kareina: (house)
On Sunday we managed only two batches of concrete for the earth cellar, as that was how many bags we had left from last year. (Or was it the year before we last bought concrete? Either way, those last few bags were not the best--despite being stored inside the shed under a tarp they still had been exposed to sufficient moisture to cause clumps of very solid concrete to be in the bags, meaning that we had to break them up before use. an by "we" I mean "he" this time, since he was the one that was wearing the breathing mask--no way was I going to be breathing concrete dust if I could avoid it, and since it was really a one person job I didn't bother going to get a second mask, but kept myself busy with other tasks elsewhere when he did that.

The store where one can purchase concrete locally is closed on Sundays, probably because they cater more to business purchases from companies in the construction industry than home improvement hobbyists. However, they open at 07:00 on weekdays, probably for the same reason, so we got up early Monday morning and bought another ten bags. Then we did a Major grocery shopping trip, stocking up on lots of stuff to feed David's hungry brothers when they take working breaks. After that we finally managed to get the walls of the earth cellar as high as they are going to be yesterday afternoon (using three of those ten bags of concrete). There are a few detail things to be done near the earth cellar door, but it is basically ready to start work on the roof.

Monday evening two of David's brothers arrived, with toys. Per drove up from the south of Sweden, with his digger on the bed of his lorry, dragging a huge trailer, which carried his rather large tractor, and a smaller, but still really huge, trailer that the tractor can pull. On the way he stopped and picked up Gustaf (who lives only 2 hours south of us).

I was a bit confused when they arrived, because when I went out there was the lorry with the digger, and the tractor with its trailer, but no sign of the large trailer I had heard would be involved. Then they explained that rather than trying to deal with dragging that really huge trailer down the hill and around the sharp bends in the neighbourhood the stopped at the entrance to the neighbourhood, disconnected the trailer, and Gustaf drove the tractor and its trailer off of it and to the house, while Per drove the lorry and digger. First they unloaded the digger and unhitched the trailer and emptied all of the digger accessories and other toys that they brought with them.

Then we walked up the road to the first sharp bend in the road, and they looked at the lay of the land there. They decided that the two branching off streets made it possible to hook the lorry back up to the trailer, bring it to the bend in the road, unhook it, then hook up the tractor to the trailer, push it backwards down one side street, then pull it forwards down the road to our house, where they could park it in the yard behind the house (which is to say the side towards the road, because the people who built the house had the good sense to face the house towards the pretty view of our field and the water at the end of it). This all sounded complicated to me, so when we returned home and the boys hopped into the lorry and tractor to make it so, David and I ran up the hill to the corner so that we could watch the process.

(Side note: I remember when I first moved in with David, 6.5 years ago, that I couldn't manage to run more than a very short distance, couldn't keep up with him, and got quickly out of breath. My fitness training has NOT included a running component, yet I had no problems with that short run).

Once the hooked up the trailer to the tractor Per asked Gustaf we could ride back, and when he said yes we three climbed up onto the trailer. The boys started out standing, but I am not accustomed to being on a trailer that huge, with no sides, being pushed backwards by a tractor, so I started out squatting, hands pressed to the trailer bed. But, by the time he got it completely backed up and was ready to drive forward I had gotten comfortable, and was able to stand up and walk around as the others did. It was actually helpful for Gustaf to have us up there, as it gave the other two a very clear view over the sides of the trailer to see if our tires were clear to miss the deep ditch at the side of the road, and let him know if he needed to make any adjustments.

We all sat up talking till pretty much midnight, and then we got up at 06:00 for breakfast and were out the door to begin the day's work at 07:00. They went straight to the heavy equipment, and I went and pulled tall grass out of the smultron patch, so I could see where we do and do not have smultrons growing. I only worked for something less than an hour, and then I went inside to start cooking, and spent the rest of the morning making yummy food for them.

They started in the area behind the sheds, which has been a very irregular, and extremely rocky surface, with some of the rocks covered with mosses and plants, and others visible. The goal was to make it a flat surface, sloping very gently away from the sheds so that rain would run towards the ditch instead of the buildings. In addition they were to put in a road from that area, between the trees and down to the field.

I am really surprised at how quickly and efficiently they are accomplishing these goals (because I have never really had an opportunity to watch a digger in action). They divided the labour with Per driving the digger, Gustaf driving the tractor, and David standing, in the rain, with the surveying equipment to tell Per how much deeper he needed to go, and, when he removed rocks that were so big that he went too deep, how much fill he needed to put back. One of the rocks they found was so big that they couldn't move it with the digger, so they paused to use the really, really big drill that Per had brought with him to put a few holes in it, and then split it into two still quite large pieces.

Among the accessories Per brought along was a brand-new sifting scoop for the digger, which lets him pick up a scoop of mixed dirt and rocks, shake it a bit, and soon he is holding only those rocks that are larger than about 20 cm wide. This is a very useful tool. Now the area behind the sheds is smoother than our front lawn (which is still smooth enough to drive a lawnmower over), we have a road to the fields (which has been well trampled by the tractor and trailer full of rocks), and they have dug the pits to fill with gravel for the supports for the container.

