Posted by: jeanne | June 26, 2017

swimming – and drying – in the rain

the weather here is not like what i’m used to.  they tell that to you, as a tourist, hoping that you’ll prepare for the worst, because – like new england and the west of ireland – the weather changes very quickly here.

so we had a windstorm.  i finally got a chance to put the laundry out, when the artist downstairs didn’t have his out first, and i was very happy to see it fluttering gently in the breeze, with the sky a clear blue and the temperature approaching 60, sort of.  sheets and comforter covers, because the boys were gone and i wanted to get everything cleaned up.

and when i went to bed, i thought about taking it down, but looked at the cloudless sky and said ‘nah’.  which should always tell me – that’s what my consciousness says to derail my little voice, which is usually right.  so i went to bed, and when i woke at 2 or 3am, it was pissing down rain and something like 45 degrees.  and the wind was whipping the fabric around.  one of the comforter covers was wrapped tightly around the line, and other one had collapsed into a sodden twist and was threatening to blow away entirely.  so i shook my head and went back to bed.

by the next morning it had kinda stopped for a minute, so i went out and got the stuff off the line – wetter than when i’d put it out – and draped it over the drying racks in the attic, and over the radiators in the rest of the house.

the heat is on all year here.  the radiators make a sound like someone left the water on somewhere, and you can turn them down but can’t quite turn them off (bad things will happen and you won’t be able to get them going again), so the solution is to keep the windows open in the summer.  of course, they don’t have sash windows – nothing you can open all the way and let kids and burglers in and out thru.  the opening part of the windows here is a small side window that opens only a few inches.

the windstorm lasted the better part of three days, and when it was open and the sun started coming thru the clouds, it was glorious.  it’s always glorious, but for three days it pissed down rain that went sideways.  soccer practice didn’t happen.  being in the pool was cold, and i huddled down in the hotpot and got out soon.

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but it’s all over now, and now that it’s next week, the skies are cloudless again, and the sunset is pink on the mountain tops.  and by the time i get up and get ready to go out and work outside, it’s clouding up again.  ah, me.

the day it stopped blowing, i went out in the light rain with my rolled up drawings in hand, and went around to the places we’ve been negotiating to put murals. i took the first one to the house of inga and ingimar, and they loved it.  i want to make the troll figure look more like ingimar, so i’m going to have to get a photo and work from that.

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i went to see the mechanic’s shop, and they were even more tickled at jim’s drawing of a troll-car eating a mechanic.  they have to decide which wall to use.  (apologies if i’ve talked about this already.  i forget)

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then i went to asgeir’s office and met with his wife kristin, who he defers to on matters of decoration, because in addition to working at the factory, she is a tour guide on the cruise ships of akureyri, and teaches, and is an artist as well, while asgeir just runs the factory (except i’m certain he does lots of other things as well, but you get my point).  they insisted that i take a bunch of cod fillets, so i did, and kristin kept almost yelling at me to take more every time i stopped.  so i froze some of them, and turned the rest into a lovely cod casserole for the artist’s dinner.

asgeir and kristin were tickled to see the four drawings jim prepared for the 220′ factory wall, and said they’d get right on patching and replacing and buffing the wall.  it’s kind of small, but here are the drawings all in a row:

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i get to fill in the mountains in the background.  i’m probably going to be adjusting this one most of all.

i still have several designs that have not been claimed.  i thought we were going to put the troll with the pole on asta’s house, but she was thinking of something different, so maybe not.

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and this is jim’s first effort, which is unlike the others, and of course reminds me of him.  it’s faint, so maybe you can’t see it, but it looks like jim as usual.

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on my way back from asgeir’s office, i passed this wonderful sight.  no it’s not hitchcock.  it probably reflects the fact that the factory was operating and they were making all sorts of delicacies out of their recent catch, and probably dumping some of the offal, which the birds all went nuts over.

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alice expressed concern that i’m doing all this work for free (as has jim’s friend bob, a professional artist who won’t paint something he doesn’t have a deposit on).  but if i had wanted payment, i would have had to ask for it up front.  asking for it after i’d agreed to do the murals would only make people angry.  and it’s not really costing me anything but time, because there’s plenty of paint to use.  plus, that’s what i’m here for.  last time i was here, i decided that what the troll peninsula needed was some trolls, and knew it was up to me.  so here i am, doing what i want, and money isn’t really the point.

jim is now working with me long distance.  i’m going to be sending him whatever photos i have, and he’s going to turn them into troll paintings.  with marie’s help, of course, since he can’t turn on a computer to save his life.

connor had his last swimming lesson.  i left my cellphone at home, but every parent of every kid in both classes brought theirs, and crowded around the end of the pool taking fond photos of their little tykes splashing across the pool with jonina yelling at them like raw recruits.  she’s wonderful.  connor learned a lot, and now he can swim the entire length of the 25m pool, with me backstroking right in front of him.  of course, he’s got swim floaties and goggles on, but we’ll fix that before we leave here.

the artist’s dinner was wonderful.  everybody made something vegetarian (except for me, because i had all that cod), and we all sat around eating and talking.

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afterwards, we all went into the gallery to talk about the upcoming exhibit, which is in two parts – a muscial recital in tjarnarborg, and a visual art show at the listhus gallery.  i’ve got to supply refreshments, so i think it’ll be juice, with homemade cookies and popcorn, both of which i can whip up in short order.  it’ll still cost money, but i have a budget, and i can’t stand storebought cookies, for the most part.

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the next day it was sunny and bright (no, the next day was sunday, and it was still spitting rain).  the day after that it was great out, so i went over to ida’s wall and started putting up the mural.  chalk lines first, but i miscalculated my cm-in conversion, and ended up with 10″ squares, which was too small.  so i went back and got the inch ruler, and redid it.  the lines aren’t particularly straight, and the squares aren’t exactly square, but that really doesn’t matter.  once the grid was up, it’s easy to transfer the design from the ruled paper, so i did it in chalk, and then came back and indicated it in black acrylic, because i didn’t know how much time i’d have until it rained again and washed everything away.

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then it was such a lovely day that connor and i decided to take a walk up the valley we can see right up into from the house.  gardsdalur.  the photo below is of an interesting rock with either inclusions or scratches, and since they’re curved, i can’t be sure if they’re glacial scratches or not.  they could even be aimless scratches made by someone’s walking sticks.  but i found more than one rock looking like this, so i’m not sure.

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connor really dug the troll rock that marks the end of the drivable bit.  he tried to climb onto it, but the troll wasn’t having any of it, so he never got a foothold.

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he also loved the sheep, but studiously avoided the sheep poop.  he can’t stand to get his shiny bots dirty.  what a clotheshorse.

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the walk is very flat, if uphill all the way, until you get to a rocky place.  the foot of the valley, where you come down from the hanging valley proper, also has the same kind of rocks.  a harder area that the glacier forming the hanging valley didn’t wear down?  a rockfall from the very steep mountains lining the valley?  i don’t know enough glacial geology to tell.

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at the end of the rocky place, there are several very large troll rocks.  connor assured me that he has experience talking to troll rocks, and says they always invite him to climb on them.  uh huh.  but in this case he told me that the rock on the left is buddy, and the rock on the right is daddy.  mommy is behind us in this picture, and he went on to name a bunch of other very large rocks that had fallen off the mountain.  we had lunch sitting on buddy – peanut butter, honey and banana sandwiches.  he’s never had banana on his sandwich before, and he really loved it.

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here he is hiding under buddy.

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and here he is adding to the rocks people have put on top of daddy for more years than i’ve been coming here.

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up this far into the valley, some of the moss is gray.  there are still blueberries this high (still red), but the bushes are merely suggestions.  and there are roots of trees that are decades or centuries old, that look like mats of tangled string.

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after the troll rock family, the valley stretches on, looking completely flat, tho we know better.  the trail markers march off into the space, going thru extremely boggy terrain.  you can tell by the particular green shade of grass that it’s boggy.  i have never made it past this point. but if you stay to the right and the higher ground, the trail leads up and over the mountain into hedinsfjordur.

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on the way back, and despite being told not to throw rocks because he might hit an elf, connor assured me that he’d already warned the elves and they were safely out of the way.  he pointed out a particular rock that i thought i’d seen a red-capped elf sitting on, and said that elf didn’t like us.  i’d thought he was laughing at us, so we talked about it for some time.

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back at the head of the trail, the troll rock reveals its troll.  there he is, in a crouching ir sitting position, to the left side of the rock connor still couldn’t climb up onto.

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off in the distance, across the vatn and past the town, there are two roads.  the lower road goes to the tunnel, but the upper road goes up up up and around the headland, and is blocked by landslides in several places.  nobody but tourists and hikers go up that way anymore, not since the tunnel opened in (i think) 1992.

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there is a tiny hydroelectric dam at the end of the flat part, and the generating station is below, down next to the vatn (lake).  not only the electricity, but the town’s water comes from this river.  we stopped several times to fill our water bottles from it.

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our town, with our alice’s car parked below the climb to the hanging valley floor.

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we didn’t get back to the car and go home, tho we were tired.  we crossed a fence (sheep) and walked down a twisty and steep gravel road past the whatever they do with the water building, and past the generating station, and back up alongside this wonderful waterfall that locals told me last time houses a bunch of elves.  they live on the island between the two streams, and nobody dares to go on it to cut grass or anything else.  not only is the water very swift and strong down the hill, but the elves don’t want anybody on their land.

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most of the way up the hill, connor decided his legs hurt, but he didn’t really give me any trouble about it, because down at the electrical house (pictured) he found a strip of metal that he brandished and sliced around with all the way back to the car.  i made him return it before we left.  i think he stuck it into the ground at some specific point.  he hardly noticed the waterfall.

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then we slept until quite late on monday.  it was still sunny.  connor went to siglufjordur on the bus with the other kids, and i went to ida’s and put up the second of three walls.  this one got completely away from the grid; i don’t know why.  but it ended up another foot taller, and because of the baby’s position along the window sill, i had to move him from his original place, and redraw his head three or four times.  the girl’s face still isn’t great, but i haven’t finished anything yet.

