Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I am the Moon - what Tarot card are you?

This test was on my friend's blog Amel's Realm - an Indonesian woman that also lives in Sodankylä. I thought, being that I read Tarot myself, that I would have a go for fun. Quite interesting really, considering my previous blog... (Not that I've ever had to take any medication of any kind or been addicted to anything - other than my husband! LOL) I'd say that I normally have enough personal happy high anyway! The three keywords I would actually relate to another card the Star, not the Moon.. but some of the rest I can resonate with.

What card are you?

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not a good week...

It's been a horrid week. Not usual for me to be down on a blog.. but it has been just that. Horrid.

On Tuesday 20th January, I had my 44th birthday...and one of my best friends died.. my beautiful and unique cat, Magick. :-( As you can imagine it threw the whole day out of synch, I cried most of the day, on what should have been a happy occasion.. and I had really been looking forward to that particular birthday as I love the number 4.

Oh dear God, what a time.

Magick came to me three years ago, along with my other male cat Mojo. I had, at the time, just lost my two male cats Smokey and Arnie, who had travelled with us from the UK and had died within two weeks of each other at the Christmas. Now, this Witch cannot live without a cat and finding one in Lapland is no easy feat as cats are not the most popular pet, like they are in the UK. Adverts are far and few between. I had been truly gutted to lose both my boys so quickly and was beside myself.

I made several phone calls (with much more limited Finnish in those days) to local vets, shops and council offices. Eventually, I heard of a Pet Rescue centre, based in Rovaniemi. Hardly what you would call local, but it is the next major town from us...it is 130-140kms away. The lady there, spoke excellent english and said she had a black and white cat to home. It sounded promising, so we arranged the trip - double quick! A cat would cost 30euros to re-home - being purely veterinary fees. My husband said it would be his birthday gift to me. :D

The night before we went, I was laid in bed thinking about my new cat. I was SO excited! I thought to myself...'Oooh, I am going to get my new cat tomorrow!!' and a voice that was not mine, said back to me... 'Yes, and you must call him Magick!' Now, it has to be said here, that I am quite used to these sorts of messages. They have happened to me since I was a little girl...so I just replied 'Oh, Ok!' and was quite happy with the choice of name!

When we arrived, there were several wire cages with cats in. Some, it turned out were 'on holiday' not in sheltered accommodation. The lady we needed to see was busy and there was a young girl there filling in. I asked her which cat it was that I was coming for.. as there was more than one black and white cat there. She shook her head, unknowingly.

"Which one of you lot is Magick then?" I called out. "Miaowwwwwwww!" said Magick from an upper cage, right up in the corner of the room! "Oh, it's you is it?" I said. "Where on earth have you been my darling?" I asked.. because he was in a right mess! He busily miaowed away at me, trying to tell me all about his woes on the road and how his fur was all matted and his shine all but gone... Oh and that some awful person had cut his left ear with a pair of scissors! My husband said to me, "Don't get too excited, it might not be him! - What about this one? He is very friendly" - he said, as he was gleaning lots of 'me too, me too' affection from another black and white cat, that looked more like the cat on a Felix tin.... and was himself falling in love.

Of course Magick WAS Magick and we also ended up bring a renamed Felix look-a-like 'Mojo' home with use too! Although I am THE cat lover in this household and my husband is the dog whisperer... he has actually been responsible for the vast majority of extra cats I have had the honour to love during my time on this planet. Considering he is really the dog lover of the house.. it's quite funny!

A few days after being rehomed - Magick looked much better after a good bath! His eyes looked overly large for some while, until he filled out again...

Despite being advertised as black and white, Magick was really more like a black cat. He had just a tiny touch of white under his chin..but in most photographs it gets missed. He came home with such a huge appetite. I think that he thought he was unlikely to see the next meal for a long time - so devoured everything with gusto for ages. Only tinned food mind, he wasnt so keen on dried - although he would eat it if pressed. He couldn't believe his luck that the got water AND milk!

