Day 23: Proekt 365 (The perfect lunch)

Day 23: Proekt 365 The perfect lunch

Day 23: Proekt 365
The perfect lunch

Apologies to the vegetarians in advance, I love burgers. And, bacon. Today, I am immensely grateful to have been introduced to the absolute best burger in Helsinki — Roslund Butchers did not disappoint.

Not only was the meat fresh and juicy and perfectly cooked, but the bun was light and flaky (not normal for Finnish bread), the salad was insanely gorgeous and big, and the fries were that perfect blend of crunchy outside / soft inside. Oh…and did I mention the bacon? Thick sliced, slightly smoky and perfectly cooked as well.

I’ve died and gone to burger heaven (nearly).

It wasn’t terribly cheap (~€15 for a burger and salad; fries are extra but worth it), but it wasn’t insanely expensive either. For taste, quality and freshness, it was more than worth it. Outside the market hall where this particular branch is located, you can smell the lovely deliciousness of Roslund burgers. Follow that scent — you won’t be disappointed.

As an American and a Texan in particular, I miss fresh, quality beef, burgers most of all. This was truly perfect. Not too much burger, not too many fries, and not too much bun.

I’ll be back to Roslund. Frequently, something tells me.

Day 22: Proekt 365 (Getting back tenfold what you put out there…)

Day 22: Proekt 365 There is not better thanks than this

Day 22: Proekt 365
There is no better thanks than this

When friends of mine from Moscow decided to move back to Europe after a few years in Asia, I was delighted to make their young son a few wooly items to help ward off the winter chill. That his mother is a fellow knitter made it all the more special for me.

The logistics of making things for someone so far away aside, this was a delight of a project. All of the items were made not using patterns available, but by modifying existing ones (I guess you could say that I designed them, but I am by no means a designer). Finally mailing them off last week to welcome these fine folk to their new home gave me a bit of a thrill, I confess. Whilst I was anxious that a) they’d approve and b) everything would fit the little darling well and allow him to grow a bit, shipping off that particular care package was a real treat. The wait for them to arrive safely has been torture!

Today, I received a notification that a photo had been posted in which I was tagged to find the above image. If you aren’t smiling, you should be. I certainly am.

No thanks is required really when images like these land in your inbox. At least not for me. Today has been that sort of day — another friend finally received her welcome blanket for her soon-to-arrive daughter, which was another lovely image on my desktop, and another friend received a little something to brighten her day.

Just knowing that those things mean something to each of these people who make  my world better is enough. The thanks and pics are added bonuses. If I can’t be there to personally hand them over to their new owners, I’ll gladly take the photos. They make the time and effort infinitely rewarding and worth so much more.

Be warm, you adorable bundle of cuteness! And, when you grow out of these, Auntie V will gladly work on some other wooly bits for you.

Days 20 & 21: Proekt 365 (Why my husband is awesome)

In case you missed it, yesterday was lovely (</sarcasm>). A particularly sudden and thoroughly lovely stomach bug finally reared it’s ugly head, leaving me feeling miserable and sleepless all whilst facing a deadline. I missed my deadline, but was graciously given an extension by that particular and amazingly understanding client (I owe you HUGE). But, I was pretty much a mess by yesterday evening. Think weepy and whiney and not particularly pleasant in any way.

Enter my awesome husband.

Day 19: Proekt 365 My husband chanelling South Park

Day 20: Proekt 365
My husband channeling South Park

(Whilst I may not have actually posted this pic yesterday, I did take it.) Not only did he provide the support and care I needed, but he also braved the Arctic blasts once again to get me and my unhappy tummie crackers. On top of that, he provided a little comedic relief at a key moment. Yes, he is just that awesome.

Once I finally gave up on finishing work yesterday and migrated from my desk of misery to the sofa of suffering, he tucked me in, made sure I had all of the necessary items to help me feel better, brought me whatever I’d forgotten and gave reassuring kisses and glances until I finally passed out. What would I do without him? (I honestly hope I never have to experience that reality again.)

As if all of this awesomeness wasn’t enough, I woke up this morning (feeling much improved, thankfully!) to find the following:

Day 20: Proekt 365 Who doesn't love a clean screen or two?

Day 21: Proekt 365
Who doesn’t love a clean screen or two?

Not only does he get what I need when I’m sick, but he also gets that I cannot stand dirty screens. So, knowing that I would probably want to clean my desk today (which I desperately do), and, in particular, give a bit of extra attention to my monitors (which need it), he left the screen cleaner on my desk for me to easily find. I repeat, he is just that awesome.

We recently had a bit of a discussion in our local electronics Mecca about buying another bottle of screen cleaner so I wouldn’t have to rifle through his desk / office to find the bottle he bought. He thought I was being silly, which I was. But, I honestly don’t want to disturb his desk, not because I think it would bother him. But, because it would bother me (not him looking through my desk, but me looking through his). I know he doesn’t have anything to hide (nor do I). But, it’s ‘his’ space….and I don’t want to somehow taint it. (Silly, I know.)

So, deadline monkey has been firmly removed from my back, my tummie is now a bit more tolerant of things other than water, weak tea and crackers, and my desk is in thorough need of cleaning. But, most importantly and more consistently than anything else in my life, my husband is awesome.

Day 19: Proekt 365 (That which makes me smile)

Day 19: Proekt 365 That which makes me smile

Day 19: Proekt 365
That which makes me smile

Today has not gone at all to plan. At. All.