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then we went swimming after soccer, ate leftover spaghetti, and are about to eat some ice cream and go to bed.  we have to get up quite early tomorrow, because we’re going to akureyri.  i’m doing an art project with two other artists from listhus and a bunch of artists in akureyri, and connor is being babysat all day long.  i’ll write about that later.

 

Posted by: jeanne | June 22, 2017

good news and bad news

the bad news, as you’d expect, is that today i said goodbye to jim and avery.  it was the solstice yesterday, or the day before, and i’ve been more than a little anxious, with dreams about losing things, walking away from things, seeing things i’ve taken care of being trampled by strangers.  the symbol of riding on a kid’s bike with a flat tire is particularly resonant, as is the dancing in a ring i did at one point.

there was a wild wind last night that whipped all the grasses and bushes, moaned thru the window cracks, sent the temperature plummeting.  i was afraid it might affect jim and avery’s trip thru the highlands.  but by daylight (hahahah i mean the middle of the night), the wind ceased, the sun came out from behind clouds, and it started warming up.

yesterday i had my first migraine in iceland.  at least this trip.  that was bad.  it’s always bad.  and i might have brought it on myself by overdoing the shoulder massage jets at the pool.  else that or propping my neck on pillows to read jim the final chapter of our book.  anyway, i’m forgetting the chronology.

tuesday avery had a soccer game in dalvik, and i put jim and connor on the bus with him because i had to go take a full car of residents to siglufjordur to visit the museums.

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i had arranged it with them first, before i found out about the game, or i would have gone.  avery had a blast, connor played with all sorts of kids, they ate pizza, and jim read his book.

but yesterday – wednesday – i woke up with a headache, took the boys swimming, went back to bed, got up to pack the suitcases, went back to bed, got up and ate a piece of toast and went back to bed.  used all the ice packs, yelled at the kids once or twice, let jim fix leftover spaghetti for the boys and gobbled down what was left, then went to bed.

in the middle of this i realized that the notarized letter of permission for minors that i’d had avery’s dad sign, notarize, and scan back to me was incorrect, and that it wouldn’t be valid if they decided to ask for it.  you can’t leave the country without a similar letter, and i’m used to surrendering it for inspection at ticket desks and immigration points.  but i had neglected to include jim on the one we came here with.  i emailed the embassy in reykjavik and asked them, and they were rather lackadaisical about their reply – it shouldn’t matter, they said, we take more care in people leaving than in returning.  but that’s not written in stone, and one bureaucrat’s answer is another one’s anathema.  so i got on to avery’s dad and asked for another one, and sent them the form all filled out – wrong.  so it came back yesterday – wrong, and even tho i sent them the corrected correct form, it was already too late to get a notary to sign off on it.  i decided the best i could do was to give jim avery’s family’s phone numbers so maybe the immigration people could call.  fat chance, right?  so that’s one of the things that kept me up last night.  that and the idea that i’d forgotten to pack their passports, and that i hadn’t written my phone number on jim’s itinerary, and i forgot their toothbrushes, and blah blah blah.

so at 1am i woke up because the printer beeped in the living room.  this never happens.  the printer was off.  i checked the boys, who were sound asleep inside a blanket fort, and the cat, who was wandering around innocently.

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i lay back down, but my mind was churning about the paperwork, may it be uncalled for.  all the bad things that could happen – they wouldn’t let avery board, jim didn’t board either, the tickets being nonrefundable and my having to buy last minute tickets ($1100 on icelandair, $299 on wow), blah blah blah.

but there in my mailbox was the correct form, magically signed and properly filled out (thanks elves).  so i printed it out and packed it with the rest of everything.  i know it was elves because of the timing, and the malfunctioning of electronic equipment – a hallmark of gremlins.  in this case, they were working for me, rather than against me.  thanks, elves.

so i went back to bed, and slept until 5 when the alarm went off.  jim made coffee, i wrote down my strange dreams, we talked until 6, when i got the boys up and made them breakfast.  it took almost half an hour to get the boys going.  avery flatly refused to get up, and his behavior went downhill all morning.  i think he didn’t want to go, but that’s a funny way to show it.

we got in the car; it was raining.  we got on the eyjafjordur side, and it was still raining.  the boys were fighting, i was sad to be losing my family.  waaaaah.  we got to akureyri with half an hour to spare, and i wanted to walk around, but avery flatly refused to get out of the car until grandpa hovered like an enforcer.

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and then he dragged himself down the street while i showed jim some of the old houses.

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then we went back to the parking lot with 10 minutes to spare.  there were no other passengers.  the old bus station building was empty and for sale, and seemingly had moved across the street, but was not open.  there was a bus map taped to the window.  then the clock struck 8, and i started to wonder.  i had sent an email to the main office, and they’d assured me i could get the bus exactly where i was, but maybe not, because it was now a construction zone.

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finally, at ten after, i looked up the phone number for sba norderleid akureyri, and asked them if i was in the right place.  i said i was going on the kjolur route, and they sounded very surprized, and said they’d come pick us up and to stay right there.  wtf.

by this time connor had climbed to the top of a black sand hill and was throwing rocks at the elves, and this got avery out of the car and back into a good mood.

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but then the sba car pulled up and the guy said no the bus stop is behind the hof, where straeto buses stop, and whisked the boys into the car and spun out of the parking lot.  i followed with connor, and by chance (thanks elves) found the bus station.  i got out and asked; they knew all about my plight, said that the guy had  had to chase the bus, but that the boys were on the bus now and everything was okay.  i reported what my email said, and they told me that reykjavik is out of touch.  hahaha.

so connor and i proceeded.  we found the art supply store in its new location, and got a can of chalk powder (for making up your own oil paint) – $4.  i was going to get some dry pigment, but it was $70 a jar, and that’s outrageous.  i will get jim to send some, or ask a future resident to bring some in their luggage.

then we went on to the bonus grocery store, but it wasn’t open until 10am.  so we went on to the byko store to check out a microwave oven.  most of them cost between $149 and $249, but there was a tiny one on sale for $70.  oooooh decisions – a jar of dry pigment or a microwave?  i got neither, and settled on some flower pots for my oxalis corms, but then i discovered that i didn’t have my credit card, and had to go back to the art supply store.  at that point i went up to the salvation army, which wasn’t open either, but the lady said if i could come back at noon they might have one.  but i can’t afford to travel 100 km to go shopping.

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so we came home.

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dig the angle of that slope.  they take their rock slides seriously here

our friends eygir and linda live along the way, and they sent me a map reference so i could find it.  we pulled up with only about 10 minutes to visit, but they were expecting me tomorrow and were still asleep.  so i got a picture of their famous tree, and we came the rest of the way home.

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there was time for a glass of water and a bowl of skyr, and then we had to go to the pool, and we were almost late again (we were late f’real yesterday because of my migraine).  but we made it thru class, and i sat around for awhile afterwards in the hotpot while connor went down the big slide.

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ancient stitching methods

the mayor’s assistant (who also works at the pool, i think) stopped me, showed me his brother’s knitting – wonderful ancient-knitting techniques with modern touches, like dreadlocks – and told me that he was asking for permission for me to paint the sports center.  we went and looked at the wall – truly enormous – and discussed the subjects – a swimming troll, and trolls playing handball, soccer, and some other sport with huge rocks.

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then we scampered home, had i’m not sure what, i made connor’s lunch, and we ran down to the soccer field.

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but we were way early, so we hung out until i was sure there was going to be soccer practice today.

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connor misses his brother

then i started my work.  i actually got work done today, solely because i went around to various houses with my drawings.  jim’s drawings.  first i stopped in at the junior college, where gisli had photoshopped our drawing onto a photo of the building, and it looked great.

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then to inga and ingimar’s, and they loved the standing troll holding his crutch out to serve as a landing place for a raven.

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it’s symbolic of his struggle toward health after a car wreck.  then i went to find asta, but couldn’t, and asgeir the factory owner, and couldn’t.

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fresh, just off the processing line at the factory

then i walked up to the mechanic’s shop with their drawing, and they were tickled pink at the idea, and we talked about where i’m going to put it.

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then a quick shop at the store, and back to check email and sit for a moment.

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goalie connor

then it was getting on for 2:30, so i went back to get connor, and took steps to enroll him in the playgroup.  it costs $50 a week for soccer and playgroup for 3 hours a day.  well worth it to keep connor occupied while i get some work done.  it ends in late july, tho, so we’ll see.

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speaking of which, i’m signed up to go to akureyri next tuesday, to participate in the rot project (which doesn’t mean compost).  i’m supposed to be there at 9 until at least 6 in the evening, and i’m taking at least one resident up and back with me.  so far i haven’t been able to scare up childcare, so it’s likely i will be bringing connor – surprize!  the trip will involve mileage charges to the residents, which they don’t like, but i’m being charged 40kr/km, which is about $.80/mi, and i’ve already put 500km over my allowance onto the car.  worked out, it’s really expensive, and now that the boys are gone, i’m rethinking my expenses big time.  which is why i didn’t get a microwave at the store today.

and a good thing, too, because when i finished showing the drawings to inga and ingimar, she asked if i was still looking for a microwave (i joined several facebook pages for buy/sell in fjallabyggd and posted, but the only response i got was a suggestion that i comb the dump in siglo for one).  anyway, i said yes i am, and she showed me one in their ground floor storage room, and said she’d bring it by.  hurray!

so as i write this, jim and avery are completing the last leg of their trip to reykjavik, and siggi and runa are on point to pick them up, give them a bed for the night, and deliver them to the airport tomorrow.  i spent much of today being sad (the bad part), but with all the finalized permissions for murals, i’m pretty happy,

connor and i made spaghetti (again), and we’ve finished dinner, and we’re both pretty tired.  but it’s only just past 6pm our time.  i’ve done a load of sheets and comforter covers, and have to scare up seconds while those dry.  the cat loves us, and i’ve got loads of work to do in the town, more than i can finish.  so it’s been a pretty good day after all.

