AROUND LA WITH AVA®: CREATIVITY

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Ava Anttila

AROUND LA WITH AVA®: CREATIVITY

The creative process is fascinating.

Who knows when and how that moment of vision clarity will trigger an avalanche of inspiration that translates into greatness and the sublime satisfaction of an idea fully, properly developed.

Is it a single vision, or is it a glimpse that launches a domino effect? Is it a thought, a sound, or a smell that starts the process—perhaps a memory?

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While some have used the ‘thunderbolt’ as a symbolic ‘striker’, I have always associated ‘quiet’—peace as a prerequisite, with the creative process. Imaginative responses may be triggered by attack or impending doom, but grand ideas of consequence require contemplation.

Stress, interruptions, and ‘noise’ block creativity.

Los Angeles Unleashed

In our dear City of Angels, we are truly at the center of a creative universe—and have been for a long time. Visionaries and creatives have come here with their dreams, their talent, and their imagination. Some have found success—and their alter egos continue to come. Here, good ideas are welcomed from any source and the ‘creators’ are rewarded handsomely!!

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LA has long been the ‘pot of gold’ for talent—and currently is the ‘gold standard’ for the arts, research, medicine, music, writers, entertainment, high tech industry, and anything fun.

LA has long been the ‘pot of gold’ for talent—and currently is the ‘gold standard’ for the arts, research, medicine, music, writers, entertainment, high tech industry, and anything fun. We have the most awesome temples of artistic greatness [Disney Hall and the Getty Center, to name just a few] and you can find the working locations of literary and artistic greatness in some of the lowliest and unassuming places imaginable [e.g., not too long ago my son got excited when he accidently found the ‘signed’, historic Bukowski house in a back alley – he was looking for a parking place on his way to see his Mummi in her (then) nursing home].

OK! New York, Chicago, and a few other places have edifices and back alleys too. But, our ‘gold’ includes the pleasant warmth of sunshine in the winter and the cooling Pacific breezes in the summer!

Peace, Quiet, … and Warmth

I think often of the Creative Finns who are here doing wonderful things, expressing their genius by creating art, music, theater, film, games, and the like. Things are so different here on the other side of the world. There are cultural differences that can cause loneliness, confusion, and homesickness even though adults are not supposed to admit to that. There is traffic, daylight, and the other irritations of everyday life in this new environment. It is easy to feel like “…a stranger in a strange land”.

 Some may attribute Finland’s success to a refined and homogeneous gene pool.  Some may even suggest that the harshness of the long winter’s nights and the utter boredom entailed lead to the ‘Angry’ Birds  and the macabre Finnish films that enter Hollywood film award derbies.

Some may attribute Finland’s success to a refined and homogeneous gene pool. Some may even suggest that the harshness of the long winter’s nights and the utter boredom entailed lead to the ‘Angry’ Birds and the macabre Finnish films that enter Hollywood film award derbies.

The World recognizes and celebrates Finnish creativity: art, architecture, music, textiles, education, science, technology, furniture, genetics, and, now, gaming. Some may attribute Finland’s success to a refined and homogeneous gene pool. Some may even suggest that the harshness of the long winter’s nights and the utter boredom entailed lead to the ‘Angry’ Birds and the macabre Finnish films that enter Hollywood film award derbies. Still others who have worn a Marimekko garment or who have watched Esa- Pekka Salonen conduct know that there must be some ‘sunshine and blue sky’ in that great land up north!

Still others who have worn a Marimekko garment or who have watched Esa- Pekka Salonen conduct know that there must be some ‘sunshine and blue sky’ in that great land up north!

“In the still of the night…” the creative juices can flow. With peace and quiet—and time to contemplate, the mind can examine the familiar anew. That, to me, is the genesis of the great Finnish creativity.

Go ‘Home’ Without Leaving Town

Sometimes when you are away, just a little slice reminiscent of home may cheer you up. A few scraps of ‘nothing’ or a familiar scent may provide the alchemy needed to reassure you that you have brought the best of your old world with you to this strange new land.

Sometimes when you are away, just a little slice reminiscent of home may cheer you up.

Sometimes when you are away, just a little slice reminiscent of home may cheer you up.

May I suggest making a loaf of bread.

Making a loaf of bread may not be a Golden Globe production or a Grammy worthy composition, but it does take beginning with a few scraps of nothing and following a simple path to a successful end result that is so satisfying. So what if your creation is not an Oscar winning film, a NY Times bestselling novel, a Pulitzer prize winning Internet column, or a quirky game that spies for the NSA and makes you a ‘kazillionaire’ to boot. You will have created something from nothing (well almost, except a few easily available ingredients). And, your creation will look good, smell like ‘home’, taste great, and make lots of friends –if you choose to share!

May I suggest making a loaf of bread.

May I suggest making a loaf of bread (Ava Anttila making Finnish sourdough rye bread for her father at Christmas)

So, by golly, when you are feeling down, when those crazy outside influences are setting up ‘road blocks’ to your success, or when you are just waiting for ‘things’ to come together, take a ‘time out’ and bake a loaf of rye bread! The bread-making process from beginning to end is great therapy.

The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance

A simple act such as bread baking can unleash ‘writers’ block’ by providing a sense of accomplishment, a moment of joy, a diversion. Then, the taste of comfort (even if not the perfect re-creation of your Grandmother’s Finnish rye bread) can transport one’s memory and mind to another place. In my experience, the simple, seemingly insignificant everyday act or chore of yore can bring you a sense of transcendence.

A wonderful book I so enjoyed in the ‘70s, The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance (by Robert M. Pirsig) often comes to mind.  You guessed it: the book was not about Zen Buddhism as a religion or accurate factoids about motorcycle parts per se.

A wonderful book I so enjoyed in the ‘70s, The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance (by Robert M. Pirsig) often comes to mind. You guessed it: the book was not about Zen Buddhism as a religion or accurate factoids about motorcycle parts per se.

A wonderful book I so enjoyed in the ‘70s, The Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance (by Robert M. Pirsig) often comes to mind. You guessed it: the book was not about Zen Buddhism as a religion or accurate factoids about motorcycle parts per se. And, yes, I was at Berkeley ‘then’, but the ‘take-away’ from the book was the transcendence that a simple task can bring. [“Give us this day our daily bread…” has always meant someone had to bake it first—no supermarkets in Judea!] Isn’t it better to feel our spirituality in everyday tasks rather than feeling them as drudgery? This is about the “arki” everyday, i.e., finding your Finnish spirit in a simple act that is performed with such committed focus that the transformative power of the ordinary task provides you with the depth, vision, and clarity that sets you free.

“…Love The One You’re With”

Love The One You’re With [“When you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with…”] was a popular song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash decades ago (the ‘70s again). Before using the lyrics to make my point, I decided I had better look up the actual words just in case [I know someone will hit the Net or someone else will have a better memory than I].

Love The One You’re With  [“When you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with…”] was a popular song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash decades ago (the ‘70s again).

Love The One You’re With [“When you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with…”] was a popular song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash decades ago (the ‘70s again).

Oops!! Good check. It looks like the songwriter was talking more about sexual relationships and not what my innocent Pollyanna brain was telling me at that innocent time in my life.

Soooo:

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I certainly would not want anyone to feel that I advocate infidelity—nor do I want to be listed as “Also Named” in a “dissolution” action or a “Marvin” suit.

The phrase “Bloom Where You Are Planted” has always been a favorite, life affirming theme of mine. There is greater clarity of meaning, as well. The point I wish to make is: make the best of any situation in which you find yourself—make your life beautiful in the ‘world’ in which you are, wherever you are, or in whatever the circumstance you find yourself! [There is some Finnish Sisu in there too, I think.]

Whose taste buds do not remember salmiakki, Fazer chocolate, pulla, Karjalan Piirakkas, homemade licorice, or Alder smoked salmon the way they were/are in the old country?

Whose taste buds do not remember salmiakki, Fazer chocolate, pulla, Karjalan Piirakkas, homemade licorice, or Alder smoked salmon the way they were/are in the old country?

We Finns are perfectionists; we have high standards for ourselves and for each other; and we are not known for compromising. We like things just as we remember them. Whose taste buds do not remember salmiakki, Fazer chocolate, pulla, Karjalan Piirakkas, homemade licorice, or Alder smoked salmon the way they were/are in the old country?

Our minds celebrate the magnificent Finnish products and their flavors as we remember them. If we are lucky, our taste recollections are enhanced by the memory of the sights, sounds, and aromas that were created along with the ‘goodies’ we cherish! Some ‘hard core’ Finns –like my Dad, seek out sources where favorites can be ordered by Net, call, or mail. Of course, it is always nice when dear family and friends understand our ‘cravings’ and lovingly bring an object of our desire (some Reissumies, a loaf of Oululainen—or whatever) when they visit. Such simple gifts assure warm hospitality and fond memories of their visit! Eikö niin?

Of course, it is always nice when dear family and friends understand our ‘cravings’ and lovingly bring an object of our desire (some Reissumies, a loaf of Oululainen—or whatever) when they visit.  Such simple gifts assure warm hospitality and fond memories of their visit!  Eikö niin?

Of course, it is always nice when dear family and friends understand our ‘cravings’ and lovingly bring an object of our desire (some Reissumies, a loaf of Oululainen—or whatever) when they visit. Such simple gifts assure warm hospitality and fond memories of their visit! Eikö niin?

Bread

Finnish bread is known to be the healthiest and best in the world. That is a Truth you already know. But, I will try to tell you some things you may not know—and show you something you can do that you did not know you could do!

Finnish sourdough rye bread is a cult onto its own.  Most of us who learned to bake (or even eat) Finnish Sourdough Rye Bread [FSRB] are fanatics.

Finnish sourdough rye bread is a cult onto its own. Most of us who learned to bake (or even eat) Finnish Sourdough Rye Bread [FSRB] are fanatics.

Finnish sourdough rye bread is a cult onto its own. Most of us who learned to bake (or even eat) Finnish Sourdough Rye Bread [FSRB] are fanatics. To the purists, “hapanlimppu” (FSRB) defines our homeland. It must be made with no other flour than rye flour. The leavening must be a sourdough “starter”, not yeast. The most fortunate baker of bread is one who has a wood-burning oven (leivinuuni joulupukki, ole hyvä). [I have made it as far as a charcoal fired ceramic “Green Egg”—but, please, one day… .]

Fundamentals

Believe me, your author has been a FSRB Fanatic since childhood. Making FSRB has been a passion since I was a little kid. I played with ‘starters’ like a ‘lab rat’ using strange liquids acquired from grandmothers, aunts, village ladies with FSRB ‘reputations’–nursing the ‘starters’ along like a mad scientist as my life moved on.

