birthday bike

Babies grow up, they turn 3. Scarlett was no exception. Here she is posing with her shiny new bike, black-and-white Sparky. For now, and to her, the most interesting feature on this vehicle is the bell that, when you ring it, not only does it make a sound, it also flashes in flashy colors. I certainly never had that. When I rang my bell back in 1977, it went “rinnnggg”. Being three and ignorant of future tech, I thought it was wild.

I’m being transported through time at the moment. Altho I had an orange plastic three-wheeler called Snoopy before the age of three, my first bike was a spectacular thing and the first taste of freedom. Oh freedom.
It was very much red, had a white seat, and I ditched the training wheels while still three years old. My dad had to run behind – and I was not just going around the block, I was going far out into the brand new world. It was magnificent. It still is.

the regenerator 3

It is again time for the electrical bunny with the plutonium heart. Yeah, you know the one, the one that just keeps on going, the one who calls himself “the regenerator”. And he likes to restore his old crummy house until it becomes a mansion. A proud villa. A house of some pretension.

But lo and boohoo, I cheated a little this time… I hired builders! Ha! I hear a collective gasp. No need to worry, however – I was up there with them all the time. Mostly in their way, but as passionately determined as ever. Our target for regeneration was, this time, the helmet of the house – also known as the roof.

Back in not-so-distant 2007, I restored (sanded, painted, cried and nearly fainted) the roof by myself, thru gargantuan effort (flip back for reminiscence). Well, the roof – the fucking roof – refused all my tender loving care, and in the past few years of megawinter, it opened up and said aah to water.

I furiously swore to get back at it. Trust an angry man to not sway from the path of revenge…

We began to cut it open like it was a tin of sardines made out of butter. Let there be no doubt what a joyous occasion it was.

The miserable 80-year old sheet metal well and truly dispatched, all rotten wood was chewed out, and in with the new, the kind that you can knock on. Tock tock!

The old insulation – sawdust – was scooped out, and replaced by fluffy ekovilla (recycled newspaper). Sawdust is a fine natural breathing material, and potential mould had been kept at bay rather effectively. However, sawdust does not insulate as well as “modern” materials (like recycled newspapers, hehe). This is an invisible but major improvement to the house.

New beams where needed. I must say, I was prepared for the worst. In the end, I’d say we got away with far less than the people on my favorite TV-show, the British Grand Designs. (Watch it! Intoxicating!)

Ah, they are truly a thing of beauty, the timber battens over strong waterproof underlay.

My daughter Scarlett calls all cranes “Cranky”; it’s a character from the Thomas The Tank Engine children books. Well, here comes big Cranky, lifting a pallet of tiles like he’s been to Gold’s. It is quite amazing to see the arm go ten meters up and then stretch out over the house, all the way to the back. Cranky sure has some tricks. Please do not drop the pallet, because it would just go through everything all the way to China.

What kind of tiles have I chosen? The suspense must be tangible, but if you lower your gaze, you are about to discover….

Black glazed clay tiles from Monier! Not the cheapest. Just the best. And they look sensational. Glossy, like glass!

You have no idea how long I pondered on materials, on tiles, on shapes and colors and so on. When I had decided on tiles, I soon knew it had to be clay tiles, because this material has been around for at least 600 years and if it was good enough for the Chinese Emperor, it was good enough for me. No moss-friendly concrete for me, please. And then I fell in love with glazed clay tiles – it’s like porcelain – delicate, yet lasts forever (as long as you don’t drop them…). Or when was the last time you wore out a porcelain surface? The final choice was the sleek “Scandinavian” bend, common on houses from 1800-1930s.

The final prep, streetside with little Cranky. Badabing badabong. I die with this roof. It will probably outlast Scarlett’s grandchildren, too…

Is it not just? I mean, is it not? I could just eat this roof – it looks like liquorice candy! It is a fairytale roof, without the ugly witch in the oven.

Can a man get any happier? No. He most certainly can not. And then the bills came in.

A little bonus section:

For those with eagle eyes, you may have noticed a faint change with the rest of the house in picture number eight. “Somehow”, the corners have grown fatter, the lower panel taller and chunkier, and the midsection has been adorned with a border of blocks. It gives a really solid stance to the house, and looks positively charming. It took some cutting… god bless Makita.

