Monday, 20 May 2019

Lisbon Streets: Colours, Fonts and Patterns

Perfection is difficult to put in words. Lisbon has it's own kind of character that roots back in country's multicultural history and fearless attitude in mixing influences from different eras of time. The city is not a museum that would preserve it's old buildings from modern day life. It was enlightening to see a mural or finely finished graffiti on an old wall or spot these colourful pieces of art in a scenery that's profile has been the same for centuries. 

When I visited in modern and contemporary art museums the same way of thinking was present in the philosophy of curating exhibitions. Discussion was the key of interpreting these exhibitions that offered a way of seeing and thinking that connects different time layers. Old objects offered a background to understand what we have today and how they connect to art of the last decades. Old and new works were mixed together so that it was possible to dive into a stream of thoughts where people with same kind of visual world interact without the boundaries that result from short human lives that don't meet. I think to preserve what is dear through taking it as a part of everyday life and new phenomenons is the most fruitful way. 

Colours that are present everywhere in Lisbon were one of the main reasons to travel to the city. The whole city was full of combinations one bolder the other. Might not be a surprise that I am totally in love with strong colours that do not apologize or try to be neutral. Might be a good idea to take watercolours, fabrics and embroidery yarns from the storage once a again and begin to go through what combinations would work in quilts. There was such an overload of colour I felt like I was bathing both in sunlight and colours. One night I couldn't sleep and I came up with a new pattern idea I draw instantly to my sketch book. The trip was inspiring in many ways and it will take time to unravel all that has been stored inside my head during those two weeks in Lisbon.

My souvenirs from the trip were mainly untangible; ideas and inspiration. When I dragged my luggage from railway station to home I passed my neighbour. After telling him where I had been he asked me what I had learned on my trip. I said that mainly it was all about colours that I brought with me. When I pondered more about the question at home I came up with plenty of things that I had not known before I traveled to Lisbon. 

Learning is one of the leading thoughts about travel if we look back history and for example grand tours. Nowadays we do walk through places and museums that are meant to teach us something. Now that I had the privilege to stay a bit longer than just few days I had the possibility to stop and think through what I heard and saw. Because I live here in Finland and Northern Europe the issues that are up in the news and daily discussions are mainly concentrated on topics that relate this area or that are brought up as internationally meaningful. The perspective is very narrow and leaves out many topics. In Lisbon I got to look Europe from other perspective and it was good to hear what are current issues in Portugal. Also IndieLisboa film festival took place in the same weeks I was in the city and I got a chance to see movies that I might not otherwise see. 

Even if we are living in globalized world still what is around us is local in a way, algorithms see where we live and who with and use that knowledge to optimize content to us so that it is not possible to see outside the box. When I made searches what to see and experience in Lisbon I got the same lists of sights, museums and places. I could have visited those key places virtually; Find out more about Belem Tower for example. But without the ground knowledge that can be gained in a place by following the discussions, seeing what is on in culture and political environment, it is not even possible to ask the questions and use Google to find out more. Maybe the era of grand tours is not behind us after all. 

Museu Colecao Berardo.


Monday, 15 April 2019

2D - Väripintoja kankailla

I have been talking about putting my quilts on show some day. That day came this very Monday! It took courage to take this step but I think it is necessary in order to move forward in my creative work. Now these works from years 2016 to 2018 are there on the wall for everyone to see at the Rovaniemi Town Hall. At the same time this exhibition is a closure with these quilts and a beginning for yet unknown new directions that I will take with this technique I am so passionate about. Hope that my quilts could bring smile on people's lips as they pass by and that they could feel the colours. Maybe someone gets inspired to begin creating works of their own. It gives so much in life to have a form of self expression, a place of one's own that knows no limits. 

My exhibition 2D - Väripintoja kankailla At the Rovaniemi Town Hall 15.-26.4.2019. Open mon-fri 8-16. Closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. 

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Holiday Photos As a Source of Inspiration

MoMa 2018, New York
Wall in Turku 2016

Do you agree with me that holiday pictures come in masses? In the era of digital camera and smart phones taking one or two extra photos is easy. Scary to even think about that one would miss a moment just by thinking if it is worth the film. Photographing is an obsession, more evidence the better. As a result one trip to nearby town can lead to hundreds of photographs. At least I am very lazy in sorting out the shaky pictures from the good quality and thus my personal archives are full of both messy catches and something that would be nice to get in a paper album for future generations. As this will likely never happen, if someone doesn't do it for me, the archives get to be what they are.

