Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain"

An interesting scientific study recently found that time spent in nature can make positive changes in one's mood and well-being.

I've certainly found this to be true in my time on Aspö. My connection to the environment around me there is much stronger than I've experienced before: what flowers are blooming, the different birds flying about, the crunch of a moose's hooves in the distance.

Perhaps the connection to nature, and one's fellow island residents, pushes away the stresses of a more fast-paced urban life?

That makes sense on an emotional level, but now we have scientific proof as well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Robot Garden

I written about a little device, the Click & Grow, which I bought to see if I could grow fresh herbs at the stuga. In 2014, I had a bit of success growing coriander.

I was going to grow basil this summer but I had a problem with the device. I was sent a new growing cartridge, but it arrived too late for me to start this year.

The Click & Grow people are working on a new product, called the "Smart Farm". The idea is to grow a whole lot of greens at once, in theory feeding a whole family.

I really like this idea. Sooz could have an extra countertop surface in the kitchen, and we could have a whole bunch of fresh greens year-round!

Right now, though, it isn't practical. We're back to spending just a week or two at a time at the stuga, not the longer periods we've spent the past few years, let along the whole summers of our retirement.

Another drawback of these products are the grow lights. The LED's used are very power efficient, and great for the plants, but they are bright. We one in our Texas home, and it's been banished to the laundry room as it fills the whole downstairs with light in the evenings. I'd probably have to keep it in the guest house, or the shed, which is a bit besides the point.

I am sure this technology will improve in the next few years, and it will be easy for me to become an indoor gardener!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


I read an interesting article recently on the BBC website about Västerbottensost, a very special type of Swedish cheese.

Because I love my cheese, I'm disappointed to say I can't remember ever having any. It sounds fascinating: a cheese that can be made successfully in only one specific location, for reasons unknown to science. Plus, it apparently tastes delicious!

I will make sure I find some västerbottensost the next time I'm in Sweden, and I'll report back to the blog.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Runmarö in the New York Times

My friend Rob forwarded me a fantastic article from this weekend's New York Times.

It's about the entomologist Fredrik Sjöberg, a longtime Runmarö resident, and unlikely bestselling author of books about native insects.

The article also describes Runmarö and its neighboring islands beautifully. I defy anyone to read it and not long to spend a summer in the archipelago!

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Annika told us about a grocery delivery service called Mathem (which translates literally as "food home".)

Like any big-city shopping delivery service, one can select pretty much anything sold in a grocery store and have it delivered to the door.

The cool thing about this service is that they deliver to the archipelago as well. Aspö is within the daily delivery area.  (That cute little photo is from their website.)

In theory, Sooz could shop by clicking online, and her goods would be delivered the next day to the taxi boat dock by our house. I say "in theory," because we were all set to give it a try, only to see a banner page saying their delivery boat was unexpectedly out of service! It was not going to be back operating until after we left, so we weren't able to test the service. (We have since heard that deliveries are back on track, and are working well for Aspö residents.)

Guns Livs will still deliver on the Waxholms boat. We successfully did that over 5 years ago. (I even found a picture of that delivery!) And of course, with our own boat, we can pop over to Nämdö whenever the weather is decent. One difference is that Guns has a limited selection of goods. Mathem  have a much wider range available.

The local Skärgården newspaper had a long article recently about Mathem's first summer. The idea originated last year from a group of islanders who approached delivery companies with the plan to deliver in the archipelago. Mathem, who already deliver in Stockholm, took on the idea. Service started in mid-June and was a huge success. In fact, a bit too much of a success; there weren't nearly enough boats to fulfill demand. The good news is that Mathem already plans to add more delivery boats and have a more robust service next year.

It is great to have a delivery option. I was getting tired of carrying heavy groceries on the bus, boat, and wheelbarrow. Having stuff delivered is a nice break, and it will make it a lot easier for us to go straight to Aspö from the airport without having to arrange an enroute shopping trip as well.