You see it now? Also, as you can see, the little roof was not left behind. And do notice the new silver drainpipes! And after this, I began work on the windows. And. And.

Hey, it’s a hobby/a disease…

a delightful assortment of summer

Whowhatwhy, I’m still in summer mode. I live in blank denial. I feel yesterday’s rays. The remains of the summer day, the green, the blue, the glow, the hue… abandon me not.

Me and Scarlett gave mamma Madli a cherry tree for mother’s day. Che-che-che-che-che-che-cheeeerry pie.

There is spring in those steps. So much spring. Ah, love this picture. Soaking up early summer at the famous Hanko beach.

Sealed Air had a sales meeting on Sardinia. Choice of venue much applauded. In fact, on the way there, I spent some time in Rome. All roads lead there anyway. Rome… nowhere else is history so present. Mindbending.

Staying at Le Dune in Sardinia. Cool as a fool in a swimming pool.

Grandma-mum celebrated her 60th with a garden party in the archipelago of Nagu. Huge turnout, everybody old and young had a great time.

Scarlett stole the day, obviously. She can steal anyone’s day every day of the week with the blink of an eye. My little princess was utterly adorable in her white dress, pearl necklace and flower hat from New York, glass of bubbly (Pommac) in her hand.

In Tallinn for festival, waving the flag for liberation, cute as a kitten in traditional head gear.

Chocolate icecream. It is her vice. Tucking into melting Pappagallo with addicted passion.

In paradise, there is all of this. In July, it’s is all we do.

She swims in the sea, like a swan, like a swan-eating shark, like a walk in the park, embark embark.

Christoph and Diana in da haus! Here, Lady Di and Madli My are gutting fish. Bet you never heard “Lady Di” and “gutting fish” in the same sentence before?

Perch fillet, a delicacy bar few. We had the best of luck this year – a stock of one hundred fillets should make winter taste like summer.

Pappa in education mode: It is a fish. You remove it like this. Then you make tasty bouillabaisse.

Mamma pulling up net like she was born to do it. By now, I call her kalastajan vaimo. Scarlett and Natalie observing.

Afar, little girls in summer’s dress, playing in heaven. Happiness does not know this strange thing called sorrow.

I promised myself not to build anything this summer, while in the archipelago. Well, I lack the willpower to be lazy. Take care to note the hand imprint in the concrete of Hollywood starlet Scarlett… and from here on out, I know that every summer and every time I see that eternalized little hand for as long as life there will be a wide smile on these lips of mine.

Better stop, or I’ll get sentimental.

nu york

Luxury got left behind in Palm Beach. To get to our hotel in… Brooklyn, we had to use primitive ways of transport such as bus and tube. Agh. And then the damn tube didn’t cooperate as expected due to repair and idiocy, so we had to go all the way to Coney Island to turn back. What a rude awakening. That never happened to Lou Reed. To push and pull on your suitcases for three hours in the NY subway system does not rank highly on my enjoy-o-meter.
Ah, they say Brooklyn is hipper than Manhattan. Bullshit. Only hippies could say that. It smells and is dirty and comes equipped with suspicious-looking people leaning against derelict walls (keep in mind we have just returned from Palm Beach where every straw of grass is watered with Acqua Di Parma).
However, when we finally had found our little hotell next to some oily car repair shop and a religious center for god knows what kind of sect, we crammed our suitcases into the little floorspace there was, jumped into the shower, escaped into town, grabbed a burger, and walked down Broadway, the city suddenly opened up.

First time in NY? Well, you go ooh and aah and holy shit, look at that and that and that. How to put it? Well, it is so unbelievable you can not believe it. There is not a more (magnificently) overdeveloped plot of land anywhere else on this planet. Skyscraper after skyscraper, raping the sky…

There is probably too much of everything in NY – particularly far too many people. And I used to live in London (maybe I was more tolerant back then). But then you gaze over that skyline from a great vantage point and too much of everything turns into just right. Here is testament to man’s strange drive to build. And build. And build.

They have certainly moved along – at least physically – since angry narrow-minded men in jumbo jets managed to topple over the twin towers. Hard hats are working around the clock here, Ground Zero is filling up fast.

