Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Wild Kingdom

I've been playing with a Dropcam at my home in Texas. It is a teriffic little webcam; easy to setup, simple to access over the internet, and it has great picture and sound quality as well.

I took it to the stuga on my last trip and set it up on the deck when we left. I had paid for a month of mobile broadband, so I've been able to watch its view from Texas over the past few days. One of Dropcam's best features is its recording service. I'm able to go back and watch the past week's worth of activity to find any action the camera might pick up.

Most days, I just see passing clouds and swaying trees. We do like listening to the birdsongs, though. It is fun to turn up the volume on my iMac and hear the Aspö birdies chirping away.

What I really want to do is catch the moose on my camera, but I don't think the moose are in the neighborhood. I have, however, seen a few of the little red deer walking around most mornings. I've shared a clip of our visitors from this morning.

I don't know if I will leave the camera out while we're away for the winter. Once I have permanent broadband connectivity, I certainly will have a camera (or two). But for now, at least, it is fun to have a real-time glimpse, even if it is just on a screen.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In the Lone Star state again!

Darn, is it hot here (compared to Aspö, at least). But we've arrived fine, and the best part is that Ollie was none the worse for wear. As much as we love Sweden, we did miss our furry boy.

We have a number of Texas errands to get done in these next few weeks before our return. Sooz also wants to top up her tan!

As for our return, we're going to try very hard to travel light this time. I'm not sure if we can succeed; history suggests not.

Lots going on in Aspö, however, so stay tuned for a few (hopefully) interesting updates.

Monday, June 23, 2014

On our way back to Texas :(

Writing this from the departure gate at Stockholm Arlanda. We had a few good few days, doing a bit of shopping, and having a fun ride up to Sigtuna on Saturday.

Leaving isn't so bad this time, knowing that we're back to Sweden in 3 weeks. A bit of regrouping, and picking up Ollie, seems about right.

There are a few topics coming up, however, so stay tuned!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Glad Midsommar!

We had a typically cool and cloudy, but nevertheless fun, midsummer celebration yesterday. We walked with Marcia and Rutger and their neighbours Peter and Cissie to the local midsummer stång at Skälby.

A few drinks and snacks, and then it was back to their house for a fantastic evening of great food and drink. Peter is an enthusiastic home brewer, and we sampled many of his delicious experimental brews through the evening.

Of course, despite the clouds all day, the sky was clear at midnight! Today, we awake with slightly fuzzy heads, and gorgeous sunshine.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Back to Stockholm for Midsummer

We've had a fun but quiet few days. The weather has been up and down; we've had both drizzly and 50° and sunny and 70° in the past 48 hours. Britt and Ronnie stopped by yesterday and we had a sunny drink on our deck. They entertained us with stories of living on Aspö in the 60's and 70's!

I cleared more brush yesterday, concentrating on dead trees and branches. I spend a couple of hours generating a huge pile of wood, but the view hardly seems different when I look down from the deck.

We get lots of advice to take down more trees to open up our property and improve our view, but Sooz and I both like the fact that our house is pretty well hidden. We'd prefer to leave things untouched as much as we can. So I satisfy myself with a bit of pruning and cleaning, rather than clearing.

But I digress; we are doing a 'light' closing of the house right now, seeing that we'll be back in a month. We will spend midsummer with Marcia & Rutger and their friends and neighbours. It seems a bit odd to leave Aspö just before the holiday, but we've not spent the holiday with them in quite a while, so it will be good to do that.

My 'project list' is pretty short right now. I have decided on a project for when I return; more on that in a later post. For now, we're packing up for the noon boat to Stavsnäs...

Monday, June 16, 2014

The weekend is over...

...although for a retired couple like us, there's not much difference between weekdays and weekends any more!

First, we had an overnight visit from Marcia and Rutger, along with Tim, and his visiting American girlfriend, Ashleigh. They wanted to give her a good dose of Swedish culture, so a night of stuga life was on their travel agenda. We were thrilled to oblige with archipelago hospitality. Rutger, as usual, manned the grill, and we finished the evening with Holland's 5-1 rout of Spain in the World Cup.

They also surprised me with an early birthday present: a case of Pripps! As has been well documented here, I love my Pripps, and 24 cans are always welcome. But a case, delivered to the house, is immeasurably more valuable, and a very welcome gift, indeed.

On Sunday, Olle and Annika, along with their grandson, Erik, invited us along on a boat ride to one of the little islands for a hot dog cookout. We sat on a rock and watch parent terns teaching their babies how to fish. It was better than any nature channel I ever saw! It was a beautiful —and tasty— afternoon. A few photos are up on the June flickr page.

Today, Sooz is going to take the noon boat to Stavsnäs for a two-hour shopping jaunt. We need a few provisions for the next few days, but she's also going to stock up for our return visit in July. We'll leave the fridge and freezer on while we're gone, which will ease our shopping burden when we're back.

