JENS MALMGREN I create, that is my hobby.

Front porch ornament

This week, DW painted the windows of our cottage in Sweden, and I installed the front porch ornament.

Monday 20 May

Today is a compulsory holiday in the Netherlands but not Sweden. They switched this day to the National Day in Sweden, 6 June. It is refreshing to stop celebrating a fantasy figure and celebrate something here and now. So here I am from the Netherlands, enjoying a compulsory holiday in Sweden with full access to stores and services and without traffic jams. That is handy!

We started the day by shopping for things we needed for our DIY projects at the cottage. I had figured out there was a factory of ladders that I wanted to visit. It turned out to be closed because we arrived on the lunch break. We went to another shop to buy ladders, which worked out well. We got what we wanted. We also bought paint and all sorts of little DIY things. The ladder got loaded onto the car's roof rack.

On the way home, the ladder started singing.

We drove through the landscape with a siren of around 417 Hz. That was an odd experience. I suppose it was caused by the opening of the ladder pipes at the front of the car. The other side of the pipe had plastic caps. Had we turned the ladder around, no siren would have sounded.

When we came to the cottage, I mounted the ladder to the wall of the wood house. It sounds so simple, but the task had a few subtasks. For example, the hooks were too narrow, so I had to bend them to work with this ladder. I had first placed the ladder in a more visible place that DW did not like, but I changed it. Putting the ladder together was also a mystery at first. Well, it is hanging, and that is good.

DW worked on her Windows project. I continued on my front porch project. I finished all the pieces of wood needed to restore the side of the roof. Then, I put primer on those pieces. It was lovely weather and great fun to work on. While painting the planks, I listened to Ukraine – The Latest.

Tuesday 21 May

Today, I started by painting the second set of planks with primer, and the first set of planks got the first top layer. I worked from the barn, looking out over the property. It was a lovely morning.

Next, I painted a top layer on the ornament. It isn't easy to paint this piece. I used a lot of paint to get into the narrow places and removed the excess paint.

From here on, I helped DW with her project from time to time. I pulled out the windows and moved them also to the barn. It is much easier to paint the windows when not in the frame.

We revealed issues we had not seen before that had to be fixed. When the windows are placed in their frames, one corner is difficult to see and has things to fix. So, we fixed these issues. Then, there were planks to be fastened.

At this point, we started to run out of paint, so we went to the local hardware store and picked up more paint. There, we met a friend from the neighborhood.

I scraped the edge of the front porch ceiling. It has small ornaments as well. The first three had to be replaced, so I recreated these with a jigsaw and leftover multiplex from the large ornament.

The battens holding the roof tiles could be lifted so that I could apply tar paper under them. I am unsure about the quality of the battens, but I will try to keep them. If they should all be replaced, I must remove the entire roof; this holiday is too short for that kind of project. I need to find a compromise.

We kept the windows in the barn overnight. It was a new experience sleeping with open windows. I had thought it would be cold, but that was no issue.

In the evening, we received the offer of the shed. There was much information to digest. I also had an issue to help with at work, so I logged in and did that. Never a dull moment.

Wednesday 22 May

The list of necessary supplies was getting longer and longer, but how should we get that stuff, especially with windows you cannot close? DW suggested she continue work on the windows while I went to the city to get the supplies. That was actually a good idea.

But first, we had a coffee in the garden. It was such a lovely, quiet morning.

Then I went to the larger city a little further away. It is Värnamo. It was not that easy to find all the things I wanted. I had to go to three shops before I was satisfied. By then, it was lunchtime.

DW painted windows, one after another. She was good busy.

When I came home with all the things, we had lunch. The window paintings had excellent progress while I was in town. While preparing for lunch, a car came driving to our property. It was the previous owner, Bojan, and her son Jan and the daughter. We do not remember her name, but it could be Yvonne, Vivienne, or Irene. No idea. We have owned the place for 17 years; they still cherish its memories. Jan said he painted the windows before the property was sold. We are not convinced that he used maximum effort for the task, but we did not say anything. They could have done some things better, but they did a good enough job. Sometimes, we stand by our constraints and make choices that must have been the same for them. Overall, our scarce resource is time. Money is not a big issue. They had more time and scarce money; that remains my impression.

After lunch, I continued working on the front porch project. I broke a batten immediately while attempting to get tar paper under it. The battens are brittle, so I need to handle them with caution. I had to replace it with a new batten. Then, I had to figure out how to enforce the brittle battens already in place. I had bought a roll of metal with holes. How would it be if I cut a length of that and screwed it onto the existing batten? That worked beautifully. Where I broke another batten, I replaced it, and for the rest, I screwed on the band to the existing battens.

Look! Metal-enforced battens. Those tiles are not going anywhere. Then, I mounted the replacement ornaments from the corner. Right now, they look whiter, but when I paint all of them, the ornaments will be the same color.

Then, it was time to get the planks up. That went smoothly. I could try out how it would look with the ornament mounted. Not bad at all, actually. The new ornament is neater, not that anyone will notice, but I like it better like this. Before it hung correctly, I had to cut out excess material. I had to figure out the proper angle, but when that was done, it was straightforward.

