JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Good progress putting up red planks

This week we finished two-thirds of the red planks on the south wall.

Tuesday 27 April

Today it is the king’s birthday in the Netherlands. This is a compulsory day off. Regular readers of my blog know my stance on compulsory holidays. I don’t like them. The resources available in the Netherlands, or any other normal country for that matter, are not sufficient to let everybody do the same thing simultaneously.

Did you know that if all people simultaneously start to withdraw cash, the banks will go bankrupt? Actually, not that many are needed to let a bank go bankrupt. A couple of years ago, we had a Dutch minister of Finance (Wouter Bos) saying that the Dutch branch of Fortis was healthy. People in Belgium started to withdraw money like crazy from the Belgian part of Fortis, and it went bankrupt. It took three days. Modern systems are not made for that everybody is doing the same thing at the same time.

All of us cannot use the intensive care unit at the same time.

If everybody uses the roads at the same time you get congestions. If everybody starts to buy toilet paper, there will be no toilet paper in the shops. If you let people have a compulsory holiday all at the same time and by the way, please don’t meet each other because we are in the middle of a pandemic. You see, it is not working. This year the compulsory holiday turned into a feast for the covidiots.

Another example is that if everybody worldwide is consuming insane amounts of palm oil, then complete rainforests are obliterated.

To show my respect for the dutch king, I decided to hang orange crane straps on the top of the scaffold. Luckily the king is not a fantasy figure. He is real. The Netherlands got seven compulsory holidays, and six of them are to celebrate fantasy figures and corporates trading in delegated accountability and mind control. The king, however, is alive. He is a little selfish, but he exists, and he is alive. You can discuss the morality of letting someone be imprisoned into the role of monarch, but as long as he and his family are okay with it, I suppose the arrangement works out for them and the country.

The Dutch king is obviously not my king. My king is Swedish, and Sweden is worse off in the number of compulsory holidays. There are twice as many compulsory holidays in Sweden. Most of them are designated to the different life phases of fantasy figures.

When we arrived at the house, we already had a visitor. A male duck was sleeping at our pond, alone!

In the morning, we took out the planks and sanded the ends. The sanding machine we got is eating regular sandpaper. This is because we are sanding sharp edges, and that make holes in the paper. It takes a lot of time to switch sandpaper all the time. Today I tried a new method. We had ordered sandpaper on linen fabric to sand the edges of the window sills. It is very sturdy sandpaper. I taped two stripes together and used this on the sanding machine. It worked marvelously. With this method, the sanding was much quicker. Before I could sand 10 planks. With this method, I can sand all cuts of the entire south wall.

When the sanding was done, we placed stacks of planks at three locations inside the house. In the workroom, in front of the doors in the living room, and in the kitchen.

Then my wife started painting the first layer of paint. I went outside to change the corners of the narrow window. The idea is that the windowsill is mounted between the two outer planks. I do understand that it is difficult to imagine what the idea is here. This window here is a particular case because the upper window is narrower than the window below it. We plan to put two planks next to each other to bridge the gap. It will be easier to understand when we mounted the planks.

When I was done adjusting the beams at the narrow window, my wife had finished painting the planks. So what should we do next? The paint had to dry until 7 in the evening? I suggested we go to our old home and make dinner, and then after dinner, we go back and paint the second layer. Marleen liked this idea very much.

There was a little spare time before we went home for dinner, where I collected thistles. There are so many of them already it is impossible to get the thistles under control. I wonder if there is a benefit of some of the thistles because they are “breaking up” the soil. Dandelions “break up” the soil too, the root brings up moisture and nutrients to the surface, and in the process, the soil is made fluffier. I would not be surprised it is the same with thistles. That said, I still don’t like them. We will still remove giant thistles. Perhaps we can leave the smaller. It would be fantastic if the sheep likes to eat the young thistles. I am afraid not. Before we got a thistle game over, I will take out the scythe and cut them. I think it is essential to do that before they develop seeds.

After the thistles hunt, we went to our old home, and I made a vegetarian broccoli curry. It was delicious. One day I might find time to blog about how I make the curry.

