Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday in Aspö

It was a lovely day, with a warm sun and cool breeze. Janne called me over for breakfast and then I went to the house for a bit more cleaning and measuring. Back in London, Sooz has the bit between her teeth now; she called and we talked about a bunch of options and ideas for the bedrooms and bathrooms, too.

The bathroom has two problems; first, the door swings the wrong way, essentially opening into the living area. It can be fixed but it will be a bother to do. The other issue is that the window is pretty smack in the middle of the wall, so that limits our options for the shower. (I think glass blocks are out of the picture now).

I cleaned out Ann & Dave's guest house, making sure to dispose of or bag all food and soaps, etc. Janne fed me lunch and I brought him a bunch of leftovers. On the way out, I saw Tony and Ann-Catrin. They showed me the kitchen and bathrooms in both their house and the new one Tony's refurbishing. I got a bunch of ideas I'll talk to Sooz about tomorrow.

I'm writing this from Marcia and Rutger's spare bedroom; he'll run me out to the bus stop tomorrow morning at 6AM. What a guy!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday progress

Rutger took me to Slussen in the morning and I schlepped all my stuff onto the bus and then the taxi boat at Stavsnäs. This taxi was unlike any other I'd been on; it was much bigger and took a very different route. I got off at the stop nearest our house, the dock by Tony's (called 'the village'). As I contemplated carrying all my stuff, I saw my wheelbarrow waiting for me! Janne had seen that I had booked to go to the village, so he brought it over. What a guy.

I headed to the house and saw that Wille had made a lot of progress with the interior walls and the ceiling, and the little house is up to shoulder height. The big house looks smaller with the walls in (as you'd expect) but the little house sure doesn't look that little!

I made a bunch of measurements and laid out the outline of the kitchen on the floor (as seen in the gallery). I talked to Sooz and we went over some details and ideas. The biggest question from today is what do we do with the 145cm of space between the end of the kitchen counter and the glass wall. We want to have a small table for the three of us that we can expand and move for larger gatherings. Lots of things to think about!

The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning up and trimming trees, and then I joined Janne for a nice dinner. I also paid a few bills electronically, one of which was the helicopter, which was nearly double what I had budgeted, but still decent value in the end.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting ready to go

I just talked to Janne; I'll come over to his house Saturday night for a potluck dinner with my leftovers from our guest cabin. He also has a bunch of bills for me to pay, the helicopter and the insulation being chief among them.

Looks like the weather will be good on the weekend, sunny and in the high teens (that's Centigrade; in the 60's Fahrenheit).

Sooz is packing yet another bag of stuff to take to Marcia and Rutger's. I will repack and carry as much as the boat will allow on Saturday morning. (We're using their house as a base camp for all our supplies!)


Got my TBE shot today; the NHS had to special-order as it's not a normal item here in the UK. Also it cost £35, which is bit of a bummer since each of need three shots to be fully protected. Do the math for three of us and it's not cheap.

It's cheaper than having encephalitis, however!

We'll get our second shot before we go in October, and the final one before next summer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fresh photos

Wille sent a few photos from yesterday (Tuesday). The little house is looking pretty big! And the interior walls look great. No moose, however.

Mikael's off to Norway with his team so he wasn't available to come and help. Willie has plenty to do solo, but he will need at least an extra pair of hands to finish the small house and get the ceiling in.

Good news/bad news

I hadn't checked the kronor lately, and today I saw it was up to 6.40 to the dollar. That's good news and a little bad, too.

Good because it's a lot better than being below 6 as it has been recently. My dollar goes 7% further today! That will help with many of the expenditures that are coming up.

A little bad because I already paid for most of the house at 6.04. I'd make a lousy currency speculator.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wille-gram for Mongo!

