Friday, May 29, 2015

Another familiar-looking cabin

Courtesy of Dwell, of course, is another designer cabin in the north woods.

This one shares the profile of our own little stuga. It's much taller, and doesn't have the deck ours has, but it shares the same boxy, angular style.

I also find it interesting that it sets on only 6 concrete footings. Our own house is held up by a dozen!

Sunday, May 24, 2015


He did it! Måns Zelmerlöw can add "Eurovision winner" to his resume. The title is back in Sweden.

It was a great show, with only a few truly bad acts. The voting was unusually close; Russia was in the lead for much of the evening, and Italy was a very close third.

In the end, though, Måns prevailed. Now my goal will be to actually go to the contest in Sweden next year. I can't wait!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Eurovision is tomorrow!

With all of the activity the past few weeks, the Eurovision final has snuck up on me.

Actually, that's not strictly true. We saw a lot of Måns Zelmerlöw while we were in Sweden these past few weeks. There's excitement building over his entry; the bookies have him as the favourite to win. It would be great if he could pull it off! Perhaps my dream of attending a Eurovision final in person might come true.

The second favourite is Italy, who are bringing the heavy firepower in the form of Il Volo:

I'm betting Sooz will really like this one: hunky Italians singing in their native language about amore

The standard in the semifinals was, disappointingly, pretty good. There are usually some amusingly bad acts in the semis, but not this time. I am surprised that neither Denmark (with a 60's themed song) or Trijntje Oosterhuis's catchy tune from the Netherlands went through.

I rather liked Russia, and especially Norway. But I'm well known for using attractiveness as a criteria in my Eurovision picks.

We usually have a big viewing party at home, but this time, it'll just be a couple of close friends. I'm really looking forward to it!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Time to go...

Sadly, it's time for me to fly back to Texas. Sooz and Ollie have been holding down the fort there for the past week.

It's been rainy and cold the past couple of days, so I don't feel too bad about going. We will be back in the beginning of July. Knowing our return is so soon makes it easier to leave, as well!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Arbetsdag

Yesterday was a great day. First off, it was sunny and beautiful for a change. I took advantage of the morning sunshine to clean and water seal the deck of the guest house.

Then it was time for the spring "working day" (arbetsdag in Swedish). Twice a year, residents assemble to take care of various tasks to maintain Aspö's infrastructure. I've always wanted to be part of the working day, and this year was my chance.

Lots of people assembled on the midsummer meadow, and a list of the day's jobs were discussed. One of the major tasks was to maintain the low spots on the path. Big bags of gravel had been brought in to spread around. A wood chipper was also used to mulch fallen branches and provide more path cover. I thought I might do that, since I was one of the younger people there at the beginning. Fortunately, though, lots of actual young people showed up and I was able to leave the hauling and chipping to them.

I instead volunteered to cut new pieces of wood for the path markings. I was able to bring the timber over to my house easily, and it was a simple enough job that I could do it without messing up! It turned out that I had to cut 50, though, so it took me a couple of hours.

Others volunteered to paint my cut pieces, so we had a nice assembly line going. After a day's drying, the new markers will be put up in place of the old faded ones. I like the thought that, on future walks around Aspö, it'll be a little bit of my work marking the path!

We all took a lunch break at 12:30. Peter grilled korvs for everyone, and Jeanette handed out cold beers. A perfect afternoon. I tagged a bunch of photos for quick viewing.

When the work was done, I walked over to Bosse's house and took possession of my new boat. Tony said I could keep it at his dock, so I motored over to find him waiting for me. He even made a little nameplate for my spot! (A photo of that, among lots of other stuff, is on the May photo page.)

The day ended splendidly; Peter and Jeanette invited me over for dinner. Peter grilled an amazing steak, and Jeanette shared her special pesto potatoes. We also drank quite a bit of very nice red wine! It was a superb evening to cap a really special day.

Friday, May 15, 2015

My new boat!

Here it is... my new boat!I went over to Bosse today and finalised the sale. He had installed a new battery and I took it for a quick shake-down cruise. The weather was not good for boating; it was barely 50°, with a light rain that "felt like nails", as Bosse put it.

I'm a bit leery of sailing too much by myself. I don't know all the rocks or shoals just yet. It feels safer to me with a lookout at the helm.

We will be doing lots of sailing this summer, though. I'm looking forward to it!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Viktor's new house

I had posted almost exactly four years ago about out neighbor Viktor, who was building an X-House much like ours in the center of the island.

Viktor finished the house and it is beautiful. However, he's recently acquired land closer to the water, and sold his house last year. Now he's in the process of building a new pre-fabricated house, but not an X-House this time. He has chosen a system from Leva, who are from the island of Gotland. An example is in the photo to the left.

They are much like X-House, with long beams of pre-cut glue-laminated wood. Viktor told me his house will be 95 square meters, which is about a third larger than ours. I visited his building site, and it looked huge!

His helicopter delivery was indeed yesterday. Everything—50 ton's worth—was loaded on one of the big goods boats and brought to the island at a northern dock. Viktor used a helicopter (as we did) to ferry everything over. He told me it took 60 trips by the 'copter to move it all.

Janne, Ronnie and I supervised the work yesterday. Viktor had a big crew who seemed to know what they were doing, so we were able to leave after a couple of hours.

