Twas the night before…

…we were to leave for Oulu. Hah! Bet you thought I was going to say something else. 🙂

This morning’s picture:

December 21, 2014 around 9:10am

December 21, 2014 around 9:10am

Today dawned rather nicely, with blue skies interspersed with grey. The weather was mild, so much so that I pretty much just wore my sweatshirt and lined windbreaker out to walk Shiva and was perfectly comfortable. I even forgot my scarf and gloves, and it wasn’t really a bother.

We did some major exploration this morning, walking up and down and all around, until we found the dog park that we had found a few days ago. There was a large German Shepherd already there, but he was friendly, and his owner spoke English, so we talked a bit. Apparently, this dog park is rather popular, and he told me that some evenings there can be upwards of twenty dogs and owners congregated there. By the time I left, we were joined by a young Doberman, a terrier mix, a large mix with a shaggy coat that was a guide dog for an older blind lady who came around (totally makes my excuses not to get out invalid!), and a sort of Akita mix. It was a lively bunch, and all the dogs seemed to have a good time.

Dogs in the park!

Dogs in the park!

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Here is my map for today. We walked over two miles today!

21.12.2014

21.12.2014

After we got back, it was time to head to the City Center and get some shopping done that I probably should have done yesterday. As we were leaving, big snowflakes were coming down from the sky! It was quickly sticking to the ground and creating a white sheet over everything. While walking through the city, I got to thinking about just how happy all the snow made me, coupled with the twinkling lights, the music playing from the stores and the street musicians, and the general holiday spirit. The crowds didn’t bother me; I actually felt like they added to the excitement of it all. It made me realize that it’s important to hang on to the feelings of happiness, to hug them close, and to totally revel in them when we have them. I think too many times we tend to dismiss them, as if too scared to enjoy them for fear of them being whisked away by the next ‘bad’ thing we can think of. Sure, the vendor that I wanted to buy some Christmas bread wasn’t there, but there were others, so no harm. Still happy! I was with my husband and so still happy! Going to be visiting family and see my daughter in less than a week. Still reasons to be happy! Things will come along to get us down, but I think that if we learn to really love the moments when we are happy, and not feel like we don’t deserve them, or that they are too fleeting, then they will become part of our outlook and help lift us out of the doldrums that much quicker.

Downtown Helsinki looked quite festive, even though I couldn’t really capture it in pictures. But I did try:

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We took a ‘shortcut’ through the Kaisaniemi Metro station tunnel, which looks pretty cool. The walls are fashioned as if you are within a cave, with ‘cave paintings’ along the walls. When we entered, there was a fellow playing a violin, and the music echoed hauntingly off the walls, sounding so beautiful.

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While at Kampii to visit Musti ja Mirri to get Shiva some dog food for the trip, we went into the chapel of silence, Kampii Chapel, there in the square. It’s built completely out of wood, and was designed to be a place of silence in the center of the city. It was very quiet, and I could see going there to simply sit and unwind during a hectic day. Besides the pews, there were these great woolen ‘rock’ pillows all around that you could sit on or just hang on to. Very cool.

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And, of course, to finish up the night, after getting home, there was the taking of the Shiva out for her walk. This was a bit more snow than her first time, but it still didn’t phase her. If it wasn’t for her butt, though, might lose sight of her against the snow! I’m worried about seeing her in Lapland!

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Day 21 Challenge Question: What feelings does twilight arouse in you?

I am beginning to love twilight! It is the winding down of the day (even when it happens at 3pm!), and the beginning of wrapping it up, slowing down, and starting the ritual to get ready to rest and rejuvenate. It’s the time that I can cuddle with my hubby on the couch and watch our television shows, or cuddle with the Shiva-dog, or just slow down and let my mind wander. Of course, with twilight starting so early in the winter…well, I am getting more than enough rest and rejuvenation to last me!

And with this blogpost, I am probably incommunicado until the day after Christmas, maybe two days, when I return to Helsinki to get my daughter. And then from that point…probably out for another week. But, if I get internet access and or access to a computer, I might be able to update! And I might try out the mobile app…so be forgiving if you see some odd-looking posts here over the holidays.