Making the perfect Finnish sourdough rye bread became a quest once my family moved from Finland to the USA. My FSRB dedication was fueled by the recognition that what my dear Father missed most about Finland was the bread!

My FSRB dedication was fueled by the recognition that what my dear Father missed most about Finland was the bread!

Some years, FSRB was the only gift I could think of to give Isä as a gift for Christmas or his birthday. Never once did he complain! The smile on his face at first bite was my delight.

For decades now, I have read everything I could get my hands on regarding traditional FSRB methods. I have watched Finnish ladies in farmhouses and home kitchens—always eager and ready to learn the tiniest new detail of the craft. Each expert emphasized the importance of their ‘starter’—sometimes by the little they said about the importance of their magic elixir!

Frankly, some of my ‘starters’ have come and gone. A move here; a power failure there—no sense in taking a chance with food safety. My current official ‘starter’ is now safely tucked away in a secret location in the bowels of an extra refrigerator. Let’s hope we don’t have any long term power outages.

Even to the most dedicated FSRB fanatics, it seems ‘over the top’ to do as purists do in Stockholm where, for a price, there is actually a “hotel” (like a kennel for a dog or cat) where Swedes take their ‘starter’ for care and safekeeping when they travel!!

But hey, maybe this is a great new business idea. Here in LA we have pet sitters, house sitters—why not ‘starter’ sitters? Do you know where your bacterial culture is spending the weekend?!?

From The Ridiculous To The Sublime Without Slime

Regular readers of AROUND LA WITH AVA® already know that I like fun things. So, it will come as no surprise that I like to ‘play’ with food.

I have been taught by some mighty fine ‘aprons’ and I have learned a great deal from my own experiments and experiences. I have driven past the growing fields on my way to the mill in Vääksy where the farmers bring their harvested grain for grinding into the flour I use for baking. It’s that Zen, again!

I love to learn from the best. They always work hard, but make it look effortless. They know what they are doing—and they love doing it! There is pride in perfection. The real MASTERS rarely work from recipes, so don’t ask for one. Rather, observe the ‘methods’ they use; feel their understanding and reverence for their ingredients [they can see, feel, smell subtle differences in the various ‘grinds’ of rye flour and make adjustments for the terrior, the rain, or whatever]. ‘Notice’ anything ‘different’ that they do. They will appreciate you as a student.

Americans tend to be more ‘paint-by-the-numbers’ cooks, so some of my recipes and techniques have been published in various cookbooks. Preliminary discussions have begun on putting together my process cookbook –one day, maybe.

My fanatic FSRB quest has come from my Finnish heart –with quite good results. So, please don’t call me a ‘sellout’ for what follows. We will deal with the real hapanlimppu –the ‘true rye religion’ another time, I promise.

Look Ma, No …

Imagine I told you that you can make your own rye bread (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) in about an hour –and you don’t need a ‘starter’ (or even yeast) and you won’t get sticky hands. Would that ‘make your day’? Since we live near Hollywood, we get to ‘fake it’ every now and again.

This recipe came to me one day when making the crust for Karjalan piirakkas. That crust requires a rye flour/white flour blend. Then, I thought: “…since buttermilk is often a starter ingredient, let’s see what happens”. What happened was fun!

If you have never made a loaf of bread, this is for you!!

Even though I ‘chickened out’ earlier, you can call this: ‘Love the Loaf You’re With… Bread’. It is a quickie (—quick bread, that is). If you are a FSRB purist and fanatic, you may simply call it:

Blasphemy Bread

5 cups rye flour* [some ground up Finn Crisp* can be substituted for part of the flour]

3 cups white flour

1 ½ tablespoons salt

1 ½ tablespoons baking soda

1 quart buttermilk

Ingredients

Ingredients

Blend the dry ingredients together; pour in the buttermilk; stir with a fork.

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Once the mixture comes together as a dough, take half and form it into a rounded ball (or “limppu” shape) and place it on a baking stone or cookie sheet. [No need to “knead”!]

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Cut slits across the limppu top in a grid pattern about ½ inches deep to make a decorative surface

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With the tip of a knife [I use my favorite one with a Karelian burl birch handle made by a Japanese company], poke holes throughout the loaf all the way to the bottom to allow air to escape as the bread bakes.

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Bake the loaf in a preheated 350° F oven.

After about a half hour (when the top has risen and starting to brown), flip the loaf over for another 10 to 15 minutes.

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Allow to cool before slicing and serving.

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[This is the hardest part of this recipe! Kill time by baking the 2nd loaf, getting out the butter, slicing a little makkara,making coffee, or whatever you can think of doing to keep from burning your tongue. Sensual sniffing works well—and feeds the memory meter.]

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Enjoy the Zen of the bread baking experience.

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I hope you had fun! May the aromas of your bread baking hold you over until we get started on the real FSRB Rye Revolution –one day soon.

* Note: Rye flour used to be available in the ‘bins’ at Whole Foods. Now, look in the baking aisle. Also, rye flour is available online. Finn Crisp can be found in LA at most Cost Plus World Market stores and, always, at Vicente Foods in Brentwood (San Vicente @ Bundy). [Psst: Vicente Foods is always good for celebrity spotting –Elliott Gould dropped by the last time I was there.]

Happening Finns

Did you miss Vellamo? Shame on you!

In Finnish mythology, Vellamo is the goddess of the sea. In March, in the South Bay, Vellamo was the performing and songwriting team of Pia Leinonen [Lapland] and Joni Tiala [Kokkola] who have just released their 1st album. They write songs in English and Finnish—and, they perform traditional ballads from the Finnish, Celtic and Scandinavian folk traditions. Pia combines her love of Finnish folk music with the western story-centric, singer–songwriter tradition. Joni—the skilled guitarist, is also a founding member of the renowned Finnish progressive rock band, Moonwagon.

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The Vellamo Concert was such a delight. Friends of the Torrance Library brought this Finnish band for a performance before a nicely large audience. Hardly a spare seat was available. Most of the audience was local, non-Finnish/Nordic. The adults and children (including a few familiar faces) in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the music and the charming tongue in cheek humor of Pia, the female vocalist. The ensemble had the audience eating out of their hands. A bright, fun, engaging audience participation sing-along brought the program to a spirited conclusion. You know the program was a hit when the crowd is eager to meet the performers and to purchase their CDs.

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It is always fun to see the Della Roccas and the Covarrubias in the audience. But, the most delightful treat for me was to find the iconic Dr. Tuula Stark and her son seated quietly in the back of the Hall.

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Finland made some new friends that day. Old friends had fun, too.

LAFF

The following day, the Los Angeles Finlandia Foundation had its meeting. It was the annual St. Urho’s Day celebration: a unique American Finnish ‘made up’ holiday involving grapes and grasshoppers [Yup, from the ‘70s]. Conveniently, the party date was set for right about St. Patrick’s Day.

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About the same time, I happened to hear a feature on the radio where a bartender at St. Urho’s Pub in Helsinki was interviewed about the ‘occasion’. He confirmed that no particular celebration takes place at his establishment. Apparently, fake fun is had only on this side of the pond.

Hauli Huvila

The Hauli Huvila fundraiser was held at the Burbank Spa. The featured event was a sauna night which was appropriate since the proceeds were to go toward a new sauna at the Reedley,CA HV facility. It is wonderful to see that the renovations and improvements are going forward and that the fruits of these labors will serve and preserve the Finnish spirit for generations to come.

The Hauli Huvila fundraiser was held at the Burbank Spa.

The Hauli Huvila fundraiser was held at the Burbank Spa.

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Several FSRB Back Stories

I marveled at how Ulla Saarela [the former wife of prior Consul General of Finland, Tapio Saarela] kept a beautiful wooden Finnish vessel on display in the kitchen at the Consul Residence. The vessel edges were proudly lined with remnants of previous rye bread batches. She told that the family ‘starter’ tradition had been kept that way for generations and that she used that ‘starter’ to make her bread.

And,

While, as you may imagine, there is great pride (and ‘some’ competition) among local FSRB bakers, the word was that Marjatta Coughlan made the “best ever” Finnish sourdough rye bread. [Many of you know Marjatta from her years of work at the Finnish Consulate. She is now retired—from the Consulate.]

I put in a request to watch the “best ever” in action. I wanted to see and learn from a ‘States-side’ FSRB fanatic in action. Marjatta graciously agreed. It took many years before we were able to get together, but the experience was worth the wait!

One day Marjatta invited me to her home on Bonnie Brae. That prime location near downtown LA was where many of the early Finns who came to Los Angeles and Hollywood first made their homes decades ago. It felt as if I were going back in time to a grand era where Finns had found their place in LA.

It was such a treat watching Marjatta at work. I was fascinated to observe her process, part of which involved a full 45 minutes of hand-kneading per loaf. All the while this tiny little lady was kneading, she had her large gray parrot, “Pepe”, on her shoulder! I wish I had brought my camera for that one! Actually, I should have interviewed Pepe to learn what ‘secrets’ Marjatta had kept ‘up her sleeves’.

End Note

Southern California is a fabulous and fun place to be any time of year. Your scribe has lived, raised my family, and worked in Los Angeles for a lot of years. Sharing the good, the bad, and the fabulous/ugly is what AROUND LA WITH AVA® seeks to do. All things Finnish are celebrated just ‘because’. If you ‘sniff the air’, you may learn why there are FSRB fanatics. Better yet, try making the Blasphemy Bread and get a local taste of Finland!! That may spark your Finnish creativity!!!

ALWA topics are catholic—work, play, sight-seeing/sightings, local ‘hang-outs’, public/social service, travel, faith, food, people, LA life, fun, events past and pending, history, …whatever. Sometimes we just have fun! Sometimes we even get to eat the mess we make!!

Welcome to AROUND LA WITH AVA®

AROUND LA WITH AVA®: And All That Jamzz

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

A Quiz:

What took place in Los Angeles on the recent three day Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend?

  1. The government shut down the  405 Freeway for 3 nights of construction naming the project Jamzilla.
  2. The University of Southern California Marching Band led a parade to a Downtown LA construction site to celebrate a concrete pour.
  3. The LA public transit system ran a Valentine Special rail car with heart decorations and official “facilitators” for citizens on a ‘rolling hook up’ speed dating event.
  4. A person was attacked by a runaway camel on a rampage in a quiet neighborhood.
  5. None of the above.
  6. All of the above. Just another wacky weekend in our City of Angels.  The answer is 6.

