May Entertainments

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One of these men is an extremely zany comics artist and celebrated wit. The other is a stuffy scholar in an abstruse field.

We’ve had a three-day holiday thanks to Friday being 1 May — a red-letter day in Sweden since 1939. Here’s the entertainments I’ve enjoyed.

  • Went with wife & kids to the local Walpurgis Night bonfire, met loads of neighbours old and new.
  • Played Abalone, Tigris & Euphrates and Qwirkle with Kai and other friends.
  • Went to a lovely dinner at the home of my friends Mattias & Lina.
  • Took a morning bike ride and walk in the woods to log a geocache that had appeared near my home.
  • Went to the Kapten Stofil tenth anniversary event, met comic artists Joakim Lindengren, David Nessle and Camilla Forsman and off-beat culture historian Martin Kristenson. All a great pleasure to meet, and I was particularly pleased to meet Nessle who, apart from creating achingly funny comics, is also one of the Swedish language’s wittiest bloggers. I have of course been a Lindengren fan for over 20 years.
  • Left the kids with the world’s best ex-wife, drove with the world’s best wife to Duveholm manor near Katrineholm. Had tea, took a long walk among the anemones and over to the next manor over, Djulöholm, saw an abandoned tree-house, had a fine four-course dinner, slept well, had a good breakfast, took another walk.

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  • Drove to Eskilstuna prompted by The White Guide, was not terribly impressed by the food at the recommended restaurant.
  • Drove to historical author friends Kristina & Bo in rural Vallentuna, had canapés, admired the resplendent birthday girl and their new house.
  • Played Go fish with wife & daughter.

Did you do anything fun over the weekend, Dear Reader?

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More Djurhamn Tree House Ruins

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Back in February I showed you some pix of abandoned tree houses at Djurhamn. One of them had a computer, just like my son once reported visiting a tree house with a typewriter.

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I’ve spent the past three days metal detecting in the same area, falsifying our working hypothesis that there would be easily accessible 16th and 17th century stuff there. But I did find more tree house ruins. And one had an interesting piece of furniture: a gynaecologist’s examination chair!? Turned out that the tree house was built on the margin of a dump area where all kinds of strange stuff was sitting, and someone had apparently selected the chair for inclusion in the tree house site.

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Another ruin site was actually a bit of a problem: two tree houses quite near each other, with loads and loads of debris on the ground between them. And right on the edge of this scatter of late-20th century junk was a three centuries old copper coin. I have no idea how many coins like that might remain in the vicinity, because there was so much recent crap that I gave up detecting that site.

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In other news, Katharina Schoerner has had awesome Djurhamn Sword teeshirts made. She’s such a metal chick.

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600 Hidden Plastic Jars

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Logged my 600th geocache this bright May morning, took a picture of a treehouse ruin near the cache, then drove home listening to the Nashville Pussy. After lunch, me and the Rundkvist ladies took part in the annual street cleaning & planting day. I headed the cleaning of two sandboxes, cleared shrubbery that was engulfing one of the boxes and collected trash in the parking lot and front door bays. Unlike Blaine Cartwright, I am not lazy.

Lazy White Boy
By Blaine Cartwright of the Nashville Pussy

Got rhythm, just too cool to show it
Got a future, can’t wait to blow it
Sit around getting high all day
Don’t let work get in my way
Ain’t no doubt, my mama raised

A lazy white boy
A lazy white boy

Went broke growing tobacco
I’m a juiced-up hillbilly
Not some dried-up cracker
A bag of weed, a six-pack of Bud
I’m like a pig in my own mud
Hey there man, it’s in my blood

I’m a lazy white boy
Lazy white boy

If things don’t turn my way
I’ll sit and think of ways to make y’all pay
I’ll smack the world’s mouth
If I ever get off this couch

Got rhythm, just too cool to show it
Got a future, can’t wait to blow it
Sit around getting high all day
Don’t let work get in my way
Ain’t no doubt, my mama raised

A lazy white boy
A lazy white boy

Ain’t got the energy to even spit
Too tired to butter my own grits
Here’s a song for us who don’t do shit

I’m a lazy white boy
Lazy white boy

Ruins of Childhood

The other day I found and photographed another tree house ruin. I decided to re-post the following piece from September 2006 and make these things a steady presence on Aard, with a category tag of their own.


If you’ve ever taken a walk in the woods near a housing area, you’ve seen them: modern archaeological sites, full of artefacts and building debris, abandoned to the elements in a way that is unusual in the well-organised industrialised world. They’re settlement sites of a particular subculture with its own rules and customs, thriving on the fringes of mainstream society. I’m referring to abandoned treehouses.

