Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Grass is the handkerchief droped by the Lord

Went to the Library in Iso Omena yesterday and got myself a library card. Things are more advanced in Finland than in England. You get a library card with a barcode on it. You pop it into a machine and tap in your secret pin number. You then slide the books you have selected over a barcode reader and the books are checked out in your name. A receipt is then printed out telling you when the books are due back. When you return the books you just pop them trough another scanner and place them on a conveyer belt and the disappear into a hole in the wall.

It is a sort of self service library. I picked up some books of Poetry. There was not much to choose from but I did get Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and I was struck by the line

Grass is the handkerchief droped by the Lord

To me I imagined a rolling plain with grass streaching for miles and miles, and vast expanse of green. I thought of the ladies at court, who to draw attention to themselves drop their hankeys hoping that someone will notice it, pick it up and return it to them.

I suppose all of nature should declare the glory of God, when we see it our attention should be drawn to him.

Monday, March 15, 2004

First Visitors

On Sunday we had our first visitors to the flat.

Pity the bathroom has been ripped out and they are drying it out with some heater, and the small bedroom is still a mess with boxes. Still the living room and kitchen and main bedroom are looking OK.

I inspected the bathroom and I noticed there was a patch of wetness on the floor on closer inspection I noticed there was a leak coming from one of the pipes. So there we have it a classic situation. They bring in this expensive equipment to dry out the floor and at the same time they have a leak which wets it.

I found the stop-cocks and turned the water off, and as a results we did not have any water over the weekend. We phoned to tell them about the leak but all the advise we got was to put a bucket under the pipe and stop the water from falling on the floor. Seems they are not really interested in what is going on in the bathroom, and they tell us the drying will have to go on for a week, and I can not understand why.

If they are going to put in underfloor heating then I expect they will have to spread wet concrete so what is the point of drying the floor out?

Riina and the kids will be coming at the end of the month, at this rate I wonder if the bathroom will be finnished in time.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Trains in Madrid bombed

Yesterday 190 people were killed on trains in Mardid. The work of terrorists. Having no TV and not listening to the radio ment that I did not find out about it until this morning.

Somewhere, a man, in the depths of a snowy forest, does not know that this tragedy has happened. He chops his wood and eats his soup, and the snowflakes continue to fall.

The footprints from his cabin to the outside toilet are covered and disappear.

Nobody in Madrid knows that this man is eating soup in the quiet of his cabin.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Puting it all together

First of all I have to unwrap all the packages and get rid of all the cardboard and plastic. What is left is metal framework, screw, bolts table tops, little plastic T shaped things, and a couple of manuals that make no sence. I will have to concentrate very hard to get this thing constructed.

Innocently I mention that I saw a clock advertised in HS for 2€ and that starts off a long discussion about Finnish quality, Finnish design, craftsmanship, beauty, costs, slave labour, exploitation, the third world, self worth, joy, form, function.

For me a clock has to perform a function and that is to tell the time. If it is pleasing to the eye then so much the better. I am not particularly interested if the clock is made out of chrome and looks like a binicle on a ship, or is contrived to function as a stool, or looks like an aeroplane, and costs the earth into the bargain.

Try reading an IKEA manual and carrying on a conversation about values at the same time. Either you are going to do damage to yourself with a screwdriver becasue you are not concentrating on the construction, or you are going to do damage to your relationship by saying things that you would not normally say if you weren't so absorbed by fitting nuts and bolts together to get an IKEA computer table to stand on its own two legs.

After 1.5 hrs the table was built and if I must say it looks damn fine. I feel like a bloddy artisan.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Ikea once again

Went to Ikea last night, and bought their Galant office desk. I had to go to the main building to do the ordering, but the tables themselves are kept in another warehouse on the opposite side of Keha III. I paid for the goods including three Vietnamese flowerpots which were green and are for some rosemary and laverder plants I have bought.

On arriving at the opposite side of Keha III the goods were waiting for me. The big bit of the table looked to big to fit in the car I told the man I could put the seats down, I opened the back door and he ripped out the luggage rack and the supporting poles, and threw down the back seats.

Hold on hold on the seats fit under the floor and they have to be dismantled in a certain order and put away. He threw out the carpets and cables and blankets and boxes and kitchen towels, and I proceeded to dismantle the seats properly. He sullenly stood in the cold night air. The front seats have to be pushed right forward when the rear seats are being stowed under the floor, and before I could draw a breath he had stared to throw things into the back of the car, and he jammed the biggest section against the back of the drivers seat so I could not get into the car to drive.

I said the biggest section needs to go against the passenger seat , since it could remain pushed forward. With much huffing and puffing he had to unload all of the stuff he had put in to make space for the largest section, When it was finally in place like a whirlwind he threw everthing else into the back of the car. No stacking carefully, just all higgilty-piggilty. He slamed the door shut as if to say there you go you car is now packed, and with many a snort and a spit he got out of the cold and back into the warmth of the warehouse.

I drove carefully home and struggled to unload the goods into the spare room. It was late when I got everything done. I drank half a bottle of red wine and went straight to bed.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Carpets and tables and chairs

Bought three woolen carpets made India. They are all the same design and are shades of green with a few squiggles around the border. Two of them go down the hall and the big one is in the living room. They are thick and warm, and very pleasent.

Bought four Alvar Aalto chairs from Artek They are white with yellow leather seats. They were expensive and that was even when we bought them as seconds.

Went to IKEA once again and got a couple of tables for the living room. They were not expensive. They were made out of solid birch, and someone in the far east has made them.

There you have it. Why do you buy chairs by a famous Finnish designer that are very expensive, but are supposedly excellent design and build and at the same time buy cheap imports from an anonymous far eastern country, becasue you have to cover some floor space in you living room.

Form and functionality. I would like a house to have only those things in it that you use. Trinkets and ornimentation are just eye candy. I want a bed to sleep in, a chair to sit in, a shower to wash in, a cooker to cook on, a refrigerator to store my food, curtains to shield me from the sun. You have to decide what you want first of all, and after that decide what it will look like, and more specifically what it will look like together with all the other stuff you need to aquire.

It usually turns out to be a mess, becasue you do not remember shapes or colours or textures and when all the items that you buy are brought together they fight with each other. Paints get retired to the basement, furniture gets moved into the attic or given away, plain stupid purchases are never used and are hidden away, or discretely consigned to the rubbish dump.

It is not an easy task. Our desires bring us pain.