My neighbour is 98 years old. His mind is clear, perfect eyesight and he still cycles around to the shops or down to his boat in the harbour. Sometimes I’ll see him up on his roof adjusting the tv antenna or on a ladder cutting his trees. Then I never dare say hello, in case he would fall down. He did actually fall many years ago, from the roof(he’s a tin-smith) in to a flower bed and broke some ribs. Every now and then I go over for a glass of wine and some great stories. This evening we were a bit slow starting conversation but then he brought out his photo albums. Can’t believe I’ve never thought to ask him before! So many great pictures from the island but also from north of Sweden where he did his military duty. I sometimes joke that it’s age playing up when I can’t remember where I put my keys but this guy, he remembers all the names of everyone in his class when he was 10 and their parents names and where they were born. He claims the key to old age is never trust doctors or lawyers and eat a lot of fatty fish.
Such an interesting day. I am still trying to calm down after the last few weeks excitement. Not an easy quest but yesterday I spent a day in the garden and that seems to have done the trick. Today I woke up with lots of new plans and set to work straight away, I took wet plates in the barn and then invited myself for a coffee at the vicars place. Well he is actually not a vicar but has legal rights to wed poeple. We hired him for our wedding because I’d seen him in a paper looking really cool in a leather waistcoat and golden earrings. He came for the opening of the gallery last weekend and spoke of pictures he had from glass negatives. I invited myself. So I brought some cake and he put the coffee on. He lives just down the harbour with a view overlooking everything down there. There were so many pictures from the islands not just Hönö but surroundings as well and he collects old postcards with and island theme. We sat by the window so I could compare the view of today to a hundred years ago. On my way back home I almost felt dizzy on my moped, going along all these little roads recognising a house here and there with the old images still in my head. He’s also written a book about the submarine that sank just outside the island. 1943 it sank, as he says, because of a mine that wasn’t there. The government had reassured everyone that there were no mines but the submarine called Ulven apparently hit one at 13meters deep. 33 people died. There are lots of stories about divers knocking on the walls and getting replies but according to my source there were no replies only air bubbles. 13 days later the managed to bring the submarine to surface. I was shown some pictures of the corpses. Apparently there were 8 men missing, probably managed to leave ship and disappear? So many stories. Then someone rings the doorbell, turns out we are related. So many relatives, I am not surprised anymore but still a bit awed about how big our family tree is! I’ve told the children countless times that when it comes to finding a partner they will have to go abroad or at least in to Gothenburg.
Counting the minutes until the opening I worked in the barn/gallery all day today until dark. I chalked one of the walls, it took 3 layers of chalky water but looks really good now when dry. Then sandpapered and painted the workbench, twice. I found some nice pieces of wood for signs. One of them was the right length but looked too new so I tea stained it, see my old blog post for more on how it’s done. I printed out large letter at the library the other day and cut them out. Placed them on the wood and after a lot of measuring and taping I filled the letters with white paint. Because I used too much paint at some places it spilled under the templates a bit but I think it adds to the charm. There was an old window that had been sealed up at the back of the barn and I opened it up. By a whim I placed some old bottles there that I found under the old floor when I dug it out. The light that fell through later in the evening when I cleared the window frame was absolutely magic.
My old neighbour popped his head in during the day. Always great to have someone to give you advice and it most times it turns into stories from the old days. He went silent for a while just watching me work and then turned his head up and said -Well if the economy turns bad you have great beams. I must admit I was a bit puzzled. I gathered that he he was talking about selling the wood or something? Then he told me the story of a man born on the island. This man had an old cow and an old horse with a wagon that he sold things from. When he became old people told him that he had to get rid of his cow. Then they told him he had to get rid of his horse. The day after they found him hanging from one of the beams in his barn. So sad. We both agreed on that it would have been better that he’d gotten to keep them until the end of his days and reassured my neighbour that I would have no plans of using my beams for that ever. I’m planning to beat my neighbours age and he’s 96 and still going strong.
Started 6.30am baking a cake and carried on pretty much without a break until now. I cleared out the barn. Well, the part with the new floor is very tidy but the rest has collected a lot of stuff over the winter, bikes, garden furniture etc. Not to mention the mess I’ve made with my newfound hobby carpentry… All the old doors and windows that I’ve saved were taking up a lot of space and then I realised that it would save a lot of room, and cover up the only very ugly wall, to just spread them out next to each other. Looks great! I know I could sell them for a lot of money but I never will, they all have their own individual story. A very original story I heard today from a neighbour, another neighbour told me a while ago but no one I told seemed to have heard of it so I had my doubts. Apparently where our road begins used to be called “Hor-gabet”, translated to English(from broad island dialect) it means The hookers mouth. Charming. Although where my neighbour house is there used to be Gårda bar, a drinking hole, so it actually makes sense. Oh well tomorrow I’m bringing some culture to Hor-gabet. After a lot of carrying, sweeping(amazing to think I have a hundred year old dust up my nose) and planting I only have some more baking to do and then my head will hit the pillow. Oh! One great thing today was trying a blog tip (thank you Instructables.com!) about ageing new wood. In autumn I built a stand for the extra light for the chilies. Carrying it out to the barn felt kind of wrong because it looked so new compared with everything else in the barn so I brushed it with tea and vinegar. What a change! A great result, now this I will do again. The only drawback is the smell of the vinegar after a few days with rusty nails. Well I have a feeling that tomorrow will be a very busy day so off to bake and then bed.
The pictures of the cemetery really blew me away (last post). I knew already that there were less trees and more fields but such a change! Yesterday I walked up there in the snowstorm to take pictures from the same angles but it was kinda hard because of all the trees. Amazing that the island has changed so much in 60 years!
I had a conversation the other day about death and history of the island. I wondered where people were buried before the cemetery at Hönö was built 1952. Apparently everyone was buried at Öckerö. It took a few more years even after the opening of the new cemetery at Hönö, for it to fill, because people thought the new cemetery looked too empty. Then yesterday I was very kindly given some photos of the opening day of the cemetery. Crazy to see how bare it was! Apparently there was a guy called Börjesson who planted trees all over the island. He used to borrow school classes to help him plant trees, even my mother remember planting some of the trees on the island! Asking around though no one I have spoken to have had a better answer to why he did it apart from -Maybe because it was pretty? Of course there is also another reason to why the island is now so full of trees, there are no cattle. A few years ago they had sheep at one of the nature reserves, to clear the land but what I’ve heard is people complained and they had to go. Before I was born my family, like most other families, had pigs and two cows. Every morning my grandmother would go milk them where they grazed(just by the cemetery). They also planted carrots and spuds there by the sea, I guess because the soil would be full of nutrients because of the cattle. I think it’s a great shame that there are no animals on the islands, apart from chickens and house pets that is. From now on I will make it a life long quest to bring the cattle back to Hönö, that’s a promise.
On the way to the ferry there is an old windmill. I’ve always been curious of how it looks like inside and now had the chance. Open windmill-day with music, lottery and guided tour of the mill. The story is surprising, the mill was actually built in the Swedish countryside but 1887 transported to the island. It was in service until 1929. That’s when the government decided to tax the miller, a flour tax, which made it hard to carry on. Plus the arrival of electricity, it was hard to compete with electrical grinders. It seems the job wasn’t too hard, heavy I’m sure but after the wheat was poured in to the big cemented wheel there wasn’t more to do than wait, hence the bed. A small bed but apparently he was a small man.
We returned home with lots more knowledge, old stories and our lottery-win, an oven glove.