keskiviikko 1. maaliskuuta 2017

Glamorous February 2017

As you already may know, February is short. For me it had some highlights anyway.

At the beginning of the month I decided to visit Glamour Party arranged by a cultural club K-40 for all kinds of ladies over 40. Actually I had not heard of it before. They also promised the trophy for the best dressed lady of the night. I decided to put my blue cocktail dress on but I just seemed to have lost it completely after several attempts to find it. So finally I had to do another plan and I put on my red gown. I wondered whether I would have been heavily over dressed because the majority of the audience was lesbians who don’t very much care of super feminine outfits.
When I arrived to the party place, an old and romantic pavilion restaurant Kaisaniemi I noticed that some other ladies had invested in their outfit. So I thought it would not be my evening in that sense and I could concentrate in other things, such as listening to chansons and poems and looking at nice dance numbers, chatting with other guests and dancing a little. While doing it someone of the organizers asked my name. Near the time I had decided to do my Cinderella trick and vanish the ceremony for the trophy started. Of course the announcing of the result was delayed... and finally I hear my name!! I was given a cup with engraving and a bunch of roses. 

So I couldn’t do my fast Cinderella trick because I had to be a queen of the evening for a while. I was asked to dance and during the dance I felt the pain on my foot: Someone hit her stiletto on it and broke my skin and my pantyhose, and I think I’m just lucky that there were no broken bones.

The winter has been cold and mild in turn so as a result there has been very little snow. The second weekend of February I still wanted to go skiing. The skiing tracks were in bad condition then so I had to go a bit further to Oittaa district where the tracks were in good condition with the help of some extra snow. It was my first skiing trip on many years and the first one as Anukatariina. I made a 5 km tour with some rather steep uphills and after a couple of days I felt I haven’t used some my thigh muscles for a while...

 The Dreamwearclub coffee evening was a day before the Valentine’s day and we had our friend Maimu as a guest to perform some of her brand new poems. 

We also had a pop up nail studio arranged by one our guest so some of us got brand new gel nails that evening. 

I had an idea to ask friends to do words to my old salsa style song and Maimu was busy enough to send her first version next day – she told that she had sung and danced the whole day along my song.

At the end of February we had our skiing holiday. Even though there would have been some nice days for skiing with enough snow we had another plan: We flew to Madeira, an island we had never visited.   Our hotel was named Monte Carlo and it situated a kilometre from downtown on a hillside. It was a really romantic though rather shabby place with a beautiful view to the city and the sea and with low water pressure and poor air quality. But maybe we wouldn’t feel us comfortable in modern bulk tourist hotels, either.

We made many trips along the island and to the sea. The sea trip was for whales, turtles and seals. We saw numerous spotted dolphins which were mostly too fast for my camera extension. The pilot whales were a bit slower and I got more pictures of them, not just foam from their tail.

Pilot whales

A spotted dolphin

The trips to the inner island and to the North coast gave us another view to the island. The mountains were rather cold and windy so we had to have some extra clothing there. 

Also the North coast was colder than the Southern part of the island. The waves would have been awesome for surfers – except the volcanic coastline would have been too dangerous for that kind of hobby (and that didn’t mean I would have done any surfing....).

We also walked some parts of so called levada walks to see the nature closer. Levadas are a special kind of small water channels to bring water from the mountains to the South coast and there are trails along the levadas to walk. The sub tropical vegetation is very rich and it was so relaxing to walk in the forests hills and parks. The flower season was not as it best yet but still it seemed the whole island seems to bloom.

The height differences were big and every now and then you could see wonderful views over the steep valleys to the opposite side mountains.

We used guided trips to avoid driving a car instead of enjoying the view. We had some discount when we were introduced to a vacation option of a local hotel chain. We were transported to the hotel in a hotel car. When we stepped in to the car the driver asked: “Where’s the husband?” – he was worried about there would be no one to decide whether we would buy anything. I just replied laconically that I am.

The food was mostly the same everywhere: grilled pieces of meat in a stick called espadas, a local fish black scabbard with bananas, trout, sea bass, crabs, shrimps and many other kinds of seafood. Once I ordered a crab meal for one (my spouse is allergic to it) and really got it!

