Crazy busy!

I know, I know, I haven’t checked in for ages!

Finnish classes are starting to get really intense. I still feel like I don’t know any more than I did when I started, but every once in a while I realize that I’m recognizing words in conversations or can come up with the one that I need. I’m still struggling through all the darned endings and such, but hopefully, it will click soon. We have a mega-test on Tuesday (tiistai!), and I am simply not prepared. My recall is shyte.


In the meantime, I have this thesis paper that I am proofing, and it is really taking up my time. I’ve agreed to do it, so I must, but I find myself starting to skim the words, and that’s when I have to take a break. Unfortunately, I don’t do anything productive when I do break from it. 300+ pages to proof. By the end of the month. Crunch time is coming soon!

But let us speak of more fabulous things! It has been a spectacular week for Helsinki, nature-wise! We’ve had spring temperatures (8°, 9°, even 10°!), with mostly clear skies. On Tuesday night, we had spectacular Northern Light displays, all the way here in the city! Nothing that I could take with my cell phone, but some folks got pictures of events just down the road from me. I was able to see them from my bedroom window, and they lasted for ages!

Photo Credit: Engelsman Finland

Photo Credit: Engelsman Finland

Then, on Friday, we got to experience an almost total solar eclipse. It was about 90% covered, and quite amazing. There was a bit of overcast, so I went and met Wellu at the university, where we looked through some special glasses to see the eclipse, plus “saw” it via a reflection from the telescope that was set up. I tried using the lens on the glasses to take a picture through, but it didn’t work.

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And then finally, Thursday night was a “super moon”. Nothing really amazing, just a point when the moon was at its closest to earth. Astronomer hubby sucks all the fun out of it, calling it “bollocks”, as the moon is only a few percentage points larger, hardly enough to notice, but hey, it was a cool event to have happen along with the other two. 🙂

Winter is supposed to return this next week, so time to bundle up again. Snow is predicted. But enjoying spring while it is giving us this sneak preview.

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Got Shiva her pet passport, except that they spelled my last name wrong and put in the wrong birth date for her. I don’t want to get stopped at some border because of technical issues, so we go back Monday to get it fixed. Sucker was expensive too…over 100€ for it! But, it means all her records are in one place and now she’s essentially Finnish, and she can travel around the EU without any problems. Just in case.

Heading to Budapest next weekend, then my mom comes to visit, then we head to Italy, THEN my youngest daughter and her friend come to visit…we’re going to do a ‘girl’s cruise’ to Tallinn, Stockholm, and St. Petersburg. After they leave, we are headed to France. Busy summer!

National Kalevala Day


It’s kinda like Flag Day (my birthday!), but a bit different. The flags are flying, and we’re all supposed to read the national saga (I have a kid’s version with dogs, so I hope that counts). It’s also known as Finnish Cultural Day, and it started about 180 years ago. You can read more about it here.


On Friday, I made my way (with the help of my guide, Wellu) to the Meilahden kampus, to go see the neurologist. Going to see the doctor in Finland seems to run a bit different than in the States. When you go to see your doctor in the States, you sign in, you wait in the waiting room, the nurse eventually calls you, takes your weight, leads you back to a room, takes your temp and blood pressure, then leaves you to wait for the doctor to eventually show up and spend 5 minutes with you. Then you pay your co-pay and leave

In Finland, you sign in, you go wait in a waiting area, and then the doctor calls you from the exam room, where you go in and talk with him or her. I’ve been to see a doctor twice, and no one has taken my weight or temp, and only this time did the doctor take my blood pressure. She spent over a half hour going over my history (of MS), suggesting future courses of actions, and then ran through the usual MS physical. After we were done, she took me down to another office and dropped me off with the receptionist to make all the appointments. Then I left without paying anything.

I don’t know if it’s a better system, but it sure seemed more efficient. My appointment was for 10:30, I got there at a little after 9am (just to make sure I could find the place), was seen by 10am, and out by 11am. So, I am scheduled for two more blood tests, and an MRI and eye test, as well as getting back on a physical therapy routine. Seems like we accomplished quite a bit. I’ll see her again in August, and she’ll call me to go over the results of the first blood test, which I do next week at the local clinic.

I am finally getting over my cold. My throat is still bothering me, but I’m sucking on throat lozenges like crazy. It’s worse in the morning, of course. But I think I am finally shaking it.

