Sunday, April 18, 2021

The value of good shoes

A couple of years ago I fell and broke my hand, and that taught me to invest in good shoes. Purchasing Dr Marten's work boots still seemed an extravagant luxury, because really, who pays hundreds of dollars for a pair of boots? I got them anyway.

Today when I headed over to my renovation project, I thought, "It's getting too warm to wear all this. I guess thick jeans are okay, but should I take sneakers instead of the Doc's? Nah, if I don't wear them I'll step on a nail or something." 

I've been working on the living room floor. It's completely rotten and must be replaced, but it's difficult, because it isn't good enough to stand on. So today I wanted to make myself a "bridge" to help distribute my weight.  

I was going to call it a day, but wanted to get over to the side to see how bad it really is. I treaded carefully while mumbling, "It's a shame this floor isn't in better shape, it must have been really pretty at one point in time. I hope nothing lives under here. The boards are like paper now, just a matter of time before someone falls through... GAAAH!"

Aaaand, suddenly the rest of the floor was at knee height. Trying to climb up only resulted in stepping through it again. And again. (All this was accompanied by extensive cursing.)

Only when I was back in the relative safety of the hall did I realize how lucky I am. If I hadn't worn the thick jeans, my legs would have been torn up and bleeding. If I hadn't worn the Doc's, I might not be able to walk right now. As it is, the only owie from the ordeal is a swollen finger that I bumped when I fell. 

At least this proves that my line of thinking is correct - the house needs a new floor, lol!



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A day filled with fun coincidences

This is so cool. I was over at "Project Cottage" and a car stopped. Out came a man who said, "It's so nice to see who's here now. My dad bought this in 1908." I think he said it was used to be called John's cottage, but I'm not great with names, so I might remember that wrong.

And to make it even cooler, he used to have school lunches in my house as a child in the 1940s! 

I've guessed that my small upstairs room (I think of it as Adam's room) has been a kitchen, and that's correct. The kids ate in both the other rooms up there, so my bedroom and Koda's room were both used for school lunches for the children.

We walked around the cottage and chatted, and he said, "You need help by an excavator." It was so great to be able to say, "It will be here on Wednesday" - and he looked super surprised and happy. He asked several times, "You're really getting an excavator over here? On Wednesday?"

Of course, it's due to the help of kind people in the village, but he still seemed to think it's just as awesome as I do. Loved this guy!

Apparently, he drives past there about once a week, so that's an extra incentive for me to accomplish things. I want to show the place as beautiful as it looks in my mind. :-) 

The whole area is so beautiful. Just look at this tree and the spring flowers!



With a little help from my friends...

I can be a bit of a recluse - extroverted when I'm among people, but also really good at staying at home and not talking to anyone. So it has surprised me this past week how many people care about me and are there to help me when I need them. 

Like magic, my "handyman" - whom I usually call in a panic when something has broken and my house is flooding lol - was at the cottage, measuring the broken windows. I pretend to know how to do things, but he actually knows, and it's infinitely reassuring to hear a person like that say "We'll fix this." 

And last night, a local company asked if I needed help. So next week an excavator will be at the cottage, at a very reasonable price. Honestly, I didn't think I'd be able to afford transporting one over there, but they want to help and encourage the project, so I think they made sure to price it within my reach. 

I am so very grateful. I've been digging and digging, and doing this by hand would take months. And, just like they said, the mere presence of large machines may discourage more mischief. It will be obvious that someone's there and cares about the place.

Complete strangers have contacted me and offered to drive and walk by and help keep an eye on it. One guy said, "I'm something of a night owl, so I thought I can just as well go by there when I'm out and about at night." How awesome is that!

I am humbled and deeply grateful to everyone.

Monday, April 12, 2021

A positive side effect

I whined about someone shooting the cottage windows the other day - and when I say "I whined" I mean big time. In the village's Facebook group, to the police, and even to the press. It seems reasonable to go wide on this one - a person shooting random things like houses must be nipped in the bud before someone gets hurt or killed.

I didn't expect anything positive to come out of all this, but I have been surprised. So many people in the community have reached out, offering everything from kind words to help with finding materials for the repairs. Many are complete strangers, and the outpour of support truly warms my heart.

Talking to some new people helped me learn more about the place too. This one guy I've only waved to from the car before - they have a really beautiful Rottweiler - said he has lived here for 20 years and never knew the cottage had stairs until I started digging. 

One of my neighbors - I've never actually talked to her before, just waved when she rides her bike past my house - knew the last time someone lived in the cottage. Apparently, it was empty for a few years and an older man rented it the winter of 1986. She said he wanted to live in a place without electricity or other modern conveniences.

