kareina: (Default)
We had decided to focus on the earth cellar and other yard improvement projects this summer, so I am not at Visby's Medieval week with a huge number of my SCA friends in Sweden and Finland. Nor am I at Ffair Raglan with many of my SCA friends in the UK. Nor am I at WorldCon in Helsinki with [personal profile] hrj and E., another friend visiting the Con from the West, anot to mention some of my SCA friends in Finland.

However, this weekend is the one wherein the Luleå hembygdsgille does a bus trip to Norway, to Kalottspel. I wasn't certain if I would be able to go. When the announcement first came out I sent a message to the organizer saying "Would love to, but no idea if we will be done enough with the Earth Cellar for me to go, will check in later". Then I didn't think of it again till today, a full week after the registration deadline. So I sent him another message saying "any room left on the bus? No worries if not". He replied "No worries, I had a feeling you would join us so I have you counted in. I will send out some info tomorrow" So, despite being a flake and not actually registering on time, the fact that I sent the "can't register yet" note means that I get a (mostly) free trip to Norway, with good friends, where I will spend my time dancing.

While it does mean that I won't be available to help David with the next step on the earth cellar on Saturday (creating a level platform on the tree-trunk supports we have set up in the the earth cellar, upon which we will build the arched supports, on which we will do the stone and cement arch of the actual roof), he tells me he is good with that, and he isn't available on Sunday anyway, as he will be helping his dad do some work on their summer house.

I have been itching to see some mountains (not that they are so visible from the site of the event, but one drives through them to get to the event) and get to Norway, so I can't really pass up the chance, and it does make up quite a bit for all of the other fun things I am missing this week. (Why do we get only one body in any given day?)
kareina: (Default)
As I mentioned on Tuesday's post, the guys went back out after dinner and continued working, and didn't come back in to the house till after 23:00. Therefore they opted to sleep in on Wednesday, and we didn't get up till around 07:00. Once again we worked all day and then some--this time they weren't done till after midnight! I participated a little with outside work (transplanting berries, setting in stone steps, etc.), but spent much of the day inside the house cooking food for them to eat on their rare breaks.

Wednesday's yard-work accomplishments, roughly in order of accomplishment (some things happened at the same time, others happened in tandem--a bit of one, a bit of the other, etc.):

* clean out ditch at edge of field
* transplant more smultrons from area by shed
* dig up really big rock from the field
* look at, and re-bury an even bigger rock in the field
* put really big rock on top of the buried even bigger rock, so that no one ever tries plowing over that one* dig up two remaining bushes by shed and set in small tractor scoop for later replanting on other side of the house
* surround earth cellar with large rocks to support the dirt that will go over it* dig trench for earth cellar ventilation system
* install earth cellar ventilation pipes and bury them
* level area between shed and earth cellar
* dig down and level the start of a new terrace on the far side of the earth cellar between birch trees and raspberry patch
* set large rocks around the curve at the edge of the terrace to keep higher part of lawn from collapsing onto the terrace
* set/dig in stone steps to get from the upper lawn to the terrace
* start piling dirt and rocks between the earth cellar walls and the ring of stones
* use large rocks and dirt fill obtained from leveling elsewhere to extend the terrace several meters out towards the field
* extend the terrace extension along the side of the hill a bit and then down to create a place the digger can drive down off of the terrace


I was especially pleased with the steps. On Tuesday when I briefly watched him working on leveling the area behind the sheds, when he was at the stage of "use the grasping attachment for the digger to pick up the big rocks and put them in the trailer to be hauled away" stage there was one stone which caused me to say "oh, that would make a lovely addition to a set of stone stairs!", but, of course, I didn't expect to see it again, since there are so very many big stones, and they were being dumped in a pile and most would go into fill where needed.

However, as luck would have it, he happened to dump that particular load at the edge of the temporary pile or rocks, and that stone happened to fall directly onto the grass, with nothing else atop it. I saw it there early in the day, and made a mental note of it. They found a couple of other nice stones for steps when digging the terrace area, and set them aside for use as soon as we had the terrace flattened and ready for that part. While they were doing the the final bits of finishing the part of the terrace right next to the upper yard, packing dirt around the big stones that mark the transition area I took the rock-carrying cart down to the field and tried putting the stair step I had noticed onto it. Of course, it turns out to be just out of my ability to move on my own, so I waited till they had set in their first step (which is much longer than mine) and then asked David to help me fetch the one I had chosen. It was small enough that he was able to roll it onto the cart, and then we used the little drive-on lawnmower tractor (which, these days, is only a tiny tractor, as the thing that covers the blades has rusted off, and until he has time to fix it we can't use it as a lawn mower--so he removed the blades, too) to pull the cart up the hill to the stairs in progress. The rock was just large enough (and the ride on mower just small enough) that I needed to walk behind the cart and push in order to make it up the hill.

My chosen step is kinda triangular with a nice flat top and bottom, and one edge is a very nice width to make a good middle step, so we set it over their first step, with the point of the triangle dug into the hill behind the steps. Then we tried setting their rectangular third stair step on top of my triangle, just far enough back to leave a step-width of the triangle showing. However, this meant that the top step was 2 to 3 inches too tall compared to the nice level upper lawn. (Ok, upper packed & level dirt area, right now, but plants will grow on it, even if we don't encourage them.) Around the same time they found another, slightly smaller rectangle stone that would make a good step, but even it was just a bit too tall to stand atop my step.

