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Settling In

What brought me here today:

At this point, my husband and I have been living in Wilmington for over two months. It seems like it was just yesterday that we arrived. While at the exact same time, like it was ten months ago. That must mean that we’re settling-in to our new home and new city. There are some things that I’m still having a hard time getting used to though. This seems weird to me as a person who was born and raised in the US. I can’t deny how I feel though.

Some things are pleasant surprises. While others are either confusing me, or making me shake my head.

Advertising on television:

We don’t watch broadcast television. There’s no ‘must see TV’ nights for us. There weren’t really any Finnish television shows that we watched regularly either. The Duudsonit (The Dudesons) that we would watch if we saw it was on while flipping around the channels. It was fun to see the weird stuff they did for the show. That being said, we didn’t actively seek out the program. The same can be said for a Finnish police show that was kind of like Cops in the US.

What we mainly watch is YouTube, AEW, and a few things on Netflix and other platforms. There are creators on YouTube that we’ve been following for quite a while. Many of these are creative people. Writers, researchers, historians, artists, cooks, musicians, etc. Most of them have sponsors, so there’s usually a sponsor ad done by the YouTube creator somewhere within the video. It’s not annoying to me. And these creators have to pay their bills just like me. So go make your coin!

Big differences:

Most Finnish ads on YouTube or television seemed low-key when compared to American advertisements. On network television, Finnish ads ran at the top and bottom of the hour as well. To me, they seemed less intrusive. American advertising during a television program, and during YouTube feel so incredibly manipulative to me. They seem to be taking every page from B.F. Skinner in their attempts to condition me to buy-into consuming their products.

The main objective to most of the American commercials seems to be “Buy this product/service and you will have a better, more fulfilling life’. Instead of the product being in the forefront, it’s what the consumer will feel like after purchasing the product/service. It’s a pretty common advertising tactic. It just feels slimy to me. Some plastic doo-hickey, or app for a phone is supposed to change a person’s life?

My husband and I are no where near being  the targeted demographic for most of the advertising we see and hear around us. It may be that I’m overtly sensitive to advertising’s attempts at manipulating my thinking. I never felt like Finnish advertising was trying to sell me a ‘lifestyle’. More often than not, they were telling me that Fazer chocolate is tasty, and perhaps some Paulig coffee would be nice to drink with some chocolates. Oh, and buying it might be a  very thing for the Finnish economy.

Getting around:

My husband had an epiphany a few days ago regarding how we were having some difficulties navigating the city. Wilmington is very hilly. In  that way, it’s similar to Jyvaskyla. It’s impossible for us to stand outside on our street and see downtown. We can see the buildings, but not where the street extends. No vanishing point. It’s lead us, erroneously, to believe that places we need to go are further away than they really are.

Wilmington has a smaller population than Jyvaskyla. But the population is much more centralized. Whereas in Jyvaskyla, it was much more spread out. There were so many hills though, that you could easily stand on one hill and see exactly where your destination was. With the way the houses have been constructed in Wilmington, (mostly two story, flat fronts, close to the sidewalk) everything is all pushed up against itself on the hilly ground.

Figuring it out:

Our regular Sunday outings to explore the city have helped us to figure out that many of the places we need to go are much, much closer than we first thought they were. Part of this is due to the way in which the city curves a bit. And with how the main highway runs through the city, close to downtown.

We now know that we can get to the grocery store and post office on foot. We don’t need to take the bus. There’s also a Dollar Store that we like that once seemed  million miles away, but it’s really not. The walk is pleasant. And there’s a small local corner shop that sells Italian ices right along the way!

We still have a lot more exploring and learning to do. Like, where does this particular #40 bus go that runs even on Sundays? Needless to say, we have many more Sundays in which to explore our new city.

Sugar:

I’ve stated multiple times that every single tooth in my head is a sweet tooth. But after eating Finnish and European produced foods, American food tastes incredibly sweet to me. There seems to be sugar in products that it has no business being in! Pasta sauce? Oat milk? Soy milk? Sandwich bread?! My husband has been doing the cooking since before we were married. I’ve never been quite so happy about that since returning to the US. This has cut out sugar intake down quite a bit.

The sodas are another thing I just can’t seem to get used to again. They all taste thick and heavy. My gastrointestinal tract is not happy when I drink them either. The one soda that doesn’t bug me is Jarritos. It’s one of the treats I pick up at the Dollar Store. The mandarin orange flavour is my favourite. It reminds me of Jaffa. My husband noted that Jarritos uses sugar, and not corn syrup, which may be why American sodas are upsetting my stomach so much.

We finally found some carbonated drinks we like. Yeah. We’re the old people who have to use reading glasses and drink seltzer water. The ones that we like the best are the no calorie, no sugar/sweetners kind. It doesn’t upset my stomach and I’m not sucking in un-needed sugars. Win-win in my old lady book.