One of the new things I bought in the city today was a new sawblade, and now that came in handy because the saw made such an excellent cut with a proper sawblade. I primed the freshly cut part of the ornament and the two beams that will hold the base.

It was a long day of work. When we got into the golden hour, I started to put back the painted windows. The white cat was lying and observing me in the grass beside the barn. We had a simple supper, and then I continued to put the windows back on. The coming night, we would not sleep with missing windows.

There were tools and scraps in many places. I collected all the things and put them where they belonged. While doing this, I was observed by a roe deer from the forest's edge. Before ending the work, I painted another layer on the ornament and the beams. They have two layers of paint, so the ornament can be mounted tomorrow morning.

Thursday 23 May

The front porch ornament fell down on 22 November 2020. It will be a grand moment when the spire is restored today. Here are two photos from when it happened. On 5 November 2022, I started restoring the ornament. I abandoned that project because it was not the correct material. Then, I bought a weatherproof laminated plywood in the Netherlands on 27 March 2023. On 16 April, I cut the plate to a transportable size. On 27 April, I started cutting the second ornament from the weatherproof laminated plywood. On 8 March 2024, I painted the ornament. Today, I put it up! That is 3 years, six months, one day. The original ornament had a metal rod supporting it. I created a new, longer rod that I still need to paint and put up.

Today, we were to receive a visit from the Norwegian lady coming to us to pick up the loom we transported from the Netherlands. It would not be handy to have the tractor in front of the front porch where we stored the loom. I also wanted to have the ornament mounted before she arrived.

I noted that the cut I made yesterday would not suffice. The angle was not correct. I made a new cut. The spire fits better this way. I painted the new cut primer. I mounted the ornament and used a white acrylate kit to fill the gaps. Also, the screw heads were filled with an acrylate kit. Then, I painted primer over the kit. Then, I primed the row of ornaments below the ceiling. Just so much that they looked white from a distance. Then, I removed the tractor. Now she could arrive.

If you zoom in on the picture (click on it), you will notice that the new design is more "clean." The original design had several horizontal planks on top of each other, and in my design, there is one straight plank at the front. I think that is neater.

Then Lena arrived. She got a presentation of the looms we got here, and DW and Lena talked about wool and wool art.

We packed the loom in her car, and she drove back.

It was good to sit and relax talking for a while. We have been busy for several days in a row.

When Lena had left, I decided to replace the cellar door frame. It is an uncomplicated door. It is essentially a wood frame with a galvanized metal sheet on top. The old frame was totally disintegrated. The old frame had mortise and tenon joints. I had no time for an elaborate design of that sort. I bought metal square brackets from the local hardware store.

I found sturdy beams in the barn, so that was easy. By the time the construction was completed, we were well into the golden hour of today. I removed the galvanized metal from the old frame and mounted it on the new frame. The same goes for the hinges and the handle.

After assembly, I decided to paint the beams red. It had been easier to paint it before assembly, but here I was. There was no return. It looked sleek with red beams, I must say.

After the painting, we had dinner. That was good because the door could dry for a while. After dinner, it was far from dry, but I had to mount it before the evening.

The other side of the door was already painted. I did not feel like I wanted to paint that side as well. I would not know how to paint it either. We keep it like it was for now.

This evening, we discovered that one of the trees we had next to the old chicken house carried thousands of flowers. But what kind of tree was this? It was a Swedish white beam. It is so beautiful with all the white flowers!

Friday 24 May

Today, DW started to paint before breakfast. I gave the decorations of the front porch more primer. I cannot paint the top layer on the decorations, but I am happy with the primer.

The next task for today was to remove unused things from the cellar. There was mold developing in the cellar, and that is not good. We took out all the stuff. We had a shelve construction that got removed. It was perhaps the culprit for the mold problem. We will not have a wood shelve in the cellar anymore. Things got sorted: what to keep and what to throw away. DW cleaned the keep thing, and I loaded the car with the garbage. We wanted to eliminate this immediately if the stuff was contaminated with mold infection.

I modified the door to the cellar to close better. That in itself could be part of the problem. The walls were cleaned and sprayed with mold elimination spray. When we installed water (many years ago), the wall got an ever-so-slight dent in it. The digger made that dent, and the door to the cellar has been a little stuck.

Then we drove to the recycling center in the city. All the stuff was sorted into the correct disposal bin.

There is a company that is giving away non-standard pallets. We picked up a bunch of those on the way home. We learned now that we can use them when working around the house. That is handy. There is plenty of space in the barn, so they can be stored ideally in the barn.

When we came home, DW painted another layer on the windows. I went along the driveway with the brushcutter to clear from shrubs growing into the road.

Saturday 25 May

Today's first task was to fasten a metal roof list that had come off during the winter. For this task, the newly bought ladder had to be extended. The ladder was not heavy at the bottom, so someone needed to hold it down at that length. I held it down, and DW pushed the ladder to the roof.