Therefore I suggested that, since my step was triangular in shape, we just dig away enough dirt to set both of the rectangles behind the triangle, and we would have a bi-directional access to that step. Both David and Gustaf thought that there were too many rocks to bother digging anything, and they both moved on to other tasks. Undaunted, I first dug a place for the larger of the two top steps, and started trying to get the stone into it. Seeing me struggling with it, Gustaf came over and helped me set it into place, and it was a perfect fit--the length of the rectangle is exactly as long as that side of the triangle. Then we both noticed that it isn't a perfect rectangle (no surprise there, it is a stone!), but the edge towards where the other rectangle should go happens to be curved, and (this is the good part), the other rectangle happens to have a curved edge on the side that should face this one--at the two curves are perfectly complimentary! So we dug in the spot for the second stone, and, sure enough, its long straight edge is exactly as long as the side of the triangle of the step below it needs to sit against, and the two curves where the top two stones meet match up perfectly. I love it when that happens.

Part of the reason things went so late last night was the fact that sometime shortly after 18:00 the hydraulic cable that controls the digger's ability to use the grasping extension broke (normal wear and tear). Of course, both of the shops in town that sell such replacement parts for diggers close at 18:00, so we were out of luck and all large stones from then on had to be lifted by wrapping chains around them and attaching one end of the chain to the digger scoop to drag/lift them into place, which, no doubt, added hours to how long the stone placement part of the project needed.

It wasn't really an option to just quit and wait till 07:00 today when the shop opened again, because we had a different set of tasks for today's (Thursday) to-do list that are too important to skip before they move the base of operations to Gustaf's place to do some major landscaping there before Per has to drive south again in a few more days.

Since we didn't finish last night till after midnight, we slept in this morning, again rising around 07:00, and set to work. So far today (14:30) we have accomplished:

* pile more dirt and stones between the earth cellar walls and the ring of stones
* pile unused large rocks in a very tall decorative stack
* sweep dirt off of the stones edging the terrace
* fill the trenches which are to become the container base with gravel and use the compacting machine to get the gravel base suitably thick and solid

Now the boys have driven off to fetch the container from Hemmingsmark, after which I will feed them home-made pizza and they will unload the container and get it situated in its new home. Then they can rest for whatever is left of the evening before they drive two hours south to start Gustaf's yard work.
kareina: (Default)
I finished my last day of work before my summer holiday on Thursday, and was tired enough that evening that I went to bed at 22:30, and then slept for 10 hours! Later in the day I commented to a cousin of mine in a FB chat window that therefore I could tell that vacation had started. He replied that it wouldn't start till Saturday, and then he would have to work Monday anyway, and I was confused. Until I saw people posting about An Tir-West War, and realized that my cousin was talking about the holiday weekend in the states. I had totally forgotten that there was one there this time of the year, though, of course, if anyone had asked me "when is the US National Day and what is it called?" I could have answered correctly.

So this weekend many of my friends are off to one or another big SCA event, depending on which part of the country they are in, and my friends in northern Sweden are off at an SCA event in Sundsvall, and I am at home, happily working on projects. I would have loved to have attended the event, but we decided this winter not to do any SCA travel this summer and instead finish the earth cellar and do some major landscaping and other yard work. So I got my SCA fix this spring, and am content to work hard at home most of the summer (though, of course I will attend the local Medieval Days at Hägnan event in a couple of weeks.

Today David and I spent 6 hours working on the earth cellar, and now the walls are getting quite close to done:

earth cellar

We will work on it more tomorrow, and, if needed, Monday, and we will try to also accomplish everything else that needs to happen before his brother Per arrives on Tuesday, with his digger and tractor (his tractor is much larger and more useful than ours, probably also much younger, since ours is my age, give or take a couple of years). The goal is to have the walls completely done before he arrives, so that he can pile up huge amounts of dirt from other areas on the property next to the earth cellar, so that when we finish the roof (later this summer) we can easily transfer the dirt to the roof. He will also place a ring of very large stones (too big for our tractor) around the outside of the earth cellar, to form a base for the hill we will build atop it when the roof is complete.

One of the places he will get dirt and big stones is the area behind the shed, which we will have smoothed out and the slope changed so that the yard drains away from the sheds, instead of getting a small pond between them each spring when the snow melts (except for this spring, when most of the snow just sublimated instead of melting). He will also put in a road from the field to the area behind the sheds, and create a level area behind the sheds upon which we will put the container, which has been stored at their dad's property Hemmingsmark. I am not certain we need a container for yet more storage, but his dad has been clearing out that property, and I think he wants David's container gone. (David has already taken the things he had been storing in that container to our house, and his brother Gustaf, who also had stuff stored in that container (in addition to his own container) has gotten all of his stuff out of it, so it is empty and ready to load onto Per's truck (with the help of his own digger, plus their dad's digger). I am not clear how we are going to get it off the truck when it arrives, but they know what they are doing, so I am content to let them do it.
kareina: (house)
Today marks the start of our fourth summer of earth cellar work. When we had to stop working on the project last autumn, we had a very large stone that we had dragged near to the earth cellar with the tractor, and then managed to get it even closer with the pulley system we had, but it was only rated for 1 ton, and couldn't really handle getting it upright and into its final destination.

