Jun 7, 2015

Stoltergården summer work

What I loved most about it was coming back to the house, hearing the hammering and brothers laughing together. Coming home.

It was my friend Mats who grew up in Dalarna in Sweden where most every home stead has a name, who started calling my place Stoltergården. Stolter from my name (stolt in Swedish means proud, so my name is Proudman) and gård means place or residence.

Stoltergården contains of the main house where I live, the baker’s cottage which is a summer house, the combined wood shed/coach house, a hay barn, an out house and a play house. It was my grandfather on my mother’s side who built the place which also of course had a barn for livestock, torn down in the seventies by my dad when the roof didn’t hold up anymore. My mother, her sister Inga-Märta and brother Arne were born here.

Maintaining a place like this is a lot of work, and as I can’t do anything myself anymore, it’s becoming a problem. Big things I would have to hire people for anyway, but things like a little paint here and there, taking down half dead trees, cleaning out the coach house, taking care of windfalls in the grove, saving the slate tiles on the stone pavings from vanishing under overgrown grass, things like that is just normal maintenance which simply has to get done.

I am the kind of person who just doesn’t do well in decay. And a place like mine doesn’t either. We had both come to a point where I had to make a decision. Either I have to find a way to take better care of Stoltergården or I had to sell to someone who could do it. 

I had a sit down talk with my sons. This isn’t about moving the lawn when you can squeeze it in anymore. This is about keeping Stoltergården in the family or not. So?

My proposal was to set up a work week every summer. A week dedicated to the (of course never-ending) list of top priorities which just has to be taken care of. The proposal was approved of by both sons, with a slight correction, at least for this year: three days in the pre summer and three days at the end. Noon - 9 PM.

So, I wrote the Summer 2015 to do list, decorated with flowers in bright colors. The flowers are important. List was in three parts. One for indoors, in case of rain. One for minor repairs and paint. And one for the yard and light forestry.

The pre summer days happened this week. And it was when I got back from my treatment on Monday, the first day, I was welcomed by the hammering and happy brothers laughing together. Music to a mother ear.

The weather cooperated like it had read my list. 

Day 1 rain was poring down and most things on the indoor list got done. 

Day 2 clear skies, and it was safe to cover the deck under my grand father’s apple tree with a fresh shiny black coat. A couple of young maples growing too close to each other on the yard next to the picket fence was removed to give others space to develop into big trees. This was hard work and took most of the day. At the end though, what for the labor was most attractive on the list, starting the chain saw, happened.

Day 3 was a mix of sun, skyfall, thunder, and overcast. Windy, as always here, nowadays. During the rain more indoor maintenance. But than in the afternoon getting to the main attraction, only sniffed on the day before: taking care of the windfall down in the grove.

Trouble & Trouble haven’t before worked with a chain saw. It has been dead for some years, saved last summer as their uncle Kjell took it to the work shop and now it’s up and running again. And the necessary safety equipment has been obtained. So, on to it!

Trouble 2 is a careful person, in everything he does. That’s a valuable asset when it comes to handling dangerous machinery. In addition, ground and greenery was heavy from the rain, more reasons for being cautious. For Trouble 1 the perfect assignment was picking up the water-heavy birch stumps with the incredibly effective and horrible hook, filling the wheelbarrow for further transport to the special place next to the wood shed for cleaving the wood, which has been asleep for many years.  

In three days a lot of the things on the list was done. Check. One of the important things with a list is the check part. Check, check. Done! Good job! High five! Add more colorful flowers!

In addition to the work done, we had three nice days. Afternoon fika. Carb rich dinners. Put the late summer work days in our calendars. We even squeezed in a production meeting for a film project we are working on. And all three of us were in a good mood, I enjoyed it tremendously.

Win win win. One more win with this concept is avoiding the entire summer frustration on days, weeks and months passing not getting things done (on my part) and the constant pressure from me waiting for things to happen (on my sons' part).

To give some little sparkle to all the must do I had the idea we every summer could ad something fun to it, some nice improvement to Stoltergården. Trouble 2 suggested building an outdoor kitchen at the baker’s cottage south wall, where the barbecue takes place. Trouble 1 wanted a cableway from the balcony over the front yard all the way to the tree house. That’s my sons.

Today my beloved uncle Arne would have turned 90 if he had still been with us. He grew up here, and at his funeral I promised him to take as good care of his childhood home as I possibly could. Tonight his blackbird is singing over the fields and I hope he watches his niece and her sons doing their very best.

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