We came back after dinner at our new house and started painting the planks a second time. At this time of the year, the sunset at the west wall. We painted the ends of the wood and since both of us were painting is was done really quickly.

Tomorrow it is Wednesday, and we got a day off tomorrow. It is part of our Wednesday’s days off series, days we decided ourselves to have a day off. I will remove the orange crane straps tomorrow because my gratitude for the Dutch king is not limitless. If he shows up on my birthday, we got a mutual appreciation for each other, and then I might let the crane straps hang for a longer time. Either that or I am okay with it if the Dutch king decorates his scaffold with Blue and Yellow straps. I am all for mutual appreciation.

It was a full moon this evening. Have you noticed that it can look like it is so big when you see the moon, but then you take an image of it; In the image, it looks tiny? This especially with a smartphone. Here I took a picture of the moon with my telelens. There was a little cloud in front of it, and that looked nice.

Wednesday 28 April

I don’t know what expectations I had of this day, but I think we achieved a little lesser than I had hoped for. It was harder to mount the planks than I recall it was from earlier walls. In the morning, my wife painted a third layer on the planks. You cannot put up planks with wet paint, so the planks had to dry after that. We did smaller tasks in the meantime.

I went to the local bakery to buy bread, and I got introduced to the area. “Are you a passer-by or from the area?” the shop owner asked me. I reckon she noticed my dirty car and worker shoes – signaling that perhaps I was new to the area. I told her that I am building a house, and perhaps I will be living here in a half year time. She was delighted and told me about how they work in the bakery, what sort of flour they are using etc. I told her about our dream to keep sheep on our land, and she could inform me that she sometimes lends out their sheep to grace on others’ land. The following customer arrived in the shop, and I had to leave. This area is thriving with various initiatives. My wife needs to talk to the shop owner about that sheep thing if that is a viable option. We got another address too, but we are not sure what the arrangement will be. More of this later.

Eventually, the paint had dried, and we could start working on mounting the planks on the wall. It was not a smooth operation. Bringing out the compressor and the tacker is not the biggest challenge. It took a while before we were ready to start shooting nails, and at that time, it was time for lunch. We ate from the bread I bought at the bakery, and it was delicious. In the early afternoon, we had mounted the first planks beside the windows on the first floor. I was not happy with the result. Some of the planks were not straight. I sat at our pond for a while, throwing pebbles into the water, thinking how to handle the situation. After a while, I concluded that I should not remove the planks but nudge them into the correct position with a hammer. This turned out to work satisfyingly. I was relieved because it is such a hassle to remove planks with these nails. The nails got rings in them so that they are extra sticky.

After the first round of planks, we got better. Memories of how to do things came back, and it became more natural to nail the planks on the wall. We first did the inner layer on other walls and then switched nails and then did the outer layer. Now when we had moved all the planks without contemplating the two layers, it was better to make use of the work we already had done, so I switched between shorter and longer nails in the gun.

We had finished the two layers below the first three windows on the first floor at the end of the day. The third window is the unique window in that it is narrower on the first floor.

The weather slowly changed throughout the day. It became overcast almost at the same time as we got going on nailing planks.

Our son came with us today. He worked on harvesting gravel beside the verge to put on the driveway. At the end of the day, he had collected an entire wheelbarrow. He did not want to put the load on the driveway right away but wanted to wait until tomorrow. It will rain tomorrow, and his idea was that it will be visible where there is still a lower point in the driveway, and he wants to put the stones there.

Today all day, we heard the clonking sound of neighbors that got their poles driven into the ground. It was the same pole driver company that came to our plot almost a year earlier and pushed our poles into the ground. Today on their way into our neighbors’ future house, they destroyed a couple of precious trees. I do remember my annoyance with how they one year earlier drove the machine to the location of our future house.