One reason why I take so many photographs is that I want to gather all things that I find exciting, new and inspiring. Colours, forms,  curiosities. I enjoy architectural details like curvy old buildings and modern polished structures. Edgy streets and urban city space are equally fascinating. In a traditional photo album a collection of windows would seem a personal option.

Few days ago I started going through my archives with a different thought. Maybe a pile of old photos could become a quilt. Instead of feeling sorry for all these old pictures that will likely disappear one day when some digital format changes, those could turn into works that survive from time. There would be no photo album but an artistic interpretation of a certain trip that would make the essence of the holiday memorable. 

To get the creative juices flowing with new quilt projects I took a notebook and pencil and began sketching. The technique is simple. First I went through pictures from 2016 when I visited in southern Finland. I went through all the material very quickly. Every now and then I concentrated on a photo, chose one detail and sketched it to my notebook. I got few pages full of small drawings. In the process some forms began to live and I studied those further after the sketching session. 

The technique was easy to practice and the photos I had taken served as a source of inspiration as I had once intended. Now I shall go through more recent archives as it was fun to go back to those moments and memories that the original pictures hold. I showed these new sketches on my Instagram stories some days ago and asked if you recognize the real thing behind the processed and more abstract sketch. Here I put the original picture under the sketch so you get a clue what I am meaning with this technique.

Ship masts at Turku 2016

Street lights in Helsinki 2016
Could I find a detail that would turn into a pattern in these photos. We will see.

Staten Island Ferry 2018, New York

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Crafting is a Philosophy of Solutions

Happy Valentine's Day to you all! It has been long since I have been posting something DIY related to my blog. In November I decided that I need to take a short break in the making and creating. The year had been hectic and I had done many quilt works as well as some DIY projects among work and studying. Dear time is limited to 24 hours per day for each and everyone of us even though it would be nice to bend the limit and do more. 

Last weekend I got my knitted scarf finished and I am looking forward to give you a picture of that soon. Relatively small knitting projects have been all that I have done during the break. My knitting projects haven't been that artistic, legwarmers, beret, and scarf become to a need. I should still knit one pair of woolen socks. I actually began that project an year ago. Knitting is not my media for self expression and I am not that fond of it. I do love knits and admire people who create and make beautiful works.

Crafter without a project is a ticking time bomb. Suddenly issues that were manageable before become huge, odd behavior and anxiety occur. At least for me all those are sings that information is not moving between the two halves of my brain. I had the papers and sequins on my table for two weeks and I had no lust to begin anything. After spending few days in a weird state were world consisted mainly on barriers and everything felt scary there was no other way out than to sit down, take the scissors and papers and craft the anxiety out. I don't remember ever in my life spending more than a month in a row without doing any craft at all. Sounds pompous but crafting is like breathing, eating and sleeping for me. It gives a concrete result that is tangible. The process of making makes the whole body work as one, hands do their task in co-operation with the brain. Problems get solved with one stitch and glue drop at a time. Afterwards the issues that caused anxiety turn out be similar in nature, possible to handle and fix if necessary.

World of concepts is endless like space. I believe it is not just me who needs concrete projects at times. Can it be that some day we people evolve into species that only lives inside of our minds, processing concepts and emotions? Or is our consciousness bound in to the physical and tangible so deeply that if the tie breaks we start to come up with problems? I have been reading a lot lately and I love bingeing books. Yet it began to feel that that surfing in the world of concepts made reality seem unrecognizable and difficult to handle. It is about balance, both reading & philosophy and creating & crafting in good doses without forgetting the other. 

Now that Valentine's Day cards have been made it is a good start to begin crafting year 2019 stitch by stitch. Today mail got me a Valentine's card from my friend who must have sensed my moods behind the 1000 kilometers. She knew to write exactly right words to the moment and I am ever grateful receiving her card. Most of the time when we ponder our problems, we don't concentrate on the visible and easy solutions. Instead of that we come up with imagined nonsense that bounds us by making things even more complicated. Maybe it is paper and scissors that help to see what is real and what is imagined.


I guess you will be able to make these cards just looking at the picture but I will share short instructions so you can get your hands to the reality as well.

