Saturday, 19 May 2018

6 hours. 30 000 steps. 31 pictures

How much can you see in one day when you have six hours to walk around? Today I left home at 11 a.m. and I was back at 5 p.m. I walked 30 000 steps and explored this small town I live in. I wanted to find out how many different views, environments and small details I would be able to see. I tend to walk a lot so this amount of exercise was not extreme. Usually I go same routes but today I circled through longer ways to see more. I was happy to notice how many atmospheres are packed in a small area, I got to feel urban environments, neat parks, forest, swamp, riverside views from near the water and see the same river far on the horizon. I was wearing plain jeans and sneakers, no special sports gear. One of my points is to show how many interesting things there are to experience without special equipment or extra planning. You don't always have to travel far. Quite often the nearby parks and forests are neglected when we travel to see the same things on the other side of the globe. What is around us becomes invisible and when we see it abroad it gets value. I am not saying that we should not travel, it is fun to visit in a new place and get inspired about how things are done in there. But at least I have noticed that I love to visit cafes and parks and romanticize everyday life in places where I visit. Then when I come back home I forget that there is a possibility to go to local cafes and parks and appreciate all great things that are near. One doesn't need to use a car to go from place A to place B what comes to short distances. It is more fun to use own muscles and be able to change destination or take another route. There is more room for spontaneity and exploring like my walk around Rovaniemi shows. 

Snow has melted in a relatively short time. I am not sure if this dog has been made before snow or this spring. I pass this building quite often so that I am quite sure I would have noticed this dog last year if it was there.

A cemetery near the town center.  Cemeteries are always peaceful and beautiful places that take away the fear of death and show the natural course of human life.

Flowers at the church park. Few plants were already making flowers. It is interesting to see how the shades change during the summer. Now there were mainly blue, yellow and green. Plus this one that goes to violet and red.

The town center is on the opposite side. The river water has been high for the whole week and stream is rapid. Especially under the bridge one can hear the power of water.

Heading to the Ounasvaara hill. Green is everywhere.

Blueberries are making leaves.

Swamp is still quite colorless but on the surface of the ground you can see promises of the new season.

Mother Earth.

I guess that the routes are being renovated this summer.

Houses follow the river line. View from Ounasvaara hill.

Dog park in the green palm. 

Lunch break at the park in the town center. 

Arktikum park has many kinds of trees and bushes to look closer and explore the growth.

Bench with a view looking to the horizon and waiting for someone to sit. Long winter under the snow is over. After few weeks it is on the dry ground and will offer a great place to have a picnic.

Relaxing weekend to you all! I challenge you to do the same and take a few pictures from your home town or village to show how much it is possible to see by foot. No need to walk six hours, I am sure you will see plenty in two hours. It might be difficult to stop though once you are on the road.


Monday, 14 May 2018

A Place One Is Allowed to Call Home

Dance of the Jakaranda is the first book I got to finish reading outdoors on my balcony. Summer gives it's own atmosphere to reading. The town is humming on the background, few cars passing the alley, scent of garden flowers or summer rain, sunshine that almost blinds you when you try to read. Maybe a cup of coffee if it is morning or ice tea if the moment in question takes place in the midday heat. No dusty indoor air and electric lights but soft breeze and changing hues on the sky. Reading has become an outdoor activity instead of something keeping you inside. A tunic and some headwear  are the only necessary clothes one needs these days. The other day when I was reading on my balcony for the whole day I saw how the scenery changed for greener in front of my eyes. I should have taken a picture to see the difference. And I swear I could see how the buds came from the soil, such is the power of summer sun. If the weathers are this great the following days I will be doing my evening reading outside. Or maybe I head from work to a park to read few pages before coming home. These are the moments we get in the middle of life. If today sun is shining and I have on hour or two I am going to take that sun. Actually there have been statistically rainy summers that I remember as sunny because in my memory are the days of sunshine that I spent outdoors. All weekends might be rainy but warm summer evening every now and then gives the touch of warmth. 

19/52 Peter Kimani: Dance of the Jakaranda (2018) A theme ever so current, how to find a place one is allowed to call home? There is and there has always been immigration. People have leaved places they have called home to find better circumstances and possibilities to build their life. In Dance of the Jakaranda young Babu and his wife Fatima leave Punjab for better work possibilities. Babu is a technician, one of many who take a part to the massive task of building a railway in Kenya. McDonald, British soldier, is bound to the railway as the leader of the project. Reverend Turnbull is also playing a role in the happenings. The lives of these three men are twined together since they meet the first time. When Babu's grandson Rajan meets a mysterious woman he falls in love with, the hidden links between these men and happenings of the past begin to reveal.