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Posted by: jeanne | June 19, 2017

permission? forgiveness?

it’s only monday, and yet i’m starting another post.  my daughter remarked that i write a lot more than she had expected, so i guess she hasn’t read my posts from venice.  in truth, most of my family don’t read things i write, and yet i’m writing mainly for them, as well as my stated reason of documenting all the photos i take.  that applied in venice, where we took 16,000 photos in 2 months.  but it doesn’t apply here.  because we’re in one place, and there are only so many mountain and cloud shots you can take here.

and yet, stuff keeps happening.

last night we called my mom, avery and connor’s mom, and connor’s other grandma on skype to check and see if everything’s going well.  it is.  it’s kind of hard to call them because of the time differenece (4 hours) and their schedules.  but every now and then i get around to it, and we have a nice hour on the phone with various people.

this morning we had swimming practice, but since the microwave blew up last night, i had to do some running around with it in the back of alice’s car.  i took it to gisli, who takes care of maintenance for the junior college, and whose photo of the northern lights over eyafjord’s mountains serves as the origin of my most popular scarf.  he asked if i’d plugged it in anywhere else, and i hadn’t actually thought of that, so i pulled it out of the car and we plugged it in, and it still doesn’t work.  so i need another one.  alice said don’t bother, but that’s not acceptable, because we broke it, and because it’s a real pain in the butt heating milk over the stove for our coffee.  the pans hate it, too.  so gisli mentioned i could find one at byko, in akureyri, for maybe $100.  and then lara mentioned i could find one on the internet and get samkaup, the grocery store, to bring it to town.  and ida mentioned that there’s a facebook page where people can ask for things they need, and others might have spare ones.  everybody has a spare microwave, she says.  these are tricks people learn when they live here.  lara lived here for two years before she found out about some of these things.  to a newcomer like me this is completely opaque, and that’s why i ask everybody when i need something.

while i was at the school, i looked in the art room for some chalk, which bergthor said he might have.  there wasn’t any, but there was a large jar of titanium white pigment, which i tasted before finding out there was a label – silly me.  and also while i was at the school, i got gisli to print me out a picture of lara with the stone lions that guard the front of the school, because i want to put a troll up on the wall of the school, and lara needs a sketch so she can go to the owners of the building and ask permission.

gisli’s advice was that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.  this is exactly the same thing i heard from the mayor’s assistant, and the owner of the fish factory.  in this town where people are self-reliant and industrious, it makes perfect sense.  it only fails in a bureaucracy.  so in atlanta, there’s an ordinance that you can’t put a mural on private property without the approval of five different agencies – an almost impossible proposition.  here, if they tell you to get a permit to put up a fence, and ask for a drawing, you build the fence and then take a photo of it and submit that.  f’real.

after testing the microwave, i put it back in the car, and then stopped at the local kindergarten on the way back to the house, seeing as there was time enough between connor’s swimming lesson and avery’s.  so i did, and walked in to talk to the head, olga, who patiently explained to me that not only was it the end of the school year, and not only was connor not an actual resident, and not only was she already short-staffed because of people going on their sumer vacations, but that she was jammed full of kids and couldn’t possibly take another one.  so that idea is out.  i need someone to watch connor after jim and avery leave.  there is the playgroup that meets in the same building where they run the soccer camp, and it goes from 1-5, i think.  and that’ll do; we can go swimming in the morning, and i can drop him off with the playgroup with a lunch, and work work work for a few hours.  perhaps i can get a babysitter when that ends.  i’ll check it out.

then i discovered that lara was answering my texts from her office, instead of a meeting in reykjavik.  she was supposed to be there, but the flights were delayed, so she canceled.  and i needed a profile photo of her so jim could draw a standing troll-woman with a mythical beast.  so i went up there while avery was in the pool, and connor played with an abacus in the break room while i posed and took photos of lara outside with the stone lions.  it won’t look anything like you, i assured her, because all of jim’s women look like someone else.

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lara mentioned that there’s a story about the troll rock i chalked up the other night, and that there was a reason why i shouldn’t paint it.  she hasn’t told me what it is, but now that i know there’s something about it, i’m really glad i didn’t decide to go for forgiveness instead.

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when the boys were done with swimming, we went back to the house and gathered up jim, who has been steadfastly working on his troll drawings, and went down to ida’s kaffi klara for lunch.  she had invited us to come by before the boys left, so since we’re not sure when they are actually leaving, we thought the earlier the better, and trooped on down there today.

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the cafe was quite crowded, and practically everyone in town stopped by for lunch.  this past weekend, they had a tour bus come by and let people off to go visit the flight museum, and there were 40 customers lining up to be fed.  but during the week, it’s mostly locals, and people staying at the guesthouse.  lunch was tuna and penne casserole, ham and vegetable casserole, fresh salad, and tomato soup, with bread and butter.  the boys got the ham casserole and then didn’t eat theirs (but i did), and jim got the tuna and ate two helpings.  so he ate two helpings, and i ate three, and a bowl of soup besides, and then half a half bowl of soup that connor didn’t finish.  the boys mostly ate bread.  of course.  and then when we got back to the house they had a peanut butter and honey sandwich.

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and then it was time to run down to the soccer field for connor’s practice, so i sent the boys ahead while i helped jim get ready to teach a bit of art to anna kristin, who is already quite accomplished despite her tender years.  jim planned to teach her how to make egg tempera, because making your own paint is always cheaper than buying commercial paint, and anna kristin is just the kind of artist who can use this kind of information – paint is really expensive here in iceland.  so i ran over to listhus where my art supplies are stored, thinking i would bring back the dozen or so dry pigments i brought with me.  but oh damn, i left them all at home because i was 5 lbs over weight in my suitcase.

so i had to go back to the school and borrow bergthor’s titanium white.  i walked down to the school, where i could see that there was nobody on the soccer field and avery and connor were milling around.  i took them around to play on the stone lions, went in, swiped the jar of pigment, and came on back to the house, where jim measured out a single teaspoon of pigment and waited for anna kristin to get off work and come over for her demonstration.

but then it was 2, and avery was supposed to go to siglufjordur on the bus for his practice today, so we all went back down there and dropped avery off.  and saw the bus come.  connor and i got home, connor got on the tablet to play minecraft, and i went back to where he was waiting for the bus with some water and fruit for him.  and he told me that the bus was for connor, not him.  so i sent him back to the house to get connor, and by the time they returned all out of breath, i had spoken to the bus driver and seen the ages of the kids who were waiting, and knew it was for avery and not connor.  result: one very disappointed connor.  but he still got to go back to minecraft, so it wasn’t so bad.

we returned to the house yet again.  my feet were hurting.  anna kristin still wasn’t there, so i walked down to the cafe again, and ida told me she’d gone home.  she forgot.  so ida called her and she came to the house, and jim sat her down and taught her how to make egg tempera, with white pigment,  and then he demonstrated on a toned piece of watercolor paper – a nice little jimlike troll.

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avery came home, wondering why the front door was wide open (because it’s almost 60 degrees outside, and the house is stifling),  connor had a hotdog, avery had another peanut butter and honey sandwich, and the boys went upstairs to watch a movie on the pad.  i had started my drawing for the first watercolor i want to do here, but erased it when jim needed a sheet to put a toned ground on for the demonstration (my drawing wasn’t right so i needed to erase it anyway).  anna kristin sat and hung out with us after jim finished; we talked about paints and how hard it is to find supplies here, and how we could make pigments from grinding up local rocks.

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after anna kristin went home, jim took a nap and the boys watched something else (the tablet hasn’t run out of charge yet, they reasoned).  then i made bacon and blueberry pancakes (i know) and we had the usual argument about why avery couldn’t have all of them and what food costs here in iceland.  and now they’re upstairs, i’ve washed up the dishes – usually jim does the dishes, but today there’s egg tempera paint all over the place, and i didn’t want the glasses to be milky white when they dried.  and now i’m finishing this, and that’s a typical day in olafsfjordur for us.  i’ll get the boys to brush their teeth in a little while, jim and i will read a chapter of our book, and eventually the boys will stop making jumping noises on the floor above us and go to sleep.  it will still be broad daylight out, no matter when they drop off.

 

Posted by: jeanne | June 17, 2017

iceland’s independence day

iceland was ruled by demark for many years, and while denmark was ruled by nazis the icelanders declared independence.  so there’s a national celebration of independence every year, and we just happened to be around for it.

the boys were overjoyed.  yesterday they set up the water slide on top of the ski jump, and this morning they moved in a bunch of bouncy houses and pavilions in the square at tjarnarborg, which we can see from the window.  so they were psyched.

we were surprised to find the grocery store open today, as it’s a national holiday, but so they were.  so the kids and i went down there to take advantage of the saturday 50% candy sale that happens every saturday.  except not here.  so we went to the gas station, where all the candy in the bins was half price, and the boys spent the 1,000 kronur note avery found on the ground a week ago, and had been saving since.  they thought it was the best day ever.

this morning i got a call from ida, who had a guest from seattle who is interested in taking an art residency here.   so i walked over there and gave her and her companion a tour of the town, peering in the windows of the residence, describing the spaces, telling her that there was nothing to do, no night life, nothing but nature.  she liked that.  so perhaps she’ll apply for next summer or this winter.  she runs a business and never gets time to do her art – she’s a jeweler.

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last night, jim and i went out and drew a troll face on some rocks opposite kaffi klara.

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we used chalk.  we were trying to decide on the design before jim has to go.  kaffi klara was having their weekly musical event, and there was a large tour bus parked in the vacant lot where the rocks are, so nobody saw us doing it.

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but last night it rained, hard, and this morning the rocks are clean again.  i think perhaps we shouldn’t try to paint these rocks, or something more bad might could happen.

and it did.  this evening, trying to warm up a cup of coffee in the microwave, something went zot and the fuse blew, and the microwave no longer works.  i guess that’s my definitive answer about painting on troll rocks.

