Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My First Day at Work

We have been having weird weather here lately, a sort of rain that comes into contact with something and then freezes solid. Causes a lot of trouble with cars, as you can imagine. On the bright side, literally, it is getting lighter. The Sun is coming up at around half past eight and sets around fourish, so we are getting about eight hours of light now. Ok, so there has been clouds the last two days but I have seen the sun a few times this last week.

On Friday Tanja and I enjoyed going round town trying to find a gift for a friend's Son who turned one. Well it was a lot harder than we thought but we did see loads of childish things that we both wanted (We are big kids at heart) ["I'm not a big kid. I'm a little kid." -Tanja]. It didn't help that most places seem to be in the middle of renovating but we did managed to find some soft toys and after finding two suitable we narrowed it down to one. After we narrowed it down to one, we had to decide which one of that particular one we wanted. The soft toy was a Dog with long arms and legs and very soft and cuddly. So after buying that and a bag for it we headed round to Elder and Sister Christensen's home, they are leaving to go back to America on Thursday after serving a mission here in Oulu for the last year and a half. So they invited us around so they could donate some of their items to us, as it would be too expensive to ship back. We ended up leaving an hour later loaded down with about five carrier bags full of picture frames, cooking utensils (I got a "holy" cake tin, woop woop) and a ton of herbs and spices. The Christensen's have been good friends to Tanja and I, as well as everyone they have come into contact with, and I think they will be sorely missed. I know I will miss my intellectual sparing with Elder Christensen.

On Saturday I woke up at six (A new regime I am working on as my new job involves getting up early) and felt great. I finished off my blog post on the Finnish Swastika and then made fried eggs, crispy bacon with rye bread for myself and Tanja. I was planning to surprise her and give it to her in bed but she woke up just as I started cooking. ["You could've told me to go back to bed. Duh.." -Tanja] The morning was spent chilling on the sofa with my wife, watching LA Ink (A show based in a Los Angeles Tattoo shop that is full of drama, one of the few bits of TV I watch) and then we had a visit from the Elders. Originally I was going to go with them to a local apartment to help teach someone but he cancelled at the last minute so they gave a wee message to myself. Tanja was in the shower, so she missed all the fun. Elder Bushman brought another Elder with him, Ingesoll, seems he likes to swap Elders. After the Elders left Tanja and I went round to Iida and Samo's flat for Daniel's first birthday party (after a quick stop at Lidl). There was mini-pizzas, double chocolate brownies, fruit, cake and loads of noisy children. Instead of blowing candles Daniel had a small cake for himself, which he destroyed after a while of working out what to do. A great idea for a one year old I think.

Sunday was Church day and so it was three hours at Chapel but this Sunday was Ward conference and so the lessons got mixed up. Janne and I went to the family home ["It's not a 'family home', it's homehome!" -Tanja] straight after Chapel to start the lunch while everyone else had meetings. After eating a nice stew and potatoes, followed by home made baked Alaska, I was out home teaching for the first time in ages. Felt good to be out again doing things for the Church. Then it was home for 'Once upon a time' and early bed.

So then came the five o'clock alarm and I was wide awake ready for the day ahead. So once I got some corn flakes in me and dressed, I headed out of the door to where I was being picked up by another worker. ["Whoa! Where's the credit for your incredible, loving and supportive wife who got up at the same time with you?!?" -Tanja] The drive is forty minutes but it goes very quickly. So my job is spud sorter, these potatoes come along a conveyor and it is my job, along with three others, to pick out the bad ones. Black rotten ones, as well as stones, go in a bucket on the floor. Then ones with big splits, more than 30% covered in eyes or more than 20% covered in black spots go into the middle conveyor where they go into a separate crate. There is one million kilos of spuds to go through and we have six to eight weeks to do it in, so that means roughly twenty five thousand kilos of spuds need to be sorted every day. I am enjoying being out of the house and even though it is seven and a half hours of standing or sitting on a 'bar stool', bent over a conveyor, looking at hundreds of spuds, the time flys by. We have to wear mask because there is muck everywhere but the masks aren't doing 100% and I seem to be sneezing up mud but at least it is only mud and sneezing it up, I will start to worry when my sweat turns to mud.

I am writing this after my second day and I can say I am knackered. My neck is sore but I feel good from it though. I will write at the end of the week to keep you all up to date with my adventures. I will now get my wife to read through this to spot the grammar errors and spelling mistakes, I think she can be my chief editor. ["Chief editor? Hmm.. I like the sound of that. ;)" -Tanja]

Friday, January 25, 2013

Christmas, New Year and Beyond.

I am sorry to those who read my blog, I haven't updated in a long time. I have been meaning to for a while now but things kept coming up and I haven't been sleeping well lately either. So as I promised in my last blog I would write about my Christmas, my first one in Finland.

