Summer 1999 Photo Album, Part 1

These photos were captured using the Sony Mavica MVC-FD91 Digital Camera. All images are © TomSettle.Communications.

Thursday July 8, 1999
I arrived in Finland today and was met at the airport by Jorma, a family friend. He and his wife and daughter live in the Tikkurala section of Vantaa, a suburb of Finland’s capital city of Helsinki. After taking a long afternoon nap to adjust to the 7-hour time difference, I was treated to a delicious dinner prepared by Jorma and his wife Jaana. Jorma and his dad recently built a new deck, where we had lunch the next day. After dinner, we all spent some time playing with their new daughter Juuli.

Friday July 9, 1999
Still playing catch-up with the time difference, I was able to sleep in until about 9:30. After breakfast, I went for a walk with Jaana and Juuli. Later, we came back to the house for lunch. Jorma’s mom Leena arrived and enjoyed some quality time with her granddaughter. I was then able to catch a ride with Leena to my family’s summer cottage in Ala-Pihlaja.

Saturday July 10, 1999
My second-cousin Suvi and her family came to visit for the weekend, arriving late Friday evening. Suvi and her sons Christopher and Erik live in suburban Philadelphia, PA.

This morning I accompanied Suvi’s mother Karina and my mother Liisa to the nearby village of Virojoki. Today was market day, part of a week-long community festival. The featured food was happanvelli, a very sour soup. I’m told its an acquired taste, one which I had no interest in acquiring. While at the festival, Liisa ran into her cousin Pentti and also purchased some cleaning materials.

After leaving the festival, we stopped at the local church village. This is the same church where my cousin Merja was married back in July of 1997. We walked through the church cemetery, saw some statues and visited several graves, including those of my grandparents.

In the afternoon, my second-cousin Antti, his wife and daughters came by our cottage for a short visit (and to drop off my cell phone). They had been staying at his in-laws summer place in Puumala, and were now headed for his parents’ cottage in Savitaipale. Antti is married to Minna and they have two daughters, Lotta (soon 1) and Ella (almost 4).
We all enjoyed some food and drink outside on a beautiful summer day in Finland.

Later, my father Ron (pictured at right, with Antti) and I walked over to visit my Aunt Meeri and Uncle Teuvo, then returned to our cottage for sauna. All in all, a very busy Saturday.

Sunday July 11, 1999
After Suvi and her family left in mid-morning, it turned out to be a rather quiet day. Spent a few hours working on this and other websites on my laptop. In the evening, I walked to Teuvo’s to upload some files to the internet. While there, I chatted with my cousin Merja, who’s spending a few weeks back in Ala-Pihlaja. She and her family now live in Rauma, a city on Finland’s west coast.

Monday July 12, 1999
Another hot summer day in Finland. Liisa and her brother Teuvo spent most of the day working on fixing the pump for the new well. Cousin Merja and her 1-year-old son Väinö stopped by in the morning. Väinö is named after our grandfather.

We got some more company in the evening, as my godmother Mailis and her sister Anneli came to visit. They brought along Anneli’s daughter’s dog Helmi and posed for a group photo.

Tuesday July 13, 1999
My second-cousin Anna-Leena arrived late Monday evening from Helsinki. She’s staying for a few days, then returning home to prepare for a 2-week trip to Norway with her kayaking group. This morning Anna-Leena drove us to Virojoki so we could do some shopping (hardware, grocery and liquor stores).

In the afternoon, we decided to go swimming in the bay. Later we had a little picnic on the beach, joined by Merja and Väinö. After dinner (Ron made chili), I went for a walk to take some pictures. There’s a beautiful view of the bay as you walk from Teuvo’s towards our old cottage. I also enjoy traveling the road to our new cottage. When I got there, I grabbed a few strawberries from the garden. The season’s about over, so you’ve gotta get ’em while you can!

Since we don’t have a TV at the cottage (a good thing, in my opinion), we often pass the time by playing dice and cards. We heated up the sauna again tonight (to about 80 Celsius) and I later enjoyed a cold after-sauna beverage.

Wednesday July 14, 1999
Anna-Leena and Liisa worked on building a small beverage cellar this morning. It turned out to be another scorcher of a day, so we headed back to the beach for an afternoon swim. Anna-Leena left in mid-afternoon, then later Ron, Liisa and I walked to Teuvo’s for an early-evening visit.

Thursday July 15, 1999
The dry spell continues. It was rather cloudy much of the day, in fact we thought we might actually get some showers this evening. We could sure use it…its been a good 3 weeks since we last had rain in Ala-Pihlaja. Despite the heat, we did fire up the outdoor grill to cook up some sauna makkara (sausage), a staple of the Finnish summer diet.

