New World Finn interview


I am thrilled and honoured to have been interviewed for an article in this summer’s issue of the New World Finn magazine, a quarterly journal exploring Finnish culture in the New World, and published in Wisconsin, USA. Katja Maki, also a Finnish-Canadian artist, and who lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario asked me many interesting and sometimes challenging questions. Katja and her sisters Taina and Della are frequent contributors to the magazine as well as being active in many Finnish emigrant gatherings in North America.

Please read the interview here**. The “cover page” has an image one of my favourite works as you can see above. I am enjoying the other articles as well and I hope you will too. The print version will come by snail mail and I understand it will be in black and white. My warmest thanks to both Katja and the publisher Gerry Henkel for featuring me and introducing me to the larger commununity of Finns in North America.

To visitors coming here from the magazine, welcome! I’m a little late posting this as I’ve been away on a short holiday. Feel free to wander and explore the site and to comment and ask questions; your email address will not be posted publicly and you do not have to have a blog to do so. Older posts have comment functions turned off.

New and regular visitors may note that I have a new link called ‘Gallery’ up on the top left of this page. This is my new website to feature my printworks on their own. Though still a work in progress with more works to be uploaded and details to be fine-tuned, I hope you will enjoy it!

UPDATE July 5th, 2013: Katja Maki has posted photos of readers with the print edition of New World Finn. Go look. I can hardly wait for my copy!

UPDATE December 6th, 2013: I happened to notice that the online site for New World Finn has been changed to a nice modern look! The current front page lists several articles so scroll down and find mine as the fourth one down, showing the above ‘cover’ page. I have replaced the former PDF link with the one on this new page.

**UPDATE March 26th, 2015: Sadly this long-time Finnish-American magazine published its final print issue in January 2015. I thought the online versions would remain on the net but those too seem to have since been taken down. Fortunately I still have my own PDF copy of this issue with the interview of me. Please check out the cover page, and pages three and four here: 2013_3c_NWF.

December 6th, 1917


95 years ago today, Finland declared independence from Russia.

Windows with two candles, candles at the graves of former presidents and dead soldiers and a President’s Ball which many watch on television. Even Google honours Finland with the special logo above. Happy Independence Day!

Also 95 years ago today was the Halifax Explosion: Two war ships with explosives collided, the massive explosion killed numerous lives and destroyed part of the City of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

One happy event and one sad event, the former in my birth country and the latter in my adopted country.



December is here already! I love the Finnish name for it: joulukuu.

Yesterday was a most memorable first day of this last month of the year. We attended a wonderful and heart warming memorial service for the mother of friends who had recently passed away at the good age of 90. Paula was a Finnish woman who had emigrated with husband and children at the same time as my family to Winnipeg, Manitoba, just on a different ship. Our families would meet in gatherings of the Finnish community.

The many connections are fascinating: in elementary school days my husband was friends with the eldest boy, and husband’s sister was a close friend of the eldest girl in high school and later. Many years later, I became friends with the youngest daughter when she moved to our neighbourhood here in Vancouver, and one of her daughters was a classmate of one of our girls. And we learned more: their mother was born in the same town as my father, brother and I, and their late father in the same region as my mother, and was possibly a distant cousin. It’s also amazing that almost all of us ended up later in British Columbia.

Most touching about this event was the honouring of their mother’s Finnish culture, with Finnish music such as that of Sibelius, a playing of the kantele, a recitation from the Kalevala accompanied by guitar music composed and played by the eldest son. It was wonderful to reconnect with some of the family we’d not seen for decades, and amazing to feel the pull of our Finnish roots in a joining of the hearts in a time of sorrow.

Added December 4th, 2012: I am slowly going through my almost nine years of archives, fixing various funky errors due to upgrades over the years. I came across this post about my own family’s immigration to Canada. What a coincidence.

month to Christmas

– a locally made replica of a Viking boat in front of the Scandinavian Centre

– the gorgeous stone fireplace in the grand room – note the old wooden skis…

A sunny Sunday! Today we went with two daughters and two granddaughters to one of several popular annual Christmas Craft Fairs at the Scandinavian Center, this one organized by the Finns. Husband bought some pulla and lots of Karelian piirakkas, we even enjoyed some there. We bought hand-made straw ornaments for our trees. I found an exquisite Finnish linen table runner for a dear friend, and some wildly colourful hand knit slipper socks for myself for when insomnia strikes and I wander about at night, read and have sleepytime tea.

Back at home and with the light still good, I took several photos of our granddaughters’ hands holding some of those straw ornaments. I’m going to try making Christmas cards with one of them – wish me luck. I can’t believe it’s a month to Christmas… what a procrastinator am I, every year.

solstice 2012


Reading these words about the annual Juhannus/Midsummer Fest and summer holidays in Finland always make me long to be there:

…the country tends to go on holiday from the Midsummer or Juhannus weekend and Finland is more or less “closed” for the duration. … enjoy the fleeting Finnish summer in peace, eat lots of strawberries, leap into lakes from cottage saunas after a gentle whipping with a birch vihta, go to the festivals large and small that dot the length and breadth of the country, and to return refreshed in late July and August.


I was awake very early this morning, the start of a gorgeous sunny day. It was for me surprisingly very similar to the morning of four years ago, with my very own short and private Juhannus ritual and remembrance, before returning to bed for a little more sleep.