Willie called with a few updates:
  • He saw the mother moose and baby about 5 meters from our deck this morning!
  • The little house is half-up; Mikael will be there tomorrow to help lift the remaining pieces. (I'm impressed Wille got that far by himself!)
  • He's been reading about the järn vitrol, which is still my favored way to treat the house. He said that letting the house weather on its own for a season and then applying the coat makes for a better result. I will have to check into that; I could just protect the trim, and let the house go gray on its own. But to do that, I'll have to get rid of all the glue drips. Wille will leave me a scraper of the type Stefan recommends.
In other news:
  • Marcia went to IKEA and they told her it would be ten weeks for the countertops, not five as I understood. If so, that's a real drag; I had hoped to get the whole kitchen done when we were there in October. Sooz will have to get the whole story next week when she makes the final order.
  • Rutger is calling daily with more ideas for the kitchen, he's not too keen on having a cabinet with the extractor fan, he says it's poor storage and not very good looking. He prefers the hood.
  • And I got an email from Andrew, with the Fireorb company in Chicago. The good news is that the price hasn't changed since we last corresponded a year ago. He's also a Cubs fan which is a great reason to do business with him.
(There's an inside joke in the title, bonus points for anyone who answers it in the comments.)

Home Insurance

Janne reminded me while we were building that I needed to get homeowner's insurance. Once it became a house, it was my responsibility, rather than a kit that somebody else was responsible for transporting safely.

Janne got me in contact with Länsförsäkringar, and on my 4th phone call, I reached Carina, who spoke excellent English and was able to help a foreigner like me. A couple days after I returned home, a package arrived from Carina, with all the info I needed, and a helpful personal note. I had one question and emailed her, and received an answer within a hour. So now we're all insured, and the recipient of great service to boot!

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Photos!

Margaret was on Aspö for the weekend and she and Britt visited our house on Sunday morning. She took lots of good photos and generously sent me a whole bunch this morning. I've made a webgallery for your enjoyment. Thanks, Margaret!!!

I hope to post more myself next weekend after my own visit.

Kitchen redux

We've been through another iteration on the kitchen. Instead of the hood extractor, Sooz has added a couple of cabinets, one with an in-built fan. She's also added a wall cabinet (with glass doors) that I'm not convinced about, but we do need to fit in as much storage as we can.

The problem we're wrestling with is that we need lots of storage as we can't run to the grocery every day, and so will need to keep a goodly supply of food. Working against this is that we don't have a lot of space to work with.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Weekend update

Wille called, he said he's spent the weekend working on his own house and watching hockey. Mikael (I'd been spelling his name the English way but I will correct now) scored and had an assist for his team, Djurgården, over the weekend. Here is the link announcing his return to the team. (If you're interested, he has a Facebook page, and last year's Medicine Hat page is still up.)

Back to the building- Wille is heading back on Monday to finish up and raise the small house. He is leaving behind a sample piece of flooring treated with white oil and wax for Sooz to approve. If she's happy with it, we'll contract Wille's colleague to do the floors.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Latest on the kitchen

Sooz has literally spent hours this past week on the kitchen, I'm proud of all the work she's done. We've also talked to Marcia and Rutger a number of times, too; they're into it almost as much as we are!

I'm over the disappointment of the Rubrik panels being canceled; both Margaret and Rutger helped me find third-party sources, but, frankly, this is complicated enough without me scouting extra pieces as well.

We're going to stick with the white but there are a few ideas we've developed:
  • The countertop will be grey to match the stone beneath the house, and it will be extra-thick with an aluminum edge to it
  • We'll have an aluminum baseboard panel to mirror the stip above, helping (I hope) to match the linearity of the house and to have the kitchen 'float' like the house seems to float over the rock on its foundations
  • Sooz has also decided not to in-build the refrigeratior and to instead leave it standalone, but in a stainless steel
  • Lastly, we want to get by without wall cabinets if we can, and instead use long shelves on the wall instead
  • And we're going to extend the kitchen into a bit of a 'C' shape, allowing more storage, counter space and maybe even a bit of a breakfast nook
I posted my ideas to the IKEAFans website, which is filled with knowledgeable and passionate people, and we'll see what we hear from that community. As I said, Sooz is going to Stockholm September 3-6, expressly to get the kitchen all ordered. I'm sure there will be more on this subject soon!

UPDATE: We've already had some feedback from IKEAFans, which essentially says the two corner cabinets aren't that efficient and we need more storage. We're looking at adding wall cabinets, an updated image will follow.

Gudrun Sjödén

...isn't one of our new neighbors (as far as I know) but instead a Swedish design/fashion company. They sell lots of funky stuff, right up Sooz's alley.

