Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

pics of the engagement are up; just click the finnish pics to the right. returning has been an interesting transition, especially trying to find employment for the few months i'm here. fortunately it looks like my old job will take me back and hopefully i'll be starting sometime next week. in the meantime i've been taking in my fill of college football [GO SC!!!] and remembering how much i love this sport; if you followed the last game at all then you'll know why all my finger nails are missing.
also, i'm training for the whisketown adventure race, which will give me something to do while i'm in so cal. this weeks training of 17m on the bike and 3 on foot wasn't too bad so the team of myself, loren palmer, ernie hernandez and my sis should be able to pull it off. leena will be here to witness our attempt at the race [which is in 4 weeks]. we got our work cut out for us as the race will be 10mile of running, 10 biking (all on trail) and 6 paddling all while navigating with map and compass.
right now i'm taking suggestions for a team name; apparently the name i picked has negative connotations (thanks aunt rocio and mark). as always feel free to leave any comments, check out the new pics and gimme a call or hit me up on facebook while i'm in town for the next few months.
'do work'

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

home sweet home

so i'm back now in sunny southern california; or it would be sunny if not for all the smoke that hangs in the air from the wild fires that's driving my allergies insane, but i suppose thats the least one can deal with when the real men are out there fighting them.
sorry for not posting anything over the past weeks but it has been quite a wild ride. alas, its been a long, tiring and fun filled journey back home. it began with my flight from helsinki to miami where i spent a day running around the city trying to fill a barrel of treats to have shipped for my mother's return to the island of dominica (enjoy ma!). next i flew to denver for a short trip with my sister where we walked all over denver and boulder and did a few short hikes in the rocky mountains. from here we again flew together to las vegas to meet up with dad and mom and freinds. after a few days we drove home where i was able to pack for a few hours before hitting the road for a freinds wedding in oregon. i dropped my sis off at her place in san francisco, stayed the night and shared dim sum for lunch before ensuing on my 10 hr drive up to salem [i highly recommend the drive from redding to oregon boarder on the 5 if you have yet to do it, the beauty gets me everytime].
oregon was great. it was amazingly fulfulling to hang out with great freinds and be a part of my freind steve's wedding. i made my way back to so cal with some friends and we cut away from the 5 to drive through and sleep in the redwoods, which was a great time despite how long and windy the 101 and highway1 are. and finally after 2 weeks i made it to good ol' covina early monday morning.
now that i'm home i feel slightly removed and relieved, but i have a mission. if you haven't received the news yet: leena and i are engaged! so i will be here in covina until january when i make the move out finland.
for now my mission is to find work and payoff the credit card and spend time with my beloved family and friends. thanks for tuning into this wild journey.
pics from a road trip to norway leena and i took [well, mostly leena] can be viewed if you click the 'finnish pics' to the right. engagement pics will be up soon. God bless you all

Friday, July 3, 2009

planning the 'scandinavian roadtrip'

last weekend was quite amazing as we visited leena's old stompin grounds. first we visited her college town where we were able to catch a few bands at the jazz fest and saw a finnish cover band that gave tribute to the late great king of pop (who knew finns had soul). then we went to a lighthouse-restaurant-hotel run by amazing people (suvi and tom, you guys are amazing!) where leena formerly worked. last summer tom teasingly prophesied that leena would meet and fall in love with some american while on her trip and...well, here i am. so we went and visited suvi, tom and the lighthouse where leena spent the previous 2 summers of her life. what an incredible place; the entire concept is just genius, great food, quaint accomodations and the best scenery of the famous finnish archipelago (its a large chain of islands). they let us borrow a kayak and we paddled about 30minutes to another island that was equipped with 3 huge cannons left over from when it was used as a former naval base in the WW2 era. before paddling back to the lighthouse we met an older gentlemen with a passion for rocks who fashioned leena a pendent before i could mispronounce more of his language. the lighthouse is in the pics but for better ones click here.
this week has flown by and been a little more calm; its included less shoveling, more work inside the summer cottages and we've been prepping for this two week roadtrip we're taking off for tomorrow morning. so the plan is to drive up the eastern border of finland stop off at a handful of national parks (including this one that made in NG click here), spending a few days in norway to see the ice sea and then heading back down south via the western border and stoppin off in sweden along the way. iäm excited and excited and begining to miss the conveniences of the states like free refilss, fast food and heavily hopped beer...(sigh) i'm hungry...more next time
[this weeks photos can be found by clicking the 'my finnish summer' photo to the right. enjoy]