For this I revisited a few of my favourite past midsummer posts, admittedly full of unabashed nostalgia, which a few readers might be interested in:

three midsummer nights in 1983
a midsummer fest in 2009
the longest day

Happy Midsummer or Midwinter! Hauskaa Juhannusta! May it be the start of a wonderful summer in every way.   

Finnish ABCs 2


As mentioned earlier about this old Finnish primer, I became most fascinated by the variety of fonts shown side by side. Imagine a young child just learning the ABCs and beginning to read, also learning to read along with what I would call a regular print text, a German Gothic or fraktur font and a copperplate style script. I used to be able to read the Gothic in my childhood because the Finnish church in Winnipeg had very old hymn books with that font. Now I struggle with some of the letters, though the little tales in this reader really help with context. Hand writing styles surely aren’t that easy for new readers either.

I’ve zoomed in on a few pages of the alphabet itself below, so you can see how complex it all is. Vieraat kirjaimet translates as foreign letters, that is, those not part of the native Finnish alphabet. Aakkoset is alphabet.




(Apologies with the varied colours of each page as I struggled to make the letters appear clearer and sharper.)

I just had to go find my own Finnish Aapinen, printed in 1954, to check out its fonts. The first part of the book has all capital letters, then soon after the small case are introduced along with it. Though there are a few other fonts later in the book, they are all fairly standard and easy to read. One page near the end shows a handwriting exercise on ruled paper like we see even today. Gothic and copperplate were not to be found.

the Finnish language

This sounds most interesting to me. As a member of this organization, I am going to attend and will report back here afterwards. Everyone is welcome of course.
from Canadian Friends of Finland in British Columbia
Added 9:30 pm. Sunday 22nd April:

The lecture was excellent, very informative and fascinating. Ms Elg began in Finnish, so wonderful and rare now to my ear – then switched to English, with a Finnish accent. I often have trouble understanding accents, even Finnish ones but still I was able to catch most of the information along with the help of the slides of language charts and maps. A good turnout and lots of questions throughout and everyone most appreciative.

Ms Elg described the Finnish language program at the University of Washington, one of many universities around the world that teach Finnish as I found out earlier.

I am poorly versed in the academic study of language and its structure and terms so hope I explain this correctly. The Finnish language is ‘synthetic’ or mostly agglutinating as opposed to ‘analytic’. What that means is that It modifies and inflects the forms of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs, depending on their roles in the sentence. (thanks wikipedia). An interesting simple example she used was with the word:
talo – a house
talo/ssa – in a house
talo/ssa/ni – in my house
talo/ssa/ni/kin – in my house too (4 words)
So, one word replaces many words in the equivalent English and many other languages. Some words can be from 6 to 10 cases. Hungarian can have up to 24 cases!

The study of language can aid in the study of racial genetics. In the case of the Basque, they are a unique language and people unrelated to any other, never mixed. Not so with the Finns, it seems. They have lived in Finland up to 6000 years. Other peoples came in later at different times from east, southeast, south and west and blended genes and language, mostly along the coastal regions but not much in the north. (See more about the Finno-Ugric peoples in wikipedia.)

What I don’t understand is how the study of languge can determine its age. For example the oldest Finnish word kala (fish) is 6000 years old. Loan words have been dated to reveal the periods of movement by different groups into Finland. Very personal words like äiti (mother), which came from German less than 1000 years ago (a surprise to us all), reveal close relationships like marriage and children. Yet that word is not currently in the German language.

A brief mention was made of a controversial theory presented by Professor Emeritus Kalevi Wiik of the University of Turku in Finland. He argues that Finno-Ugrian languages may originally have been spoken by the whole of northern Europe, that it may be Europe’s oldest language. More about his theories here or his home page in Finnish.

So much more but I’ll leave it at that! No definitive answers but interesting food for thought on our language, where we came from and who we mixed with. This has been a wonderful addition to my readings over the years and to the numerous links, many in Finnish, which I’ve gathered here and there.

Finnish ABCs




When I found my mother’s old Finnish cookbook, with it was a little aapinen, a Finnish ABC book or primer. A sad little thing without a cover, unlike this one, so I don’t know when it was published, possibly in the 1940s. I don’t recall if it was one of my books. Next time I will show you more pages of the fascinating fonts.

a Finnish cookbook-2

a look inside my mother’s old cookbook:

some pages on cake making

a handwritten recipe on a blank page – a naughty habit of mine as well

many loose bits of paper inserted throughout, some with handwritten recipes and some clippings from newspapers – also my habit

traces of a child’s colouring with crayon – mine? my little brother’s?

Why do I find such beauty in disintegrating paper?

a Finnish cookbook




This was my mother’s beloved cookbook, a 1948 edition, which came with her on our emigration to Canada many decades ago now. After her passing, I have kept it all these years safely tucked away. I’ve thought of photographing this well-worn artifact many times, especially after doing so with the similarly disintegrated English-Finnish dictionary.

As I wrote about that dictionary, this cookbook was in some ways also:
an immigrant’s tool, an almost-bible, a book of days
a history of heartache, homesickness, hope and a new home

I was recently re-inspired to finally do this when daughter Elisa asked for a certain favourite family recipe which she wished to post in the spring quarterly of her newsletter. (If interested you may request it from her!) I may put up a few more photos of the book’s interior in another post.

Remembered and added next day:
my beloved worn book of Grimm’s fairytales in Finnish
and my first Finnish alphabet book

Added later: Please visit part 2 for views inside the cookbook