 We also ate many kinds of fruits and vegetable. The Madeiran wines are not very special, except the strong wine Madeira itself. There had been a lot of sugar cane fields before and as a trait of it the local strong drink is rum made of it. Actually it  tasted a bit like a mixture of brandy and rum. The very popular drink was poncho, a mixture of rum, honey and different kinds of local juice.  

              The old town of the capital Funchal is famous of its painted doors.

At the end of our visit the Carnival was about to start. We were on different inner time zone so we took part to it in very moderate amounts. 

This bottle of Madeira was brought to our table for free and we had to escape from the restaurant after the third glasses of it to be able climb our way up to our hotel.

The only thing I bought to myself was an apron made of the traditional Madeiran garment. The flower selling ladies wore skirts made of that kind of garment. 

Well, I also bought some Madeiran rum and some poncha, of course.  

sunnuntai 29. tammikuuta 2017

January 2017

January 2017 has felt like a long period for me, containing several things to tell about.

This year Finland is celebrating its 100th year as an independent state.
For that reason I’d like to tell some facts and opinions on our independency. The concept independence has some special ingredients in Finland and one of them is willingness to use power with some stronger factors.

The story started during the First World War when Finland still was a part of Russian Empire. Finnish boys escaped to Germany to get military education. In summer 1917 the Finnish parliament (yes, we already had such) declared the independence. But because the parliament had left wing majority, the right wing politicians asked Russian leader Kerenski to dissolve the parliament. And later in autumn when the new parliament had turned to right the Finnish government announced the declaration of independence.  It was just after the Russian bolshevist revolution and part of the Finns wanted also to make Finland socialistic. So for that reason a very bloody and bitter civil war took place. The reds relied on Russian troops still maintained in Finland. The whites organized their troops with help of the lads who came back from Germany and finally had big help from a German division. The independent state wanted to have a king – and he was planned to be a German Prince Frederick Charles ofHesse as a king Väinö the First. Unfortunately (for them) Germany lost the war and the Constitution as a republic was provided.

The first decade of Finnish Republic was a bit wild with dreams on the Great Finland which included big parts of Russian Carelia. Officially the Finnish state kept its hand out of such project but secretly supported the raids to Russian side of the border. BTW the current Secretary of Defence is a fan of some wild guys from that era – not a very good merit for him as a representative of the peaceful country!   

What comes to our independence, that era was probably the most independent. The reason was there were no friends to rely on. The Finnish government tried to make co-operation with other Nordic countries but the material results were not very massive. When importance of Germany increased again with Hitler there were people who wanted to deep co-operation with him. Anyway Finland was mostly on its own during the two first decades of independence.

Consequently Finland was left almost alone in the Winter War 1939-40 when Stalin invaded to Finland. Stalin was stopped but he managed to take big parts of the eastern Finland as result. The traumatic episode lead the Finnish Government to seek companion with Germany which lead to the second episode of the war when Finland took part in the Operation Barbarossa.

Finland happened to be the only of the German allies that remained unoccupied. However Soviet Union dictated the severe peace terms including huge war reparations. The Soviet commission lead by the right hand of Stalin, Andrei Zhdanov was controlling almost everything in Finland. Finns lived their lives with the motto “recognition of facts is the beginning of wisdom”. And of course the situation was used to someone’s benefit during those days and also much later when the Soviet commission was not here any more. This kind of behaviour has even its own international name, Finlandization.   

After the fall of the Soviet regime Finns were very busy to rely on west. We became the part of the European Union, European Monetary system, Euro and so forth. Many Finns are so keen on join NATO as well. And of course there are so many people playing games behind the European organizations, for example telling the false claims that we are not allowed to do this and that because of EU regulations.

But maybe it’s time to come back to my January 2017:  

Because the past 100 years there was an exceptionally big New Year event in the Helsinki City. Many national pop stars, aged from seventeen to seventy, were on stage. Even the Prime Minister made a pop up visit there. That was not a big success he heard booing and whistles instead of applauds. The weather was quite warm as a Finnish New Year Eve, some plus degrees.

