JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Finished half of the north wall

We finished more than half of the north wall and we picked up plants for our garden. I had an accident.

Wednesday 20 January

It is already Wednesday. Earlier this week, on Monday evening, I worked on translating Viktor Rydberg’s poem, and yesterday I tried to get the blog published, but my program had a hiccup on the subscript text that I used. It took some time to find out what the error was so that the blog could be published.

We received our package with stainless steel nails. It is good to have them at hand before they run out. Since we only had one roll left in the nail gun, this delivery was just about time.

Yesterday I also went to the new house after work to paint planks to have them ready for today. It has been right not to work with physical work for a couple of days. I could “restore,” so to speak. Lovely.

Today I worked half day with office work, and after lunch, we went to the new house. We lined up the planks’ on trestles, ready to be mounted on the wall. Somehow the numbering on the planks was lost—the mysterious case of the lost numbering of planks. Or perhaps not. If planks are numbered, it must be done with a permanent pen and not a self-destructive ink. Some of the numbers I had written on the place where I removed wood on the backside. Also, some were covered in paint. We puzzled with the planks to find their best place and went ahead and mounted them on the wall. It was warm weather today. I had no problem with cold hands.

With that, the bottom layer of vertical planks was finished on the north wall. There are still planks needed on top of windows and doors, but they are horizontal. Nevertheless, this is a milestone. While we were working on this, another press conference aired from the Dutch government about new Corona measures. There will possibly be a curfew established on Saturday this week. First, it has to be voted for in the parliament. The curfew will be between nine in the evening until half-past four in the morning. It will be allowed to take out the pets for a walk etc. From that point, it is a soft curfew. From today you are allowed to receive at most one visitor per day at home. How many are you allowed to receive at your building site?

We continued working with preparing planks for the outer layer. The idea is that we cut the shorter planks first so that we can paint them. That way, we use the time we don’t work on the new house optimally for drying paint. This set of planks will be mounted between windows and below windows.

When the planks had been cut, we took a break, and at that time, Joe Biden held his inauguration speech.

It is refreshing that the never-ending noise of Mr. Trump is over. It has been replaced with someone that says real things. We already got to hear some of the plans that Joe got, and it is promising. I have not heard much about the war on terrorism, United States perpetual war around the world. Since I have not heard anything about it, I think it will go on as usual. I use to say that an evil president drops a bomb every 12 minutes. A good president drops a bomb every 20 minutes.

How can the United States drop bombs on countries that it has not declared war on? How can that be legal? The Obama administration was surprisingly open about the bombing statistics while Mr. Trump had promised to end perpetual wars, the only thing he did was ending the statistics. Behind the scenes, he ended nothing at all. It was full speed rolling those bombs over innocent civilians. May I point out I call him Mister Trump and not President. He was not a president, not a single day in the white house. At best, a White House Resident. Joe, on the other side, is a President.

When Mr. Trump was a Resident of the White House, he told 30573 false or misleading claims. I found this figure in a Washington Post headline.

There are so many things that Joe will not fix, I suppose. Gun owner laws in the US will not be fixed. I have not heard anything about that, and the death penalty will not be abolished. I don’t think so.

What is it with the United States that lives do not matter? Life in a womb is (rolling the eyes) so important but having men (often men) enter a school with a machine gun is “Normal” behavior. It happens several times per week in the US.

In a way, a real president like Obama is more sneaky. He lands on the museum square in Amsterdam with a military helicopter, and everything is festive, and while at it, he makes the Dutch government sponsor El Qaida with 25 million Euro in equipment, calling them “Moderate Rebels.” Obama goes to Sweden and makes a joint speech with the previous Minister-President Reinfeldt in where Obama invited every person on the planet to flee to Sweden if they so wished to do, with no requirements, what so ever. Obama did not say it explicitly, but that was how it was interpreted, and it triggered the worst refugee crisis in Sweden in modern times, changing the political landscape in Sweden. Sweden fixed the crisis, but it wasn’t easy. Mr. Trump is more like an orangutan (sorry to all offended orangutans) that you cannot let into a furnished room—thereby causing less harm to the world. Obama, and probably Joe, comes with elegance and nice talking, and they are let in. It remains to be proven that Joe brings good things to happen when he is let in.

I sincerely hope that the children held in cages in the United States will be let out and reunited with their parents, and offered a decent life.

It was not so that we could sit and listen to Joe for a long time. We had work to do. The freshly cut planks had to be sanded and then painted. If I get to paint the planks tomorrow evening a second time, then they are ready for Friday; that would be grand.

