Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More on lighting

I had posted about a month ago about a couple of light fixtures that I had found for above our front door.

After my last visit, I started to re-think my choice. I worry that a big square lamp would be a bit same-y on a big square house. I'm thinking now that something a bit more bright and chipper would be a better choice.

A bit of searching with my new criteria brought me to this lamp. It's called the "Lund" from a Scandinavian range of outdoor lighting, so that's a good sign. The Lund is also galvanized so it should be nice and bright, and it has a robust IP rating of 54.

Unlike the other lights I was considering, this one is available locally, so I'm going to take a look before I buy. If it passes muster, I'll bring it out and install in October.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The welcome into Arlanda

I teased this subject a while ago on the right-hand side of this blog. After my last trip, I saw something that compelled me to write a full post.

When entering the baggage hall at Arlanda airport, the traveler is greeted by a photo wall of famous Swedes, each bearing the same legend: "Welcome to my hometown".

It's an eclectic bunch from all areas of Swedish life. Classics like Alfred Nobel, Raoul Wallenberg, Carola, and Mats Sundin, to name a few, lead up to the pop stars and celebrity chefs of today.

Looking down from the prime spots, just before the exit, are those one might expect: the King and Queen, ABBA in their spandex, and Björn Borg, resplendent in his Wimbledon headband. But last Friday night, I noticed a new face in that elite group, welcoming us to his hometown, a place not friendly to tourists, but a Stockholm teeming with murder, racism, misogyny, sex and violence.

Yes, Stockholm's newest welcoming face is none other than Stieg Larsson.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fungus Update

Time for a little update on the main reason for our trip this weekend: the fungus.

Rutger and I applied the fungicide pretty liberally. We brushed it on all the stained areas and let it set for 15 minutes. I rinsed it off even more liberally with the hose, and we left the house still quite wet the next day. As an experiment on Sunday morning, I applied straight solution with a toothbrush to one dark spot to see if it acted differently than the other areas. 

But I can't say that we really accomplished anything- at least not yet. The dark patches still look darker than the surrounding wood. Does this mean the fungus is dead or not? The goal was to arrest the spread of the fungus; have we done that? Is it safe to paint over all this now? I don't know for sure, and I don't know how to get that answer definitely, short of bringing a fungus expert in. I find that very frustrating.

To make matters worse, my rinsing of the house caused a few watermarks and drip streaks to appear on the interior walls. The good news is that Janne told us lemon juice would remove the marks,so Rutger rescued a lemon from the previous night's gin & tonic, and went after the marks with a Q-tip. Sure enough it worked like a charm. Of course, now I have to go over the walls on my next trip. One step forward, one step back. 

I will be very interested to see how the house looks when we're there next month. I hope that will give me some reassurance and direction going into the winter.  

Monday, September 20, 2010

Quick update

Safely home in London, all is well. The elections are over, and it appears the Alliance has won again (much to Rutger and Janne's relief), although they were denied a majority by the Sweden Democrats, which is a pretty big development in Swedish politics. Further developments on that soon, I'm sure.

I also have a few photos up in a new webgallery. More info in the upcoming days.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On the boat home

Apologies for not posting before. Rutger and I have been pretty busy these past 24 hours. We managed to apply the fungus treatment. Not sure how much it helped, the house is still pretty wet and therefore dark, Micke's hose connection was perfect so we sprayed a lot of water. We also burned all the scrap wood and branches from the past year in a huge bonfire.

Rutger made a great meal for Janne and I, and the three of us got through most of a bottle of gin. (A small bottle, I should add.)

Today's election day and the whole country is buzzing. I'm sorry to be leaving, I'd love to watch the election results tonight.

More info and photos over the next few days, but all in all, a successful trip, and a fun time with my buddy Rutger!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Leaving tonight

...on British Airways after work. Rutger's picking me up and then we're on the 0725 boat out Saturday morning!

One potential snag is that Micke couldn't come out yesterday to do the hose. Apparently there were pretty rough waves in the area. Janne told me they were nearly 2 meters in Stavsnäs! Glad we're taking the big boat tomorrow.

Micke will try again today. If not, we'll use the kitchen tap, as Janne has set up an adapter just in case.

UPDATE: Janne sent me an email the morning: "Micke is done." Hooray!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Another house blog

One of Sooz's friends has started a blog, detailing her work to restore a 50's ranch house in Tucson.