Britt (who is one of our neighbors) works for Gudrun on her website, helping them sell worldwide. Today we received a huge envelope in the post from Britt, with catalogs and all sorts of goodies. They are just launching a line of home products, which has a number of things that has caught Sooz's eye. Thanks, Britt!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I talked to Janne tonight and he said he'd have no problem taking out my building trash Saturday. He also said he and Margaret were going to a crayfish party, or kräftskiva, that night over at Ronnie's.

A kräftskiva is a August-time tradition in which huge pots of crayfish are cooked with dill, dumped on a dining table covered with newspaper, and eaten with gusto (and beer).

Hopefully we'll be able to attend a few parties next year, and maybe even host our own!

Change in weekends

I won't be going out this weekend as I had planned. The flights to/from Stockholm are completely full due to the bank holiday and a good friend at SAS told me late yesterday that frankly, I wasn't going to make it on a standby ticket.

My disappointment is missing the big garbage day, so I will have to ask Janne if he can add hauling my trash to the long list of things he's done for me already.

On the other hand, Wille hasn't been able to move things along as much as he'd have liked so I wouldn't have been able to see the houses essentially done as I had hoped this weekend.

I'll go next weekend now; the flights look a lot better, Wille should be finished, and I'll be able to decommission (or is it decontaminate?) Ann & Dave's guest house and move stuff to my house as originally thought.

In other news, Sooz is going to Stockholm for a couple of days in early September to finalise the kitchen order from IKEA. (Marcia and Rutger live helpfully close to Barkaby.) She can spend the whole day there and go through all the details and extras that are important (and are way beyond me.) That gives plenty of time to get what we want in time for mid-October delivery.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Evening Update 2

Wille called this evening. Good news/bad news. The good news is that he and Mats made lots of progress, all the windows are in and the house is weathertight. The bad news is that his back is killing him. Also:
  • The inside walls are almost installed, although one internal beam was too long and needs to be trimmed, to Wille's annoyance
  • All the big windows are in and sealed
  • The inside roof was chemically treated
  • All the concrete pillars are sited and poured
  • The electrical cables are all run
He is visiting a flooring expert friend in Stockholm tomorrow to talk about the inside floors. Apparently there's a process involving white oil and then waxing on top which should give the look Sooz wants. Depending on what Wille finds out, I may just hire this expert directly to prepare the floors.

Wille also suggested he build a box in the ceiling (hidden between the roof and ceiling boards for now) that would facilitate the installation of a fireplace chimney in the future. That's a good idea to do a bit of work now to avoid a lot of work later. Sooz and I will do some math to figure out where to put it.

He plans to come by next week to finish up, he needs to be all done by the end of that week. I was thinking that maybe Wille was getting a bit tired of the schlep out to Aspö and wrestling with all that wood, when he told me that Mats had said that he really liked the house and wanted one for himself! I told Wille I'd leave a key out under a rock so he and his brother could stop by for a break anytime...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Evening update

Willie called with info on a number of points.
  • He ran out of electrical cable (my fault) but was able to obtain more through Göran.
  • Tony and Janne stopped by and there was a bit of a discussion about how best to treat the floors. Apparently they feel the solution we discussed on Sunday wouldn't be very robust. Wille is looking into another method with some experts and we'll discuss that tomorrow.
  • Stefan has also agreed to fill in the overhangs along the long deck to cover up the damaged wood. Wille agrees with us not to infill the big deck overhang, so the big beams stay exposed. He's going to chemically treat all the roof wood anyways to help dry and preserve it.
  • He framed and insulated the small windows, and installed the bedroom interior walls, which he says looks great.
  • Also progress was made on the foundations for both houses.
  • Mats is coming down for the next couple of days to get the big windows in.
  • He has the wood for Grant's bunk beds but is not too sure how to mount it; he's going to visit the house at the Expo site to see how it was done there.
  • And as mentioned yesterday, Michael has re-joined Djurgården for this season; they're the big Stockholm club.
Willie has promised more photos for tomorrow from his moble and I'll post them.

Update from the field

Willie sent a couple of mobile phone photos from last night, showing the front door, and the scaffolding taken away from the front of the house. Looks good!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Update from Wille

I spoke to him this evening, he was just leaving Aspö. He was working on the electrical cables, he installed the door, and tomorrow he's going to pour the extra foundations for the big house and also the ones for the little house. Good news for Michael is that he has found a new team for this hockey season but a little bad in that Wille won't have him to help. Mats will probably come down for a couple of days.

