13-20 January 2002
13 January 2002, Sunday
Hi/low 3°C/0°C (37°F/32°F)
We have learned that many people in Finland have allergies to milk
products or gluten; also many are vegetarians. This can create a
challenge for the hostess. Today we invited Kate, Marja, Chester, Outi
and Sami to join us for our evening meal. My solution for the vegetarians’
menu was to cook a mushroom-spinach quiche and a Quiche Lorraine using
lactose-free cheese and milk for the others. It seemed to work out well.
Chester was happy to be able to call his cousins in the U.S.A using
dialpad.com before dinner.
During dinner we had great conversations sharing our views about
why children are acting out in certain ways in the States, South Africa
and in Finland. We talked about using common sense when walking about
and the feelings of safety in the different countries. I am gradually
feeling quite safe when walking through Ainola Park even when it is
still dark in the mornings. Russia was also a topic, since we plan
to join the university tour to
at the end of March. Sami had sent us the flyer for this
trip since he works at Oulu Polytecnic.
14 January 2002, Monday
Hi/low 5°C/3°C (41°F/37°F)
I realized that I have had two weeks during which my teaching time
table was not changed in any way. Wow, unbelievable! One always goes with
the flow, you adapt when there is change, but it did feel great not
having any interruptions and I accomplished a lot more in the classroom .
I started my “sound unit” for Environmental Science, so in Crafts we started
to make our rhythm instruments out of recyclable materials. We made shakers
with paper plates and popcorn, pan pipes from drinking straws cut to different
lengths and a strumming instrument out of Styrofoam meat dishes and rubber
bands. We also made “telephones” from two cans and string. Some students
used plastic cups. We found that plastic cups worked better. The kids had
so much fun they all wanted to take them home that day. Next week we will
start playing our instruments in rhythm to different types of music.
I had planned to start my ice skating unit for P.E. but, when
we had our warming trend with the temperatures above freezing,
our ice rink had a layer of water on the top – so our skating was
postponed. Well, here was an opportunity to tie my sound/music unit
to P.E. by starting Folk Dancing. I taught the Virginia Reel and
the Mexican Hat Dance. They learned the dances quickly and had a great time.
18 January 2002, Friday
Hi/low -4°C/-7°C (25°F/197°F)
Fulbright Weekend in
We left Oulu at 1415 and arrived at Sandra’s around 1820 – a four-hour
drive with one pit stop and road food along the way to keep us alert and
awake. The roads were clear without much traffic. John has become the
chauffeur, until spring, since I do not feel comfortable driving in the icy weather.
Sandra had a great chicken rice casserole ready. Jennifer, Marie-Camille,
Rheda and Elisabeth were already there, so we ate right away, since John
and Sandra had to leave to pick up Dave and Lori at the train station.
When we were all together, we celebrated several birthdays – Mary Ann’s
(28 Nov.), Sandra’s (2 Jan.), John’s (7 Jan.), Rheda’s (19 Jan.) and Dave’s
(2 Feb.). We sang Happy Birthday in English and Finnish. The Ass Kickin’
store in Tampere came through again with the cake mix and frosting! You
cannot find cake mixes in Finland. The cake was so moist – yummy – what a treat!
There were conversations all around the room. We hadn’t seen each other
since early December in Helsinki at the Fulbright Christmas Party and
almost everyone else had gone home to the States for the Christmas holidays.
We had stayed in Oulu and Elisabeth had gone to
Denmark to join her aunt and cousin.
We heard the details of Jennifer’s being able to stay in Finland to
complete her Fulbright experience instead of having to return early to Iowa.
Around 2300 everyone was slowing down so we began getting ready for bed.
19 January 2002, Saturday
Happy Birthday Rheda!
We started gathering around the table for breakfast around 0900. At
1000 we headed into Jyväskylä
proper to visit the Aalto Alvar Museum (he is
considered the most significant architect, sculptor and furniture designer
in Finland’s history) and then on to the Museum of Central Finland. After
a few hours at the museums we went to lunch.
John and Dave went to the
Aviation Museum of Central Finland
in Tikkakoski, about ten kilometers north.
We finished lunch and headed to a small mall. The guys picked us
up around 1500 to go back to Sandra’s house to get ready for a party starting
She had invited many of her colleagues from school and her neighbors
to meet the Fulbright teachers. Sandra had prepared meatballs and Rheda, the
Socorro Salsa Queen, made her
award-winning New Mexico salsa. I copied the recipe and cannot wait to try it.
John and Dave were the greeters and coat checkers. Elisabeth had the guests
write their name on a slip of paper to later match people as partners. The
rest of us were ready to introduce ourselves and converse as the guests arrived.
After all the guests had arrived, Sandra shared that three pairs of partners
would play a game of Uno for candy awards to be given out at the end. The Americans
explained the game to any Finns that had never played Uno. After two hands the
next round of players would come to the table. It took five rotations for everyone
to get a chance to play. Our low point winners were Rheda and Raija. Sandra’s
goal was to get everyone visiting in groups with both Finns and Americans.
She succeeded. Every once in a while I would stand back and just watch or
listen to the wonderful conversations.
Sandra’s party was such a success due to her wonderful planning and organization.
Everyone had been apprehensive about playing games, but you should have heard
the laughter coming from the game table. The game table also meant that the
conversation groups broke up and reformed, as new players went to the game
table. The party didn’t even start to break up until midnight. What a grand
way to get to know and appreciate the Finnish people. After an easy cleanup,
we were in bed around 0115.
20 January 2002, Sunday
Lightly snowing, low of -18°C (0°F)
Most of us were up around 0900. John took Rheda and Jennifer to the train at
1100. We had a leisurely breakfast, looked at each other’s photos and shared
some of our travel plans for the next five months, then started packing the car.
We took Marie-Camille, Elisabeth, Lori and Dave to the bus station at 1300 and
then headed north to Oulu.
Sights on the way home to Oulu:
It was so impressive to see scenery along E75 at two different times of the year.
We had seen the colorful birch trees, lovely pines and large lakes when we
visited Tampere in October. Now, what a contrast, for in winter the birch
trees were bare with their wonderful white trunks and frosty branches showing.
The pines were heavily laden with recent snow and the lakes were completely
frozen over. In fact, on one lake there were cars driving across!
Note from John:
I'm beginning to prefer snow over rain. It is dry and far easier
to drive in than rain. The windshield stays clear as the snow blows
by. Heated seats make getting in a cold car more bearable although
some people put electric heaters, on timers like the engine water heaters,
in their cars.