ON ONE LONG WEEKEND

This is what happened in Los Angeles around Valentine’s/President’s Day:

1        The 405 Freeway was totally shut down.  You would think that another weekend would have been preferable to one where thousands descend on our wonderful City of Angels for the cultural, social, and sports events scheduled to attract visitors ready for a long weekend of leisure, fun, and great weather.

The 405 Freeway was totally shut down.

The 405 Freeway was totally shut down.

Jamzilla [a sophomoric contraction of traffic jam and Godzilla, I suppose] was well publicized and came off without conflict.  Well… unless you were a ‘newbie’ trying to follow a ‘MapApp’ or a knowledgeable native’s directions to the PGA golf tournament at Riviera Country Club […405 to Sunset/west to Capri] or the key PAC 12 basketball game at UCLA […405 to Sunset/east to Pauley Pavilion parking].

Jamzilla Sympathy Sale in Manhattan beach.

Jamzilla Sympathy Sale in Manhattan beach.

2        Downtown LA featured a Guinness World Record Book ‘Concrete Pour Parade’ led by the USC Marching Band.  Pourzilla was LA Mayor Garcetti’s Twitter suggestion for memorializing the 20 hour concrete pour on the foundation for the $1 billion hotel that required 2,000 truckloads of cement to ‘fill’ the 18’ deep pit where the Wilshire Grand once stood.  Standzilla would have worked just as well because downtown LA traffic was put to a standstill to permit the Guinness World Record for the largest concrete pour in history.

Downtown LA featured a Guinness World Record Book ‘Concrete Pour Parade’ led by the USC Marching Band.

Downtown LA featured a Guinness World Record Book ‘Concrete Pour Parade’ led by the USC Marching Band.

Where else would pouring a building foundation become a ‘made-for-TV’ weekend long competition for the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremonies?

3        The METRO [our mass transit system; funded by tax dollars] decorated cars with hearts and promoted a Valentine’s “Speed Dating on the Red Line” special train schedule between Union Station and the North Hollywood Station.  “Metro staff wearing safety vests will be on board to facilitate the event.”

 [No, I don’t make this stuff up—the quote is from the ”How It Works” portion of their promotion!]


[No, I don’t make this stuff up—the quote is from the ”How It Works” portion of their promotion!]

[No, I don’t make this stuff up—the quote is from the How it Works portion of their promotion!  I did add the underline emphasis to safety vests, however.]

4      And, in the High Desert, a rampaging, runaway camel attacked a man.  The neighbor who owns the camel was not available for comment—and the ostrich was not talking.

A picture of the attacker

A picture of the attacker

Yes, God Winters in So Cal—and, He/She (Hän)  has a sense of humor!!

We need politicians with a sense of humor—or, at least, some imagination!

TALK ABOUT GOVERNMENT INTRUSION IN OUR LIVES

Every year in the beginning of the year, a new set of laws comes into effect.  Some of those in California—and nationally/internationally, are ‘head scratchers’!  Government seems to be getting more into the everyday lives and choices of individuals.  That is confusing, if not offensive.

I am not talking about NSA storing our telephone conversations for future reference because they assure us they won’t listen to them unless necessary.

I am not talking about NSA storing our telephone conversations for future reference because they assure us they won’t listen to them unless necessary.

I am not talking about NSA storing our telephone conversations for future reference because they assure us they won’t listen to them unless necessary.  Nor am I referring to the recent British admission that they have had to issue special warnings to staffers who review Social Media ‘images’ they pilfer from ‘thin air’—it seems the good but naive Brits capture their own racy acts and transmit them via Social Media to such an extent that reviewers could claim a ‘hostile work environment’.  So, there really is a difference between “1984” and 2014—HD with vivid color and instant re-play!

HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT/TAX REVENUE SHORTFALLS

Follow my confusion: After decades of quietly and enthusiastically collecting tax revenue from the “adult film” industry which also provided lots of direct and indirect ‘non-performance’ jobs, our politicians chose an extended period of high unemployment and economic Recession to legislate the use of “latex protection” in the films.  Result:  Last year the adult movie industry (a long time and big economic boon for the area centered in the San Fernando Valley) was chased off to Las Vegas because of the new “latex requirement”.  And, of course, “…what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

“…what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

“…what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”.

[The politicians did not take a moral stand against sin, they simply dictated how ‘sin’ was to be performed!]

LATEX LAWS EXTENDED

This year, the ‘law’ is about latex in the form of gloves.  All food handlers must now have latex coming between them and their craft.

All food handlers must now have latex between them and their craft.

All food handlers must now have latex between them and their craft.

The Sushi Chefs are particularly upset, saying they need to feel each grain of rice on their exquisite creations.  Most restaurateurs, as well as, much of the eating public feel washing hands is a more efficient germ foil.  “Wax On/Wax Off”…’Gloves On/Gloves Off’.  We know where our hands have been—who keeps track of those gloves?

No Pandemics had been experienced, so no Pandemics have been avoided.

Protests and appeals continue.

AND THE BEAT GOES ON

Finnish Events and Activities

The month started with Finnish Church services at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica.  What a wonderful opportunity this assembly of Finns and friends has become to worship, to welcome new faces and ‘regulars’, and to refresh the goodness in our lives.

Many were in attendance at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon despite the 3:30 kick-off.

Many were in attendance at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon despite the 3:30 kick-off.

Many were in attendance at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon despite the 3:30 kick-off.  American football has been called a ‘religion’ onto itself.  Over one third of all US households tune in to the game—some to watch the outrageously expensive commercials [$4 million per 30 seconds!!], some to watch the game.  Football is a little violent for me, but the ads are usually worth the watch.

Fittingly, this day’s church focus was on love, not ‘war’.  Pastor Tarkki emphasized that Finnish Valentine’s Day is actually ‘Friendship Day’—rejoicing in friendships rather than being a romantic celebration.

Also, fittingly, the post-service gatherings have been a special time of friendship and fellowship for the local Finnish community.  Wonderfully skilled Finnish bakers/cooks proudly share their treats and talents with a wide range of age groups who come to church from near and far.  Nothing like a ‘finnishing’ Coffee to help Finns thoroughly enjoy these special Sundays.

Finnish Veterans

The Finnish War Veteran’s Group (Veteraani Tuki Ryhmä) met at Suomi Kerho on February 15th.  Their meeting was piggy-backed with the Suomi seniors.  All enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the vaunted Suomi Kerho ‘Ladies of the Kitchen’.  A movie was enjoyed by the whole group.   The film was a 2006 Finnish comedy Kalteva Torni [Leaning Tower (as in Pisa)] directed by Timo Koivusalo.

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All enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the vaunted Suomi Kerho ‘Ladies of the Kitchen’

All enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the vaunted Suomi Kerho ‘Ladies of the Kitchen’

Finnish Women and the Entertainment Scene

Nina Sallinen performed her magnificent Poor, Poor Lear on the Suomi Kerho stage on January 23rd.  Nina’s talent has been an ongoing source of pride for the Finnish community.

Nina Sallinen performed her magnificent Poor, Poor Lear.

Nina Sallinen performed her magnificent Poor, Poor Lear.

The first female Finnish filmmaker to be nominated for an Oscar as Director of a Short Film is Selma Vilhunen.  Ms. Vilhunen was in our fair city and at the Consular Residence with her screen writer Kirsikka Saari and her producer Elli Toivoniemi.


Selma Vilhunen’s short film ‘Do I have to take care of everything?’ is the second Finnish film ever to receive an Academy Award nomination.

Finnish ‘Football’ on Ice

The Winter Olympics brought us full circle from Super Bowl Sunday.

Hockey is a passion to Finns and Finnish Americans –much like football is to Americans.

Our little homeland beat men’s and women’s international hockey super powers.  And, even when the score was not favorable, the Lions and Lionesses performed with beauty, grace, skill, determination, and dignity!!!

Normally in sport, to the Gold goes the Glory.  At this Olympics, however, the Hockey Tournament’s Most Valuable Player was our own Teemu Selanne of the Bronze Medal Team Finland.  Even a week after the Olympic close, the LA Times put our guy’s performance in the headlines and went on to say “In Russia, Teemu Selanne was hockey’s hero.”

the Hockey Tournament’s Most Valuable Player was our own Teemu Selanne

the Hockey Tournament’s Most Valuable Player was our own Teemu Selanne

As I listened to the NBC Olympic commentators and as I read the press summaries wax poetic about the stamina and skill of our 43 year old playing on a much larger rink with much younger players—and out-playing them, it was clear this Finn is a great role model of sportsmanship who made us all proud and in a mood to celebrate.  But, that was something I already knew.

Back ‘in the day’ when the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce was the ‘go-to’ organization for Finns needing help in the western States, the Finnish Heart Association was looking for support in a US fund-raising effort.  Long story short, the local Finnish groups rallied for a grand event where Teemu and some of his friends showed up to help.  By help, I mean Teemu showed up with autographed hockey sticks, jerseys, pucks—and whatever, for auction.  He brought his guitar and, though Finnish modest, he played and sang like a professional for the enthralled audience.  Meanwhile, one of our regular volunteers was washing dishes in the back of the hall’s kitchen when another ‘guy’ asked where he could find a dish towel to dry.  When the washer looked up to point to the towels, there stood Jari Kurri with his sleeves already rolled up!  Teemu had brought some of his friends to ‘help out’.

One of our regular volunteers was washing dishes in the back of the hall’s kitchen when Jari Kurri  asked where he could find a dish towel to dry.

One of our regular volunteers was washing dishes in the back of the hall’s kitchen when Jari Kurri asked where he could find a dish towel to dry.

Needless-to-say, the event was a great success!!

OLYMPIC OSCARS

My life has been blessed in many ways.

High on the list are the friends I have made through the years.  The Oscars and Olympics have brought contact from two dear Finnish friends around Friendship Day.  Both are great people of accomplishment in their own right, but are better known to the world as the great women behind men of Finnish fame and greatness.  My friend Bitte is the wife of Oscar Winner [among many other things] Jörn Donner.  My friend Päivi is the wife of Olympic Gold Medal Winner [among many other things] Lasse Viren.

My friend Bitte is the wife of Oscar Winner [among many other things] Jörn Donner.

My friend Bitte is the wife of Oscar Winner [among many other things] Jörn Donner.

Great, loyal, lifelong friendships are indeed a blessing.  Over the years, events trigger a trail of recollections and connections that line up like dominos ready to lay down their fascinating pattern.