Friday July 16, 1999
Today was laundry day, always a complex process out here in the country. Step one is to go to the well and pump some water. Some of the water needs to be heated up on the stove. While the water is getting hot, we set up and plug in the washer. We then pour the appropriate water in the washer, adding the clothes and detergent. After the clothes are washed, we load them in a wheelbarrow and cart them down to the bay for rinsing. They are then brought back and hung out to dry. Sure makes you appreciate the washer and dryer back home 🙂

The local grocery store in Ala-Pihlaja has been closed for many years and, being without a car, the closest store is a few kilometers away in Ravijoki. Fortunately, they offer home delivery in our area every Friday. I took Harri the grocer‘s picture and he asked me to e-mail him a copy. Seems like everyone’s online in Finland these days!

Friday evening Ron, Liisa and I visited Teuvo’s again. While Meeri and Ron watched a Woody Allen movie on TV, Teuvo, Liisa, Merja and I enjoyed some tea and cake in the kitchen.

Saturday July 17, 1999
Finally got some rain around midnight. It was a steady rain, but not enough to help put an end to this dry spell.

In the afternoon, Merja and Väinö stopped by the cottage and we wound up going to the beach for a short swim. Later, Leena invited us to her place for sauna and a cookout. While waiting his turn in sauna, Ron tried out Leena’s swing. I enjoyed my after-sauna Karhu beer.

Tonight’s menu featured sauna makarra, zucchini and salad, along with some very good wine. For dessert, we enjoyed Finnish pancakes. All together, we polished off three bottles of wine between us. After dessert, we went in the house and had some MORE drinks! Everyone seemed to be sporting quite a good buzz by the time the evening ended around 11:30.

Sunday July 18, 1999
We all woke up early today, but I wound up sleeping in until about 11AM (still recovering from last night!) Leena stopped by for some afternoon coffee before heading back to Helsinki. Antti called and we talked about my coming to visit at his in-laws’ summer place in Puumala later in the week.

Monday July 19, 1999
There was a brief morning sprinkle just before 10…still no major rain in the forecast. We did some more work on the well pump today, then paid Teuvo an evening visit. My cousin Harri and his family were there and we made plans to visit their new cottage tomorrow.

Tuesday July 20, 1999
Harri came back to Ala-Pihlaja this morning to take us to his family’s new summer cottage in Mielakansaari. He and his wife Mirja bought the place in May. It’s only about a half-hour drive from their home in Lappeenranta.

We got there in early afternoon. Harri, Ron and the rest of the grown-ups enjoyed a cider drink shortly after our arrival. After giving us a tour of the property, Harri fired up the grill. Harri and Mirja’s kids, sons Timo and Mikko and daughter Minna, spent most of the day in the water. It’s quite a nice place, right on the lake.

After dinner, we sat out on the deck and sampled some of Mirja’s punch. It was a work night for Mirja, so she and the kids headed home to Lappenranta while Harri took us back to Ala-Pihlaja.

Wednesday July 21, 1999
Harri’s off work this week, so he stayed over at our cottage last night. He took us shopping and sightseeing today, making stops in Hamina, Karhula and Kotka. In Kotka, we visited the city park, Sapokanlahti, and drove by Harri’s old school. This is the school he attended to become a sea captain.

After lunch in Hamina, we went back to our cottage. I then caught a ride with Harri to Lappeenranta. Antti picked me up around 6:30 and we headed to his in-laws summer house outside Puumala.

Thursday July 22, 1999
We got to Puumala rather late Wednesday evening, but still had time to go to sauna. Antti’s in-laws have a very nice summer house and sauna, right on the lake. Quite a full house! Antti’s in-laws, his wife Minna and two daughters, Minna’s brother Mika and his three kids, plus Antti and myself.

Today was a very relaxing day. Mika and Antti played table tennis, while Mika’s younger son Sami watched the action. Mika’s older son Toni went fishing while Minna caught up on some reading. Antti’s older daughter Ella played with her cousin Janina, and also spent some time with their grandfather.

We had a nice cookout on the grill during the day and enjoyed another sauna this evening (sauna temperature 80 degrees Celsius, lake temp 20 degrees Celsius). Originally we were planning to go back to Helsinki tonight, but we decided to stay another night and leave Friday morning.

Friday July 23, 1999
Vacation time is almost over for Antti, who starts back to work on Monday. He began the challenging task of packing the car in mid-morning. Although Ella wanted to drive, Antti got behind the wheel and we were on the road to Helsinki by 12:30.

After stopping for lunch at McDonalds in Mikkeli, and to drop off something at a friend’s house, we arrived at Antti and Minna’s apartment in Helsinki around 5:30. We unloaded the car and went to buy groceries. They’ve been away for about 3 weeks, so the ‘fridge needed to be re-stocked.

