REPORTER: AVA ANTTILA – LOS ANGELES
Finn Fest Organizers and Performers Feted
Consul General Kirsti Westphalen chose a perfect California night, October 12th, with a full moon over the Consul residence in Bel Air to celebrate the FinnFest 2011 organizers and performers. Also, the spectacular night of Southern California weather welcomed Inspectors of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Helsinki, Finland who shared in this special evening as significant guests.
Ms. Westphalen opened the festivities by thanking all the FinnFest crew for their spectacular dedication and successful efforts to put the spotlight on Finland today. The Consul General saluted the teamwork that put on such a wonderful event featuring modern Finland. The Consular staff and FinnFest crew were honored by her touching words of thanks and praise.
Those in attendance included Henry and Eeva Syvanen; Honorary Consul in San Diego, Kathryn Mautino; and actress Anna Easteden who had delighted all at the FinnFest Gala as Master of Ceremonies. In continuing dedication of the theme of FinnFest, a special ribbon cutting celebrated the Consular residence’s official “greening”—newly installed solar panels. The delicious cornucopia of Finnish Fall fare featuring cabbage rolls, beet salad, salmon and fabulous salad was enjoyed by all.
The Los Angeles Finlandia Foundation held its Annual Luncheon to celebrate its 37th year on November 6th at Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City. Kriss Larson and the Scandia Gammaldans Band. Linnea Jackson, Katirilli Finnish Folk Dancers and the Kalifornia Kanteles provided entertainment. Christina Lin presented Honoree Award of the Year to Marilyn Kujala. Pastor Rueben Perttula announced after the invocation that next Sunday, November 13th, the Finnish Lutheran church will be celebrating its 94th anniversary. All are welcome to the event beginning at 1 p.m. A special musical tribute will feature a bell player who previously moved the audience to tears with the rendition of Finlandia.
Spotted in the audience, surprise visitors from the homeland, novelist/chef Eino Nurminen and his wife Anja. Also in attendance was former head of Finnair in New York, the ever-dapper Pentti Rosenberg with wife Dolores.
The stirrings in a Finnish soul are always satisfied with the appearance of the beauty of the sounds of the Kanteles, the deeply moving melodies that are so meaningful to the fabric of the nation. The pageantry, the playfulness, the costumes of the Katirilli dancers delighted us with the joy of our heritage. The treat of these performances showcased the remarkable dedication of these volunteer efforts that keep these precious traditions alive for the Finnish community.
Note of Loss
One of the great local Finnish ladies, an “angel of the kitchen” at Suomi Kerho Finnish Center, has left us and will be remembered on December 11 at a memorial service. Rauha Loponen was the ever-present force and muse of Finnish heritage cuisine for so many of us. For countless years she tirelessly put together the menus for Suomi Kerho, the Veterans, the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce and others with their events. There was always a smile and a hug, a helpful hint a deference and the quiet modesty of a Finnish hostess. For the ‘epicurious’ of us, a poke into the kitchen yielded the reward of a nugget of wisdom and the true comfort of our homeland. Rauha (a name which means “peace” in Finnish), you will live in our thankful hearts and kitchens as inspiration.
Michael Jackson’s MD Found Guilty
LA is a great town. For the past several weeks in one ‘eyeful’ I have taken in the breathtaking beauty of Disney Hall walking into the solemnity of the courthouse for a hearing and in one ‘earful’ was distracted by the ever present airplanes circling with banners and cheering factions of crowds for the media ‘circus’ outside for the Jackson matter. All within the same few blocks.
Now it is over; another celebrity trial. The convicted felon hauled off in handcuffs likely won’t be in jail for long. The airplanes will return to where they belong –at the beach advertising beer and suntan lotion. I love LA!!