When we came home, I watched Amanda Gorman present her poem as part of the inauguration ceremony. She is good with words, and she presented her poem in an excellent expressive way. I liked that.

The storm Christoph plowed over the Netherlands in the evening, causing trees to fall and flying roof tiles.

Thursday 21 January

In the morning, I prepared a smoothy for breakfast. If you have plenty of fantasy, you can see the fruits forms the word “Jens.” I worked the entire day from our old home. In the evening, I went to the new house and painted the planks a second time. The curfew has not started yet, so I had plenty of time to get to the house, do my tasks, and get back again.

It was good to check the house how it had handled the storm, Christoph. The new downpipes had survived the storm beautifully. The barrier tape along the road was broken, but that was all of the damage as far as I could see in the limited light.

The planks got their final layer of paint. Tomorrow we will put up planks and cut new ones, but we will also get plants for the new garden. It will not rain so that will be good.

Friday 22 January

It was a beautiful morning that promised to be an epic day. We usually go about and nail the ready planks for what it is worth, but not today. The idea was to hold back slightly and cut new planks to fill up the work pipeline. When the planks were cut, my wife sanded and painted while I was nailing the planks from yesterday. The short planks below the windows can be done with one person. Two persons must mount long planks to get the planks in the proper vertical level.

I could do a couple of planks under the windows. It was such nice weather, but I did not get to finish my task. Have I told you that I don’t like to leave unfinished tasks behind? I usually would not start on a task if I knew I would leave an unfinished task behind me. That is how I am. The idea of the fully stocked pipeline of work is also useful if the overall throughput is efficient.

This year we will develop the garden in front of the house. This garden photo is the last moment this year where this land is just grass and weed. I thought that perhaps I would try to take photos of the garden, from this point, to see how the garden is progressing. The photo is a panorama that you can click on to see in full size.

While we are at it, I take a photo from the other side of the garden. It was such epic winter weather this day that you could be happy just by being. Along the road, we still got the heap of compost that we received on 20 November. In front of the compost, we got the stand for the trailer hood of the small trailer. The hood itself we store in the container, but the trailer and the hood we keep outside. It is not the right place for the hood stand, and it will need to be moved to a more suitable place.

We ordered 300 trees and shrubs for our garden, and we cannot plant them on the same day. How do you solve that? Make a hole in the ground of a ditch, and then you put the shrubs and the trees in the ditch and put soil on top. This method of conserving shrubs is called “Inkuilen” in Dutch. I have not been able to find the English word for it. There is no Wikipedia page for “Inkuilen” as far as I could see. Perhaps it is a Dutch practice. You cannot keep the plants like this forever, but we can have the plants like this until March. Here at this point, we had no plants. For now, it was just a question of preparation. It was our son who dug this little trench. We had an appointment to get the plants at 3 PM this same afternoon.

I continued preparing new sets of planks. We would perhaps be able to have this set sanded and painted before leaving to get the plants.

I created a jig helping me to cut the planks at a proper angle. We discussed if we would buy a proper miter saw to cut planks, but this little jig is excellent. If we got a miter saw, then the way we work would change. The end miter saw would be stationary, and the planks would move around. Look, some of these planks are almost five and a half meters long. Let’s be realistic about how feasible it is to move around with five and a half meter long planks. Currently, we put up the planks on trestles, and the saw moves around the planks. Sometimes two cuts in the same plank.

It was such nice weather that I asked my wife to take a photo of me together with Bernie. So there he is with shadow and everything. He got his mittens from Jen Alice. I got similar mittens, but I lost one, so that is not so handy. My wife likes to knit, so perhaps one day I get a replacement. She tells me there are currently 13 variations of the Bernie mittens pattern on Ravelry. The knitting community is wildly enthusiastic about Bernie’s mittens.

We managed to finish painting the set of planks. Then we went to pick up the plants. Here we are picking up the plants and putting them in the two wheelbarrows. We got most of the plants as we had ordered. There was one type we could not get so many of, the Shadbush (Krentenboompje). We got five and lost two in the process. On this occasion, we took out our small trailer with the red wheels. When done with the trailer, I put it back at another place so that the north wall pictures will miss the trailer from now on.

Here you can see the result of the “Inkuilen” activity. It is not that difficult: Make a hole (“Kuil”), put the plants in the hole, and cover adequately with compost or soil. It was a beautiful day. The solar panels had delivered 16.9 kWh being a record of this year. Now we are still in January, so perhaps we will reach much higher? It was a beautiful sunset. I love beautiful sunsets.

Saturday 23 January

We were slow this morning. It is not that easy to bounce out of bed when we already got a full day of work behind us the day before.