Largely my own doing, I’ve had a tedious, frustrating, would-rather-pull-the-covers-over-my-head sort of day. I’m behind and staring down the barrel of a deadline, I’m not feeling at all my best (sniff, sniff, cough, cough) and, quite frankly, I’d love nothing better than to pound my fists on my keyboard and desk rather than gently punch the keys at the moment. Yeap, not a great day.

Then, there’s the image above. My darling husband and cheeky cat have been incredibly patient all day with me. The Cuban quietly left the flat at the best of moments (largely because I was impossible and I suspect it was better out in the arctic blast than inside listening to me and my monumental meltdown of sighs and whines). Upon his return, I finally pulled myself away from the chains of my desk for a few moments to catch these two lovely beasts of mine in this pose.

How could my day not immediately improve?

It’s still a rather crappy day (again, mea culpa). But, it’s bearable due in large measure to the moments of loveliness and silliness my little furry family provides.

Thanks, my darlings! I couldn’t do it without you, and tomorrow will be infinitely better!

Day 18: Proekt 365 (Even when we’re sad)

Day 18: Proekt 365 Cheeky Che Fufu. Need I say more?

Day 18: Proekt 365
Cheeky Che Fufu. Need I say more?

We’re not in the happiest of moods today. A very early morning finds us awake and readying for Jr Cuban’s departure. We’re all sad.

And, then there’s this. Our darling beast of a cat, who is sassy, cheeky, silly and utterly uncatlike most of the time. Vying for some early morning affection, I caught her in this pose. This is not an unusual pose.

After we return from the airport one human (aka tool) short, she’ll be just as needy and sad as us humans are. This is why we love her so. She is an extension of us. Yet, even when we just want to curl up in little balls and cry our eyes out, she has the ability to make us smile / laugh / giggle wildly.

Thank you, Che Fufu. We’re still hoping to clone you.

Day 17: Proekt 365 (A little something for the journey)

Day 17: Proekt 365 Brownies for the long journey home

Day 17: Proekt 365
Brownies for the long journey home

In another familiar ‘tradition’, the last night of my step-son’s visit has me baking brownies for him to take along on his long journey home tomorrow. It isn’t nearly as far as his grandfather’s journey was this past summer, but I did the same thing for El Maestro a few months ago. And, now as was the case then, I am filled with a mixture of happiness and sadness — delight that they want the brownies; sad that they will be leaving Finland much, much too soon.

I may not be able to have long philosophical conversations with either of them, but I can (and will always gladly) cook for them. Hopefully, regardless of where they eat them, both El Maestro and The Jr Cuban know that those brownies were made with a heaps of love. And, maybe, just a tiny tear or two dropped into them as well.

Where an ‘I love you’ text is a crime

A week ago, a man in Cameroon died. Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, who was only 34 years young, died of complications and lack of treatment for a hernia. As if this wasn’t tragic enough, Roger died needlessly and senselessly after having to live in hiding and knowing that his family wanted to remove the ‘curse’ which plagued him. Why?

Because he was gay.

Roger was jailed under Cameroon’s anti-gay legislation in 2011 for sending a text message to a man which read, ‘I’m very much in love with you’. He was sentenced to three years in prison, and later released on medical grounds. He lived in hiding upon release and some reports suggest he was barred from receiving medical treatment. Even his family said that it would be better to just let him die.

Because he was gay. Because he loved a man and declared that love.

There are far, far too many countries in which individuals who do not fit the ‘norm’ face criminal charges for simply declaring an emotion which should bring joy, happiness and hope. Depending upon how you classify both country and legislation, a total of 83 countries (84 if you count Russia) have laws which place strict limitations on the human rights freedoms to those citizens who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender. That’s 84 too many. Imagine living in a place where you cannot declare your love for another human being. Where you cannot show your love for another human being. Where you are not free to love and show that love for whom you wish.

With all of the attention Russia and President Putin have been quite rightly getting given the upcoming Olympic games, perhaps we can also shine a spotlight on all those other countries in which LGBT men and women face prison, discrimination and stigma on a daily basis simply for being who they are. This includes Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda and 35 other African nations (although the Ugandan law has not been signed by the president as of this morning). These are only the countries from one continent in which laws exist making it a crime to be gay. Let’s not forget the Americas, Asia, and, yes, Europe. As we in the developed North applaud the steady march towards marriage equality in the United States, the spread of laws which criminalise homosexuality continue and with them stigma, discrimination and hatred become more common and, in a way, legally sanctioned and institutionalised.

Despite Putin’s claims that the Sochi games will be welcoming to all athletes and free of discrimination in any form, what about the remainder of Russia outside the Olympic bubble? Actions, and in this particular case, legislation speak infinitely louder than words. So loud in fact that 27 Nobel laureates and Sir Ian McKellen (aka Gandalf) have penned a letter asking President Putin to reconsider the anti-gay propaganda law. Once the Olympic torch is extinguished, I’m dubious that anything will change, and suspect that things for Russia’s LGBT community may in fact become more grim.

But, what of those other countries in which the laws are even harsher? What of those countries who punish their LGBT citizens with decades long or even life prison sentences? What of those countries where being gay carries the death penalty? Where is the outrage? Where is the international support? Where are the protest letters from those 27 Nobel laureates and knighted actors?

In some parts of the world, undoubtedly we’ve come a long, long way towards making it safe and legal for all to love whom they love, openly and without fear (or, as it should be). But, as the senseless and tragic case of Roger Jean-Claude Mbede illustrates all too cruelly, we still have a very long way to go.

The Anti-Gay World (pinched from Buzzfeed)

The Anti-Gay World
(pinched from Buzzfeed)