One example should suffice to illustrate the ‘6ºs of separation’ our lives permit.  Bitte is a journalist who sends me articles of interest regularly.  A recent receipt included a Helsingin Sanomat article about Markku Lähdesmäki, the award winning photographer.  Markku’s wife is Anne Kauranen.  Anne Kauranen and former Deputy Consul General in Los Angeles Anne Huhtamäki along with Bitte were instrumental in the founding of Suomi Koulu [the Finnish School] here.  Any recent reader of AROUND LA WITH AVA® will know the high regard in which I hold Mira Scott and Petra Kess who have done so much to make the Finnish Lutheran Church come to life in Santa Monica for the joy and betterment of all of us Finns.  Mira and Petra run Suomi Koulu in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.  ‘Dots’ connected—story told.  Simple.

Anne Lähdesmäki is printing out an image of Don Rickles, a subject of their recent ad campaign

Anne Lähdesmäki is printing out an image of Don Rickles, a subject of their recent ad campaign

BAGGIN’ IT

For those of us having experience shopping in Finnish grocery stores, you know you have to bring your Tori Kassit [shopping bag(s)] with you.  It has been a long time since anyone in a Finnish store asked you—or anyone, the familiar refrain from American stores: “…paper or plastic?”

No problem—insert a coin to get a grocery cart, bring the ‘take out’ bags in to the store, shop, bag and weigh/price your produce, unload the cart at the checkout, load your bags, return the cart to the ’cart line’ to get your coin ‘deposit’ back, and hope you get out of the parking lot before the person in the ‘check-out’ line behind you shows up to ask why you take so long to bag your goods.

I have felt the ‘pressure to perform’ in the check-out line as a ‘bagger’, but that pales against the pressure I feel trying to figure out what ‘bills’ to use—coins take longer.  I think I have finally figured out the ‘bottle deposit’ game—after all of these years.

 The City of Los Angeles joined Santa Monica and others in Los Angeles County in the ban when studies concluded that LA residents used and disposed of two billion single use plastic bags annually.

The City of Los Angeles joined Santa Monica and others in Los Angeles County in the ban when studies concluded that LA residents used and disposed of two billion single use plastic bags annually.

After a few shopping trips in the old country, I do start to feel like a ‘native’ again.

That given, why do I now still leave my empty grocery bags in the car whenever I go into a US supermarket?

After two months of the Los Angeles area bans on ‘single-use’ bags, I should be up to speed but am not. But, I am not alone.

Shoppers at most LA retail grocery stores now have to use their own reusable bags to carry out their purchases even though the ‘checkers’ still ‘bag’ your purchases—at least for now.  The City of Los Angeles joined Santa Monica and others in Los Angeles County in the ban when studies concluded that LA residents used and disposed of two billion single use plastic bags annually—more than 110,000 tons of junk to ensnare our birds, clog our drains, and forever line our dumps.

New solutions bring new problems, of course.  Without the endless supply of clean, single use bags, food safety has become an issue as consumers use and reuse bags that contain dirt, bacterial salmonella, and ecoli germs.  In our warm climate and our constant car culture, such environments can cause bacteria to multiply rapidly.  Educating the public to clean, sanitize, and safely discard their used bags is worthwhile.  Still, I am not ready for a ‘mandated’ semester course on Managing and Sanitizing Your Grocery Bag Inventory.

There are compulsives among us who are urging us to designate specific bags for meat, fish, veggies, and so on.  Of course, you are expected to wash the bags in soapy water after each shopping trip.  Following shopping, loading/unloading the car, and putting your groceries away, you are told to give your bags a bath!!

May I take those bags into the shower with me?  Must I wear latex gloves?

Hey Legislators:  There is a drought in this state!  Well, there was until this last whopper of a storm.

CONCLUSION

Last week I went into Hollywood for a party.  The pre-Oscar parties were in full swing as traffic came to a standstill on Sunset going east just where you hit the Sunset Strip.  I like Cynthia as a good alternate back road to get around traffic in that area—‘she’ did not disappoint.

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Oscar tent in Hollywood Blvd during storm before the Academy Awards

The giant Oscar statues were covered in clear “protection” plastic for the rain scheduled right up to Oscar Sunday evening.  Even though “…it never rains in Southern California”, “…when it rains, it pours”.

Even though “…it never rains in Southern California”, “…when it rains, it pours” (My party tent crushed by downed trees before the Oscars).

Even though “…it never rains in Southern California”, “…when it rains, it pours” (My party tent crushed by downed trees before the Oscars).

 

I wonder how many politicians considered claiming Stormageddon or Rainzilla would hit LA with a wallop and drafted an emergency ban on Manolo Blahniks and Jimmy Choos on the Red Carpet without rubbers (galoshes) protection?!?

End Note

Southern California is a fabulous and fun place to be any time of year.  Your scribe has lived, raised my family, and worked in Los Angeles for a lot of years.  Sharing the good, the bad, and the fabulous/ugly is what AROUND LA WITH AVA® seeks to do.  All things Finnish are celebrated just ‘because’.

ALWA topics are catholic—work, play, sight-seeing/sightings, local ‘hang-outs’, public/social service, travel, faith, food, people, LA life, fun, events past and pending, history, …whatever.  Sometimes we just have fun!

Welcome to AROUND LA WITH AVA®.

AROUND LA WITH AVA®: EARTH SHAKIN’—EGGS BREAKIN’

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

AROUND LA WITH AVA®: EARTH SHAKIN’—EGGS BREAKIN’

January 2014 in LA

Blink once; then, again.  Two decades gone –it seems like yesterday.

The date was January 17th 1994.  The location was my then house on The Strand in Manhattan Beach.  At around 4:31 AM, when the deep sleep is best just before the dawn, I was in the cozy embrace of a pleasant dream.  There is something special about sleeping by the ocean—the rhythmic rumble creates a strange stillness over the dark waves that is calming.  I was at peace in ‘never/never’ land.

Manhattan Beach homes on the Strand

Manhattan Beach homes on the Strand

THEN—the Pacific Ocean seemed to erupt in huge explosions, complete with sharp flashes of brilliant light!  Had the bombing started?  Was this World War III??  Was Manhattan Beach going to be the next Pearl Harbor???  My Dad watched the bombing of Helsinki.  Was his Daughter to witness the same here????  Was this my 1939 in the City of Angels?????  Would I become an Angel??????

NORTHRIDGE1web

It is totally amazing to go from ZZZZZZ to such thoughts while your body is catapulting itself out of bed and into the pretend safety of the door frame to hold on for dear life.  Holy Shnikey, where are my shoes?  I need to find my children!

The human mind has capacities unexplored … .

Californians are so familiar with the ‘rock ‘n roll’ of earthquakes they do not get too excited about a simple ‘shaker’.  But, when the shuttering house started twisting with the timbers creaking and the sound of glass breaking all around, it was time to get excited!  We have been waiting for the “Big One”—this one felt like “it”.

When an old house at the beach built on a ‘bedrock’ of sand gets whacked with severe, heavy-duty jerking, good sense suggests that it is about to come crashing down at any minute.  Turns out, those seismic ‘shock waves’ travel rapidly through all sorts of terrain, but come to a jolting stop when they hit sand—sort of like the car crash tests insurance companies like to put into commercials to convince you to buy a car with lots of air bags.  Since the house had been built maybe 70 years before, it did not come equipped with air bags, but it had survived some serious quakes before.  Tough timbers—real plaster.  Saved from a disaster!

Back In The Saddle Again…

This was not my “first rodeo”.  I do not refer to the horse-bucking sport, nor to the shopping venue in Beverly Hills.  Earthquakes teach many lessons.  After one quake in the late ‘80s in my office downtown where bookcases came crashing down on my desk and the loss of electricity stopped elevators from functioning, I decided having a portable, battery operated radio would be a must.  You really do need to find out how bad things are and what actions to take, roads to avoid, and when the ‘all clear’ signal will sound.  [Mind you, all this was before anyone knew what a cell phone was, let alone carrying one—no instant ‘AP’s then.  Dial phones (transmission line powered) were the norm.  Or, if you were ‘outdoorsy’, you might have a set of limited range ‘walkie-talkies’.  Going down to the ocean front wall in the yard to watch the sunset in my high heels at the end of a long work day was about as ‘outdoorsy’ as it got for this career girl.]

On that January ’94 morning, 6.7 on the Richter Scale was the most violent ground motion recorded in what would ultimately be the most expensive ($20 billion—with a “B” ) earthquake in Los Angeles to date.  Still they say, the “Big One” waits its day!

What is called the “Northridge Earthquake” lasted only about 20 seconds.  Maybe that was the time lapse in Northridge, but it felt like 20 minutes in Manhattan Beach.  How could my head go from a down pillow to fighting falling down in a doorway with all of those thoughts—and more, running through my head.  Yes, the mind is amazing.

On that January ’94 morning, 6.7 on the Richter Scale was the most violent ground motion recorded in what would ultimately be the most expensive ($20 billion—with a “B” ) earthquake in Los Angeles to date

On that January ’94 morning, 6.7 on the Richter Scale was the most violent ground motion recorded in what would ultimately be the most expensive ($20 billion—with a “B” ) earthquake in Los Angeles to date

Though it was named the Northridge Earthquake, the devastation was all over our City of Angels.  The telephone transmission lines were down and the exploding transformers took care of any standard electricity powered equipment, so my battery powered portable radio was really good to have.

For those of you who were not here twenty years ago, a re-cap of what was happening at that moment may be instructive.  Freeways were crumbling; homes, apartments, and stores were collapsing; trains were derailing; fire engines were pinned under their own ‘homes’ while over 800 fires were reported starting.  Terrible devastation and crumbling buildings in Santa Monica, the collapse of the 10 Freeway in the Fairfax/La Cienega corridor, a CHP (California Highway Patrol) Motorcycle Officer racing to report for duty in the pre-dawn dark drives off of a Freeway overpass that was there when he came home the night before—and so it was.  [If it were not real, Hollywood would have been accused of exaggerating in creating this nightmare.]  In fact, in the real aftermath, 57 lay dead or dying with more than 9,000 trapped or injured.

The news was not good, but it was good to have the news.

No News Is Good News?

Flash forward:  It is now January 2014—a busy news cycle is upon us.  Stop the presses!  Critical developments need to be heard by all!!

The “Breaking News”: A notorious baby-faced teen scofflaw had been reported to have graduated from driving 40 MPH in his 20 MPH gated neighborhood to throwing eggs at a neighbor’s house.  No word yet on whether the projectiles were cooked or raw.  “Stay tuned.  Details at 11”.

Like a Humpty Dumpty behind a wall about to have a fall, the devilish little celebrity has been formally accused of “egging” his neighbor’s house.  As in the children’s nursery rhyme: “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men…” couldn’t put Justin in cuffs again.  But, in this ironical scenario, a dozen police officers arrived in an exclusive gated community and, based on evidence, secured and executed a search warrant on ‘star’ Justin Bieber’s home where they seized new evidence and arrested one of the Rock Kid’s friends for ‘public’ possession of a controlled substance [not eggs, so ‘it’ must have been in plain view!].