Friday, June 26, 2009

i did mention in the last post that they refer to this place as a village right? yes, a village and of course with that there comes small town fun. last week was mid-summer, something the scandinavians call juhannus. usually this holiday is celebrated with a koko(bonfire) and more makara(sausage)and alcohol than your stomach can hold; thankfully this juhannus lacked none of that. leena invited some freinds over along with her brother and cousin leea and of course that meant sauna time (which i hear is a finnish summer pastime and this was my second of what ended up being 4 before the week ended). after bbq and sauna it was time to go see the koko, and man, you never seen a bonfire like this: it was about 15+ feet wide and about 6 tall and didnt stop smoldering until a few days ago. awesome, just awesome really; something about a large fire like that, lots of people and a beer in hand brings out primordial caveman instincts and i felt like tom hanks in castaway. so i resisted any urge to hit leena over the head and drag her away to my cave, but could not resist to bbq our chocalte bananas, this however had to be done with a 4ft stick and i had to take my glasses off before heading into the fire so they didnt melt on my face (leea youre brave, and yes, i still have my eyebrows).
however one of the best parts about this day was sampo. sampo is one of the village youth that helps hannu out on the farm and fixes everyones motorcycle when they need it. well, when everyone had been around the fire for about 30 minutes or so and it was a blazing, rip-roaring inferno sampo rumbles down the road in fashion that only a 10 cylinder diesel powered tractor can: loud rough and heavy. everyone turns around to see sampo pull the tractor and trailer to a skidding halt about 30ft from the koko and jump out. 3 of his freinds hop out of the trailer and he blops down a small circular charcoal bbq and starts up his sausage. hilarious. i cheered. others cheered. i never wanted to be 16 again more in my life (along with every other man that saw sampo). sampo, you are my heroe this week.
well the next morning i finally got to play this finnish game (which name i cannot pronounce correctly, which got me into trouble and ill write later about that) that is played like bowling (but with small logs, of course) and scored a bit like darts. sweet huh? and i won! well, later in the afternoon leena and i went to her mom's cabin where we ate more, played more games, had another sauna and went to sleep. the next morning (this is where i tell about this weeks blunder...well, one of them) we are all eating at the table, and ya know how some languages if you pronounce a word wrongly it can mean a complete other word? same here; the finnish language just has some letters that i cannot pronounce for the life of me. so i casually ask leena 'are you ready for morning ____?' and she looks at me like 'really? (pause...) who told you to say that?' and her mom is chuckling in the background (leena later laughed too). apparently i said the name of the log game wrong and it came out to the equivalent of 'are you ready for morning cock (not chicken)?'...(sigh) so my understanding of finnish profanity continues and this time without hannu's help.

been a pretty active week, but if you know me well enough i always have some ideas in my head. sometime last week we made it out for orienteering. orienterring (since some of you are wondering) is a short race (from 1-4miles) in which you are given a map with points on it that need to be found with a compass navigational skills. sweet huh? (if i didnät explaing good enough click here) unfortunately, my navigational skills are not as good as i thought and in finland children are appartently born with a compass in hand, so leena burned me and i could see little knee-high orienteers passing me up all the time. i eventually wanted to smash my compass and walk away, but thanks to the undying patience and love of leena i finished the course and will go back to 'fight another day' once more.
this week we made it out to kayak in one of the local bays in a city called inkoo and borrowed keijo's canoe last night for a short trip that will begin the training we wish to do for our trip at the next of next week.

factoid: smoked fish, who knew it could be so easy (and tasty). i now have a summer ambition to build an outdoor grill and smoker; we'll see.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

perspective: i äm currently in the village where leena grew up, a small village named karstu at a lattitude of about 60 and a longitude of roughly 24. Los Angeles is at 34, -118. i say this because if you were to travel down the world at the same distance i traveled here you'd land somewhere close to cairo, egypt or off the coast of crete (depending on calculations). if you were to travel straight up from l.a. to the same latitude as karstu you'd end up in the very similar climate of the northwest territories of canada (where there is less than 0.1% person per sq mile. interesting huh.

factoids: somehow, listening to 'abba' just seems right around here, and sauerkraut can be very tasty if sauteed with honey (i just had some at a bee farmer's house, amazing)

Friday, June 19, 2009

apologies for the procrastination, but i guess ive been caught up in this reality tv show called life; seriously. comedy, drama, action; the past few days has had it all.
to begin with, how much trouble could one get into on a farm? well a lot, and one of the things i managed to do had quite a bit of the flavor of the show 'jackass' (which i love to watch so much). well sometime last week i was diligently lofting weeds into a wheel barrels when i managed to stab my own foot with the pitchfork...dont worry mom, didnt need stitches, but man it hurt like a b*tch! what was just as ironic was that i did it at the same time a woman from the state was here to monitor leena's dad's work safety! thankfully she was inside at the time and didnt here the shouting and profanities that came out when i stuck myself.
and i suppose i intentionally left out the following story of farmhouse hazing, but was somehow reminded of it this week. so, the first day of work here i put on the blue pair of dickies i just purchased from the thrift store before i left home. the perfect work pants right? hilariously leena says that they're too nice for work, so i think whatever, ok. the work pants she says are out in the barn, so i take a stroll out to the barn to put on 'work pants' and her dad sees me in my boxers and gives me this look like "what the hell are you doing? dumbass american" and smiles while leena is laughing (thanks tyttö, really).
well iäm being called upon to make lunch. midsummer holiday today, guests and stuff. the sun has been setting at about 10pm but twilight now until about 1am and supposed to be longer tonight. its cool, but hard to sleep in.
more later. pics in the link below:
this weeks PHOTOS