Shiva and I tried out a new dog park this morning. We rode the 79 to the park, and there were a few dogs there. She ended up in the ‘small dog’ side, because there was a male Newfoundland in the big dog pen, who weighed over 85kg, and the owner was afraid that he might hurt Shiva if he tried to dominate her. So she went and played with the terrier, and she and a large German Shepherd chased each other along the fence. I think I may stick to our regular dog park, though. It’s bigger and all one enclosure.


For the last two days, I’ve been thinking of all the things I wanted to write about, but you’ll have to bear with me for a few more days. My brain is just not up to it, and there’s little room room for pictures. So I am going through and scaling down my picture sizes, to make room. I didn’t realize how large the photos from my cell phone were, and it’s used up almost all the space I am allotted! Once I’m done, I’ll start bombarding you all with more pictures. Maybe by then, spring will be here, too!

And since I’ve been sick, I figured a little retail therapy was in order. I went out and bought myself something I’ve wanted since I got here and saw them everywhere. Now I have one, unique, like every one else! Don’t judge me. 😛


A visit to the doctor

As promised, here is my blog post on going to the doctor today. It was actually my first visit in an “emergency”. While my ankle twisting wasn’t technically an emergency, we did want it seen to make sure it wasn’t fractured or something.

So, first step…call and see if we can get an appointment. The recording actually came up in English (after the Finnish and the Swedish). Essentially, the recording was that all the nurses were busy, and if the number we were calling from was the one we wanted to be called back on, do nothing, just wait until we hear it’s been recorded, then we will get a call back. Which is what we did.

I got a call back within about 45 minutes. The nurse answered in Finnish first, but then responded in English when I explained that I didn’t speak Finnish. She asked me a few questions about what happened, and then said, “Do you live close? There is an appointment in 10 minutes.” Well, no, not that close. Couldn’t get out of bed, ready and hobble to the clinic in ten minutes. The next was at 9:45am, in about an hour. Great, I’ll take that one. She gave me a waiting room number, but I completely forget it by the time I got there.

Wellu walked me there, and it was painful, but I could actually feeling it get a bit better, which reinforced in my mind that it was a bad sprain and nothing more. I got to the clinic, and up to the second floor, where I looked left and right at the banks of waiting rooms and realized that I had no idea which one she had told me. I got a nurse’s attention, and explained my predicament. She was very nice, took me in to a room, looked up my appointment and directed me to waiting room 4.

A few minutes after 9:45am, a nurse came out of one of the rooms, called my name, and proceeded to ask me something in Finnish. Once again, I revealed that I didn’t speak Finnish (although ask me the days of the week and I’ve got that covered!), so she asked all the questions in very clear English. She had me take off my shoes and socks, and examined my foot, comparing it to the other one. (In the meantime, I realized how long it had been since I’d shaved my legs and had a pedicure, which seemed to make the pain she was causing from twisting my foot around pale in comparison).

She called in the doctor, they consulted in Finnish, then the doctor affirmed that it hurt to twist it this way, but not this way. Said it was a bad sprain. Rest today, keep it elevated and in the wrap I had, put some ice on it, and give it a couple of weeks to heal up. I can walk as necessary, but not to push it. Take ibuprofen if I need it. And that was it.

Fifteen minutes later, I am leaving. No co-pay, no fee, nothing but the note I needed for missing school today. By the time I got home, it was actually feeling better. Still stiff and sore if I turned it, but it supports my weight and so on, so I’m sure I’ll live. I even took Shiva out for a walk after I got back. Then I was lazy.


Speaking of today…there were big, beautiful snowflakes falling as I walked Shiva, and even though I am tired of winter, it was a beautiful walk, with the trees and their bare branches, snow falling, a (mostly) white layer of snow everywhere. It didn’t really feel all that cold at all. One thing I love about here is that even in this weather, the kids are brought outside to play. There were about twenty of them at the playground, all wearing their reflective vests over their snowsuits, screaming and running around.


In any case, that’s about it, since I spent most of the day napping with my foot elevated and wrapped. Just like the doctor said to. 🙂

Return of the klutz.

I thought things had been going a bit too smoothly lately.