The weather has been good; a bit cooler and cloudier today, after an enormous windstorm on Friday night. Thankfully, we didn't see any damage on our laps of the island, although it was apparently worse in the northern archipelago. The forecast looks decent for midsummer; cool, but it should be dry for our dancing around the stång!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Lots of stuff going on

It's been a fun few days. The weather has been super, up until a shower yesterday afternoon. We got to spend Tuesday on our sunny deck with Janne, who was visiting Aspö to do a few things on his way back to Florida.

We've seen the usual flora and fauna: toads, snails, every type of chirping bird, a rabbit the size of Ollie, and, for the first time, a badger, who Sooz spotted trundling by the house the other evening. We've heard a moose but no sightings yet. Lots of photos on the Flickr page; I usually put up a few every day.

I've been doing lots of little things, no big projects this time. I may do a deck upon our return visit; I need to talk with Rutger and Olle about that this weekend. Tony has a boat he can lend us when we come back next, so I'll be brushing up on my maritime skills if I'm not too busy woodworking or lumberjacking.

Marcia and Rutger are visiting tonight, along with Tim and his American girlfriend Ashleigh, to whom we will be giving an introduction to archipelago life. Holland play Spain tonight in the World Cup so we'll be cheering on the Oranje!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The painting is done

Our painters, Ove and Leif, came by this morning and polished off their paint job.

We are very pleased with their work. Not only were things done neatly and professionally, but the colour itself is just what we were hoping for.

Ove told me the wood was very dry, and that it readily absorbed the linseed oil paint. I'm glad we got it done, for protective as well as aesthetic reasons.

I am thinking very seriously about painting the rest of the house, as well as the little house, too. Ove and I talked about doing that, and he will be sending me a quote.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hello from Aspö!

We're here and all is well. As usual, we managed to buy an amount of groceries and other stuff that was just at our physical limit of being able to transport up to the house! We needed the afternoon to recover from our exertions.

The house is in great shape. The biggest change is the painting underway. It's about two-thirds done, and I'm sure our painter will return tomorrow to finish. We are very pleased so far, the colour and workmanship are excellent. It will make a big difference to how our house looks. I've started a June Flickr page with a bunch of photos.

We spent today doing small cleanup tasks, and had a great fika with Olle and Annika, a tart made with Annika's own rhubarb. Olle gave us a tour of his garden; he has quite an array of vegetables growing right now!

An advantage of our spending so much more time here this summer is that we can attend more social engagements. There are a bunch of summer things we'll be able to go to, the Namdo Day in July being a prime example.

The weather forecast is excellent for the week. And, as a bonus, tomorrow, we get to see Janne!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Camille's Graduation

We arrived safely yesterday, with an amazingly problem-free journey. Everything worked perfectly this time.

Today is Camille's graduation day, and we were able to join the festivities. Wearing a sailor's cap (along with silly necklaces) is one of the many traditions celebrated today. The Local has a good recap of the graduation season.

Tonight is another party, and we will head out to Aspö on Saturday. It's great to be back in Sweden!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

We leave today!

It's snuck up on us a little bit, this trip. We've been busy with Grant's graduation (among other things) this month.

I also think my not working makes it a little different. Although I loved my job and the people I worked with, it was still work, after all, and time away was something to look forward to. Now all my time is away, so there isn't that same sense of 'escape', for lack of a better word.

That said, the longing to get to Aspö is just as strong, and this summer, we'll be able to spend a lot more time out there.

Stay tuned for updates on island life. The house painting (after years of study) may be done by the time we arrive and I have a new deck idea, as well. So lots of interesting things will be going on.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Penblwydd Hapus i ti, anwyl Ollie!

Ollie after an early-morning swim today
For my readers who don't speak Welsh, the title of this post is "Happy Birthday, dear Ollie."

Today our boy turns 11 years old. Depending on how one measures these things, he's between 60 and 75 years in people terms. It's now safe to say that he's older than either of us, no matter how you measure it.

It is also 5½ years since his back surgery. From today, Ollie will have lived longer on his new back than his original one. I've written over the years about Ollie; I enjoyed looking back on the older posts, although, maybe in hindsight, I came across as a bit negative. The bottom line is that Ollie remains a happy dog who has had great love and care. He's doing really well for his age.

Ollie's surgeon, Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, obviously does fine work, as evidenced by our boy's continued good health, but he's also become a bit of a celebrity in the UK. Sooz has her radio in the kitchen tuned to BBC 2. I was startled to hear his instantly-recognizable Irish accent one recent morning. It turns out he has his own TV show now!

Tonight, Sooz is grilling lamb chops. We bought three, so Ollie will be in for a special treat. And if one would like to sing Ollie a birthday wish in his native language, Episode 8 of "Learning Welsh with Will" gives a perfect lesson.