                                 Celebrating the New Year Eve in the Mannerheimintie Street

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _

On 4th day we made a short trip to Stockholm. It takes one night to go there and another night to go back so we had six hour to spend our time there. The ferry was Viking Mariella, an old boat with some renovations. The most pleasant was the Viking Lounge, a nice place to have night cap without noisy music.

                                           Starting the voyage at the Viking Lounge

The Viking terminal is pretty close to Stockholm centre but we decided to take a bus. The weather was a bit chilly but beautifully sunny so we walked along the streets for a while. Our main destination was the art museum Moderna Museet. We have visited there before but every time the destination has been a visiting exhibition: Munch, Picasso... This time we decided to see the basic exhibition which was a really interesting cross-section of modern art during the last hundred years.

                                       In the sunny and windy streets of Stockholm             

                                                     At Moderna Museet

After Moderna Museet we walked through the Royal Palace region to Gamla Stan, the old city. There we did some shopping - otherwise there are almost the same shops in Stockholm as in Helsinki. We also had coffee, tea and pastry in the oldest cafeteria in Stockholm.

                                                Shopping in Gamla stan                                               

                                            Eating a very sweet and sticky pastry

Because Gamla Stan is so near the Viking Terminal we decided to walk back. The problem was there’s a huge construction area in Slussen between Gamla Stan and the terminal. So we were a bit mislead to walk some extra steps.

                  The reconstruction of Slussen area led us to some exotic sideways...

We had ordered a buffet dinner on board. I tried to avoid eating too much and I almost succeeded in it.
Back onboard

The way back to Helsinki was quite wavy because of the strong north-east wind. However we were back in Helsinki being late only fifteen minutes.

                      Quite a strong wind from north east delayed our journey back home.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

On 14th January a friend of us Gisela came to Helsinki for a visit. We met her for a late lunch at the Maya restaurant. There were also some other friends. Maya is a restaurant specialised to different South American cuisines. After the lunch we went to Kanneltalo concert hall for a drag show performed by newcomers of the drag queen school of Lola Vanilla. The performances were quite high quality for newcomers. Some of the performers were genetic girls and performance resembled partly the burlesque show. Anyway we had a lot of fun and continued our evening at GLounge bar in Helsinki city.

                                             At the Maya restaurant

                                              Lola Vanilla drag school newcomers

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

My oriental dance lessons also started with two rehearsals. The sessions are a bit longer than before, 70 minutes instead of one hour. I hope it will help us to do things more intensively. Before the dance season I did a intensive gym period to gain some extra fitness and loose my extra kilos gained in Christmas time.

                                                        Gym time

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

On the last Sunday of January I went to Kiljava Institute to lecture on gender plurality at workplaces, based on the inquiry we made last year. The audience was young labour union and left wing political activists. I’ve known young people in the preceding party in seventies and I must say the difference of awareness on such issues is enormous – I didn’t have to explain the basic concepts which is a very common case in average discussion.

After my lecture we had a workshop on things what should be done to promote the rights of the gender minorities with the help of the new legislation.  One of these would be the education of shop stewards (what a word, one could think that such a person is rather sneaking whether you have stolen something at a shop...). This will hopefully effect both to labour union locals and employers and superiors. We have been promised that also the employer organizations produce education to HR personnel to support positive development. The good educator combination would be one who knows the law and practices and one who is a real trans person with his/her own experiences. Now we have to find these persons and start advertising the education after that. 

torstai 29. joulukuuta 2016

December 2016

In December 2016 my Anukatariina hurry gradually settled down so I had more time to do other things - including my job issues :D

Sixth of December we have a holiday because of the Finnish Independence Day which was the 99th this time. And this time we decided to go out instead of just looking at the festivities at the Presidential Palace. Many different demonstrations took place that day, including some against and some for immigrants. The anti immigrant trains finally united with neo Nazis showing clearly the link between the organizations in spite of their statements denying the link. This time the police succeeded in keep the demonstrators with opposite opinions separated from each others. We took part of a minor happening at the Esplanade park, organized by some anti racist religious persons. We also visited the Christmas Market at the Senate Square in front of the Cathedral.