Everyone have a wonderful holiday, and at the very latest, I will see you again in the new year! Remember, life is an adventure…live it! 🙂

#500words

Walking, walking, walking

One of my daily goals is to get 12,000 steps a day, per my FitBit. I have been nailing it almost every day! I started using the MapMyWalk app, mainly so that when I return, I can show my route to Wellu and be able to say, “This is where I went…” because I sure as fuck can’t remember when I get home! “Uhm…it was down the street, up a hill, down this muddy path, through some woods…yeah, I just made it back by sheer luck.” Here’s today’s path:

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A little over two miles. Slow miles, because you-know-who has to sniff every freaking bush and pole and rock and clump of dirt or ice or snow…but still, two miles is a goodly distance for me these days.

Today actually was a pretty day, and here it is, past mid-December in Helsinki, and I was sweating under my coat. I had it unzipped when I got home, and I was just steps away from actually taking it off. But then I would have had to haul it around with me.

December 20, 2014, nearly 9:15am. Look...blue sky!

December 20, 2014, nearly 9:15am. Look…blue sky! Sorta.

It’s hard to see in the picture, but there was blue sky there, and by mid-day, there was a lot more of it showing up, too.

Here’s some adorable pictures of Shiva from our walk for you to enjoy:

Cave exploring Shiva!

Cave exploring Shiva!

Watching the other dog from the relative safety of the table top

Watching the other dog from the relative safety of the table top

Last night, we snacked on some of the best wild boar…yum yum!

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That’s some smoked wild boar ham, perfectly aged white cheddar, some Marie Kulta crackers, served up in a cute Moominmomma plate, next to my Moominmaid notebook, on top of my Moominmomma placemat. Too bad you can’t see all the other Moomin goodness on my desk, too. Too bad you can’t taste that wild boar goodness, either. Sorry, not sorry.

We went to go visit some friends near Itäkeskus, and took Shiva with us. She behaved very good, even around their five-year-old, and only barked at his mom a little bit. Until she was petted, and that seemed to appease her. She’s so easy. We had pastries, then we bundled up and headed out to the dog park for a bit. There, she played with a huge old Husky mix named Brutus and a hound dog puppy named Major. I would have taken pictures…but forgot my phone. Oops.

Tomorrow, we head to the Forum to run some errands, then we have to pack! Then on to Oulu Monday….then I return on Friday to get my daughter on Saturday and we take the train to Lapland! OMG….can’t wait!!!

Day 20 Challenge Question: Describe someone whom you’ve lost in your life and the sadness that you feel.

Wow, can’t do this one today. Today is too happy of a day. So let’s just change it to: What makes today a happy day?

Celebrating my middle daughter’s 21st birthday!! OMG…she’s a grownup!! Now she can legally order drinks! Check out this cutie pie!! It would only better if I could be with her.

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My middlest baby, today!!

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A bit overwhelmed…

Ever had one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong, even though when you looked back, it really wasn’t as bad as you thought? Yes? Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. I felt like nothing could go right. I would go out and realized that I forgot something. I didn’t get done half the things I wanted to do. My mother-in-law’s present was lost by USPS, and since it wasn’t insured, I’m out the money for it and there’s no time to replace it before the holidays. And hubby is out of town for a job interview so I am all alone for two days. Poor, pitiful me. And so last night I didn’t even write. 😦

Dec 17, 2014 (at 8:15am)

Dec 17, 2014 (at 8:15am)

Looking back, it wasn’t really that bad of a day. The weather was actually quite nice and clear. I made a long walk with Shiva and found two new dog parks! I attended the Family Club’s Christmas party with my Rice Krispie treats, which were a hit, and I was even asked for the recipe multiple times! There was music from all over the world, which is a really neat thing about being an expat, and that is being with so many other people from exotic (to me) locations all over the globe!

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She played Armenian music and also sang a song in ancient Greek.

Music from Africa, as well as Finland. Quite a mix!

Music from Africa, as well as Finland. Quite a mix!

This morning, Shiva and I got up and headed out to the ridge, which a reader had suggested to me. The weather is clear, although the ground is wet, so I wore my colorful wellies, and we did some walking and some climbing and saw some beautiful views from the ridge.

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The rest of the day will be spent cleaning and putting up things on the wall. The Command Strips that I am using are not holding up as well as I would like, so I need to find some alternative means of adhering things to the walls. Of course, if he gets this job in Germany, it will be for naught and I will be flooding Facebook with tons of items for sale! 🙂

I missed a challenge, so I will put it here, too.

Day 16 Challenge Question: What was your comfort food growing up?

That is a tough one. I’m going to have to go with mac ‘n cheese. And sorry, foodies, but it’s that Kraft in the blue box stuff. Powdered neon cheese and all. I can remember that my sister used to take a second box, pour out the macaroni and use the second packet of cheese in it when she would make it. It was easy to make, and tasted good. Maybe not the same kind of good that some shells and Gruyere cheese blend might, but it was still good.