Valentine's Cards

-cardboard boxes (from oatmeal, cereals..)
-colorful paper (from old calendar, magazine, or craft stacks)
-paper glue

Make a model for the heart and cut three hearts from the cardboard, and three from the colorful paper. Apply glue to the patterned side of the cardboard, place the ribbon to the middle and put the colorful paper on top. Place the second heart similarly to the row. With the third heart turn the end of the ribbon so that you get a loop and then place the colorful paper on top. Decorate hearts with sequins and write lovely Valentine's wishes behind the hearts.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Back to the Future

This post has nothing to do with Robert Zemeckis' movie from the 1980s but I could not resist using the name of the movie in the title as it compresses the core of this post. Ever since I watched Amanda Foreman's historical documentary series The Ascent of a Woman I have acknowledged that history is not a linear route towards a better world for all. For example in the perspective of the history of women, women's rights have gone to both directions, back and forth. At times things go better and in some place, time or ideology to worse direction. Sure by saying better or worse is a matter of the values and world view. 

Revolution, progress and reformation. What kind of meaning these words get is dependent on the personal view, ideology and life experiences. Progress can sometimes be a ticket back to the history were current achievements don't exist. This is the main theme that came to my mind when reading the first ten books to the new reading challenge, 100 books in a year, that I took this year. The boos I have read are various in their themes, characters and happenings but this thought began to evolve on my head after reading Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique (1963). Friedan's work is a feminist classic that addresses the problem when women are bound to their homes and excluded from other fields of society. Women had been active in society in the beginning of the 1900s but in the late 1930s there became a thought that women belong to home, housekeeping, taking care of the needs of their husbands and children. When before women were active in the universities and academic life as well as in their careers, now it was thought that it s more characteristic for women to be at the home environment. 

It was a total brainwash that went though United States and had serious consequences. It was not question about a woman's choice to be a housewife anymore but a way of thinking that directed all women to make this decision because it was thought to be in woman's nature to feel most satisfied when outside the career and academic world. Women became bored in their homes as housework didn't satisfy their ambitions and needs. Yet the whole society began to believe in this so called truth and even studies supported this fact. The education in the colleges was modified to fit the needs of this society where women were at home. Lectures focused on issues that were related to women's future role as housewives. Otherwise with too much knowledge and ambition it would have been difficult to adapt to the given role. When before women had been studying the same issues as men now it was thought that women can't comprehend nor find useful the academic, theoretical and political concepts. Magazines that were directed to women changed the subjects of their articles towards practical information about beauty, home and raising children. To defend oneself against boredom and lack of meaning in life housekeeping was turned into practice that demanded time, set of various skills and specialized products. 

Women began to get married earlier than before and neglected the need for studying. They didn't have the part in their lives when they would have pondered their own identity and grown in to their selves. Women had been active many fields of society in the 1920s and 1930s. Now they were home. And all this happened just some decades ago from the time we live now, 2019. It was backed with theories, studies and societal discussions and in the end people were made to really believe in a society where men had careers, ambitions and lives outside their homes and women acted solely in the home environment. There was no question whether it was good for society and it's members. I saw a trailer of the new movie On the Basis of Sex that is about Ruth Bader Ginsburg and comes to Finnish cinemas on March. In the trailer there is a man who works as a carer at home but law doesn't acknowledge that men could work as carers. It always makes one think who then benefits of the systems that are unequal if it makes harm for the people living in the system. What is the mechanism that gives birth to these constructions that end up destroying lives and dreams with restrictions. 

Azar Nafisi describes her own and her friends experiences during the revolution and war in the 1980s and 1990s Iran. In her memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran (2003) she opens the feelings they have to go through when things she had taken for granted were took from her and society she was a member of changed and began to exclude her and people like her. After studying in the United States for several years she returns to her homeland to teach at the University of Tehran. She loves her work as a professor of literature and academic world she is a part of. It is eye opening when Nafisi writes that there were no division between the so called West and Middle East, in both people lived in freedom, lifestyle was similar and both men and women had similar rights. She didn't see those worlds as separate or far from each other. In her memoir she says how she couldn't have thought that universities in Iran could be closed or that all women could be forced to wear scarves, but after few months both unimaginable things became part of her reality. The process seems rapid and vast and makes one really see that unthinkable can happen. 

Nafisi's work as professor became difficult because of more restrictions and surveillance. Her specialty is English literature and books she discussed on her lectures were seen to be against the moral  and representing western values. Finding the books was not an easy task either as book shops that sold foreign literature were closed. Who then made all this happen, for who it served? In her youth Nafisi wanted revolution and change too. There were rights she took for granted and wanted progress. Then at one point progress got different forms and people began to adjust. Topics in the university lectures changed to fit in the current norm. The changes were small but when one came on top of the other the society and it's understanding of right and wrong began to change. 