This week Kjartan managed to find a bigger, better pulley system for sale on blocket which can take 1.5 tons. Today was beautiful weather, so while I went to the Frostheim 25th anniversary party and fighter practice in the morning, I came home early so that we could test it out. It worked beautifully! With this tool I can lift the stone myself (leaving him free to hold the big steel rod that he uses to adjust the position of the stone as it gradually rotates and slides towards upright. Here is the "before" photo:

ready to move rock

And after we got it into place:

rock in place

On Tuesday (weather permitting) we will raise it just enough to put lots of concrete under it, and then settle it back into its permanent home. It feels so good to return to this project--and if we can manage a couple more of these huge rocks then the walls will be ready in no time and we can start on the roof.
kareina: (me)
On Thursday I noticed that vague feeling in the back of the throat that can signal that one might be getting sick, so I took a hot shower and made a point of sleeping in on Friday, when I had enough energy in the morning to do my workout, and still had energy in the early evening for acroyoga at Phire practice, but still felt kinda like I was on the edge of being sick, and after Phire my energy levels dropped, my nose started really dripping, and I took a hot shower (which helped) and went to bed early, waking up in the middle of the night for another hot shower (which also helped), and then back to bed, and then, at 04:00, I had enough energy that I got up and did my workout early, then went back to bed.

When I finally got up a bit after 08:00 I was feeling ok, but not totally healthy, but manged to accomplish useful stuff (including bringing more dirt from the field and manure from the pile at the far end of the field to the new raised beds for spinach and silverbeet that we are putting in in front of the office window), but by late afternoon my nose was drippy, my eyes hurt, and all I had energy for was reading (I finished the book I was reading), and I again went to bed early, after yet another hot shower (which helped), and again got up in the middle of the night for another hot shower (which helped).

Once again, I woke up with energy and did my workout at 04:00, took another hot shower, and went back to bed for another three hours or so of sleep. After breakfast [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I did some work on the earth cellar. We found and brought up a rock that perfectly fills the space between the wall and the beginning of the alleyway, that should make a perfect base for the really big rock we plan to put at the corner of the wall by the door, then we split the pointy bit off of the top of said really big rock (by using the concrete drill to drill holes in the rock, then setting steel rods into the holes and hammering them with a sledge hammer). We then tried to stand it upright to see if that was enough, or we need to make any further changes. However, this is a really big rock, which means that the process involves him using all of his strength/mass to use the steel rod to lift a corner a little bit, while I shove a rock into the gap, then switch to the other side and lift it a bit while I stick in another rock. Repeat, with successively larger rocks. We manged to get it lifted about 20 degrees, give or take a bit, but by then we were tired and hungry and needed lunch, so we will have to finish that job another day. That rock is so going to take a tractor to move into place--if it is this hard to lift, I don't want to try moving it.

That three hour session outside used up all of my energy, and my nose and eyes were worse, so I just took it easy till time for dance. I considered not going to dance, thinking that it was a cold, and not wanting to share a virus, but since we are now doing the rehearsals for our upcoming dance performances, and we have only as many dancers as we need for the dances, we opted to go in. When I told our teacher I was sick, and complained that the worst was the way it made my eyes hurt and sensitive to light, she wondered if I were also reacting to pollen.

By bedtime I was really miserable, so I took another hot shower, which helped while I was in it, but my eyes hurt again pretty much as soon as I was out of the shower. Therefore I started this morning by trying to find an open drug store. The first two I tired don't open till 09:00, but the one attached to the big grocery store out in the big-box store neighbourhood opens at 8:00 (I was there at 08:08). The lady there sold me a once-a-day allergy tablet, and now, a bit more than an hour after taking one, my eyes aren't nearly so red.
kareina: (me)
This week has slipped by very quickly--we have managed several four-hour sessions on earth cellar building, and are now nearing the point where we will be able to start building the framework for the roof. We have also managed to get in some yard work--the first few strawberries and smultrons are starting to ripen, he fixed the ride-on mower (again) and has taken it down to clear something resembling a path between the many black currant bushes, we transplanted a little plant with maple-leaves that had been growing just inside of the carport.

I remember seeing it there early last summer, and wondering if it was a baby tree (there are no maple trees any where in the neighbourhood), but then it got taken out, along with the grass and flowers also trying to grow in that area, when he took the weed-wacker to it. When I saw it again this summer I decided it was cute, and perhaps it should have a chance to live elsewhere. So I moved it to the little triangle of land between the walkways to the house and sheds. Then we set three large red granite old curb stones around it, so that he will remember not to run it over with a lawn mower, and so that none of the paths drift onto it when shoveling snow in the winter. It will be interesting to see if it grows up to be a bush, a tree, or what.

Yesterday afternoon we visited the other local laurel and his family, since [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had been helping him with some computer repairs, and the part he had been waiting for had finally arrived. They invited us to stay for dinner afterwords, which was lovely (especially as they eat early enough in the evening that I was still hungry!).

Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] lifeofglamour's reports of her regular fitness workouts I finally decided this week to look to see if there were a useful phone app that might encourage me to do a bit more exercise than I get from my daily situps, yoga, and concreting rocks into the earth cellar in progress. I am not inclined to use videos as she does, but I was willing to download one of the simple 30-day challenge apps that only provides a list of which exercises it thinks one should do on a given day, and an illustrated description of how to do them. I can now report that starting from "beginner, level one" (which, so far, is taking me 15 minutes to complete all the exercises for a day) is really easy if one is as active as I am, except for the squats. There is nothing like squats in my normal daily movement patterns, so that one actually gets me to break a sweat. Today was day three, and it involved 75 normal squats, and another 14 "wide squats". Makes me a bit concerned about what Advanced, level two will be like. However, if I do the app in order from the beginning, that is six months from now, so nothing I need to worry about yet.