Peg's efforts, both in terms of her project and her writing, are a lot more sophisticated than my own. It's certainly worth a visit to 50shouseremodel.blogspot.com.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back in a few days!

I'm leaving Friday night, with a suitcase crammed full of an old garden hose I never use (why buy a new one??), and a couple of metal supports I plan to write more about in future.

I also have a piece of perspex cut for use as a sink backsplash to match the one I have behind the stove. One day, we'll have some funky tiles in place, but for now, the perspex protects the wood in a simple and neutral fashion.

The weather (above) looks pretty decent. Even if it rains a bit, that's fine, as we are going to spend most of our time rinsing the house. Perhaps we should want it to rain!

UPDATE: Rutger called this morning and said that Micke the plumber has promised to be out tomorrow, so no worries about having a water hose available.

UPDATE 2: Janne emailed me this afternoon and said he attached an adaptor to our kitchen faucet as a backup water source just in case. It's great to have friends!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Learning Swedish

Let’s face it, I’d love to be able to speak Swedish. Whenever I talk with my fellow Aspö residents, I'm aware they all have to accommodate me, which is pretty un-neighborly in my book. After all, if I’m going to be living on a Swedsh island, I should speak the language!

What makes it worse is that my friends are multi-lingual. I think Margaret speaks Swedish better than most Swedes, and everyone in Marcia & Rutger's household is perfectly fluent in Swedish, English and Dutch. Sooz has a degree in Italian (besides remembering an impressive amount of her Swedish from her time there), and Grant is taking advanced placement French in university. So I’m embarrassingly mono-lingual both in public and at home.

I found myself evening Swedish classes at a local college; the UK does a great job of adult education, it’s much more common here than in the US. I also looked into Rosetta Stone software, which many people rave about. (UPDATE: Note Dawn's lengthy comment about Rosetta Stone, perhaps I might try a 30-day trial?)

The technology to learn languages is always changing. Recently, the New York Times ran an interesting story about the web bringing native speakers together to improve language skills. I even looked into other alternatives to get myself some Swedish exposure.

After a lot of investigation, however, it doesn’t seem practical for me to study Swedish, at least for now. With my daily life in London, I wouldn’t be able to practice in any significant way. And without that daily exposure, it’s not realistic to think I could master another language.

If and when the time comes that we spend significant time on Aspö, then I think I could make a good effort in learning the language. But for now, living in the most Anglophone country of all, and without regular contact with Swedish, it doesn’t seem possible. I’ll just have to get used to my guilty feelings when everyone switches to English for my benefit!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

National elections

The Swedish National elections are coming up a week from Monday. Currently, a center-right coalition is in power, a rare departure from the left-leaning governments of the past generation.

It appears that the "Alliance", as the coalition is called, leads by a few points in surveys leading up to this year's election. The margin is small, however, and the coalition nature of the parties makes swings in the poll results more likely.

Speaking personally, I like the Alliance's tax policies regarding island stugas, so I am wishing them luck on the 19th.

Sweden.se and TheLocal.se both have good election summaries I plan to visit over the upcoming days.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Margaret was on Aspö this weekend, and she sent me a couple of snapshots of Janne's latest handiwork. He's finished the stairs along the front of our house!

We first talked about putting steps on the house a year and a half ago. The most important installation was the main stairs, which Janne finished in May last year, but we always intended to do the wide, low ones off the front door, leading downhill.

Now they're done, and they look great! As Margaret said, another great hang-out area. I'm looking forward to seeing them weekend after next.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Canada's Wilderness Cottage Culture

The BBC ran an interesting video piece about the tradition of remote lake cottages for Toronto residents.

Besides being interesting in itself, it also shows many parallels with archipelago life.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A few updates

I head over in two weeks for a quick trip out with Rutger to finish the fungus treatment. As I had posted, we need a hose to be able to rinse the house. Rutger called me today with the news he was able to reach Micke the plumber, so we should have a hose connection installed in time for our visit! That's great to know.

I also talked to Janne today, he said it was raining hard but that was fine with him as he wasn't working outside. He'll be on Aspö when Rutger and I are there, so we'll have a boys dinner on Saturday night. Rutger's a good cook so I'm looking forward to it!