Sunday, September 30, 2007

Porvoo Pictures

Updating my pictures again. These are from the excursion to Porvoo during the Ahlfors Conference. Most of them consist of pictures of windows in the old town of Porvoo and horizons on our boat trip back to Helsinki. Here are a couple of samples.

A Globe and a Glass Statue. One of my dozens of window pictures. It seemed that there was a tradition of curiously pretty window arrangements in the old town of Porvoo. Almost all the windows were decorated with flowers, statues, figurines and what ever the owners had come up with and some had come up with pretty neat and original stuff. Käpylä, the neighbouhood I'm from in Helsinki is somewhat similar with wooden houses and indeed some people have also decorated windows. I also liked how you would get reflections of the opposite buildings in the picures like in this one.

The boat trip offered unbelievably beautiful soft blue scenes. I think one of the most lovely sensations is the sea wind on your face. It's so soft and caressing and so fresh and alive. In Ann Arbor I learned that it is really a question of the humidity in the air, I would often get an urge to "walk to the seaside" even though I knew that the lakes were quite far away.

When we arrived in Kauppatori I said: "Isn't my home town beautiful?" and I felt it really was the most beautiful place. During the conference I experienced a keen love I have for the city. It feels weird walking the familiar streets with people who are there only passing by and don't know every corner and stone like they were old friends.

So, more pictures (but less emotion) here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


This post like most of my posts was ment to be posted many weeks ago, when I was seeing a lot of amazing skies during a short period of time. But since there was another pretty cool sky last Thursday, here they are all now.

Trees in Sofianlehto, on my way to work.

On my way home from a dance class. If you're from Helsinki you should be able to recognize the place. The tower on the left is the tower of the Hufvudstadsbladet building and the tower on the right is the tower of the new student union building (Uusi Ylioppilastalo) and in front of that you can see the corner of the old student union building (Vanha Ylioppilastalo). So I'm standing in the corner of Stockmann at the Three smiths square (Kolmen sepän aukio) and looking north along Mannerheimintie.

Here's one of the three smiths in the previously mentioned square and the Husis tower in the background.

One more hot air balloon on my way home from work. This pic just slipped here even though the sky is in fact quite lame but it'd be rather stupid to have another post just for a mediocre picture of a hot air balloon and I just had to post it since even though it's not really a very good picture it's nevertheless way better that the previous picture of the five hot air balloons since you can actually see the balloon here and don't you think the light on the side of the balloon is neat?

On my way to work. The building is the Kätilöopisto Maternity Hospital where a lot of Finns were (and are) born. Not me though. I was born in Mehiläinen (the Bee).

This was in Oulunkylä while on a walk with Venla (my friend) and Tuikku (their dog, can you be friends with a dog?).

The ugly Pasila and the beautiful sky on Thursday close to where I live on my way home from dance practice. It was actually really cool.

So, we may conclude that my life happens on my way to and from work and dance classes, but here's a poll: Do you think I was seeing so many beautiful skies because

a) the skies really were more beautiful than in the average.
b) they are always that beautiful but I only noticed them now since I was being emotional and gazing at the skies.
c) I just happened to be outside during the sunsets.
d) they weren't really that beautiful at all, I just thought so.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mökki Weekend

The Mökki Weekend was a weekend in August between the Jyväskylä Summer School and the Ahlfors Conference in Helsinki. The Michigan Gang had rented a Mökki near Lohja. The pictures will give you a better description.

Although some of the pictures of spider webs, flying hair, lace drapes, flowers, sunlight and tree trunks might throw you off a bit. That's not really what we did there, you see, that's just me being silly.

What did we do then? Well, we went to the sauna and we swam in the lake and we ate incredible meals and we slept and we drank beer and we sang songs about stars under a starlit night sky and we danced silly dances and we played cards and we proposed toasts and we laughed and joked and made Finnish faces and laughed again.

And to make the post a proper Saara Post let us yet include the four essential parts: 1) Saara Bragging About Herself, 2) Botanical Trivia, 3) Translating from Finnish and 4) "I Miss You Guys".

1) On Bragging

Kevin announced a Silly Dance Competition. To win you had to dance as silly a dance as you could with a completely blank face. I determined to win and practiced diligently. I don't think I won because my dance was the silliest or because my face was the most Finnish. I won because I was the only one who really dared to do it.