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yesterday evening, before that, the boys and i went to the fish factory, where we might be allowed to paint a mural.  i needed to measure the wall (222’x10′), and the boys helped me.  the wall is not in good shape, and needs not only buffing, but repair, so maybe we won’t be able to do it.  after measuring, we went to the nearby playground for a few whiles.

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but never mind that now.  we’re talking about the celebrations in this post.  the boys went over to tjarnarbog to find out when things start.  2:30 for the bouncy houses, 4 for the water slide.

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by 2 there were people milling about, and we could hear music being played, so we wandered over there.  the sky was cloudy, and there was rain up the valley, but only sprinkles when we arrived.

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the moment the bouncy houses went up, they were full of kids, all three of them.

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with people standing around watching their kids, talking, listening to the music.

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and eating hotdogs.  they love their hotdogs, and so does connor, who has been bugging me for one for every meal.

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our illustrious mayor, left.  i want to make a troll mural using his likeness

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connor was so excited to find that one of the bouncy houses was a spiderman, and spent lots of time in them, while avery stood in line for the round spinny thing.

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all the kids stood in line for the round spinny thing.  and then it started to rain.  connor got behind the last kid you can see on the left, who stayed in line even when he got soaking wet from the rain.  he shivered and shook and finally yelled in his coldness, but never got out of the line.  avery is somewhere near the front of the line by this time, with his blue jacket on over a red striped hoodie which he pulled over his face, insisting he could see perfectly well.

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and then it was his turn (this is actually shot during his second trip to the front of the line, with connor doing his second trip, standing right behind him.  these were the die-hard kids who insisted on going around again even tho they were wet and cold, and the water slide had already opened for business and had tons of kids lining up on the platform.

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it had stopped raining at this point, and they were already taking the bouncy houses down.  i was surprised at how many kids wanted to play in the bouncy houses even while it was raining.  btw, connor only looks like he’s concerned.  in fact, he was very excited to be doing it again, and asked the guys if he could go faster this time.

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and avery was even more excited to be doing it again.  he insisted they go faster, and they were glad to comply.  i think the two guys running the contraption had just as much fun as the kids.

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it hurt just to watch them thrashing around inside the thing.

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and the sun came out and dried off everything, but 20 minutes later there was another shower.  in fact, it was 60 degrees this morning – hot – but after the first shower, it went back to 50 – more normal – and kept on being windy and chilly all day.

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so on we went to the water slide.  have i mentioned it’s the longest water slide in iceland?  the older kids and adults flew off the slide at the flip, and crashed back onto it halfway down the hill, then ran right off the end of the plastic and skidded onto the grass.  some of them were holding cellphones, taking selfies all the way down.  problem with that, of course, is that water tends to mess cellphones up, so i’m not sure what the point really was there.

there was a line; well, two lines, one halfway down for the younger kids.  at first connor waited up with avery at the top of the slide, but some adult went and fetched him down to the lower one, and he was very happy to go.  at some point they halted the flow of kids from the top of the slide and let all the kids waiting lower get on and launch off.

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connor absolutely loved it, and ran back up for another one without a word to me.

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when avery came down, it was the same thing.  absolute joy, and tearing back up the hill.

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they did this three or four times each, and the last time, connor walked back rather than running, but refused to stay down with me and wrap up in a towel, and insisted he wasn’t done yet.

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so i waited at the bottom for both of them, and when connor came down one last time, shivering, i made him stop, took his shirt off, wrapped him in the towel and then get into his jacket.  at this point he started crying with the cold.

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avery came down one last time, and i did the same with him.  i wrung out their shirts, carried their shoes and boots and the towels, and we walked back home as fast as we could hobble.

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the boys got into a nice hot back with all their cars and half of their legos, and only got out when i discovered the floor and walls were covered with water.  all their clothes got washed, and i made pizza from scratch.  they were so hungry they ate it with only a token complaint that i put spinach on it.  and because the spinach was covered with cheese and they couldn’t separate it out, they ate it.  even jim, who detests spinach.

grandma’s revenge.

and then the troll’s revenge, because the microwave blew up when he tried to reheat his coffee after dinner.  it blew a fuse on the way out, but even after resetting all the electrics, it still doesn’t work.

that’s how you know it’s trolls and elves bedeviling you.  it’s a matter of timing.  at home, whenever i knock into some piece of furniture that i shouldn’t hit on my way past, i stop to examine my thoughts, and realize that the elves have just thwacked me for some unseemly attitude.  and it’s the same here, but in spades.  when i thought it was all up to me, someone pushed me off my bike and i damaged my shoulder.  when i hit a bird doing dodgy maneuvers on the ring road, i blew out the muffler.  when i defaced a troll rock, my microwave blew up.

jim has been working on troll drawings all week, and now he’s got a deadline, because he and avery return home on friday, less than a week.  he’ll be working with our friend marie to design, scan and email troll drawings once he’s home, but right now we’ve got to get a couple of them on paper and ready to go.  so today he finished the design for ida’s kaffi klara.  we’ll show it to her tomorrow, and he’ll dash off the one we want to put on the wall of the junior college.

siggi and runa might be coming to pick up avery and jim and take them back to reykjavik by way of the westfjords.  but they might not, because it’s difficult to arrange to be away from their many birds, in which case i can send them back by bus thru the kjolur route, or by plane over the same ground.

at the moment – 11:30 at night, the birds are still singing, it’s still roughly sunset but not really, there are still passing showers, and the sky is clear over the valley, but dark and stormy looking out to sea, as the clouds come from the south (from the east coast of america, to be precise), bringing cumulus clouds and rain.

the good news is that my seedlings are coming up, and i may well have a salad crop to show for it.

undoubtedly there’ll be more to report tomorrow or the next day.  it’s the last few days with jim and avery, and perhaps we’ll have the weather to go up another hanging valley before they leave.  or not.  tomorrow jim will meet with anna kristin, ida’s daughter who is coming along very nicely with her art and is very receptive to anything jim might be able to teach her.  and i’ll be working with her once jim’s gone back home.  she doesn’t need much in the way of instruction, and she’s been learning from bergthor morthens, an excellent teacher.  but we can show her how to make her own paint, and certain other cost-cutting measures.

so off to bed now.  avery and connor spent their evening upstairs, with avery reading to connor, something i never thought i would see.  i love it when kids take up reading and discover the wonderful world of stories.  once avery’s gone, i have connor’s reading workbook to bring out.  perhaps by the end of the summer he’ll be able to read to himself.  two readers in the family; i’m blessed.

Posted by: jeanne | June 16, 2017

kids’ troll-house workshop

on thursday we had a workshop for the kids of olafsfjordur.  the idea was to make paper troll houses, for tiny itty bitty trolls, and then to wheatpaste them onto the stone walls outside various houses in the town.

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the idea of itty bitty little troll houses is kind of funny, because this is the troll peninsula, and everybody knows trolls are huge.  enormous.  like this:

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a troll, maybe 200 feet high.  they turn to stone when the sun hits them

but trolls, like elves, live in another dimension, and their sizes are not relevant.  i mean, they can be any size they like.  so they could actually fit into a door drawn onto an a4 sheet of paper.  anyway, that’s what we had to work with, and maybe the trolls will understand.

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last week i arranged with asta, who is in charge of tjarnarborg, the town hall, for a date and a time to do the workshop.  she suggested that kids wouldn’t be containable for more than a couple of hours, so we set the time at 10-12am on a thursday, and i made up posters and got lara to translate them into icelandic, and put them up in the library, the pool, the grocery store, and tjarnarborg itself.

when i showed up with my two boys, there were several kids waiting already, and in the next few minutes, we had about a dozen kids, asta, and one other mom, who left the baby in the carriage outside the window.  the baby played for awhile, and then fell asleep.  this is a longstanding tradition in iceland, and helps make the babies hardy and strong, and since icelanders live an average of 10 years longer than people from other countries, this makes a lot of sense.  it’s certainly a better idea than living your entire life in either air conditioning or forced air heating, as we do in the states, where life expectancies are actually going down.

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i first asked the kids to write down their names and where they live, so i could figure out later where to put the drawings.  we didn’t have time, and it wasn’t the right weather, to go around the town with the kids, pasting up drawings.  i realized a couple of days before that i was going to have to do the pasting up separately.  perhaps i’ll have some of the kids come out and help me when i get around to it.

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the kids got a sheet of paper and grabbed crayons and colored pencils.  i showed them some drawings of elf houses that jim had sketched from internet references, and they started in.  some copied the drawings, some designed their own.

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the local boys soon got bored and talked among themselves.  they were all at one end of the table, and within a half hour they donned their bike helmets and put on their shoes, and were out the door.

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avery and connor had to go off to their swimming practice at some point in the middle, so for awhile it was just the girls.

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and girls are very industrious artists in general, so soon they had finished their first drawings and started on second and third ones.

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some of the kids decided to get abstract, and drew flowers and birds.

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i put everybody’s names on back and piled the drawings up on another table.

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and then asta served fruit, cookies, and orange drink, and everybody took a short break, but really didn’t spend too much time eating because they were having so much fun drawing.

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even asta sat down and did a drawing, and when jim came back with the boys, he sat down and did one himself.

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a gray troll

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a gay troll

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my own indifferent sample drawings ended up as the backing paper for the abstract drawings, where the kids made no attempt to stay inside the lines (true artists).

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then it was getting close to the end of the workshop, and the kids needed to run off some energy, so they played tag and hide and seek in the entire building.  at one point connor was so well hidden that nobody could find him.