Have I mentioned how wonderful my boyfriend is recently? As I sat here typing this he came in and did the vacuuming. How many other people have partners who do house work after 01:00 in the morning (or at all)? Now I hear him playing the piano in the next room, so I will post this and go enjoy it...
kareina: (house)
While that might be said about every day, this time we actually considered doing so, and even went so far as to drive across town and look at one that is for sale. It was a cute little thing, built in 1960. No where near as strong as the one we have been borrowing from [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad, but big enough to do some of the things we want in our earth cellar building project. However, after looking at it and messing with the controls, he decided that he would be too likely to break the tractor by asking it to do too much, and we are probably better off saving up a list of tractor tasks to be done, and when we have enough just rent a big one for a couple of days and get them all done quick.

I think one of the things that inspired me to look on line for tractors at all was having [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's brothers here visiting today. His eldest brother, youngest brother, their wives, and the three daughters of the first and the one son of the second all dropped by this afternoon for a visit, and to look at how the earth cellar is going. The boys had some good suggestions for continuing with the project, the most important of which means we are closer to putting on a roof than we had thought.

We have considered many different options for a roof, but the one that has been hovering at the top of the list for a while was to build the walls up as high as they will go, then build a flat frame over the middle, and hire a cement truck to come pour a flat roof (reinforced with re-bar) at one go. However, the eldest brother suggested today that one potential problem with that plan is that would mean that there would be more mass of the concrete roof at the edges, where it overlaps the walls, than in the middle of the earth cellar, and that there would likely be a difference in drying times for the edges vs the middle, and a difference in drying time could result in cracking, which is really undesirable.

Therefore we are now leaning towards the option of doing an arched roof of stone and concrete, built one section at a time. This means that the back end of the earth cellar, where the walls are already higher my shoulders, needs only one more row of rock and concrete before we can start building the wooden frame to support the arch for that part of the roof. This is a very exciting thought--even though the front end still has walls only about hip height, starting the roof on part of the project still has some serious psychological value in terms of feeling like progress.
kareina: (me)
April and May were particularly busy months for me, and included travel. As a result my exercise log got kind of behind. Not the basic data entry--these days I do that on my phone, but the excel spreadsheet where I actually tally up the number of hours spent on various activities and convert the data to graphs--that part didn't really get done during those two months. Since then I have managed to keep that part up to date for new stuff, and have, every so often, gone back and copy-pasted the older data into the spreadsheet. Tonight I finally finished all of that for those two months, to discover that while April was fairly typical in terms of my exercise levels, May was the lowest month since I started keeping the logs in Excel where I could see the graphs as they form. I strongly suspect that, had I been pulling that data into Excel and looked at the graphs as they were forming, I would likely have been a bit (ok, a lot) more active that month. Oh well, the logs are current now, and likely to remain that way--nothing like seeing a record low to inspire one to return to paying attention to that aspect of one's life!

We managed another four batches of concrete today, and, since today's rock were on the back side of the wall, we were also able to fill in lots of gravel and dirt behind the walls. (Why, yes, yes that does count towards the above mentioned exercise log.) Sadly, some of the rocks used today were particularly pretty, but no one will ever see them again, since they are on the back side of the wall. So it goes, and it can't be helped--there are far too many pretty rocks available for all of them to wind up in visible places in the walls (and, sometimes, rocks that aren't so pretty wind up in visible locations because that is where they happen to fit best).

While I was updating my logs [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar managed to do some maintenance on the ride-on lawn mower and make progress on the great computer stuff sorting project which has been filling the guest room. Not too much more needing to happen in there before it will be ready for mom's visit in September.

If it isn't raining tomorrow (or only does it lightly) we can make more earth cellar progress, if it is we can focus on other projects. Monday some friends are coming over for dinner, one of whom I have been discussing the possibility of her becoming my apprentice. I hope she says yes, it would be lovely to have a local apprentice.

Have I mentioned that I will be running Norrskennsfest in November? It is the big event of the year for the shire, and I am looking forward to it. We are looking at doing a day-time feast and bardic competition, in addition to some of the traditional activities.
kareina: (stitched)
Last week was Umasmedeltidsdagar, an SCA camping event which ran from Sunday evening through Thursday morning. Since it was happening during the week [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar couldn't attend, since his summer vacation starts this week (his company splits the summer in half such that half of the employees can take their holidays during the first half of the summer, the other half during the second, and the next year they switch, that way there is always someone on duty with the necessary skills to cover everything that has to be done). Therefore, Sunday afternoon saw me doing the not quite two hour drive to site on my own.

I arrived early enough that only the two autocrats and B, the visitor from the West were on site yet. We decided where I should put the pavilion, they stuck around long enough to help me raise the pavilion center pole (the only part of camp set-up I can't manage on my own), and then they all went to the summer house to get more things needed for the event, and I happy moved in to the pavilion. I have always loved camp set up--there is something fun for me in getting everything into place so that it looks nice and is well organized so I can find things quickly. (I also like moving into a new house.)