Nice colors, busy bees. And for effect, just after being here soaking up all the We Will Never Forget, Bin Laden was gunned down in righteous glory. Justice moves in mysterious ways.
Speaking of NY-related justice, Strauss-Kahn, you must be the dumbest dick around. Rape a maid when running for president? Wow.

Ever heard the one about the guy who sold his soul on Wall Street, and turned into a bronze statue? Of course, the price of bronze would drop dramatically, considering how many that have and would, and certainly in the past decade, where greed passed all meters of acceptable. Don’t call me a commie – money is my guide to happiness, just as it is yours. Having said so, is it not painfully obvious that speculation is the root of all evil?

Luxury condominiums, downtown Manhattan. Ah. A dreamy dream. But I want more out of life than so. A little more breathing space, a green garden with berry bushes and apple trees, empty winding roads for a Ducati, a safe school for a daughter. They have a pretty nice view from out of there, mind.

Jockeys, jockeys.

The East River, the bridges, the cars, everything is brown.

We took a stroll out onto Brooklyn Bridge, the neo-Gothic landmark of New York. Excellent first-time tourist activity, another box ticked.

You know, outside City Hall, they still have the old gas lights. You can see the flame flickering, you can smell the gas. Now, where did I park my horse?

We did not settle for the outside of things. We walked right into Waldorf Astoria – great lobby, by the by, heavy on history – and we just had to see what the Trump Tower looked like. Safe to say, Donald has more money than taste. Everything is goldplated, and there is an indoor waterfall…

Fifth Avenue, Louis Vuitton. We loved the ostrich.

We gambled until last minute before leaving for New York, confident to find a Manhattan four-star for bargain dollar. Well, the reason we ended up in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, was that the Tribeca Film Festival was about to kick off, leaving no cheap rooms to be found on good locations. We blame you, De Niro. We didn’t even see you, even tho we went looking everywhere in Tribeca. Had such an itch to “You talkin’ to me?” He probably doesn’t get that a lot…

Times Square. Here, everything, every slogan, every color, is screaming for your attention. We chilled by going cinemabound for the remake of Arthur. Hilarious, altho we ate too much popcorn and ruined our dinner plans.
For contrast, a bit of art and a few words about MoMa. As everywhere in NY, the queues are far too many blocks long and my ankles detest people. At the Museum of Modern Art, we did not take it anymore. In fact, we just walked past this unfathomably incomprehensibly long several kilometer line of flesh, asked for a wheelchair, and then spent the day in MoMa actually not suffering for art, but enjoying it. Madli was pushing, I was cruising, and we had the best of times pouring over Jackson Pollock’s finest.

Everybody goes up to Empire State. We went to the Top Of The Rock, Rockefeller Center. Crane your neck.

The view was so utterly mindblowing that a tiny picture like this one is embarrassing. I must have something better in my folder? But anyway, you got to walk around the Rockefeller Center 360 degrees, getting the bird’s eye of everything that counts. Breathtaking, glorious, fantastic and everything else. Ah, Central Park below, in full spring, magically beautiful, the pink azaleas, the white blooms of horse chestnut trees, the ridiculous mime artists, the Nuts for Nuts stands, kids yelling, horses crapping, oh I love parks and Central Park more than even Pumpviken in Karis…

Parking, NY style.

Somebody got lucky with a bold color scheme.

Chinatown. Like everything Chinese, growing by the hour, eating up Little Italy, then the whole of Manhattan, finally the world will be one big Chinatown. Full of personable junk and lethal-looking foods and people who have lived here for fifty years yet can not utter a word in English.
I have always wondered – and will continue to do so – about exactly what kind of a customer that goes into one of these so-called Chinatown jewelry shops and actually buys something? They are smockfull of cheap trinkets, but nothing is worth anything and nothing is nice. Even so, someone must buy their stuff all the time, because these shops are absolutely everywhere, full of little silver dragon ear rings and purple stones and horrible clutter. Highly perplexing, completely senseless. I guess that, when things do not add up in your mind, the culprit is usually this incredibly vast concept called culture.