Saturday July 24, 1999
Rather quiet day today. Kind of cloudy in Helsinki, so we hung around the apartment most of the day. Antti and Minna just moved here in the spring. It’s a much bigger place than their old apartment. The kids have their own bedroom and Antti has a separate room for his computer equipment. Quite a nice place, located in a section of Helsinki known as Oulunkyla.

Sunday July 25, 1999
Back on the road today. We were all invited to Antti’s uncle (and Liisa’s cousin) Timo‘s 50th birthday party. It was held at a quiet little place out in the country, in the village of Liikkala.

While Timo posed for a picture with Liisa and his three sisters (Pirjo, Raija and Irma), the rest of the group was watching the Formula 1 auto race on TV. (Note: Finland’s Mika Hakkinen wound up finishing 3rd)

The kids were getting tired, so we were on our way back to Helsinki by mid-afternoon. Ron and Liisa caught a ride to Helsinki with Antti’s parents Raija and Ville. Ron returns to the U.S. on Wednesday.

Monday July 26, 1999
Today was Antti’s first day back at work, and I was off to stay at Antti’s parents place for a couple of nights. Minna and the kids walked me to the bus stop and I caught a bus to Raija and Ville’s place in Malmi.

After a late lunch, Ron, Liisa, Raija and I went to visit my cousin Tapio’s new house. Tapio picked us up after work and he drove us to his home in Tikkurala. He and his wife Erja and their youngest daughter Carita moved here last November. The house has a nice floorplan and a good-sized backyard and garden.

We all sat down and enjoyed a light meal and some coffee. And while Tapio and I took a sauna, his older daughter Reija and her boyfriend Mikko showed up to pay a visit. Erja is seen in the center of the photo.

Tuesday July 27, 1999
Not feeling very well today. Think I picked up the flu bug, but I’m trying to fight it off. We had an afternoon coffee and cognac, then I took a bus downtown to meet Antti. He was a 4 o’clock squash date, then we played badminton at 5. The sports hall we played at also has tennis and floorball courts.

Wednesday July 28, 1999
Still not feeling very well. We all got up early to take Ron to the airport to catch a 7 o’clock flight to Frankfurt. He’s on his way home to Pennsylvania after a 5-week vacation in Finland. We stopped at the grocery store after returning from the airport. Raija and Ville then took Liisa and I back to Ala-Pihlaja. They stayed for lunch, then drove to their cottage in Savitaipale.

My cousin Tytti and her younger daughter Maria stopped by in the afternoon. Tytti, given name Tarja, and her husband Esko live with their 3 kids in the village of Risulahti. It’s about 3 hours away from our cottage. They operate a horse farm and own some rental properties. Tytti is Merja’s twin sister.

Thursday July 29, 1999
I’m still battling the flu, so I stayed around the cottage all day. Our friend Jenny stopped by this afternoon. She and her husband Veli are now retired and living in Hamina, but they used to operate a cab company here in Ala-Pihlaja. Their youngest daughter, Terhikki, is a cab driver in nearby Virojoki.

Ron called this evening to let us know he arrived safe and sound in Pennsylvania. Despite some weather-related flight delays, the trip seemed to go well.

Friday July 30, 1999
Jorma and his wife and daughter are visiting Ala-Pihlaja this week. He’s on vacation and they’re staying at his mother Leena’s summer place. Jorma took Liisa and I to Virojoki this morning to do some shopping.

We were invited to dinner at Teuvo’s this evening. Tytti and Maria were there and Teuvo manned the grill. My Aunt Meeri stayed in the house…she’s still recovering from a broken foot she suffered back in May.

Saturday July 31, 1999
Jorma and I drove to nearby Ravijoki for a unique event today. Harju Agricultural College is hosting the European Off-Road Trial Championships (EuroTrial 1999). We can actually hear the competition from our cottage, located a good 5km away.

Today was Day 4 of the event. EuroSport, a European cable sports network, will be here tomorrow to cover the finals. Although I’m not a big racing fan, it was interesting to see these vehicles do their thing. The course was quite challenging, maneuvering standard, modified and prototype vehicles through Finland’s rugged forest terrain. Here’s a modified VW Beetle attempting to get over a rocky hurdle.

Some other shots of the action include a vehicle on the rocks, the crowd watching the competition and this 4×4 clearing a challenging hill.

Jorma and I left the off-road races in early afternoon and went back to Leena’s house. There I spent some time with Jorma, Juuli, Jaana and Leena. We watched some Formula 1 racing on TV, then I walked back to our cottage. Tytti and Maria stopped to say goodbye this afternoon. They’re heading home to Risulahti tomorrow. Tonight we went to sauna and tomorrow we’re off to visit some friends in Kotka.

More Summer 1999 Photos!