By the time I was done with moving in they had returned and others had started to arrive. The site for the event is a privately owned Lajv (Larp) village that some friends have built on their family land from old timber houses that other families wanted removed from their property--some houses they were given free because they came and fetched them, others the Ljav organization paid a low price to obtain. The site has no electricity, but there is an old fashioned well full of cool, clear, tasty water, and they brought in a hot tub for the occasion.

Therefor most of the people attending the event were staying in one of the houses--most in the bunk rooms above the main tavern/guest house, others in some of the smaller houses. There was one other pavilion set up on site, and one couple stayed in an RV, parked out of sight down the road a bit.

The weather was pleasantly cool and cloudy, and the ground was a bit wet from several days of rain before the event (which is why I set my pavilion on the highest ground I could find. On Tuesday it started raining, and rained most of the day, but Wednesday dawned clear. Early Wednesday evening I took my phone off of flight mode (batteries last much longer in flight mode) and checked the weather report for the area, which said that it would start raining around 01:00 and keep raining till 13:00 on Thursday. Noting that my pavilion had mostly dried off from Tuesday's rain, I decided to break camp early, and sleep in the loft above the kitchen that night.

This meant that I missed out on the pot-luck feast that the others enjoyed on Wednesday evening, but since I am never hungry in the evenings anyway, that didn't bother me. During the time of the feast I managed to get everything packed down and stashed in the tool shed, save for the pavilion, which we hung from the rafters over the balcony in the main tavern/guest house, so that it could dry a bit more. This meant that I was ready to be social again just on time for the bardic circle, which was so delightfully fun.

Even if we hadn't had a formal bardic circle I would have gone home from the event satisfied with the amount of music, dance and song that we had--there were only somewhere between 15 and 30 people on site (30 had booked, but a number had last-minute things come up so they couldn't make it), but most of us sing, I had my hammer dulcimer, one lady had her violin (she also played for dancing on Tuesday), and another a mandolin. There were three children on site--sisters ranging in age from 7 to 13 who, along with their mother, who directs the choir one of the autocrats sings in, sang, in beautiful harmony, with one another off and on all day every day. But adding in a bardic circle, which encouraged others, who don't normally sing out, to participate, made it even more fun.

Thursday morning I woke to the sound of heavy rain, and smiled for having had the foresight to pack away the pavilion. True to the prediction, it didn't really stop raining all morning, though it varied in intensity levels. I managed to get the car loaded up with my stuff, and the luggage of our Western guest, and she and I hit the road for one last tourist adventure before she returned to California.

First we drove to Storforsen, Europe's largest rapids, and a stunningly beautiful place. She put a video of the rapids on line, if you enjoy seeing the power of huge quantities of water rushing over rocks feel free to check it out.

Luckily we arrived there just as the rain stopped, so we enjoyed 40 minutes of wandering around the various smaller side streams and over the rocks without getting wet. Given how much rain we had had recently, I wasn't that surprised to see how much higher the water was everywhere than when I had been there a few weeks ago for the department meeting for work.

Then we took the road north towards Jokkmokk, stopping at the Arctic Circle for the obligatory tourist photo.

Then we finally wended our way back to my house, unloaded the car, and spent the evening hanging out with [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar before finally heading to bed rather later than was wise, given that we had to leave the house at 05:00 the next morning to get her to the airport for her trip home.

Friday I managed to get the last of the things unpacked and put away, and the now dry pavilion (left spread out in the shed Thursday evening, then spread on the gravel driveway in the sun Friday evening) has been put away ready for its next use, next summer sometime.

Saturday C arrived from Gothenburg and we had some hours to relax and hang out with her before we drove two hours to Burträsk for a folk dance, held in conjunction with their folk music festival weekend. We arrived at 21:15, thinking we were 15 minutes late for the dance, but it turns out that their schedule had been pushed back, so the dance didn't actually begin till 22:00, which gave them time to buy a quick burger from the stand run by the local folk music group.

The dance went till after 01:00, which meant that it was well after 03:00 before we were home. Needless to say, not much was accomplished Sunday, as I recovered from the SCA event, tourist road trip, and folk dance road trip. Today I went to work in the morning, and we have worked on projects in the afternoon. Tomorrow C has to return south again, and I work every morning for the rest of the week. Then I get two weeks off to work on projects at home--we hope to make good progress on the earth cellar. However, we won't be able to borrow his father's tractor this summer, since he bought the new house/farm, and has many things he needs it for. Therefore moving the large rocks will be a bit more complicated and time consuming. It will be interesting to see if it is still possible to finish it this summer without the tractor. Oh well, if it isn't his dad says that next summer he will be available to help with that project if still needed.
kareina: (me)
Now that midsummer has been and gone, and with it our obligations for folk dance performances we are finally free to return our attentions to the earth cellar in progress. We had planned to go shopping for concrete on Friday, but it rained all day, and we decided we didn't feel for bothering with tarps in hopes of keeping it dry for the trip home, nor did we want to re-assemble the trailer cover we had taken to Double Wars, but then had to remove for transport of other stuff locally.

Therefore we did the concrete shopping on Saturday, as well as purchasing a object designed to lure thousands of our least popular neighbours to a tedious death. I am not all that keen on killing over territorial disputes, and I have always believed the advice "eat what you kill", but dead bugs gross me out, so I won't even swat mosquitos, but [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar is also willing to kill things that want to eat him, and mosquitos love him, so he was keen to see if we could thus reduce the local population, so that they would leave us alone while we work on the earth cellar. He is totally willing to be the one to clean and empty the trap, since, as mentioned I am totally grossed out by pretty much phobic of dead bugs.

