perjantai 10. elokuuta 2018

The long hot rest of the summer – too hot to even blog

The summer after the Ruegen tour has been exceptionally hot – as most of you readers already know.  Just now, when I started writing the first rain shower beats my garden instead my sprinkler.

The main aim of the period has been avoiding anything too complicated and I’ve had a marvellous success. I’ve mostly doing some gardening, biking swimming and debating on internet. I also did some preparatory things for the work I had reserved for the rainy days – which never appeared.  

Oh no, do they really mean it...?

Normally I wear long sleeves with gooseberries because of the spikes but not this time...

On the way to the Pihlajasaari beach

In the last blog I mentioned the pea soup in the Baltic Sea. Fortunately it turned out the blue green algae had disappeared from my beach areas. Or well, almost...: One day I went swimming and noticed the excellent water quality note. 

However, after swimming I had something to comment to the lifeguards and noticed the red note on the pier: Blue green algae! His explanation was the water quality analysis doesn’t include the algae analysis.

Luckily the amount of the algae was not so big so I didn’t get any consequences.

Still I did something: I went to Kopparnäs in Inkoo to shoot some dance scenes for a video production with my friend Hannamaria. Kopparnäs is a wonderful place with smooth hills and rocks at the seaside. I wore semi high heeled sandals for the dance scenes. To get to the place and away we had to walk some kilometres over the rocky hills and in the forest. I invented a new sport named trail running on heels. During practicing my new sport I got a vesicle on the down side of my big toe, the first in my life.

                           The Kopparnäs pictures

                My big toe after trail running on heels

The other thing to tell about was the lunar eclipse evening. I went to the seahore in Kaivopuisto Helsinki where the bloody moon would show the best. However there was too much clouds above the horizon and the angle of the moon too little so it seemed to be impossible to see anything. Anyway the feeling in Kaivopuisto was nice, the people gathered for their picnics and everybody seemed to consider the situation to each others, not a typical situation in Finland. The other thing was the warmth of the night whogch we call the tropical nights. It was so nice there but has been far from nice in my house though. After waiting for the bloody moon for two hours I finally gave up – and heard the moon showed half an hour after that.  

                                  Still waiting...

The cloudy Southeast horizon

                         The magical tropical night

 Now I’m pretty much relaxed and ready for the coming season.

The first and refreshing rain, at last

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tiistai 31. heinäkuuta 2018

The Ruegen Tour

The last two years I have been complaining about not so good weathers, especially the lack of warmth. Since May 2017 I have stopped for a good reason, the weather have been more than warm enough.

The highlight of the beginning of July was our trip to Ruegen, an island on the Northern coast of Germany.

We had a plan to go there by train after flying to Berlin. The flight seemed to go well... Still when I got my suitcase it had a tape with a text: Security controlled. In the suitcase I found a note with a message that the battery supply and also the extra battery of my camera had been removed because of the danger of fire. I was astounded because I’ve carried the same extra battery before and on the other hand there were a battery in my camera and lap top and hundreds of batteries in the plane.

We started the trip in the afternoon so we stayed the first night in Berlin. There we had a dinner with Jochen, a class mate of my spouse from her German period. We also walked a little around the Berlin Hauptbahnhof and parliament area along the river Spree.

     In front of the Parliament House in Berlin

The second day we took a train to the Northern coast. The railroad led us through the former DDR countryside -  I’ve never been in former DDR area except East Berlin. We saw a bit shabby villages, wheat and corn fields and surprisingly amounts of cranes in the fields – I would rather expect storks. The train was rather slow so we had lots of time to observe the scene.

                The scenes from the train window

The town where we had our pension is Sassnitz, a small and traditional place of tens of small pensions near the sea. 

                 A view to the old town of Sassnitz

Our one was called Villa Elizabeth – almost every female name villas were available. From our glassed balcony we had a view to the sea and the old town of Sassnitz. 