I went back out in the early evening to transplant smultron from the area to the left of the shed so that when he levels that area tomorrow or the next day we won't loose the berries. Now, at 20:00, they are finally done for the day, and enjoying the late dinner that Caroline cooked for them (I did lunches and fikas).

Tomorrow will probably be just as busy...

Edited to add: and after dinner they went back out to work some more! Now they are leveling what will become the archery range, between the field and the black currant bushes. It may be that there are better brothers out there somewhere, but David has some of the best brothers I have ever heard of.
kareina: (stitched)
Today was reasonably productive--I managed to finish putting away everything from the event, did four loads of laundry, and spent a fair bit of time on projects.

This morning's project was replacing the (somewhat embarrassing) paper and duct tape liner for the nice wooden box in which we keep pins with one made of wool. I had made the paper one right after we bought the box, so that the pins wouldn't scratch up the wood, and to have something between the pins and the hard drive magnets we use to keep them in the box. Now the magnets are sandwiched between two layers of wool, and the box is fully lined. This took just over an hour and was clearly a task that I could have done at any point in the last year or so, but I had so much other stuff that really was more urgent, so I never got to it.

I also put in another hour or so stitching on my beard--the bottom part of my chin is now nicely covered. It is starting to look like it really will be possible to finish this before the event I need it for (just over a month from today).

And this evening I finally managed to start the embroidery part of the embroidered applique that is going onto the sexy viking cloak I started sometime before November of 2012 (I know this because that was the month I mentioned the "cloak in progress" in an email to a friend). I have no idea how many hours the first few steps of the cloak took (basting the lining to the main fabric, sewing the tablet woven trim to the cloak edge, and doing a tipple row of decorative running stitch around the edge of the fabric), but so far I have put in about eight hours into the embellishment, just over three of which were spent embroidering the face onto the cat.

I also watered the berries and ate the 10 or 20 smultrons (wild strawberries) that have ripened in our yard. Yum!

[livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar was also productive today. It was his first day back to work after his summer vacation, and while there he got to talking to one of his colleagues, who has been doing a major project in his yard. The colleague has had a problem with deep puddles forming on his yard every time it rains, in part due to the clay rich soil and regolith in his yard. Therefore he has installed a drainage system, and in the progress generated a large pile of dirt, stones, etc. that he wanted to get rid of. He had planned on shoveling it onto his trailer and hauling it to the part of the tip (or "dump" for the Americans who read this) one load at a time. However, that was going to take a long time, since he would need to load the trailer one day after work, haul away that load the next, and then repeat. So [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar said that he would be willing to bring the tractor over and help out, in exchange for being able to take the dirt back to our place instead of sending it to the tip.

Therefore, as soon as he finished eating dinner today he attached the giant trailer to the tractor and drove off. He returned a couple of hours later and dumped the dirt (which totally filled the giant trailer!) onto the area that we plan to put the new shed once we re-assemble it. He would have promptly smoothed out that pile, but I noticed that there is a bunch of still green sheets of grass in the pile, and the part of our yard we leveled last autumn still doesn't have much grass growing on it, so I suggested we wait and give me a chance to rescue the newly imported grass and see if it is willing to grow in our yard.

His timing was perfect though--after he dumped the load the storm that had been threatening to arrived started rolling in. I had just enough time to sweep the last traces of dirt from the bed of the trailer before it started raining (with thunder and lightening) hard enough that had the dirt still been in the trailer it would have quickly become mud. So we went inside, and shut off the computers so that any electricity surges from the storm wouldn't be an issue, and he took a nap while I did the above mentioned embroidery.

Now it is way past any reasonable bed time, so I should put down the computer and do my yoga (which will be my first exercise of the day--I appear to have forgotten the plan to go for a walk) so that I can head to bed and get some sleep.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
This morning I completed the last major task for my report: burning the dvd with the data, reports, 3D model, and geochem graphs, and packaged it up in a box along with the samples and paper copies of the reports--all ready to turn in to my colleagues at the mine. Yes, it would also be nice to do a paper for publication, but that doesn't need to happen this week. Yes, I should finish converting the spreadsheet full of sample collection information into the format it needs to become one with their database. But those are minor details compared to wrapping up the project itself, and I am very pleased to be done, and before the month is over, too.

To celebrate I came home at lunch time, and after eating I went out to the field and rescued some strawberry plants that had been growing too tightly entwined with other plants to have been moved to the new strawberry patch by the house (A. the new patch is full, and B. we took only those berries that had been growing in the part of the old patch that was still only berries and the black plasticy cloth that is meant to keep other plants from growing in between the berries). While that cloth worked well in the center of the patch, other plants had done a good job of colonizing the edges of the patch, and, of course, many strawberry plants had managed to take root outside of the patch proper (they do that). However, since I don't want them to all get plowed under when [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar brings his dad's tractor and the (now repaired) rotating field-smoothing device, I have moved them all to a place at the bottom of the field, next to a nice large rock. That boulder will be just the thing to lay down on drape oneself over while eating strawberries, and I figure those berries that were thriving well despite being tangled up with other plants deserve to keep growing.