That made me go "wow" - I'm odd, but not odd enough to choose to live in an old cabin this far north in winter without power or water. It would be brutal! And a more personal "hmm" - I'm pretty sure the owners told me no one has used it since the 1970s. Did they forget about him, or did he just decide to use it for a few months? It doesn't matter at this point in time, just curious.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

For f***s sake...

I think I've said this before, but renovating and rescuing an old cottage would be a lot easier if people would stop destroying it on purpose. I went to Project Cottage yesterday, driven by a nagging feeling that something was wrong, and someone has shot every single windowpane. All of them.

Right now I am angry, frustrated, sad, furious... It hit me really hard, because it brought me back to when I lived in Bradenton and the gang shot my house. I slept with a 9 mm Walther next to my pillow for a year, until I was able to leave and come here. I chose this village because it's tiny and should be fairly peaceful. 

How wrong one can be!

I loved this window in particular, because it had six panes of beautiful hand-blown 19th century glass. Replacing it with the same quality would cost $392 per pane. So $2,352 to get new glass for the whole window. 

I'm guessing the culprit is a young man, probably a teenager, and they probably think it's super cool when the weapon goes bang and the glass crackles. It probably makes them feel strong and awesome. But you know what? Right now, it's a matter of material damage. Expensive material damage since they've destroyed a total of 21 window panes, but still material. What if someone had been in there? How super cool would it be to face charges for a murder attempt?

This is the second time someone has shot this poor cottage since December. I've ordered a security camera with a 4G SIM card and signs saying, "STOP SHOOTING THE HOUSE! I'VE PUT UP CAMERAS!" I've also whined on Facebook, hoping someone who knows the culprit will see, and a local newspaper saw my post and picked up the story. 

I'm filing a police report too, but I'm holding off with sending it in until I've gotten in touch with the property owners.


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Project Cottage II is back on! Woohoo!

I did a lot of thinking during the Easter holiday, visited properties for sale, and even made a budget spreadsheet to figure out how far I would find it reasonable to go to purchase the 18th century cottage. Aaaaand, when the seller's representative got back to me after the holiday, we were able to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. Woohoo!

(If you haven't followed my blog, you're probably wondering why I have a Project Cottage and a Project Cottage II. I don't own the first one, I just have an agreement with the owner, because seeing something beautiful a mere two miles from my house slowly die bugged me.)

Anyway, they're drawing up the contract and I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for working it out financially. I don't have a "great" credit rating, but it's "good" so hopefully that will be enough to borrow what's needed.

I went out there before work today with the dogs to try to fix the door that has fallen off, and almost got lost in the woods. I was completely certain that we were right behind the house, but also completely certain I'd never seen a forest looking like that before, so I was about to pull out the phone and check the map when I spotted the roof through the trees. We weren't far off, but a few hundred meters north of where I thought we would be. That has never happened to me before, guess there's a first time for everything.

Though, I've always had a funky feeling in the woods over there, and they're littered with Iron Age grave sites and similar. So who knows, maybe something is messing with my internal compass. 

Anyway, the first attempt at fixing the door failed spectacularly. It weighs a ton. It's way too heavy for me to lift and hold. 

I managed to slide it up and wedge it in the opening so the house isn't completely open to weather and nature - I half expect to meet a deer in there - but it definitely didn't work out like in my imagination.


I have to rethink this strategy, and I'm pondering several options. I can try to build something up that I can slide/push the door onto, so it sits at the right height and I can attach it to the frame. 

Or, get another door, but I like this one because it's really old. It's probably a bit newer than the oldest portions of the house, but still old. I have a spare door down in my shed. If it fits I'll take it as a sign.

Or, I could build another door. I don't know why I think that's a great idea when I have not just one but two doors and one of them is supposed to be there, but my imagination is still in overdrive.

Or, once the house becomes mine I could board the opening up until I get to renovating this side and put in a French Door with windows. That would be SO wrong for the period, but it would probably also look gorgeous.

Looking at this photo feels like a good time to point out that we don't have termites in Sweden. Otherwise I would be concerned about them. The siding looks ratty, but there's a solid log structure behind it. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to just replace the siding or save as much of it as possible.

I'm excited! 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Project Cottage - First Easter

Project cottage has been empty and alone since the 1970s, but not anymore. I put some flowers on the stairs today, to symbolize a new beginning - and to show people that it isn't abandoned. Someone cares. There's no guarantee they'll still be there when I come back tomorrow, but I hope people will leave them alone. 

Before I started digging - you can't even tell there are stairs!


And, today. It isn't done, not by far, but I like to see that things are getting better. 

