Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to Life, Back to Reality

I remembered that song, but not who did it. Google remembered, though: it was Soul II Soul.

The jet lag isn't too bad, and our Texas house is in good shape. So now it's time to get back to work!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The whirl ends

...but it ended with a bang. We left Aspö on a surprisingly busy evening boat, and had an equally busy bus ride from Stavsnäs. En route, we met Britt and Ronnie, and then parted ways at Slussen to join Marcia, Rutger, Claire and Chris for a superb dinner in Soder, a neighbourhood in the south of Stockholm.

Now I'm writing from Heathrow after the usual early morning departure from Arlanda. We'll be back in Texas in a dozen hours. There is much to write about, but for now there are lots more photos on the Flickr page.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The whirl continues

...on Friday, when we were invited to a fika by Ann-Catrin at their house in the afternoon. We were joined by Annica and Anders, as well as Ann-Catrin's mother, who is about to turn 91, and could probably beat me in both arm-wrestling and scrabble! Ann-Catrin made a delicious rhubarb/strawberry tart from her garden, and we had a great time in the sunshine.

Tony gave me a tip on aligning my TV antenna more accurately, so I used the compass on my iPhone to improve our reception significantly.

I finished that just in time to meet the evening boat, which carried in Marcia and Rutger, as well as their friends Chris and Claire, Ottawans who had a stopover in Sweden on their European holiday. Heroically overcoming their jetlag, we had a fantastic evening, and our renovated guest house enjoyed a rare sleepover. (And so did Chris and Claire!!)

Today, sadly, very sadly, we are preparing to take the evening boat, for a dinner in the city and then an early journey back to Texas tomorrow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What a social whirl

Wednesday's weather could not have been more different, the day dawned still and muggy. I got out the ol' chain saw and did a bit of cleaning up the environs. We went to Ann & Dave's again for dinner, a lovely curry made my Mr. Harvey, and we were joined by Janne and Ronnie.

Yesterday was I think our busiest day ever. First was the 1030 exercise class led by Annica, and I have to say it was a hell of a workout. I didn't realize how out of shape I am! Then we visited a little loppis at the midsummer meadow, to see if there were any items for sale by fellow residents. We scored a very cute tray with a drawing of a moose family.

Then at 5, we were invited by Peter and Jeanette, their son Niklas, and his fiance (and sommelier) Naima, for a drink on their lovely deck at their beautiful home. An hour and a half passed very quickly in their company!

Our last social engagement was back to Ann & Dave's for pizza night with Janne. The evening ended with Mad Libs and a spot of cognac. Perfect.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Everyone knows it's Windy

...if you're on Aspö, that is. It's been a strong breeze for the past day, 15 m/s (meters per second in Swedish measurements, about 33mph in the US).

There's been no damage to any trees as far as I can tell, but for today we're holing up with a bit of housekeeping and TV.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Saturday night was the big wine-tasting at the midsummer meadow. Annika had helped arrange a tasting of French wines from the region of Bourgogne, led by a local resident who's a sommelier at one of Stockholm's best restaurants.

I helped set up the party tent and the benches in the afternoon. In the evening, we were joined by Ann and Dave and Janne, along with about 30 other island residents.

We started with a crémant rosé, a style with which Sooz was quite familiar, followed by a chardonnay, which I liked a lot, because it was kept in steel casks, not oak, as is popular in America and Australia. Last up was a pinot noir, a wine recently made popular by the movie "Sideways".

Naima, our sommelier, gave lots of information about each wine in Swedish, of course, but we got at least some of her talk, and she graciously spoke to us Americans afterwards to answer any questions.

After the event, music started to play, and most everyone produced their own boxes of wine for further tasting. We danced and drank well past midnight with our neighbors and friends, and it was a wonderful evening.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dinner with Annika and Olle

We were invited over for dinner Friday night, and had a wonderful evening. In addition to his carpentry skills, Olle is also a great cook. (Annika says he can sew, too; what a guy.)

