JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Snow for the first time at the new house

The toilet was installed this week. We had our first Friday off in a row of five consecutive Fridays. We received snow for the first time at the new house.

Tuesday 12 January

There was a press conference this evening. The message was that the current lockdown will be extended another three weeks. The government is afraid that the British variation of the Coronavirus will be challenging. There are talks about introducing a curfew, but it was not put in place today.

After viewing the press conference, I went to the new house to lit a fire to keep the house above freezing temperatures. When I arrived, it was 12 degrees, and when I left, it was 15 degrees. I was not in the mood of working in the house tonight, but I checked the rainwater gauge and looked after the house in general.

Our plumber had continued preparations for the sink to be installed in the hobby room on the first floor.

Wednesday 13 January

It is already Wednesday! Undeniably my thoughts are going to the previous Wednesday. The things that happen in the US should not be so important to people in Europe, you would expect, but the US is a vast country, and it was a historical event.

It was beautiful weather this morning. This held up until we came to the house in the afternoon. The new temporary downpipes hold up much better, and they collected a lot of water already. In this photo, you can see that the platform on the west side of the building is reduced to two planks. It was enough to mount the downpipes.

When we arrived, we were stoked to produce a good result. For the first one and a half hours, we rebuilt the scaffold’s platforms’ north side. Since we don’t have enough scaffold planks for platforms all around the house, we were forced to borrow planks from the east side and put these on the north side.

We still got tasks to do on the east side, but it is not so that we will be working for hours and hours on the east side. It can be served with fewer planks. I looked back at the east wall’s to-do list from 19 December, and I can conclude that many tasks are still open. Especially many tasks for our electrician. Where is he?

Today we concentrated on the north wall. The scaffold was less stable on the west side. To stabilize it, we put up extra diagonals.

With this, we could start working on restoring the vertical beams. On top of these, we mounted horizontal beams. The weather shifted, and it got cloudy. At 3 PM, it started raining. It was not pleasant. The platforms feel like a roof, excellent for avoiding some of the rain. It was anyhow frigid, but we carried on. The clay was sticky. My wife did not like it at all. For me, it hurts when my hands get cold. When I get my hands warm, I am fine again. Sliding around in the slippery clay is not satisfactory while working. We spread a little of the wood ships we received from the neighbors with the little yellow house. With that, the ground became less slippery.

As it got darker, the rain stopped. We had extended all the vertical beams, and there were only a few horizontal beams left to do when we decided to stop the work for today.

When we came home to our old home, we evaluated the progress. I am frustrated with the slippery clay and cold hands. For the rest, I take the progress for what it is. My wife has no problems with her hands, she doesn’t like the slippery clay either, but she would like to accelerate the progress. For this to happen, we talked about taking days of our daytime work. One way of doing it would be to take a workweek off. With that, we could work the weekend before, then through the workweek, and then the following weekend. It feels nice to have 9 days in a row to work. I know that at the end of these 9 days, my knees and hands would be sore. Another way of doing it would be to take a day off adjacent to the weekend and then do this for several consecutive weeks. We decided on the latter. We will take each Friday off for the next five Fridays.

Thursday 13 January

Today I spoke to my manager about the arrangement of taking Fridays off from my holiday allowance. He was okay with it. I know there are different schemes for holiday allowance around the world. Here in the west and north of Europe, like the Netherlands and in Sweden, it is not uncommon to have five weeks of paid vacation per year, and that is what I got. My wife has other arrangements. Tomorrow will be the first free Friday.

In the evening, I went to the new house and lit a fire in the stove to keep the house warm. It was just a quick visit, and then I went to our old home and attended a Zoom meeting of the road association. It was a surprisingly constructive meeting. I liked it.

Friday 14 January

Today we had our first Friday off in a series of five Fridays in a row. We were desirous to produce a good result! At 11 AM, we had finished the grid of beams serving as support for the vertical planks. It had been freezing last night so that the clay had become comfortably stable!

When we had our support for the planks in place, it was time to prepare for vertical red planks. We took out 14 planks, sawed the bottom to form a 15 degrees drip edge, then raised the planks against support to avoid that the planks would accidentally fall over.

Our pond was frozen in the morning. It is like a tiny little skate rink. We received snow today, powdering the ice, just enough to start singing songs about the snow falling. The songs we started singing were Swedish, but you probably know a couple of snow-songs in your own language. I heard that tomorrow we can sing more of these songs because a thin layer of snow will be formed around noon.

Around noon today, we had finished the inner layer of long planks on the north wall. After that, I put up some beams above and below the windows.

Then we started working on planks below the windows and above the door. They were cut to the proper length and sanded, and then got their first layer of paint.

It was a great day, a long and productive day.

Saturday 15 January

This morning we had a meeting with the carpenter at the new house around half-past nine. We spoke about the projects he will do for us:

  1. Build a ceiling in the bathroom on the first floor.
  2. Build a cupboard around the inverter as well as in the bedroom on the first floor.
  3. He will mount eight doors in the house.


We will see how our carpenter’s time fits into the scheme of all things. He was happy with our “relaxed planning.” That said, we are eager to use the house for real.

Then it was time for getting planks nailed to the wall. Today I worked on the planks below the windows. The work was not so well coordinated as yesterday. One plank below the living room window was forgotten. There were numerous small glitches, so it felt as if it took longer to do less work. With this, we finished most of the simple planks of the inner layer. Now it is time for planks with openings cut out, and we are especially slow at that sort of work.