His mistreated fur gradually gave way to the most glossy fur I've ever seen on a cat. So much so, that my nickname for him was my 'Glosspot'. He was a real talker too. I'd never had a cat like him before and although my old Smokey used to talk, Magick truly was something else! He was a real character. His teeth looked like fangs as they hung over his top lip and were really noticeable on his black fur. He and Mojo got on very well.. until I took on two more cats. Female sister kittens - my Goddesses, Maia and Gaia. Then the problems started and poor old Magick got picked on quite a bit by Mojo. I guess Mojo was vying for masculinity with the ladies, when in reality, Magick wasn't interested.

Magick grew very close to my eldest son, who has found his loss quite hard. This was the first pet family member that had got close to him and shown preference for him. He wasn't such a massive cat lover before either. However, Magick always was to be found sleeping on the end of his bed and Magick would go and find him to talk to instead, if I wasn't free!

Magick's eyes were often very reflective! Eery!

Magick was also a hair eater! I didn't know that cats did that before. He loved to sneak up behind you, sit on the back of the sofa and start licking your hair! Crazy. Apparently it's fairly common. He also adored the colour Purple.. if there was something purple, you can be pretty sure he would be found sat on it! :D Being that Purple and Green are my favourite colours.. he didn't do badly for Purple seating arrangements!

Anyway, we had Magick for three years.. in which time, we often wondered how old he was.. and presumed he was about two or three when we first got him. However, the vet now thinks that the problem he died from, indicated he was much older.

Magick showed signs of illness a few days before my birthday, he started to walk differently and miaowed in pain if you picked him up a certain way. Initially, I thought that maybe he had hurt his leg in a brawl with Mojo, then I considered it might be his hip. Then I realised that he wasn't going to the toilet. Cats have to be indoors in Finland - they are not allowed out - (although many do - but not mine). So, I knew that he was just sitting in the tray and not doing anything. I rang the vet.

It was the sunday. Why do these things always happen on a sunday? The emergency service was only available in Kemijärvi. That's another good 100km drive from here. The vet suggested that I give him some paraffin oil - to get him to 'go'. Of course, I didn't have any! It's not what most people keep in the house is it! I found the number for a Sodankylä vet, who was off duty - and whilst she wouldn't see Magick as she was off duty, she did agree to give me 20mls of paraffin oil in a syringe so that I could start trying that, but get to the vets on Monday. A friend of mine, who lives near to the vet, collected it for me and dropped it off. Thanks Sari. (I have some very good friends here!)

Magick with one of the kittens from Mojo and Maia's pairing in 2008.
Gaia also in the pic facing away..

Well, it didn't make one iota of difference, other than it made Magick sick a couple of hours after having just a few mils of the stuff. He became confused and I was really worried. At 8am, on the Monday morning, I rang the vets. You have to ring the same day here.. to the vets or the doctors etc.. to get a time. In the case of the vet.. they might well be out on rounds (especially with Reindeer) so sometimes you just have to wait! I was lucky, I got an appointment for 12 noon.

The vet was rather concerned because Magick was so dehydrated. As I stood there with him, the vet put him on a drip. However prior to this, for some reason he had anaesthetised him. I am still not sure why. I guess so that he could feel around his belly without hurting him. He discovered a swelling the size of a tennis ball. I'd not found it before and felt bad that I hadn't nor did I understand why I hadn't! Again, the vet gave him some medicine to help make him 'go'. He asked me to call again the following day, at 9am to book another appointment, when he would operate to remove whatever the ball was.. in all likelihood a tumour, although it was quite far down in the intestine.

Magick didn't come to, from his mediation, until around 11pm! He was naturally confused, but his walking was worse, he was losing the use of his back legs and miaowing pitifully and with a new deep tone or growl to his voice. He had a sore throat and bad breath and would not drink. When a pet stops drinking..that is a really bad sign. Still, he could not 'go'. He gradually got worse over the night. I stayed up all night with him, as he just could not get comfortable. I rocked him like a baby..that was the only thing that seemed to settle him for a short while. He was in such pain and I felt totally useless.

Happier times, Magick was my baby! Can you see his fangs?