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

There are some major differences between life in the USA and life in Sweden, and this is rarely as apparent as when talking about holidays.

In Sweden, Easter gets going on Thursday, but not in a way most Americans would guess. Traditionally, children dress up as Easter witches and go door to door to hand out hand-made Easter cards and ask for candy. Adult witches hop on their brooms and fly to BlÄkulla (it's a real place) for a great party. The cat and coffee pot are mandatory accessories.


In times past, the people who weren't into flying on brooms would make bonfires and as much noise as possible, to discourage the witches from landing along the way.

I don't have a broom, and my cat probably thinks this is a good thing. There's a good chance I'd fly like this.


Not much happens on Good Friday - almost everything will be closed - but on Saturday morning, it's time for Easter eggs. Though, our eggs are much cooler than American Easter egg hunts; ours are large and made from paper or plastic, and filled with candy. 

Sunday and Monday are holidays, and on Tuesday people get back to work, but it's a short week...

Anyway, whatever you celebrate this spring, I hope you have a wonderful time!

Friday, April 2, 2021

I'm happy I'm not a realtor

Now when the idea of purchasing something has taken root in my mind and Cottage II probably won't work out, I jumped online to see what else is out there. I found a cottage that looked okay on the photos on a really nice lot in the countryside. At a suspiciously low price...

According to the realtor, it's something "for the handy" that can be a gem in the right hands. I'm not as handy as I like to think I am, but I'm usually handy enough.

Only one thing to do: I jumped into the car and headed out. 


Nope, I'm not that handy. 😳

I am a perpetual optimist, but I don't think the poor thing is salvageable. I've never said that before, so it should give a hint to how bad it really was.

My heart is breaking for it - this used to be someone's home - but I didn't want to go in. I walked around it and peeked through the windows, and the smell of mold was so strong even on the outside that it made my eyes water. I doubt there's one board on the whole house that isn't soft and spongy.

If I'd been looking for a lot to build something on this would have been a great deal - beautiful trees and bushes, a well, and a root cellar - but my thing is more about saving an old house. And this one is beyond my abilities. I suspect it's beyond anyone's abilities. 

Back to the drawing board...

Thursday, April 1, 2021

I thought it was an April Fool's joke...

Thus far, Project Cottage II is not going well. I got the quote from the forest company today and thought it must be an April Fool's joke. It wasn't - he was serious.

We agreed yesterday that the house basically lacks value as it sits right now. So that leaves creating and purchasing a lot. I looked at land prices for single-family buildings to get a baseline, and in the county where the property is located, they're at 58 SKr per square meter (approximately $6.65).  The county just south of it is at 50 SKr per square mater (approximately $5.73). 

The quote from the forest company was for 78 SKr per square meter ($8.95) with me paying for the land survey and associated fees, which would add some 40,000 SKr ($4,580) to the final sum - and is included in the other prices. Also, the county's prices I'm comparing to is for land in villages with access to public utilities.

So, in my world a lot of 1900 square meters in the middle of nowhere with no chance of connecting it to public utilities and no ways to really use it shouldn't cost more than maybe 95,000 SKr total. Tops. My gut feeling says it should be even less. 

The quote ended up on 150,000 SKr + approximately 40,000, so 190,000 SKr. 

A difference of 95,000 SKR ($10890) is too much and even though I want to save the cottage, it doesn't feel right. Sadly, the difference is so big I doubt we'll be able to find a middle ground. It's a shame.

I'm waiting to see if he'll get back to me after Easter, but at this point, I'm not optimistic.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

One step closer to Project Cottage II

Remember the 18th century cottage I've been babbling about? I met with the representative from the forest company that owns it today, and just like I suspected, they're moderately interested in owning it and caring for it. They work with the forests - as far as I know they do that very well - and this building just happened to be on a piece of land they bought.

They want to sell it and I want to buy it. So far so good!


Of course, it sits on their land, and purchasing it will involve a land survey by LantmÀteriet - the only organization allowed to do things like that in Sweden. They usually have a loooooooong line of cases to work through and they're really good at charging for their services, so that will be a hoop to jump through.

But, one step at a time. We discussed what portions should reasonably go with the cottage - I don't want the responsibility of owning forest, but I do want the well and parts of the old homestead - and he will do the math on it to set a price. With Easter we're heading for a long holiday here in Sweden, most organizations will close around noon tomorrow and not open again until Tuesday, and I will probably sit staring at my e-mail, pressing the "refresh" button until I hear back from him. That's normal, right? lol!

To be continued. :-) 


The value of good shoes

A couple of years ago I fell and broke my hand, and that taught me to invest in good shoes. Purchasing Dr Marten's work boots still seem...