You know, everybody cares about what other people think of them. It's because we are social animals. Don't get me wrong, I care immensly what other people think of me, probably much more than your average person. But I don't want people to think that I think of what other people think of me. And I don't care if people will think I'm a bit silly, well, because I am. And nothing nothing is so boring as being proper. So dance your silly dances and make your weird faces, people who know you will think you're cool and the others will certainly remember you. And you get to have all the fun and most importantly: You get to have all the prices!

2) On Botany

Just to clear something up. Birches and aspens are two totally different trees. I guess I was confusing people since I was talking about aspens. Normally a Finn talking about trees is talking about birches.

Birch is the Finnish National Tree. It has small light green triangular leaves and the trunk is white with horizontal black stripes. The branches are black. Xylitol is made out of birch fibers.

Aspen, however, is my favourite tree. It has round leaves with unusually long stems that are twined so that the leaves tremble in the wind making a rustling sound. The stem is greenish and silvery and very smooth. The aspen grows very straight. So does the birch but aspens are even straighter.

Aspen is a funny tree. It is what one calls dioecious: the individual trees have only male or female catkins. Thus reproducing through pollution is rather difficult. But the aspen can also multiply with the help of root suckers: new trees growing from the roots of the old one. Usually aspens grow in large colonies where the different trees are actually the same tree that is connected underground. And I just learned from Wikipedia that these root systems can live unimaginably long, one in Utah is claimed to be 80 000 years old.

In the Fall aspen's leaves usually turn bright yellow, but there are some that turn red and they will turn red every year. And they are incredibly beautiful.

3) On Translating

The name of the place was Villa Kumpare. Kumpare or kumpu means "a hillock, mound, hump, knoll, hummock or a hill". It's the same word as in Kumpula (the place where the math department is in Helsinki). The -la ending makes the word to mean a place where there are (a lot of) hills. And I just learned a lot of new words for kumpu in English.

4) On Longing

I miss you guys! I hope you're having fun in Ann Arbor and in Jyväskylä. You know, out of all of us I think me and Satu are justified in being the loneliest. We're the only ones here in Helsinki and we almost never see each other. And soon I'll be in Iceland.

Looking at the pictures makes me happy though. I hope it makes you happy too. And I've watched Qian's Monkey Dance video like a thousand times. It makes me laugh every single time! :)

So if you didn't click the link in the beginning of the post here it is again. Go check out these guys and other pics.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Stone Report

I'm so proud that we finished our stone puzzle before the frost that I have to post the news. The footpath to my grandma's door had been replaced with even stones a few years ago and this summer my mum came up with the idea to put some of the old stones alongside one of the walls. All in all there wasn't that much work to be done but we took our time in between.

Anyways, puzzles are fun!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How Grass Is Destroyed

This is Jymy somewhere in the middle of the forthcoming story. The picture is unaltered.

My mother grows grass for our cats. I got a pot on Saturday. She'd been raving for two days about how beautiful it was. Every morning and every evening there had been a small drop of water on the tip of every blade. It really was very beautiful when I got it. Here's a picture story of what happened to the grass once it got to our place.

In the beginning everything looks rather peaceful.

Until Nukka shows that when it's a matter of shrimps, pig tongue or fresh grass, she's the boss. Her style is rather sophisticated.

But when it's Jymy's turn, the play gets rougher.

And it stays quite rough.

But even he has to take a short break once in a while. To gather up new inspiration.


But the eating is happening in controlled circumstances and the grass is placed back on the table. Here's a nice display of the crucial difference in the tempers of our cats.

And hence most of the pictures are of Jymy.

Who is the king of grass.


And in the end all that is left is a terrible mess and a bit of soil on Jymy's nose.

And here they are helping me write the blog entry. Well, they were both at my side but obviously I didn't have my camera then. And you can't very well go and fetch your camera when you're underneath two cats, can you?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Jyväskylä Summer School

I posted these before my charger broked down. They look so summery and happy. It's already Fall in Finland. I hope you have it warmer wherever you are.