Come 8am and I rang the vet again. I didn't wait till 9am. I was at the vets before he was! As my husband was at work for 7am and had the car, both trips meant potku-ing there on my kicksled, with Magick in the cat box, well insulated from the cold temps, laid on a pillow, a blanket over him and another over the box itself! Not the easiest of trips and the road to the vets was pure ice. Magick miaowed in pain all the way there on the final trip. I was concerned though that another anaesthetic might be a bit much, so soon.

The vet took one look at him and said he would make a start. However, he also said that he had never done this type of operation before - resectioning the intestine. (Inspiring confidence!) However, I thanked him for at least trying..reminded him, that he was the vet..so he could do it just fine! (He had already told me that the lady vet there, wouldn't even consider doing such an operation!) He re-anaesthetised Magick and I kissed him goodbye. I said to him that at least, for now, he was out of pain again. He was in the lap of the Gods. The vet said the operation would take about an hour..so I sat down to wait outside. I called my husband to let him know.

Only a few minutes passed and I heard walking around and a washing of hands from the vets room. I knew what that meant.. He opened the door and said. "Ok,...so, he died. He couldn't handle the anaesthetic and he has gone". Then I went in to see him. He was on the table still and worse still.. he was still agape and open from the operation. (The vets show you everything here!) He showed me his necrotic bladder and that the problem was actually uremia..a kidney poisoning that mainly older cats get. He told me not to feel guilty, that I hadn't done anything wrong... that this would have occurred quite recently. That nothing could have been done. He reckoned also that Magick was much older than we had considered.

There was my baby and he was laying dead. I cried and I cried - Oh, how I cried! The vet sewed him up and brought me home in his car, bless him. My potku was collected the next day by my elder son as the vet is next door to the ammattikoulu/college that he attends. My husband drove home from work.. as he couldn't bear to think of me this way, not any day..but least of all, on my birthday. So strange that I should lose him three years on, on my birthday - when he had initially come to me to celebrate that same event.

It is just so awful to lose someone you love...even if to others it is just a pet. His spirit and his energy are so missed in this house. It seems so quiet. I still expect to see his beautiful little face pop up from the end of my son's bed.

He was buried on the 21st up at the pet cemetery. It was 6pm, windy, very dark, bloody cold and very snowy. No time to hang around and get emotional. I wrapped Magick up beforehand, in some black fabric with rainbow cats on it and put in a rose quartz crystal with his body. We all held the crystal (a heart chakra crystal) for a little while, infused it with our love and said our goodbyes. He was buried in the small pet section of the cemetery (the slots are pre-dug and covered over with wood and of course now several inches of snow) then in the spring they will be dealt with properly.

For those of you, that read my blog to find out about about Lapland life...I won't apologise for this being such a long blog purely about my cat. He was a big part of my life. The Rainbow in the Arctic is less colourful for his loss. R.I.P. Magick. Thanks for having had the chance to know and love you. You won't ever be forgotten.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

How much do you like Ice Cream?

Picture the scene.... children waiting for the ice cream van. Mums and Dads with the money. Excitement queuing up to buy some frozen goodies! Can you see the picture in your minds eye? It conjures up lots of sunny summer days doesn't it!

Think again...re picture that...

Try a dark wintery night, snowy and at temperatures of -30c! Yep, it's true!

Every wednesday of the year, at around 6.15pm, the ice-cream van calls.. summer AND winter! We hear a little beep or two (not so long or musical as the UK versions) and there is the van somewhere outside - across the play area. To be honest we have never bothered going out to it. It beeps and then drives back down the road a bit and waits in a little slot out of sight...plus you seem to be able to only buy in bulk. Not like the UK vans, where you can buy an individual ice-cream to eat there and then.

Yesterday around this time, we had call to go out. As we drove down the road, the van was arriving - all lit up. We really couldn't believe that not only was the Kotijäätelö ice-cream man making sales in such cold weather..but that people were actually WAITING for him to arrive! In temps of -30c for goodness sake! There they were, moving from side to side, hopping from one foot to the other to keep warm.. just for the sake of ice cream! All I can say is that they must REALLY love the stuff!

