Saturday, September 22, 2007

6.52. Ugh.

The dollar continues its slide.

Let's hope for a bit of relief in the coming months, or else I'll be putting a PayPal donation button on this blog!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Swedish Pop Music

There's no doubt Sweden punches above its weight in the pop music world. Besides the global 900-pound gorilla that is ABBA, there are many musicians plying their trade in Sweden today.

I am reading a terrific blog called SwedesPlease. It is full of current news about Swedish artists, and I enjoy reading it. Perhaps you might, too?

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Sooz wanted to make sure people signed in to our blog for commenting so we could know who said what.

I agree with her, but my fear is that the sign-in is inhibiting my readers (all dozen of you) from making an off-the-cuff response to my bons mots.

So I have turned this requirement off for now, to see if it engenders an increased flow of information.

Let's see if I am right-- keep those cards and letters coming!

PS. About a five minutes after I opened comments, I got one, all right- in Portuguese, selling ASDL (I think). Sigh...

Exchange rates

The dollar is plummeting against the kronor right now. It is 6.672 today. As you saw, I transferred money from the US recently at 6.888.

When you are dealing with house-buildingly large amounts of cash, the difference between 6.672 and 6.888 is quite a lot.

Fortunately, I've bought the land and have no immediate expenditures. I will be following the website for the Kronor's progress, and try to move money at an advantageous time.

It's not enough to build a house. No- I have to build it in another country, with a different language, and different currency. And on an island.

Ah well, no pain, no gain, as they say!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Swedish Lessons

A local college was offering Swedish lessons starting in just a couple of weeks, and it seemed perfect at first. But the total cost for both of us to attend was pretty high ($750), and the time commitment was also high, 30 weeks' worth, which we felt was too much.

Sooz is still looking for something not quite so intensive. We'll let you know....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New York Stories

This past Sunday (September 9) marked the first anniversary of Margaret's bookstore in Stockholm, New York Stories.

It's a lovely little independent English-language store and we are very proud of Margaret following her dream! She has worked very hard over the past year, but her work is paying off. If you're ever in the hip neighborhood of St. Eriksplan, be sure to stop on in.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

We get mail!

Couple things arrived today. First was the bank statement, showing the successful transfer of a slightly worryingly large amount of money. The exchange rate we got was 6.888 Swedish Kronor to the dollar. I had planned 6.9 in my budget so that's about right. (Wouldn't mind it skyrocketing into the 7's though!)

Second was a letter from Värmdö which Sooz was pretty much able to read, (and which Margaret later confirmed), that said they had received our application. They asked for a drawing of the house's orientation on the land, and that is exactly what Rutger and I plan to confirm in a couple weeks, so that's fine.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Stockholm Home Expo

A bit of good fortune. Johan (from the Cinderella vendor in Vallingby) told me about a Home Expo in Stockholm- and it's on the Sunday I'll be there! Stefan has also e-mailed me, and he'll be there, too. Perfect.

So I'll report back on toilets and who knows what else!

Monday, September 3, 2007


I've referred obliquely to my struggles with Swedish in previous posts. In some ways, it's not a big problem, because everyone I speak with has an excellent command of English. And I have friends in Sweden (especially Janne on the construction side and Rutger on the administration) to help with getting things done.

Where it does cause a problem is with documents or websites, like the Cinderella user's guide or the Värmdö planning application. Plus we do intend to spend a lot of time in Sweden, so it's only fair we try to speak the language!

Sooz is looking into Swedish lessons in London and she has found a couple of good possibilities. Stay tuned for developments...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

My trip is set

Just talked to Rutger. He's up for a day on the island. So I bought my ticket (BA was the cheapest; wish me luck with Heathrow!)

After our visit, I expect we'll have a better sense of the exact perimeter of the land, and the placement of the house.

We'll probably visit IKEA, too. And drink öl. (Not in conjunction with the chainsaw, of course.)


One very interesting type of self-contained toilet is the 'Cinderella', which is made in Norway. The idea is that it uses an electric heater to dry out waste so only ashes need to be disposed of. (Now you know why it's called 'Cinderella'. Who said Norwegians don't have a sense of humour??)
- No need for a tank under the house
- High capacity; could handle a couple of families for a week
- Shuts down in the winter so no need for long-term composting
- Did I mention you handle only ashes and nothing unsavory?
- Expensive! (as much as $4000)!?!
- Uses a lot of electricity, which isn't cheap
- Is a high-powered heating element in a timber house with minimal available water a good idea?

I found a reseller in Sweden, fortunately near Rutger's house. They were charming to me, the American caller, and sent me an old English-language user's manual, which I have posted here for the curious. We may go see when I'm up in October.

Swedish Banking

We opened a bank account last time we were in Stockholm. It wasn't too painful; Margaret had made an appointment for us to meet her banker. I wired over a small amount of money from my US bank, although it took a few emails and Google searches to find all the right codes to satisfy all parties.

But our test was ultimately successful and I was able to access our account through the internet. (It took a bit of trial and error, given my limited Swedish!) Next step is to transfer a big chunk over so I can pay Tony, as he's sent me the signed land contract. I plan to pick a day when the US economy has good news. Wish me luck...