Lots of what has happened in the lives of these men seem to be consequences of misunderstandings and poor communication. Especially in McDonald it is visible how the ways he has been taught to see the world effect on how he interprets what comes in front of him. He keeps his own views instead of realizing the limits of his own knowledge and trying to learn about the culture he is currently surrounded. When he needs help to understand what Babu means with his actions he consults the notes of his predecessor that verify the imperialist way of seeing the world and people who do not come from the same background. It is somehow easy to keep the thought patterns one has learned without a need to be critical towards one's own culture and what one has been taught to keep right. Questioning the so called right ways might help the future but one needs strength to go through the sometimes quite unbearable realizations that might occur at the moment. When we look back in the history it feels difficult to understand how people in the western countries were so satisfied to themselves and how they thought they were so excellent in everything that they needed to go and guide other people. How it was reasoned that they could go and take advantage of someone else's resources and ship goods to one's own land seems unreal. Yet part of these structures exist in some form even today's global traffic of goods when the backgrounds  of the products are not visible. Cheap products guarantee a certain lifestyle with the expense of taking from others.

All three men are looking for a different life than what has been possible in their native country. It raises the question in which terms one is allowed to reach for better life? Can one just decide to leave where one is born and head anywhere on the Earth and build a home. McDonald reveals that his background is not that high class as it first seems. He too has had a possibility to build a life that would have been too far to reach in Britain. As it is pictured in this novel Kenya offered a certain lifestyle and status for people who decided to move and form their life and career in there.  They could have better houses, leisure and commodities. There is a huge contrast to the possible life that McDonald would have had in Britain. But what is notable is that these luxuries were not for everyone but just privileges that white people took when they arrived and settled. And the thinking pattern they built to make that sound right is difficult to comprehend. The reality for Babu, who also moves to Kenya to have a brighter future, is slightly different. He with the other Indians is somewhere in between British and locals. He has some privileges but he also sees the unjust ways that the British have built their empire and how local way of life is being swiped away without asking the opinion from the people who have lived there first. It is unbelievable how big role McDonald and Turnbull are ready to take when they manipulate other people's lives. They manipulate the local politics and they intervene specifically to Babu's life. They don't even question whether they have got their impressions of Babu right before they begin their mission to ruin his chances. They just assume they know the people whose life they are about to change. People who are being manipulated don't even know what has happened. Maybe both McDonald and Turnbull have also been manipulated to act as they act and it serves some bigger interests of the empire.

Peter Kimani tells a story that takes place in the multicultural history of Kenya. When railway is constructed people are connecting and building not just railway but also relationships. It is natural that people are curious about each other and want to get to know who the other one is. World is on move today and because of this themes Kimani brings up are not just to see the history with clearer view but to see what is today. Are we bound to our own believes we keep right no matter what or are we ready to change our views? Do we blindly act according to what we have been taught when it does nothing but harm to us and our fellow humans? How could we get rid of prejudices of all kind that separate us? 

Then there is the last question. When one is allowed to call a place home? Babu's grandson shows how long the process is and how the prejudices follow though generations. Even nowadays, when people move and travel more than ever, we are described based on our looks and how we resemble the stereotypical looks of a person living in a particular country. It takes time to settle and find a place that feels home. It might be that it is impossible to return to where one has previously lived. For example Babu's home country, Punjab didn't exist anymore so that he or his grandson could return. Even though the country one is trying to settle wouldn't be particularly hostile quite few places are 100% inviting new people to come and move in. People who have lived in that country their whole life continue their lives as before. The one entering has to claim their own place, make a new life with new career, friends, hobbies and place to live. If you have ever lived abroad even for a while you know that it is not easy and one questions their existence in the new place. 

Maybe after years and generations the connections to the native country have finally been unleashed and only place one can call home is where one is at the moment. But still even so other people might be seeing it differently. In new situations, like in the novel when Kenya gets independent, it is thought over whose country and whose piece of land that place is. History doesn't give simple answers because what is now is built with layers of time; both darker ages and brighter moments. It is not so straightforward to point that those who where there first are the only one's allowed to stay. Back in history people have entered with various motives that can be evaluated in current light. But what this novel beautifully pictures is how people now are all the same. Where there have been groups with opposite views now there is one group because time has done it's task. People have found both lovers and enemies from the opposite side and that way made a path for shared future. Even hatred is a connection, a link that combines when time passes. 