The current plan is to pour the foundations, get the windows and doors in and framed, and finish (i.e. sand and varnish) the floors this week. Next week, he'll finish the little house and get the support posts installed on the foundations.

Stefan wrote us about the soaked roof panels and said we could use a specific chemical to clean and disinfect them. Willie says that won't help the cosmetic problems, and he was going to talk to Stefan again.

Returning this weekend

I've been so busy I realise I haven't updated on my decision to go back to Aspö this weekend.

Saturday is the big semi-annual trash pickup for the island, and Janne has offered to haul out my building trash but I thought it'd be nice if I could do it myself. Also it seems like a good way to meet other residents.

Also, Wille is going to finish the floors and the interior walls this week, so I want to get a good look at those. And I have to get detailed measurements of the kitchen area so we can finalize our order. Plus I have lots of stuff in Ann and Dave's guest cottages that I have to move over; that'll be a dozen half-hour round trips alone. So it will be a busy weekend.

I'm getting a standby ticket on SAS; I hate to fly standby anymore but it's not an option this time as the last minute-tickets are so expensive. I hope to fly in Friday night, crash at Marcia and Rutger's, and then do the bus and boat out Saturday morning. Next Monday is a holiday here in the UK so I'll fly back midday, giving me the whole weekend to work and clean up.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sitting at gate F65 my old haunt, Arlanda airport. We're about to head home on SAS. It's a cold and drizzly evening which will make it easier to leave, I suppose.

We had a mixed day. Rutger made a super breakfast and then we headed to IKEA where we spent an hour with one of their kitchen specialists. The disappointing thing is that the Rubrik panels we wanted to use as drawer- and door-fronts are being discontinued. Basically, we have a choice of white or wood for our kitchen. I don't want to use wood veneer as it seems silly in a house that is literally solid wood. And I think all white would make it look as if a spacecraft landed in our house.

However, we did lay out the kitchen pretty closely and I'll confirm measurements next week. But I think we'll call around store to store to see if we can find any Rubrik panels we can use. I'll admit I am more than a bit annoyed!

Rutger took us to Bauhaus, a home store, and we found the right product(s) to use on the inside floor to keep it that fresh pine-white that Sooz likes. He spoke to Wille on the phone and Wille will varnish the inside and outside flooring (with different products) after he sands it all. What a guy!

More tomorrow; we're boarding now. Hej då to Sweden!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Leaving the Island, it's not the finale of "Lost".

Marcia and Rutger came over on the 0850 taxi båt. After a trip to our guest house, and a quick hello to Ann and Dave, we all headed out to our house. (We'll start calling it Blå Måne once we get a nameplate on it.)

Göran, the electrician, came by at 1100, and we spent a good hour together with him, Janne, and Rutger, talking about the details of our electrical installation. We got into a lot of detail, which was great. Göran also spoke English really well, which was handy for me!

I had read that the big Waxholmsbolaget boat left at 1310, so we hustled back to decommission our guest stuga, say our hurried goodbyes to Ann and Dave, and then schlep all our stuff all the way down to the big southern dock.

I needed to drop off a few things at the house, so I made a diversion over and found Britt and her daughter Jessica on our deck, having a look. We had a quick tour (Britt told me she reads my blog every night!) and then we all headed to the dock. I was hauling a huge suitcase and they were nice, spelling me with carrying a bit.

When we got to the dock, I discovered to my horror I had misread the timetable and the boat actually had left at noon. I called the båt taxi, and Britt took over on the phone and talked them into picking us up at 1430. Thank goodness she was able to do that!

So we hung out at the dock for an hour or so. We were all starving, and Sooz found 3 beers, a jar of herring, and 11 crisp breads. So we shared our bounty and communed with the various people who stopped by to drop off trash or pick up mail, all of whom knew our house and our new residency.

Finally the boat showed up and we made our way direct to Stavsnäs. I received lots of ribbing about my inability to read a timetable. We drove to Marcia and Rutger's house and had the pleasure of a hot shower, a shave, and a bonus tick removal (making 6 for me the past two days.)