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Sometimes I think that the News writers are trying out for Comedy Central!  A dozen eggs—a dozen cops—two felony arrests.  I cannot help but wonder if the ‘Keystone Kops’ swept in to the crime scene in vans shaped like the Styrofoam egg cartons chain grocers favor.  I wonder what was on the mind of the Security Guard as the gate was opened for the major ‘invasion’?

The human mind has some capacities probably best unexplored … .

The egg ‘egg-travaganza’ was all the over the ‘news’ for weeks.  The harassed neighbor claimed $20,000 in damage to his home, thus raising the purported offense to a felony level and earning free-lance legal commentators nice TV guest appearance fees.  [Really??  Could $20,000 be an ‘eggs-ageration’???  If not, the neighbor’s housekeeper, gardener, and painter surely cannot complain about their attorneys’ hourly rate!]  Apparently the ‘Kops’ had a search warrant to look for evidence of the crime: empty egg cartons, omelet leftovers, brown or white egg shells in the trash perhaps??  This ‘eggs-travagant’ use of Police resources seems a little over-easy …I mean, over the top!

As ridiculous as the prior paragraphs are, the “news” is straight out of the “Bad Boy” Celebrity School of Headline Generation Handbook—and, the ‘noise’ is certainly cheaper than taking out full page ads in the LA Times or signing on for a Super Bowl ad.

The ‘next chapter’ was back to doing 60 MPH in a 30 MPH zone with Daddy Bieber blocking the cross street with a SUV so Sonny can get arrested without dying—or, so it seems.  But then, when in Hollywood is anything quite like it seems?

Forecast

They say Southern Cal has a 97% chance of being hit by a quake larger than the Northridge Earthquake in the next 30 years.  They keep saying the real Big One is coming—it is not “if”, but “when” they say.

Usually I ignore whatever “they” say.  Unfortunately, these “they”s are the smartest people in the World.  To work at Cal Tech [California Institute of Technology] rumor has it that even novice janitors must have at least PhDs from MIT!  Between big quakes when the red lights of the TV cameras are not blinking in their direction, these “they”s keep studying, analyzing, recording, and discovering supporting data confirming the same things.  “They” arrive at the same conclusions.  I believe these “they”s because they really know their ‘stuff’.

They say Southern Cal has a 97% chance of being hit by a quake larger than the Northridge Earthquake in the next 30 years.  They keep saying the real Big One is coming—it is not “if”, but “when” they say

They say Southern Cal has a 97% chance of being hit by a quake larger than the Northridge Earthquake in the next 30 years. They keep saying the real Big One is coming—it is not “if”, but “when” they say

So, expecting that the Big One will be upon [+ under, around, and beside] us one day or night when we least expect it, what will it feel like?  Our Cal Tech experts explain that each whole number on the Richter Scale marks a 10 x increase in quake magnitude.  Thus, a Magnitude 7 (considered big) is 100 times bigger than a Magnitude 5 (considered moderate).  [7 – 5 = 2; 10 x 10 = 100]

If Northridge At 6.7 Was Not The “Big One” …

Remember when I said the “official” Northridge Earthquake time lapse was 20 seconds but felt to me like 20 minutes that early AM in Manhattan Beach?  While Cal Tech does not do the arithmetic this way, my simple mind figures with a 1Richter ‘point’ increase, 20 seconds becomes over 3 minutes [20 x 10 = 200; 200/60 = whatever that equals, but it is over 3] which would feel like more than 3 hours of shaking.  Truth be told, I could probably handle a ‘real’ 3 minutes even if it seemed to last forever, but the multiplier refers to force, not time.  That is beyond my comprehension –or even contemplation!

So, What Happened Next in ‘94?

Anyone who has experienced a major earthquake (…or any other natural or man-made disaster), knows that the end does not come when the shakin’ is done.  After a few deep breaths and a mini-prayer of Thanks, the adrenalin recedes and a different shaking takes over.

If you are still standing, you collect your thoughts and composure enough to reach for the shoes and flashlight you know are [supposed to be] under the bed at all times.  You take stock of your immediate surroundings to determine whether there are imminent dangers or other urgencies requiring attention before taking your first steps into your newly shattered world.

I found the shoes quickly, but the flashlight had ‘moved itself’ to a nearby bookshelf.  At least it was close by.

Shoes on and light in hand, I began the necessary ‘sniff’ and ‘scan’ tests to determine whether there was fire, a gas leak, or other hazards that dictated an immediate survival response.  Only when that hurdle has been crossed do you even notice overtly the shambles surrounding you.  Losses/breakage of ‘things’ are noted somewhat abstractly as the ‘emergency checklist’ you never wrote out is traversed as properly progressive as possible under the circumstances.  Near the top of that list is finding the battery powered radio to get news reports that describe the facts of the moment—as best they are known.  Done.

The news was bad—frightening, to be frank.  Southern California was in shambles.  The infrastructure lay in ruin.  Our little corner of the world was a developing disaster and serious aftershocks were expected.  In other words, things were likely to get worse—and, better was not in sight.

Despite urgent Emergency System warnings to stay inside and off of the roads and sidewalks because of debris and downed power lines, a Mother’s “1st Responder” instinct propelled me to where my children had spent the night—at their Dad’s house a bit over a mile away.  With the power off, my garage door opener was worthless but I knew the ‘secret’ cord to pull to manually lift the heavy door.  Done.

The car started—and I had a full tank of gas.  First light was dawning so I did not have to rely on my headlights to spot the downed power poles or the high voltage wires they were supposed to support.  I decided to drive because of my panic-fed urgency, the distance, the danger—and because I could.  I figured I would drive as far as I could and walk from there.

Surprisingly, the trip was uneventful.  There was no traffic, period.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I made the final turn and saw that the newly built house was still standing and was not on fire.  The entry gate was electric, as were the intercom and the door bell.  With no electricity to call in on the intercom and no way to get past the iron gates to the front door to knock, I tried shouting my childrens’ names but the triple pane windows that were meant to keep the street sounds out did just that.

I retreated from the Mom’s Panic Mode when I realized that my ‘babies’ were inside a safe house that had survived the quake.  Actually, I learned later that both had slept right through the whole episode!

On the Road Again

A long recovery in the City of Angels left most of us thankful just to be alive.  Each time we make it through the experience of a serious earthquake or a wildfire we give Thanks and ‘book’ some more important lessons on preparedness.

New technology presents new opportunities—and new threats.  Even with a new, fully charged cell phone we may or may not be ahead in our Wi-Fi world when the “Big One” hits.  If cell phone ‘repeater’ towers go down or fiber optic lines are severed, we could be ‘off line’ for some time.  Additionally, our dependence on computers and the Internet for so many basic functions could bring horrendous problems.  Consider: Having a gas generator to power your computer and charge your cell phone will not help you get cash out of a ‘dead’ ATM.  Proper preparation requires that each of us consider how we will operate for 3 to 30 days without anything electric or electronic: —no Clouds—no Net—no nothing.

A Few Personal Hints*

Have a portable battery operated radio, a flashlight, and some hard soled/easy-on shoes under your bed and in your car. [Keep fresh batteries on hand at all times.]

Know how to shut off the gas and water to your house.  [Be sure to have any tools needed at the ready.]

Have an ample supply of candles and matches.  [Caution: Remember to thoroughly do the “sniff test” to check for any gas leaks before lighting up.  Mistakes can be fatal!]

Order medicine re-supplies so that you always have a reserve.  [While it is important to keep medications secure, be sure you can get to them when the roof falls in!]

Know how to open your garage door without electricity.  [Practice without your car in place so you know how it will work—no need to dent or scratch your vehicle now.]

Know how to use what is in your first aid kit (home and car) and/or add things you may need that you can handle.

Have a sharp knife (puukko) and a can opener that you know works [not electric].

Always have enough gas in your car to get you way out of town.

Have a wad of cash stashed.  [ATM/credit card machines will not be working.]

*  Get and follow LA City/County disaster supplies recommendations for water and canned goods for each person for more than several days.


An Early Warning System

There has always been talk of developing an early warning system for earthquakes.  So far that has not worked out, but progress is being made.

“Now scientists at Stanford University and MIT have figured out a way to use ocean waves to simulate the ground motion that occurs in real earthquakes…
The “virtual earthquake” technique is being used to better understand the effect of shaking…
When the “big one” hits, it could create shaking in Los Angeles that’s three times stronger than in surrounding areas…
Ocean waves create seismic waves billions of times weaker than the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.
Together, these waves are known as the ambient seismic field, but scientists have another word for it: noise.”
LA Times 1/27/14

A Finnish Early Warning System

The best earthquake warning system I have heard of was a cat—a Finnish cat, of course.

Pauli and Marja Uskali (former owners of Design Finland) credit their cat Misu for saving their lives during the Earthquake.  Misu’s insistent meowing woke them from a sound sleep and got them out of bed just before a very large armoire crashed onto their bed when the quake hit.  But for Misu, they would have been crushed where they lay.  The Uskalis’ home and store were near 3rd and Robertson in Beverly Hills—closer to Northridge than my Manhattan Beach home.

cat-sauna1

Animals do seem to have a ‘sixth sense’ in predicting earthquakes.  Soooo, if you do not have a pet, get to know your neighbors—or, at least be nice to their dogs or cats.

Or, move to the beach and sleep with an ear to the sand!!

Shifting Gears

All this serious talk about natural and numbskull disasters reminds us that we must also occasionally switch gears, ponder our perseverance, chill, and –when all else fails, have a party!

After all, with January temperatures pushing 80º F, there is no Winter in our City of Angels.  This is the Season of Awards, Red Carpets, Film Festivals, Super Bowl Parties, and, of course,  Valentine’s Day.

This is the Season of Awards, Red Carpets, Film Festivals, Super Bowl Parties, and, of course, Valentine’s Day

When you come to a party at my house, you will almost always find gravlax and deviled eggs on the sideboard.  My newest version was inspired by this month’s egg breaking incident and researched with ever-present Finnish spirit.

Deviled eggs are always an ‘any party’ hit because they look nice, are tasty, are compact, are ‘hand held’, and they can be stuffed into your mouth ‘whole’ when that someone you wanted to avoid comes up to talk with you.  Besides, they make those cute little plates with ‘indents’ to hold—and show off, your Finnished product we are about to make together.