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and so a successful workshop completed.  the kids want to do a sock tie-dye workshop next.  they saw my socks and all wanted to make them.  so i’m asking graycloud if he wouldn’t mind using some socks as packing material, and ordered a dozen and a half from amazon.  because if have to go to akureyri to get them, i might as well mortgage the house…

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Posted by: jeanne | June 16, 2017

14 hour round trip

i believe they call it the diamond circle, as opposed to the golden circle or the full circle, or the troll peninsula circle.  being an island, people naturally think of circles when they go exploring.

but we were sitting over our first cup of coffee on wednesday, discussing the schedule – swimming/swimming, soccer/no soccer – and the weather.  it’s forecast to rain for the next almost week (so what), and wednesday was supposed to be sunny and warm.  i had to see the mayor, and there was no soccer for either boy because of games, so we thought why not go now while we can?  it was beginning to look like we weren’t going to be able to go, and i really really wanted jim and the boys to see some of the really special sights of north iceland.

the visit with the mayor was great.  he was horribly busy, so i was delayed for about 45 minutes, but since alice’s house is directly behind the mayor’s office, it was easy to dash back to the house and make a bunch of sandwiches and do other preparations.  i spent some time talking to the mayor’s assistant, who is the head of the rotary club (who gave me coffee at the pool the day before – 3 jobs…), and we are the same age, and that’s always nice.  he told me the same thing they all do, which is that they once traveled from olafsfjordur to hofsos in 2 hours.  i’ve heard this from everybody i talk to – a trip that takes over an hour by car, they once did in 20 minutes on foot.  in the snow.  i tend to take that with a huge dose of salts, as i do all irish jokes.  but what if they’re right?

the mayor listened to all my plans, only raised his eyebrows at the idea for the troll bus shelter (a shipping container and old bales of hay), asked me to draw him up a proposal by friday, and said he would run it past the planning committee.  and since they’re not a bureaucracy here, he said it should cause no problems.  then i told him i would need ladders or scaffolding and a lift for some of the murals, and he wasn’t sure.  but i’ll deal with that when i get to it.

and when that was done, i packed the boys into the car, and off we went.  it was just after noon.  our first stop was in akureyri, where i made a special trip to the red cross and salvation army (across the street from each other) to get a thank you gift for our housesitter, jasper, as well as a couple of toys for the boys, because they’d neglected to bring anything to play with for our trip.  the lady only charged us for the two large coffee mugs we bought (200kr), and gave us the toys – a soft soccer ball for avery, a little white dog like his lillie for conner).  we passed the swimming pool on the way out of town, and after the usual complaints about why we can’t go swimming, they marveled at the slides, which are still being built.  nevertheless, it’s still a great pool, and i plan to take them to it on the way to deliver jim and avery to siggi and runa for their trip back home.

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the part grandpa didn’t see

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our second stop, an hour later, was at the godafoss falls.  it’s right on the road, so you can’t miss seeing all the cars and tour buses parked on either side of the river.  we got out, and i made sure the boys didn’t run, or get anywhere near the edge, but even so they tried my patience a couple of times.  it’s a not horribly large falls, and there were kayakers taking the plunge and doing a competent job of it.  jim wanted to cross over the rocks to get to a better vantage point to take photos, but he didn’t bring his boots and only had his shoes that get slippery when wet, so i discouraged him, and avery and i crossed instead.  and all was great until some guy with a backpack got right in front of us and never noticed he was edging us to the edge.  and he didn’t speak english either, so he didn’t hear me warning him not to back up into us.  but the falls were magnificent, and we enjoyed our little time there, especially when we got far enough from the edge that i could let the boys run around a little.  at that point i made a sandwich for myself, and the boys had their skyr.  and we continued.

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the next stop was dimmuborgir, the home of the yule lads, a bunch of juvenile delinquent trolls who act as iceland’s santa clause(s).  it’s next to myvatn lake, named after the midges who torment visitors.  they midges were out, but not so bad – we only had to drive with the windows open for awhile to flush them out of the car.  i had only stopped at the parking lot with lara when we visited in 2014.  at that time there was a large barrel with a crass solicitation for donations written by the trolls (or their managers).  now, there’s a visitor’s center and cafe, so same thing, right?  but this time, to a chorus of ‘do we have to?’ we went and walked the shortest of the trails.  it’s a truly magnificent landscape, with large lava formations at every turn.  at one point we were overtaken by a tourbusload of french and/or italian tourists, who then stopped for a lecture, blocking the path.  but that was okay, because i found i understood most of what the tourguide was saying (yay duolingo).  the boys loved the place, and jim lagged behind taking dozens of photos.

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a troll cave

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after our walk, we went to the gift shop so the boys could get something small for their relatives back home, amulets with runes inscribed – avery’s dad’s says love, and the boys’ mom’s says warrior.  i forget what nana’s says.  made in china, but it’s a giftshop, so what can you do?  then we stopped at the n1 gas station in myvatn, because it was almost 6pm, and i knew the boys needed something to eat.  we got 3 hotdogs, theirs with catsup only, mine with everything (crunchy fried onions and remoulade sauce), and a half order of fries (should have gotten the 1/4 order of fries, there were so many left lying in the back seat of the car when the boys were done).  jim had the last cup of coffee from our flask, we most of us went to the (free) bathroom (they charge 200kr at the giftshop in dimmuborgir)

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then we drove up and over the geothermal area, passing the north’s version of the blue lagoon, with its similar pricing structure (outrageous), and drove along that part of route 1 that has marker cairns every hundred yards or so.  these cairns are hundreds of years ago (i think i remember hearing), and it’s illegal to mess with them because they used to be the only waymarkers before they put the road in.  this area is quite empty, plains with volcanos all around.

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when volcanos grow under glaciers, they end up flat, not conelike

we got to the gravel road that goes north to dettifoss and asbyrgi.  only it’s not a gravel road anymore.  they have paved the road as far as dettifoss, and put in a fancy new parking lot.  they were doing that when i was there in 2014.  the new road is empty, with no signs limiting you to 90kph (that’s the top speed in iceland).

the parking lot was still pretty populated.  jim and i started to walk ahead, while the boys visited the bathroom again – rejecting the portopotties for the wooden bath house.  i had to let jim go on and double back to get the boys when it became apparent they were playing rather than peeing…

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avery was getting pretty tired of walking, he’d been demanding to stay in the car every time we got out.  that’s not something i’m willing to do, because i know damn well he’ll get out and wander off.  it’s about a mile walk thru boulders and the mountains of the moon until we reached the river.  jim stopped and took more photos.  i’ve actually never seen hjm take as many photos as he did during the trip.  360.  usually i’m the one who takes all the pictures.  in venice, i would take 700, and he would take 5.

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we got to the falls, with spray raining onto us even before we could see the water.  we could hear it, tho.  and an uglier, more powerful waterfall you’ll never see.  i was afraid of it, even standing far back at the viewing platforms.  so of course we went down the stairs and got closer.  and the boys were duly impressed, and connor threw a stone into it to show his bravery.  grandpa almost slipped on the trail, and i got a bunch of movies of the water falling and boiling.  very ugly.

and then we walked back.  some of the tourists we passed were wearing mosquito netting wrapped around their heads.  quite picturesque, even tho the midges weren’t bothering us.  they sure did hover around our car, tho.  maybe they like heat.

at this point it was 7pm.  the road turned to gravel and scraped dirt for the next 35 km, so we went 40kph or under the whole way (that’s about 20 miles at 20mph.  the distance map says 23km, and that it should take 39 minutes hahahahahaha).  the few campers and vans on the road with us passed whenever i could find a place to pull over, and we limped along, trying to make sure nothing happened to the car, because there is no cellphone service at all in the middle of nowhere.  we rode over the plateau, with the river off in the distance to the east.  between bouts of windswept plain with nothing but rocks on it, there was a lush alpine landscape of tiny ancient birch trees, something with fuzzy catkins also qualifying as trees, moss, heather, and sheep.

we got to hljodaklettar, going down into the river ravine past a castlelike lava formation.  the camper that was so anxious to pass us decided to spend the night at the campground here, so we waved as we passed them.  we got to the parking lot, and there was absolutely nobody there.  of course, it was 8:30 or 9 by this time, and the tourists all keep bankers’ hours.  so we were alone.  the boys ached and whined the almost mile to the river, but once we got to the enormous lava trolls they were suitably impressed.  at this point i ragged them every time they complained, because while unwilling to go along, they loved actually being there.

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hjodaklettar is one of my favorite places, but i haven’t spent much time there, or gone exploring as i would have liked.  the last time i was there, with lara, it was suddenly mushroom season, and absolutely everybody was going off the path to collect mushrooms, so i did too.  they were boletus mushrooms, and they were wonderful.  in june, it was too early, but we did pass tiny blueberry bushes with the same red berries as we found on our walk up the valley here in olafsfjordur.

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the trail went on from there.  we didn’t.  grandpa wasn’t even allowed back there

it was 10 when we got back to the car and left.  there was a spigot in the campground, so we refilled the canteens.  there was absolutely no water up on the plateau, but many many wash basins showing how fast the water runs in the spring (huge rocks).

our next stop, another 20km or so, along the same dirt road, brought us to asbyrgi.  i turned the wrong way on the road at first, but when we passed a line of lava cliffs i recognized, turned around and found it easily.  again, there was nobody at all there, so we drove to the far parking lot, just a short hike from the walls, and walked in to the magical lake, where in the midnight sun you can see the elves that live there.  the king of elves makes his home there, and i invited the boys to ask around and bring as many of them back home as wanted to come.  we also released some of the elves that accompanied me home back in 2014.

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asbyrgi is an enormous bowl of vertical lava cliffs that was obviously once a waterfall.  geologists theorize it was formed all at once during some catastrophic flood, when somewhere in vatnajokull a volcano went off under the ice and melted everything.  it’s a magnificent bowl, and was planted with thousands (now millions) of trees back when i was a child.  so the birch trees were as old as i was.  we could tell elves live there; everything is peaceful and quiet and it feels like you’re being watched all the time; plus i kept seeing people perched on top of rocks out of the side of my eye as i passed.  we hung out among the midges down at the water’s edge, watched a mother duck and her tiny ducklings frolicking on the rocks (the water level was about a foot down from usual, leaving a white scar line all around the lake, and the waterfall had completely stopped flowing from the plateau a couple of hundred feet above).  then we wandered back to the car, made peanut butter and honey sandwiches with the last of our bread, and started back.