Thursday 29 April

Already in the night, I could hear the rain started falling. It was a little unclear how much rain we could receive according to various predictions. One prediction estimated 16 millimeters of rain. Weather dot com predicted 34 millimeters, and Buienradar dot NL predicted 37 millimeters. Why is there such a wide range of predictions for precipitation? When drilling into the data, you usually find a day split into hours, and each hour you are presented with the amount of rain and the chance that the rain will fall on you. I am purely guessing here, but the more professional forecasters got a model balancing out the probability with the available amount. The less professional forecasters are saying that “okay, there is a cloud coming in your direction. Suppose that when it is right over you, it dumps its entire quantity of rain right on you.” With this reasoning, you indeed get all the possible rain, but a couple of streets away are much less rain or no rain at all, and that is not likely.

So it rained today. It rained, and it rained. It was feeling like money fell from the sky. Not much but by drip. All little drips mount up to a cubic meter, and that is one euro worth of water.

After the regular work was done for today, we went to the new house. We all had different reasons to go there, but the reasons all had to do with rain. Our son wanted to find a spot on our driveway to fill with stones from the prepared wheelbarrow. My wife wanted to see if our pond had a higher water level, and I wanted to read our water gauge.

We had collected twenty-one millimeters of water in the gauge! Actually, each stripe on the gauge is L/m2, so over an area of 3200 square meters, that is a total of 67 thousand liters of water, it has literally rained 67 euro. That is not bad.

Our apple trees are drinking a lot of water. It looks like their bulbs got no frostbite, so we might get some apples this year.

Our pond is 75 cubic meters in volume from 0 down to one meter. The topmost surface of the pond is got a surface of around 102.4 square meters. It has received 2149 liters of water in itself. The roof of the house is around 122 square meters, and if we collected all of that, it would be 2562 liters. Next to the pond, we got our wastewater filter. When it is raining on it, it is also collecting water. It has a surface of 16 square meters, so it had collected 336 liters. These surfaces times the amount of rain gives that 5047 liters of rain have been added to the pond. The thing is, of course, that we don’t have a foil in the pond. The water is leaking out in the groundwater, so that we put almost 5 cubic meters in the pond is perhaps not possible to see. Around 6 percent fuller if that is a correct way of expressing it.

How did it go with the gravel on the driveway? The wheelbarrow was ready. It had also collected water, but the stones in it were still in mint condition. My son and I found a couple of lower spots on the driveway that we filled with the stones. When I drove out, I reversed a couple of times over the new gravel to compress it a little.

This was a lovely trip to the new house. All three of us were satisfied with the outcome. On the way home, neighbors showed up at their window, curious what we were doing out there in the rain. I made the sign of twenty, but it was hard to understand. Holding up both my hands, stretching the finger two times in a row. The neighbor’s wife even repeated the gesture, and I signed with a thumbs up. They were clueless. What could be twenty? We texted them the answer to let them not be wondering what our affection for rain is all about.

There was one particular thing this morning worth mentioning. The curfew ended at 4:30 in the morning for the last time. It is not so that all is good and well with Covid-19 in the Netherlands, but they decided to lift the curfew for no reason. It has had no effect, apparently.

Saturday 1 May

It is the first day of May. The wind is still coming from the north, but we had rain. Today we measured 10 millimeters of rain in the rain gauge. That rain actually came in April, but I usually don’t take that so seriously when I record the rain. It would be impractical for me, so we do it like this. When we had just arrived in the new house two paragliders passed by. They made a lot of noise, so I hope this was a one-off occasion that they flew over the house.

Next to our pond, a duck was sleeping when we arrived. Later he decided to swim around a little. We can walk three meters away from him. He looks like he is okay with that. There was no female duck this time, so I think this is another single duck. Either that or his girlfriend is somewhere else incubating eggs.

The apple trees started to flower. The Alkmene flowers are behind the Belle de Boskoop/Goudrenet flowers. The Alkmene is smelling a little more than the Belle de Boskoop apples. Further north in The Netherlands, they still have freezing temperatures at night sometimes. I would find it really horrible if the blooms of the apple trees got the frostbite at this moment.

Our pear trees grow leaves as if they are formed really small and squeezed out of the tree. We got our pear trees on 20 August 2020. They came straight out of a fridge and thought it was spring, while in reality, it was late August. The trees flowered, and all was nice, and then they went sleeping during the winter. On 24 February, we moved the pear trees to the final destination in the new fruit tree garden. When we moved them, we also pruned them a little. The neighbors around us did not prune their trees because they got more foliage than we have. I do hope the trees will gather strength from here on.

