Thursday, October 29, 2009

Time for an update

First, my mom had surgery to replace her hip and she's starting therapy already. So far, everything seems good. The people at the hospital are great and Mom's spirits are high because she gets to see her little boy.

Jesper and a team of three did indeed finish off the roof in one shot on Monday. He was short a little bit of roof material, but Janne came to the rescue once again and donated the needed piece. Jesper also has my sketch for a walkway between houses and will get back to me with a quote to do that work.

No word yet from Ulrika at the bank on my loan; I should be hearing yea or nay around now. If it's 'nay', I'll just move more money from the USA, although I'd prefer not to.

I do have some news from the electrical people at Vattenfall, but I'll save that for another post. I need to return to my nursing duties now...

UPDATE: Ulrika emailed me with the excellent news my loan's been approved!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Keeping up my theme

...of writing while traveling, I am updating from American Airlines flight 665 to Minneapolis, thanks to the miracle of inflight broadband.

When we landed from Stockholm last night, my sister called with the news that my mother had fallen and broken her hip. Surgery is tomorrow, so I'm en route to be at her side.

And while I was in the air from London, it appears that Jesper and a bunch of helpers came out and finished off our roof today! Margaret sent an email that everything was done, although I don't have any other details. I sent Jesper an email and will report back when I hear from him.

Ulrika from the bank also emailed me and said she hopes to have word from her boss on our loan application in a day or two. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on that.

I'll post again when I know more on any or all of these topics.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Aboard the M/S Roslagen

...heading back to Stavsnäs. We did have a pretty lazy Friday as predicted, mostly cleaning up and organising our stuff. Sooz made an inventory of food and clothing, and I sorted out all the tools and spare parts in the little house. It was cool and a little rainy, perfect for staying inside!

Janne came over and we enjoyed Sooz's lovely roast Gotland lamb. We got about half-way through "Atonement"; we'll watch the rest on the bus ride to Slussen shortly. ("Adventureland" was more my speed; Hüsker Dü and The Replacements on the soundtrack.)

This morning we cleaned up and I drained the water system, which was easy enough for even me to figure out. We put our freezables in the bathroom with a radiator, to keep everything warm.

It was a little bit sad to leave our house behind. But we'll be back soon enough!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Our last full day here

...will be pretty lazy, I think. Sooz is going to do an inventory of all the remaining foodstuffs, and we'll pack away everything that will survive the winter. I'm trying to figure out the circuit breakers again, because I lost the list that Göran left me. We want to keep the bathroom electricity on for heating but turn off everything else.

We managed to burn everything yesterday, thanks to Sooz's campfire skills. I used the chain saw with no injury, and we have only 5 more roof panels to move today. The area looks much cleaner and I'm very happy about that.

We rented "Adventureland" on iTunes yesterday (although it took 5 hours to download.) Tonight it's "Atonement" on my MacBook Air, snuggled on our couch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another good day

Today's weather was like yesterday's, grey to start but sunny later on. Sooz finished up with the stain and everything looks great, only a few touch-ups remain. We moved about half the remaining roof panels and will be able to finish those off tomorrow easily. Jesper will be here next week to put it all up.

Most of the day centered around the fire to burn the remaining wood and cardboard. It took a while, but Sooz used her summer camp experience to get a roaring fire going. We won't get it all burned off tomorrow, but we will have made a big dent in the remaining junk pile.

Marg and Janne came over for a nice dinner in our place. Sooz pulled out all the stops in the kitchen, and we ended up with a whiskey tasting! How civilized...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Near Marg & Janne's house on our way for dinner, we heard something crashing in the woods nearby. Sooz went to investigate, and whispered back to me, "moose!"

I opened my camera and took a few shots of the moose, who was about 25 yards away, looking straight at us. This is the best one of the bunch; I enhanced it a bit. No antlers, but it seemed pretty big, so I'm guessing a mama moose.

We had a great dinner afterwards; no moose meat, but röding on the grill instead. Delicious.


Sooz and I had no problem starting up the house last night; Janne had turned on the heat and the fridge so everything was a good temperature when we arrived.

We had a bit of a lazy night; the most interesting thing was how dark it was, both outside (low clouds and a deserted island) and inside (we really need more lights!)

Today was busy; Sooz stained the doors and half of the windows. Thankfully, Tony and Janne moved our roof panels about two-thirds of the way on Janne's ATV, so all I have to do is haul them one-by-one overland to the house. They aren't too heavy, but they are awkward, and there's a lot of them! I think I got about half moved, and we will finish tomorrow.

The weather improved during the day and we had some lovely autumn sunshine at the end. We're about to head to Marg and Janne's for dinner. Photos on the webgallery now; more soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Aboard the M/S Madam

Enjoying the sunset with Marg and Sooz on our way to Aspö.

I talked with Ulrika at the bank and we had a good discussion, but no resolution yet. Everything seems to hinge on my personnummer; that's like a social security number for US citizens, or National Insurance for Brits. I have one from my time here 20 years ago, and it's still on file for me, but it's now "inactive" since I've moved away.

The tax authorities won't activate it, because I have no income in Sweden. So now it's up to the bank to decide if they'll approve the loan with an inactive personnummer. If they say yes, it'll be approved in a couple of weeks; if the answer is no, it doesn't appear I can get a loan in Sweden at all. I'll report back.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Greetings from Stockholm

Writing this evening from the Wilhelmis kitchen. We went to Bauhaus and IKEA today and decided on our stain for the doors and window frames. I've started a new webgallery for those interested in seeing what colour Sooz chose.