We can freeze most of the berries from the patch by the house, and the lower patch can just be for grazing while out enjoying the day. Many of the berries, both the ones I moved today, and in the new patch by the house, are now in flower, so it won't be too long before we have fresh strawberries again. Good thing too, since the last box of last year's frozen strawberries is now nearly empty.

I only spent about an hour rescuing berries before I was too hot and sweaty in the bright sun in the middle of the field, so I called it done for the day (after four wheelbarrows full of berries had been moved), and, after a short break for some quality time with a book and a snack, I went out to the alleyway leading to the earth cellar and begun the project of getting it smoothed out and sloping only the amount we wish it to slope and putting down the large paving stones we got from his uncle.

Another hour work there saw the first three paving stones set into place the way we want them to be--each one sloping just under 1 cm from the upper point to the lower point, and the next located ~10 cm away, with its upper point the right amount lower that the slope continues unchanged. (To accomplish this I have taped a small block of wood to one end of the level, so that if the bubble indicates that the level is level when it sits on the paving stone(s) then they are slopping the correct amount.) This task is much easier than it might have been, thanks to a bit of weaving I did:

dirt sifter

We made this sifter to separate the rocks out of dirt last week, using some scrap wood, some tines from a cheap rake that didn't hold together after the first use, and some scrap metal from an old computer. It isn't large, but it is as big as we could make it using those rake tines (the handle we attached to a pitch fork head that the previous owners had left here, so while the rake turned out to have been useless as a rake, the parts have all come in handy for other things, so we haven't lost the cash we spent on it), and it turns out to be plenty big enough for this project.

I had tried a week or two ago to set the paving stones in without using the level to check my work, and as a result had gotten too enthusiastic in how much sloping was happening, and I wound up with a low spot in the walk way that, now that I am measuring, turns out to have been several centimeters deeper than it needs to have been. Therefore I am sifting dirt onto the low spot to build it back up to the appropriate height, but without those rocks that make it hard to get the paving stone to sit perfectly.

I am enjoying this project, though after an hour working on it I was quite ready for another break, so I came in a curled up with my book, and finished it. This makes 15 books read so far this year—still a very small number compared to before moving to Sweden, but it is the most books read in a single year since switching to reading fiction in Swedish, and the year is only half done. Granted, part of what helped that was this book and the last are both re-reads—the Swedish versions of The Little House in the Big Woods (Det lilla huset i stora skogen) and The Little House on the Prairie (Det lilla huset på prärien).

I have always loved those books—they are heavy on explaining how things were done and what everyday life was like in that time, with just enough story to hold it together, and they are great for someone who is trying to learn the language, because it is full of so many useful words.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
...and this is a good thing, because I have ever so much I need to do for work! I have deadlines of 1 November for both an abstract for a January conference and a grant proposal and I really want to be playing with my 3D models now that I have half again as much data to work with as I had last week AND I finally have the structural geology model for this area working in my modeling program--this means that I can model changes in the rock type due to alteration separately for each fault block and compare that with the models made for all of the blocks as a single package. In addition to all that I also agreed to supervise students taking an exam next week, since many others in the department who would normally do this need to be out of town.

In other news last night we combined dance practice at the uni (which is set to happen alternate Thursdays) with SCA sewing/crafts night (which normally happens on the other Thursdays at a location in the city center). However, their normal site isn't available next week, so they moved that session to this week, and then decided to join us at the uni instead because a couple of the dancers wanted to to both. This went very very well, and I am going to invite the crafts people to join us every time we have dance, if they feel for it.

I am someone who normally longs for winter all summer long--I love snow and crisp cold weather. However, this year, with all of the projects in the yard, I have been hoping for more summer, since we just aren't getting them all accomplished as quickly as I would like, which is not surprising, given how many different outdoor projects we have going at once:

*dig up and replace electric cable to the septic system, since the old one died last winter, and we don't really care for the above-ground extension cord that has been in use ever since. Status: close to done, the digging up and burring of the new cable is done, but we still need to hook it up inside the house so we can get rid of the above ground temporary fix.

*Earth Cellar. status: IN PROGRESS. All the walls are at least thigh high, the concrete rings for the door and interior cabinets are in place, the dirt and gravel fill behind the walls is done to the height of the walls, the inside floor has been covered with gravel and a large concrete slab that was lying in the yard. Sadly, we have to return his dad's tractor at the end of this weekend, so we have only tonight and perhaps Sunday morning (Saturday is fully booked with a mini gaming con and birthday party) available if we want to put any more of the large rocks into the walls. After that we can do only rocks small enough to move by hand, and then only till we start getting freezing weather at night--I don't really want to deal with wet concrete freezing and thawing.

*Stairs to earth cellar. Status: Done and beautiful!

*Terraced garden area beyond the earth cellar. Status: next year's problem, some tractor work to level out the bottom terrace has happened in the early summer (while we were waiting for the delivery of the gravel needed for the earth cellar project). The bare dirt of that level has been completely overgrown, mostly with nettles. Will require work another summer to go anywhere with it.

