Last Thursday we flew from Helsinki to Oulu, arriving, after a delay, in the late evening. We stayed with Timo and Paula in their apartment in Alppila and they were very good hosts, as always.

On Friday we paid a visit to Olli and Tiina’s to see our niece Aino. She is about a year and a half old now, up and trundling merrily about on two legs and starting to speak, mostly in single words and still a lot of baby babble. She is an adorable creature, full of energy and sunshine and a little spark of mischief. It sounds that in December she will have a new baby brother to keep her company, as well.

On Saturday, Olli was playing in a game of American football in Oulu, against Helsinki. We went to watch and Oulu won handily, much of it by Olli’s doing.

On Sunday, Ville treated us to massages in his new workplace, set up in the back of a hair salon. Afterwards we went with Timo and Paula to the family mökki, summer cottage, on the lake. In the past few years the lake was drained and dredged and it is much improved for it. The water is clear and good to swim in. Mirja and Eero, E.’s aunt and uncle, were there with their assorted children and we had lots of good food and talk. E. and I had a sauna and a swim, as did most everyone else.

On Monday E. spent the day working on some of her things that were still left in storage in Oulu, sorting out what could be disposed of and what could be taken with us when we head back to the States. In the evening, we had dinner with E.’s cousin Tapio and his family.

On Tuesday we paid a visit to Turkansaari, an open-air museum of old houses, barns, shed, and other buildings from around the Oulu area that have been moved and preserved on an island in the river Oulu a ways upstream from the city. They had some farmhouses from the 1800s, a windmill, many different small barns, sheds, and other farm buildings. There was also a reconstructed tar-burning pit from the days when producing tar was one of the main businesses in Oulu, and examples of the long, flat boats used to float the tar barrels downriver to market. In the evening we went to have dinner with Olli and Tiina and spend more time enjoying Aino. When we saw her last summer she was only a few months old and was very shy of strangers, crying a lot when we were around. This time she was happily toddling around amongst all of us and even spent some time pushing my nose with her little fingers to see what kind of a sound it would make (the answer: “peep!”).

This morning we were up early to fly from Oulu to Helsinki. There we had a layover of several hours before getting our flight back to Boston.

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