Day 17 Challenge Question: Who was your best friend in primary school? Describe him or her.

These are some hard questions. I was an Army brat growing up, and so we moved around a lot. In primary school, I was mostly in the Panama Canal Zone. Notwithstanding that it’s hard to remember back 40+ years, I still remember Janet Lang. She lived two houses down, and was a year older. I remember when she got the white go-go boots. I was so jealous. She and I used to run around together. Back then, it was safe to do so. Next to her, it was probably my horse, Little Bit. 🙂

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This isn’t Little Bit…this is Perdita. Back in my English riding days.

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Me as a young’n

Me and Little Bit!

Me and Little Bit!

Lazy, lazy Sunday

I love lazy Sundays. Except for when I feel the guilt of not getting much done. I’ve only recently reached that point in my life where I can roll out of bed at whatever hour I want, and be lazy. Well, I do need to walk Shiva, but that’s okay. Speaking of which…she had some kind of morning. First off, she hasn’t gone #2 for two days, which I figured was a bit too long (more on this in a bit), so I took her out for a loooooong walk, figuring that we were not going in until she did her business.  We walked over to the ostokeskus to mail a letter, then around towards the bus stops. Understand, the slush has frozen into a patchwork of ice, so I was having to walk like a penguin as to not fall, so the going was slow. And hilarious to onlookers, I’m sure.

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Anyway, she kept going between trees and under brush and up the side of a hill…thanks, Shiva. She flushed a rabbit, which had her going ape-shit for like fifteen minutes, trying to pull me down the side of the mountain on the ice to chase it, until something else bright and shiny caught her attention and she went on to investigate that. Those tracks are not rabbit tracks…I got totally lost trying to figure out where the damn thing came from and where it went (it was fast!), and I couldn’t find the tracks to photo them. So enjoy these bird-like tracks instead.

In any case, Miss I-Dont-Wanna-Poop spent another half hour sniffing everything she could get to, until FINALLY, we had poop. Success! I’m thinking that since I am feeding her better dog food, along with some real meat treats (this stuff called B.A.R.F., which is amazing, at least to her), she might be processing it so efficiently that she’s only needing to go every other day or so. Any dog people who have knowledge in this area, let me know what you think.

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The rest of the day was spent just lazing around, chatting with the youngest on Skype. It was really nice seeing her, and her new glasses look amazing (didn’t get a screen grab, sorry. Just trust me!). Finally, around 5ish or so, we bothered ourselves to get up and head to the Senatatori to go see the carolers. We brought Shiva along for the experience, as we were under the impression that the singing would be outside. Must have misread something, because instead, the singers were inside the cathedral, and there were big speakers on the steps, which were broadcasting the music. The singing was pretty, but I had hoped to actually see the choir. Bummer.

The Christmas market in Senate Square as seen from the top of the Cathedral steps

The Christmas market in Senate Square as seen from the top of the Cathedral steps

Shiva checking out the door of the bus, waiting her turn

Shiva checking out the door of the bus, waiting her turn

We climbed the steps, looked around at the pretty city lights from that vantage point, then headed back home. We stopped by the ostokeskus to go atm some money, only it was out. First time I’ve ever encountered that, in the US or here. Wellu decided to pop into the SMarket since we were there, so I stayed outside with Shiva. While outside, we met a very beautiful husky/wolf hybrid named Sepe (and his human, Lea). Sepe and Shiva got along great, and Lea, an older Finnish lady, was petting Shiva and telling me that she was pretty. Of course she is. Then, she asked me about going to the dog park tomorrow so that Shiva and Sepe could play together. This was all in Finnish (as apparently she speaks no English), but I managed to work it out, and so we have a “playdate” for tomorrow at 2pm! I was so proud of myself! Just to be on the safe side, we confirmed it all when Wellu came out of the store, but I did get it mostly right. I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of Sepe, but I will for tomorrow. He’s a magnificent looking dog.

I have my TE integration interview tomorrow, so I am going to head to bed early, so that I can be fresh and alert for that.

Day 14 Challenge Question: Do you remember a time when you felt lonely? Can you describe it?

I had to sit here for a while and think about this. While I know that I have, my life has been so extraordinary these past few years, that I can’t remember any time in particular to recount. I’m going to take this as a good sign. Or a rather poor memory. Take your pick. 🙂

#500 words, yo.