Maiju’s Teacup 28/9/2017 – The Truth About Pumpkins

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So, I know this must shock some of you, but when I think about Autumn, I do not automatically think about pumpkins.

I hear you gasp. It’s true. When I think about Autumn, I think of lingonberries and mushrooms and rain. And the creeping darkness that quickly stops creeping and, after the first proper windstorm has carried away all the bright leaves, takes over the scenery and continues until the snows come.

The halloween-pumpkin-bat-autumn combination has arrived in Finland during my adulthood, so obviously, my mind wanders into the forests and bogs covered with lingonberry and cranberry tussocks when the leaves turn yellow.

An Instagram friend recently asked, when is the peak Autumn here. ‘Syyskuu’ is September in Finnish and it literally translates to ‘Autumn month’. So we are at the end of the period now (though this year the whole year has been off-kilter and all the trees are not yet yellow). October is ‘lokakuu’ which literally translates to ‘sleet or mud month’, which is pretty accurate. It’s getting darker and darker and before the snow arrives (closer to Yule, if we’re lucky), it’s going to be dark and cold and miserable. Each day is shorter than the next.

This is, of course, the perfect excuse to huddle up under a blanket and drink tea. And on the weekends, to pack a few rye sandwiches (with pickled cucumber, for some reason) and a thermos of hot cocoa, and head to the forest with a bucket and a berry-picking rake. Afterwards you can make your own juices and jams. And when the yard-raking bee comes around, there will be lingonberry pie for all.

That’s another Finnish thing, though not only restricted to Autumn. A friend in Australia told me that they have similar things, and there they’re called communal bees. It’s basically a weekend or one day of the weekend, when everyone living in the same yard or building takes part in raking the yard of leaves and tidying up the surroundings. The people who don’t have time or the energy to do the work will usually bring something to eat. The communal bee is usually a whole day or a weekend, and you can take part whenever you have time. And afterwards, everyone goes to sauna.

So, though I’ve grown partial to chili-butternut squash soup in the recent years and would consider a toast without zucchini jam a lost opportunity, if someone presented me with a pumpkin, I wouldn’t know what to do about it (though I’d know who to ask ūüėČ ).

And in the photo at the head of this post is a bowl of vispipuuro, whipped berry porridge. An immovable part of Autumn cuisine. It’s made of berries, farina and sugar. Before the word meaning the colour purple was brought into Finnish, it was called berry porridge colour.

This is just a snippet of the Finnish Autumn for you!

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Maiju’s Teacup 25/9/2017 – Stealing a Street

I have been drinking tea. Lots of it. But except for a trip to a friend’s place, my teahabits of late have been dull dull dull… This photo is from Teeleidi teahouse I visited with said friend and the pictured brew was a delicious Oolong Tie Kuan Yin.
I’m lying in bed and for some reason started to think about a story on Readers Digest that I read many years ago. Soooo many years, because the Reader’s Digest was at my grandmother’s and she died over 20 years ago.

The story was about a thief or a group of thieves who stole the cobbles off a whole street in the night. I can only remember it was somewhere in Germany,  maybe.

I’ve no idea why I’m thinking about it just now. I really can’t even remember reading a Reader’s Digest ever since. Tried to figure some kind of symbolism that would have brought in to my mind but can’t come up with anything.  Unless it’s a suggestion for a career move.

Maybe it’s something as dull as “you can do anything if you put your mind to it”. Blehh….

Going to sleep now.

Maiju’s Teacup 22/8/2017 – Gravity¬†

Those days are the worst. The days when gravity just grabs hold of me and even getting up to drink a glass of water seems like a Herculean task. 

And the worst part isn’t that helplessness. The worst part is the fear that I might not be able to shake the feeling for – oh I don’t know – the next few years.

I count myself as lucky that my depression was caused by the circumstances that were piling up in my life. And that there was something concrete that I could do, once I’d recovered enough to have the strength to do it.

The last year has been pretty amazing. I remember lying on the sofa in my living room one day, reading a book and chuckling at it one day. Laughter by yourself is such an underrated luxury. It’s only when I thought it lost that I could appreciate it. But laugh I did.

Yesterday was not good. The sunk feeling is so recognisable still that I was afraid my brain was returning to the old pattern and I could do nothing about it. That those neural paths were stuck again, and I wasn’t sure if I had the strength to dig myself out this time.

Today is better. I can only guess why I felt like that again yesterday. Maybe it was as simple as leaving the island for the summer (the photo is my last cup of tea on the terrace on Sunday). Or maybe something else. But realising that I somehow don’t feel like that today makes me feel even stronger.

Maiju’s Teacup 3/8/2017 – Another Island

I’m staying at my uncle’s place for a few days in South Western Finland. I’m on an island, again, but there are landbridges to this one.

I’m looking after my aunt and uncle’s two dogs. One of the is old and sick. The other one is in his prime and we went for a run.


So the scenery isn’t too bad. There are fields and woods and huge rock formations and big houses, even a manor house.