                                                   At the Senate Square

                                               At the Esplanade Park

                                                    With Elise

And of course there was a Little Christmas event organized by Dreamwear Club. I baked some traditional Finnish Christmas pastry which is called “Christmas tart”. We had a special guest Maimu Brushwood who performed her poems about life as another kind of human being. I also accompanied Tuija as she sang some Christmas carols.

  "Christmas tarts" ready for the owen                                              Maimu

A musical moment with Tuija                                 Maimu with the hostesses

My belly dance group had its Christmas show 14th of December. The choreography was the same we had performed already in November. This time I remembered to smile all the time – resulting the partial absence of the basic posture of oriental dance! Well, you can’t have the all all the time...

                                  The dance group Marifet doing Habibi

This Christmas time we were at home. It wasn’t white but a bit colder than one before that in Berlin with cherry blossom. My grandchildren visited and they gave me their present: a wooden necklace! The picture inside the box is an illustration of the angry artist in the shower.

I have many special Christmas dishes, including swede in blue cheese and beetroot in goat cheese. I also make salted salmon every Christmas, to be eaten on rye bread.

Making one of my specialties, nettle buckwheat pancakes with smoked white fish and smetana sour cream.

We also remembered the last Christmas when we had had our hot cherry beer at the very same market place where the sad truck incident took place. It reminds us how easy it is to lure somehow lost people to some too simple solutions. It also stresses the importance of integration of the immigrants.

The days before Christmas and the New Year have been peaceful, including the first taste of winter sale, some visits by relatives and updating the karaoke version of my song which I didn’t have time or energy to do it earlier.

The activities of the New Year Eve will be reported later. So far I wish you all a good one!

tiistai 29. marraskuuta 2016

Too busy fall to tell about it?

This fall has been my busiest lady season ever so I had no time/energy to make any report it. So here you have a brief overview.

The mushroom season was excellent, especially what comes to horn mushroom and funnel chanterelle. The only disappointment was porcino which seemed to avoid my forest. Anyway I managed to refill my stock before I had to stop because many other bustle: I had something other to do every weekend since the mid September.  

Me and my forest

In the end of September about twenty Finnish Nazis held a demonstration in front of the Helsinki Central Railway Station. A guy happened to walk by and he made some kind of spitting gesture towards the demonstrators. This was too much for them and one of the Nazis decided to give him a lesson – by serving him a karate kick. The victim fell and hit his head to the street. Next day he died.
The incidence sparked a huge outcry and the huge counter demonstration of about 20 000 people took place. There also were some minor counter counter demonstrations and there was an evident danger of clashes. Luckily the police moved the most violent counter anti Nazi demonstrations far away from the route of the anti Nazi train.

The anti Nazi demonstrators                    

 The anti anti Nazi demonstrators

The Hauho summit took place in the beginning of October.  We had feminists Rosa Meriläinen and Saara Särmä as our guest speakers. Their message was not to worry too much and to let just go. That message was originally meant for the girls and women educated traditionally. We told them about the other kind of women who may have even more complicated situation. I think we both learned a lot.

Kristiina shows Rosa and Saara our 

Our music guest Andy with drums 

Sing along....                                                             

The lady of the manor speaking....

                                   On the way home we use to visit Voglia outlet shop where 
                                   the sales ladies always welcome us warmly.

I also have lectured in several places about me and transvestism. The audience has been for example psychologists, sexual therapists and staff of “confessor camp for kids not relying in god”.   The feedback has been very positive and it seems I really can give some good ideas even to professionals. Anyway the most effective thing for the audience is to meet a real person, not just read about her.

In mid October we travelled to Southern Germany. Our main goal was the university town Heidelberg on the banks of the river Neckar. We also made a river boat trip to a minor medieval village Neckargemünd. Unfortunately the weather was rather chilly and rainy to enjoy the view and atmosphere even more.
                                          A scene to Old Heidelberg from the castle

Just wondered if there were some trans people 
in the family of the hotel owner...