In one situation Nafisi talks with Mr. Bahri who can't understand why she makes such a big issue about the scarf that he refers as a piece of cloth. In his opinion the revolution and it's outcome is greater and more important than the detail that all women have to wear scarves. Nafisi then questions that is it really a piece of cloth? She sees it's meaning for those who live in faith and thinks that it would be wrong that people who don't share that faith would be forced to wear it. One has to be careful when something is seen as given. Things are not that simple and there are turning points that reveal the true meaning. What Mr. Bahri called a piece of cloth had become a symbol of power and it was separated from it's original meaning as part of one's personal faith. Even though Nafisi takes part to the resistance in the end she has to wear scarf because of the regulations and what might follow if she would break those. She also has to leave her work at the university because she is not ready to adapt the new rules. In her much loved homeland she became an outsider, she lost her profession, the safety of her everyday life and her body. When she decides to leave Iran she takes small objects that remind her of the reality of her home country because she wants to remember what exists in that reality when she is mentally and physically far from it. 

Sometimes it is said that things go backwards and return to something that existed in history. I think it is not possible. Instead of that, progress can take us to a place where something we thought was only possible in history becomes reality in our time. We think that on top of what we already have we just keep getting more, that we can't lose. When we visit in the world of history we tend to see it as underdeveloped compared to what we have. This creates blindness to current state of progress and where it can take us. 

Kirsi Vainio-Korhonen tells about the life of the sex workers in Finland in the beginning of the 1800s (Musta-Maija ja Kirppu-Kaisa. Seksityöläiset 1800-luvun alun Suomessa, 2018). Vainio-Korhonen uses the real names of these women in her book to tells their whole stories without the curtain of shame or modesty that might actually judge these people. Practicing sex work in that time was not judged in a way we might think. Sex work was one part of  these women's lives. It didn't label a person and it was possible to find relationship, get married, have family, friends and another work at the same time. Sex work was not criminal until 1900s and after that women's lives and their possibilities became more narrow and sex work was a strong stigma. Alcoholism, experiences of abuse and poverty were connected to sex work in some peoples lives but not always. Official authority made STD checks for women and men that were suspected to have these diseases and sex workers were among them. Otherwise the surveillance was directed to loose lifestyle. Loose lifestyle meaning drinking in public, swearing, homelessness, lack of job or family to take care of, was punishable. What then was the course of happenings that led to the stigma in 1900s? The attitudes towards female sexuality and sexuality in general changed in the Victorian era. Before in the 1700s and in the beginning of the 1800s it had been seen important that both men and women enjoy sex because it was thought to be essential part of fertilization. New knowledge about the subject showed that woman can get pregnant without enjoying sex and attitudes towards female sexuality changed. Also in Victorian era women became more bound to home and to a role of a mother. Self-control and modesty became the goals. Sex work was far from this new ideal. 

So we have visited in the beginning of 1800s Finland, 1940-1960s United States and 1980s-1990s Iran. When I listed the books I have read in January I came to think the first book on the list. Svetlana Aleksijevitsh Seconhand Time: The Last of the Soviets (Vremja second hand, 2013) that focuses on the essence of the Soviet era, role of the ideology in peoples lives and time that followed the Soviet Union. The book focuses on same themes as I found from the other works, change, progress and how differently we experience it. Aleksijevitsh has interviewed people who have lived in the Soviet Union. They tell how life was, people talked politics in their kitchens, read books and dreamed of the better world. People don't try to hide the ugly part of the Soviet Union, persecutions and violence practiced against people. People reported their friends, neighbors and relatives to the authorities. One would think that when Soviet Union fall down it would have been fulfillment of dreams. But the ideology and shared dream was strong. For some capitalism offered all they wanted, possibility to make business and collect money. But the other part still believed the utopia of a better world and that even though horrible things had happened the ideology was bigger and things could be repaired and the land of dreams could become true. 

Sometimes we glimpse on the future when we travel back in time. We can focus on what went wrong and what lead to the current state. It might be difficult to see the errors clearly because it is the summary of our own actions and current values and ideologies. As in this time we both act in our own place as well as drift with the feeling that we have no real power. It is challenging to estimate afterwards if we were part of the reason or just mere victims. Encouraging it is that good things that were possible back in time can become possible again. It makes us humble when we see that generations before us might have known something great to exist that we have then lost, Back to the Future.