*cobble stone and cement block walkway to the house. Status: IN PROGRESS: one third totally done. Remaining cement blocks all set in place, and half of them dug in and awaiting their accompanying cobblestones. However, this one is, again, on hold while we try to do a bit more earth cellar work--even after we start getting freezing at night (which will put a stop to playing with wet cement in the earth cellar) it will still be warm enough during the day to dig room for the cobble stones

*Gravel path from the driveway to the bicycle shed. Status: Done! (this week)

*widely spaced cement block walkway going from the main, pretty walkway over to the sheds. Status: IN PROGRESS: cement blocks set in place, but only the two that fall into the gravel path from one shed to the driveway (those stones lead to the other shed) have been dug into place.

*large stones to frame curve of the driveway. Status: Done! Set in place between the lamp post and the house, look beautiful!

*leveling & re-sloping of yard to get rid of mud puddle locations. Status: Done! now we need the grass to grow back.

*re-burring the electric cable to the shed now that the yard has been leveled. Status: mostly done, just need to do the last couple of meters close to the shed, where there is still grass because we never took a tractor to that part (the new burial path is very different from the old one, because we now want it to go to the other shed first, since that is were we will put the split to also run electric to the earth cellar). Needless to say, we also still need to put in that splitter, and we will also put in a light switch to the second shed, so that we don't have to plug in the light every time we want to turn it on.

*raspberry patch. Status: done! canes brought over from the home of a colleague (where they had been growing outside of the box their parent canes lived in) and put into a box here with lots of cord strung between uprights to help them stand up despite the frequent winds we get here.

*smultron (wild strawberry) patch. Status: done! all smultrons which had been growing where the hole for the earth cellar now is were safely transplanted to over by the shed. Those plants forgave us enough to feed us many yummy berries. Those plants that had been growing where the stairs now are have been relocated to places surrounding the stairs. One particularly cute bunch of them now grows in the hollow surrounded by the rocks at the curve of the stairs.

*strawberry patch. Status: next year's problem, still where the neighbour left them when he moved most of his berries out of our yard because we would be taking a tractor to the field. The long term plan is to move them to the above mentioned terraced garden. Someday.

*leveling the field. Status: next year's problem,didn't get so far due to the accessory for the tractor for breaking up soil having turned out to have broken (pulverized) bearings. However, many high spots were scooped up to provide dirt for leveling the upper yard.

*archery range. Status: next year's problem, not even started at all.*

*wider parking area. status: close to done, he used the tractor to bring up some dirt to level out the area to the left of the two car parking area, so we now have a flat space three cars wide for parking, but that part will need gravel, and, some other year, it will be nice to do a ring of large stones around the parking area and add a second pillar to plug cars in during the winter.

Hmm. Looking at the list, and how much more time I have spent outside compared to all the other summers of my life, it is no wonder that I have had more annoying bug bites than ever before. It turns out that while mosquito bites don't bother me for more than 20 minutes max, the tiny little biting gnats leave holes in my skin that get hard, painful lumps under them that bother me for two to three days. Nasty things, that I will be glad to be rid of when the snows come. Have I mentioned how much I love winter? So, I am looking forward to my favourite season, but not looking forward to how many of these projects will need to go on hold till next year. And life won't even slow down when winter comes, as the list of indoor projects we want to get to is just as long...
kareina: (stitched)
Not that I was without internet, mind you--I have a smart phone, and a tablet (wi-fi only), but I have hardly touched a real computer since my last post, which was sometime before I departed for the conference, so if I am going to try to catch up on what has been happening, I had probably better start with that.

The conference was for the Society of Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits (SGA). My boss is the president of that organization. Therefore, when I suggested to him some time back that since the sessions directly or tangentially related to my current research project were limited enough that I could save the department money by attending only the first day (when the 3D model session in which I had a poster was meeting) he replied that I should attend the full conference.

However, the conference is in Uppsala, which is near enough to the "Stockholm" Arlanda airport that I was able to book my flight there on Monday morning and arrive on site before the opening ceremony (but I did miss the "ice-breaker" on Sunday evening).

I was glad that I did, because it meant that we could drive to Storeforsen on Sunday and have an adventure. We had a houseguest that weekend--one of my Finnish cousins, K, who lives in Helsinki, had been in southern Sweden to visit his parents (who moved to Sweden in the 60's and never left, but raised him tri-lingual, so he opted to move to Finland as an adult) and decided to do a train trip north, with a stop here to visit me, then bus to Happaranda, walk over the border to Finland, and train down to Oulu to visit cousins there before heading back down to southern Finland. When asked what he wanted to do he suggested "wildlife or nature", which made the choice of adventures easy. Storeforsen is Europe's largest rapids, and is a very pretty area. Highlights of the day include eating wild blueberries, scrambling around on rocks, and swimming in a lovely, quiet, peaceful side channel of the river that goes through a lovely rock canyon. That water was cold, so I am glad we found that wetsuit in a second hand store this spring--makes swimming ever so much more fun to not be cold and to keep the sun off my skin.

