Vacation

We’ll be out for North Karelia early the day after tomorrow. There, beyond a very long drive, lies a little lake. Over the rounded cliff on the lake’s eastern edge one finds two small raw timber cottages. There lies my newest Paradise on Earth (also known as my in-law’s family summer cottage).

From previous experience I know that wifi or 3G (no hope of 4G) or even mobile phone calls seldom work out there. It’s very remote and the nearest link tower is blocked by the rough terrain. There’s also some ore in the soil there, as even radio channels tend to get a little choppy.

Personally, I’m from the very west of Finland which is very even and in places also rather treeless. The western Finns made their forests into permanent fields when the eastern Finns used a burn-farm-leave -tactic. In the west, there are less lakes or hills but the river valleys provide better soil than the rocky eastern territories. In the ancient times, the farming strategies made sense. In the modern time, they ensure that it looks like a different country going from eat to west or west to east.

The East is lake territory. There are also the worn down roots of an ancient mountain range, worn to it’s last by the last Ice Age. This means there is a lot of hills, cliffs, boulders and rubble. All the lakes tend to take the same direction, north-west to south-east, also due to the movements of ice some 25k+ years ago. All the hills go like that too, in little strings. This picture is one very very good example, although replace hills with island.

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From Ukko-Koli, a view that has inspired many famous Finnish painters. Photo from personal archives.

Also due to the farming tactic mentioned earlier there is a lot more and a lot older forest there than elsewhere in Finland. I wish I’d had the sense of getting a pair of good rubber boots there so I could go wander around in the woods and not worry about snakes (or pits I could get stuck into or thorny bushes or old Russian bombshells or whatever else I could stumble upon, because rubber boots can take it all, for reals). Maybe I will this year.

I don’t know if there’s really any chance of any bombshells there, but whoever knows? All kinds of crazy things happen during wars.

Also this year my parents will be visiting us there, so I guess I’ll be playing the hostess. Funny being a hostess to your own mother somewhere. I mean, when they came to my apartment they started doing the dishes and vacuuming (which I had already done, thank you very much). I doubt they’d do that there, or anything similar as I don’t think there’s a vacuum cleaner there. Surely not?

(My husband’s grandparents are hoarders or something very close. There’s tons of crap at the cottage no one dares to throw away before they pass away. I counted four coffee makers the last time we were there, and you wouldn’t want to use one of them.)

Now, just so you understand, this post has absolutely no other point than for me to inform you that for the next two weeks updates are unlikely and only remotely within any realm of possibility. I’ll be writing something while there, undoubtedly, to be published later.

That is, if I’ll have the time from all the relaxing, drinking and bathing in the sauna.

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Reading Journal #1 Malleus Maleficarum

I know, I know, it isn’t on my list! But I have an edit already on the way and it will be there.

So, this is officially the first part of my second ever reading journal. I managed to get a Finnish translation of the book at the Helsinki book fair last year.

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Picture from the publisher’s website.

It was very expensive the first I saw it, but now the publisher was selling them for somewhat cheaper and gave a little gift on the side. A little booklet on recognizing a witch.

The printer/publisher is known for all sort of religious/mystic works. I’ve bought some of their books before and it’s on my list in the form of the Lönnrot reprint already. The originals are for obvious reasons absurdly rare today (having been in print originally in the mid-late 19th century) and the reprints were very much needed.

Were I richer than I am today I’d buy a good few. Alas.

As for Die Hexenhammer, I’ve seen references to it in places many times. It’s been categorized as unreachable in my mental to-read -list for years. Then, two years ago, it was published in Finnish! Oh joy! Obvious must have.

Now, to actually get forth and read it, for sure: the journal.

I haven’t actually started reading yet. I now something of the subject matter and this book will certainly bring new insight. It’s not that long, 350 or so pages plus the appendices.From what I’ve leafed through it I know there are tons of biblical references that will certainly be meaningless to me.

Also there seems to be a lot of Latin. Woe is me for never being able to attend that Latin class in high school. I have the book it would have required (the teacher retired unexpectedly after we’d picked our classes and bought our books) saved. I suck at studying solo if it’s something that requires practice like languages invariably do.

Transformation, Translocation, Weather control… The modern world is so boring, not having any of those! Although they’re then balance out by Castration. Hmm.

I’ll get reading and get back to you on it. With some interesting tidbits and something. I don’t really know what it’s supposed to contain, but I’ll manage.

You can beat me up verbally if I seem to give up on this one.

Summer reading

The fact of the matter is that I have too many books I haven’t either read or never finished. I love to buy books and I cannot keep up with the pace I buy them. I do have the intention of finishing them off as soon as I’ve bought them, but then some other book grabs my attention and I move on.

So, to actually get myself around to actually reading what I’ve got here, I decided to make a list. One summer won’t certainly be enough to finish it off, seeing as I’ve got some other stuff beside reading to do as well.

Fiction:

Fantasy/Sci-fi:

  • Shadowmarch -quartet, Tad Williams
    • I’ve read the first three years ago, but it took me so long getting my hands on 4, that I’ve forgotten too much to keep reading.
  • Gormenghast trilogy, Mervyn Peake
    • Started a couple summers ago, got sidetracked and never finished.
  • Dune, Frank Herbert
    • And one sequel, though I seem to have misplaced it. Started over a year ago, but was in a mood for a bit easier reading at the time so didn’t finish then. 

