Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I made a camera obscura

Bought black plastic from the garden centre. Cut a hole in it the size of a 2€ coin. Hung it up in the window and taped it down. I got a projection on the back wall of the room, but it was more shadows than a real picture... I would go as far to say that it was shit. Perhaps I need a lens for it to work properly... and I don't think Maija likes it. The room has to be clear and bright for Janet when she comes, so I expect I will take it down.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Toolboxes in the ditch

At the weekend had a walk around the plots and had a talk with Maria-lenna. She is a big woman and was the one who gave me the "lucky clover" She is having problems with her house. The roof leaks there is drainage problems and some rooms smell of mould. She would like to sell it, but does not want to until her two years are up, so she does not need to pay any tax on the sale.

She is 60 years old and makes a thousand pairs of woolen socks a year. (hold on that is three pairs of socks per day... perhaps she said hundreds) Her specialty is a special kind of Finnish glove which is very warm in the winter. I think she called it "Luovilappasset". Anyway she was selling them for 25€

Here is a picture of my neighbour from Irak with sons or grandsons. He has done alot of work on his plot and worked in a lot of humus in the form of horse manure. His ground looks good. The earth is fluffy and friable. Mine's is hard as concrete.

We walked together to an area at the bottom of the allotments. It was a small encampment where the Arab gardeners brew tea and sometimes BBQ. All of their equipment and tool boxes had been thrown into the ditch. There was a group of men milling around the site. Some of them were angry. Others just sat on their hunkers and looked downcast. Apparently it happens every year. Friday night comes along and people get drunk and go and smash up the allotments. I here the word "racist" mentioned and the word "police" spat out with contempt. I have a camera in my hand and want to record the destruction, but it does not seem right. I walk away to talk to Sami.

What a comparison. Gardeners quietly and patiently working with the earth. Planting seeds, watering the ground, tending and caring for the emerging plants, and then you have drunks who for the fun of things go on the rampage and smash things up and destroy any order that people try to put in their lives. Apparently the police do nothing about it. They are only foreigners and refugees after all.

Sami from Cambodia smiled a twisted smile and said he needed to get a plot of land away from people. Somewhere in the middle of a forest.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Sammy from Cambodia and the Artichokes

Sammy from Cambodia

Sammy is from Cambodia. He drives a Berlingo with yellow seat covers. He has special plants from Cambodia which he tries to grow. They got damaged by overnight frost. He was not happy about that. He sucked his teeth and smiled a sad smile.

I bought some jerusalem artichokes. I bought them for the flowers. I don't think I will eat them, since the tubers are composed of inulin, which is extremely dificult to digest, and they are said to give you wind out of the back vent.

What's in a name?

If it's not an artichoke and it's not from Jerusalem, you ask, where in the world did the name come from? One theory holds Jerusalem is a corruption of the Italian girasola, meaning "turning toward the sun," a reference to the sunflower. Another theory involves another garbling of the Ter Neusen, Netherlands area where the sunchoke was originally introduced to Europe. Artichoke comes from the Arabic al-khurshuf, meaning thistle, another reference to appearance of the above-ground foliation. These days, you'll find them marketed under the less foreign sounding name of sunchokes. Whether you refer to it as Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot or sunchoke, the tubers have a delicate flavor that is slightly sweet and nut-like, similar to jicama and water chestnuts.

The edible portion of this member of the sunflower family is the tuber or swollen end of an underground stem, which in some respects resembles a potato. However, unlike most starchy vegetables, the principal storage carbohydrate in sunchokes immediately after harvest is inulin rather than starch. When consumed the inulin is converted in the digestive tract to fructose rather than glucose, which can be tolerated by diabetics.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The plot thickens

Allotments looking towards Eurospar

Weather is still cold. I put in some garlic and some Khol rabbi, some nice purple ones, Did one row of Swedes and another or turnips. Some of the onions I planted last week have sprouted, and I dug one up to see if had put down roots and sure enough it had little white roots about 5 cm long.

An Arab arrived and said Moi. I said hello and shook his hand. He asked if the spade I was digging with was mine. I said of course it was I bring it to the plot each time I did any work.

He went off and spoke to another Arab. He was unhappy. The other arab was shaking his shoulders, and throwing his hand to the side. Both men then went to a locker and the older arab gave the younger arab a spade, which he then began to use furiously. He was very angry.

I had to get back to do the "talkoot" at our house and before I left I asked him what had happened to his tools, for even though nothing had been said I distinctly got the impression that he thought I had stolen his tools.

That's what you get when everybody buys cheap tools from Biltma and they all have the Biltma label on them. I should have written my name on the tools so I could proove that they were mine. It is not nice when there is suspicion hanging in the air.

I talked with him for a short while. Offered him my tools if he needed them. He refused. He had lost a spade, a rake, a fork, just like mine, and 10 kilos of fertiliser. It is terrible when things get stolen. It causes bad feeling and mistrust.