Sunday he wound up having to work several hours during the day, so we didn't start on concrete till the late afternoon, but that still left us time to do three batches, and make some noticeable progress on the earth cellar well. I am delighted that the project is going once again—I like building in stone.

After that I suddenly got hit with an inspiration for improving the organization in the house: First I took the many boxes of larp stuff that [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors has been storing here since she moved to France out of the downstairs closet. Then I put the large pieces of the loom that has been standing in the downstairs hallway into that closet (the smaller parts have been living under the small guest bed in the boiler room for ages, and I left them there). Then I took apart the newer loom we were given this spring, which we had set up in the guest room to check to see if all parts were present and accounted for (they were) and put the large pieces into that closet, and put the smaller bits under the large bed in the guest room. This left the corner of the guest room for [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors's stack of boxes.

Having thus emptied the hallway downstairs I was once again struck by the fact that the fuse box, which is mounted on that wall, sticks out in a rather ugly manner. I hadn't much noticed it with the loom bits standing next to it, and taking up as much width from the hallway as the fuse box does. However, this time I also noticed that the wall would look much nicer if we built a set of shelves onto it, surrounding the fuse box. We have been thinking lately that it would be nice to have an over-flow pantry somewhere downstairs, where it is cooler, but we had been stumped as to where—the server closet would have been a good place for it, if it weren't full of SCA stuff, camping gear, and computer stuff, and all of the other rooms are also kind of full. But that wall is space that is available. Therefore we now have yet another largish home improvement project we have added to the list. It will be interesting to see when it makes it to the top of the list and gets done.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
On Wednesday I managed to finish the last of the revisions to my paper that the reviewers suggested and emailed it off to my co-author. He had already warned me that he would be traveling all last week with poor internet access, so he wouldn't be able to look at it before Monday, so this meant that I got the rest of the week off. (It says something about Academia that in a summer when I am technically unemployed I am still working so many hours that I revel in 2.5 days off.)

I celebrated the time off by returning to the various outdoor home improvement projects that have been neglected the past few weeks. Thursday I managed to level out the pile of dirt [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had dumped in the area that will, probably next summer, become the home of the new shed we bought last autumn and haven't had time to put up. This is an area next to the driveway that had sloped a fair bit, so earlier this summer he used the tractor to frame the space with some large rocks (0.5 to 1.5 m wide) and then dumped the load of dirt and rocks he got from a colleague's yard (said colleague was grateful that we were willing to use the tractor and huge trailer to haul it off at one go, saving him many, many trips to the dump with his tiny trailer) there and smoothed it out with the tractor. Then, while I was off in Norway he added another scoop (or more?) to the area, and the last load was dumped right at the edge of those framing stones, such that much of the dirt had fallen down the outside of them and obscured the lovely rocks from sight. Therefore I started Thursday morning by scooping up the dirt from the outside and carefully packing it into the spaces between the stones before tossing the rest of the excess into the center of where the shed will be. Then I raked all of the area between the stones to a reasonably level surface and used a little hand broom to clean off the outside of all of the stones. The area looks much better now.

After doing all of that I had some lunch, and made progress on my current book in progress. I had never read (or heard of) the English version, but the cover made it look like a fun read, and, indeed, now that the annoying character is out of the picture, it is, and I look forward to reading this one a second time, now that I know where the story is going, so I can look for details I missed on the first pass. I see that there are more books by the author about one of the other intriguing characters, so perhaps I will track them down some day.

Then I went back out and sifted rocks out of dirt to continue filling in the walkway to the earth cellar. That project is more than half done now, and it would be nice if it were completely done before the snow flies, so that the path isn't muddy during the spring melt.

I managed to get about three buckets of small rocks suitable for the walkway (and put larger ones aside for building the earth cellar). I used the sifted dirt for back fill behind the earth cellar walls, but the single wheelbarrow full of dirt didn't make any noticeable difference in depth of fill. Then I went in, played hammer dulcimer a bit, and did more reading.

Later, after [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar got home from work we built an extension to the series of A-frame/tripods we use over the earth cellar walls for hoisting rocks up and into place so that we can start work on the south wall of the cellar. However, since sun is actually setting these days, the light wasn't good enough to start using the frame to move rocks, so instead he brought up a load of dirt in the tractor scoop, and we started filling in gravel against the wall and dirt further out behind the walls that we have already worked on this summer. On the north side of the earth cellar the wall is now less than 1 meter below the surface of the yard, and we have filled in dirt behind that wall all the way to the top, so next spring we won't have the same problem with the sides of the pit eroding and falling in that we had this spring.

Friday he only had to work half a day (having been on call last week), so we took the opportunity to lower the next three large stones into the pit and into place where they will go on the wall. However, by the time that was done we had only a couple of hours before our friends from choir were expected for instrumental music night, so instead of concreting them straight away we opted to do a bit more dirt and gravel fill on the west and south side of the cellar, so now everything is as high as it can be till we do the next batch of concrete.

