Monday, November 30, 2009

Another moose sighting!

Marg writes in this evening:

"Janne and Cal just finished up a boys weekend out on Aspö; they were 8 or 9 guys in total, great time.

The attached photo was taken by Ronnie during the weekend, when they had an unexpected visitor - hoping for an invitation to join the boys I guess!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saab Style

The Local has a great photo gallery on their website of Saabs over the years.

Being a fan of old cars, Sweden, and mid-century style, I got a real kick out of the photos, especially the first dozen.

My favourite one is attached. That's Sooz and I in another life, on our way to Stavsnäs.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving day in the USA. It's a little funny for Americans living abroad, as it's such a big holiday at home, yet pretty much non-existent outside the US. I've found that ex-pats band together and have their own makeshift family dinner. In fact, we've already had ours, last weekend with friends in the Kent countryside.

Last Thanksgiving, however, was a terrible one for us; it's been exactly a year since Ollie hurt his back.

I found it interesting to go back over my past year's posts about Ollie's surgery and recovery. In hindsight, I was a bit optimistic about his progress early on. However, he did recover well enough to travel to Sweden this summer and enjoy his experience there, although outdoor life did tire him out quite a lot.

However, Ollie probably won't come with us to Aspö next summer. We aren't going to drive again, and we probably won't spend as long a period there as we did this year. My general plan is a couple of two-week visits: one family vacation early summer before Grant goes to university, and one late summer as new empty-nesters. I'm not sure if it makes sense to fly Ollie out just for a couple of weeks.

To be clear, although Ollie is slower, he is perfectly happy and pain-free. It was good fortune he was able to have surgery at all, and I have been thankful for his recovery every day of the past year. That makes this Thanksgiving day especially meaningful for all of us.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Our loan came through today, so my bank account was in six digits, but only temporarily, as I paid Jesper and Anders straightaway.

Even better news is that my mom's home!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A quiet week

I'm afraid we're entering the winter lull, at least as far as the stuga goes. But there are a few things to report:
  • Ulrika has our loan papers back and we should have the money deposited next week. That's good, because I owe both Anders and Jasper a balance for their work.
  • I've analysed my electrical bills over the past 9 months. The cost of electricity, including all connection charges and taxes, is about 15kr per day. The electricity itself is 8.20kr, although with my new contract, it'll be about 5.90 a day going forward.
  • My original estimate of the Cinderella's cost of 3kr per 'flush' appears to be correct. Half of that is electricity and half is the cost of the paper filter.
  • And, lastly, my mother's recovery is going well. She should be back home next Thursday.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Loan paperwork

I received the paperwork from Ulrika on Friday, and sent it back to her yesterday. All being well, I should have the money in our account within the next two weeks. That will be handy, as I owe both Jesper and Tommy a balance for their work last month.

The interest rate is now 1.49%! My monthly payments are going to be ridiculously low- under 900kr a month.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The final cost of the roof

I had posted that Jesper (plus three helpers) got our roof done last week, and I promised that I would be transparent in accounting for the roof's costs. So here we go:
  • The roof panels and trim materials: 19,000kr
  • Jesper's labor to install: 13,000kr
  • Transport of materials from Stavsnäs: 3,000kr
So the total for roofs on both houses was 35,000 Swedish kronor. This is more than my original estimate of 25,000. However, it's a lot less than all of the recent job quotes I received, which ranged from 40,000-75,000, and not all of those quotes were for a metal roof.

I managed to save money in a couple of significant ways. Firstly, as a favor, Janne ordered all of the material on my behalf through his account at Fredells, so I was essentially able to order direct.

Secondly, I provided the labor to carry all the panels from the dock to the house. (Actually, Janne and Tony did a lot with Janne's ATV, and Sooz helped me carry the biggest panels.) Jesper quoted me 8000kr to transport the material, so even if I subtract the 3,000kr to move the panels from Stavsnäs, I saved 5,000kr just by moving them myself. That's nearly 15% of the total bill.

As an aside, I paid the full freight for the trip to deliver the goods. Typically, I've been able to pool my material delivery with others and therefore share the cost. However, to have everything delivered in time for my visit, so I had to bear the total price. Lesson learned for future projects!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Electricity costs

I had posted earlier about the mystery of my bill from Vattenfall, and why I seemed to have such a big credit.

Rutger got to the bottom of it, and it turned out to be fairly simple. My first bills were based on the usage of a year-round house. Since our home isn't occupied that often, we used a lot less electricity than estimated, and so I built up a big credit.

He also saw that I should have been repaid about 1200 kronor of my overpayment into my bank account this spring; in fact their bill said they would refund me, but they didn't. After some strong complaints about this treatment, Rutger got them to agree to give me a further 500kr credit. Wow!

Rutger also advised that I was paying the 'full' uncontracted rate of 69.5 öre per kilowatt, which I could lower significantly with a long-term contract. I emailed Vattenfall and they responded (in English) that I could get a fixed 3-year price of 47.3 öre, which is what I've done. I've also signed up to get all my bills online.