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the ride back was uneventful.  155km to akureyri, the sign said.  the boys fell asleep as we drove along the northern edge of iceland, i dodged sheep in the road, and we watched the sun dancing with the horizon and flirting with a bank of clouds approaching from the north.

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we didn’t stop until we got to husavik, and that was to buy gas at the n1, and get coffee.

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i was amazed it was open, because it was close to midnight.  when i asked the girl at the register if she would be there all night, she cheerfully told me that they were closing in ten minutes, and that she’d been there for 14 hours straight.  i said me too, and suggested that we both go home to our beds and get some sleep.  we were less than half full of gas; i should have topped up at myvatn, but figured the gas stations would be open late, i don’t know why.  i got some candy for the boys, who were struggling to wake up, and as we drank our coffee, we cruised down to the harbor and looked at the various boats.  i showed the boys the space museum, which of course was closed, and the whale museum, ditto, and then we continued.  we passed a hotspring lake on the way out of town.  lara told me that at one point, there was a plan to raise alligators in that lake.  they would die outside the lake, because of the cold – what could go wrong?  the plan was nixed for some strange reason…

it was well after midnight, and the sun was still setting.

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i took pictures every half hour or so, slowing the car to a stop to let jim take photos of the landscape.  at one point i was getting back up to speed and drove right into a bird who was trying to outfly me.  it was a sickening thud, and i could see the bird crashed onto the road in my wing mirror.  i felt horrible.  that bird had a family, perhaps a spouse for life.

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the boys finally fell back asleep as we got to the mountain pass road that goes down into akureyri – a horribly steep decline that had me in low gear and my nerves on edge, peering past the bent and crumpled guard rails.

then we were in akureyri, going 35kph thru the deserted town, and out again.  the road to olafsjordur had had construction on it, perhaps that very same day, and the road speed went from 90 to 70 to 50 as the road turned to gravel.  i missed the signs (i was getting a little sleepy and the ground was getting a little gloomy in the sunset, tho the sun was on the way back up at this point – 1am) and ran too fast into the gravel, and slowed down, but not before hearing the engine noise suddenly get louder.  i knew that sound.

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oh drat, i caused a hole in the muffler.  perhaps it was retribution for killing a bird.  after that i was particularly cautious on the road.  it was almost dark on the ground, and i was tired, and couldn’t really see all that well even tho the car lights were on.

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plus there were lots of sheep wandering around, and hitting a sheep will mess up your car.  unless it’s a baby sheep, and i wouldn’t feel so bad about hitting one because it would end up as dinner, minus a messed-up shoulder.

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the farmer would have to be found and compensated, of course.  it would be lots of trouble.

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but we didn’t hit any sheep, and we didn’t get crushed by a landslide, and we didn’t run off the road and roll a thousand feet to the bottom of the cliff, and it was 2am when we finally got home, with connor waking up again and crying inconsolably the way he does when he should be sleeping.

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the boys fell into bed, jim and i unpacked and put away all our stuff from the car, and definitely did not read our chapter.  because we had to be up on time in the morning, to do a kid’s workshop, take the boys swimming and to soccer, and deal with the hole in the muffler.

i’ll get to that in the next post.

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Posted by: jeanne | June 14, 2017

swimmingsoccer, working with kids

working when you have kids is always tough.  they take all your time and complain you don’t pay enough attention to them.  you feed them their favorite foods and they complain you don’t give them ice cream.  you be painstakingly fair with them and they complain that the other one is getting preferential treatment.  kind of like republicans…

today (tuesday) started the combined swimming and soccer practice for both boys.  connor has swimming from 10:30-11, avery from 11-11:30.  then connor’s soccer starts at 1, and avery’s starts at 2:30.

today was cold and windy, with the clouds coursing in from the ocean.  so i stayed in the lobby of the swimming pool and played chess with avery (his new passion) while connor had his lesson, then watched connor watching avery take his lesson.  today the teachers took both classes into the big pool with swim fins (looking like shark fins and strapping around their chests) and paddle boards, and had the kids swim from one side to the other.  i got video of both of them.  avery got in the pool about 10 minutes early, and wanted to hang out with connor, but that was instantly disruptive, so i made him get out and go into the little pool to wait.  he refused until an adult in charge enforced it.

the adult in charge is the head of the rotary club in town, and he came over to introduce himself and talk about rotary.  i was very glad to be involved, as these are all important people in the town, and if i want to get anything done here, i need to make as many friends as possible in order to enjoy any kind of help.  he was so pleased with me, he brought me two cups of very strong, bitter, espresso that i drank gratefully, sitting there watching the steam blow away from the pool’s surface.

avery is older than the rest of the kids taking lessons in his group, and i suppose he’s getting to be a stronger swimmer.  after only a few minutes, they had him remove the shark fin and took away the board, and he swam back and forth for every back or forth the other kids took.  so that’s good.  it looks like he won’t miss not being able to finish out his two weeks, and the teacher gave me a discount because there are two of them, and avery will be leaving in the middle of next week (wah).

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avery struggling with the straps of a sharkfin flotation thingie

after swiming, we went home, i fixed some skyr with frozen blueberries, and we left the boys watching a video at the kitchen table, while jim and i went over to inga’s house to talk about putting a troll on her wall.  but first we went back to kleifar to get good photos of the town from that vantage point, so jim can include it in the long mural he’s designing for the factory wall.  he woke up this morning with that idea – he’ll be ending the panorama with a view of the town.  he’s not actually thinking of making a coherent scene out of hte views of our lovely fjord, and that’s going to drive some townspeople crazy, but he doesn’t care.  i’m going to have to explain artistic license to people.  or else alter the design after jim goes home.  hey, he’ll never know, right?  (not)

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inga’s house is visible from the main drag, adalgataj, one of a row of attached houses a little in fron the road.  this aspect will make the troll we’re going to put on her house a bit surprising to passers by, so i think it needs to be a little bit special.  we met her and her husband, saw the house, showed them one of jim’s drawings, and asked for input.  at this point they don’t care what we want to put up, but we will run the drawing by them anyway, because they have to live with it.  they assured us they have a ladder, and we inspected the house from a distance and closeup, to see what we’re working with.  the space between the small and large windows, over the door, is where we think it best to fill, and we can use some of the horizontal space.  her husband, ingimarwas in a car accident and walks with a cane, so we discussed whether the troll we put up should have a cane too, or was that a bit too sensitive?  he seemed to like the idea, so perhaps we could put a raven sitting on his cane, over the window area.  we’ll see what jim comes up with.  it’s going to be technically challenging for me to paint this, because i’m going to be on a ladder, and i get vertigo (i love an obstacle!).  but i’m pretty sure i can do something in black and gray in 4 sessions, which means 8, of course.  a week’s work should do it.  hhaahhahahahah.

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i took photos of ida’s kaffi klara last night, and jim will be designing the troll woman cooking, with her kids and husband helping, all of them caricatures of the actual family.  we’ll need ladders or a lift for that one, too.  it’s going to be on three adjoining walls, and will have to go up at least ten feet.  plus, the building is red, so i’m going to be working in offwhite and black.

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right now i’m sitting in alice’s car, parked at the soccer field.  i was out here with connor for his session, and froze my ass off.  connor stood around like a lump for a long time, but finally got into the spirit of it, and will learn to enjoy it.  but the little kids have a second session of playgroup, and he joined that after practice, and right now he’s off on a hike with the other kids, while avery is fully engaged in his soccer practice.  and looking at the field, i see that kids regularly melt down here.  the coaches were over hugging and talking to two kids who must have collided with each other during scrimmage.  they’re kids.  i wish i could get a hug and a talking to when i feel bad.  oh and now they’re putting the two kids together and talking to both of them.  good.  it must be difficult coaching kids.  i’m glad i’m only a parent…

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connor in the middle

i’m pleased to say that our ill resident feels much better today.  we had a shuffle between the two group houses yesterday, as two of the artists were crammed into a tiny studio space in number 12, while the large studio space at number 10 went empty, so one of them moved all her stuff over to 10, and now seems much happier.  number 12 is going to become very crowded now that visitors are coming to stay for awhile, so it’s good that we adjusted things.  there’s just no way to know where you’ll be happy in a situation like this.  you can look at floor plans and photos all you want, but when you get here and see the reality of your quarters, it begins to look very different.  personally, i’m over the moon being in alice’s house.  i don’t actually like being in a group house during an art residency.  i’d much rather be by myself and just not have to socialize at all.  i want to be able to dive into the psychosis of intense focus on art and no proper sense of the passage of time.  i want to be able to talk to myself, scream, walk around naked.  you can’t do that in polite company…

i’m trying to figure out when we can go for a jaunt, to see godafoss, myvatn, dimmuborgir, and asbyrgi (all the sights i saw when lara took me out there three years ago).  but the weather is forecast rain for the next five days (so what?  not only so what is forecast because it never works out that way, but also so what because we have rain gear).  oh yes, we’ll have to go to the pool at akureyri, they might want to see the folk museum beyond that, and there’s always lunch and the whale museum (or the space museum) at husavik to take in.  way too much to do, an all day trip even if we skip half of it.  but with swimming and soccer, i’m not sure if we’ll be able to do it at all, especially if the rain actually sets in.  and jim and avery leave in the middle of next week.  siggi and runa are exploring the idea of taking them to the westfjords, where siggi is from, and that will take at least a day.  they leave friday afternoon of next week, so they’ll have to leave here on tuesday or wednesday to make a trip of it.  we will see.  i’m not looking forward to their leaving; rather the opposite.  we’re going to have to arrange with our friend marie to scan and send any designs i ask jim to make once he’s back home, and all sorts of other interesting workarounds.

today we have decided to go traveling, because it’s the last clear day forecast, and because we have a break in the soccer schedule (a game in blonduos), so we’re going to do the so-called diamond circle, and visit godafoss, husavik, asbyrgi, hjodaklettar, and dimmuborgir.  i’ve probably mentioned the idea, but we’re going to take the chance today.  so i’ll end this now and post another one after our little (7 hours of driving) drive

 