The plan for today is to do that concreting, bake the loaf of bread (full of whole cloves of garlic, which will roast to pockets of soft goodness in the baking) that is rising, and then head to Umeå (three hours south) for the 30th birthday party for two of our friends (twin brothers).
kareina: (stitched)
We bought a few more bags of concrete early this week, since we had run out the last time we worked on the earth cellar. I have no idea if it was the new bag, or if I was just feeling paranoid since the very last bag of the old batch we had done turned out to be to wet to use for wall building, and instead we used it to fill in some of the gap between the platform we made for the huge lathe we now have in the shed and the stone foundation of the shed, but on Wednesday I wound up mixing the best batch of concrete I have ever seen. The consistency was absolutely perfect and thus it was a joy to work with. I could set it on any surface, at any angle, and it would happily sit there waiting for whatever happened next. I could even set it on the underside of a rock, and it wouldn't fall off. Such a joy to work with! I only planned to mix that one batch that day, since I was working on my own after spending the morning at Uni working on my paper revisions and applying for a job, and I just had the one small section of the wall to finish leveling out so that we can start using the nice large cut stones on that side, too. I think it was probably a good thing that I stopped there--it would have been terribly disappointing if the next batch was more normal. Much better to stop for the day after the one batch, and be left with the feeling of satisfaction and joy.

One of our friends, who lives three hours inland and a bit south of here, had a birthday last week. She had plans to be in Umeå (three hours south of here) on Friday for a friend's farewell party, so she decided to invite people to a picnic in a park in Umeå for Saturday. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors, and I decided to go, so I spent Friday afternoon cooking food for the occasion--I made raspberry filled bread rolls, home made noodles with a spinach-avocado-pistachio sauce, and a broccoli-egg pie. Yum! We ate some for Friday's dinner, and the rest went to the picnic with us.

I managed to finish the cooking and get the upstairs vacuumed before [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad arrived for a visit. I am pleased to report that I spent a good half an hour talking with him in Swedish before the others arrived, and we did just fine understanding one another (he doesn't speak English, though he has a few words here and there, I try to avoid using it when speaking with him). Granted, once [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors joined us I was mostly content to just listen and work on my sewing project whilst trying to guess the topic of the rapid conversation.

Since we had his company on Friday evening we did the drive south Saturday morning, arriving in Umeå on time to drop off [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors at the home of some of her friends she wanted to see, but who were going to be busy later in the day, before heading to the park, where we had a good 20 minutes to visit with our friend before the next guest arrived, and soon there was a small group of us, and a few more (including [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors) trickled in over the course of the afternoon. We spent the whole afternoon in the park talking, listing to the violin and nyckleharpa that two of us had brought, and doing silly people tricks (I love being hoisted to a shoulder and holding my body out flat like I am flying!). Then some of us went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and then over to another friend's house for more conversation and music.

Eventually we decided that it would be smart to head home, so we did. The first part of the drive she slept and I read out loud to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, but then I got tired and [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors moved to the front seat and I took a nap. This meant that when we finally got home, just before 01:00, I had energy to not only unload the car but also empty the ice chest and put away a few things before massaging the back of the poor, sore driver.

This afternoon some of our friends from choir will be coming over to discuss what we will be doing to try to recruit new members now that students are arriving once again, and folk dance will start up the first week of September. Summer is pretty much over. There may be a few more opportunities to work on the earth cellar before snow flies, but the project will take a least three years to complete...
kareina: (house)
I am proud of myself--today it was 30 C in the shade, yet I managed to go out and accomplish stuff. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I managed to move the next 6 large rocks into place ready to concrete into the earth cellar walls.

In the process it was necessary to bring up another pallet of them from the field (these are the large mostly rectangular stones that we bought (cheap!) in the spring). To do this we first needed to move the one really long one, which had been laying across the top of the stones that pallet, out of the way. So we did what we always do, wrapped a chain around it, hooked the chain to the tree trunk attached to the forks of the tractor, lifted it up, and carried it over to its new resting place. After he put it back down and we unhooked the chain we discovered that this time, in the process, one of the links on the chain nearly broke. All of the rest are still nice regular ovals--that one was stretched to round, and the metal had a crack 3/4 of the way through it. We think that probably one of the links had gotten stuck, so that when he lifted the stone instead of the link rotating so that the pressure was on the skinny part of the oval it was instead along the long side, and the weight was too much for it that way.

I am very glad it was only a partial failure, since the stone is long enough that it may well have broken if it had dropped, even from the low height of the tractor forks. (not that anyone would have been hurt in the process, since he was inside of the tractor, and I walked many meters away (into the shade!) before he lifted it.)

We moved half of the stones into place, then took a lunch break. After lunch I went down to the red current bushes (which are near where we fetched the pallet of stones from, so I had noticed that they were ripe) and picked a 1/4 of a yogurt bucket worth of berries. Then we walked down to the lower field to check the progress of the black currents. One or two of those berries are getting close to ripe, so I need to check them again tomorrow evening, or perhaps Monday. Then we did the second half of the stones. The last one we needed to cut--none of the stones on the pallet were quite short enough to put into the remaining spot in the wall. It turns out to be a good thing that we needed to cut it, since the spot in which it needed to sit had odd angles at each end, so a rectangle stone wouldn't have been the best fit, and we would have had to fill in a triangular shaped gap with small stones when we did the concrete.

Instead we measured the angle and length we wanted, he got out the concrete drill and we drilled in a line of holes, then we put pointed metal sticks into the holes and hit them each in turn with a sledge hammer till the rock split. The result was a perfect fit into where we wanted it, and now we have a smaller triangle shaped stone that will, no doubt, be needed somewhere else. (yah, I know, photos would make this so much easier to explain--why do I never think of that while I am standing there in front of the stone?)