Little Italy, streets of the Godfather. I’m not afraid to admit to this tourist pleasure – we had pizza here. Wasn’t bad at all, and a couple of Nastro Azzurros later the streets seemed a bit slower and more gentle.

NY in a nutshell. Lots of steel and limestone and concrete, but with some very delectable bits in between. We returned with full stock of Calvin Kleins from Century 21, and those stupid millions of boxes in your mind a little more ticked.

oh palm beach

Travelling is always nice. But this was Extraordinary.

Having endured black (darkness) and white (snow) for a winter as long as the law, we ached for sunshine and warm climates. Palms, beaches, and luxury without bounds is a good recipe for any ailment, but a particularly good cure for a Finnish winter. So, courtesy of Sealed Air, we stepped off our plane at West Palm Beach, where our personal chauffeur and a brand new Cadillac Escalade waited… sweeeeeet, I think I thought, and I might have said it out aloud. This is the life I was built for. Everything else is a lie. Woohaaaa!

Breakers Hotel, well, I’ve seen better. Just kidding. The pure opulence of this massive castle is, is, is… totally ambassadorial, for lack of a better description at the time of writing. After half an hour I was calling it home. Another half an hour later, and I could swear I was born here.

There were at least a dozen swimming pools to choose from, all lined with all sorts of lovely. We sauntered down to the ocean, because we felt the need to feel sand between our toes. James, our beach butler, kept topping up our drinks. If you gotta burn your pale skin, this is the way to do it.

Some days later, me and my new fellow Winning Performer friend Jan from Germany suited up for jet-ski action. Sadly, no pics, as we were ripping it up way out on the ocean. The waves were pretty choppy that day, but we went faster than squirrels up a tree, and had a blast skipping across the foam. Want a waverunner. Now.

Breakers courtyard being dressed up for a Sealed Air cocktail party. The big event was later in the week; the appreciation dinner and awards ceremony. I got a great opportunity to chat with our legendary CEO, who turned out to be a magnificent sport, smart as a whip and easy-going. To impress, I do believe I made some pretty big promises… well, you have to stand out if you want to be back.
After ballroom dinner, the excitement, the film cameras. They announce your name, you walk hand in hand with your girlfriend/wife on a red carpet up to the stage, shake hands with the big cats, and bask in glorious glory… I can’t downplay it; it really is quite special, a very proud moment.

When I jumped on the plane to my work interview in Gothenburg almost exactly three years ago I only expected a job as any other so I could feed my growing family. Now, despite a MA in International Relations and a reasonably strong curriculum vitae, I feel no urge to move on. I’m simply happy. I just never had a job before where I was not bored.

Bike touring in Palm Beach. The island has the population of Karis, but with 20 billionaires living here, it is the richest spot on the globe.

When in Florida, you will meet alligators. Had my CSI Miami moment on a fan boat on the Everglades. “Won’t get fooled again…

Don’t you look at me like that. I am not a ham sandwich.

Yo bubba. Look at them gators!

This picture is for Scarlett. Now she can tell her friends that her really really cool dad had an alligator in his lap. And then she will add, in ill-feigned humility, So, did your dad ever do that?

We went out on a yacht. Well, this is Palm Beach, after all. You would, wouldn’t you? Now pass me a cold Bud, captain.

House-spotting is a much nicer hobby than train-spotting. Besides, we’re far from Glasgow here. I amassed quite a collection of mansions along the shoreline. This white piece of architectural art depicted here was one of my favorites. Insider info: all floors inside are glass…

Well, wouldn’t say no.

Yah, if you insist.

Manicured to the millimeter. By CAD and laser. Probably.

Marilyn Monroe gave me a kiss. Could’ve been a drag queen, but why spoil the fantasy?

We had dinner at the Ragtops out on town. All fifties, boys got sunglasses, girls got scarves, there were hotdogs and icecream. The older Sealed Air guard, especially the Americans, loved it. I found it a bit crude. What a hateful European attitude… The Elvis replica man had an awesome voice, tho.

Heaven is a hard place to leave behind. I had lobster every day. But most of all I’ll miss the hundred-dollar breakfasts we had every morning, in a big dome decorated by someone with close ties to Michelangelo. I’m not sure how to function in the future without my perfect eggs benedict and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice. I’ll just get cranky, I’ll guess. I’ll scream dammit, where are my strawberries!