I suppose Moses knew what he was taking about when he wrote down. "Thou shalt not steal"

Allotments looking towards Lippu Laiva

Friday, May 14, 2004

Camera Obscura

Just saw some amazing photographs that were created using a camera obscura. What you need is a completely darked room. Black out the window with bin liners and then put a pinpoint hole in the black plastic. Whatever is outside is then projected onto the walls of the room.

In the above picture there is a couple on their bed and the clouds are flying across the room. I think it would be a magic way of decorating a room. It would be forever changing. The book is by Marja Pirilä, and is called Camera Obscura - Interior/Exterior.

Cold weather

A week ago the weather was wonderful with the temperatures reaching the mid twenties. Now it has turned coldn and is hovering around the ten degree mark and at night it has been dipping below zero, which is not good for all the blueberry bushes that have just come into flower. Could be that there wil not be much of a crop this year.

It has been so cold I have not been down to the plot, and when I drive by at night time there is nobody out working. Nobody is inspired to dig in the cold.

The old Arab opposite me is from Gazza. He had someone come and rotevate his land, but he pegged out an area which he wanted to be left untouched. I asked him what it was and he said mint for making tea. He offered to give me some if I wanted it.

A fat lady called Marja-lenna gave me a "lucky clover" It has four leaves and has dark brownish blotches near the centre. Apparently it also produces flowers.

Friday, May 07, 2004

The Hooka

The Arabs in the next plot have a grill and they were cooking meat on it. The smell was wonderful. They also had a hooka (water pipe) and they were passing it around. They washed tomatoes and lettuce at the tap, and broke bread and shared it together. The smoke coming from the fire was aromatic. It must have been the spices they had put on the meat. The smoke in the hooka was white.

The were very voluble. They talked out loud and not in whispers, and as the smoking an eating progressed they laughed alot. I dug my plot and listened to the Arabic trying to make sense of it. At one point I thought they were throwing in a few English words. It was a bit like the Spaniard who plays football for Newcastle and speaks Spanish with a little bit of Geordie "thrown in the back of the net like"

The sounds of Arabic are very guttural, with lots of spiting and clearing the throat. Here is a snippet of their conversation.

"Wach hut zoor masel ach il nadul bin waher fair play like" and the man with the kaggol cap passed the hooka to the man with the gray moustache.
"Mi ad nir bald head willum ak zakmir sozack ul no sweat" and they all laughed
"Malarck ut mec nusrart fatta ali khan spade to short" The man with the hooka blows smoke in my direction
"No way zar al houk"

The more smoke that came my way the more clear their conversation became. They were discussing me.

"Fair play to the man he is sticking to his digging, but just look at the sweat on his bald head. He is a tall man and that spade is too short for him. He is breaking his back, perhaps we should invite him over for a smoke and some roasted lamb and some bread."
"No way the next thing you know he will be wanting to bring pork chops to BBQ on our grill. We would become polluted"

Time for prayers.

Monday, May 03, 2004


Took Maija to March for Jesus with the boys Olli and Jasper. Left them and went to dig the plot. Joined them later downtown for a meal. Ate BBQ'd salmon and drank a pint of beer. Took the boys home and went to sauna with them.

Olli and Jasper were playing with a hose and an shower. Olli had the shower and Jasper had the hose. Olli was able to switch the water supply between the hose and the shower by pulling out a button. Olli was using the shower to spray Jasper and Jasper was getting mad. He wanted to soak Olli with the hose. Olli refused to switch the water over to the hose. Jasper got mad and shoved the hose in his mouth and bit on it with his teeth, and at that precise moment Olli relented and switched the water supply from the shower to the hose.

A tremendous jet of water shot into Jaspers mouth and most of it came out down his nose. Some might have even come out his ears and the small ducts at the corners of his eyes. Olli thought in incredibly funny that water was exploding from every orifice of Jasper's head. Jasper was coughing and spluttering and gasping for breath. Olli fell to the floor with laughter and began slapping the floor with his hand. Jasper was on his knees still blowing water out his nose. The more Jasper coughed the more Olli laughed. He was completely out of control. Jasper must have taken some water into his lungs, because he was coughing in the way that you do when you try to swallow food but it goes down the wrong way.

Olli was about to choke with laughter. He had got himself into one of those high screaming fits, where you get completely out of breath with laughing. Laughter that makes the veins stand out on your neck. So there they were both collapsed on the floor, Jasper dewy eyed and still spluttering spit from his mouth, and Olli scrunched up into a feotal position his eyes clenched into painful black slits.

I had to shower the both of them down to break the cycle. It was like separating dogs by throwing a bucket of water over them. I needed to do something to take their minds off coughing and laughing. The cold shower seemed to do the trick. Rather than being outraged they were rather passive and docile, and quietly went to got dried off and put their clothes on.

That's what you get when you play with water.