many happy and sunny days to all of you! (And some rain to the dry Finnish nature - but at night, preferably.) I am looking forward to seeing you soon again: Pekka, Hans, Simo, Toni, Mia, Eriikka, Harto, Kaisa, Krisse, Aino, Tuomas, Lassi, Julle, Teemu, Anu, Maisa, Henri...