The morning walk was good, even though we had planned to do our “long walk” today (we have “short”, “short-long”, and “long” paths), but managed to yakkity-yak right past our turn, and end up just doing our “short-long”. I figured there is always tomorrow. Even with all the ice, we were sure-footed with our cleats on, so that was no issue. Look at all this snow!


On the way to the bus stop this morning, I ran into a lady walking two Irish Wolfhounds. HUGE. My sister’s Great Dane is maybe the size of the bigger one, maybe a bit smaller. Maybe they are shaggy ponies. I’m not sure.


School was the usual brain-hurt. I tried my natural No-Doze, but might have to take double the dose, as it only seemed to work slightly. Still no recall to boast about. It kicks in at some point, right?

When I got home, I had a notice that a package was at the R-Kioski for me to pick up. I knew just what it was, so I wanted to run out and get it. I got Shiva all harnessed up and we headed out. It was exactly what I thought it was, and headed on my merry way home.

Segue: I think one reason Finnish people are considered so “antisocial” and they are always looking at their feet, it’s because centuries of living in the snow and ice have trained them to instinctively watch their feet so they don’t slip and slide. You take your eyes off the path for one second…and that tricky nature will trip you up.

Case in point: I was almost all the way home, and let my mind wander for one brief second about something not associated with walking on treacherous ice, when *yoink!* I stepped on an uneven patch of ice and twisted my ankle, going down like Nancy Kerrigan with a tire iron to the knee. I didn’t even slip, it was totally something I could have done on dry land (assuming it was a dirt clod and not an ice clod that I stepped on). My ankle is swollen to twice its size and I can barely walk on it.


Lovely, ain’t it? Tomorrow, we’re going to hobble down to the clinic in the morning, where I can hopefully get a proper wrap for it, and maybe some crutches to take the weight off. Those should be fun on the ice! I’ll let you know how the visit goes and how it compares to a doc-in-the-box back home.

The package? My fancy-schmancy Dear Kate undies that my mom gifted me with. They come individually wrapped in these cool envelopes (inside one large Tyvek envelope).


At least I have those to make me feel better. Now, to take some pain killers and head to bed.

And we slosh on…

Ugh. Slosh. Slush. And it is still snowing! Although at this very moment, not quite as much as before. But it was snowing a good bit during the day.

Tracie and I were hardcore, though. We still toughed out the morning walk, getting in our steps and resistance training at the same time! I think we should be credited for double the steps from this morning, given how tough the going was. I know, I know, the natives are telling me to stop whining, that this is nothing. Wah.

mapmywalk0202.2     mapmywalk0202

This is what it looked like at the dog park this morning. About ankle-deep in the frozen slush. Just add rum and flavoring, and we’d have a giant daiquiri!


I tried a tip I read about on the internet. I wanted to wear my sneakers on the walk, but I knew they’d get soaked, and then my feet would freeze. So the suggestion was to put on a pair of thin socks as a first layer. Then slip your foot into a plastic bag, then put on a thicker sock. Supposedly, this will keep your feet dry. Tracie called them my feet condoms. Well, mock if you want, but it worked! My outer sock was soaked, but my feet were dry and warm. Nyah. Great suggestion I will use again tomorrow.


On the way to the bus stop, I saw this. A lone mitten in a tree. Actually, it’s not too uncommon to see. Apparently, mittens and gloves get lost along the way, and for some reason, people pick them up and put them on the bushes. My guess is that there is the chance that the owner will be passing that way again and may see their lost half, and be able to reclaim it. It’s kinda neat. This one is so young though.


Went by the store to pick up a few items on the way home.  Shiva needed dog food. I had been feeding her Canagan, but her poops have been a bit…loose. So asked the clerk there, and she suggested I try Barking Heads and see how she does on it. I’m going to start transitioning her over tomorrow. While there (at Prisma, not Musti ja Mirri), we picked up some luncheon meat and bread. I got some “exotic” (for me) meats to try.


And lastly, school work. I am really trying, but my recall sucks. I listen,  I write down, I practice, and fifteen minutes later, I can’t recall what was said. Oh well. Sooner or later, hopefully.


I really need to stop by the pharmacy and see if they sell the Finnish equivalent of No-Doze here. About 1300 or so, my eyes start to droop, my head begins to drop, and it’s a battle not to just say screw it and put my head on the desk. After about 1430, I’m wide awake again. I just need my midday siesta!

Now, let’s try some Finnish.