Tomorrow, I meet with Ulrika at the bank, Sooz goes grocery shopping, and then we'll meet up with Margaret mid-day and drive with her down to Stavsnäs for a 16:40 boat.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Preparing to head to Sweden...

...and Anders calls tonight, with perfect timing. He has finished the little insulated box under our house, to house the water hardware and keep it warm over the winter.

He pointed out the need for a insulating cover for the well as it comes out of the ground (as seen here). I'll talk to Janne and Jesper to see what they say. I have plenty of wood and leftover insulation to fashion something temporary for at least this winter, I would think.

I also owe Anders' electrician for a couple of hours of extra labor to hook up all the water-heating units. That loan from Ulrika's going to come in handy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest"

I just finished the third and, sadly, last of Stieg Larsson's novels.

They are cracking good detective thrillers, but they're also much more, as the Independent illustrates.

Thanks to Marcia and my mother for suggesting them to me. I recommend these books highly to all my readers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I love it when a plan comes together

Apologies to Hannibal Smith for the quote.

Anyways, it seems like things are coming together. We'll be spending this upcoming weekend with Marcia & Rutger. I will be meeting the bank in Stockholm on Monday morning to finalise my loan request, and then we'll link up with Margaret at St. Eriksplan to all head out to Stavsnäs for a Monday evening boat.

We'll share island dinner duties during the week with Margaret and Janne, and then back to Marcia and Rutger's Saturday morning before we head home Sunday.

Jesper's all set to do the roofing work, although he pointed out that it snowed today, which was too early even for him. (Margaret also mentioned the snow, but since she and Janne will be wintering in Flordia, she's not bothered!) I checked the webcams and it appears everything's melted. Good thing Janne's going to turn on the heat early for us so our home's all toasty when we arrive!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Electrical bill

I received the summer electrical bill from Vattenfall yesterday. I had been waiting for this one as it represented the month we lived at the house, with all the lights and appliances, and especially Cinderella using power. I had posted earlier this year that I had hoped for about 3kr per 'flush'.

The invoice was mixed news. The good: I don't owe anything. Apparently I had a credit. The total charge for June and July was 746kr. The bad: I have no idea why I have a credit, plus I believe the summer charge was estimated and not actual. So I don't yet have an accurate picture of just how much it costs to live in the house. My financial reckoning is just delayed.

I spent this morning trying to figure out the bills and, frankly, I'm even more confused. My original thought of about 150kr a month for the connection charge seems right, but there appear to be different types of electricity at different rates. I'll bring the whole stack of invoices to Stockholm to see if Rutger or Janne can explain it all to me. I should also try to take an actual reading when I'm at the house; let's see if I can manage to do that accurately and without electrocuting myself.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Loan Application

I sent our loan application to Ulrika at Nordea. It was a bit of a struggle to get through all of the Swedish legalese, but Google translate came in handy.

I also added a cover letter to fill in any gaps in the application form, as being a utlänningar adds complications to my request. We may be able to meet in person when we're in Stockholm the Monday after next, which I'm sure would smooth things.

I've thought about how much cash I need. Taking into account everything I foresee over the next year- the roof, the water cabinet under the house, winter's electricity, taxes, a few items from IKEA, the deck between houses next spring- 60,000 kronor should do the trick.

However, I get a much better interest rate of 1.59% if I were to borrow 100,000 kronor, which I think I'll do. That's really cheap money!

With Grant's university fees coming up next year, conserving my pounds and dollars is a good idea. Plus, we plan to spend a lot of time on Aspö over the coming years, so establishing credit at a local bank should be useful for the long-term.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Grant's Road Trip?

Grant was typing on his MacBook last night, and asking us detailed questions about this summer's drive to Sweden: how much did the boat from Kiel cost, how long did we drive on the second day, etc.

Turns out he's been talking to three of his friends about taking a road trip after graduation and spending a week on Aspö. So he was gathering details and sending them along to his prospective driving buddies.

I'll admit the idea tickles me. I was about that age when I took my first cross-country trip with two friends in my first car, a 1969 Mustang Mach 1. (It looked exactly like the one in the ad above, although of course, we didn't drive that fast.) We drove from Minneapolis to central Pennsylvania, with stops in Chicago and Indianapolis.

His mother, however, is less sanguine about the prospect. And I imagine the mothers of the other three boys would be even less so! Still, I like the idea, and we have plenty of time to develop it. I think it would be great if it worked out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our land is registered!!

As I expected, a bunch of documents came from Lantmäteriet today, and to the best of our Swedish comprehension skills, our land is now officially registered in our names.

The key phrase for me was underrättelse, lagfart which translates to "notification of title registration"; a pretty good clue. Of course there's a 4575kr fee for the registration. But it's ours now!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Material for the roof

I've been emailing between Janne and Jesper about the material order for our roof. At Margaret's suggestion, the two of them spoke directly on Friday (cutting out me, the inefficient middleman) and now we're all set.

Janne will order the roof panels and ancillary stuff and have it delivered. I'll move it all from the dock to our house when I'm over in two weeks, and Jesper will be out thereafter to install it.

The only other big projects to be done are the staining of the doors and trim, which Sooz will do, and the burning of the remaining scrap wood. Hopefully, I'll get some relaxation time!

As an aside, it's probably going to be chilly. Temperatures right now are between 40°-50°F (4°-10°C).

UPDATE: Marg writes in that "everything is ordered and will be delivered 19 October. And I am definitely going out on the same 4:40pm boat as you...I can stay until Thursday morning, too!" Excellent news.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Our contract's back from Lantmäteriet

...but that was all we got, our original contract back with a stamp on it, and a number handwritten on the stamp. No other documents, just the contract in a big envelope.

I assume more info will be forthcoming, but I take this as a good sign!