They are my (and some Marie's and Qian's) pictures from Jyväskylä. But don't worry, this post won't be a diary of what happened during the Summer School. I wouldn't remember the details anyways. Besides it would be boring if you weren't there: "Well, we went to class and then we had lunch at Agora and then there was another class which most of us skipped and then in the evening we had some fun."

The jokes, if I remembered them, would likewise be inside ones. Like Marshall jumping the shark or Saara who knows everything. Or the icecream money. Not to mention knowing that a real number is always either positive, negative or zero.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alive Again

Yay! I just got my new charger and it's amazingly enough actually working. Here are some important points that have left unsaid while I was unplugged, that is to say...

On Chocolate, Take 2:

Stockmann has a New York theme this month. To celebrate they have brought American chocolate to the chocolate department. And what kind of American chocolate, you ask? Well, Hershey's Kisses of course, only the worst chokolate in the whole world! How thoughful.

But they did have Pepperidge farm cookies. Although of course not the best ones. If there is one thing Americans know how to do, it has to be cookies. I might be partial, though. Tommi always said that I have an American cookie taste. Even before I went there. But they do have the best cookies, so I don't think anybody can really complain.

And on the Finnish chocolate front: Have you tried the new Fazer's blue yet? I can't decide whether I like it or loathe it. It's rather weird. But quite addictive.

Also my fridge is now working again. I did resort to buying lingonberry jam, though. But you can't really consider spinach pancakes without lingonberry jam.

And talking about food, tonight I had the arcetypical everyday supper of the lazy saving Finn: lihamakaronilaatikkoa. The direct translation is meat macaroni box. It's a typical Finnish what we call "box" food: you take stuff, mash it, put it in a box or rather a casserole and put the box in the oven. This one has macaroni and minced meat. And it's the only food in my opinion that's really supposed to be eaten with ketchup.

Lucky I don't have a picture.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

If You Are in Need of Getting Anything Broken

Don't hesitate. Just contact Saara's Destruction Inc! We'll break your stuff quickly, efficiently and reliably. And with an affordable price! Home electronics, valuable vases, anything you can think of. It will all be smashed before you can say "Oops!"

So on Wednesday my laptop's charger quits working and when I get home hungry on Thursday evening after a day of running around with my inoperative laptop I find both my fridge and freezer quite pleasantly warm. To top it all I also brake a plate on Friday when I'm cleaning the fridge.

Hence no posting. And hence all the cake to be delivered to relatives. And hence the twelwe empty glass jars in my sink waiting to be recycled. The number one was rasberry jam best before 2003. I'm currently in a jam bying ban.

But you know? It's quite horrible. What am I supposed to do in the evenings now without my laptop? Watch telly?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Perfect Fashion Blogging

On Saturday I met with my oldest friends Noora and Veera. And Päivi who is also an old friend but joined our group slightly later. But that's not her fault. Neither is the fact that her name doesn't rhyme with ours.

We had a super tea party with almost too late preparation, an exploding sparkling water bottle, waffle dough on the table and salad dressing on somebodys nose. We concluded that it's a great thing that we're not perfect women, which is a joke that requires an explaination to non-finns: the tv series Desperate Houswifes is in Finnish Perfect Women. No explanation available for televisually challenged.

But that's not the subject of this post. Veera had the monthly of Helsingin Sanomat so I had a look. And there was the most enlightening story. Apparently there is such a thing as fashion blogging. That is 12-year old girls posting their observations and conclusions on fashion and sharing shopping ideas. They will also post their day's outfits accompanied with grainy pictures. I immediately wanted to try it out. Here's my attempt:

Today I'm wearing my dancer in disguise outfit:

- grey Röhnisch sport pants, Intersport Mikonkatu
- a white knee-length skirt, Target Ann Arbor
- a grey shirt with white stripes and a green tiger with the text "liberty club sportswear", some average clothing store in Helsinki
- dark and light blue wollen socks (my best pair), borrowed from my mother
- black Birkenstock sandals, Birkenstock Suomen Oy Kukontori
- a pastel coloured red hoodie with an owl decoration, Seppälä Helsinki

For dance class I had also (in addition to the grey pants):

- a NEW wine red Mango shirt, Mango Kamppi
- a red Sharif Wear sequin scarf, Unveiled Belly Dance Ann Arbor

So what do you think: should I continue in this line or revert to my usual blogging style?