Timmerstugor =  Log Cabins

A week ago today I started work.  After being on vacation for 10 days, on the first full day that Betsey and the girls were here, I started.  I really had no idea what I was in for…and apparently, neither did they.  There are no homes being built in the shop, right now, as a couple of customers are waiting on financing.

I start at 7 am.  Most of you know that 7 am and I don’t get along very well.  My drive is only about 15 minutes and I get to motor through a very beautiful, pastoral region, through Jössefors and into Öttebol.  I am driving our red Volvo (we have officially named it “Erik the Red”) along narrow, curvy, paved roads and, although I have yet to see much wildlife, the oncoming traffic seems to interpret the lack of a painted center line as and invitation to use the whole road.  I am on the alert for oncoming traffic, for sure.

Swedes have the reputation as being socially reticent and my co-workers have enforced this stereotype.  Other than office staff, until yesterday only one man had spoken with me.  Granted the foreman log-builder is an older man who speaks very little English (and I less Swedish).  But yesterday I spoke with two (2!) other young men who have workable English and one of them has been helping me on my log work.  There are only about 6 people of this staff of about 20 who do the log work.  Others are carpenters and such, finishing the homes once they’re set up on site.

Magnus has been my teacher in this Norwegian style of log building (we are close to the Norwegian border and both the company owner and many of the customers are Norwegian).  He has a pretty good grasp on English and he is teaching me the Swedish names for the tools and techniques.  He has been patient with me and has apparently liked what I have done as he told me I should not get too good too fast.  Apparently Thor and Odin may be offended.

Magnus thinks that this style of joining logs may be one of the most complicated styles in the world.  I can believe it.  That is not to say the difficult, but I have been writing a manual for myself (and will submit a completed version to the company after I have used it a bit) and the process for shaping the bottom of the log has, in my draft manual, 42 different and distinct steps.  The tools involved include an electric Stihl chainsaw, a really great Swedish axe that looks a bit like a small, Medieval battle axe, hammer, chisel, electric hand planers, a large circular saw, one of those old-fashioned measuring sticks that folds in on itself, a custom-made scribe and the ubiquitous Swedish work knife.

Seven days of work and all I have to show for it.

This corner has been my training and I have made it with discarded scrap pieces just laying about.  Many of the pieces are too checked or twisted to use for anything else, which has it’s own challenges.  My progress is evident as the corner gets higher.  I am pleased with my work, so far.  It has been suggested that my next project, to start in a few days, may be a dog house, as then I will have to get two joints (knuts) to match the two logs below.  Magnus says that if the dog rejects it I get sent home.

A finished joint.

My training continues.  Not sure when they’ll let me work on a real house!

All is well.



2 Responses to “Timmerstugor”

  1. Jeff Dickson Says:

    Hi guys: Sounds like you are getting all adjusted. Here however, I still catch myself starting to dial your number about things. Just yesterday, John Isle and I decided to go pay the Republicans a visit down in St. Paul and were calling up folks to fill up the van. Kurt, I actually started to dial your number. We got only one taker, Guthrie, who was thrilled to go on an adventure, even if it was only with us old farts. I thought about the provisions list for a while, actually found three full face respirators with chemical cartridges for that sweet smell of CS gas, several metal trash can lids for anti-baton deflectors, hard hats also for anti-baton deflection, and a big jar of ball bearings…just in case one is being pursued by a cadre of very large and hostile individuals…You wait right until they are breathing down your neck and then while racing away at top speed you pour the bearings out behind you on the ground. Great fun if you have never done it before. I had just enough bearings for John and I and figured Guthrie, being so youthful and fit, didn’t need any help in the area of track and field. When we got to the State Capitol building we were met by thousands of other people all having similar ideas about how they wanted to greet all of the Republicans who had come to cajoul at the Excel Energy Center for four days. Their activities which were scheduled to begin on Monday, Labour Day, were delayed for a day due to severe atmospheric conditions down in Cajun Country. And it seems their fearless leaders, Herr Bu$h and Master Cheney were seeking shelter from the storm in some secret undisclosed location. Fortunately, FEMA’s Brownie had long since lost his job and no one had to spend the night at Hotel Superdome. Without the primary guests of honor in attendance, I sensed that some of the pep was deflated from the sails of the conventioneer greeters, but everyone put on their best face or in some cases black ski masks and with pots, pans, drums, rocks, hammers and spoons pounding and banners and signs waiving proclaiming the various pleasantries, the ragtag, cheerful mob set out towards whatever awaited us. Due to the family nature of much of the crowd, John, Guthrie and I decided to leave our marching paraphenalia in the van so as to neither needlessly scare the children nor intimidate those gentlemen lining the parade route whose job was protecting us from those who may wish us harm. I must say, I felt a bit naked. But shortly after we got started, imagine our surprise when we spotted familiar faces in a crowd of such magnitude, but there right in front of us and behind the Code Pink Beauty Queens (I Miss America, I Miss Cleanair, I Miss Cleanwater, the twins: I Miss Peace and I Miss Freedom and I Miss Justice) was the Finland Contingency. Here was Rose, Ronnie, Honor, Amy, Rose’s brother and sister and even an OCA employee from Mexico. We all enjoyed looking at the architecture along the route and chanting our words of welcome to the Republican guests. I felt sorry for our warrioresque traffic guards who linked arms the entire way to the Convention Center, dressed in heavy black armour, imperial storm trooper headwear, and goose stepping shining black jack boots, because it was so horribly hot and uncomfortable on that black asphalt and they looked so sad and bored for not being able to mingle with us. When we got to our destination we had caught a second wind and we sent our salutations to the visitors and then returned to the State Capitol for some good music and rousing commentary. I should mention that right behind us were some wonderful giant look-a-like puppet heads of none other than Darth Cheney, President Shrub, Condi and Rummie, all dressed in striking black and white pin stripes and tastefully chained together at the waist. Shrub was pulling his little dog Johnnie McSame behind him. This happy gathering was being escourted to a question and answer party at the Hague Neatherlands. When we got back to Finland and watched the local news, we saw that there had been some hooliganism on the part of some rowdy parade participants and a few hundred were given a room for the night courtesy of St. Pauls finest. It was strange that we had no inclination of any of this misbehavior from our vantage point. The Finlanders, to our credit, acted as any true ambassadors from Finland should act: courteous and polite as can be. Today, I found out that on this Thursday afternoon, at the Excel Center, the Republican Party is hosting a fundraiser featuring Jonnie McSame’s running mate (hopefully not playmate) Sarah Palin and Condi Rice in a never seen before 5 round mudwrestling competition. Kind of makes you want to have more of those traditional family values, doesn’t it. I hear the procedes will go to the great cause of helping Sarah Palin raise her unwed, 17 year old daughter’s baby. Sarah really needs the money, for as govenor of Alaska she vetoed funds for the housing and education of teenage unwed mothers and their babies and she also did not support sex education classes that mentioned the sex act or which taught youths about contraception methods. The good mother she is taught her daughter the Bu$h absteinence method. Live and Learn I say. Kurt, you certainly left at an interesting time.



  2. Jocelyn Says:

    Tonight, I stuck a wooden skewer into a pan of brownies to see if they were done.

    That’s as close to your new kind of work that I’ve ever gotten.

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