And then I’ll wonder why no one rushes to my side, ready to meet my ridiculous and immediate demands with impeccable professionalism and a smile to boot.

Oh, Palm Beach. Wait up for us. I’ll just meet targets and increase sales by double digits every year for 3-5 years, and we’ll be right back… and the Breakers staff will say “How nice to see you again, Mr Pie…

breakers palm beach

I am on a roll…

Some of you know I work for the American/global packaging giant Sealed Air Corporation. However, did you know I love my job? I truly do. The splendid position I am in allows for a great amount of freedom and creativity – and, should you do it well, there are certain benefits to be had…

This is the big prize. As the 2010 Winning Performer of Sealed Air – tadaa – they are sending me and Madli on an all-inclusive (I mean ALL) ultraluxury holiday to Palm Beach. And not just to any old hotel, but to the finest in Florida and one of the best in the States, the legendary oceanfront landmark The Breakers Palm Beach (of Standard Oil legacy).

Make no mistake, I deserve this break. I’ve worked hard, and I’ve done it right. The beach and the yachts are beckoning. Palm Beach, here we come!

Oh. We’re stretching our stay on the East coast with a second week in New York. S-h-o-p-p-i-n-g!

the regenerator 2

If you thought it was bad enough that the house had wet feet, it has a soft head too…

I really tried to preserve the old thick steel roof for as long as I could – only five years ago, with major ado, I sanded it down and painted it painstakingly with three layers. It has not helped. The fucker still leaks like a showerhead.

Problem is, I have discovered, in the old days the steel sheets were not full length, but jointed/spliced together. In the winter, when you have half a meter of snow on the roof, and the water rails act as snowstoppers, and the isolation underneath is simple sawdust, you get heat from underneat the roof warming up the snow, during the same time the weight of the snow is pushing down on the joints, water slowly manages to trickle down into yep, obviously the worst case scenario, the walls. Naturally, a hundred years ago they did not use underlay to stop/steer the water away in case of leakage. Just steel on wood, then sawdust.

[Interlude: Work on a new roof scheduled to begin 2nd May 2011. We’re chopping the head off, out with the sick crap, in with new isolation (Ekovilla), new wood, best underlay money can buy, and black Monier tiles with glassed surface. Will look like a million bucks, and last forever.]

Of course, I thought, hey whatever, I’ll get a good price on the house (by now, I figured it would be practically for free!). Sarcastical chuckle. Again, I hope you read some previous posts…

I started here last fall;

By now, I’m so god damn used to opening up walls that I don’t really get a full-size heart attack when I see the damage. But still, it is a bit hard to take, when you discover how your dear house has rotted away for decades. I know my parents must have known about this, because there has been evidence of some improv work here. I don’t cast blame; I just wonder why they did not fix it properly?

Water runs down, creating havoc along the way. So does my chainsaw. Let the sparks fly. I ain’t stopping ’til I hit fresh wood.

After cutting out a great big gaping wound in the wall of the house, it is time to tailor. No standard pieces here. Everything must fit. It takes forever. Layer after layer.

Even the window frame was mush. I made a new one, and re-used the old metal parts.

Progress. There is nothing quite like it. As you are cutting away the rot, you feel like you’re just digging yourself deeper into a hole, but when you get into the rebuild, your mood improves, and soon you are itching for your real workday to end, so you can begin playing. Eventually, it turns into something you call “hobby”.

New beams. Sweeeeeeeeeeet.

Getting cosy with a bit of fur.

Jesus was here, with his magical Makita tools, healed the sick house. Again, you can’t beat the feeling of closing up with fresh new panel. Of course, this being an auld house, the panels are a strange size they do not make anymore. But throw a bit of cash around, and everything is possible. These puppies are custom made.

Primer, baby. One wall done, many to go. But for god’s sake, have a beer and hug. Rome was not built in a day.

the regenerator

One or two of you might have wondered, why the slow blogging the past years. Well, please join me for a tour of the reason. Personally, I think it’s a pretty good excuse for my not cluttering cyberspace, but… you’ll be the judge and jury.
In my previous post, the bitter rambling about Dostoyevskian wrongdoing, I mentioned that the flaws of the house are quite well-documented. This is true – wherever I lay my hammer, my camera goes too.