Tänään on loskaa. Tänään on maanantai. Huomenna on tiistai. Huomenna minä olen kurssilla myöhään. Huomenna on kolmas päivä helmikuuta.

Minä koira nautti ja hyvää tyttö.

It’s pretty basic and simplistic…but baby steps (and baby talk!).



February in Helsinki


It’s all about the slosh. It snowed all freakin’ day…then began to drizzle. Walked Shiva earlier and it was like walking through a frozen drink. The walk tomorrow morning should be interesting, to say the least. It’s been above freezing, so the snow is melting, and there is water everywhere! I can only imagine what a deluge spring is going to be like!

Shiva did well on her overnight stay, so now we have a dogsitter for the trip. One less thing to worry about.


Tracie is all about snowdicks. So I made a snowgina. She apparently left the phallus at the dog park for me. We should really grow up. But where’s the fun in that?

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I also made lasagna. My mom asked if the noodles were homemade. She’s such a comedian. (Yes, I know how to do it, I’m just too lazy)


Shiva made dog angels on her walk.


We are all sorts of creative today. I have class tomorrow. Not feeling the creativity any more.

I’ve really got nothing else. It was a decently lazy Sunday. I’ll try to come up with something more useful tomorrow.

Oh, Tracie…I remember you saying that LOVE Mason jar crafts. This is for you:



Baby’s first night away.


Today is/was Saturday, which is a pretty slow day for me. I don’t even get close to my 15,000 step goal; usually just about half that. I woke up late, nearly to 10am (!!!), and took Shiva out. The dog park was empty, per usual, and she kept going to the gate, I think to look for our walking companion. 🙂 So I decided to take her out and about for a bit of an explore. The landscape is really pretty in the winter, and I can just imagine how gorgeous it is going to be come springtime. I can’t say that I’m tired of winter…but I’m tired of winter.

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We were leaving the second stop at the dog park when we ran into a girl and her playful pup heading to the park, so we turned around and joined them. The dogs played for a while, and we chatted about how difficult it was to learn a new language, especially when everyone around you spoke a common one (in both cases, the common language is English, but she is Finn, trying to learn Dutch, when she was in Holland). After that, Shiva and I made our way back home.


This evening, we went to some friends’ apartment and brought Shiva. They are going to watch her while we are out of town for the winter holiday, but we wanted to give it a test run since they have a four year old and two cats. This was a photo they sent me about 20 minutes after we left (and of course, I could hear her whining as we walked away. Apparently she stopped pretty quickly).


Anna is like way pregnant, so I feel for her taking this on, but they both said they love dogs (hopefully they still do after tonight!), and Shiva pretty much ignores Werner and the cats. So hopefully all will be okay. This is my first time since we got here that I’ve left Shiva in anyone else’s care, so I’m just like a nervous mom. So far, the worst thing she’s done is left fly a few stink-bombs….those I don’t miss!

Something about being in Finland:

Tracie and I were talking the other day about the little things that make all the difference in life. Things that are different here versus the States. One is the little fabric loop on the towels to hang them up with. I know that’s not a huge thing, but it’s so smart and convenient, and I can’t understand why it’s not done more often.

The other thing is the over-the-sink drying rack. I love this! If I build a house (or anywhere I move), this is going to be one of those must-haves. Washing dishes has become rather zen for me, and having a rack like this to dry dishes on makes so much sense. You’d think this would ALSO be on the list of common things to have, especially in apartments or smaller places.



Genius, too!

Genius, too!

We are heading to sauna, and since I don’t have to be up early in the morning for the walk, I think I am going to head to bed, and sleep in late. Mmm…that might be a nice change of pace. 🙂

Moi moi!


P.S. Ran to (and back) sauna, wearing my robe and CudleDuds (only) while the snow was falling. This is what our windows looked like when we got back an hour later (brrrr!):


Walking on sunshine…


hahahaha…I wish! Haven’t seen sunshine in a long time! But now you have an earworm. Enjoy! 🙂

This has been a pretty good week so far. Nothing really to pinpoint, but just generally going well. I feel like I am finally getting the hang of some itty-bitty part of the language. I still have CRS (Can’t Remember Shit) when it comes to recall, but my pronunciation is getting better, and I’m actually understanding some of the grammar rules, which is more than what I could say about the rules of English grammar. We get to do fun things in class, too!


