Posted by: jeanne | April 20, 2017

well, it’s groundhog day. again.

i’m going back out.  i’ve been home barely a month, and i have barely a month before i leave again.  the empty rolly bags are lined up in the back hall.  the woolens and boots are in piles waiting to be cleaned and repacked.  things are just getting back to normal here, i’ve got things i have to do and things i want to do, and things i need to do, and every day represents a significant portion of the time left in which to do them.

this time all the boys are coming with me for part of the summer.  i’ve just spent two months writing about jim and connor acting up in venice, and i’m fixing to get ready to do a bunch of writing about doing nothing much at all every day in iceland.  remember last year when i took all the boys for a four or five day camping trip thru south iceland?  that was just a test run.  this time i’m going to be in one spot for three whole months, and while i’m sending jim and avery home after three weeks, connor and i will be there until it starts getting dark at night again.

this has been years in the planning.  after my first art residency in olafsfjordur i kept up the friendships and kept the enthusiasm i had when i was there, and kept thinking up more things that i wanted to do and making more contacts and generating interest and yougogirls.  i always want to go back to residencies where i’ve had a good experience (and that’s all of them), but with the exception of the hambidge center, which i attended two years in a row, i’ve never repeated one because something else always came up.)  but i knew i wanted to go back to iceland.  i had friends, and not just in the north but good friends around reyjkavik.  i felt a real draw to the land, and i kept meeting elves and having them smile at me.  other shit kept happening as well – i kept getting injured or sick.  it’s a very active place.  iceland can kill you.  it is also magical f’real.

so the opportunity arose for me to get more involved, and so instead of coming back for a single month, to rent a room in one of three artist houses and spending all my non-roaming time in the studio making paintings, i’m going to be living for three months in the director’s house and doing all the things it takes to run an art residency while alice goes off and does something else for the summer.  and it will cost me next to nothing because i’m trading the job for the house.  just food and transportation, and i’ve got friends who will take care of much of the transportation, including the planning.

it’s a strange career path i’m on, but i’m now in the hospitality business because of our apartment downstairs, and this summer i’m going to get a good taste of the arts administration business.  i started out in food service decades ago.  then corporate hell.  with artist meandering in and out thru all these phases.  where does it lead?

right now it leads to a lot of hurry up and wait.  there are some things i can’t do until the fall, when i get back from my travels.  like starting to deal with the paintings in the attic, enough to fill a half shipping container.  so i’m not even thinking about those things.  there are some things that are vital, like getting another housesitter.  and that isn’t being easy to do.  (and when it’s easy it’s bad.)  i think about those things rather a lot.  and there are things i’d like to do but are so far down the long finger that if i do them in the fall i’ll think that soon enough.  like getting these ancient silk dresses given away to whom they were intended.  like having another dinner with the art friends.  like my friend jennifer’s plan to go to the zoo.

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i’ve only now started painting on a work i need to take with me when i return.  it’s a painting of connor being made much over in the food truck at arnarstapi.  siggy practically told me to paint it, so i’m doing it.  so i’ll be working on that a little bit each day and staring at it every morning, propped up against the chimney off the foot of our bed.

what i’m not doing is packing.  or panicking about the housesitter (people aren’t traveling to here from europe right now for some reason, and that’s where most of the housesitter service’s clients are located).  i’m not taking on big jobs, i’m sloughing off little jobs, i’m trying to enjoy being in atlanta in the springtime (the mosquitos have just begun, and the heat seems a long way off)  for diversion i’m researching the south of france and taking duolingo french lessons (not very diligently) and playing with the new google earth release.

this winter, i noticed that my thought patterns were different depending on where in the world i was.  in venice i slept quietly, with none of the noise and chatter, the endless racing thoughts.  in iceland on the way back the thoughts started up, but here they try to surface constantly.  but i have caught myself at it often enough that i have begun mentally dropping the thoughts like bowling balls and letting them fall away from me.  these habits of mind are not me.  that’s what travel does for me.

Posted by: jeanne | March 21, 2017

we’re home, or housesitter hell

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i’m sitting on my porch in my bathrobe watching the birds at the feeder. the daffodils are mostly spent; the azaleas are blooming, the maple has helicopter seeds about to start whirling down, the pollen coats everything. it’s 85 (30c) and my little toesies are blinking in the sunlight. nowhere we’ve just been has seen these temperatures. i feel like i have a fever. i wrote what will remain of the following on monday, when i was just discovering the condition of the house we left in the care of a housesitter who seemed nice at the time (like all psychopaths). it’s all very harsh, and i’m deleting much of it because it’s not funny.
i have no intention of dissing our rescue housesitter, beth – she is the one who made everything okay again. but the first housesitter, pseudonym – she made the back of our minds crawl like there were snakes there. if she could have, she would have ruined our trip altogether. but that’s okay, our revenge left with her and is even now making life better for us – because we have a self-cleaning house.

sunday, we spent much of the day with mikie and his family, a very kind set of relatives who took care of everything, let me sleep as much as i could, and got us to the airport early.