The conference itself was busy, and fun. I attended interesting sessions, visited with colleagues I already knew, met some interesting people, and actually spoke to a fair few about my research during the poster session. Diversions while I was there included meeting up with [livejournal.com profile] liadethornegge for lunch and museums on Tuesday (thanks! It was fun!), meeting up with [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's brother and his wife and kids for dinner and hanging out till after midnight on Wednesday, and meeting up with another SCA friend, C, for lunch on Thursday before heading to the airport for my flight home.

Got home Thursday night, and Friday I celebrated having a real kitchen and oven again by spending the morning baking--we did pasties, bread rolls (with almond meal in them, yum!), and an oven pancake with broccoli and carrot in it. Then we hopped in the car and drove to Skellefte, where we stayed with some SCA friends who also do "Lajv" (the Swedish word for what we call "LARP"). Since [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors talked [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I into trying that this autumn we spent much of the evening learning about the world we are going to go pretend to be a part of.

On Saturday we drove further south to Umeå, where we stayed with friends of [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors and baked plain oven pancakes to eat with jam and cream, yum! I also taught them how to cook fresh artichoke and eat them with butter, lemon, pepper, and rosemary.

On Sunday we returned to Skellefte, where we visited another SCA friend, who has been storing some of [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors's stuff while she is in France for uni, and brought it back here so that she can use it at that Lajv this September.

Monday I mostly relaxed, but Tuesday and Wednesday I went into the office to work, since [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar said yes to the "I know you are on holiday, but can you please come in and fix some stuff anyway?" question, and it was good to catch up on post-conference correspondence and turn in receipts and such. I also got my last set of thin sections, which is exciting, but I so don't have time to actually look at them, given how much else I need to be doing for work as soon as our vacation is over.

Last night I finally found the time to start setting the stones for our walkway into the ground, and I am very happy with how it is looking, and am looking forward to being done with all of it. Granted, the last half of it can't be done for a while--we don't want it in before we finish driving tractor over it, and that won't be done till we are done with the earth cellar and rest of the landscaping (changing the slope of the land so that water drains away to the far side of the sheds (we have already gotten rid of the huge puddles we used to get in the walkway to the house, but more needs to be done)

Today he went in to work "for a little bit this morning", and I am taking advantage of a sunny day to was the bed sheets, but it is nearly time to take the next load outside, so I will close this, and if he doesn't come home early enough to do earth cellar work with me (they made some progress on it while I was at the conference, but we haven't had a chance to touch it since) I will do more work on the walkway--I can still do a fair bit before I get to the part the tractor will need to be driving over.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Oops--more than a week since last I checked in here. I know that I have often thought of typing up our adventures (mostly in the lines of home improvement), during that week, but, somehow, I have been just busy enough that it hasn't happened.

Last week Friday some of our folk dancing friends were holding a garage sale, so we took a long lunch break and dropped by for a cup of tea and to "halsa på" as they say here. However, they had a few things that looked useful, so, for 190 SEK (about €22, or $29 US, or £19 at today's exchange rate), we went home with a pick-axe, a birch bark backpack, lots of crochet hooks, a set of four soup bowls, a sleeve ironing board, and a clear glass solitaire game board with blue marbles. We spent nearly nothing for that pile of loot, and they are rid of some of their grandparent's things they don't need, so everyone is happy.

That evening we drove down to his parent's house, and returned the huge yellow jordfras (rotary cultivator) that we had hoped to use to smooth out our field. However, at some point before we borrowed it someone had failed to oil it. When he went to use it he added oil, and it just poured back out. So he took it apart and discovered that one of the sets of bearings had been destroyed--instead of having round steel balls in that casing there was just steel powder and chips. I didn't know that was possible, so it was fascinating to see. However, after consulting with his dad they derided that rather than us trying to find parts and fix it we should take it back to him and he will decide after he looks if he wants to fix it or not.

So, after work we rented a trailer (picked it up just after 19:00) and did the 45 minute drive south with the cultivator. They used the tractor to lift it onto the trailer, and at the other end they just tied it to the roof of the shed, and then hoisted it up and drove the trailer out from under it, while I sat inside and visited with his mother (I am pleased to report that my Swedish is getting good enough that I can now converse with her when he isn't around to help with translations). Then we drove with the trailer another 30 minutes south to their property in Hemmingsmark, where they have some storage containers (and where we went for the wood cutting adventure. There we loaded the trailer up with the cement mixer and a bunch of solid lumber boards that will be useful for lots of outdoor construction projects at our place, since they have been stored outside, and are already quite grey with age. We didn't arrive at Hemmingsmark till around midnight, and thus didn't get home until 03:00. Needless to say, we did NOT unload the trailer that night! (Luckily we'd rented it for 24 hours, so we didn't need to.) Instead we just did yoga/stretching and went to sleep.

Saturday we slept in (duh!) and then unloaded the trailer, returned it, and then organized the lumber (and the last load we had brought back some weeks before) and built a shelf to hold much of it over the wood pile. We still need to do another shelf to hold the rest, but that can wait.

Once that was done we returned to the yard-work in progress--I took up the rest of the old walkway (I had started that a few days before) and he used the tractor to do some sculpting in the yard--raising areas that were too low and lowering areas that were too high so that instead of getting puddles when it drains the water should just run away. We rescued some of the grass from the areas he was changing by putting it down in chunks where the walkway had been. It is kind of lumpy just now, but it may well get moved again before the project is done, so we aren't being too fussy yet.