 I drank a cup of my night time tea and now I’m very drowsy and forgot what I was going to write…

Maiju’s Teacup 30/6/2017

This June hasn’t really been very interesting tea-wise.  I’m on One Stone Island, a tiny strip of rocks in the Vaasa Archipelago aka Kvarken and I’m drinking Darjeeling First Flush for breakfast and then Clipper’s Assam in the afternoon. The island has no running water  (or electricity) so I try to minimise the need for washing teapots  (the seawater is cold).

My reading has been more interesting. I read 8 of Jaqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs novels. I got addicted to them and struggled to take a break. Today I finished reading Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London. I’ve read the first two books several years ago but I have to admit I remembered only bits and pieces on the second read. I have 4 books of the series now and the library might have more.

The treat I’ve been waiting for has been Tad Williams’ The Heart of what was Lost. I requested the book from the library already several months ago, but didn’t have time to read it then. Also,  I was a bit apprehensive. I first finished reading the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series (omg) over 20 years ago (omg omg). How would it feel to step back into Often Ard  again? I have re-read the books after that but I still associate it with my teenage years as it was the second long fantasy series I ever read (first one was LotR).

It is kinda weird but only because a few weeks have passed in Osten Ard  while I’ve turned from a teenage dreamer to a mid-thirties woman. I’m getting teary eyed every time Simon or Miriamele or anyone at all that was in the first series is mentioned, let alone steps on the page. I have such vivid memories of reading the series for the first time.

And now I will remember how the rowan blooms snowed around me when I sat on the terrace, reading. Older, still a dreamer.

Maiju’s Teacup 24/4/2017

Ginseng oolong in the pot earlier today.

I’m actually already lying in bed and thinking about Hogwarts houses and how there’s a word missing from language. 

I escaped Twitter because there’s some sort of tweevent going on at the Pottermore Twitter in which the Forbidden Forest plays a big part and also big hairy spiders. I’m phobic about big hairy spiders. I don’t mind little hairy ones (unless I see them in a photo where they look huge) or even big hairless ones. When I worked in a bookshop, there was a children’s book about animals that had a tarantula on one edge of the cover. I startled many a customer by screaming and throwing the book across the shop. I do it instinctively, before my brain kicks in.
At the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio there was Aragog in the ceiling and my friends warned me about it but it was next to a hippogriff so I went and peeked  and ran to Diagon Alley in panic. It seemed like the staff at Diagon Alley were used to calming hysterical arachnophobes.

I digress. As I was still dodging Pottermore tweets I had a short conversation with a friend just about to which Hogwarts house we belonged to. I’m a Hufflepuff. I love being a Hufflepuff. I’m very proud of it. When Pottermore changed I took the Sorting Hat quiz again and it put me in Slytherin. Luckily I remembered my old username for the old version of the site so I could claim back my Hufflepuffity (Huffelpuffance?). About a year later I took another quiz which claimed to be the ultimate foolproof Sorting Hat quiz. It would have put me in Ravenclaw.

I am a big fan of Oh Witch Please podcast. It’s a podcast that looks at the world of Harry Potter  (books, films, irl Quidditch, games etc) from the point of view of narrative theory and feminism. It’s so good and so much fun. If you haven’t listened to it, do yourself a favour and do it now. Or rather after reading this post. 

On the podcast the hosts (or whaddoyoucallem) discuss the different Hogwarts houses and point out that if you sent your own kids to school, you’d only want them to be in Hufflepuff. Because, let’s be real, who wants their kids to learn that you only get into the in-crowd if you have a certain personality trait defined by a conjuror a thousand years ago. Like really. 

So yeah. I’ve been thinking about this and though Hufflepuff doesn’t discriminate anyone, I feel like that’s the feature that sets it apart from the rest of the houses.

‘Suvaitsevaisuus’ is a Finnish word that could be translated into ‘tolerance’. But tolerance has that nasty tang of there being something to tolerate, someone who decides, someone who is the authority and who says: you’re different but I will tolerate that and that somehow raised me above you.

I wish there was a word that suited it better. I guess ‘acceptance’ is another with more neutral connotations.

I’m not explaining this very well. Anyway. Accepting and appreciating people as they are has always been the most important thing for me. The only kind of people I do not appreciate are those who are not ‘tolerant’.

So. To conclude. I guess what I’m getting at that this is why I’m a Hufflepuff. Forever.

I’m going to go to sleep now.

Maiju’s Teacup 1/4/2017

Today’s pot of red Oolong is Feng Huang Dan Cong. In its second steep. It says on the package to last 4-5 steeped but the second one was already a bit weak. Maybe I’ll increase water temperature….

I had a terrible case of the NOs today. Apparently it’s PMS… Camp NaNoWriMo started too and after a shaky start, I made it to today’s word target.

After I’d written I made pizza and found out Finnish national tv had Planet Earth 2 on their service. It’s just beautiful!!!  We should show it to  Vogons before they destroy the planet to make way for the intergalactic freeway…

Now I’m off to bed to read some Middlemarch even though the vet pronounced that the cat is healthy now. I’m just associating the book with the sick cat…