2682 Trip Tale: Our hostsTwenty five years ago we promised Martti and Riitta that we would visit them in 1985 for our 25th wedding anniversary. We were a bit late by visiting in July 2006, but that only sweetened it. We had become acquainted in the late 1970s when Riitta was getting her PhD in equine orthopedics (horse bones) at Ohio State, and her husband Martti, who didn't have a work visa but was studying architecture, volunteered at my husband's firm. They also became active in our Lutheran church and made many friends there. She is now a successful surgeon and department chair, and his home, residential, and commercial designs in Finland are some of the best I've ever seen in the 40+ years I've been following my husband around.
How delightful to visit them now with three grown children, the oldest also planning to be an architect, and see our hosts well-established and successful in their careers. If we had come earlier, we would have missed a lot--such as the family home which Martti has redesigned and completed in the last two years after the death of his parents (his father designed and built the original house in the early 1960s). Knowing friends' children is great, but meeting them as adults is even better in some ways, because they will be adults much longer than they were children (and they can help you with tour planning, rubles exchanges, and language). So, I think it is best that we visited in 2006 (when they were having a terrific, but warm, summer) rather than in the 1980s or 1990s.
Here they are walking through the small forest with us near their house, down to a public beach. They live on the island outside Helskinki proper where they grew up. One of the streets in their area has four homes designed by Martti.
The main house in which they live was originally a two level on a steep hill and Martti redesigned it, incorporating the large boulder on which it sat into the new living room wall. The house now has four levels. Finland has long summer days (didn't really get dark while we were there), but very short days in winter, so the house has a lot of glass to take advantage of the sun when it is available.
This photo is from the master bedroom level, looking over the living room into the kitchen where Riitta and I are at the table. You can see that much of the living room is glass, as is the kitchen ceiling. The period furniture of Martti's parents was reupholstered for use in the new living room. The white walls and wood cabinetry and floors set off a riot of color in flowers and plants.
Brief comments during the time we were in Helsinki when I could use a computer, here, here, and here.
Other entries I wrote about the Helsinki, Finland area
The flag exchange
Finland and Russia compared
Helsinki, pt. 1
Helsinki, pt. 2
Illiterate in Finland
The new veterinary hospital
Suomenlinna, a fortress
Saarinens' summer home