It was less sunny today, but from time to time, it was not bad at all. Here is a selfie I made by accident when fumbling with the phone.

I finished the short planks. I like finishing things because it is too easy to delay something so that it is not done at all. This idea of stuffing the job pipeline is useful, but it aches in my fingers when I am not finishing things—talking of finishing things or rather not finishing the thing. I took a photo of the east wall and wrote a message to our electrician.

The pipe at location A had the wire for a doorbell. The pipe for location B has the wire for the electricity. Instead, I rather had it the other way around because A could be used for a lamp above the door. I wrote to our electrician and asked about this, and shortly afterward, he said he would come and fix it.

He came and switched the cables. Now when that is done, I can put these things in place. The plank above the door can get a hole for the lamp. Next to the door, the plank can get holes for the doorbell B and two outdoor electricity outlets at location C.

That is great. I had a faint hope we could work to a situation that we can take down the scaffold on the east side, but much more needs to happen. The window sills need to be ordered and mounted, and we still need to paint the kit on the fascia board.

Then we continued on the North wall, and we had a steady pace. It was feeling great. At four in the afternoon, we had done the first part of the outer layer. At five, we had done all the planks except the horizontal to the door. It is a little tricky when nailing the outer planks because it is difficult to see where the beam is. I used a line that I hung up on both sides of the section I was nailing. Then I tried using a plank to indicate where to put the nails. I think I like the plank a little better.

We have revisited the direction of the planks. On the east wall, we did not care. For the inner layer on the north wall, we had decided that the original top of the tree would be at the bottom of the house. That is incorrect. It is complicated, but when we understood it, it was not that difficult. The outside of the plank is always the “core-most” part of the tree. The core is the middle of the tree. The surface closest to the core is always the outer part used on the house.

Branches always grow from the core upwards. At least on these planks. The knot reaches the surface at the back of the plank. If the knot cracks and creates a canal in the plank, it goes from the plank’s back down to the plank’s middle. That means that water flowing on the surface on the plank’s back is transported out from the wall. Water flowing outside the plank will not get in because the canals are pointing down and out.

From now on, we will follow this model. The “arrow” formed by the knots on the surface will point down so that the plank’s back has the knots’ ends. It is also called mouse ears, and this is a better mnemonic because you instantly know that a mouse is standing on its feet and that the ears are sticking up.

Before going to bed, I opened the window to listen to the curfew. It was silent. I heard birds singing although it was dark. Some things in society are going “backward” during this pandemic, but is it all that bad? People are traveling less. We work more from home. Now, this curfew is forcing people to stay at home.

If it was not for the pandemic, there had been more people visiting each other, more and more. Everything is always more, and it is cheaper, things are more intense, there are more noise and light. Order your stuff from the other side of the globe, and you will get your parcel within a week! The silence is pushed away.

This evening it was silent at my old house. For me, I cannot say it was all that bad. I enjoyed it.

Sunday 25 January

First, we put up planks above the kitchen window to finish all cut planks’ outer layer. The only thing left was full-length planks. It was epic winter weather today. The sun was shining; it was so good.

We are about to plant three hundred trees and bushes. It is everything from oak to blackberry. It is much and how do you do that? For this purpose, you can dig holes by hand. It will kill you, especially your back. The soil here is pure clay. On a good day, it is soft and crumbly. On a bad day, it has a consistency ranging from anything of wood to hardened concrete. One way to solve this is to use a ground drill, and they are found in various forms. The hand-driven ground drill will also kill you. Then there is a type that has a motor on top of the ground drill.

A friend brought us the motor-driven ground drill to try out. I started using the drill, and it got stuck in the ground. Then I started pulling the drill out of the hole, and I had my hand at the wrong place. My friend intended to show me how to pull the drill out of the hole while turning the drill, so he pulled the trigger. The machine’s axis started turning, and the pin holding the drill got stuck in my glove and started eating into my hand. I think I said, stop, stop, stop. After the trigger of the motor was released, there was silence. I got loose from the drill, and I was most worried that I had broken my hand or waist. My friend and my wife had not yet realized how precarious my situation was when the motor stopped turning.

I untangled myself from the pin on the axis of the drill and pulled off my glove. There was blood. That was the moment when the seriousness of the situation became clear to my friend and my wife. They walked me to our new house and into the workshop. There on the floor drips of blood fell on the floor. It was not RAL 3009 like the exterior of our house; this is brighter. To avoid fainting, I had to lie on the concrete floor. I had a roll of kitchen paper as a cushion for my head. I think I was pale on my face. A chair was brought so that I could lie on the floor with the feet on the chair. My wife took out our first aid kit. It is an extra luxurious first aid kit, but it is almost 40 years old. My friend that had taken courses in first aid put a bandage on my hand and told me I had to see a doctor.