Books I have read to 100 books in a year challenge so far are:

1. Svetlana Aleksijevitsh: Neuvostoihmisen loppu. Kun nykyhetkestä tuli second handia. (Vremja second hand)
2. Carolin Emcke: Halu (Wie wir begehren)
3. Betty Friedan: Naisellisuuden harhat (The Feminine Mystique)
4. Max Porter: Grief is the thing with feathers
5. Shahad Al Rawi: The Baghdad Clock
6. Yaa Gyasi: Matkalla kotiin (Homegoing)
7. Kirsi Vainio-Korhonen: Musta-Maija ja Kirppu-Kaisa. Seksityöläiset 1800-luvun alun Suomessa.
8. Jennifer Egan: Manhattan Beach.
9. Olli Jalonen: Taivaanpallo
10. Azar Nafisi: Lolita Teheranissa. Kirjalliset muistelmat. (Reading Lolita in Tehran. A Memoir in Books)

This year I am doing the reading challenge posts to my blog in a different way than last year. Instead of even trying to write about all 100 books that I am intending to read in 2019 I thought that a post after every ten books would be great way to share reading experiences and discuss about the topics. I will try to post all books separately to my Instagram and write few words. Then after ten books I sketch a theme that came to my mind from the ten books at hand. I will share the complete list of reads on my blog at the same post. Time doesn't permit to spend so much time  to this one thing as 100 book posts would demand. In this challenge, compared to the 52 books in a year, reading takes more hours every evening. I have to say that I have enjoyed every hour spent on books and reading has become a way of life that I could not give up. There is
an hour or two every day that I have been able to pick a book and concentrate in to it's world and this has made my life even  more fulfilling and I feel I am learning daily something new whether it is a novel, collection of poetry or non fiction that I am going through.

Do you have thoughts or reading experiences you would like to share under the back to the future theme? Please leave a comment to this post or Instagram and lets discuss!

Saturday, 19 January 2019

When Did I Lose My Edge?

People have been posting then and now pictures of themselves with the theme Ten Year Challenge. I have got very few pictures from that time that would be in digital form so this time I am not posting an old picture of myself. Instead I am talking about a notion I made today. Ten years ago when I was in my late teens I had lots of guts to open my mouth and tell my opinions. Back then I wasn't afraid to argue. Neither was I afraid of being wrong. If someone asked me about my goals those where high and I was sure I would meet them sooner or later (meaning in a year or two). In the beginning of 2019 I have got more confidence in some issues but then again I am a bit sad about losing that healthy arrogance that made me trust my own opinions.

I graduated from high school spring 2009 and began my studies at the University of Helsinki. I had been interested in arts and history of the Nordic Countries. After lots of pondering I thought that in the theological faculty I might be able to develop further all the various interests I had that time. One of my ideas was to become the first female archbishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The fact that I had never even read the Bible from cover to cover didn't much bother me. I bough audio Bible and decided to learn the word by listening. After one year of studying I moved to Lapland and began my studies at the faculty of social sciences. Social sciences turned out to be a great decision. I had enjoyed my studies at the theological faculty but social sciences offered me ways to see how the different phenomenons are twined together and how we are in the society.

When nineteen I was not afraid to write strong opinions. Nowadays I am more careful which is both good and bad. About ten years ago I visited in a contemporary arts exhibition and I was devastated by the low level of works. Never did ever occur to my mind that my own level of thinking and seeing would have been limited. Well, at least I was frank back then, said what I thought and that was that. Now as more mature I try to be constructive and see the good sides in everything. If I doubt something, I am afraid to say it out loud because someone might get hurt. It is a sign of adulthood to see many sides in everything, to have more empathy and understanding. But I might have lost the courage to say when shit is shit, not wonderful shades of brown with interesting scent. It would be healthy to be able to react more spontaneously at times.

I am not suggesting that as grown-ups we should be saying every thought that comes to our minds without any processing. But there is personal power in believing your own capacity to form well constructed opinions and use your voice. To begin a discussion that benefits both those pro and against. Point is not to attack verbally of otherwise against other people and their work or personality. Instead of that it is fruitful to take part to conversations that are on. After year or too opinions might have changed drastically and I might not agree with the opinions of the 19, 25 or 28 year old self. That is called growth. I think we are sometimes afraid of changing. Fear of coming to other thoughts can become a factor that stops us from living in the moment and moving. Decisions are born in current climate and we can't predict what is coming tomorrow that might change us. Past ten years are a good example, lots have happened in that time. Some of the themes are the same but facts have changed, there is new knowledge and ways of thinking. Not to talk about each and everyone's own personal life that has taught a lot.