             A view from our balcony

       Some of the feminine villas

When we had our first dinner at a nice restaurant in the old town area we had a wonderful background music played by blackcaps, my favourite singers accompanied by blackbirds. The sound of blackcap was a soundtrack of our entire visit to Ruegen.

Listening to the blackcap concert after my Bismark herring dinner

The third day we hired electrical bikes and headed to Prora, a very specific place. It is situated along the beach and contains one of the longest building of the world. I was built by Hitler for the brave soldiers for their holidays but was never used in that purpose before the Soviet troops conquered the island. Later it was used by the DDR army. Nowadays part of the building is totally ruined, one part is used as a hostel and one part is reconstructed to luxus apartments.

   The front side of the Prora complex

   The backyard of the Prora complex

The cycle path to Prora was pretty OK. except a passage near the harbour of Sassnitz where we had to pass the bridges with very narrow and dangerous looking paths. There were a road to avoid this passage but it had barriers, obviously made by the Nord Stream gas company for its own purposes.

   The bridge mentioned in the text.

We heard that in Finland the heat wave had arrived. In Ruegen we had a little rain – no too much to get us wet. The fourth day we took the train to Stralsund, an old Hanseatic town near Ruegen. The weather was still a bit colder so my spouse had to buy warmer pants instantly when we entered Stralsund. I was fine with my skirt and pantyhose.

We visited only the old part of Stralsund. It was full of old Hanseatic merchant houses, some monasteries and naturally cathedrals. The cathedrals were mostly in bad condition or under the construction – pretty much like we have seen in Estonia. It was sad to see how some depressive decades have slowed down the development compared to the Western parts of Germany. On the other hand some buildings looked quite well reconstructed and cozy.

 The old market square of Stralsund


Stralsund street views

The fifth day the heat wave entered also Ruegen so we decided to go to the beach. And there are lots of beaches available on that island.  

My style judge rejected my beach dress so I had to buy a new one.

We chose Glowe North West to Sassnitz where we traveled through the wonderful and very traditional country side by bus. We went straight to the seaside from the bus stop and made s notice that there were lots of dogs swimming in the water – the thing that is normally forbidden on Finnish beaches. Later we found out we managed to choose the very section dedicated to dogs. But it didn’t bother us much so we stayed there. The water was warm enough and compared with the Finnish situation also blue green algae free. 

                   At the Glowe beach

The sixth day the weather was not so cold and just perfect for our next destination, Jassmund National Park just North of Sassnitz. The place is famous of its beech forests and lime stone cliffs. A part of the cliff area is called Königsstuhl ("King's Chair"). The name is based on the story of the Swedish king Charles XII is commanding a sea battle against the Danes from this spot in 1715.

The atmosphere in the beech forest was very relaxing: The green leaf ceiling infiltrating the sunlight and musical background sung by blackcaps, wrens and nuthatches.

The Jassmund National Park 

The seventh day, the day of departing was hot again, including the train. The route was different from the one we came to Ruegen so we could see some more former DDR region. Berlin was also hotter than a week before and we didn’t do anything special except had a dinner – and it wasn’t any special one, either.     

A hot Thüringer bratwurst in the hot evening of Berlin

On our way back to Finland we saw the Finnish sea area that rather resembled the Finnish pea soup because of the poisonous blue green algae. It was blooming exceptionally strong and early because of the warmth of the water. We thought that was it with swimming in the sea this summer.

When we arrived Helsinki Airport we went to fetch our batteries. The place was near the remote parking so it was easy to find. There we were told that we could have had the batteries in our hand baggage – the fact that seemed very confusing! But maybe the loose battery is more in danger to get fire in the hold of the plane because the baggage there moves with more force than in the cabin lockers.

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perjantai 6. heinäkuuta 2018

June 2018

The start: Still working

My vacation started in the middle of the month. At the end of the season we had a little thing to celebrate - it is allowed to tell you why only later.

                  With my colleagues and some sparkling

After super hot May June 2018 wasn’t equally hot. However there has been very little rain so I had to use more water in my garden than during the whole last summer. 