Rosolli is not just for Finnish Christmas anymore.  Last year I used it (finely minced on rye squares) for open-faced sandwiches that I took to the Finnish Lutheran Church for the after-Service social.  The new sandwiches seemed to be a hit with the congregation.

This dish is a pretty item to serve at a ladies luncheon, a bridal shower, a Valentine’s party, or even your Oscar bash.  It may be too ‘girlie’ in its pink incarnation for the Super Bowl party, but if the game is good/close or the commercials are provocative, the guys will never notice!  [Your excuse, if you need one, can be that the rosolli-type garnish makes it very Finnish.]

Deviled “Just(In)”Time Eggs

aka

Red Carpet Rosolli Eggs

1    Dozen Eggs

¼   Cup Mayonnaise

1    Tsp. Horseradish

2    Medium Sized Beets (roasted or canned); Minced Fine

2    Boiled Carrots; Minced Fine

1    Dill Pickle; Minced Fine.

Salt

White Pepper

Vinegar

Fresh Dill

Boil room temperature eggs to hard stage [about 15 minutes].  Plunge into cold water.  Peel.

Boil room temperature eggs to hard stage [about 15 minutes]. Plunge into cold water. Peel.

Boil room temperature eggs to hard stage [about 15 minutes].  Plunge into cold water.  Peel.

For ‘pink’ eggs: soak peeled eggs for several hours or overnight in a bath of beet liquid (drained from 2 cans of beets) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

For ‘pink’ eggs: soak peeled eggs for several hours or overnight in a bath of beet liquid (drained from 2 cans of beets) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

For ‘pink’ eggs: soak peeled eggs for several hours or overnight in a bath of beet liquid (drained from 2 cans of beets) and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Cut eggs in half length-wise and remove yolks.

Cut eggs in half length-wise and remove yolks.

Cut eggs in half length-wise and remove yolks.

Mix yolks with mayo, horseradish, and about a tablespoon of beet liquid –salt and white pepper to taste.

Fill egg white halves with the mixture.

Fill egg white halves with the mixture.

Fill egg white halves with the mixture.

Chop 1 tablespoon of the dill and mix with the minced beet, carrot, and pickle.

Chop 1 tablespoon of the dill and mix with the minced beet, carrot, and pickle.

Chop 1 tablespoon of the dill and mix with the minced beet, carrot, and pickle.

Artfully add the mix to the top of the deviled eggs.

Artfully add the mix to the top of the deviled eggs.

Artfully add the mix to the top of the deviled eggs.

Garnish the ‘mince mound’ of the filled eggs with fresh dill sprigs.

Garnish the ‘mince mound’ of the filled eggs with fresh dill sprigs.

Garnish the ‘mince mound’ of the filled eggs with fresh dill sprigs.

End Note

Southern California is a fabulous and fun place to be any time of year.  Occasionally bad things happen here, as elsewhere.  Your scribe has lived, raised my family, and worked in Los Angeles for a lot of years.  Sharing the good, the bad, and the fabulous/ugly is what AROUND LA WITH AVA® seeks to do.  All things Finnish are celebrated just ‘because’.

Ava Anttila

Ava Anttila

ALWA topics are catholic—work, play, sight-seeing/sightings, local ‘hang-outs’, public/social service, travel, faith, food, people, LA life, fun, events past and pending, history, …whatever.  Whether you are a celebrity or just one of us; a visitor or just one of us; a ‘mover’ or just one of us ‘shakers’ welcome to AROUND LA WITH AVA®—please proceed with ‘eggs-tra’ caution when the alert sounds and do your best to avoid ‘eggs-tra’ noise.

AROUND LA WITH AVA: “…JUST RIGHT”

 

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

Ava Anttila by Jonny Kahleyn Dieb

The Christmas Holidays: Not Too Hot; Not Too Cold; …Just Right

by Ava Anttila

The “flurry” around LA this month is not snow, but a whirlwind of activities that began the day after Thanksgiving and will end on January 6th –the Day of Epiphany.  That is the day most people here take down their Christmas decorations, including their trees. 

tree

The terms “holiday season” and “happy holidays” are used here in the US as a descriptor and as a greeting.  To those of us with European roots, they have an odd sound since “holiday” –to us, means “vacation”.  My ‘take’ is that we have mutated “Holy Day” meant for Worship to “time off” –“…and on the 7th day He rested.” 

Unfortunately, you rarely hear “Merry Christmas” as people try to be ‘politically correct’ toward those of other religions who do not celebrate Christmas.  Somehow, to me, it seems more respectful to understand, honor, and celebrate the differences in beliefs rather than to deny them.  But then, I am a Finn!  “On this day a Child was born…” 

Pikkujoulu

Pikkujoulu

We Finns are crazy about Christmas!  We get our Pikkujoulu on as early as we can.  I guess there are some advantages to ‘monotheology’!  Thank you, Martin Luther. 

Season Settings

This year, the Christmas season news has been all about the hot and the cold.  Super cold nights require outer garments and extra blankets for comfort, but daytime trips in the car require the air conditioning to be running.  Of course, my temporal reference is to Southern California where 65º F to 75º F is our ‘custom’—not to Minnesota where I almost spent this Christmas.  There, everyone is happy if the night or day temperature gets above 0º Fahrenheit, not Celsius! 

Minnesota snow

Minnesota snow

And, despite the cold, YLE News from Finland reported that this last November was the “hottest” in weather history! 

Heslsinki in November (2013)

Heslsinki in November (2013)

We did get to have our LA Thanksgiving Feast outside in the yard, despite earlier predictions of cold, wind, and rain.  A few days later, the most beautiful Christmas carols at the Finnish Church services brought tears to our eyes and our thoughts to our ‘still cool’ homeland.  Our minds began and our ‘tummies’ continued  the transition of Holidays as we all enjoyed delicious treats [prepared lovingly by Finnish community volunteers] in the downstairs Parish Hall of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.

We did get to have our LA Thanksgiving Feast outside in the yard, despite earlier predictions of cold, wind, and rain

We did get to have our LA Thanksgiving Feast outside in the yard, despite earlier predictions of cold, wind, and rain

Holiday Traditions

Pasadena was already all set up with bleachers for the New Years Day Rose Parade as I hit town for my friend Mona’s Annual Christmas Luncheon at the stately Valley Hunt Club.  The historic Club is the originator of the Annual Rose Festival that includes both the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl.  The Club’s beautiful décor and Christmas decorations make the perfect setting for a Christmas Season kick-off.   The program is always a truly inspirational way to get into the spirit of the holidays.  A live concert by the Citrus Valley College choir made it an ‘over the top’ experience.

Pasadena was already all set up with bleachers for the New Years Day Rose Parade as I hit town for my friend Mona’s Annual Christmas Luncheon at the stately Valley Hunt Club

Pasadena was already all set up with bleachers for the New Years Day Rose Parade as I hit town for my friend Mona’s Annual Christmas Luncheon at the stately Valley Hunt Club

As with most traditional events, mini-traditions evolve.  For as long as I can remember, Mona has given an early Christmas present of an elegant tree ornament as a ‘table gift’ to each of her many guests.  The Season got off to another perfect start. 

my friend Mona’s Annual Christmas Luncheon at the stately Valley Hunt Club.

For as long as I can remember, Mona has given an early Christmas present of an elegant tree ornament as a ‘table gift’ to each of her many guests

Just when you think it cannot get any better, it does.  This year, Mona herself received a special Christmas present.  Her first Grandchild [part Finnish] was born the very next day! 

The Club’s beautiful décor and Christmas decorations make the perfect setting for a Christmas Season kick-off.

The Club’s beautiful décor and Christmas decorations make the perfect setting for a Christmas Season kick-off.

Get There Early …Stay For The Fun

Suomi Kerho held its Annual Bake Sale and Christmas Dinner to a packed house.  The Hall looked Christmas lovely and was filled with Finns and friends having a wonderful time.  Everyone enjoys the delicious traditional foods served, but the Bake Sale sells out way too early! 

 Everyone enjoys the delicious traditional foods served, but the Bake Sale sells out way too early!

Everyone enjoys the delicious traditional foods served, but the Bake Sale sells out way too early!

Kids of all ages were excited to welcome Joulupukki [Santa Claus] who was introduced by lovely Mistress of Ceremonies, Liisa Linnala.  Liisa asked Santa how his trip to North Hollywood went.  Joulupukki happily reported coming from Korvatunturi [the North Pole] via Finnair and was really enjoying the warm California climate.

Kids of all ages were excited to welcome Joulupukki [Santa Claus] who was introduced by lovely Mistress of Ceremonies, Liisa Linnala.

Kids of all ages were excited to welcome Joulupukki [Santa Claus] who was introduced by lovely Mistress of Ceremonies, Liisa Linnala.

EASAC Turns 10!!

The European American Sheriff’s Advisory Council celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the Annual Holiday Luncheon held at Sheriff’s Headquarters in Monterey Park

The European American Sheriff’s Advisory Council celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the Annual Holiday Luncheon held at Sheriff’s Headquarters in Monterey Park

The European American Sheriff’s Advisory Council celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the Annual Holiday Luncheon held at Sheriff’s Headquarters in Monterey Park.  As a Founding Member, Finland has provided continuous support and leadership to EASAC.

Consul General of Finland Juha Markkanen

Consul General of Finland Juha Markkanen

The Annual Holiday Luncheon provides EASAC and the Sheriff an opportunity to welcome the Consuls General of the European nations with representation in Los Angeles and to hear from some interesting speakers.  Those speakers included the Consul General of Uruguay who is Dean of the LA Consular Corp, two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stars, and Sheriff Lee Baca himself.  As EASAC President, Elizabeth von Schlesinger served as MC, Vice President Jim Lynch reviewed the major events of 10 years, and, as VP, I got to give an overview of the EASAC history, identity, purpose, direction, and priorities.  Elizabeth, Jim, and I were given really neat Certificates of Appreciation by Sheriff Baca for our 10 years of work and support of the Sheriff’s Department and our European communities. 

Those speakers included the Consul General of Uruguay who is Dean of the LA Consular Corp, two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stars, and Sheriff Lee Baca himself.  Elizabeth, Jim, and I were given really neat Certificates of Appreciation by Sheriff Baca for our 10 years of work and support of the Sheriff’s Department and our European communities.

Those speakers included the Consul General of Uruguay who is Dean of the LA Consular Corp, two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stars, and Sheriff Lee Baca himself. Elizabeth, Jim, and I were given really neat Certificates of Appreciation by Sheriff Baca for our 10 years of work and support of the Sheriff’s Department and our European communities.

The strong Finnish presence at the EASAC Luncheon included Finland’s new Consul General in Los Angeles Juha “JP” Markkanen, journalist Tomi Hinkkanen, photographer Jonny Kahleyn, and yours truly.