Now, it’s habit:

I first thought it was so incredibly strange to order groceries and have them delivered. Now, it just seems like a good practice to keep. Mostly because the current pandemic situation seems to fluctuate so much, regarding variants and exposure, etc. There are still times in which we physically go to the grocery store. It usually coincides with another errand we’re on though.

Ordering my supplies online is still strange to me. This morning, my husband placed an order for some polyester stuffing for me. We won’t be heading out to the mall where the Michaels is for another week or more. I knew I would be creating more dolls, so the order was placed. It will be here tomorrow. I’ve also ordered felt and thread online as well.

Again, this seems a prudent choice for us from the standpoint of wanting to reduce the chances of being one of those break-through cases of Covid that can occur in the fully vaccinated like us.

Pleasant surprises:

I’ve really begun to enjoy having people smile and say hello when we’re out and about in the city. When the cashier at the Dollar Store said, “Oh! I remember! You bring your own bags!” it kind of made me feel like I was becoming ‘a regular’ at the store. The bus is still mostly quiet, but people are friendly and will chat with strangers like me. Again, it makes me feel more at home. Less of a stranger in Wilmington. Usually, I want bus-time to be my private internal thinking time. But not here. I chat away with whomever strikes up a conversation.

Dog owners take leases seriously here! All of the dogs we’ve encountered are on a lease and follow the directions of their humans. I’ve not seen a single stray dog or cat since moving here. In fact, I’ve only seen two cats period! Both had collars, and no time for my nonsense. Interesting aside: the squirrels here seem to like me. The amazingly cute, little, red Finnish squirrels did not. I have no idea why.

Amazing arrays of new types of plants and trees are everywhere in Wilmington! There is not a single outing in which I don’t discover some new variety of flowering tree or plant that I’ve not seen up close and in person before. Kousa dogwood tree, crepe myrtle, several hybrids of Rose of Sharon, are just a few. There are so many different oak trees and even walnut trees! I’ve got my eye on a couple of the walnut trees and am planning on snagging a few. The husks makes a good dye and the walnuts taste amazing!

So now what?

So, yeah. I’m beginning to settle into our new city and being in the US again. Right now, I think I’m going to use up the last of my stuffing to create some new witch dolls. What are you planning on doing this week?

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday!

4 thoughts on “Settling In

  1. Ok You might prefer me not to respond.
    I agree with so much that you say.

    The layout of a city and the structure of the buildings can distort your estimation of distance. (Las Vegas will wear your feet off as the oversized place that looks right next door is a mile away!)

    The local squirrels may be more comfortable around people after being fed.
    Do people in Finland put out bird feeders?
    I have had squirrels come to the window and ask that the feeder be filled.

    The walnuts? Most trees in residential areas are what are called “Black” walnuts, not the typical grocery variety. I don’t happen to like the flavor. They are great for a tannin rich brown dye!

  2. I’ve had friends that have said that Las Vegas is deceptive that way! The squirrels. Finnish squirrels chittered angrily at me when I was around. Tails twitching all the while. Sometimes making little lunges in a threatening manner too! The squirrels here are bigger, and run off when I startle them. It’s been so hot and humid, I think that the squirrels are just tired and thirsty! If they can see I’m no threat, they can just lay along a cool branch and look down at me. Chittering seems to take too much energy or generate too much heat for the little fancy tree rats! You’re right. They are black walnuts! I need to make that edit! When I was a teenager, my father found some black walnut trees that we could harvest for free! We waited until they fell to the ground, and gathered at least four bushel baskets of them. When the hulls began to turn brown and fall off, we spread them out in our driveway gravel and knocked the hulls off with stompy feet and a couple gentle car tire applications. I spent an entire weekend with a small sledge hammer and nut pick, getting the nuts out of the hulls. IT WAS SO WORTH IT TOO! Like my father, I adore black walnut! One of the trees is near our house, hanging out into the street. The other is in a public park. I think I’m fairly safe in gathering them!

  3. So glad to hear you are enjoying yourself there. Miss your beautiful warm smile enthusiasm. Looking forward to seeing your new dolls and ordering some. Need to set up a PayPal account to make things easier. I have been resistant to conforming to ordering online. But I do see the benefit. Annette.

  4. We’re settling-in. I still do miss Finland a great deal though. I just don’t want my missing of Finland to sour my views of our new home I guess. I’m not sure if I “feel” enthusiastic right now. Perhaps cautiously optimistic instead? Moods change like the weather for me, constantly!

    Regarding new doll work; I post to Instagram (katie_kinsman_artist and go_marielle_go) every day on the week. My personal account is full of pictures of my artwork in progress, as well as finished pieces. The Marielle account is a project I’ve been working on for almost a year now. In fact, the anniversary 9 September, is coming up in a little over a week!

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