I climbed up, removed flimsy little spikes, and replaced them with proper bolts. This list is not going anywhere, not even in storms induced by climate change.

The next task was to fasten the ornament with a metal rod. I could only find a screw that was zinked, so I decided to embed it into a blob of acrylic paste. That then got painted. I removed the drip after I took the photo. The ornament is well worth sitting there for the next 20 years. Other roof parts need replacement first, but I deal with that later.

It was magnificent weather, but we had a plan for today: We had decided to start traveling back to the Netherlands at 5 PM, but DW still had to paint a little on the windows, clean up the workshop and the house, pack the car, and so on.

I went around the lawn and filled up holes that moles had dug. I say moles, but it could be another animal. It is definitely an animal digging in the lawn, but I am not sure what animal it is. I know it is not a cat, a fox, or a deer. That is sure. There are holes, and our lawn mover robot could get stuck in one of those, and then it would be game over until someone comes and rescues it from the trap. We bought filler material so I could go around, find the holes, and fill them.

A couple of minutes before it was time to leave, the sun was shining at the house like the ornament lit up from the front. It looked beautiful!

At 5 PM, I started driving. I drove to Hyllinge and arrived there at 7 PM. We had dinner that DW had prepared. It was delicious. A starved seagull with green feet kept an eye on our feast. We had parked on an enormous parking. Unfortunately, the seagull did not get anything from us.

We bought coffee at Gumslöv. That was at 7.30 PM. Then, I continued to drive all the way to Odense in Denmark. There, we checked in at the Scandic Hotel. This was at 10 PM.

The room was much more modern than our room in Germany last time, but it was also 87 euros more. This room had ventilation, which is much better.

Sunday 26 May

The ventilation in the room was excellent. The TV had to display the current time and announce its presence with an LED, but I could cover it with a paper towel. The fire alarm had no less than two LEDs that had to blink every twenty seconds. I suppose it detects fire only every twenty seconds. When you try to sleep, knowing each time it checks for fire is unnecessary. I will pack black duct tape in my bag to go around and cover all advanced LEDs that need to inform me about things I don't bother about. I think this LED hype is a general societal problem and not so much a problem of Hotel Scandic in Odense.

On the door was a sign with an illuminated background informing people about escape routes in case of fire. It was behind the corner, so that was okay.

The breakfast was fabulous!

It was slightly overcast this morning. DW drove the first part. She loves driving in Denmark and hates driving elsewhere in Europe, including the Netherlands. She is also aware of the road culture in Denmark, unlike me. I have slept through Denmark for almost 16 years while DW was driving. Yesterday, when I drove, she told me things they never do in Denmark, such as overtaking a car on the right side. That is odd because Danish people like their own lane and speed, which does not always flow with the rest of the traffic. My theory is that Danes are a little like Americans. They keep their lane. The rule in Europe, in general, is that you should never pass a car on the right side, but in Denmark, they follow that rule a little more than in Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. I suppose Dutch drivers are the least worried about that rule.

In the Netherlands, overtaking on the right side can cost you a fine of 300 euros. In Denmark, people get a fine of 2000 Danish krone and a punched hole in their driving license. I suppose the fine for driving on the left lane is much cheaper. In the Netherlands, it is 270 euros.

We tanked gas in Ustrup, which was not far from the German border. That was just one hour from Odense, so she continued driving.

At 10:30 AM, we switched, I started driving. At 11 AM, we arrived at a restaurant in Quickborn, Germany.

There was a massive press made of wood standing in the restaurant. It was pretty impressive. I wonder what they made with it. Whine, or perhaps Apple Cider?

At Bad Zwischenahn, we stopped eating at 1:30 PM with things we brought. There was a WC, but it was not inviting. A guy had a t-shirt with the text Eat, Code, Sleep I used to have. I talked to him; he was a software developer as well.

Then, I continued to drive until Scheemda in the Netherlands at 14:30 PM. There were nice clouds!

DW drove the rest of the journey home. At the Ketelbrug, the bridge was open at 4 PM. We had a short break waiting for the bridge to close. We came home at 4:30 PM.

I must say that DS is not particularly orderly. There was stuff to fix when we came home. Now, three more pickle plants are eaten by snails. That brings us to two surviving pickle plants. The grape wine had fallen down. The slug carnage was devastating at DW Beans plantation.

Merida's ears had been severely sunburned in our absence. DS told us about it, and we arranged sunscreen for the animals she now had on her ears, but the ears did not look nice. Merida was happy to see us. Also, the sheep liked that we were back. Most plants inside the house had survived. A set of basil plants were not doing well, but I am okay with that.

It was a lovely week. We had a lot of nice weather, perfect for painting. We focused on getting things done and kept leisure things to a minimum. I had a great time. DW was okay with this because she knew she would return to her regular sabbatical after this week. In normal circumstances, working only during the holiday would not be so lovely for her.

I think the main achievement this week is that the spire, the front porch ornament, has returned to our cottage in Sweden. It has not only been returned but is also more slender, gracious, and robust.

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.