We discussed if it is not better to start gardening in the fruit tree garden. From the very beginning, we decided to have a vegetable garden in front of our house, but it looks like that is more of a long-term goal than an immediate goal. We will need to put up a fence around all parts that we want to protect from the sheep, and since we need to protect the fruit tree garden anyway, we can as well plant vegetables there. The whole plan is still in the making, but I think this is what we are leaning at right now.

We continued putting up planks on our south wall. First, we moved out the planks. Then we moved the planks to the scaffold. Somehow I don’t think we were super focused on the planks today. It was feeling great to work on the wall, but I recall having done this work with a much better flow before.

At the end of the day, we had finished the section above the doors. Strangely enough, we had missed two planks on two windows, so we had to cut more of these lengths. The weather was okay, it was sunny but not hot. Our miscalculation is no big issue, but it tells me we are less focused, which annoys me.

Our son came with us and continued harvesting gravel from the verge. He raked out gravel from the stuff that got dumped on our verge at the end of last year. He liked harvesting gravel, so he was busy that.

Sunday 2 May

I don’t know what it is specifically, but I have the constant feeling that with the two previous walls, our work was much more focused than it is now. We are doing fine, though, but that feeling is with me all the time. Today we decided to put up full-length planks from left to the right. First, took out the planks and placed them on trestles in front of the house. That is not so clever because we want to take the planks between the scaffold and the wall from the side, and the east side is the most convenient entrance. So we moved the plank to the east side. The good thing with that is that when a plank is having an issue and cannot use it, we can bring it back into the container much more quickly than if we walk it far away and then have to walk it back again. With that improvement sorted, we made a good pile on the trestles.

Then it was time to cut the bottom end of the plank. There it was again. How should that be done? We have done that so many times now, and it has not been an issue before. But how did I do it yesterday? Were the planks from yesterday done correctly? We had to check that they were fine. Yesterday I cut the planks with the outside up, and that gave splinters in the wood. Today I wanted to cut the planks with the backside up to avoid splinters at the front. That was better.

I put up a plank with screws at the corner to get access behind the plank if I so wish. How should I do that? The plank at the corner is fastened with screws. Then I wanted the next plank to be fastened with screws, and then I realized that perhaps the downpipe will be fastened right through the second plank. On the north side, that was the case, but it looked like here, the downpipe will be fastened in the third plank. Why is that? There somewhere, I started to get really annoyed by all the unfocused work. When I realized that the screws I was using were a tiny bit too short, I got really grumpy, but I continued to use them.

It was not so warm today. I think the temperature was a maximum of 10 degrees Celsius. The wind comes from the north, and it was feeling frigid. On the south wall, we were out of the wind. At some point today, I even took off my coat.









When we were done with the first three planks, things calmed down, and we got into the flow. That was good for self-confidence. I do hope we will continue on that flow next time we come to the house. The weather forecast predicts strong wind next Wednesday. Strong wind, in general, is always a little stronger at our new house because it is not shielded by any trees and houses. If the wind is still blowing from the north, then it will be fine. If it changes direction, we will not be able to work outside on Wednesday.

We fastened all the planks today that we had prepared. The plan from 19 March for the door worked out well. It looks nice.

After work, we even gave ourselves time to stroll around in the garden and terminate thistles. My wife planted more seeds of grass. We really hope the grass will start to grow, but it is not that warm. Grass starts to sprout at 10 degrees Celsius, and it is right now just barely over 10 degrees. The seeds that we planted last time yielded some grass here and there. We are thinking that the cold must have had a devastating impact on some parts of the sprouting grass. We concluded that if we are running out of seeds, we just have to buy more seeds until we have the grass we want.

These thoughts about grass have been on my mind a lot this week. More-grass, more-grass, I was thinking in my head this week. We finished about two-thirds of the wall. It is just a question of keep going without injuries and without getting insane—one step in front of the other.

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.