A Day in the Life of KURT

Since October, when my work building (learning how to build) log homes ended, I have been working for the Gustafson family business, Indian Förvaltning (rental property management).  The office is directly beneath our apartment, so my commute, at 7 am, consists of walking out our apartment door, around the corner of the building and into the office door.  I love that I do not have to drive to work.  This frees up the car for Betsey’s hectic driving schedule involving her work and getting the girls to and from school and other events.

The first 45 minutes of work is usually spent drinking coffee, talking about work issues and trying to solve world problems.  Most of this is in Swedish as Conny believes that I am not learning the language quickly enough (probably true) but their rapid speech, Värmland dialect (a different form of Swedish spoken here) and my limited knowledge of the language mean that I miss quite a bit.  During this time of day it is quite dark in the winter, so we are also just biding our time until the sun starts to make its brief appearance in the southern sky.

Patric and I are working on renovating/adding on to a 100 year old cabin that is located about 200 meters from the office.  So far we have added a 4×9 meter cement slab and the stud walls for the new half and removed the roof, and raised the floor level from a ceiling height on the main floor of 2 meters up to the standard Swedish 2.4 meters.  We are currently building the roof trusses and may have the building enclosed in a couple of weeks.  I am trying to keep as much of the old, squared-off log walls and old character of the original cabin intact, but the practical nature of the Gustafson men tend to override many of my suggestions.  Their goal is a low maintenance rental house, not an historically accurate restoration.

We have also installed all of the plumbing and wiring needed in the new section and installed a septic system.  

We usually take lunch in the early afternoon after one or two coffee breaks in the morning.  Indian has a deal with one of the Arvika pizza shops located in one of their buildings.  This deal trades some of the rent for unlimited pizza for the Gustafson men.  Sometimes we eat their food every day.  My favorite has been the Kebab Tallrik (Kebab Plate) which has a generous serving of Kebab meat on top of en equal amount of french fries and slathered with the typical sour cream-based pizza topping sauce.  I don’t even want to know the caloric content of this meal, but I have gained back all of the weight that I lost in my first three months in Sweden and, for this, I blame the very tasty food from Shalom Pizza.

I usually work until sometime between 3:30 and 5:00.  My schedule is quite flexible and if I get 40 hours in before the end of Friday I can choose to go home early.  I have also been able to take time off (not sure whether I get paid vacation or not…long story) for long weekends out of town or for other reasons.

I am enjoying my work very much.  Patric and I spend a lot of time together.  We laugh a lot and we get a lot of time to talk about family, language, customs, traditions, the world and whatever else comes up.  I am also the extra set of hands that Mathias needs, occasionally, for projects involving the many apartments and properties that he is responsible for maintaining.  I have enjoyed these trips with Mathias and, from him, have learned quite a bit about what it takes to keep everything running smoothly.

Yarrow and I have started walking after I am done with work.  We are both feeling like we need to burn off a few extra calories and I really enjoy our rambling walks through the Arvika countryside.  The days are quickly getting longer and by the time we get home at about 5:00 it is getting truly dark.  Betsey has yet been able to go with us and Lily just refuses our invitations.

Our evenings are, surprisingly (to us), taken up by quite a lot of TV watching.  We only have 4 stations and one of them plays mostly American and British programs (or programmes, as the case may be).  They are subtitled in Swedish, of course, and we justify some of our watching by focusing on the translations to further our language skills.  It is actually helpful.  Some favorite programs include: The Simpsons, Stargate Altlantis and Chuck.

We are also still reading quite a bit, having discovered the English language section at the library.  My mother also brought a nice collection of paperbacks when they were here and she was kind enough to leave many of them with us.

While watching TV, I have been working on some wood carving projects including spoons, Swedish butter knives, coat/clothes hanging racks and other items.  I like to keep busy, you know.  We hope to have an inventory of different items to sell at markets in the spring.


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