Sheriff Baca got a warm welcome from his important guests and many friends on the Council.

Sheriff Baca got a warm welcome from his important guests and many friends on the Council.

Sheriff Baca got a warm welcome from his important guests and many friends on the Council.

SuomiKoulu/Katirilli Soirée

A cold night in Costa Mesa turned to a warm and welcoming Hall for the joint Suomi Koulu/Katirilli Christmas party.  How can you see a large contingence of adult elves with rosy cheeks and not get a smile on your face??

Mira Scott and Petra Kess led the festivities.  Children enjoyed crafts and play.  A Christmas tree was decked out in Finnish flags.  And, delicious Christmas food was served.

Mira Scott and Petra Kess led the festivities. Children enjoyed crafts and play. A Christmas tree was decked out in Finnish flags. And, delicious Christmas food was served.

Mira Scott and Petra Kess led the festivities.  Children enjoyed crafts and play.  A Christmas tree was decked out in Finnish flags.  And, delicious Christmas food was served.  Mira reported a very large attendance this year. Lots of people having fun set the tone for the Season and reminded us all what great joy can be found in the faces of children—even when we are all grown up!

Lots of people having fun set the tone for the Season and reminded us all what great joy can be found in the faces of children—even when we are all grown up!

Lots of people having fun set the tone for the Season and reminded us all what great joy can be found in the faces of children—even when we are all grown up!

Speaking of generations, as I was taking a picture of the cutest little girl playing with the bell on  her seatmate’s tonttulakki [elf cap], someone identified the munchkin as the Great Granddaughter of Eila Kartiala, the Founder of the  Katirilli Dancers.  My, how time flies—and what hope plays before us!

How can you see a large contingence of adult elves with rosy cheeks and not get a smile on your face??

How can you see a large contingence of adult elves with rosy cheeks and not get a smile on your face??

After finding some great bargains at the used book sale, it was time to head out for another event in Santa Monica.

I was taking a picture of the cutest little girl playing with the bell on  her seatmate’s tonttulakki [elf cap], someone identified the munchkin as the Great Granddaughter of Eila Kartiala, the Founder of the  Katirilli Dancers.  My, how time flies—and what hope plays before us!

I was taking a picture of the cutest little girl playing with the bell on her seatmate’s tonttulakki [elf cap], someone identified the munchkin as the Great Granddaughter of Eila Kartiala, the Founder of the Katirilli Dancers. My, how time flies—and what hope plays before us!

Food Bank Party

‘Back in the day’, the kids who went to U.C. Berkeley were ‘cool’!

guests were invited to a Foodbank to pack boxes of food for the less fortunate.  Each of us made a monetary donation, rolled up our sleeves, and went to work packing—definitely a different LA party!

Guests were invited to a Foodbank to pack boxes of food for the less fortunate. Each of us made a monetary donation, rolled up our sleeves, and went to work packing—definitely a different LA party!

My friend from Berkeley days [J.J. –now a renowned architect] hosted the most wonderful LA Christmas party in a refrigerated warehouse –brrrrr, it was COLD.  Actually, guests were invited to a Foodbank to pack boxes of food for the less fortunate.  Each of us made a monetary donation, rolled up our sleeves, and went to work packing—definitely a different LA party! 

After the hard work, guests mingled out back on the loading area that was decked out with Holiday décor and a forest of outdoor heaters –ahhhhh, WARMTH.  Fabulous refreshments included a punch bar, an artisan ice cream vendor, a hot dog cart, and a huge food truck from the famous “Two Hot Tamales”

After the hard work, guests mingled out back on the loading area that was decked out with Holiday décor and a forest of outdoor heaters –ahhhhh, WARMTH. Fabulous refreshments included a punch bar, an artisan ice cream vendor, a hot dog cart, and a huge food truck from the famous “Two Hot Tamales”

After the hard work, guests mingled out back on the loading area that was decked out with Holiday décor and a forest of outdoor heaters –ahhhhh, WARMTH.  Fabulous refreshments included a punch bar, an artisan ice cream vendor, a hot dog cart, and a huge food truck from the famous “Two Hot Tamales”.  Nice people, great fun, and rewarding help for the needy made for a meaningful evening.

Tasty Holiday Traditions

Speaking of tamales, you will see more tamales than rutabagas here in LA.  The food cases in supermarkets are filled with masa, the cornmeal paste that is spread on dried corn husks before the yummy fillings of green chile and corn, pork, or chicken are wrapped into pretty packages to be steamed in the Latin American mode.  Tamales are fun to make, but are so much work!  Still, tamales are definitely fun to eat!

We have been told that on Tapaninpäivä [Boxing Day —the day after Christmas], we will be receiving some of the best homemade tamales anywhere.

We have been told that on Tapaninpäivä [Boxing Day —the day after Christmas], we will be receiving some of the best homemade tamales anywhere.

We have been told that on Tapaninpäivä [Boxing Day —the day after Christmas], we will be receiving some of the best homemade tamales anywhere.   They are being made by the Mother of my late Mother’s helper.  I hope to twist her arm to give me a lesson next year –I would like to see a master at work and to learn her secret techniques if she will share them.  Maybe she would trade me for a Finnish kaalikääryle demonstration!
tamales fixins'

tamales fixins’

Fun Holiday Shopping

Shopping at The Farmer’s Market is always a must for me.  There is no Stockmann’s Food Hall here, but The Farmer’s Market (3rd and Fairfax) really has had the best offerings in LA for as long as I have been here—even before The Grove opened next door.  

Shopping at The Farmer’s Market is always a must for me

Shopping at The Farmer’s Market is always a must for me

As I entered The Market, a Caribbean steel band was playing.  Smiling people were gathering their Holiday meal goodies.  A little boy asked his Mother why those green “wastebaskets” were hanging on the tree.  If you are a regular, you know the iconic wooden carts that have been used since the early days by shoppers for their purchases as they go from farmer’s stand to farmer’s stand sort of like a golf ‘walking cart’ without the clubs!  If you are not a regular, at least you now know that those green things are there for your use—no charge!

  If you are a regular, you know the iconic wooden carts that have been used since the early days by shoppers for their purchases as they go from farmer’s stand to farmer’s stand sort of like a golf ‘walking cart’ without the clubs!

If you are a regular, you know the iconic wooden carts that have been used since the early days by shoppers for their purchases as they go from farmer’s stand to farmer’s stand sort of like a golf ‘walking cart’ without the clubs!

My favorite butcher told me of an upcoming Sausage Class he will be teaching this Winter.  His last class had a U.S. Supreme Court Justice as a ‘student’.  Yes, I know who it was, but I will defer!  Maybe I should sign up for that next course.

My favorite butcher told me of an upcoming Sausage Class he will be teaching this Winter

My favorite butcher told me of an upcoming Sausage Class he will be teaching this Winter

Back to my shopping:

  Ground beef for Christmas Eve meat pie  

  Center cut salmon fillets for gravlax

 Valencia oranges for fresh squeezed juice on Christmas morning

  International sausages for Christmas brunch

  Primo piece of beef for Christmas dinner

√√ A smile for my face, a bounce in my step, –and a grand lift for my spirit  ☺☺☺☺☺

Now, off to see Seija Gerdt [formerly Anttila] for the Finnish artist’s annual pre-Christmas sale.  Her studio and home are always so festive and fun.  I have been collecting her work for years.  Only very ‘good little girls and boys’ get on that list, however.  A jolly FACC President, Heidi Crooks, was spotted helping ‘Finnish Commerce’ and doing some good ‘elves’ work!

 A jolly FACC President, Heidi Crooks, was spotted helping ‘Finnish Commerce’ and doing some good ‘elves’ work!

A jolly FACC President, Heidi Crooks, was spotted helping ‘Finnish Commerce’ and doing some good ‘elves’ work!

Holiday Entertaining: Giving, Guests, and Gifts

While Finnish liqueurs used to make for a wonderful tuliainen or a nice Christmas gift for special friends, the ‘security’ liquid restrictions make it more difficult to bring these delights home these days. 

Thus: 

Following is a recipe I created many years ago after being inspired by those wonderful Finnish cream candies like Omar and Maija.  It is also reminiscent of the after dinner drinks our Irish friends make that our national airline has available to help us ‘off to dreamland’ on those long flights.  It does remind me of Finland.

You may recall that earlier I wrote about my dear friend Veli Matti who would come by every now and then after a hard day of studies at the UCLA Anderson School –always with his ‘patented’  inquiry: “What is happening in the Kitchen Laboratory tonight?”  Sometimes I was preparing a meal—sometimes I was concocting something new.  This concoction was one night’s “…what’s happening?” answer. 

And, your humble ‘mad scientist’ correspondent is here to guide you through the process.  No special equipment, oven, or stove is needed.  Just drag out and dust off those old bottles* you have stored in your attic for next year’s sima and let’s begin:

AVA’S ‘BAILEYS’ HOLIDAY SWEETNESS

This is a great “no cook” recipe you can whip up in minutes.

AVA’S ‘BAILEYS’ HOLIDAY SWEETNESS

AVA’S ‘BAILEYS’ HOLIDAY SWEETNESS

1 14 oz can      sweetened, condensed milk

1 cup               Irish whiskey [or cream soda for a nonalcoholic version]

1 tablespoon    chocolate syrup

1 tablespoon    vanilla extract [or 1 teaspoon Finnish vanilla sugar if you have it]

1 teaspoon       instant coffee crystals

1 cup               whipping cream

1 tablespoon    canned, sweetened cream of coconut

ice cubes

Finnish candies for garnish

Combine first 5 ingredients in blender; blend until coffee crystals dissolve.   Add whipping cream and cream of coconut; blend. Transfer to pitcher or decorative bottle.  Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

Combine first 5 ingredients in blender; blend until coffee crystals dissolve.  

Add whipping cream and cream of coconut; blend.

Transfer to pitcher or decorative bottle.  Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

This makes 8 servings.

 

To serve: Fill glasses [beautiful Finnish glasses, of course] with ice cubes.  Pour stirred, chilled mixture over the ‘rocks’ and serve immediately—and often**, if no one is driving.

Alternatively:  Shake with ice and pour into a martini glass with the rim dipped in decorative sugar such as demerara

For Gifting or Storing:  Add a small ‘name card’ or label on the bottle reminding recipient that the contents need to be refrigerated when not ‘in use’.

Add a small ‘name card’ or label on the bottle reminding recipient that the contents need to be refrigerated when not ‘in use’.