No one is as clever as a first year University student, said some professor in the beginning of the studies. By the time we come softer and less edgy. But there is also uncertainty, the knowledge that my knowledge is limited. Understanding of the mass of knowledge and issues that have not been searched properly. Would it be too much of a cliche to quote Socrates: The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. So I know next to nothing and I knew even less in my late teens. Yet I thought that with hard work and persistence I could become what ever I wanted. Let it be archbishop or other career path. I saw that those are only people who work in such positions, not saints. I thought that those given the mandate to write art critiques in magazines are human as we all. Maybe more experienced than I was but still the same. So why could't I do it too? After all these years when did this sissy come to picture? One who places words so carefully that ends up saying nothing.

That carefree teen and high school graduate could teach me a lot. And I could tell a thing or too to make her life better. Different sort of confidence has occurred in past two years. Maybe in our twenties we go through a process. First we are confident, know everything about everything, we are active and fearless. Then we begin to see that we are changing, learning new about our self and about how the world goes. We become quiet observers little by little because we are not so sure that we are going to stay the same forever. It takes away some of the edge. But then we loosen the grip a little bit, accept that what we think today might not hold tomorrow but still we have our roles to play. At least I don't think as much what people are thinking about me, or whether they like me or if I please them. I pay more attention to what I actually think about world and it's phenomenons. I use time to ponder if something really feels great and if I enjoy and like it so much that I want to put my time and effort in it. Own role and interests begin to have more meaning than just reacting to what is directed to me.

Ten years ago everything was possible and achievable. Now I know more about what world has to offer and I am aware that I can't be or become excellent in everything. Great deal will be left unexamined by me. But I can find out what interests me the most and be part of it and learn as much as I can. Have opinions, express those and change what I thought was final.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Let's Enter To 2019

Pale January Wednesday and second week of the new year 2019. I am still processing past year and all that happened. It was a good decision to calm down in December. Usually I take a bunch of projects before Christmas because I want the holidays to feel special. Past season I realized that Christmas comes with less. I have always had an ideal that Christmas should be just for reading eating and sleeping but then I get carried away with decoration projects and such. Because I was travelling in November I didn't have the inspiration to start anything Christmas related before the trip. And after the trip I just felt better to take all my old decorations from the storage and start enjoying the season without extra fuss. Holidays are a short period in the whole year and thus a bit tricky. When putting on all the decor it already begins to feel that just after few weeks one has to take it all off. It is sad really, to see that effort, create the bling and magical atmosphere for a week or two.

After I took down the Christmas ornaments home felt empty. But that was not sad emptiness, it was space for thoughts and new. I don't personally see the point to start big projects in the beginning of the year. It is still too cold and dark to begin new hobbies or lifestyle. Only new year's resolutions I made are to do with cooking, skiing and reading. I want to ski more this winter season. I used to love skiing as a kid and teenager but past ten years or so I haven't found time nor energy for that. Last week when I finally took my skis and headed to the tracks I enjoyed it very much. Compared to evening walks skiing cleared the mind better, I concentrated completely to the motion, one ski in front of the other. After an hour I found the rhythm that was somewhere hidden to my spine. I asked myself why don't I do this more often? It is also excellent exercise to gain strength to upper body and get rid off the bad posture that comes from working on computer, reading and crafting. During the holidays I spent time cooking. I chose recipes from a cookbook that had been unopened since I bought it. New tastes were inspiring and it was pure luxury to eat something you have ever tasted. I learned that blueberries and dijon fit perfectly together when accompanied with other ingredients. Best treat is great food from proper ingredients and I am going to treat myself often this new year.

Past year I read a lot and this year I plan to read even more. Reading has become to mean a lot and I have forgotten the time when I mainly watched TV and DVDs. I am already reading fifth book for this year and it seems that good books have not ended. 2018 brought so many new authors and works to me and this year has started with great promises. Instead of even trying to write to my blog about all the works I read I have planned to introduce my reads on Instagram with longer texts than usual. Time permitting I could write more finished thoughts on my blog about some of the books and maybe write short notes monthly about what I have read. One idea could be to list all books in the end of the month and then write more about one of those. It could work. Anyways I wish to be part in many thought provoking bookish discussions this year on social media and why not here in blogs too. I have seen some close their blogs and concentrate on Instagram but I still believe in longer and more processed writing, well based opinions, articles and views.

I have kept a pause in quilting and will continue it until the days are longer. I have one bigger idea I want to complete this year and it will demand sketching and planning so I get it to be as I see it in my mind. Now I have been knitting accessorizes and it has been one way to relax and clean the mind. I would love to do more smaller projects this year with recycled materials. I have some interesting stuff waiting for ideas. Maybe it is time to study the trends and get inspired of the colours and shapes that are trending this year. Who knows what this so called crap in my storage turns out. I am always so delighted to find out the possibilities of materials that some see as ready to garbage. When reading the news and plans about slowing climate change it seems that it is about time to see the potential in the material we already have in this world before making any new.