On Sunday we rented a trailer again and drove back to his dad's house, where we loaded a bunch of wood that his dad had left over from building the new shed onto the trailer and hauled it away for him--this pleased him as he now has room to put the motor home back into the garage and he didn't need to drive it the 30 minutes south to their property in Hemmingsmark, and it pleased us as we have more wood for projects we want to do, nice new, fresh clean boards this time, suitable for indoor projects we have in mind, and we didn't have to drive the extra 30 minutes south to Hemmingsmark to get it from there.

The week slipped by quickly between work during the day and more progress on the yard work in the evenings. We couldn't do anything further with the earth cellar because we were awaiting the delivery of a load of gravel. That was finally delivered by our neighbour with the tractor on Wednesday evening. Thursday evening we were too tired from a week of yard work to do anything with it, so we didn't start work on the next stage of the earth cellar till tonight after work.

Therefore we haven't gotten very far with it, but we have spread gravel in a thick layer across the bottom and then he used the tractor to bring in some large rocks and medium sized rocks to build the walls out of. We have started the building part and now have part of the first row of rocks for the back wall in place and cemented together with small rocks tucked into the gaps between to fill out the cement. We worked till we had used up the first batch of cement (two 25 kg bags, to which we added a scoop or two of gravel), and then decided we were done with that part for the day. However, it is Sweden in the summer, so, of course, daylight was still good, so we also took the time to use some of those old boards we got from his dad's property to build an A-frame roof to put over the earth cellar and we covered that with a couple of large tarps. It has been raining fairly regularly recently, and we had noticed that some of the dirt sides to the hole where the earth cellar is going had started to wash down small bits of mud and earth. Neither of us wishes to see that actually give way and fall into the hole, so we are hoping that covering it will be enough to prevent that till we finish building the walls and filling in the space between the walls and the edges of the hole in the ground.

With luck we will have time and energy to make good progress on wall building the rest of the weekend, so if you don't hear from me the next few days, you will know what I am up to...

In other news, I managed to get a good draft for the poster I am presenting at a conference in early August done, and sent it off to my colleagues for comment. That eases a fair bit of work stress, so I am free to focus on the projects at home. speaking of which, when we haven't been doing yard work or fetching supplies for projects I have also made time to do other projects. I managed to finish up a small tablet weaving project that I started at the European Textile Forum in 2010! A UFO no more--it is now complete! No idea what I will do with it--it is a short length suitable for a learning project, and it has a fair few mistakes in it that I opted to live with, rather than undoing, but boy it feels good to have gotten that one done.

In fact, it felt so good that I was inspired to start a new tablet weaving project, and chose project number 3 from the book Applesies and Fox Noses: Finnish Tablet Woven Bands, which has a much easier turning pattern than the project I just finished, but takes way more cards. In fact, when I checked my card stash I didn't really have a good option for that project--I have a dozen small horn tablets, and 8 even smaller and much thinner wooden ones, and the eight largish cardboard ones that came with the just completed project. That pattern needs 22 tablets, which would mean mixing them up.

But then I remembered that when I was in Tassie I started a set of wooden tablets while visiting a friend's woodworking shop. We got as far as using his power tools to cut the blanks and drill the holes, but I never did the sanding and finishing. So I checked that UFO, and it turns out that we made 24 tablets, which is more than enough for the weaving I want to do next. Therefore, instead of working on weaving I am now doing a little sanding each day. Will take weeks at this week to get them all smooth enough to work with, and really, the wood is nice enough I kind of want to make them perfect, instead of just smooth enough, but, then again, I also want to do the weaving, so perhaps not...
kareina: (BSE garnet)
I have been working from home for the past couple of weeks, and the first handful of days I was very, very productive and worked longish hours, but yesterday and the day before I accomplished more in the kitchen in the way of making yummy things to eat than I did at the computer doing uni work. Late last night it occurred to me that I really ought to bring my computer into the office and let it do a backup onto the H drive (I don't try that from home anymore, not since the LTU-sync program was discovered to be deleting files on my hard drive if it lost internet connection when it was meant to be syncing my data between the two drives), so I resolved to head in this morning.

It turned out to be a good day to be in the office, since the first email of the morning was from the financial dept of admin, letting me know that in addition to the scanned receipts I had turned in with the travel paperwork on the on-line expense report form that they also needed the original paper copies of the receipts, and could I please print the accompanying form and turn it all in to the "travel expenses" mailbox? So I did that straight away, and then finally got around to gathering up the samples I have been meaning to send off to become thin sections and gave them to my colleague (who was one of the few other people int he building, since most folk are already doing their summer vacation) so she could add hers and ship them off to Vancouver, BC, Canada (why there isn't some company that provides that service at a comparable price/quality of work closer I don't know, but I am told that this is the best option available).