Posted by: jeanne | June 12, 2017

just go straight

in venice, directions include the phrase ‘just go straight’.  this derives from the invasion of pepin in 800-something, when the invaders tried to conquer the city in ships.  the locals pulled up all the channel markers and told the invaders to go straight in order to get to venice; they all ran aground in short order, and the venetians threw burning brands into the ships and scampered away in their flat-bottomed boats.  now, when they give directions, there’s a twinkle in their eyes as they tell the unwary to go straight this way or that, failing to mention that there are no straight lines in venice.

it’s similar in iceland.  nothing is as close as it seems, but they don’t tell you that.  nothing is straight ahead, because the land doesn’t do straight.  mountains get in the way, and rushing rivers.  and when the roads are straight, there is construction and detours that nobody thinks to mention.  there’s a line from laurie anderson:  “turn right where they’re thinking of building that drive-in bank”.  it’s like that here.

so when one of the residents fell sick and asked to be driven to the clinic, we drove to the clinic in olafsjordur, only to be told that we’d missed clinic hours by a few minutes, and now needed to go to siglufjordur.  and that was going to be the end of it until i asked precisely where in siglufjordur the clinic was.  the lady smiled at me, said she would print me out a map so i would know – immensely comforting to be told that – then produced a thumbnail map from google maps, and marked the furthest point shown on the map as the location of the clinic.  to be even more helpful, she wrote down the phone number of the clinic.  and off we went.

thru the tunnel to hedinsfjordur, then thru the tunnel to siglufjordur, parading slowly thru the town at 35 km per hour, then out of town, then up to 50 km/hr, then around the curve of the mountain toward the skills-testing one-lane tunnel.  at this point we found a wide spot in the road and turned around, trying to call the clinic and ask where they were.  but the phone number was wrong, and the nice recorded message repeated something in icelandic a few times before switching to english – the number you are calling does not exist.

and i just had to laugh.  go straight.  so we went back into the town and found a universal hospital sign (“H”), and found the clinic.  they were more than happy to treat our artist, and we had the usual waiting room experience, before being seen quite promptly.  the fee for a visit was a low low $90, with a further $80 for testing.  the last time anybody i know went to an urgent care facility in the states, the bill was 4 times that, and the last emergency room visit bill i know about was 10 times that.  the bill in siglufjordur was not including any insurance reduction at all; that’s just the price they charge for healthcare here.  to foreigners.  locals don’t pay anything.  and here we are with the congress ready to repeal the puny healthcare benefits we get and calling it fair, and the best healthcare in the world.  i think i’m going to throw up.  oh wait, let me remember what country i’m in before i do that.  oh yeah, i’m not in america, so i can go ahead and get sick.

when i was here last time, i fell off my bike and hurt my shoulder quite badly.  but i refused the many offers to take me to the clinic to see a doctor, because i can’t afford to see a doctor in the states.  they all shook their heads and told me that only an american would refuse medical care because of the cost.

moving backwards thru the day now:

while we were in siglufjordur, i got the notice on facebook that the city was going to turn off the cold water in the town from 2-5pm, so when i got home we filled a bunch of containers, and then they never got around to turning off the water, so now i have loads of fresh water to use on the garden.  it actually has not been very rainy at all, so it will be useful to water my seeds.

after the clinic, we stopped at the grocery in siglufjordur, which is twice the size of the same store in olafsfjordur, so i got peppermint tea, and earl grey, and hotdog buns, and sidewalk chalk.  that made the whole trip worthwhile.  that plus our nice conversation during the trip.

this morning the boys had their first swimming lesson.  there’s a woman in town who teaches the kids, and ida gave me her name and information, so i signed them up, and this morning i went down at 10:30 with connor.

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connor in the foreground

the lap pool was covered, but the baby pool was filled for the first time since we arrived, and the little kids got into that with the teacher, and swam up and down, learning to blow bubbles and wave their arms around under the water.  i sat in the lobby with the laptop and worked on an interview with one of the artists; part of my duties as guest-host of the residency.  i went and got avery in the middle of connor’s lesson, and when he got there it was his turn to get in the little pool and practice blowing.  this was good, because until now avery has been holding his nose.  but if you hold your nose while waving your arms around, you will go in a circle, so it’s something he needed to know.

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avery in the corner

before swimming, jim and i had time to go to the store for more milk (they sell it in quarts; we have to buy 4 at a time because we have kids).  we stopped at ida’s kaffi klara and showed her jim’s first design for the troll mural she has commissioned us to do.  she told us she wanted a troll woman stirring a big pot.  so jim went home and drew it up, and when she saw it she was pleased.  that’s only the beginning, of course.  in talking to her, we found out that kaffi klara is becoming known as a family restaurant, in part because ida’s whole family works there.  so she asked us to put in some kids helping.  i asked if she wanted a pile or bag of bad children waiting to be cooked, because that’s the tradition here (trolls are used like monsters under the bed to scare kids into good behavior).  she didn’t mind, but that wasn’t the point.  we were given 3 adjoining walls to make our designs on, so jim went back and started drawing the rest of the family, carrying wood, setting tables, cleaning dishes, etc.  i’m going to need ladders, lifts, or scaffolding to do some of the mural, but we should be able to start very shortly, as soon as ida has approved our design and made any changes she thinks of.  i’m hoping to get ida’s daughter to help execute the mural, as she is a budding artist herself, and would find the work interesting as well as challenging.

did i speak about our hike up the mountain yesterday?  probably not, so going backwards again…

on sunday, it was day two of the seamen’s festival, and i could see them dragging out the bouncy houses for the kids just before noon.  so i made peanut butter and honey sandwiches, gathered the waterproof pants and gloves, and hustled the boys into the car so i could spirit them away before they realized what all that colorful plastic was.  success.  we got to kleifar, about 4km away and a good hour’s hike.  i parked the car at the bottom of the hill into the valley; there’s a gravel road that goes straight up, and i already knew the car wasn’t going to like it.  as we got out of the car, a guy came out of the house with the standing stones all around it, carrying a plate of ex food – the bones of a lamb roast, and some old potatos it looked like.  he dumped this on a large rock and went back inside, pointing above us to where birds were already circling.  by the time we got to the top of the gravel road, the birds were thick on the rock, squabbling as ever over their lunch.

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the trail goes up the hanging valley of the gunnoflsa river, called ytrardalur.  it’s well marked (even tho avery kept pulling up the markers and waving them around like swords), and the trail is up and down, trending up several hundred feet along several miles of valley.

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the last time i was up there, the snow line was just beyond the bridge into the base of the upper valleys.  this time it was much farther, and since that was our goal, we had to keep going.

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that’s a peanut butter cracker in avery’s mouth, not an orange tongue.  in case you wondered

just as we got in sight of the abandoned farm cart, avery decided to cross a mucky part instead of finding a route around, and got his boot stuck in the mud.  this caused a major meltdown, and he for a while refused to go on.  but defeat is never a good reason to quit, so we changed into his snow pants, and i argued and insisted until he reluctantly squished along as far as the river and its bridge, which tho new three years ago is already beginning to fall into the river.

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by the time we got to the bridge, he decided that if we could rinse off all the mud, the maybe it would be okay.  so we went down to the gravel shoreline and washed his boot and sock, and after that he was fine.

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disaster averted.  then we climbed a nasty steep little ridge that i was fearful of for the trip back, and after that it was up up up until we found a patch of snow that was level, and didn’t have a rushing stream undermining it.

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there was a troll rock nearby, so we sat there and ate our peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and the boys played in the snow while jim walked up to the beginning of the upper valley and took a look around – it’s all snow up there.

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but the boys didn’t care.  they were busy getting wet to the skin, despite down jackets, snow pants, and ski gloves.

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so connor was absolutely miserable for about ten minutes as we started our descent – bawling, sobbing, tripping along beside me as i held his hand.

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and then he got over it, and the rest of the way down was smooth and without event, even the nasty ridge bit, where i had to shepherd each of them down, and took especial care of grandpa, whose fall would ruin everything.  i can carry the boys down the mountain, but grandpa is immovable when he’s not well.

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when we got back to the car, the boys’ heads were filled with visions of hot chocolate, so we did that when we got home, and had dinner (leftover hamburger made into stirfry), and put them to bed.  and lo and behold, tho it was only 10pm, they went to sleep.  and so did we.  blissful, aching soreness dissolving into sleep.

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the blueberries aren’t quite ripe yet

Posted by: jeanne | June 11, 2017

sea men’s day in olaf’s fjord

on saturday, it was seamen’s day in iceland.  friday saw a bunch of people decorating their yards and houses with penants (a red section and a blue section, perhaps a rivalry of sorts) and mannequins.  people went door to door with cut flowers, and there was a plant sale that i missed (drat).

the artist staying downstairs decorated the back yard with his laundry.  i thought it was funny to see that everything on the line was black, especially since i had just done a load and needed to hang it out.  my laundry is quite multicolored.  the fashion here is shades of black.  all my laundry is upstairs in the spare room, drying on a rack now.  it was a laundry kind of day, with blue skies and a fresh wind from the north.

we went swimming early, because the pool closed at 1pm, due to the festivities.  the boys got done dressing before me for a change, so i found them in the lobby playing swords with the shoe horns.

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while we were hanging out in the house after lunch, we started hearing noises outside, and when we looked out the window they were having a tractor pull on the main street.  they’d blocked off the road with cars (how are people supposed to get from one tunnel to the other?), and a good chunk of the local population were gathered in the square at tjarnarborg to participate in festivities.  in this case, two trawler crews were teamed up against each other.  they were doing a truck pull, with a very large ship’s rope tied to the front of a dump truck.  first one team, then the other, and then all the kids in town got in line and pulled the truck too.  it’s a long line, so i couldn’t actually get the truck into the shot.

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then everybody gathered in the square and the organizers handed out ice cream in one line, and seafood chowder in another.  and people waited for the relay race between the two trawler teams.  i’ve never seen anything like it.