He was devastated. But we were both to blame, that was my opinion anyway. I tried to make him feel happier at some point. My wife called the emergency service. There was an abundance of Covid related questions to get past before we got through. Are you coughing, or do you have any diarrhea? Do you have a cold? No, no, no. When we got through the telephone dispatch system and could speak to a real person and answer another set of Covid questions, we got instructions for where to go. The operator was very keen on talking just to me. I had problems not switching to Swedish. My wife drove me to the emergency department of the local hospital. It was not easy to get there. I was not feeling well in the car. Perhaps I got a shock reaction while she drove me. I got hot and dizzy, so my wife stopped. After a while, she continued to the hospital.

At the hospital, my wife was not allowed to come in due to the risk of Covid. I had to walk for myself, and I had to wear a mask.

I got into the hospital, and the first two doors opened automatically. In the reception, I gave my name, and I was welcome. At the reception, they asked me to sit and wait in the emergency department’s waiting room. The waiting room had ordinary door handles, but I decided to use my elbow to open the door handle to avoid any germs of other people who entered this room. Afterward, I concluded that when I used my elbow to open the door, the old Jens was back, I was done with my shock. I was almost alone in the waiting room. There was also another person there. I had to wait for a while, and on a big screen, there was a Dutch newscast. They talked about the news from the last 24 hours.

There had been riots against the curfew at two places in the Netherlands. There were hundreds of fines given for breaking the curfew. People had been arrested. A test facility of Covid had been put on fire. I was thinking about the silence outside my window last night—such a stark contrast.

After a while, I was let into the emergency room. A nurse checked my hand. She gave compliments to my friend’s bandage. She called for a doctor that came and checked I had not broken anything. They predicted that my wrist would feel bruised. There was a deep wound, but it could have been worse. The doctor was pleased to hear that I had worn gloves on my hands—relatively new gloves, because of this, I would not get any medicines. She prescribed a bandage. It was not adequate to glue the wound nor stitch it. I got a couple of strips of tape. I had to go and see my “own” doctor within a couple of days.

The emergency doctor had one message she repeated a couple of times. Mr, you are not allowed to DIY for a couple of days because that will cause the tapes to burst open. You would not want that to happen.

The nurse told me that tomorrow, I would have the most pain. Then after that, the pain had to be less. Unless I got complications, then I had to call a doctor. For the rest of the day, she advised me to hold the hand high.

I was in the hospital for perhaps 30 minutes. For my US readers, I would like to point out that I got health insurance. I will receive a bill to pay, perhaps, but I don’t think it will be any colossal amount—no worries. I will keep you posted.

When we came back to the new house, it was still sunny. I took a picture of my hand. What now?

My friend wanted to help with a task, so I suggested that he help me with the electric cable to the helophyte filter pump. He helped me arrange that the cable was ready for our electrician to pick up near the utility cupboard. He also got a chance to see how we had our space under the house arranged. He liked it.

But how about the planks? Today our son came to help us. We discussed the situation. I thought it was silly to put back all the planks into the container we had made ready to mount on the wall. Would it not be possible for my son and wife to operate the nail gun? My wife opted for using the nail gun, and my son took the job of aligning the planks at the bottom of the house. After a bit of instruction from me, my wife nailed the planks to the wall. We left one plank where the scaffold is having support mounted to the wall, and we left a plank that needs a hole for a sensor to be used by our heating system. For the rest, almost two-thirds of the wall is done. Without my hand accident, we had finished the wall or finished so much possible until we ran out of nails. I am pleased that my wife and son took over the work. We talked about how the work is done and how to operate the nail gun safely.

The result of the weekend was good anyway.

When working with machines, I will start to talk about how we do things from here on—all people around the machine. I will talk about our roles on who is doing what. What our roles are, and how we go about the security. It is not only about machines. Things like the scaffold also need adequate regulations too: Who is climbing it and how it is done. I am perhaps not doing these things beforehand because I want to be a nice, less bossy person. But that is over. On my farm, from now on, I am the boss. I will not decide everything, but I want to bring up things beforehand, and I will do it, especially around security: nothing pompous, just a short informal chat before the machine is turned on.

All of us got away with this “small” incident, but we need to learn from it. When I work with the chainsaw in Sweden on our Swedish farm, I take on this bossy security attitude. It has worked for several years without any accident—this also needs to happen here at this new farm.

It is great fun to build a new house, and it will continue to be fun. Our friend is still a friend, and I like him much. He could have been my younger brother. That had been nice.

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.