Saturday, January 31, 2009

A few social items

First, Margaret and janne are back in Stockholm after their lovely month in the USA. I talked to Janne and hearing his voice really cheers me up. And Marg is already back to sending us helpful emails. We will see them for sure when we're there next week, although Janne won't be on Aspö that night, so we'll have to inaugurate the new kitchen on our own!

Second, Rutger called Tommy the bathroom guy on my behalf today because a one-minute call from him in Swedish was a lot more effective than a 15 minute call from me. We're still planning for him to come out on Monday the 9th but will confirm on the weekend.

Lastly is hockey news; Leksand are doing very well as shown in the table, and well on track to be promoted back into the top division next season. But Djurgården are struggling; 10th out of 12 teams, and they will need to climb the table at least one more place to avoid relegation. Mikael is still with the first team but isn't playing much right now.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the UK entry into the Eurovision song contest. I was happy with Jade, the winner, but unfortunately, Andrew Lloyd-Webber's ballad didn't do much for me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Funny English Place Names

The New York Times has a great piece on rude place names in the UK.

Of all the places I've visited, my favourite was Cockermouth.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's a little quiet...

I haven't posted in 3 days, but it seems like a lot longer (to me at least).

This is a quiet time, though, with the winter making it hard to do much. We'll be over in early February to order furniture and bathroom fixtures, and we hope to spend our first night at the house, especially if Janne can turn on the heat a day in advance!

After that burst of activity, the next big push will be around Easter-time, when we really hope to get most everything else finished up, weather permitting.

But we'll have hockey and Eurovision to help fill the gaps, so it won't be completely quiet the next few months!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Doors, again

Stefan has been speaking with the door company, who suggested we check their website to see if there is another door type that we might want instead of the vertical planks we had been contemplating.

One possibility is a much more traditional Swedish door, as shown in this post. The one thing I didn't like was the 45º angle; the house is pretty much all right angles with only the roof slope as relief. Adding this kind of door might be a nice touch or it might be jarring.

But we have a better solution in the offing. Stefan sent me an email:

"The team at Designa Doors suggest to try a type which is the same look as the door you have, but with wood for the front coverpanel with higher initial humidity already in production. Until now they have used dried wood panels which have low humidity, which probably is a main reason for the big increase in the width-size of front panel. On the new doors they produce for us now, they switched to wood with 12%-14% humidity instead, and also treat them with very much oil at the factory when they produce them. With this solution the doorpanel should have less increase when it become wet. They will be more prepared for the "outdoor-climate" at your house."

I think this is the best solution. We get to have the original lines of the house, but the doors will be a lot more able to withstand exposure to island weather. I also have to say that Stefan and Ulf have been very responsive and helpful!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Gap Years

"Gap Years" are common here in the UK. Students take a year between secondary school and university to live or work overseas, sometimes for a charity, sometimes just for the life experience.

The New York Times had an article recently about grown-ups doing the same sort of thing. I mention this because, frankly, the idea of spending a year off on our little stuga has been on the edge of my consciousness. A romantic fantasy, I know, but ... what would it be like to be on Aspö every day, winter, spring, summer, and fall? Would my world expand or contract? Would I lean toward Thoreau or Kaczynski? Would I ever see the moose?

I've never solicited comments before, but I will this time. Dear readers, what do you think? Have you ever daydreamt about time away???

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Paper House

Found this article in the Times today about simple houses made of reinforced paper. It's designed to sleep 8 in 36 square meters. (We plan to have maybe 6 in 62).

I thought it's overall shape seemed familiar!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A sleeper sofa?

We've been thinking that the house really needs more beds. We'll have at least 7 guests over midsummer (and I suspect that number will rise).

We plan to sleep 4 kids in Grant's room (2 up, 2 down), and at least two more in the guest house. A sleeper sofa will give us a couple more beds, which will come in handy.

The problem with a sleeper is that they're a lot more massive. I kind of like the look of the Kramfors instead of this one (the Månstad) but practicality is important, probably more important than design...?

Friday, January 16, 2009


I had posted last week about a round blob on a plan of our living area, and now I can reveal the mystery; that circle represented the placement of a Fireorb suspended fireplace. I got out the technical info about the Fireorb and found it needed specific clearances all around for safety codes. Once I did the measuring, it ended up projecting into the living area a lot more than I had originally thought. If I'm going to stick to safety codes (and I darn well should!), it doesn't look like the Fireorb will fit. Drat.

A solution to the space problem is to have a non-rotating wall-mounted fireplace. One possible such fireplace is shown in the photo attached, from a Danish company, Hwam (not to be confused with a musical group). This unit fits very close to the wall and is pretty cool-looking.

Frankly, though, I think any fireplace, especially when professionally fitted, is going to cost a good amount more than I had budgeted. We need to finish off the house and get a solid roof on it next. I think any fireplace will be a project for 2010...

UPDATE: A good question (and answer) in the comments.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Melodifestival returns!

I had posted last year about my deep love of the Eurovision Song Contest. I was lucky enough to see two of the Swedish selection shows then, and I am happy to report I'll be able to see one of the shows this year, too, when we are in Stockholm on February 7th. There is a stupendous amount of info on Sweden's 2009 entry in this link if you're interested and have an hour to spare.

The UK haven't fared well lately, and the BBC is mounting a serious campaign to find a high-quality act for 2009, led by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself.

