Sunday, May 26, 2013

Expounding on the black splotch phenomenon

I posted earlier this month about how comparatively easily the black staining came off the front of the house with a bit of brushing. This before and after photo shows that we made quite a difference with a couple of hours' worth of elbow grease.

I didn't have the right tools, either. I think the wire brushes I brought were too stiff, and the broom I used was unwieldy. So I will bring a couple more bristle brushes next time we go.

We will have to see how the brushed spots weather over the coming months, but I'm starting to think that we will postpone the painting to next year, to see how well the brushing holds up.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Our house is on Bing Maps now

I stumbled across some new aerial photography of our little hus on Bing maps of all places. And, sure enough, our house, plus the guest house, and the walkway between them, all show up as clear as day! I think that's very cool. This is a newer photo than the Apple maps from last year, as the walkway is now visible.

Aspö itself is also looking fetching in the sunshine.

The direct link will take you right to our island, and from there, a virtual tour of the archipelago.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's all over...

... Eurovision, that is. The Swedish hosts held a fantastic show in Malmö, and in the end, the title took the shortest journey possible, across the Øresund bridge to Denmark! Here is Emmelie de Forest performing the winning "Only Teardrops":

She was the bookie's favorite, and the crowd's, too, to be honest. In the end, Denmark won easily. Azerbaijan was second, with a decent ballad, and Margaret Berger, she of the tight white dress from Norway, placed 4th.

We had a great party with a couple of Eurovision newbies in the audience. Looking forward to Copenhagen next year already!

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Eurovision Semifinals

Sooz and I watched both semis tonight. The stream from the website looked pretty darned good on the big TV.

There has been lots of talk about this being an 'austerity' Eurovision, but penny-pinching did not show up on the screen. The show looked super, and host Petra Mede kept things running well. She had a great line, too, explaining that Sweden was a peaceful country, except for "the recent civil war when Malmö was chosen for Eurovision over Stockholm." That played well with the Malmö crowd!

There were a few amazing acts, Romania being top among them. (It's worth clicking on that link, trust me.) Also look at Montenegro, who didn't make it through, unfortunately. Oh, and Ukraine had a giant. Really.

Now for the good acts. Sooz's favorite was Denmark. We both thought Ireland had a classic euro-disco number.  I rather liked Norway, myself. In fact, all the Scandinavian countries made it through to the final.

It's going to be a great show and we're going to have a fun Eurovison party in the Texas sunshine.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A week from Eurovision!

We are in the home stretch now, only a week until the big show in Malmö. The semi-finals are Tuesday and Thursday in advance of the final on Saturday; I'll be back with an update on those later this week.

The Guardian has an excellent article on the contest in Malmö, and specifically about Swedish schlager music. My favorite quote: "Someone wrote on the event web page, 'I'm coming all the way from America to see Loreen and the finals,' That's amazing." I wish it was me who had written that!

The Swedish Embassy in Washington is showing the event live this weekend, which would be a fun event if we weren't hosting our own Eurovision party that evening.

For my American readers who might want to watch the contest, here's the video link from the official Eurovision web page.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sweden is now importing garbage?!?

From experience, I know that Swedes are big recyclers. Especially out on the islands, where waste disposal is a bit of a logistical issue, people are very careful to minimize their trash.

I didn't realize how efficient Swedes were at recycling, however. Only 4% of trash goes to landfills there. The rest is recycled or burned for energy.

In fact, there isn't enough to burn to keep the power plants going! So, according to the Mother Nature Network, Sweden is importing burnable trash from its neighbors in Norway. That is, as they say, a high-class problem to have.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

On our way back to the USA

We took our usual noon boat on Saturday. Since we'll be back in a couple of months,we didn't have the stressful shutting-down-the-house experience of the fall.

Replacing that was the stressful getting-up-at-six-and-catching-the-0755-SAS-flight experience though. Thank goodness Rutger is such a good sport offering to drive us so early on a Sunday.

Sooz is staying in Europe for another week, so Ollie and I will be bachelors. There are a few new photos up, and I'll add some more in the coming days, too. There will be a few new topics to introduce before we return in July.

I'd better run, it appears my flight here in Heathrow is about to board. Musn't be late!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Yet another lovely day

...spent doing this and that. We did a bit of tree-trimming and brush clearing (I manned the chain saw, and Sooz, the fire).

I also spoke to Wilie, our builder, up in Leksand. He's doing well, but the construction business is a lot harder these days. Work doesn't come as easily, but he's getting by. He also said that X-House isn't selling much lately; I will reach out to Stefan there for a report. We might get together in July, I'd like that very much.

The big news for the day was my brushing experiments on the front of the house. The black spolotches have been well documented, and today was the day I had a go with my wire brushes. Surprisingly, the black dust largely came off with just a bit of elbow grease. I uncovered a good chunk of the house before my rotater cuff gave out. It's looking significantly better already.

I'll give it another pass this summer. This may well change our painting decisions!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We've lucked out on the weather!

Wednesday and Thursday have been crystal clear beautiful spring days. The sun has been warm but the wind is crisp. Just perfect. We've been doing small projects (staining the deck was the biggest chore today) but we've been hanging out a lot. This is clearly the "laziest" week I've spend out here, and I am loving it.

The clear weather is lending itself to my star photo experiments, although it's really dark only between 11PM and about 3AM. The fall is better for longer, darker nights. I've put a few of my photos and movies on my flicker page.

I will try again the next couple of nights.

Tomorrow is our last day here- I hate to think about that.