    One of the hot days at the pool, water was needed in the garden afterwards             

Pirkanmaa Pride

In the first half of the  month we also visited the Pirkanmaa Pride in Tampere. We only attended the happenings of the parade day on Saturday because it was still working during the week. The starting place of the parade was a square at a mall. Originally the bosses of the mall had refused to let it be used in such place due to “political nature” of the Pride festive. They soon realized it was bad public relations politics and turned their opinion. One of the reasons were positively the supportive opinion of the Tampere city which actually owns the square. At the end the mall was very helpful to co operate with the Pride organization.

We use to carry our banderol wherever we march in the Pride parades. This time we had some problems with it. We have two banderols but one of them has been lost during the renovation of the Seta office in Helsinki last summer. Our second one was in Turku and it had to be delivered to Tampere. The person who did the delivery had difficulties in being in Tampere in time. Secondly I found out that the banderol was without its sticks. So I had a half an hour to get the new ones. There was a hardware store at the mall but the rack for the broom sticks was empty. The personnel told there is another mall near this one with another hardware store. So I ran there to notice just perfect sticks in the window and took them to the cash desk .... to hear that they were rake sticks and sold only with rakes ... so I bought the whole rakes and left the rake part there. After coming back to the square we soon got the banderol from Turku – not a minute too early!

The route of the parade went cross the city of Tampere but there were only quite few people to watch it. The weather wasn’t very warm so I wore my overcoat most of the time. The main happening took place in the park near the central square of Tampere. There we were happy to hear the city of Tampere had many initiatives to support LGBTI people: Our message has been heard.  
We still attended the Rainbow Mass in the church near the park. Because of many simultaneous happenings in Tampere during that weekend the hotel prices were doubled or tripled so we decided to skip the evening activities and drove home.

Multi cultural interaction

In the first half of the month I also had my lecture to the staff of the multi cultural support center for women, Monika naiset. The staff is also mostly multi cultural and they wanted to hear about LGBTI and non discrimination issues. I had a meeting beforehand with Hitomi Tabuchi one of the organiser of the event and we planned the content of my presentation. I only had 45 minutes for my presentation and it was quite compressed and full of information in spite of my efforts to focus only to the main issues. So when I asked for some questions after the presentation there was only very few of them – normally people tend to ask a lot. Maybe there was too much information to digest in such a short period. Anyway the response was very warm after the presentation.     

           With Monika ladies, the executive director Jenni Tuomi the second from the left


When my vacation started we made our first summer trip to Tartu. We had some pre defined goals and some free space for improvisation.

The first pre fined was the Estonian National Museum. It was built in the place where there was a Soviet airbase. The air base was strategically important so the city of Tartu and its surrounding were closed from the outside world. The people of Tartu were permitted to meet with friends and family once a year at a facility outside Tartu, and were not allowed to talk about the air base or even mention its name. The new museum building sort of rises up from the runway.

The Estonian National Museum

One exhibition was about the Estonian clothing. We were fascinated by the beauty of the dresses of the Estonian women from the 19th century. One little detail was a bit annoying: There is still a habit
to wear traditional skirts in the isle of Kihnu but there was none of the examples of it. We assumed the Estonians aren’t too happy to know that the tradition is a continuum from the time the Russian emperor persuaded the Kihnu people to convert to Orthodox religion.


 With Estonian Brides         

We also enjoyed the exhibition about Fenno-Ugric people and the story of Estonia from the stone ages to the modern independent country.                               

                          A Fenno Ugric trans person from Volga banks?

The other pre defined destination was the Tartu Botanical Garden. It was well planned with different sections, little hills, ponds, bridges and statues.

                                                  In the Botanical Garden

The optional part of our trip had a plan to go to swim if it was possible. Actually we did it twice: The first time in the Lake Võrts, the second biggest lake of Estonia in the center of the country. Because of the super warm May the water also was warm and the totally calm. Next day the other swimming place was in the opposite side of Tartu, Lake Peipus. It is one of the biggest lakes in the Europe and only the western coast is in Estonia. We had some information that it was too cold for swimming a week before but for me it was totally ok anyway.