Classics:

  • 1984,George Orwell
    • Shame on me, but at least I’ve got it.
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
    • Bought for a bargain price. Part of the “read more classics”-initiative.
  • Alastalon salissa, Volter Kilpi
    • A Finnish literary classic. 800 pages or so spent to describe one day – about 70 pages are spent on a man trying to choose a pipe. Notorious for being difficult to finish.
  • The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • Haven’t much delved into Russian literature past Anna Karenina and Master and Margarita, but let’s fix that?
  • Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    • Seen a play of this once, but I guess I was too young then for anything past the stealing and guilty conscience to leave a trace in my memory.  
  • Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer
    • I’ve got a lovely edition with both the Old English and Modern versions. Read parts one Christmas. Should really get back to it.

Other:

  • 1Q84 The complete collection, Haruki Murakami
    • Impulse buy from when I got my tattoo. Started it on the way home, but haven’t finished.
  • Dangerous Women 1-3, G.R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, ed.
    • Almost done with 1, took only one sunny day at the summer cottage pier. Easy reading thus far, although not every story’s been to my personal taste thus far.
  • The Hand of Fatima, Idelfonso Falcones
    • I love history fiction, but somehow this book failed to grasp me. Maybe it might have, but I gave up twice under 100 pages in. Third time’s the charm, I hope.
  • Museum of Innocence, Orhan Pamuk
    • I have absolutely no preconceptions of this book. None. Maybe only one thus far listed I have never ever even opened, though it’s been on the shelf for some six months. Very odd, but somehow very refreshing.

I’ll add to this after I give my bookshelf a more thorough comb. For now rather manageable…

Non-fiction:

History:

  • Catherine the Great and Potemkin, Simon Sebag Montefiore
    • I started this one on the train and it starts great, but as usual I haven’t read further. One I’ll certainly like as Romanovs have been a favorite history subject since my early teens.
  • The Romanov Sisters – The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra, Helen Rappaport
    • What’s with the names, seriously? In “Romanov”-category.
  • Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
    • I’ve loved this sort of books since I was a kid. High expectations.
  • The Popes – A History, John Julius Norwich
    • Yet another interest I’ve had for years. For the history aspect, mostly; religion isn’t my thing.
  • My Heart is My Own, John Guy
    • History of Mary Queen of Scots. I bought this from London 2006 and to my immense shame have never gotten past the halfway point.
  • The Good Wife’s Guide – Le Ménagier de Paris, trans. Greco & Rose
    • General interest in medieval life. I’ve read parts of it and it’s very interesting, but to my taste excessive mentions of God and lecturing on the virtues a wife should have while being reminded that men can do whatever. As one should expect, but it gets old after a while.
  • Victoria, A.N.Wilson
    • Of the life and times of Queen Victoria. Read first ten pages or so in the train, should get back to it, seems well researched and thorough yet easy to read.
  • The Inheritance of Rome, Chris Wickham
    • About how Rome had an effect on its former territories even after collapsing. I got around to the collapse of Byzantium the first time around but had to take a break at that point for some reason and never got back to it.
  • Malleus Maleficarum, Heinrich Kramer
  • Geoponika, trans. Andrew Dalby
    • An ancient Greek essay on agriculture, I believe. 

Humanist Sciences:

  • Kuoleman voimat, Kaarina Koski
    • A Master’s thesis (or even a doctorate? I forget). It’s about pre-christian beliefs on spirit-creatures that lasted through to the early years of the 20th century. Finnish mythology is a very interesting field. Should write a post about this.
  • Suomen kansan muinaisia loitsurunoja, Elias Lönnrot
    • Ancient Spell-Poems of the Finnish People would be the title in English. Unfortunately, many of the spell-poems in this book have been christianized – Virgin Mary or Jesus is mentioned in several in place of relevant Finnish deities. I’ve read some poems but haven’t touched some segments at all. Still very interesting.
  • On the Map, Simon Garfield
    • Started, haven’t finished. I love old maps and Garfield writes well, but somehow just got sidetracked.
  • Worse than War, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
    • I have started this I know I have, but I can’t recall anything about it right now. I remember I thought it very interesting but for some reasons abandoned.
  • Poetics and Rhetorics, Aristotle
    • Took this for reading while in Greece. Didn’t read past the first chapter because was too busy doing other stuff while there.
  • Merchant, Soldier, Sage, David Priestland
    • Might be more a history book. On the universal roles of Warrior, Trader and Shaman throughout history in different cultures. Tried to use this as bed reading, was too effective at that time.

This will be a very long list. So I will probably edit more in as I comb through the shelves. Let’s start with these, OK? Great.

I will be taking a veritable library with me to Northern Karelia when we finally get to go there in a few weeks. Nothing else to do but read if the weather is bad and some reading by the lake if the weather is good, so win/win.

I’ll go rearrange the shelves. I think read/not-read this time. Updates incoming eventually.

Update #1:

I added about a dozen entries to the list and divided it in sections. There are still some books I need to add (!?! I know), but at the moment I need sleep more. I’ll get back to you on that later.