Rutger's working on dinner right now and the girls are looking at a Swedish home magazine, getting lots of design ideas. Later we'll play "Rock Band" which is great fun.

A couple of photos in the gallery.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cleaning Up

I have lots to talk about but today's our last day on Aspö so I don't want to spend too much time on the Macbook Air.

We went over to our house to clean up, and sort out and cover all the leftover packages of wood. Göran, the electrician, didn't come over but I talked to Wille who had spoken to an electrician colleague so he has a good idea what needs to be done. He also spoke to Stefan about the roof panels and the glue drips. I sent photos of the roof and Stefan advised a specific type of scraper to remove the glue.

Annika and Olle invited us over for cake and coffee in their garden and it was great, we also met Annika's son Patrick who is a nice kid and year older than Grant.

We had a lovely pot luck dinner at Ann & Dave's. Tomorrow morning, Marcia and Rutger are coming over to visit and we'll head home with them.

We have a house!

It was a long day but our little house is indeed up. Willie and his crew had to go on a 7PM boat so we hit it hard. As usual, it took us a long time to struggle up the last (and tallest) beam, but once that was done, we were rolling.

One snag was that the roof panels were soaked; Wille was pretty unhappy at their condition, so we left the underside of the roof open to help things dry out. He's going to talk to Stefan about that and also about all the glue drips on some pieces.

Wille and Michael will be out next week to do the little house and the snagging on the big house.

But- we have a house!!!! Lots of photos in the gallery.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


A lovely day today, and good progress was made. All but one of the really heavy beams was raised and in fact, only the highest beam is left. Tomorrow will be the windows and roof. Wille is planning to be done tomorrow for sure.

We lost time today just because of the sheer difficulty of manhandling the 1000kg beams of solid wood. If we had had a crane, we'd be sipping tea in the kitchen tonight!

A new helper, Daniel, came today, a friend of Michael's and a fellow hockey player. He and Mats both sustained minor injuries but they'll both be OK. Photos are of course available.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The house is rising!

We had a good day, the floor is in, and we're about halfway up with the walls. If all goes well, the roof should be on tomorrow, and the house essentially done the day after. Amazing.

The best part was laying out the deck boards, it was a cool but sunny mid-morning and it was nice to sit there for a moment. At the end of the day, Janne, Tony, and Ronnie came by to have a look, which was nice. Even Lennert, with his big golden lab, Bounty, visited to say hello.

There's a bit of rain scheduled for tonight but shouldn't be a problem. We had a nice dinner with Dave, Janne, and Tony, who gave us a lot of history of the island, as he was born here, and whose family goes back five generations at least.

I'm beat so will sign off, but not before a few photos from the gallery.

Another beautiful morning

Sunny and cool. We'll put the floor and insulation for sure. More later in the day.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Building has started

Wille and the guys arrived at 8, the helicopter a bit after 10. The copter was as quick and professional as Janne promised; a round trip to pick up a beam, deposit, and return, was about 2½ minutes. The weather held nicely and we were done by 2, with about two hours' actual flying time. Dave was the loadmaster, attaching the slings to the copter's hook, and he did that job like a pro.

All the stuff is on the building site, spread around more than we'd like but we didn't have too many choices with the space available. The first floor beams are in and level, and the house is square. There are problems with a couple of the foundations (one is a smidgen too far south, one is too short due to our error) but that'll be fixed tomorrow.

Wille has three helpers:
  • Mats, his older brother. I said to Wille that Mats got the looks in the family and both brothers agreed.
  • Per, a friend, fairly small and wiry but strong as hell and also fairly vocal with what I gather is a salty version of Swedish.
  • Michael, a friend of Janne's son, who's 20 and played hockey in Medicine Hat last year.
Photos of the strapping Swedes to follow. We're making progress now and I hope to share lots of images of a house tomorrow. Today, you can see helicopter shots, plus a cool little video, by clicking the gallery.

A good omen

I woke up at 5:15 and it was pouring. Great.

However, it stopped, and just now, Grant called us to see this rainbow. The sky is clearing and I am hopeful we're ready to roll.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tomorrow's the day

We did a bit more on the property today, cutting branches here and there, prying up vegetation, plus we moved a couple of huge boulders with nothing more than a shovel and a tree branch. Makes me appreciate the builders of Stonehenge. Grant went with Janne to feed the salmon he's farming. The evening ended with another nice dinner at Ann and Dave's.