The Lake Võrts with some strawberries                

The Lake Peipus

We continued to south from our swimming place Mustvee to follow “The Onion road”. The name refers to the very old fashioned orthodox people living there who make their livings by fishing and growing onion and chicory. The road goes through the very picturesque old villages on the banks of the Lake Peipus. On the way we visited Alatskivi manor to have the birthday lunch of my spouse. 

                                      The Alatskivi Manor

                                                  The Onion road views

                                        Some Tartu pictures

The Midsummer

This year we spent our Midsummer at our family summer cottage with no special rituals – the wind was too hard to make a bonfire. 

     The day after the Midsummer the wind finally calmed down

The nice thing there was I introduced Anukatariina to my eldest sister. I had told about her many years ago but this was the first time these two sisters met. My sister and her husband replied they first thought it was our third sister entering the cottage.

                                       With my sister

Helsinki Pride

Immediately after the Midsummer the Helsinki Pride week took place and I wanted to attend some events there. On Tuesday I was invited to the British Embassy as a representative of the Dreamwear Club. The subject was non discriminative work places. The secretary-general of Seta told about the situation in Finland and she quoted our survey as part of key information.

In the British Embassy. The general secretary of
Seta Kerttu Tarjamo (l) and the leader of the event
Tanja Lehtoranta (r)

The other event I attended was the Trans Day on Wednesday where I had a consultation stop on the coming name law. It seemed the people weren’t very well aware about the subject and I had a plenty of people seeking for information.  


The third event to attend was “hearing” of Parliamentary LGBTI group. In Finland the LGBTI issues have gone on in accelerating speed. For example in the year 2015 we considered it would unrealistic to start a citizen initiative on the new trans law. Now it seems it would be unnecessary: The huge majority of the parties have a positive commitment on the issue – though they vary a bit in their content. Only three conservative parties, one in the government are against it so we wait for the parliamentary election next spring. One of the issue was banning the so called conversion therapy which has been very difficult to make happen.

                                         The members of Parliament discussing

In the session there also were representatives from two of the conservative parties. The first of them was very aware of the issue and promoted it very strongly. She told about the difficulties in telling the facts to her fellow members of parliament, partly due to lack of knowledge and partly due to lack of motivation to get it. The other also was somehow willing to do something positive but it turned out he totally missed the elements of the issue to form even a basic descent picture of the issue. This notion made me think the MEPs should have some popularized scientific lectures on the issues they make decisions.

When I attended the Amnesty trans law happening next day the feeling of the things getting better grew stronger. The people who told about their life implied the everyday environment has become easier and people less and less discriminative around them. It seems that the awareness of the issue and normalisation of the thought that someone near you might be trans has took its toll. That of course doesn’t mean discrimination has totally disappeared. And the major problems are still the old trans law and treatment practices.

                            The Amnesty event

I still had a break between the Pride activities to pick the organic strawberries. The timing was perfect, the rainy season started just the next day after that. 

                                    In the strawberry field

                       Our traditional way to enjoy the harvest

In Helsinki Pride the promotion of LGBTI was very obvious also in other ways. The Finnish business world had woken up very strongly and the shops in Helsinki were full of Pride products and both the many commercial and official building had their rainbow flag. Some even complained the firms were just pink washing without a proper LGBTI program. I thought every firm took part in its own way and so promoted the Pride policy.

The amount of the participants in the Pride parade was a new record, according to police it was approximately 100 000. This time no provocation took place, everything went on in delightful Pride mood.

The "diversity of the gender" - block was that long, and I was in the middle of it...

And back to the banderol...

Before the parade I got a call and I was informed that the missing banderol had been found at the Seta office. So we now again have two ones, one for the capitol area and another for the other part of Finland.

Starting the parade at the Senate Square                                                       

                                                 The happy ending of the parade                                

The useful way to use the banderol - the park was full of  barnacle goose poo.

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