Kotijäätelö (as it is called in Finland) means "Home Ice Cream", it is part of a Northern European brand of ice cream, known for it's home distribution system in its light blue ice cream vans and selling ice creams by the box, in contrast to ice cream vans other places in the world. In Denmark and Norway is called Hjem-IS and Hemglass in Sweden.

Hemglass was originally founded by the Swedish Eric Ericsson in 1968 but later spread to other countries, establishing in Finland as recently as 1993. The group has been a subsidiary of Nestlé since 2002. Here is the Kotijäätelö website http://www.kotijaatelo.fi/

I couldn't resist showing this line.. Sateenkaari-Sekoitus means Rainbow-Mix!
How appropriate!

I didn't have my camera with me at the time...and it would have been too dark anyway... so you will have to use your imagination! It was really COLD though..and today it has been even colder around -34c... so cold that the tip of my oldest sons ear lobe got semi frozen on the way home from college, because it was sticking out from under his hat! The temperature is charted for similar tomorrow.. so he will certainly be wearing his balaclava under his hat then as well!

Cool and Crunchy Lapland! Fancy an Ice Cream?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

De Lurking Day under the Arctic Rainbow!

The 'blogosphere' has a tradition that rolls around once a year. Starting a few years ago, that tradition is called De-Lurking Day/Week and it is traditionally in the second week in January. So, I reckon that today, the 14th January, is the last day possible in 2009, to run this blog!

So WHAT is a LURK and how to DE-LURK?

Online Urban dictionaries quote the following as:


I. On a messageboard or anything similar, to browse the board very often, but without ever posting anything.

II. A person who, though standing with a group of "friends," fails to make conversation or say anything of interest. Commonly used as a derogatory term for someone quiet or untalkative.

III. To read without commenting or contributing, therefore effectively invisible to the rest of the group or community. Generally recommended for joining any forum so that you can observe rules, attitudes and prominent personalities without jumping in and breaking a rule, making an ass of yourself, or asking a question about something obvious that you would have learned for yourself if you’d paid attention in the first place.

Delurk or De-Lurk

I. Slang for coming out of online "lurking mode", usually motivated by an irresistible need to flame about something. For example, "I just had to delurk and add my two penneth worth to that conversation about global warming!"

II. Entering an online discussion after a time spent lurking, esp. if suddenly prompted to do so.

So do YOU lurk?

I know you are out there - I see the viewing stats!
So DO drop in and DELURK yourself!

Even if it is just a simple Hello.. I want YOU want to participate on THIS blog! If you read, but do not comment, it's now time to make your presence known! Tell me WHO you are, WHERE in the world you are from, WHY you’re here or just say ‘Hi’.

If you are one of those who regularly leave me a comment - please keep doing it!

I love to hear from you!

So, to all you Lurkios out there... (and to remember a wonderful old comedy sketch from the brilliant, late, great, Frankie Howerd)....

'Lurkio, Oh Lurkio, Wherefore art thou Lurkio?'

OK, OK, Lurcio's name was really spelt with a c and not a k - but it's NOT spelling day......



Friday, January 9, 2009

My next door neighbour has an Ice Factory!

Well, I think it must be true! She keeps churning out Ice Candles like they are going out of fashion! They DO look beautiful though.. especially with different colour candles in them.

So, what is an Ice Candle when it's at home? It's a candle that is housed in a wall of Ice! This makes the colours of the candle glow beautifully, reflected by all the crackles in the ice. I have made one or two before, but my next door neighbour obviously has a thing for them.. and as one eventually dies.. (if the temperature rises they will of course melt) then up springs another almost immediately! I LOVE IT!

So how does she make them? Here is how to make yourself an Ice Candle!

You need a bucket, or a deep plastic container. Where ever you are going to freeze it, wrap the bucket up - around the base and sit it also on some fabric, newspaper or a small rug - this will help to insulate the base.

Then fill the bucket up with water - to about an inch from the top. You can always add food colouring - if you want a coloured effect to the ice. Then simply freeze it! If you are going to freeze this outside, it needs to be at a temperature of at least -10 or less.. or you can of course use your freezer. Probably best to do this at night, then deal with it again in the morning.. to stop the fiddlers amongst us from 'peeking' to see if it's ready or not yet!

