Lazy Days

It has been wonderful eight weeks on vacation and I still have two more to go. I see my students writing on Facebook that they have nothing to do and it’s soooo booooring. Maybe they’ll be happy when the school starts in two weeks (yeah, sure, who am I kidding?)
For me vacation time is completely different from working time. In my job I have to follow a very tight schedule, being on time for break duty is very important and being on time for class as well, there have been cases where teachers have been sued by parents when they haven’t been on time and something has happened. It gets very stressful to follow such a tight schedule and it feels like nothing happens without a specific time set for it. During my holidays I make a point of not wearing a watch at all and hiding my calendar in the back of my desk drawer. During the last two years I’ve used an electronic calendar in my phone, and whenever I need to be somewhere, my iphone gives me a a go with a beep. When I still used a paper calender it often happened that I didn’t remember to check it often enough. Now I feel like a robot getting electric impulses to do things. On the other hand, it gives me the opportunity to focus on other things than my calendar. In some way I feel like it gives me more freedom to concentrate on the content of my work, on the interaction with students and other teachers and as a result maybe also on enjoying the ride.
In jobs like mine getting balance for the tight work schedule is very important. Spending timeless time, forgetting which day it is and not caring about what the time is seems like therapy for me, and makes me feel like a completely different person. Time is after all something that we people have invented and being so fussy about it is something that we have decided to do ourselves. Well, I have to admit that making everything work in a school of 800 students would not work without schedules and watches and rules. But being able to do that in the summer is heaven. Now that my sons are not toddlers anymore they can come up to me and tell me when they need something, when we’re hungry we’ll eat, when the sun shines we’ll swim, when we’re tired we’ll sleep. Teaching my sons to enjoy each moment as it is seems like an important thing to do for me, and summer is the best time to practice it.

Moment Before Sunset

There is an incomprehensible heat wave in Finland at the moment. It’s been only during the last few years that this has happened and people are still not prepared. There are hardly any houses with proper air-conditioning in this country, however, most people have started to purchase heat-pumps in their houses in the recent years.

When I was a kid we used to be able to swim in the sea only once or twice a year. By midsummer the ice had probably melted but still you’d have to be a very tough person to plunge in. I remember doing that once on a school trip in May, and the water was so cold I couldn’t breathe and I was sure I was going to die. I was quite a tomboy and I did it because I didn’t wat to lose face in front of the boys – at the age of 11 – but to tell you the truth it was sheer madness – something to remember for the rest of my life. In the mid 80s the summers were mild in Northern Finland. Now about a quarter of a century later Southern Finland has five months of house-sized snow piles and five months of heat wave. This year, during the first 10 days of June the day temperature has been around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very unusual.

As a teacher May is always a very stressful and busy time, and so it was this year also. I had to put all my energy in marking and grading and unfortunately I missed a lot of great art posts during that time. I’ve been trying to catch up now that my ten-week vacation has finally started. First I thought I could just take it easy and sleep endlessly, but it was only the first day of my vacation when I got email from a gallerist in Helsinki asking me to participate in group show in July. I haven’t done any marketing, so it came totally out of the blue, she had found me on this site which is my profile in the site of the Nature Photographers of Finland. The gallery is located in the center of the design district in Helsinki and I was told I could bring nine middle sized (50x80cm) images, so naturally I really have to take this opportunity even though I wasn’t prepared for it financially. Making prints that size on aluminum is quite costly. I’ve decided now that I will make only one such print per image, so that the ones that I make will be unique works of art.

The exhibition is called Moment Before Sunset and the gallery is called Galleria Ferin You can find it in downtown Helsinki (Yrjönkatu 11). There will also be works by Kaija Elo (watercolors), Ulla Repo (paintings), Riitta Keski-Panula Larsson (paintings), Anja Oasmaa (watercolors), Leena Tähtinen (watercolors), Krista Partti (watercolors) Heli Vilmi (photography) and Soile Iivonen (sculptures). All women as you probably noticed if you know Finnish first names. I tried to find some link for each artist, hopefully you’ll see at least some of their works in the links. I hope you will be able to visit the exhibition, the gallery is open Mon-Fri 11 am – 6 pm, Sat-Sun noon – 4 pm from July 12 to July 31. Helsinki is a beautiful city to visit in July. As you can see in the map, it’s surrounded by sea and there are ferries going to the near-by islands all day long.

Oh, and by the way, I have also opened a posterous site to post others’ works as well. Hope you enjoy the pictures I share there. Happy weekend! I think I need to plunge into the sea very soon…

Adventure Is a State of Mind

People always say that they learn new things from my blog posts, I guess being a teacher is something so deeply rooted in me that I keep doing it in my free time as well. But also the need to learn is what drives me to find out more about things. In my opinion that is what being an adventurer is all about. Going off to an adventure can be that you fly off to an Amazonian jungle, but it can also be in your immediate surroundings if you keep your eyes and ears open – and most of all if your are curious and open for new experiences.

When I was exploring the beautiful Finnish archipelago today I met a local manor owner who was walking his dog on the sea. The ice on the sea is so thick at this time of the year that you can even drive a car on it. Walking, skiing and snowmobile riding on the ice are very popular pastimes among the locals as you can imagine. The man had a very cute and playful young German shepherd and while I was playing with the dog he told me stories about the manor houses that we could see all around us. One of the manor estates in the area is on the market at the moment for 3.5 million euros. It has belonged to the same family for centuries, but now it will be sold for someone outside the family. Another manor house accross the bay was destroyed in a fire and couldn’t be restored because of the lacking insurance. Now there is another house where it used to be, but the same family still live there. Nowadays, most of these old estates are protected, so that you are not allowed to alter the buildings even if you own them.

One thing that I found myself constantly admiring was how rural the landscape can be even though you’re just a 20 minute drive from the capital city. Horses were grazing around in the snow and I had to stop and wait on the road while the cows were let to cross the road from their shed to the pasture. I also had a pleasure of getting to know a cute pony called Cherry.

So my walk in the archipelago today turned out to be quite an adventure. When I came back home it felt like I had been in a totally different place and brought back lots of new experiences and thoughts. That is what I call adventure.