Happy Summer Days to You All!


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Floating Day

Can you believe it is this time of the year? One can wear a dress and enjoy warm sunlight. Even the wind brings warm air and makes the ice float away and melt. It is always so surprising to notice that summer is here. Last week it was still snowing but now I combined thin layers of cloth and it was enough. I wondered, out of old habit, if I should take a coat with me but it was not necessary. Summer gives so much freedom. Heavy winter gear takes time to dress and there is not so many choices what to wear because no matter how pretty outfit you have you are still forced to put that same winter coat and skiing trousers on. Now there is more to choose of and dress nicely. 

I love to book a day for floating as I call it. It means I spend the day outdoors wandering mindlessly and exploring the surroundings. Warm summer days are perfect for that. Walking from place to place and taking roads where I have never visited. I might walk quite long distances on floating days. One can float in nature or urban surroundings as I did today. I went to back alleys and empty streets near the end of the town area. Those places are not the most beautiful in the common sense but offer interesting colors, patterns, structures and also beauty in their own way. 

Have you seen Jan Troell's film Everlasting Moments? I should watch it again. It shows wonderfully how photographers eye sees beauty and interesting details everywhere in everyday life. Photographer or not one can learn to see world in a different way but it takes time and concentration. Rushing between places usually makes world to hide all there secret treasures. But slow floating days every now and then bring the magic back. One day we notice how much inspiration has been put on our way when we walk our everyday routes to school, hobbies or work. Things that can inspire us to create and enjoy our environment more. 

Inspiring summer days to you all!


Sunday, 6 May 2018

Timeless Lampshade with A4 Paper

It is always satisfying to make an old thrift store piece look new and interesting. The more common piece is in question the better. White lampshades are everywhere and usually white being a color that gets a bit worn out easily, cast to thrift stores. Classic white lampshade is a wonderful base for a DIY project. So many options to make it fit your style. In this project I used a material that is one of the most common materials of all, white A4 paper. Copy paper might be too thick for this so I chose a paper that is not that heavy and folds easily. A local craft store had a great paper that cost 3,5€ per package of ten papers. I needed two packages so the total cost for the lampshade is under 15€ with the lampshade, papers and glue. You don't need to do that much research to find out how expensive stylish lampshades can be. A new plain white lampshade might cost 50€ to start with. Of course making things yourself is time craving but if you are making this lampshade to yourself and enjoy it for lets say at least next ten years what is a few hours compared to that? 

Crafting is a wonderful way to relax and this simple technique lets your mind rest when making the neat folds. This took about 40 paper pieces to fold so I suggest you divide the work for one or two weeks. You could fold few pieces before going to bed of leaving to work. Also this is something you can do while watching telly or listening to audio book or radio. Some minutes to this project a day and you get it finished quite quickly in the end. 

This lampshade looks beautiful and timeless. It works as a sculpture with or without light in it. Neat folds reflect natural light giving a living surface. When there is light in it the subtle shapes come out in a new way. The look is modern and functions well with many home decor styles from colorful to all white and natural, from classic layered style to minimal. Are your ready with your papers and scissors?

You will need:

A white lampshade
White paper in size A4 (I would suggest you use a bit thinner paper than normal copy paper)
Strong glue that dries quickly
Barbecue skewer (helpful in placing the decorations to the lampshade)

This is how the plain lampshade looked like before the makeover. I bought this lamp from a thrift store and it cost 4€. 

Step 1. Take a ruler and pencil and divide the paper as shown in the picture. Make five columns that are 5 cm wide. Then rule the columns to 0,5 cm stripes. Cut the columns out. Fold the papers according to the marks.

Step 2. Open the folds from both sides of the paper like shown in the picture. Begin to cover the lampshade with paper pieces from the upper side. Glue first the one side of the paper piece to the lampshade and let dry. The spread open the fold and glue the other side. Cover the whole surface with these paper decorations. Depending on the size of your lampshade you might have to cut some pieces a bit smaller to fit to the lampshade on the last row of paper decorations. A barbecue skewer might be useful in placing the decoration when attaching it. 

Lovely spring days to you all! If you are looking for more DIY projects and inspiration visit my DIY page. There you can find out how that black and white curtain makeover with tassels is done or get inspiration and tips for quilt projects!