I then spent the rest of the day happily working and was very productive. While cycling home it occurred to me that I am pretty much always most productive the first few days I switch which location I am working. I was pretty much useless the last few days I worked at the office, and then did lots when I switched to working at home, and now I was very productive today, and largely useless the last couple of days working from home. I have never thought of it that way before, but casting my mind further back, I suspect that the pattern holds, and I wonder if it has something to do with having spent so much of my life moving to new locations--there is nothing like moving to make me really keen to DO stuff (though in that case the *stuff* I am keen to do is "moving in". I will have to keep a watch for it, and make a point of switching between the office and working from home sooner--if I have even a slack afternoon at one I should try the other the next day, and see if that causes an overall increase in productivity levels.

Progress on the yard continues. We saw our neighbour with the huge tractor today, he had forgotten that we had asked him if he could bring us a load of gravel, but this time he has discussed with us what we want it for and we also got his phone number (and I finally learned his name!), so with luck he will bring it over soon, so that we can return to work on the root cellar in progress. (We want to put gravel on the bottom, add a floor and build the walls, put gravel between the walls and the earth, and then put on a roof and bury the lot under a small hill.) So, in the meantime, while we wait for the gravel, [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar has been using the tractor to clear away some brush and add terraces to the other part of the hill. When he gets those terraces nice and flat we will put rock walls on the edge of them, and then (next summer) we will put in raised beds for garden in that area, and build a bench seat around the tree that defines the edge of what will be the terraced garden area.

But doing tractor work is pretty much a single person job, so while he did that today I started the process of removing the paving stones from our walkway, so that we can put in a new, better, walkway where we think one actually belongs (the old one is too near the house, and has a weird jog in it, both of which makes it awkward to shovel in the winter). In the process of removing the paving stones I discovered the heart of an ant city, and learned that piles of ant eggs are kind of gross to look at, especially with all of the crawling normal looking ants and crawling bigger things with white wings hurrying everywhere over the pile when they are uncovered. Ewwww.

Normally I am not the kind of person who sees a need to kill over territorial disputes, but I am totally in favour of both abortion and birth control. Therefore I was very willing to take shovelfuls of eggs and their care-tenders across the yard and scatter them in the area behind the sheds where [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar has dug away the topsoil with the tractor (as part of the project to change the slope of the yard, so that the low places which had collected huge standing puddles at every rain when we moved in will have somewhere to drain to, and so we can walk across the yard without tramping through puddles during the wet time of year).

I do not know enough about the life cycle of ants to have any idea if doing this means that those eggs won't hatch and/or won't survive if they do, but I am totally in favour of any species which is so overpopulated as to require cities to cut back on their breeding till there aren't nearly so many of them, so I am not particularly troubled if that generation of ants doesn't make it. If they do survive, however, I hope that they do so because they move their city away from the house--we don't want their scouts coming inside looking for food (not that we ever leave tempting food out--we keep everything sealed in glass jars)
kareina: (stitched)
One of the nice things about home ownership is the part about "do whatever you want". Granted, sometimes, for budget reasons, one chooses a slightly different "want" that choice #1. I would love a hobbit hole. But I don't need one. But I think round doors into the side of a hill are totally cool. Root cellars are cool too (literally, also). When one hopes to hold SCA camping events on one's land root cellars are also useful--how nice would it be if people on site could keep food cool in an underground room, instead of in an ice chest?

Another thing on our wish list is a slight hill in front of our house to disrupt the wind flow. Right now (well, in the winter) the wind comes from the south east, rushes across the field, slips up the rise to the house, and creates snow-dunes that crawl across the paths we shovel, filling them, and requiring us to re-shovel the same path over and over again, even when no new snow has fallen from the sky.

Therefore we are combining these goals. We are using the tractor we borrowed from [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's father to dig a large hole in the slope in front of the house. However, before we did that it was totally necessary to rescue the smultron that were growing right were we wanted to dig. That went well, and the berries seem to be happy in their new location. The digging is also going well. Some times I am busy, and he does the tractor work on his own, but on those occasions it is sometimes necessary for him to get out of the tractor and do things by hand to make it easier for the tractor scoop to lift the rocks and carry them away. Therefore, as often as I am not too busy with something higher on the priority list, I am out there working with him. While he drives away the last tractor load to the ever growing piles of dirt and rocks, I am in the hole, loosening up the large rocks, brushing dirt off of them so that he can see if he can use the scoop, or has to switch to the forks to carry them away.

Needless to say, between the transplanting and rock-loosening, I am getting a decent workout!

But, sometimes thigns are higher on my priority list. Like today's furniture re-arranging. Anyone who has read my journal for long knows that I love re-arranging furniture. Today's episode was even better than normal. I have taken the rocking chair, which I have been using as a computer chair, downstairs, and we have brought up the recliner couch. I am now happily reclined in the office, typing on my computer, and loving it. And there is room for someone to sit next to me, too.