The helicopter's just confirmed for 9:00 tomorrow morning and the weather looks OK. Wille will be here at 8 so we're all set. Fingers crossed for the big day.

Photos in the gallery.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Happy anniversary

Today was our 22nd wedding anniversary. I'm supposed to give Sooz copper as a gift. But I think I'll do better in a few days and give her a house.

Instead of a romantic dinner, we checked each other for ticks.

Saturday errands

We finished clearing the brush around our house down to a Janne-suggested site, and also bagged the trash, and removed some of the moss clinging to our rocks as we don't want too much vegetation right under the house.

We saw a snake, too, but not an adder like I had seen before. This was a grass snake, pretty long, and fast. I also found a bird's nest on the ground, it must have been in one of the branches we took down earlier this year. It struck me that we were just like these birds, arranging our own sticks into a little house.

We also stopped by to see Olle and Annika again, and they showed us their house and the new extension they're building; they were really nice. Turns out they have a couple of teenage boys around Grant's age, which might be fun for next summer.

UPDATE: After a swim and a bit of kubb, we had a great cookout at Margaret's, joined by Janne's daughter Marie, her husband Mattias, and their son Malcolm, who's 10 and speaks impressively perfect English. And then in the dark on the way home, we saw a toad the size of a baseball.

More Animals

I saw a squirrel (ekorre in Swedish) the other day, leaping around the rocks. And Grant saw a red deer on our land; it scampered away before I could get a look. (Sooz, when told, said, "Oh great. More ticks.")

Lastly, Dave had told me of the giant island rabbits, or more accurately hares, which are bigger than dogs. Sure enough, I saw one and it was as huge as Dave described.

The one animal we haven't seen is the järv, which Janne told us about last winter. Not sure if I'd like to see one; I'd rather see a moose.


I saw Tony on the way to the dock and he mentioned a few items he read in my blog; at dinner, Britt did the same thing. And Rutger called from Holland yesterday, too, saying he was sorry the pizzeria at Stavsnäs was closed. I get a kick out of that, I'll be honest.

Margaret (one of my most avid readers) told me about the Aspö website. She said it doesn't get much updating, and thought I could use my internet skills (such as they are) to keep it updated and contribute to the community. I think that's a great idea and I'll follow up on that.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Catching up

Lots of little things today. It was raining early but cleared mid-morning so Grant and I went to the dock to make a diagram of all the packages and the notes on their contents so we could figure out what's what. Sooz joined us so we headed to the property and finished cleaning up. Grant and I moved the remainder of the concrete offsite and it seemed a bit damaged by the rain, but we should have enough to do the foundations for the small house. Sooz cleared brush and took down a couple more small trees. It was really humid and we were all quite hot!

Grant wanted to go swimming so we headed back, but not before stopping by to meet our new neighbor Olle and his wife Annika. I made my apologies for the wood fiasco in person and he was gracious in return. Turns out Annika knows some of the people Sooz worked with when we lived in Stockholm, one of whom lives on a nearby island! Small world.

Then we hit the water, which was bracing indeed. Grant said the thermometer off the dock read 18.5°. That's C, not F, altough it felt like it at first.

Grant and I went through all of the notes we made as the rain returned and I think I have it pretty well figured out now. Wood that is prefixed with an 'A' is for the south side of the big house, 'B', the east side, etc. The small house is 'P' through 'S' and the interior walls 'E' and 'F', with 'G' being the floors. They are also numbered with the lowest number at ground level, so for example, I need to ensure A1, B1, C1. and D1, along with all of the 'G's, are next to the foundations so we can minimize carrying and start at the bottom. I will put the small house pieces aside so they're out of the way.

I have it all in a spreadsheet now, so I feel a lot better about what's what. The weather for next week is looking better, too, so maybe this will work out after all!

UPDATE: We had a great dinner at Ann & Dave's, joined by Britt and Ronnie. Britt is Janne's sister, and she and Ronnie live on Aspö as well. They are really great people; as nice as Ann and Dave, which is quite a high standard. Dave made a Thai chicken dish (with chicken on the side for the vegetarians), and Ann baked a delicioius almond cake. A fabulous meal and a fun evening.