To regenerate means:

1. To reform spiritually or morally.
2. To form, construct, or create anew, especially in an improved state.
3. To give new life or energy to; revitalize.
4. [Biology]. To replace (a lost or damaged organ or part) by formation of new tissue.

On sunrise Centralgatan, I am the regenerator, and my house is the object of revitalization. Whether this is also spiritual reform, I dare not quite say. But I swear I hear the old house whispering “thank you” to me…

When the house was re-assembled (another story) in Karis in 1933, it was built for two families; ie lower floor appartment, and upper floor appartment. This meant two entrances, or two concrete staircases. When my parents bought this house in 1984, they closed one of these, and has not been used since. During these past decades, it has moistened up the adjacent wall to murderous effect. As I opened up the panels, I was all but able to put my fist through the lower logs. Johnny Rotten, man. The concrete brute had to go. So I rented a big fucking pneumatic drill, and went medieval…

Ka-ka-ka-ka-ka! After unleashing unlimited fury for a few hours, I had reduced the old steeled-up tough-as-nails concrete staircase to a trembling pile of pebbles. Truly enjoyable day, I’ll say.

Whaddya know. Everything was rotten and contaminated with poisonous fungus. All out! As you can see, the floor is isolated by half a meter of turf, sand, sawdust. From a historical point of view, very interesting. From a personal angle, very depressing. At this point, I felt like it was just too much for one man. This was just the tip of the iceberg, after all. Perhaps I didn’t possess the skill and heart to save this house after all…? Oh, I was down. I think that what kept me going was that at least I’ll get the house cheaply now… (if you read the previous post, you will now be able to have a nice chuckle!)

Since I am crap at giving up, I continued. First, I covered the upper stone plinth/base with a layer of mortar, smoothing out the craters that collect water. Then, a moisture barrier on top of that. Of course, new wooden parts inside the wall and below the floor.

True old-school woodworkers who wield big axes like windmills, with real experience to rebuild old log timber houses, are today rare and hard to find. This is sad, because houses built on log timber are treasures from the past that need to be preserved.

Well, I neither had the skill nor the wallet to travel hundreds of years back in time. Instead, I got the advice to improvise. The house is now partially on 2×6 stilts (L-irons up and down, big stainless steel screws). Just as good as gold, and better isolated.

Warm and cosy. No more wet feet.

And if you thought it was all over now baby blue – well, that was just the first 3 metres. As I turned the corner, and cut open the front, and was met by what I want to call creepy white toxic shit, I knew I had to go all around the whole house. The. Whole. House.

It wasn’t pretty. Frankly, I was angry that I was stuck (I had already been renovating for far too many years to turn back) with a rotting house that some would have burned to the ground to make room for something new and plasticky. But above all, my family deserves a wonderful charming healthy house, and that is what they are going to get, even if die trying.

As I mentioned previously, the house was re-assembled here in 1933. When you strip down the layers, you see that it is wrapped in newspapers from -33. Here, announcing the gathering of a raittiusliike, or in English, a prohibition (of alcohol) movement.
Funny – when I cleaned up underneath the house last spring, I found so many empty bottles of booze, it took four full trailers to ferry the junk away… gawd, what a disgusting and downright scary place the crawl space underneath the house used to be. Despite half-expecting it, I did not come across any human bones down there – altho I found practically everything else. The mess explains how the house fell into neglect due to lousy bums living in it – but I’m more than a bit embarrassed that my parents never cleaned up the crawl space after we moved in in the 1980s… hmm. Well, done and dusted. Now it is so nice and airy down there, you could rent it out!

Moving on, 3 metres at a time. As long as you replace the rotting shit with hard wood, a log timber house is a structural marvel, a living breathing thing, flexible and earthquake-proof.

I must admit I had a bit of a “moment” at this stage; the whole floor was about to collapse when I trimmed away the lower log… there was just a few centimeters of fresh wood left, but it had been enough to carry up the cross beams. By a stroke of luck, I had put a tiny wooden bloc underneath, and that kept it up long enough for me to prop it up properly.

