Thursday, November 29, 2012


The weeks after Helsinki passed in a blink, and honestly I don't remember them. Everything fell to boring routine, and I didn't draw, explore, or do anything worthwhile— I just waited.

I waited for Portugal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

finnish delights

If you lean towards the carnivorous end of the eating spectrum and find yourself in Finland, a taste of reindeer is absolutely necessary. At Aino, a 'real' Finnish restaurant in the North Esplanade of the city centre, I sat down to order the poronfileetä, mustaherukkakastiketta ja puikulaperunapyreetä— reindeer fillet with blackcurrant sauce, and mashed Lappish potatoes, which came highly recommended. The reindeer was not unlike venison, and melted in my mouth. I think the sauce was sweet, and the potatoes creamy— but really, all I can remember is that fillet— and the dreamiest mushroom soup, which sadly, I did not photograph. I lust for that soup...

The wee bit of Danish in me manifests in funny ways, one of them being a passionate love for anything fishy— so when I spied the mini fish called muikku, all fried up and waiting for me at a market stall by the harbour, I counted my coins and got in line. There also happened to be a salmon soup calling to me, served with a fish-shaped slice of buttery brown bread. The warmth of the soup, the sourness of the bread, and the crunch of the fishies... so, so good!

I enjoyed these muikku so much, that I later ordered a fancier version of them for dinner with a nice wine— and the following day, I had a creamier salmon soup at the EMMA café. I really could happily live off of anything that comes out of the sea.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

visiting emma

The Weegee Exhibition Centre, which houses the wonderful Espoo Museum of Modern Art, is a short ride away from Helsinki's Ruoholahti quarter, and is well worth a visit if you are an art lover— though the Weegee also is home to a toy museum, a clock and timepieces museum, and various other great places to wander around in. Like any good art museum, the EMMA left me with a hunger to draw, to paint and to sculpt, and a nagging feeling of guilt that I haven't done any such thing in a long time. I'm really not sure what is keeping me from picking up my pencils and brushes. Lately, I've preferred to take on the role of the witness, I guess.

I hope it changes soon.

Friday, November 23, 2012


At the end of September, I had the good fortune to visit Helsinki and meet some inspiring art teachers. We had some wonderful discussions about the importance of design in art education, and the role of technology in children's lives today. It was a stimulating experience; hanging out with like-minded creative people, who are passionate about art and teaching.

The first thing that struck me about Helsinki was the air, which felt like medicine upon each inhale. I breathed with every cell of my being, as though I could store it up for the return to a less than fresh Istanbul.

The second thing I was taken by was the absence of homicidal drivers on the road. Taking a walk in Istanbul requires nerves of steel and the slightest death wish— seldom does anyone stop for a pedestrian. There is no way to predict what a Turk behind a wheel is going to do; one-way streets go three ways, turn signals mean little— and everyone is in a rush. I found myself stunned like a deer in headlights when the first Finn driver stopped to let me cross the road.

The third thing, was all the straight lines.

Monday, November 19, 2012

the last images of summer

Summer came and went, and during these past few months, I've been alternating between travel and rest. I haven't had a chance to do much drawing since Nepal— and I've been taking forever to scan the sketchbook I had brought with me there. Meanwhile, the blue skies have gone grey, and the sunflower fields are naked— a happy thing for the wild dogs who make beds in the mounds of dirt.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

the passing of time

The After School Artists Exhibition at SMD marks the end of another wonderful adventure in Nepal. It gets harder and harder to go, and the knowledge that this may be the last time I see some of my students, leaves me with the feeling of a stone in my chest. There is no room at the school past tenth grade— and when I ask my tenth grade students what will happen next, they smile, shake their heads Nepali-style, and simply say "I don't know."

These past few months have been overwhelming in many ways, and I haven't known what to write, or what to share. I miss my kids. They have become such a large part of my life, and come June, I hope I'll see all of their smiling faces. If I find that my tenth graders have moved from Kathmandu, I'll just have to find them, and visit them elsewhere.