Janne and I hung out in the afternoon, and in the evening, he made spaghetti, which was delicious.

This morning, Janne left back for Stockholm, and I visited Viktor again. He has quite the stack of building materials spread all over!

I have a bunch of photos of all this on the May photo page. I also am experimenting with tags on Flickr, so to see every photo I've associated with Viktor, click this link. There will be photo updates to both pages, I promise.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The latest news from the island

We had initially planned to leave this week, but I decided to stay one more week on my own, so I can be here for the island working day this Saturday. As much as Sooz doesn't like to leave Aspö, she hates leaving Ollie in the kennel more, so she kept her original plan.

So we left Aspö on Monday mid-day and made our way to Marcia and Rutger's house. Sooz's flight was very early Tuesday morning. I took her to the airport, and then took the bus out to shop at Gustavsberg in the afternoon. Sooz gave me a grocery list to stock the house. We had also ordered a few boxes of wine, so we'll be all set for staples and booze when we come back in July.

I fear I over-reached a bit at the store, because I had an enormous load of stuff to carry up to the bus. It turns out boxes of wine and frozen flanks of beef can be pretty heavy!

The good news is that I was met at the port in Stavsnäs by Janne himself, who is in Sweden for a few weeks. He's spending a couple of nights with me, and we'll hang out and visit his old stomping grounds. Word is that Viktor is having the helicopter deliver a new house tomorrow, so that'll be fun for us to check out. I'm really looking forward to having Janne around!

UPDATE: Sooz made it to Texas in good shape, and Ollie was very pleased to see his mommy again!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A few updates

It's a lovely Saturday afternoon and I'm sitting on our new deck with Sooz, who's video chatting with her dad on her iPad. The sun is nice and warm, but the breeze is still crisp!

We've been busy with a few small projects. Sooz managed a fire at our traditional spot, and we were able to get rid of last year's logs, along with a big pile of fresh cuttings as we groomed our forest.

We also strung our party lights over our deck. They are attached to the house, and then strung out to a nearby tree. I'm going to figure out a better way to attach them so I don't have to climb a tree every time I set them up. I think a pulley and some black rope might do the trick. I will investigate at the hardware store and report back.

I also tried to take some star photos, with limited success. Frankly the nights are too short already. Sooz mentioned she thought the days were getting perceptibly longer, and, as usual, she's right. The day we arrived here, April 28, was 15 hours and 30 minutes long. Today will have an additional hour of daylight. At this time of year, each day is 5 minutes longer than the day before.

Annika and Olle brought me a new TV antenna pole, and I was able to raise my antenna about a meter. This enabled me to clear the treetops, and my signal is now significantly better. However, most of the local broadcasts we've watched is just the hockey, to be honest.

The other big news is that it looks like we have bought a boat!! Annika's stepfather, Bosse, is selling his little boat. It's double-hulled fibreglass,  4.3 meters long (14 feet), and has a 15HP Yamaha 4 stroke Yamaha engine, with an electric start. We got it into the water today, and took it for a spin around Aspö. I think it would be perfect to make grocery trips to Guns Livs, and to visit the little islands around us.

Photos of all this (and more!) are on the May 2015 photo page.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lots going on...

The weather has been a bit spotty so we have spent a lot of our time indoors since Marcia & Rutger left. Olle and Annika came over for dinner on Saturday night which was fun.

I managed to get the lights installed around the big deck (a photo is on the most recent album). Sooz has been baking, foraging for edibles in the forest, and working on a new jigsaw puzzle.

The only other real job I have to do this trip is to sort out the TV antenna. With Rutger's help, I found a website which uses your phone's GPS coordinates to determine the exact location of the nearest broadcast antenna. I then found that the tree between the big house and the guest house is exactly in the way.

Rutger's solution was to cut it down! But I don't want that, so I plan to add another pole to lift the antenna above the tree. Annika is bringing me a pole this weekend, so I will give my plan a try.

We may have a line on a little boat for us to buy for the summer. We have a test drive planned for Saturday, so more on that in a few days.

The sun has just come out, so I have to dash. There'll be further blog posts in a few days, but photos get updated a couple of times a day.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

We have arrived!

Sorry for the delay in posting, but we're here and everything is fine. I always find it amazing that our house seems so untouched after 6 months away.

We tried something different this time out, I found a taxi service that could take us from Rutger & Marcia's all the way to Stavsnäs. We had too much stuff to carry for the bus, and borrowing Marcia's car wasn't an option this time. 

The taxi worked well, it cost us just over 1000 kronor (about $120). Not cheap, but a good option when I have to carry a lot out to the harbour. The only snag was that I left our groceries unattended at the dock, and the seagulls found my bag of potato chips! Fortunately I was able to save a few for myself. Lesson learned.

The next day, we had a big surprise when we came home from a walk. Waiting for us was Marcia and Rutger! They decided to make a last-minute visit for the May Day holiday. Rutger brought meat for grilling, and Marcia shared a great bottle of her birthday champagne. What a nice day.

Yesterday was the clean-up day around our area. Olle had cleared some brush recently, and Tony masterminded a huge fire to burn it all, along with a whole bunch of fresh cuttings we made to clear the path area. Photos are on the new page for this trip.

Today it's a little drizzly. Marcia and Rutger have to leave on the noon boat, so we'll all just chill this morning, I think. Life is good.