The water freezes gradually from the outside wall inwards and will get thicker the longer that you leave it. Of course, if you leave it freezing for too long it will freeze solid and you don't want that! You want it so that the walls are frozen, yet the centre is still liquid-ish (flipping COLD liquid at that) yet, because you insulated the bottom it should also still be an unfrozen whole lump!

The following morning, let the buckets thaw for a while (five or ten minutes). The sides of the bucket should thaw a little to allow for its removal. As it is loosening, you should take the bucket outside (if you are indoors!) and much like a building a sandcastle, flip the bucket over, and release your ice shape. At the top, (previously the bottom and insulated part of the ice shape) there will be a thin layer of ice, which you can break away. This will leave the outer shell where you can place a candle of your choice! Bingo! Your own ice candle! You can of course make smaller sizes of ice candle too.

I once bought, many years ago, a similar item that was for use in the kitchen - for a fancy party - I still have it somewhere. It's a double layered plastic bowl in which you could put flowers or fruit slices etc.. for embedding all sorts of creative objects for a party ice bowl. I see no reason why you couldn't do the same thing with the outdoor candles too!

Ice is a real art form! The Ice Castle at Kemi is soon open..(if it isn't already) I would love to go this year. We will have to see if we find the time..

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 - Sweet, Tasty and Fulfilling I hope - like a Gingerbread House

Last month I never got around to doing something that I had promised myself... and that was make my first ever Gingerbread house.

It's the traditional thing in Finland.. especially with the younger mums who have children.. to have a family event of making one.

OK, you can cheat.. you can actually buy a kit here.. which is exactly what I did.. and I STILL didn't find time to do it!

I also bought a kit for my gift at the pre Christmas party.. (see Pikkujoulu blog) and Sally, my fellow Brit friend in Sodankylä won that... I wonder if she managed to find time to make hers either?

So, finally, today on January 1st.. I thought that I would do it. It wasn't so hard to do. I'd looked on youtube for some video tips.. and most said that I would need a helpers hand to load the walls together, but I managed it alone.. with the help of a lot of icing/cement! LOL Unfortunately, I only had the one nozzle, which was a bit large.. and I guess if I were to do it again next year, then I would prefer to have a range of icing bags at the ready.. but it made a fun change from computer work! I doubt it will last long though, not in this house!

I used lots of icing as I wanted it to look really snowy! The icing is a little naughty as it also has some Limoneto de Sorrento in it.. yummy Lemon liquor and a little lemon juice too.

The sweets on the roof are from the UK, Parma Violets (which I love) and from Finland, Turkish Pepper Fireballs... which are kind of aniseed like - oh and a couple of mini slices of Taytelaku, which when cut looks like flowers. Its a gentle licorice sweet with different flavours of banana, strawberry or chocolate running inside the core...Oh yes, very yummy..but there are only a couple of those there.

We also have a friend staying with us for the week and Steve LOVES gingerbread! :D No sooner than I had the house compiled, he was after destroying it.... but maybe later tonight or tomorrow!

As I say, it is a popular pastime in Finland. This year in Rovaniemi there was also a competition for the best Gingerbread house. You can see all the applicants on the link below - but I've included the top three in this blog.. and another that caught my eye!

I think that I have a LONG way to go, before I could manage to design, bake and decorate a Gingerbread house myself, as well as these ones were done. They are all fantastic! I particularly love the winner. In the shape of a Kota (Lappish Teepee) with the noitarumpu magickal symbols on it.. so I heartily approve! Naturally, there had to be some gingerbread Reindeer too. Brilliant!

1st Place:

2nd Place:

3rd Place:

I am also amazed that this fantastic castle didn't get a placement!

Almost a shame to eat mine! Oh well.. thats ONE New Years Resolution that I won't bother making then! I will stick to my real one.. which is to practice more Finnish. A Gingerbread house in Finnish, is by the way, called Piparkakkutalo which is three words rolled into one Pipar/kakku/talo - which happens frequently in Finnish.

Onnellista Uutta Vuotta! Happy New Year!