Tuesday, June 30, 2015

We're on our way!

Meeting up with Grant in London, and then straight through to Aspö in time for cocktail hour tomorrow. Planes, trains, and automobiles, indeed!

Stay tuned for further updates from the traveling family.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bird Identification

I enjoyed reading about a new project at Cornell University. Their Lab of Ornithology has an extensive online resource about birds. Sooz knew all about it, but it is new to me!

We have a couple of good birding books at the stuga, one from Margaret, and another from Anette. Sooz is usually in charge of identifying the birds we see,and our books have come in handy.

Being a bit of a tech geek myself, I came across Cornell's Merlin project through a tech website. It's essentially facial recognition for birds. Upload a good photo of a bird, and it will analyze the image to determine what kind of bird it is. Very cool. Soon enough this technology will be in an iPhone app, and all I'll have to do is point and I'll know the name of our little neighbors!

The website mentions "North American" birds, but I think we'll give it a try anyways. Perhaps it can identify Northern European birds, too.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Midsummer at the American Swedish Institute

We won't be in Sweden for the midsummer celebrations today. Instead, Sooz and I are in Minneapolis, visiting my family.

Minnesota has a huge Scandinavian population. Even today, the roots of the Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians who settled there are still visible in daily life.

One of the organizations most responsible for maintaining these Scandinavian links is the American Swedish Institute. They're holding a traditional midsummer celebration today. I'd like to attend, but I'm not sure our schedule will allow it.

Sooz and I have fond memories of the ASI. When we found out in December 1988 that we were moving to Sweden, we visited to find out what we could about our new country. This was way before the internet, so one of the big draws to the institute were the Swedish newspapers they made available. I remember lots of elderly Swedes reading their Svenska Dagbladets and Dagens Nyheters in their reading room. Everyone we met that day were so pleased for us, and so accommodating and helpful about our upcoming move. It's not a stretch to say that I began to fall in love with Sweden right then and there.

I've always been proud of how well Minneapolis (and St. Paul) maintain a community feeling; it is easily the American city most like Stockholm in my experience. The ASI has a big part in that.

Glad Midsommar, everyone!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Letter from Värmdö Kommun

I received a multi-page letter earlier this week from the local government on Värmdö. It alarmed me a bit, so I asked my friend Anette to take a quick look for me before I settled down for a full translation. I also sent a copy to Willie, too. They both told me the letter had to do with our waste water tank and the kommun wanted more information about it.

It appeared that I had needed to send a statement back to the kommun after our grey water system was installed to show it was done according to the rules. I had not done that, and to make matters worse, I never responded to letters they sent me earlier in the year (because I never received them, of course.)

So they sent someone out to take a look. They found  I was missing an air pipe at the end of the trench to oxygenate the bacteria, and they were also unable to tell much about the installation since it had grown over the past five years. They also charged me a fee of 4500kr for the cost of their visit.

I sent a copy of the letter to both Anders (our bathroom builders) and Janne for their feedback. Janne and I talked. He gave me good information about the trench he had dug, and the preparations completed for the water system. I will talk to Anders again soon about his work on the water, and about adding an air pipe.

The most important conversation I had was with Camilla at Värmdö Kommun. She was very kind in explaining everything to me in English, and also agreed to waive the visiting fee, since I had obviously never received any of her previous correspondence. I'll get the installation information together, and be back to her, although I may just have Janne and/or Anders speak with her directly. I'll install the air pipe this summer.

So... a bit of a complication, but nothing big, and easily fixable. I'm especially happy to report that he people at Värmdö were very nice to a slightly befuddled, but well-meaning Texan over the phone.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Sooz sent me a gorgeous video about the island of Bullerö. It originally appeared on SVT a few years back. It's in Swedish, but even without the narration, English speakers can appreciate its beauty:

We haven't yet visited, although Janne has told us in the past about how pretty it is. The Stavsnäs boat taxi runs out to Bullerö, and they make a stop at Aspö as well! It'd be easy for us to spend a day there. If and when we go, there'll be plenty of photos on the blog, I promise.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Summer plans

I briefly mentioned our return plans in a previous post. Now things are set. We'll be back on July 1, and Grant will be joining us! He can't take much time off from work, so it'll be a brief visit. But it will be great to have him with us, even for just a few days.

Us retired folks will stay for most of July, however. The only big project we have planned is to paint the guest house. I've already bought the same linoljefärg to match the big house; it's sitting in Rutger's garage. It's a small enough job that we can do it pretty easily ourselves, I think.

Other than that, we plan to sharpen our boating skills and enjoy the community on Aspö!

Monday, June 1, 2015

A dozen years!

The birthday boy
Today is Ollie's birthday. He's reached the ripe old age of twelve. I seem to have mentioned most of his birthdays since I started this blog. Looking back, we've all been through a lot!

I am glad to report that he's still the same happy and handsome boy he's always been. A drawback of living in Texas is that it's not feasible for him to join us in Aspö for the summers. He stays at a great kennel while we're away, so we know he is well cared for. That said, we sure wish he was with us.

Perhaps he can celebrate his next birthday in Sweden? We can only dream. Today, though, he gets his traditional lamb chop.