Tracie and I have been hitting the trails every morning so far, and we upped our distance so I’m reaching and surpassing my step goal each day. I even raised my goal by quite a bit. So I feel really good about that! Being outside in the morning is really a great way to start the day, and the scenery is beautiful, and it gets Shiva out on a longer walk for her to explore all manner of new landscapes.  Plus, I get to vent with another expat about all sorts of things!

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I was wandering around a store the other day, and remembered Wellu telling me that Valentine’s Day is not a big deal in Finland. Of course, in the U.S., it’s huge (for the candy makers, the card companies, florists, etc), and the aisles are festooned with red and pink for as far as the eye can see. So, this is what I see in the sort of place that back home would be gaudy with the season:


That is it. The extent of the offerings. I guess I’ll just have to be content with a trip to a resort in Antalya, Turkey for Valentine’s Day (or Winter Holiday). 🙂

These are my notes from my classes today:

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In addition to Finnish lessons, I took advantage of my international classmates and learned how to say greetings in Japanese, Turkish and Arabic, and I learned how to write my name in Arabic:


I think that’s it for now,

Nähdään huomenna!




These boots were made for walking…

Actually, it’s my sneakers. Tracie (of beets+birch fame) and I have walked every morning this week. We tend to do about ~3 miles, mainly because my of my knee, and take our time. Not exactly a stroll, but not a fast-fast pace either. I really appreciate her taking it slow with me, and putting up with Shiva doing all her side-to-side sniffing and stopping. And then she ends up power-walking with her hubby each night, too. Fierce, woman!

In any case, we walked a little over 5 miles this morning. It was snowing lightly, she showed me another dog park, and the scenery along the walk was so serene and pretty. She says that in the spring/summer, it is especially breathtaking. Can’t wait!


When did I decide that -4° was a decent, comfortable temperature??? I can remember bitching about needing to take Shiva out when it was 40°F. I don’t think I’ll be complaining about that again! The key is to dress appropriately, of course. But -4 without wind is a lot different than -4 and the wind blowing. Fortunately, we haven’t had too much wind, so it’s actually been pretty pleasant to go out and walk each morning. I took these snapshots of our walk this morning:

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Tracie brought me some of her ‘fancy ass carrot soup’, which I totally meant to have for lunch today, but forgot about lunch today until it was really too late to fix anything. So I may have it for dinner or lunch tomorrow. I love having choices. 🙂

Something about walking in the snow…people can sneak up on you! I don’t mean in a creepy, stalkerish way, but you’re walking along and think you’re the only one around so you ‘shift lanes’…and bam, you’re cutting someone off! I’ve finally started to glance behind me, just to make sure now. Cray-cray American walkers.

This has, overall, been a pretty good week. Even with the way it started, with the leaking incident, everything shaped up. While I feel like I’m still not learning anything in class, I do feel like it’s less not-familiar, if that makes any sense. And if I think about it, I can say more now than I could a week ago, so that’s something. Not enough to carry on a conversation, but maybe one day. In my mind.


Moi moi!

Nähdään huomenna!

What a day!

Where to start?

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

Well, last night, I carefully printed out my bus route to get to class…

…and missed my stop (by a few), and got totally turned around. Couldn’t get the map to pull up or the bus schedule, so had to call the hubby to get directions. Was late to class, but was actually able to apologize for being late in Finnish. Win? And it seemed that this first class was pretty laid back, and I wasn’t the only late one, so there is that.


Can’t express how happy I am that I took that short class earlier, or else I would have been even more lost than I was today. Hopefully, it will come over time, but we’ll see. And at least I’ll be getting paid for taking this class. That’s a bonus.

I have the second (third?) class starting tomorrow, so once more I have printed out my bus route, and this time I have notes as to the landmarks to look for. I have to go from my first class directly to the second one, so I can’t screw this up.

Nailed my 12,500 step goal today by going out in a freakin’ snowstorm to walk Shiva (“light snow”, my Aunt Fannie). That is love and dedication, of course.:)

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One neat thing is that going out at the dark of night (see there, 11:15pm), is that you can feel perfectly safe (other than the breaking of the neck on ice). I wouldn’t dream of going out at that hour back home. Mainly because it is pitch black, but here, as you can see, everything is well-lit, and crime is amazingly low. I just feel safe walking around at any hour, and that is a really nice feeling.