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the first guys in the relay came up and bobbled soccer balls for a moment, then ran back and tagged the next guys, who ran up to the table and put bras on over their clothes, struggling with the unfamiliar bindings.  then the next guys ran up, blindolded themselves, and applied lipstick to the guys in the bras.  after that, two more guys ran up and threaded a large sinker weight onto fishing line.  when they were done, they ran back and tagged the next guys, who got into 2×6 boards with foot straps, and tandem-skiid up to the tables.  they shouted back at the last two guys, who then ran forward and jumped into barrels of ice water, jumped back out spluttering, and ran back to finish.  it was bizzare.  they did this for two rounds.  the wet guys just stood around in their wet clothes after this.  fishermen are hardy souls.

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i spotted two of the artists in residence watching.  we were pretty bemused by it all.

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the boys, of course, found their own amusements, and joined a bunch of the other kids rolling down the very steep hill.  fortunately, human bodies don’t roll straight down, but always curve to the side and stop themselves.  otherwise you’d have that scene from princess bride

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shortly afterwards, the opening of the nature museum was scheduled, and we joined about 20 minutes later.  the building was recently a hardware store, and looked like it, but they worked all day and night on it for awhile, and it was actually ready to open on schedule.  an immense task.

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but when we got there, it was jammed full of people, and there was a music recital going on.  the boys were so not interested.  they couldn’t get to the polar bear in all the crush.

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so we went to the local pocket park, next to the church.  there are bunches of pocket parks in this town.  very convenient.  on the way, we passed thru the church parking lot, and i discovered a bunch of icelandic poppies, as well as violets, dandelions (a very sturdy stem on the dandelions, because of the wind, i suppose), and other wildflowers.

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the boys liked the ‘busy train’ as connor calls it.  avery corrects him – dizzy train.  the bearings on it are so good that they found it easy to go really fast and get really dizzy.

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next to the church is this adorable little house that was for sale the last time i was here.  it seems they’re doing some renovation now, so perhaps it has sold.  i’m so upset – i wanted to buy it with spare change.  but it seems it’s taken.  and i’ve been told prices are rising very quickly around here.  so even the oldest fisherman’s cottage is now $150k.  i guess i missed my chance to dispose of pocket change.

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after an hour, we returned to the museum.  tommi has printed up posters on very short notice, because two of jim’s paintings were included, and he only finished them a day or two before that.

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superman, who doesn’t look like jim, and the flying machine, ditto.

 

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locals gathered to enjoy the concert, and to chat with each other.  normally people give each other a lot of space in such a small town, but there are occasions when everybody gloms.

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leonardo da vinci, now that looks more like jim.  jim always makes the men he paints look like himself.  it’s completely unconscious.  his women always look like some unidentified mystery woman.  even portraits look like someone else.  it’s funny.

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the museum is mostly about birds, but they took advantage of the old features of the building, like this way cool heater.

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the other non-bird item was the famous polar bear.  while the museum was being readied, it was under a tarp in the corner, so the boys were very excited to see it actually displayed, and quite annoyed that it was behind a chain, indicating they weren’t allowed to touch it.  or climb on its back…

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this is the diorama we saw being worked on when we first came into the museum last week.  the artist was flicking bird pooplike paint around the rocks with his brush.  that’s when i volunteered jim to help – he can flick bird poop with the best of them.

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the entire back part of the building is given over to dioramas, models, screens and drawings explaining flighted creatures, including a hilarious compilation of early flight disasters.

the boys found the tray of goodies, and helped themselves (gorged themselves) on brownies and soft drinks.  then they went back to the playground to make themselves thoroughly ill, and when they started complaining they were going to barf, i took them home.

we had dinner – leftovers a la stirfry – and then went for a walk down by the dock, looking at the big ship, peering around the breakwater to gander at the ocean – water all the way to the north pole – inspecting the newly repaired fishing boat belonging to the fish factory guy, whose name i am unsure of, but it might be aski?

alice is now gone to bergen, and so the boys can make as much noise at night as they wanted to.  so they went up to bed, and straight to sleep.  ah well.

today is murky and cloudy, but we want to hike up to the snow line in the closest of the hanging valleys, up past kleifar.  so as soon as i finish this we’ll make some sandwiches, get the boys into their waterproof pants, pack the gloves, and head out, jim and i with our walking sticks, everybody in their boots.  should be fun.

Posted by: jeanne | June 9, 2017

early success

today’s friday, and i left off telling on tuesday, i think.  if i don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.  so my day book is now full week by week, which is extraordinary for someone who never does anything…

jim toddled off to the museum to paint figures with the boys from reykjavik.  i missed meeting the mayor because he’s only in residence in olafsfjordur for a couple of hours on wednesday mornings, and then he goes to siglufjordur to do his stint there.  oh well.  i did manage to draw up a couple of posters about the troll murals and the children’s workshop i’m planning, get lara to translate them into icelandic, and post them in various places around town (the library, the pool, the grocery).  and we all went for a swim, including grandpa, who first went into the hottest hotpot, and then complained bitterly at the temperature when i asked him to sit in the slide pool and watch connor.  because duh you get into the coldest pool first and work your way up.

against the stated rules, the lifeguards decided that it’s ok for connor to put on water wings and go down the huge slide by himself, as long as i was watching him.  so i sat in the slide pool for a long while, and then eventually joined jim in the hotpot with the other adults.  when connor’s teeth started chattering – not from the water but from climbing the 41-step tower to get to the top of the slide – the boys came into the hotpot with us.

there was a frenchwoman in the hotpot with jim, so we had a great conversation about iceland, france, the horrible political situation at home, etc.

in the evening we all went to siglufjordur for dinner at an artist’s house.  turns out it’s the artist who makes those wonderfully whimsical wooden figures you can see in various places.  her name is ala.

she lives in her studio, which was enormous and filled with wood.

she’s been cooking for hours, and had all the tables out and extra chairs, and the tables were set for a million people.  we were thousands for dinner; she must have fed us loaves and fishes.  actually, she did serve fish, among other things, and i brought a loaf of bread, so maybe so.

we had a great time, with lots of artist conversations.  the boys behaved themselves admirably.  it was cod and potato casserole, mushroom and broccoli casserole, sweet potato and broccoli casserole (really really good), salad, bread, pesto.

way more than i’m used to eating, but i took two servings of fish so i could mop up the sauce with my bread.

after a very long time over coffee and tea, we came home.  it took two cars, and i got to sit in the back cargo compartment.

interestingly, the weather in siglufjordur was completely different from the weather in olafsfjordur.  it had been raining all day over there, and over here it was sunny and cloudy by turns, but the only rain was up in the hanging valleys.

the boys went straight to bed.  weeee hah!  and so did we.  jim gets up at between 5-6, and i stay sleeping until 8:30.  the boys wander down sometime after that.

on thursday jim went back to help in the museum (they open saturday).  avery had another practice and connor played on the playground while i took a timelapse of the clouds coming over the mountain.  the pool was closed for some reason stated in icelandic and thus a mystery to us, so we came home and the boys got restive quickly.  i began my felting project by making a pair of duct-tape shoe lasts.


duct tape is very useful, and not just for making the boys be quiet

the carpenter came to fix the front door, which was nice.  he kept slamming it, and the air pressure pulsed every time.  over dinner the boys decided it would be fun to throw their food, so i got quite put out with them, but didn’t have the opportunity to string them up because alice dragged me off to a rotary club meeting at the hollin restaurant (the only restaurant in town).

there was food – cod and potato casserole – and tho i was two minutes late getting there, everybody was already inhaling their food, so i slipped in and inhaled mine.  yum.  one of the museum artists was there, and he and tommi (the guy who does the printing, makes all the signs in the town, and leads the search and rescue team) presented something visual about the museum.  it was good to see them having trouble with the a/v equipment – that’s universal at least.

and they conducted all their business in icelandic, of course, so i just sat there with a silly smile on my face until alice raised her hand and introduced me.

i whipped out the sketches jim had made, and described my intended projects – troll murals on walls visible from the main road, a 2m troll sculpture by the side of the road with a ‘troll crossing’ sign opposite, a kid’s workshop with little paper troll houses wheatpasted up against the stone fences, a troll cave bus stop made from a shipping container and old hay bales, and a 5m stone troll up on the hill at brimnes farm.  i wasn’t sure if they liked the idea or not, but one guy took me up on it right away.

i went with the guy, who turns out to own the fish drying factory, and he showed me various houses in town that he said i might be able to put trolls on.  including his house on the hill, where he lives with his family.

     

we drove up to brimnes farm and he showed me where things were, but the farmer wasn’t there (he was at a meeting of the fire department), so we’ll have to go back.  he also explained some of the intricacies of filling a worldwide market in fish, and all the various things you can do with fish depending on how much you can afford to buy (dried heads and spines can be pounded up and made into a protein-rich porridge, for example).


one of the town’s two ships came in during the night

while we were sitting in front of alice’s house talking about these things, jim came back with the boys.  they’d gone out right after i left to go to the meeting, and had spent two hours at the playground, running off the food-fight energy.  and a good thing, too.  jim and i left them watching an animated show, and went out with the camera to get pictures of all the places i might have permission for (including ida’s kaffi klara, for which she already has an idea!), and to discuss what we might want to design for the various spaces.

then jim ate dinner.  omg it was 10:30 and he’s eating dinner.  the boys went up to bed and were mercifully quiet on this, their last night having to be quiet for alice’s comfort.

and then it was today.  today i need to show alice i can drive so i can borrow her car while she’s gone.  i’m driving her to the airport later this afternoon (and going to the shops in akureyri to save bunches of money over the grocery prices here).  we’ve already gone swimming, and now avery is off on a bus with his team to siglufjordur to practice there.  i’ve driven the car so alice knows i can drive (for over 45 years now…), and i’m just going to finish up here and get ready to go.

the weather is sunny and crisp; the snow-dusted mountains gleam in the sunlight; the hotpot is magnificent to sit in while the boys scream down the slide; i’ve got more public art to create than i can handle in three months; and all is well with the world, except for a certain political morass that i hope blows away right after the volcanos go off…

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