Photos as usual in today's gallery.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A shopping trip

Dave suggested last night that we go to Stavsnäs for the afternoon. We could have a leisurely pizza at the harbor and then walk up to the neighborhood grocery. We'd have about three hours there, long enough for a change of scenery and to top-up the supplies.

When we arrived there, though, we discovered the pizzeria was closed for the summer. Island life is at its peak from mid-June to mid-August, but there's a ramping down after the first weekend in August, hence the closure.

So we regrouped and took the bus up to Gustavsberg, about 25 minutes away. There's a grocery and shopping center there, with a McDonalds, plus an Apotek (pharmacy), Bankomat (cash machine) and Systembolaget (booze) so we loaded up on lots of goodies and hiked it all back to the bus and then to the taxi boat. A busier day than we had planned but more acquisitive overall.

Later, I went out to check the house parts at the dock with Sooz, Grant rode with Janne around the island in his boat to deliver the trash, and then we all joined Janne and Margaret for a great dinner and lots of good chat.

Photos in the day 6 gallery; check again as I may add more later.

Tick update

Good news, my ankle spot is shrinking and is no longer worryingly red. We'll keep an eye on it, though. The bad news is that I have my largest ever post-teenage pimple right on my cheek, so everyone I meet thinks I have the bubonic plague.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Delivering the house

We got good news from Sten; he rearranged his plans so he could make our delivery today. The first load showed up around noon. We had spent a few hours clearing all the wood from the building site in the morning, and taking down a couple more trees.

After unloading, Grant and I rode back in the boat to the terminal at Djurö to help pick up the second load. I returned at dusk to unload the third trip. The dock on Aspö is completely jammed with all our house parts and supplies.

It is daunting, looking at all the massive beams wrapped in plastic, notated on the wrappings with various codes. How will we lift these things? How will we know where they all go? At the moment, our house is a giant jigsaw puzzle.

Lots of photos and a small movie are in the day's webgallery.

Sunny Morning

Of course it's perfectly still and sunny this morning, a perfect helicopter day. But all our stuff is on the dock at Djurö. Damn.

The next few days look mostly rainy, too, which isn't improving my mood. We'll make the most of today's decent weather, though.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

An interesting afternoon

We went on our walk, joined by Marg, and it was nice and miserable. We saw the Harveys on the way, and on the way back from visiting our site, we saw Janne.

Grant and the girls headed back at that point, and I went with Janne to check out his building site. All was well there and he told me the X-House made it safely to Sten's dock and is well-wrapped against the rain. The problem is Sten has other jobs so he is going to bring our house and supplies out as he can over the next few days, with the goal to have it all here by Sunday. The helicopter has been rebooked for Monday the 11th. We're going to do as much housekeeping as we can in the interim. Grant and I will try to carry up the insulation, and anything else we can manage, to reduce the helicoper time on Monday so we can get started straightaway.

Then Janne and I went to a neighbor's house (walking overland right across the island, which I haven't done before), to a boat that had come unsecured and was hitting its dock. I helped Janne secure it, and that was intense. The wind on the unprotected side of the island was howling, it was hard to stand up against it, let alone pull on ropes on the slippery dock with the waves soaking you thoroughly. Janne's been there and done that many times, but it was an adventure for me. We were offered a whiskey by the grateful neighbor, and untypically for me, I gulped it down.

There's a tiny video of that, plus a racy photo of Sooz, on the day's webgallery, which I will likely update later in the day, too, as we're all having dinner at Margaret's tonight.


Thought you'd appreciate the headline in this morning.

The rain has pretty much stopped, and we have cleaned up our guest stuga so we can move around a bit. The electricity has stayed on, so we can make toast and run the iPod. (Sooz appreciated my choice of Gordon Lightfoot but now we've moved on to the Carlito's Way soundtrack to cheer ourselves up.) We're going to try to wake up Grant now and see what's happening on the island.

Not Good

The weather was rough last night, with constant heavy winds and rain. This morning was no better. None of the regular boats are running to the island right now, and Sten certainly can't take his boat over with our house today.

Sten is driving to his dock to oversee the unloading of the house and he will bring it over when the weather improves the next few days. I called Wille and told him our plan to reschedule the helicopter for next Monday and he'll adjust accordingly.