Then it started snowing, and our plumber arrived at the same time. He brought the replacement toilet bowl—this time with the exhaust pointing downwards. He installed the device, and we were so happy. No, we did not dance the polonaise this time either, but it was darn close. It is a milestone for our house that you can go to the toilet. There is no privacy right now since there are no doors, which will need to be fixed before it will work as a real bathroom—one step at a time.

While the snow was falling, we brought planks into the workshop on the first floor. There we had just enough room for preparing the planks. Cut the planks to the correct length, sanding followed by painting the ends.

Tomorrow we will saw openings for window sills as well. Slowly but surely, the blue color is replaced with red. The skin of the building will look like this. It can breathe and hold moisture away. It looks beautiful.

I notice I have not written so much about the progress until now this week. When working hard on the house, there is less energy for blogging. It is actually a good thing with better progress of the house rather than good blog writing progress. Next Friday we will go and get the trees and bushes we ordered for the garden. I am sure we will not be able to work so much on the house that Friday.

We are looking for if we can get a heap of wood shrapnels to make paths etc., free from clay and mud.

Sunday 16 January

This morning there was snow on the roofs when I woke up. Instantly I was thinking of a poem in Swedish by Viktor Rydberg.

Midvinternattens köld är hård, stjärnorna gnistra och glimma.
Alla sova i enslig gård djupt, under midnattstimma.
Månen vandrar sin tysta ban, snön lyser vit på fur och gran,
snön lyser vit på taken. Endast tomten är vaken.

I found two translations of this poem into English. I like Steven Michelson’s translation, although it lost the magnificence at the end of the stanza. The Swedish original has a rhythm at the end, and Steven removed that feature. The page talks about the two translations and asks for help if there could be improvements to the text. Interesting. Here is my take on the first stanza of the poem:

Midwinter night is harsh and cold; the sky sparkle and glint.
All are sleeping, from young to old; of the elf, they notice no hint.
The moon follows its silent way. The light not as bright as during the day.
The snow shines white on the farm. Only the house-elf protects the house from harm.

Viktor is consequent in the building of the stanza. He uses around eight syllables for the first part A of the sentence, followed by another eight syllables for the last part B of the sentence. My attempt is not following the eight syllables entirely. In the first two sentences, A1 rhymes with A2 and B1 with B2. This rhyming pattern is repeated with the next two sentences. The poem educates us about the house-elf from the perspective of the elf self. Back in the time, this was common knowledge. Perhaps I have a go at doing more poem stuff. I liked this.

As I said, this poem came to my mind this morning when I woke up and looked out of the window of our old house. Snow is a feature that will be more and more seldom in central Europe. It has to do with the human-made climate crisis that we are pumping an excessive amount of CO2 into the atmosphere. Snow is not just frozen crystals of water; it is also part of the culture in various ways. There are songs about snow and poems. When it is snowing, and we suddenly remember songs we sang when we were kids, perhaps there is a feeling of loss that emerges in us, the more seldom the snow is falling. Are you not able to do any ice skating anymore? Do you remember songs about playing in the snow, or are they also lost? I can see on social media the reaction to snow, and I think there will be more of these reactions in the future; snow becomes rare.

When I grew up in Sweden, north Sweden it was standard with minus 15 up to minus 30 degrees Celcius. We had one meter of snow at the end of the winter, and that was common. There were lakes with roads arranged on the ice in the winter in Sweden. These ice roads will not open in the future. The ice is not good enough.

When we left our old house, I noticed that the people arranging the new year’s party had still not cleaned up their mess. Perhaps they are too busy with curing the Corona they acquired when partying on new years eve? They are perhaps planning on cleaning the mess, but there is no urge to remove the garbage. Was it sixteen days ago? Something is removed, one of the barrels has vanished, but the barrel’s content was left on the pavement. This is the street from my old house: Dogs peeing at the lamppost in front of my house, cars with signs saying that Corona is a hoax, and party garbage from new years eve left on the street for a couple of months.

These were the things I was thinking about this morning when we went to our new house. It had started thawing when we arrived at the house. The first task this morning was to arrange privacy for our toilet. All very temporary, but it will work.

On the east wall, we just put up the planks in any direction. On the north wall, we started paying attention to how knots are growing. When looking at the planks’ surface against the light, you can easily see the knots. The knots usually got two branches growing out from them. The branches grow upwards on both sides of the tree. We prefer the top of the trees at the bottom of the house. When water flows along the plank, the knots are not collecting the water. Instead, the knots form an arrow pointing upwards, transporting the water out from the plank.

More and more surfaces on the north wall have the first layer with planks. It feels delightful. In the afternoon, we started preparing the missing planks of the inner layer. They sit next to the windows, and because of this, they need a cut out for the window sill. We had this remaining set of planks cut and painted the first layer. That ended this workweek.

For next week we will need to order more nails for the tacker. Possibly we will finish the inner layer already on Wednesday. We will see. It will be rewarding to sit behind a desk and do office work for a couple of days.

I was born 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden. I grew up in the small village Vågdalen in north Sweden. 1989 I moved to Umeå to study Computer Science at University of Umeå. 1995 I moved to the Netherlands where I live in Almere not far from Amsterdam.

Here on this site I let you see my creations.

I create, that is my hobby.