So Christmas for Finland starts on Christmas Eve. Tanja and I when to her Grandmothers with the mother and father for Porridge (which like most Finnish meals comes with a selection of bread, Cheese, Ham and Salad plus this time Smoked Salmon). We then did the normal Finnish thing of visiting the graves of realatives and lighting Candles. For this we went to Ylikiiminki when Tanja's Grandfather is buried, also several other relatives on Tanja's mother's side are buried. After going to two graveyards, placing candles and clearing the graves, we headed to the family home. 

At the family home we had Christmas Dinner. The idea in Finland is the big dinner is eaten on Christmas eve, as well as the exchanging of gifts, and Christmas Day and Boxing are left over days. The meal was very filling and I was very stuffed by the end of it. My contribution to the event was making the gravy from the meat juices. The evening was when we went to the local Graveyard where Tanja's father was in charge of the honour guard at the war memorial. Throughtout the day till 8 or so at night, various organisations take it in turns to hold an honour guard for 20 minutes at the memorial. Tanja's father's unit holds two 20 minute guard. We also went to a place where people light candles for relatives whose graves aren't nearby. I lit one for my grandparents. I was surprised to see how busy the place was, rarely are the graves this busy back home even on 'special' days, the closest I saw was in Belfast back in 2004 on Boxing day.

After this it was time to return to the family home for dessert and then go home to retire for bed.

Christmas day saw us sleep in. Tanja was starting to get very unwell with what appeared to be the flu. So I started to cook our Christmas dinner. I had a Turkey and was also planning to make yorkshire puddings, cheesy mash potato, roasted swede and sweet potato and cauliflower cheese. It was a beautiful meal and we were both stuffed so just stayed on the sofa for a while. We finished the evening by watching movies (We got several DVDs out from the rental shop) and eating Cheese with biscuits.

Over the next few days (Boxing Day and beyond), Tanja and I watched the whole of the Harry Potter series. I hadn't watch any past the first two and even then it was ages ago. I had a lot of fun trying to work out the twists and storyline, much to the delight of Tanja. On boxing day we had the delight of warmed sliced turkey on freshly cut bread, real butter and mayo, something you cannot beat. 

For New Year we decided to invite some friends over and have a good night. So we had a table full of snack foods, I made sausage rolls, we had all sorts from brownies to sliced cured meat, biscuits & cheese to crisps. At around 8ish we all went to the local sports center where they were letting off fireworks. It was a great display and it seemed the world and his wife had turned up to see it. On the way back, some of the group had become seperated, so Tanja and I waited for some of them. This then turned into having fun in the snow. Now I had done snow angles before but this time I decided to do it face first, much to the amusement of Tanja & Co as well as the numerous random people walking past. Sonja and Päivi then decided it would be fun to do some racing in the almost knee deep snow, on my descision to catch up I made one of the funniest moves in my life. As soon as I started to run from the path to get into the snow my feet started slipping, this then lead to me losing my balance, with arms flailing, feet sliding, I went head first down. Ending completely flat with my head buried about 6 inches in snow. This made Tanja and Tiina (the two witnesses) think this was the most hilarious thing ever and laughed at my misfortune, did they help me up? Of course they didn't. After getting home, the group just played games and chatted. This carried on till about 3 in the morning. Overall this New Year was my best yet, together with friends, having fun.

New Years day was spent with the dynamic duo that is Päivi and Sonja. Unfortunately, the cold was really taking its toll on Tanja (this was the second week of what we thought was Flu) and so she slept till mid afternoon whilst the rest of us played Skip-Bo and watched Friends. When Tanja did get up, we just continued playing games for the rest of the day. The week of New Year saw Tanja visit the doctors where she was given some medication to help with this flu, but we soon found ourselves in Hospital where we spent 6 hours on a Friday/Saturday morning getting tests done. Turns out Tanja has pneumonia, how she got it, we don't know but it was on the line whether she was going to be kept in. Luckily she wasn't and so we got home at nearly 7 in the morning. This was the start of the messed up sleep pattern. We both ended up with weird sleeping patterns, I was being kept up with her coughing, she was being kept up with her coughing, sleeping during the day etc it wasn't good. However after two weeks she is a lot better and now back at work. Still not 100% but about 85% and getting stronger.

Also during this time I went to a job interview at a potato farm. This farm is about 40km away from where I live but luckily another person who is working there is coming from Oulu, so carpooling is the plan. The job is sorting potatoes, making sure the good ones stay and the bad ones are outed. It is only a temporary job, 6-8 weeks but it will get me job experience in Finland and give Tanja and I extra money. The idea is by the end of it, we will hopefully have an idea about the official Finnish School and can join that soon after finishing work. So work starts on Monday at 0700, so an early start but finishes at 1500. Wish me luck.

Well I am off for now, I have some videos of New Years which I will edit and post soon. I also won't leave it as long for my next blog I promise.