Saturday, February 28, 2015

Climate Change

I was texting with Annika and Olle this morning. (Actually, I was using WhatsApp, but I still say "texting" just as one says "taping" when they're recording a TV show on a DVR without tape. But I digress.)

I sent them a snapshot of my backyard in Texas:
Lots of ice and snow, 28°F.
They responded with a couple photos of their own:
Green grass and flowers, 36°F.
It's been a mild and warm winter in Sweden. Not good for keeping the mosquito and tick population down! But as Rutger told me, there's plenty of time for snow and cold in March, and April, too.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Window over the door?

One thing we've noticed in our house, especially during our visits in the spring and fall, is that it can get fairly dark inside. We get all sorts of light from the glassed-in front of the house, for sure. Inside, though, by the front door and our garderobes, it's much darker.

I've installed a light over the front door, of course. Another idea would be to have a window in that space.

A high window, one above eye level, is referred to as a "clerestory" window. They are designed to bring light, and sometimes ventilation, into a room without providing a view or compromising privacy.

Viktor has such a window on his x-house. I found a photo and added a helpful arrow to point it out.

We could add a window like this pretty easily. I talked to both Stefan and Willie; it's a straightforward matter of taking a chain saw to cut out a rectangle and fitting a simple non-opening window. It wouldn't impact the integrity of the house, although Sooz is leery of cutting any holes. I've added an exceedingly crude photo illustration of where such a window might go, complete with another yellow arrow.

Another option is to have a window in the door. In fact, Olle has a spare window, which he's given me.

It's a proper door window; triple-glazed and it weighs a ton! I'm holding it up in the photos to give an idea of where it might go.

Olle says putting it in the door is simple, and of course I trust him. Cutting a hole in the door instead of the house would be simpler, and wouldn't be a permanent change either.

One drawback of a door window is that it might reduce our privacy a bit. I could install a shade or curtain of some sort, but I'm not too sure how that might work. 

Either way, it'll me a nice project to delve into later this year!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Melodifestival: Östersund

The show moved for the first time to Östersund, a town of 60,000, where, as the tourism board puts it, "the long cold winter is the city's biggest asset." Way to play to your strengths, Östersund!

Tonight's contestants were a bit better than Malmö's. The second chance spots went to Kristin Amparo, an Adele-type, and Andreas Weise, who had a typical Eurovision belter replete with inane lyrics. Click that link to see what I mean.

SVT doesn't allow links to videos of the winning entries. The first was Jon Henrik Fjällgren, who was cute in a boy-band, slightly ethnic way. His staging was different, with background singers dressed like angels suspended behind him.

The second winner was 16 year old Isa Tengblad. This photo tells pretty much everything about her performance last night.

Next stop: Örebro!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

FORM Magazine

I received another tip-off from the lovely Marcia: FORM magazine, a quirky bimonthly magazine devoted to Scandanavian design.

I'd love to subscribe, but the print edition delivered to Texas is about $30 per issue, which is a bit too dear even for a design fan like me. I'd like to get the iPad edition, but that's not working just yet. I'll update with the link if I ever get it working. For now, I'll just have fun on their website!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Melodifestival: Malmö

I thought the show was kind of blah last night. At least the musical acts were; the hosts, Robin and Sanna, were pretty funny.

Their opening number, in which the director said 'nothing could go wrong', of course did, in best Carol Burnett style. Even better was the video about Robin's hometown, Åkarp, which was so spot-on, it made me laugh out loud:
As for the musical acts, both Jessica Andersson and Magnus Carlsson went through to the final. The only memorable thing was Jessica's giant headful of blonde dreadlocks. I can't imagine any of the acts from tonight troubling the voters in the grand final.

Eric Saade is looking like an even stronger candidate now!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Deck Railings

Sooz and I have been discussing our new deck lately. Mostly we talk about how much we love it!

But we are worried a bit about its height. From the back corner, it's a pretty decent drop to the rocks below. I posted a long time ago about having a railing of some sort along the front of the house, but we never got around to it. (Frankly, our solution to having a deck that was a bit too narrow was to instead build a nice big one.)

I really don't like the idea of a permanent railing along the deck. I fear it would disrupt the flow of the house. But a possible solution was right under our noses. We started to notice a number of rope railings in different places, both on Aspö and at the dock in Stavsnäs:
I like the idea of using a pole-and-rope railing. It would be easy for me to do, and would fit in with the vernacular on the island. Ideally, I'd like to be able to remove the railing easily. We could put it up for drunken parties, and take it away in the winter!

A bit of googling took me to a great website that sells all sorts of Kee Klamps, which are specialists in pipe railings.

I don't want a full railing, of course, but a half-dozen of these pipe holders mounted on the outside of the deck would do the trick. I could pick up a length of pipe at Bauhaus, choose a coil of interesting rope, and—presto! An attractive, functional, and removable railing.

Using my childishly poor photoshop skills, I made a drawing of what such a railing might look like:
My plan for our trip in the spring is to buy the fittings and put them in my suitcase. We'll stop at Bauhaus for some pipe and rope to haul on the bus out to Stavsnäs. I plan to install the deck lights as well. I'll try to line the lights up with the poles and have a nice geometric installation!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The melodifestival has begun!

Last night was the first of six Saturday night shows. The previous melodifestival winner, Sanna Nielsen, is the host, along with the comic Robin Paulsson.

The Swedish television website,, has a huge melodifestival page, and they stream the whole show online. We chose the version with teletext added, and that helped our comprehension of the Swedish a lot.

I thought the evening was geared towards a victory for Erik Saade, and I was proven right. His song is catchy and his staging was fun; in fact, it was a lot more elaborate than everyone else's. The fact that he's pretty cute (at least according to Sooz, Camille, and all his Facebook fans) doesn't hurt.

None of the other acts was worth a mention. On to Malmö next week.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A second fridge

One thing we noticed during our lengthy visits last summer was that our refrigerator was jam-packed most of the time. Since we only went to the grocery infrequently, we found our shopping was limited a bit by how much our fridge could hold.

We also had lots of Pripps and a box of white wine in there, too, which took up a lot of space.

Sooz has the idea of getting a second small fridge to hold at least the drinks and perhaps some of the bulkier foodstuffs. It seems perhaps odd to have two fridges at a small house we visit infrequently, but I think it makes some sense. We could shop and store food a bit more freely if we had the space. Until or unless I get my own boat and am able to sail to Guns Livs more easily, it would be good to have more storage space.

I could fit it in the shed pretty easily. I'll take a look next time we're in Sweden. I wouldn't look forward to carrying it to the house, but I've done far worse!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Day the Music Died

Don McLean called the events of 56 years ago "The Day the Music Died."

I'm flying to Lubbock later this morning to pay my respects

RIP Buddy Holly.

UPDATE: I went with my friend John. It was a wonderful experience, I enjoyed the center and the nice people of Lubbock. I've posted a few photos.

UPDATE 2: Both my mother and Margaret informed me of this story in today's news, regarding the possible reopening of the investigation into Buddy's plane crash. I'm not sure the benefits of looking into it again, so far in the past. I would think the US authorities have better things to do with their time.