This just goes to show that the floor could have dropped out at any time in the future… amazing. You know, I thought, ok, whatever, I’ll get a good price on the house……………

Now, every single cross beam, lifted by my trusty 3-ton jack, has strong supports below the house. It took awhile to install them, and it was freakishly “uncomfortable” to be down there, knowing a mountain of floor construction is resting on a small piece of wood. Die trying, I said. You probably thought I was exaggerating.

Around the next bend. Here you see the layer of mortar on the stone, to prevent puddles to form.

Jigsaw puzzle. To quote the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Wahey! Original dry log, a couple of meters. Thank you, house.

See that yellow electrical chainsaw? Dad’s old Partner, from early 1980s. I’ve been taking good care of it, still cuts like a razorblade. (This regenerator project has chewed through four chains already. Who the hell has time to sharpen them, when you can go to K-Rauta and buy a new one for 10 bucks?). I did acquire a new Makita chainsaw, too, but my Partner handles all dirty deeds, like cutting close to stone or nails.

This is a good side shot of the problem. Rain water has gotten in along the white-painted horizontal lower flanks, and caused the lower logs to rotten away. As you see, there is just a few centimeter of fresh stuff left. What a fucking ballet. Makes you wonder, has the old house been standing on will-power alone?

This extension to the house was built in 1933. As you can see, normal vertical beams, not the log timber frame of the main of the house, which is much older. You have to be a bit more careful here, when you cut away the lower part.

This wall was in extra-terrible condition, had to go far up to find fresh wood.

Here I went out on a limb and ripped out the whole lower log timber, because I did not want to split the new one into two. Luckily, the house stayed upright. Hehe.

Andy was here/spare parts by Rafael Pyton.

Well, I’ll let Leevi & The Leavings take this one;

Likipitäen jo kolme vuotta tätä taloa nyt tehty on
pelkkä ajatuskin tuskaa tuottaa
jos tää rakentaminen ei tähän päätykään

joskus tahtoo mennä sormi suuhun
vaikka yritys on armoton
läpi kiven perse edellä puuhun kun
yötä myöten kiivetään

se ei oo mies eikä mikään,
jos ei valmistu talo omin hartiavoimin
voitan kaiki vaikeudet ja viivytykset

vasara ja nauloja koko rahalla…

The song is a poetic masterpiece. Ask me, do I feel like it perfectly illustrates my struggles? Why, to the T!

Brand new shoes for you, my friend.

I suspect you can’t relate, but: Imagine how good it feels to put new panel on?

Like you have the healing hands of Jesus!!!

There. Now you know what I did last summer. Of course, that was only half-way. Yep, it means the other half of the house awaits…

bought a house burned a bridge

Hey. I got a story here. It has a happy end… Ever try to buy a house within family? Advice: don’t. Just don’t.

In a very thin walnutshell; my father died in 1999. We sorted the estate in the fading hours of 2010. I bought out the childhood house of my dreams February 2011. Papers bear my mark, bottle of Taittinger. Yippiekayee, without exclamation mark.

If you can sense a degree of bitterness in my words, that is because there is a degree of bitterness in my words. As always, I was naive. Blue-eyed like a baby. Fool in silly hat, with even sillier shoes, the kind with jinglebells. I just am, can’t do anything about it. Naivety is my force. While it does not yield light sabres, naivety has treated me well over the years. It makes me, no it forces me to think everyone is good, which makes me treat everyone with kindness. In turn, I am almost always treated well in return. Mutual benefits, win-win. But once in a while, there is always someone who does not return the favor. Reasons for such completely illogical behaviour are often multifaceted but always related to how they were treated as children… why, I would put a smiley here, were it not too far beneath me to use such simple ways of communicating mischievousness.
In any case, I was naive, that’s what I was. I thought this would be a piece of fruitcake, a walk in the park, an E-street shuffle. Ha!

It should have been a walk in the park. For all I know, it could have, and it most certainly would have. I come from a family of exemplary human beings. What could possibly go wrong? And then the King of Libya decided that he was in charge of selling me a house that he did not own.