When 2018 began I had very little idea what it would bring. Back then I wrote to my blog about high hopes that the year would be better than the last one. Before I  had felt I had lots of thoughts I wanted to express, discussions I wanted to take part but felt no courage because there had been an atmosphere where people's good meaning discussion openings were twisted. I am not an island and it matters to me what people are thinking. I don't want to cause any harm or anxiousness to anybody. Some social media platforms seem to live from the fast and strongly expressed reactions. I am not a person who acts like that it is out of my character. I need to think over before I publish so I get the issue expressed in a way I can stand behind, explain and discuss about. It is one reason why I think blogs have value even these days. There is space and time to write, sleep one night and re read the thoughts, is this the thing I want to say and is this the way to put it so people can catch the idea and process it forward. Writing about books was one form to take part to current topics and that is why I think that compared to 2017 past year went better. What comes to the other major happenings in 2018 I got to work a longer period in an inspiring place and I had possibility to save money and travel to New York. When the year began I had no clue that it would be the year I got to fulfill one of my biggest dreams what comes to travel. New York seemed so far away mentally and impossible to see but there I went.

Keeping in mind these lovely surprises that the past year gave to me I am being even more positive about 2019. Who knows what can happen. It is not all about our own effort, it is about luck too. I am trying not to pay attention to things I can't change on my own will, I let things go as they go. I will be active and use my courage where it counts.

Once again I want to wish you a Happy New Year, Peace, Love and Understanding, as well as hope and active spirit to work for a better world. Let's be idealists, world needs us.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Complete List of Reads: Total 62 Books

Criticism is not the only way to write about literature and reading experiences. When I began my journey with 52 books reading challenge I decided, that I am not going to play a literary critic. I wanted to concentrate on the thoughts the books provoked and positive notions that I picked on the book while reading. Every single one of these books had something to give for a reader and I had a privilege to read great literature through 2018. There is a place for criticism too in the world and I believe writers and creatives can get that from other sources. Criticism and cynicism are a quick way to look smart and well read. To concentrate on praising is often connected with naivete and lack of knowledge. To praise is to show that you as a reader actually enjoyed what you read no matter how others took the book. In a way you become fragile, someone can take out the carpet by showing how the work you enjoyed is in fact unreal or cliche and what you thought is wonderful and touching becomes shameful. But who is to say what is authentic and worth experiencing? It might just be that what the author is writing is a new opening that only few can sense. Maybe it is not the experience of majority and that is why the work gets the badge of unreal.

It is known that there are gatekeepers in the cultural world, not every work gets published and the reason might not be in the quality but the resonance with the current pattern of speech and acting. Books can challenge and change our thinking if we don't grow a thick cover between us and the world. Through reading these books I have moved forward in my life and found new ways of thinking. Even the books I didn't cherish that much taught me something. It is worth pondering why a certain work doesn't speak to you. In this pile of 62 books (I went over the goal with 10 books) there were works that people seemed to enjoy a lot according to social media. But I myself struggled to read the same appraised works. Not because they were not any good, but because my own background and current situation. This is something to acknowledge personally. Then there were works that took a place in my heart and spoke directly on issues that have been going on in my own mind. The situations described were familiar and thoughts relatable or the author gave something to chew and process forward, a new way of thinking and seeing. It is old fashioned to think that there is a number of books that work for all, classics that everyone everywhere would enjoy and find important. Sure some works last time better, but we can't know which ones.

What happens next year has an influence on how we see the past works. A book that has laid forgotten might have a new relevance. Some classics shone brighter than others in 2018. Our lives are not the same and the books we need to read are not the same either. During a stressful period of time there is a need to read a book that gives an escape. Then one day we need a challenge and turn into that over complicated book that opens up in a a new clear way like never before. Book I love today might be a book that I can't understand after ten years. That is why I needed to focus on writing about what the books had to give to me in 2018. The conclusions tell about this year, discussions we have had and my personal life at the moment. Instead of lifting up books that everyone should read, personal reading experiences might lead us to the tracks of finding literature that has meaning to us in our life's. Like minded bookstagrammers have given me plenty of excellent recommendations. Books form families over periods of time, discussions we people can't have together because we are separated by time and distance.