However, I have just noticed it is 03:00, and while it is a weekend, I should probably get some sleep anyway...
kareina: (stitched)
As one might expect for a country which extends so far to the north, midsummer is a rather important holiday. The holiday itself was Friday, the 21st, Midsommarafton. We spent it, as we have every year since I arrived in Sweden (this is my third midsummer here!) with the folk music/dance community. The day started with a gathering at the gillestuga in Gammelstad at 10:00 for a quick dance rehearsal, followed by lunch for all the musicians and dancers. Lunch ended just on time to head over to the open air museum in Gammelstad and raise the leaf-and flowered covered cross and lead the children (both large and small) in the traditional dances around the cross, followed by our dance performance. The crowd there to enjoy the beautiful day and the traditional activities was quite large (the number 7000 was mentioned by one of the other dancers, but I am not certain where she got it), yet I saw a few people I know in the crowd. However, I didn't have a chance to speak to any of them, since it was time to hurry over to a park near city center, and do it all again.

The crowd in town was noticeably smaller than the one in Gammelstad, so there was much more room for dancing, which was fun. As he does every year at midsummer [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar didn't dance with us, but instead ran the sound system for the music at the park in town, which he rather enjoys doing. I can't complain about losing my favourite dance partner for the day, since the man I wound up dancing with instead is one who has been a very good dancer since well before either [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar or I were born, and is always a pleasure to dance with.

After the second dance performance ended we took the sound equipment back to Gammelstad, and joined some of the other dancers and musicians for a dinner of leftovers from lunch (I had, of course, brought some food with me to eat between the provided lunch and dinner) and then we finally returned home some eight hours after leaving the house.

Soon after we arrived home [livejournal.com profile] liadethornegge arrived. She had spend the day in the area, and was going to spend the night at our place, to save having to drive back and forth two days in a row. It was lovely getting a chance to visit with her--we both tend to be too busy at events to slow down and talk much.

Our event started around mid-day on Saturday. I got up early enough to bake a large loaf of garlic bread (of the sort where one puts in many whole (or half, depending on how big they are) cloves of garlic into the bread so that they roast and become soft pockets of yumminess within the bread) that came out of the oven around the time the first of the other guests started arriving.

It was a lovely, low-key SCA event. We danced a little, sang some songs, worked on handicrafts, chatted, ate yummy food, and in the evening soaked in the shire hot tub (which we had fetched last week so that it would be available). We had around a dozen people, and a good mix of long time SCA people, people new to the SCA, and some friends from choir and folk music, too. Some are local, and some drove from as far away as Skellefteå (two hours south of here). One of the guys who came up from Piteå is merchant, from whom I had purchased some yarn at an event sometime in the last year or so. I am currently using that yarn to nålbind some socks, and they are about half as tall as I want them to be, but I am running low of yarn. So I emailed him this week and asked if he could bring me more. He did, and the price was so reasonable I bought another six skeins--so I should be able to make a few more things from it when this project ends. I love not needing to actually go shopping, but just have what I need show up when I need it, ready to purchase with no effort on my part.

We did wind up spending the day inside (except for hottubbing and using the bbq to cook), since it was a rainy & blustery day, but we had enough fun that I don't think anyone minded (well, save for the one friend who couldn't stay due to an allergy to the visiting dog. I had told another friend last week that he could bring his old, small, and well behaved dog with him to the event, since we had planned to be outside all day, and his dog is too old to be left home alone all day. However, when I woke up to the rain I had forgotten that the dog was coming too, and when they arrived I didn't feel I could ask him to leave the dog outside in the rain and wind, so I let him in (but insisted that the dog stay on the floor, which is easily cleaned later, and not the nice wool rug I use for a yoga mat). The dog was quiet and well behaved, so I didn't mind having him there, until a friend arrived who couldn't risk staying, since she is allergic to dogs. Sigh. I would have loved to have had her company, too, but she said she was content to go visit her grandchildren instead.

People wandered home early enough that we had the kitchen cleaned back up by midnight, and got to sleep at a reasonable hour. Today we started the part of the yard work we have been putting off till after the event--the root cellar! The area we want to build the root cellar happened to already have some of the lovely, tiny, strawberries that the Swedes call smultron growing on it, so I moved them (and the dirt they were growing on) over to the area next to the shed, while [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar used the tractor to do a bit more work on the lower part of our field. Once I had rescued most of the berries he brought the tractor up and started the digging, which involved alternating between using the forklift point to loosen and carry away single large rocks, and using the large scoop to carry away bunches of small stones and earth. I helped for part of this by using the huge steel rod to loosen up some of the medium sized stones to make them easier for the tractor to scoop up. Other bits of the project I was inside the house working on organizing stuff there. His dad's tractor isn't a huge one, so this process takes rather longer to do than it does to describe, so I had plenty of time to be useful in both ways.

We managed to do what is likely to be about half of the digging for the root cellar, and after that was done we also made time to bring in the ladder and finally hang the light above the stairs that has been sitting on the floor under the kitchen shelves for six months waiting for us to put it up. Granted, we still need to actually run electricity to that light, but that is progress, nonetheless.

Now I am curled up at my computer--first time I have touched it all weekend, and he is watching the Lord of the Rings on his, which, I must point, is somewhat distracting. I started typing at the opening prologue began, and now Frodo is waking up in Rivendel after his near death experience at Weathertop. Somehow I doubt that it would have taken me so long to type if he had chosen a less interesting way to relax....

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