I'm starting to get excited already!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ollie's progress (and this summer's plans)

I haven’t updated on Ollie lately but the news is good. He just finished another hydrotherapy session this morning and he's still gaining strength. His walks are longer, although he’s still a bit sloppy with his hind legs when moving quickly or in close quarters. But overall, he is doing very well for having had surgery 6 weeks ago.

However, Sooz is a bit worried about our plans (my plan, really) for her to drive with Grant and Ollie and spend 5-6 weeks on Aspö this June and July. The carefree dog-romping on the island we had envisioned won’t be that carefree for us any longer. Today, we can control Ollie's days pretty closely, and his vet is 10 minutes away. What happens if he goes to a fairly wild island and has a problem again? We avoided his becoming paralyzed by maybe 12 hours last time. That concern is going to be in the backs of our minds no matter how full his recovery is.

That said, we know we can’t keep Ollie in cotton wool for the rest of his life. He is a dog and wants to do dog things. He’s already fairly bored and I don’t want to spend my remaining time with Ollie keeping him from doing things he enjoys.

Our Easter trip will serve as a good yardstick. We’ll know a lot more then about Ollie’s health and abilities, and also more about the details of living in our own house. We can decide then how happy we are about having Ollie join us this summer.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bathroom finishing

I had blogged a few weeks ago that Wille had found a man on Runmarö who could do the bathroom finishing work for us. His name is Tommy, and I called him the other day to introduce myself.

I think I took him back with my eager American accent, but eventually his English warmed up and my Swedish pronunciation improved a bit, and we discussed what I needed to have done. He certainly seems up for doing the work, and being so close on Runmarö makes it a lot simpler for him to come over to our house.

We made plans to meet at our house on February 9 (weather permitting; he says ice was starting to form) to talk in person and have a look together at the bathroom itself. A 20 minute talk is worth a week's worth of phone calls and emails. Sooz and I are going to spend the Sunday looking at specifics for the fixtures and fittings so we can discuss them.

With luck, he will be able to make progress by our Easter visit, although I don't expect to have everything done by then, especially the water infrastructure, which will be dependent on better weather outside.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I've had some correspondence with Stefan over the doors. The bottom line is that Ulf, the representative from the door company, still thinks that if we had oiled or treated the doors, we wouldn't have had this problem. But neither Wille nor I saw any instructions on the doors.

That said, we are in a pretty exposed and wet environment, and so Ulf is going to make new door fronts which are made of wider strips, placed vertically. This will greatly reduce the seams between boards which have allowed water to seep in, as we have seen in our current doors.

I'm not sure about having verticals on the doors, because we have a good flow with the current horizontal boards. But I was going to stain the doors and trim to keep them light, and let the rest of the house go grey, so there'd be contrast, anyways. And in the future, there are lots of funky new doors we could try.

UPDATE: Wille suggests to have the doorfronts sent to Jonny, the kitchen expert, and he'll keep them in his warehouse until Wille picks them up on his way to us over Easter. Wille will check with Jonny to make those arrangements.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Another side of Mikael

Speaking of penalty minutes, Wille told me there was a You Tube of Mikael in a fight on December 28 with Lee Goren, a hulking Canadian ex-NHL tough guy. Sure enough, I found it, and now you too can see Mikael landing (and receiving) a few blows.

He was much more peaceful when he was working with us!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Familiar Face!

Does the man in the middle look familiar? It's our own Mikael Ahlèn, fresh after scoring for Djurgården in their 3-2 victory on December 7.

Here's a translation from the paper: "Mikael Ahlén plays normally in the junior team, but was called up to the A-team before the match against Färjestad. What energy he brought to the formation and a success it was: one assist and the winning goal."

He's played 16 games now for the senior team, and has clocked up 29 penalty minutes.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Another Possibility

This is from a company called The Living Store. This particular model is a little large, but we saw lots of different types in their shop. Their website is unfortunately sketchy, as we saw many more in person.

One interesting thing about this company is that they apparently are not a chain, and they are very close to Margaret's in the funky neighborhood of St. Eriksplan. As much as I love IKEA, perhaps I should add a bit of design diversity? 

We'll be sure to visit them in February.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Here's one possibility

IKEA, as you could probably guess, makes a zillion types of space-efficient and stylish lounging solutions. The one pictured here is from a group called Kramfors.

There are a lot of different pieces that can be mixed and matched. Sooz likes this black/white fabric as the pattern won't show too much dirt and it's color-neutral. (She wants to add her color with rugs and pillows, etc.)

It's also pretty inexpensive; remember, this isn't a year-round couch so we don't need anything too hard-wearing. It would be nice to have a sofa bed but we haven't seen one that we like the look of yet.

We'll look more in February but our goal is to have whatever we choose delivered in Easter when we're there for a week.


We've been looking at various ideas for furnishing the living area of the house. When we start applyiing our measurements, we're always reminded that we have a pretty small place! We want to leave the corner windows open, so we have about a 3 by 2 meter space to play with, on the wall between the door and the tall window.

The image here is a section of the house plan and the grey L-shaped blob represents a corner couch of about the right dimensions. (The round blob I'll get to in a later post). Sooz wants something as sectional as possible so we can move things around as needed.

There a lot of possibilities out there. Stay tuned.