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At these sites you’ll see rotting boards and beams hanging from clumsily bent nails on a group of trees, gradually collapsing to the ground. Perhaps some old shag pile carpet decomposing on the forest floor. The woods strewn with an enigmatic collection of objects, haphazardly selected, mostly old household gear. When visiting these sites, I always have the feeling that the inhabitants didn’t choose the objects they brought there: they took whatever they were given by someone more affluent and powerful than them. By grownups, in fact.

My eight-year-old son recently told me of a nearby ground-level clubhouse (Sw. koja) he had visited. It has an actual working typewriter. Old useless tech given to the kids, doesn’t even need electricity. I wonder what future archaeologists will think when they find the remains of a 1970s Selectric in that context.

These sites and their formation processes reflect children’s psychological characteristics. Kids have little sense of order, short memories and strange rationality. They also have no idea that childhood is brief and transient. They will happily fill their treehouses with junk without any thought that they might one day stop coming there. When adolescence strikes and the hormones get going, old childish haunts like these suddenly become the last places they want to visit. So everything is left wherever it dropped the last time someone came to play in the house.

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Grownups hardly ever leave their sites that way: we keep any useful stuff and tidy up the place before we leave. Often we will even tear the house down and bring the building materials to our next place of habitation. The grownup type of site most similar to abandoned treehouses is the homeless substance-abuser camp, which is also inhabited by people with thinking impairments. Such sites may be abruptly abandoned when their inhabitants die of overdoses, get thrown into jail or find someone with an apartment who’s willing to take them in.

And the treehouse sites are hardly ever cleaned up. In fact, the children’s parents often have only a vague notion of where the treehouse is. They may help to build it, but they don’t feel responsible for it. It’s out in the woods where only children and mushroom pickers see it: out of sight and out of mind. The mess there would never be tolerated in the back yard, just as most Westerners of today feel really uncomfortable in the stench and litter of Third World villages.

So the next time you come upon an abandoned treehouse site, you might give some thought to the fact that you’re standing in the ruins of someone’s childhood. The children who used the site no longer exist: they’re grownups now, living somewhere else, disposing more rationally of their belongings. And some of them very probably have kids of their own now who are wheedling them to buy a few boards and a box of long nails, a rope ladder and some tarred roofing cardboard. And daddy — can I please have your old drum kit / dough mixer / rollerskates? I’ll take them out of your sight.

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Abandoned Club Houses of Djurhamn

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Spent the day walking around Djurhamn with my colleague Kjell Andersson of the Stockholm County Museum, searching for visible field monuments and generally scoping the area out for our coming investigations. We found no new features belonging to the 16th and 17th cenury harbour, but we identified some good areas for further metal detecting and test pitting.

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Also, I added two sites to my growing collection of abandoned club houses and tree houses (of which I have spoken before here, here and here). Note that one has the remains of a PC, an old 386 or 486 judging from the empty processor socket.

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Cub Scout Archaeology

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Two weeks ago when I worked for Thomas Englund and Bo Knarrström at the 1719 battlefield on Skogsö, I came across a variant on a type of archaeological site that I’ve blogged about before. A site where children have built and abandoned something, but this time it wasn’t a tree house ruin: to me it looks more like the remains of an outdoor gym built by the cub scouts who periodically camp in a nearby house. You know, chin-ups and stuff.

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To this end, the kids nailed and tied horizontal spires to trees, clumsily and with very little regard for the trees’ well-being. While they were at it, they had loads of chocolate and strew aluminium foil wrappers around the site, much to the chagrin of this metal detectorist. A 1983 coin may date from the same episode. They used it a number of times, left, and the site was allowed to slowly return to nature.

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Treehouse Ruin

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Back in September, I wrote a piece about that common type of archaeological site, the abandoned treehouse.

At these sites you’ll see rotting boards and beams hanging from clumsily bent nails on a group of trees, gradually collapsing to the ground. Perhaps some old shag pile carpet decomposing on the forest floor. The woods strewn with an enigmatic collection of objects, haphazardly selected, mostly old household gear. When visiting these sites, I always have the feeling that the inhabitants didn’t choose the objects they brought there: they took whatever they were given by someone more affluent and powerful than them. By grownups, in fact.

This afternoon as I sought a geocache near Vårberg, I came across a fine treehouse ruin in the woods, as shown in the photo above. I apologise for the poor camera built in to my 2005 handheld computer. When you send me archaeopix, please consider including pictures of treehouse ruins!

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