The evening started with a turn in the steam sauna. At 55°C and 75% humidity, it was amazing how quickly and profusely we all started to perspire. Olle even had some birch branches with which we smacked ourselves, so we had the full experience. After we showered, we had drinks, and Annika shared with us a book she'd made of the history of their house.

Then it was on to dinner, the centerpiece being a pair of fish Olle had caught earlier in the day, prepared to a recipe of his sister's. Besides the local fish, we had home-grown potatoes and herbs grown in the backyard. It was all delicious, and we had a superb evening.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Brushing the house

I spent Friday scrubbing the front of the house to see if I could remove the black splotches that have grown over the years. I brought along a few deck brushes from Lowe's and found the stiffest one did the trick perfectly.

It was straightforward work, although the iron oxide dust that was kicked up wasn't pleasant. Sooz made me wear a face mask, which surprisingly, I had in the shed.

Along the way, I took few photos of the progress and assembled them into a little time-lapse video above. More photos are on my Flickr page, of course.

A Creative Day

This past Wednesday I had the good fortune to attend a local jewellery making class over on the neighbouring island of Ladholmen. To be more specific, it was the art of tenntrådsbroderi, whereby one makes braids or plaits of silver or pewter wire, and in my case, fixes them to reindeer leather to create a cool bracelet.

I had seen these bracelets for sale in Stockholm over the years, in the little shops in Gamla Stan selling handmade goods or in the market at Hötorget, and had always been curious as to the history of this art form. In a nutshell, pewter thread embroidery has been around since the 11th century but the Laplanders widely used it in decoration of their clothing and household items.

Our teacher, Margit, is a very talented artist and seamstress who also makes and sells children's clothes, and under her tutelage we all learned this clever craft. Some of the attendees have been to her summer class every year and I plan on making it a yearly tradition for me also! It was loads of fun, and gratifying to have something nice to sport on my wrist at the end of the day.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happy Wednesday morning!

We've had a fun-filled few days. I have been working on my to-do list; my favourite task so far was to install a new outlet in the kitchen so I could get rid of the dangling light cord. I just hate loose electrical cords. We also installed our new "Bern" light outside and it looks great.

I also extended the stairs to the little house. It looks a little wonky but the ground was so uneven I did my best. They are great to stand on, and are a big improvement, so I am happy, even with their slightly rustic look.

We had dinner with Janne last night, who recently turned 70, believe it or not. Today, Sooz joined Annika and the other local ladies to engage in some jewellery-making on Ladholmen. Olle took me for a spin in his new boat and then he helped me jack up my shed so it's level again. All that and it's not even lunch yet!

Tonight, Dave arrives, with Ann and the kids a day or two after. And then there's the wine tasting/dance on Saturday. Lots going on for sure, and I'm doing daily updates on my flickr page.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vi är här!

A quick post to acknowledge we're safely on Aspö. Everything is in great shape, although the surroundings are almost unrecognisable from our visit about 9 weeks ago. The amount of new growth is amazing.

Photos (and even a movie) are up on my flickr page. More to come!

Friday, July 12, 2013

We've arrived!

It's a beautiful sunny day here. The best part of my journey was my greeter at the airport, the gorgeous Camille!

Now on on to ICA and Bauhaus for supplies...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

And we're off!

... as far as London, anyways. I have a day of meetings Thursday, and I will meet up with Sooz in Stockholm on Friday, to leave to Aspö Saturday. Stay tuned for lots of blog posts and photos!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

We're less than a week away!

The days are flying by now, it's less than a week, believe it or not.

Our small box of things to take to Aspö has done its usual growing into a much bigger box in the final days, no matter how much we try to reduce the stuff we carry out there.

Olle did get me a couple of planks to extend my stairs in his summer wood order, so I have that project to look forward to.

The long range weather forecast calls for 20°C (68°F) which is about 30 degrees cooler than I've been used to. I'm really looking forward to that!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A few changes

It's been a while since I changed the look of the blog. I played around and came up with a more modern look, I think.

The sidebars on the right look a bit busy to me, so feedback from my devoted readers is welcomed!