Actually, small ornate bottles from oils and vinegars decorated with ribbons and ornaments make perfect vessels for giving if thoroughly cleaned. Especially nice is the cobalt blue glass in which some bottled waters are sold –if you can find them.

* Actually, small ornate bottles from oils and vinegars decorated with ribbons and ornaments make perfect vessels for giving if thoroughly cleaned.  Especially nice is the cobalt blue glass in which some bottled waters are sold –if you can find them.

**Enjoy responsibly.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!!!

Whether your Holiday is hot or cold, I hope it is warm with Love.

AROUND LA WITH AVA: “ASK NOT…”

AROUND LA WITH AVA: “ASK NOT…”
by Ava Anttila

Fifty years ago President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.

President-Kennedy

President John Kennedy with daughter Caroline.

There was a time when I thought History was something that happened to other people in another era. Now, I know that History is but a record of lives lived, events experienced, challenges embraced, and results accomplished.  It is different when you are there.

It was late morning on November 22, 1963 when a little Finnish girl in Mrs. Holdbrook’s class was told by her crying teacher to “…go home, the school is closing—class is dismissed—the President has been shot.”  And, home my classmates and I went, not really ‘knowing’ what was happening or what we were to do…or think.

jfk

The details of that fateful morning came back into focus with a new clarity as the World stopped to reflect on a ‘reality show’ like none anyone had experienced in ‘real time’. That weekend the country witnessed the live murder of the assassin on television. Oh, how real it was!  For a new immigrant child who thought she had arrived to a place of safety and security, the World turned upside down.

The entire month of November just past seemed dedicated to recollections and reflections on one of the most monumental and earth-shaking events for anyone around on that fateful day.

Time Compression

We all remember where we were and what we were doing at the time of significant events during our lives. This is our History as we lived it: television/color television; the Moon landing; hearing of the death of John Lennon, JFK, RFK, Princess Diana; the Challenger disaster; the Northridge ‘quake; 9/11; and on and on.

In truth, I rather welcome the perspective that is brought by a significant anniversary, memorial, or celebration. When we look back at the 50 years since John Kennedy’s assassination, it does not seem so long ago that another assassinated President [Abraham Lincoln] gave his Gettysburg Address even though that happened 150 years ago.

The original Gettysburg Address

The original Gettysburg Address

President Lincoln was a great orator.  And, History classes taught us that he was responsible for preserving the Union of States and bringing an end to slavery in the United States. ‘In the day’, each American school age child had to memorize the Gettysburg Address.  Those words about the greatness of this country were heartfelt by this young immigrant. Your humble correspondent was one who knew and can still [almost] recite “Four score and seven years ago …///…of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth”.

My Father was born four score and eight years ago!   Whoooaa!!

 Today

Even without the current year’s benchmark anniversaries, this is a memorable and meaningful time of year. Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Finnish Independence Day have calendared close together and force our thoughts to consider the meaning and importance of these themes.

Finnish war veteran Ari Antiila with daughter Ava

We fly the flags to salute our Veterans—here and gone. We feast with friends and family on Thanksgiving, mindful of how truly fortunate we are in our lives. We place the proper candles in our window on 6 December and join Finnish hearts to applaud our remaining Veterans and Lottas for their sacrifice and service preserving Finnish Independence.  Of course, December 7th  and the bombing of Pearl Harbor abruptly bringing the US into WWII continues to be “…a day that shall live in infamy” as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt so resolutely stated.

Each November my Father relives the start of the Winter War by describing his witness of the Russian bombing of Helsinki. Each year as I drive my Veteran Dad home from the Consul Residence Independence Day festivities, I am ever-so-mindful that he and my dear, departed Mom [a Lotta] helped preserve Finland! They fought the fight—my parents [and many others we know and love] are Finnish History!

Members of Finnish voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organization for women

Members of Finnish voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organization for women

“Ask Not…”

“Ask not what your country can do for you.  Ask what you can do for your country… .”

President Kennedy’s Inaugural ‘challenge’ served as inspiration for generations –and continues today in many forms of generosity and giving. While Congress hones ineptitude and the extremes in talk/print media bloviate to/at each other and themselves, the American people continue to reach out with amazing caring and generosity toward folks who need help around the World. That philosophy and way of life describe what I have seen, experienced, and tried to emulate my entire life since arriving here as a young girl.

 

American Red Cross workers assist at a community run shelter at Bastrop Middle School after wildfires sweep the region, driving thousands of people from endangered neighborhoods and burning hundreds of houses to the ground.

‘Let Them Eat Soup…’

My Dad often reflects fondly on pea soup and his Finnish Army experiences.

Each time I bring him a bowl of Finnish pea soup and he happens upon a piece of meat, he makes the comment: “Oh, look sattumia [special happenings or ‘finds’]”. His delight reflects how special it was for the troops to find a real piece of meat in their nourishment on the cold battlefields of Finland during the war. Despite a current life of comfort, war and all its shortages our heroes experienced left grateful memories of a ‘find’ in the frozen forest.

Heroic resistance: Finnish troops battle against the Red Army in December 1939.

Heroic resistance: Finnish troops battle against the Red Army.

During the wars, the Finnish Forces [helped by their Lottas] had to set up makeshift kitchens to feed the troops. Dried peas and water cooked in a big pot can feed a crowd. Scraps of meat, a ham hock, a bone, or even a left-over makkara tossed in the pot can add great flavor, aroma, and nourishment. Pea soup is basic, hearty, humble, unassuming, laid back, and enduring –just like the Finns who love it, including our beloved Veterans.

Finnish children being evacuated during the Winter War

Finnish Pea Soup

Although I have made different kinds of pea soup through the years, I love to serve ‘tricked out’, fancy, playful ones with fun garnishes in ‘different’ presentations for dinner parties or elegant occasions. When I am going for a ‘Finnish touch’, the authentic, basic recipe wins out!

Suomi_Indep_13_Kahleyn_Dieb-376

Finnish war veteran Ari Antiila with daughter Ava

I make Finnish pea soup for my Veteran Dad each week—or so it feels.  I stick with the simplest, most authentic version. My ‘improvements’ are not with ingredients or accoutrements, but in process. After years of watching a pot boiling on the stove and steaming up the kitchen, I moved to cooking in a simple ‘slow cooker’. You can buy one in practically any store in the U.S. for very little money. Sometimes they are referred to by the funny term “crock pot”.

The slow cooker is a California dream for a busy person.  All ingredients are thrown in the sturdy pot in the morning. Once temperature and cooking time are set, the ‘batch’ can be left safely unattended for a whole day at the office or on a movie shoot without worry. You will be greeted with an olfactory hug of Finnish nostalgia [without any additional human involvement] upon your return.

Life in the Slow Lane Pea Soup

Recipe

1 one pound bag of split peas (even better, but harder to find are the whole peas)

1 to 1½  quarts cold water

1 meaty ham bone (from leftovers) or a smoked ham hock  (can omit for vegan version)

1 tablespoon salt (a few dashes of pepper to taste)

2 teaspoons marjoram

2 tablespoons dried minced onion or one whole onion finely chopped

1 one pound bag of split peas (even better, but harder to find are the whole peas) 1 to 1½  quarts cold water 1 meaty ham bone (from leftovers) or a smoked ham hock  (can omit for vegan version) 1 tablespoon salt (a few dashes of pepper to taste) 2 teaspoons marjoram 2 tablespoons dried minced onion or one whole onion finely chopped 

Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Water should cover everything by several inches.  Set on ‘low’ for 6 to 8 hours.

IMG_3916a

Remove bone(s) and discard. Chop meat into bite sized pieces and return to pot.

ava-december2

Stir and serve.

IMG_3892

The soup will thicken as it sets. If too thick the next day, add a bit of water and stir.

Soup keeps 2 to 3 days, but also freezes well.

This is a great party dish for a crowd if you double the recipe. My crock pot is a 7 quart cooker and suits a doubled recipe.

For a party, serve in a large, heated soup tureen and ladle into mugs or demitasse cups—with a sliver or crouton of rye bread. Or, simply serve in bowls as a first course.

You can also serve soup ‘Shooters’ as appetizers –as the centerpiece of a celebration or a fundraiser. Or, if you practice enough, as a course in your own restaurant!

Regardless, your soup will be a success if you have Finland –its heritage and history, in your heart and on your table!!

ACTIVITIES IN LA

Veteraani Tuki Ryhma

The local Vets met on November 11 at Suomi Kerho.

The Veteraani Tuki Ryhma has had the ‘behind-the-scenes’ ongoing support of Henri Aspen and Pauli Majamaki in arranging for their events.

The Veteraani Tuki Ryhma has had the ‘behind-the-scenes’ ongoing support of Henri Aspen and Pauli Majamaki in arranging for their events.

Suomi Kerho has always been the stalwart port of Finnish activities. The Veteraani Tuki Ryhma has had the ‘behind-the-scenes’ ongoing support of Henri Aspen and Pauli Majamaki in arranging for their events. It took some wrangling and pleading just to get them to stand still for a photo, but a big kiitos is in order for all their efforts and kindness for our local Veterans and Lottas.

Majamaki Family Greenscapes

The Bulletin Board at the Suomi Kerho facility showcased the Majamaki family and its landscaping successes in a big Daily News feature. What a beautiful greenscape they have created on their property.

Suomi Kerho’s Neighborhood

I wrote recently about the gentrification of the Suomi Kerho neighborhood, including the new Senior Creative Arts Colony nearby. I had to chuckle when I saw the new Salami Studio sign that just went up on the block!  Finland and sausage just can’t get away from each other—even in Hollywood!

 I had to chuckle when I saw the new Salami Studio sign that just went up on the block!  Finland and sausage just can’t get away from each other—even in Hollywood!

I had to chuckle when I saw the new Salami Studio sign that just went up on the block! Finland and sausage just can’t get away from each other—even in Hollywood!

Los Angeles Finlandia Foundation

The LAFF meeting on 11/7 featured Ray Halme as Keynote Speaker.

Ray’s program centered on the Finns living and working in Hollywood from 1900-1950s. Ray had previously presented this program at the FinnFest in San Diego. There were so many fascinating programs going on at the same time at the FinnFest, I had to miss Ray’s program.  I was thrilled to get a call that Mr. Halme’s presentation was being repeated for the LAFF November meeting. There was a full audience at the Gidding Room and the presentation by Ray gave everyone background that brought that era to life.

The LAFF meeting on 11/7 featured Ray Halme as Keynote Speaker.

The LAFF meeting on 11/7 featured Ray Halme as Keynote Speaker.

The LAFF business meeting followed with various issues.

Maria Kizirian [who was present] was introduced as the replacement for Finlandia Foundation National’s Christina Lin who has returned to the East Coast.