I read this thought provoking article from the New York Review of Books by Tim Sparks. Is Literary Glory Worth Chasing? (27.10.2018). Sparks introduces Giacomo Leopardi's thoughts about what affects on the critique the work gets in it's time and in which terms it is possible to earn appreciation for your work. Check the article from here:

Below you can find the complete list of books I read in my free time this year. These are not in the same order I read these because I had to edit the list from various lists, books that I blogged about, books that I only introduced on Instagram and books I just read and wrote to my notebook. 2018 was a wonderful year what comes to reading and finding new favorite authors. It was also exciting to find paths from book to another and read both new releases and old classics I had never heard before. I am positive that 2019 will be equally wonderful, my must read lists guarantee that there will be no empty moments coming.

1. Lidia Yuknavitch: The Book of Joan
2. Carmen Maria Machado: Her Body and Other Parties
3. Franz Kafka: Kootut kertomukset (complete short stories)
4. Cheryl Strayed: Wild. From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail (Villi vaellus)
5. Truman Capote: In Cold Blood (Kylmäverisesti)
6. Françoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse (Tervetuloa ikävä)
7. Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
8. Alice Walker: The Color Purple (Häivähdys purppuraa)
9. Susan Sontag: Stories
10. Albert Camus: L'étranger (Sivullinen)
11. Donna Tartt: The Secret History
12. Saara Turunen: Sivuhenkilö
13. Leena Parkkinen: Säädyllinen ainesosa
14. Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar (Lasikellon alla)
15. Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
16. Julian Barnes: The Only Story
17. Anna Gavalda: Fendre l´armure (Lohikäärmetatutointi ja muita pintanaarmuja)
18. Leena Krohn: Kadotus
19. Peter Kimani: Dance of the Jakaranda
20. Sara Stridsberg: Drömfakulteten (Unelmien tiedekunta) and Valeria Solanas: SCUM 21. Manifesto (SCUM manifesti)
22. Anton Chekhov's Short Stories
23. Tove Jansson: Dockskåpet (Nukkekaappi)
24. Tove Jansson: Sommarboken (Kesäkirja)
25. Karen Blixen: Den afrikanske farm (Eurooppalaisena Afrikassa)
26.- 28. Anton Chekhov: Sakhalin Island (Sahalin)
29. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (Kultahattu)
30. Michael Ondaatje: The English Patient (Englantilainen potilas)
31. Anil's Ghost (Anilin haamu)
32. Sara Stridsberg: Beckomberga. Ode till min familj (Niin raskas on rakkaus)
33. Tuula Karjalainen: Tove Jansson. Tee työtä ja rakasta.
34. Violette Leduc: La Bâtarde (Äpärä)
35. Rupert Thomson: Never Anyone But You
36. Lauren Elkin: Flâneuse. Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London.
37. Jean Rhys: After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (Herra Mckenzien jälkeen)
38. Nefertiti Malaty: Ei äitimateriaalia
39. Hannu Rajaniemi: Summerland (Kesämaa)
40. Eeva Turunen: Neiti U muistelee niin sanottua ihmissuhdehistoriaansa
41. Martha Gellhorn: The Face of War
42. Truman Capote: Breakfast at Tiffany's (Aamiainen Tiffanyllä)
43. Ossi Nyman: Röyhkeys
44. Anne Garréta: Sphinx (Sfinksi)
45. John Steinbeck: Of Mice and Men (Hiiriä ja ihmisiä)
46. Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve (Eevan kolme tytärtä)
47. Jenny Offil: Dept. of Speculation (Syvien pohdintojen jaosto)
48. Danielle Lazarin: Back Talk. Stories.
49. Anilda Ibrahimo: Rosso come una sposa (Punainen morsian)
50. Henriika Tavi: Tellervo
51. Tara Westover: Educated (Opintiellä)
52. Roland Barthes: La chambre claire (Valoisa huone)
53. Susan Sontag. On Photography (Valokuvauksesta)
54. Silvia Hosseini: Pölyn ylistys
55. Sapfo: Iltatähti, häälaulu
56. Eeva Lennon: Eeva Lennon, Lontoo
57. Anna Kortelainen: Hyvä Sara! Sara Hildénin kolme elämää
58. Sisko Savonlahti: Ehkä tänä kesänä kaikki muuttuu
59. Pentti Holappa. Ystävän muotokuva
60. Mirkka Lappalainen: Pohjoisen noidat. Oikeus ja totuus 1600-luvun Ruotsissa ja Suomessa
61. Audre Lorde: Your Silence Will Not Protect You
62. Marja Tuominen and Mervi Löfgren (edit.): Lappi palaa sodasta. Mielen hiljainen jälleenrakennus