Wow. That is good. And I wish I could explain that last sentence. Frankly, I can’t. Partly because I actually don’t know how to, and partly because I am afraid to get sued down to my bellybutton if the identity of this monkey is exposed. So, in order to protect me from the law, I hereby state that “all characters mentioned in this work are figments of my fiction, particularly the one I like to call the King of Libya. He’s so fucking fictional, you can’t get any more fictional than that“.

If you thought I am only writing this because I must get if off my chest, you are right. It’s too heavy to carry. I need peace. I need to shit this shit to be able to move on.

Well, to start at the beginning in the middle, the house was valued at, say, 2 Million euros before I started to work on it. This was a value that did not include the many MANY and by now WELL-documented flaws of the house. For fuck’s sake, forgive me for believing it was possible to work on a house you did not own. I really really thought this was fine, since the house was an estate on death in the family, I was taking care of it and the bills of the house, and I had expressed my sincerest wishes to acquire it as soon as life permitted. So, I began working on this house some five years ago. By now, about EVERY surface inside and out has been face-lifted. It is no longer the house it was – and it was a house chewed on by the jaw of time, with an interior from 1983.
So you can imagine my surprise when the King of Libya marches in one day with a real estate agent – and still, so fucking naive was I, that I thought this was just an exercise of curiousity. I accurately pointed out the many flaws of the house. The only thing that was deducted was the roof. As it said in the evaluation, deeper investigation is needed to correctly evaluate the value of the flaws (the house is rotten from top to toe). This was never done. But it was just A-OK to ask 2.2 Million euros for the house. Do you know what it means? It means that I was going to have to pay for my five years of hard work and hard material twice over (for example, the whole long driveway is now in stone). Like a fish on land, I was gasping for air.

And when I said are you kidding me, I was insulted, I was threatened, I was accused of ripping off my mother. The King of Libya said that he would take over the house and sell it for a profit. Now, maybe it is hard to see yourself in my position, but pretend that you have invested your heart and soul in a house, and you build it by your own hand and wallet for five years, for your own family, for your princess and queen. Then, when you can buy it, some ridiculous oaf comes in and threatens to steal everything away from you. This is something you really lose sleep over, trust me.

Naturally, in a normal scenario, you’d just boot the intruder out, and piss a long yellow rainbow all over his facist body. But in this utterly complicated and, remember, completely fictitious story, the King of Libya is linked to the family, so there was really nothing I could do.
I dearly wish I could spill all the beans – oh there are many beans to spill – but please understand that I can not go into detail. All I can do for now is just shine a little light on things that thrive in the dark.

The whole affair lasted for more than a year. The King of Libya was unable to come to terms with the fact that perhaps he is a loser because he is not a winner. Once this man makes up his mind, he is as flexible as glass. It is sort of funny – sort of – that the King of Libya always pointed out that you need to remove your emotions from this kind of business. This is the same guy who insulted and threatened me. Very interesting. You know, the King of Libya has lots of self-help books at his villa. He has read them many times, he says. Personally, I’m not quite sure he can read, but I’m pretty sure he has problems in the area of understanding text. More advice: avoid people who read self-help books. It just means that they have a problem. Steer well clear! At least the King of Libya acknowledges that he has a problem. I’m glad to discover that we agree on something.

So, there I am, trying to buy my childhood home from the owner, my mother, and the King of Libya is selling. It is quite the comedy, were you not acting for your life.
To make a long story short, in the end the King of Libya agreed on 2 Million. In my mind, the fair price would have been 2 Million plus index adjustment minus the price for fixing the huge number of categorically serious flaws this house has (more on these some other time). To put in perspective, just the roof goes at 10% of the actual price of the house. Work to begin in May.

Well, I paid 2 Million because I was so sick of this man (a man who I previously counted as a great friend). In fact, I would gladly have paid 5 million to never see him again. Again, I wish I could tell you. It just is too complicated. Besides, the money goes to a good cause – my mother.

The tension had been so thick, for such a long period of time, that when I signed the papers, I was sick for two days. I was shaking, and my whole body hurt. Muscles, head, stomach. Guess I was not used to the feeling of relief… *sound of peace, joy and happiness*

Money makes people funny. Ain’t that the fucking truth.