None of the women-folk slept much last night; the storm kept them up. Plus to top it off, the electricity has gone out a number of times. Since the water and heat runs off the electricity, that could be a real problem. Ah, island life!

Monday, August 4, 2008

On Aspö at last

Well we made it. There was a serious bus accident on the road to Stavsnäs which delayed us, but the girls managed to buy most everything we needed and we got it all on our taxi boat in the end.

Dave and Janne were waiting on the dock for us. It was fitting that the first time I met him in person, Dave was reaching a helping hand into the boat to haul out one of our boxes.

The weather is threatening tonight and it may disrupt our delivery tomorrow, we'll have to see what the morning brings. We're off to Ann and Dave's now for their daughter Mary's birthday celebrations.

UPDATE: The party was great, but the forecast is not good at all. It's about 9PM and raining a gale outside, with the same planned tomorrow. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to ferry the house over as planned. This would mess up the helicopter schedule, as if they can't move things Wednesday, the copter won't be available until the next Monday.

We have an 0800 pow-wow planned at Janne's in the morning to see what the weather will allow us to do. Further updates then, and photos from today in the webgallery.

Success at the bank

I had a number of administrative things to sort out at the bank. Grant and I got there spot on at 10 to be first in line. Good thing we did; the bank was swamped when we left.

That's all done, so we're off to catch the train to Slussen and the bus to Stavsnäs and then the boat to Aspo. Phew!

UPDATE: We're on the bus as I write this. I am blogging on my Macbook Air, and sharing my wireless connection with Grant, who is surfing You Tube on his new iPhone. Gosh, are we cool.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Shopping in Stockholm

As I posted a few weeks ago, I removed a Swedish tick from my leg. Strangely enough, the spot was quite inflamed this morning. Don't know if it means anything; perhaps the return to the country of origin caused a sort of sympathetic parasitic swelling. We shall see what transpires.

Otherwise, a productive day. We didn't go to IKEA after all, we went to local shops in Fridhemsplan instead and purchased all the housewares, linens, etc., that we needed.

In the evening, we went to see the Dark Knight. Not bad, but a bit OTT as they say in England. Tomorrow is the big grocery shop and movement out to Aspö. Photos from today in the webgallery.

UPDATE: Margaret has been googling my tick symptoms. Overall, although I feel fine, having a flare-up 3 weeks after the bite is not a good sign. I might have a visit from the doctor boat after all. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Arrival in Stockholm

We made it perfectly, right on time. Of course it's raining here, and everyone is thrilled with the rain after the past few sunny and hot weeks. Sigh.

Since it was just barely noon, we decided to head out to Fredell's via train and bus and get our supplies today. That went well; we got all the stain, brushes, and other odds and ends, like a toaster (which Sooz found in the reconditioned bin for a great price).

Schlepping it all back on public transport was a trip, especially since the Gay Pride march was going on. We had an eclectic group on our subway, to be sure!

Photos in the day's webgallery.

The Adventure Begins

We're off to Stockholm in a few minutes, a nice early flight.

Who knows what the next two weeks will hold? Will my steamship make it safely overland? Will I return with all of my limbs, my bank account and marriage intact?

Stay tuned....

Friday, August 1, 2008

The weather forecast

..isn't that great, unfortunately. Wednesday the 6th is the helicopter day. Let's hope for some improvement!


Here's what we have planned over the next few days:
  • Fly to Stockholm early tomorrow and head to Margaret's in St. Eriksplan
  • Take the bus Sunday to Fredells and IKEA to pick up supplies
  • Visit the bank Monday morning and then Marg and Sooz drive the car stuffed to the gills to Stavsnäs, and Grant and I follow along on the bus. We have reserved a whole taxi boat for 1PM for all of us and our stuff to take us to the dock closest to Janne's on Aspö
  • Tuesday, the house arrives at the dock on the mainland at 0800. It will likely take three boat round-trips to deliver and offload all of it and the supplies to the main dock on Aspö
  • Wednesday, the helicopter arrives to lift everything up to the house site. Building commences that afternoon
  • Our hope is to have the big house pretty much done by Sunday night, August 10!
I will be posting at least nightly with the day's best photos.