After dinner we started scraping paint from the next section of the east wall of the house so that the painting project could continue, but we only managed to do the part we could reach from the ground before the gnats and horseflies drove us back into the house. (where did that lovely breeze we had had earlier in the day disappear to? If it had still been there we could have gotten so much more accomplished, without any tiny creatures attempting to fly up my nose or into my eyes.

So instead we went to the basement (wonderfully cool basement!), where he attached a loop to the sheath of his new sword so that he can hang it from his belt, and I started using the power planing tool to clean up some boards from an old pallet so that I can later glue them together to make a round shield for that Viking Lajv in August. I manged to clean up six of the eight boards that survived the pallet disassemble process before my hands were tingling too much from the effort of holding/pushing the boards across the planer, so I had to take a break.

Then we came up stairs and sat down to the computer, where I discovered that the organizer of the Lajv has created a FB group for those players who are in the household of my storman character, and she has found someone to play my daughter. So we chatted on skype with [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors about the event and via FB chat with the daughter. I did some writing in the GoogleDoc that summarizes our family history and created a spreadsheet, too, so that we could work out timelines and everyone's ages. These files have been shared with everyone in the FB group, but most of them are going to Visby, so I don't expect most of them to be able to look at it till they get back, so after this burst of energy with pre-event planning and character development I can go back to nice, easy, sewing (I haven't touched my beard in days, need to get back to sewing on that, too!) and wood working projects.

Now it is really much too late, so I will do my yoga and get to bed, and see if I manage to wake up early enough and with enough energy for both days this weekend to be productive. (I may not be working this summer, but he is, so I still feel the difference between week ends and week days--he isn't available to drive the tractor during week days.)

Oh--I nearly forgot to mention: his finger has healed enough that he was able to play violin today. First time since getting it caught between rocks just over a week ago.
kareina: (house)
The past few days have been a nice mix of relaxing and productive. We have put in 2 to 4 hours a day on the earth cellar. Adding such large stones to the walls means rapid progress in height with not so much time needed, and, assuming that we do a bit more today, we can easily get the wall on the up-hill side pretty much done before we depart for the local Medieval Days tomorrow. This is a good thing, since there had been a fair bit of erosion this spring with dirt falling into the hole from the sides, and I would prefer that we don't lose enough to put the flag pole into danger of falling before we finish this project.

Luckily, we were smart enough last autumn to cover the walls and the band of gravel fill behind the wall and before the dirt with plastic tarps. This means that all of the dirt that fell landed on the tarp, and has not worked its way into the gravel. We have decided to keep the tarp--it will remain as a divider between the gravel and dirt all the way up. This makes working on it easy--we fold the tarp back over the dirt as we add more stones to the walls, and as soon as a layer of stone is in place we add gravel between the stone and the tarp, and dirt between the tarp and the part of the ground that wasn't disturbed when we dug the hole.

Granted, there is no guarantee we will work on that project today, since we also need to finish preparing for the Medieval days. I baked buttermilk flatbread (starting with churning butter from cream) the other day, and today I want to make some hais, so that I have snacks to eat at the event. I also need to print the forms for the A&S display/contest as well as pack garb and projects for the event. At least the event is close enough (4 km by way of the forest trail, or 7 if we take the car, which we will, since we have so much to carry), that we don't have to worry about packing--we just take one load over, set up the pavilion, then go back for the next load...

I plan to keep my phone on airplane mode the whole week, so that the battery lasts and I can keep using the log program and consult the calender as to when I should be where. But this means that not only will I not see email or other internet messages till I get home, I also won't get text messages or phone calls. But then, no one ever calls me anyway, save for people who will be on site, so it should be fine.
kareina: (house)
The great earth cellar project of 2013 is going to have to be paused for the winter and resumed next summer. We have known for a while that it was becoming time to return [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad's tractor to him, so, in preparation for that some days back we used the tractor to bring some of the remaining large rocks (a number of which are rectangular cut, having had a previous role as foundation stones elsewhere). These were put down on the walls in the spots they would go and left there till this weekend, when we finally had a chunk of time long enough to mix concrete, and there was a pause in the autumn rains.

Therefore we spent pretty much all of Saturday working on the earth cellar. This time we used a block and tackle (purchased recently because we knew we had to give back the tractor and we might want to lift large rocks thereafter). It turns out that it is MUCH easier to get the rocks exactly where we want them using a block and tackle than hanging it from a chain from the forks of the tractor.

Since we hadn't actually returned the tractor yet, when the sun set and it got dark we kept working by tractor light, which turned out to be, just, good enough to take a photo of the progress:

wall

This photo is looking down from above, and one can easily tell which blocks are new (concrete is still wet and dark) and which have been there awhile. That back wall is just about waist height now, and we have filled in behind it with gravel (next to the wall), and dirt (further back).

Since we didn't get the whole project done the plan is to cover the walls themselves with a tarp, so that when the snow melts in the spring any dirt that gets carried down from the sides of the hole above doesn't land on the gravel fill or wind up inside the earth cellar (which already has a gravel floor). The more fun part of the plan is, as soon as we have enough snow accumulated I plan to build myself a grand snow fort inside the earth cellar in progress. Anyone want to come play in it with me? I figure having such a play ground will make up for not having managed to finish the project in a single summer.
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: (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...

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