Johanna Venho, “(Returning)”


Lentokoneesta näen tutun vihreän,
havut ilta-auringossa. Oman ääneni väri,
tämäkö on maa johon minut tehtiin.
Asuin poissa kauan, puhuin särmätöntä kieltä,
nauroin vaikeasti. Tarkkailin muita.
Toista ei voi tuntea: toisen eteen
on mentävä kuin ikonin. Odota.
Joku alkaa kertoa, sana tai pari imeytyy vereen.
Kaipasin näitä ihmisiä: kuulostelua.
Kesäyövaloa silmien alla. Tämäkö on maa
johon hajoan, mullastani kasvaa
syvä, tumma kuusi. Tuuli näppäilee oksia öisin.

imatrankoski (2)


I see the familiar green from the plane,
Conifer sprigs in the evening sun. The color of my own voice,
This is the land I was made for.
I lived away for a long time. I spoke an edgeless tongue,
I laughed gravely. I observed others.
The other cannot be known: others
Must be approached like icons. Wait.
Someone speaks, the blood absorbs a word or two.
I missed these people, listening,
The light of summer nights under my eyes. This is the land
Where I shall decompose, a deep dark fir
Growing from my soil. The wind shall pluck its boughs at night.

Source: Johanna Venho, Postia Saturnukseen (Porvoo–Helsinki–Juva: WSOY, 1998), p. 70. Translation and photo of Imatra Rapids (Imatrankoski) by Living in FIN

10 Reasons to Eat Strawberries

It is a tiny miracle that strawberries grow this far north. It is even more of a miracle that Finnish strawberries are supremely delicious, perfectly succulent and sweet.

Finns celebrate this miracle by eating as many strawberries as they can while they are in season.

They also honor strawberries by incorporating them into desserts concocted only on the most festive occasions, such as the strawberry whipped cream cake our downstairs neighbor Maija makes on her birthday, her name day, and her husband’s name day,  which all take place in July and August, during and just after the peak of the all-too-brief Finnish strawberry season.

Maija’s strawberry whipped cream cake is to die for, by the way.

But strawberries are not just delicious, they are good for you, too, as I was reminded yesterday by this placard at the pop-up strawberry stand at my local grocery store.

ten reasons to eat strawberries

10 Reasons to Eat Strawberries

  • It improves the immune system.
  • It maintains eyesight.
  • It prevents cancer.
  • It firms up the skin.
  • It lowers cholesterol.
  • It makes the joints work better.
  • It lowers blood pressure.
  • It improves digestion.
  • It helps control weight.
  • It is positively yummy.


Photo and translation by Living in FIN

Stop Deportations: Shady Forced Repatriation Practices at Baghdad Airport


Stop Deportations
March 12, 2018

Shady Forced Repatriation Practices at Baghdad Airport

Stop Deportations was in contact today with a Baghdad Airport policeman via the Danish journalist Kods Almsaray. The policeman did not want his name published. We asked under what terms and agreements they accepted Iraqi asylum seekers forcibly repatriated to Iraq by the Finnish police when the Iraqi immigration minister had said Iraq did not accept any forcibly repatriated Iraqis. The source at Baghdad Airport said they accepted only asylum seekers convicted of crimes, such as terrorism, for example. The criminal background check was done in such a way that the airport police got the forcibly repatriated asylum seeker’s legal documents from the Finnish policemen escorting him, Mohammed said.

When we said the forced returnees were largely ordinary asylum seekers who had not done anything illegal while they were in Finland and most were still in the middle of asylum application process, the line went dead.

Several forcibly repatriated asylum seekers have confirmed the Finnish police gave their asylum application papers at the airport to the Iraqi police, who made photocopies of them. Then the Iraqi police questioned why the applicants went to Finland and checked whether they were on the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s list. All of this put the forced returnees in grave danger, as the asylum application papers contained confidential information about how the applicants were persecuted and who persecuted them.

One can also end up on the Interior Ministry’s list for quite arbitrary reasons and those who are on the list can be victimized indefinitely.

The lack of a passport is no longer an obstacle to forced repatriation when the Finnish police can write up a disposable “European travel document for third-country nationals illegally residing in the country,” although asylum seekers whose application review process is still underway are not residing illegally in Finland.

Forced returnees who even had steady jobs when they left Finland have shown us pictures of their European travel documents. According to the documents, they had been residing in Finland illegally.

Last week, Stop Deportations asked Finnish Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen on the basis of what treaties and documents Finland has been engaged in forced repatriations to Iraq, when neither official Iraq nor Finland has admitted to the repatriations. The minister managed to avoid answering the question. An employee with state-owned Iraqi Airways estimated today, in conversation with Stop Deportations, that Finland is currently the most active forced repatriator in the EU. But where is the agreement on forced repatriations? Where are the transparent practices?

Translated by Living in FIN. Thanks to Comrade AR for the heads-up. Photo courtesy of Stop Deportations

Finnish Almond Date Bread


This coffee cake or quick bread has been a festive season favorite of my boon companion and me ever since I clipped the recipe from a December issue of the Finnish home design and food magazine Koti ja keittiö several years ago and gave it a try. Since then I have baked it something like a dozen times.

It is incredibly easy to bake and tastes great, especially with a cup of tea or coffee or cocoa amid the now nearly perpetual gloom of the slushy southern Finnish winter.

I am glad I clipped the recipe way back then, because the magazine’s website doesn’t seem to have a recipes archive. Fortunately, a smart looking blog entitled has preserved the recipe for posterity in Finnish.

I have englished it, below, using standard English measures as well, rather than the metric measures used in Finnish recipes and cookbooks.

Finnish Festive Season Almond Date Bread


Approx. 1 2/3 cups White baking flour
1 ½ tsp Baking powder
6 Tbsp Sugar or fructose
1 tsp Coriander powder
Zest Lemon (one whole)
Approx. 1 ½ cups Dates, fresh, pitted, chopped
Approx. 1 cup Almonds, flaked (NB. This is my substitution.)
½ cup Butter or margarine
½ cup Milk
2 Eggs
2 or 3 pats Butter or margarine, for greasing bread pan

1. Measure the flour, baking powder, and spices, including the lemon zest, into a large mixing bowl and mix them lightly but thoroughly.

2. Chop and pit the dates if you have not already done it. It is up to you to decide how finely you want to chop the dates. I leave the almonds flakes whole, as they come out of the packapge, but you might want to give them a rough chop as well. In any case, set aside a small amount of the chopped dates and almond flakes for sprinkling on top of the bread just before it goes into the oven.

3. Melt the butter or margarine that goes into the bread dough. Add it and the milk to the mixture in the mixing bowl. Finally, add the eggs and mix the whole kit and caboodle until you have a smooth dough.

4. Grease a small rectangular bread pan. Spoon the dough into the pan and spread it around more or less evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the surface with the dates and almond flakes you set aside earlier.

5. Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for around 45 minutes to an hour. When the bread is done, let it cool for a while before serving.


Freely translated, tested, and photographed by Living in FIN