                                          On our way to Neckargemünd

                                           Neckargemünd street scene

On our way back we visited Mannheim. The industry town Mannheim is very different from Heidelberg. However it has a huge royal castle with rich cultural history.

                                                      The Mannheim castle

When we went to Franfurt airport to fly back home there were some incidents to tell about. They had a new airport security millimeter wave scanner which seemed to give some difficulties for the staff. Anyway it showed something to be checked in me and I was patted down by security staff lady. I had some difficulties to explain why I wore foam hip pads...
At the departure gate we were informed the plane was over booked and because my spouse had told that we could be the ones to be grounded. And it really happened. So we were transported to an airport hotel and we both were given a token of 200 euros and some extra money to enjoy the dinner there. And next morning I was thoroughly inspected in the security control again...

                                                       At the airport hotel lobby

In the beginning of November we had our beauty salon trip to Tallinn: There we met Zarah and had a wonderful moment with nice view and with good food and company.

                                                         Me with Zarah

The busiest time took place in mid November. The TransHelsinki festival took place and I had many activities there. 

The weekend beginning  the TransHelsinki was also the FemF- feminist forum weekend. I had a floor there where I told about me and my thoughts of feminism and patriarchy.  The texts are here  and here in Finnish.

                                                Having a speech at the FemF forum

Then I rushed to educate psychologists and after that I met my friend Tuija to train her my song about a transvestite. The problem was the original singer couldn’t do it so Tuija had to learn the song in two hours!

The song was performed in a night happening which was a mixed FemF closing party, TransHelsinki opening party and the open 20th anniversary of our transvestite club Dreamwear Club. I also was happy to have my oriental dance friends to dance with me there. The point was to highlight the inclusiveness of my hobby and to show respect for my dear friends. To organize a happening between three organizations turned out to be complicated. I had to ask several times where to change our clothes, when to be available for sound check and so forth. So in the evening I managed to have my performers perfectly in time – just to find out we had no time for sound check nor try the dance with the music on stage. It was odd that some other performers had enough time to try several pieces on stage.

The venue has formerly been a slaughterhouse. You just could feel it in the ”back stage” which was chilly and had a stink of a barn. Maybe it was the final place of the poor animals. The stage was built of rough logs. Luckily we didn’t have high heels in our performance and could somewhat manage. The problems were bigger with the burlesque group of my friend Hannamaria. When Tuija was to sing my song the mixer lad started with the maximal loudness he could get from his PA equipment. The result was Tuija couldn’t get the line until several seconds. But after she got it everything went perfectly. And we had terrific time together to the late night.

                                                   Tuija rehearsing at the back stage

                                                Bettie's Angels with Hannamaria

                                      Our leader Marinka applying false lashes to Katri


                                         Tuija singing my song

                                            Our dance group Marifet in action

The other big event during the TransHelsinki week (there were some minor ones as well...) was the publication seminar of the survey about the discrimination of the trans people at work places. The inquiry has taken place in the spring 2016 and I had a lot to do, analyzing during the summer and writing the report and an article on it during the autumn. We had invited the representatives from both employer organization and the labor union. The results showed some severe discrimination but on the other hand there were very promising cases with no discrimination and cases where the situation has been got better because of the correcting actions. The big thing was: The more familiar this matter gets the less discrimination occurs. A brief version of the report in Finnish is here:

                                             Telling about results of the the survey
The representative of the employer organization promised to try to include this point of view to the education of their HR personnel. The labor union representative promised to do the same in the education of their elected official.

In addition I have had some extra work with the committee of the trans issues of the LGBTI organization Seta. We have been active particularly in issues concerning the people with non binary gender. The Finnish trans legislation is old fashioned without the right to decide one’s juridical gender without medical judgement. The current government will certainly do nothing about it due to the True Finns party. We hope that the preparation of the new law will however take place. And we hope that there would be some preparatory activities to include the non binary gender there as well. 

Last weekend was the last big one containing the representative assembly of Seta. We elected Viima Lampinen as a new president of the organization.

                                     DWC representatives with just elected president Viima