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the girls modeling their new look, with mom and mikie looking on

thanks mike and shan. mom came to visit, and she was great with connor, so thanks mom.

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looking pretty good for 84

the airport was dulles. my dad was a reporter who covered the opening of dulles, back during eisenhower’s administration. we used to go there and run wild thru the terminal back in the days before security was such a joke. we used to hang outside under the tower and try to run up the buttressed sides. we used to park for free down by the lake and walk to the side entrance dad knew about because he was a reporter. can’t do any of that now. and now the old terminal is only the entrance to the airport, and you take a shuttle to the various other terminals, where it’s all modern and interesting, but more like tron than metropolis.

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of course. both bags

we got something to eat – five guys burgers are twice the price because it’s the airport, so 2 burgers, a small fries and a milkshake was almost $30. and we couldn’t eat it all. connor only wanted the milkshake anyway and was getting a fever again. he’d been in great shape with the kids, tho i made him not run or bounce or squiggle. so he slept in the waiting area, and slept on the plane, and his fever broke as we were landing, and he was back talking to people as we waited for allen.

it was 9pm before jim’s might-as-well-be son got to the airport. there was traffic. traffic is the kind of thing we haven’t had to deal with for months. the mere mention of it makes my heart fall a little. like the normal sounds of atlanta – the hovering helicopter, the beepbeepbeep of construction vehicles, the steady roar of traffic in the background, sirens, heavy trucks bouncing over the potholes on their way to the highway. in atlanta silence, like the stars, is something referred to, not experienced.

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sebastion in his full winter coat

when we got home, we spent a bunch of time greeting the dogs, who were all very excited to see us. we’d had reports that sebastion, our biggest, was on his last legs, and hardly able to go upstairs, but it comes and goes, and he was frisky as a young puppy (when we chose him at the pound, he was so excited to have allison’s attention (she was 14) that he turned flips in the corner of his cage, over and over again – maybe ten in a row). lilly was ecstatic to have her boy back, and i had to pick up sudie and tumbles and hold them one in each arm, and they wouldn’t stop licking me until i put them down and moved away. we did a dog walk first thing.

when we got back, the extent of the housesitter damage began to show itself. first in the kitchen. pseudonym (may her real name be accursed) never mentioned that there was something wrong with the lights in the kitchen, but when beth arrived she told us that they didn’t work, and that accursed had moved a floor lamp from the living room into the kitchen. so we asked mike to replace the lights, and wondered what kind of energy field accursed must have carried with her in order to blow out all four ceiling fan lights.
but that’s not what happened at all.

in the bathroom, we discovered the toilet roll holder had been wrenched off the wall, and covered up with an artful (not) arrangement of cloth. our front door doesn’t quite fit into the frame anymore, either.

turns out this is because pseudo’s husband is an active alcoholic, and very heavy handed and clumsy. he yanked on the chain to the ceiling fan and lights too hard, and almost ripped it out of the ceiling – that’s why the lights don’t work. that’s why the toilet roll holder is off the wall. that’s why the door won’t close properly. she never told us about this little problem.

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lilly snuggling up to jim

and this is particularly irksome because several times in the beginning of things falling apart she accused us of lying to her. we never mentioned that we have roaches, which is true; it never occured to us that this was a big deal, just like the idea of having squirrels in the attic never seemed to us to be a deal breaker. it’s an old house. we had to go into the walls of the kitchen to replace something about a year ago, and suddenly there were 40 million roaches in our kitchen. we used various forms of boric acid and relatively non-toxic remedies, and became scrupulous cleaners, and beat them back to just a trickle, and then when we started planning our trip, we added the roach goo from home depot and they diminished even further. so i was very surprised when pseudo threw an absolute hysterical fit a week after we arrived in venice.

i mean an absolute hysterical fit. she was crying. she couldn’t do her job. she couldn’t sleep. she was moving out of our house and living in our rental apartment that i was counting on the income from to help us keep our expenses down. we had lied to her; we were faithless. HOW COULD ANYONE LIVE THIS WAY??? she called us filthy. she called us subhuman.

so i researched and gave her the name of several pest control companies in the area, and let her choose one. and then she complained about the smell of the chemicals. she was crying. she couldn’t do her job. her eyes were running. she was really suffering for our dirty, dirty ways. then she started pulling the appliances away from the walls to clean behind them. (who asked her to do this?) she was gagging. she couldn’t ever cook in our kitchen again. she had to pay her husband $50 to clean behind the stove. she overestimated the cost of the exterminator by that same $50 and i paid it before getting the receipt so that she could have the money handy to pay him (at her request). so she cheated us, and then when paypal took $9 out in fees, pseudo complained about that.

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tumbles catching the rays on back of the couch

at that point, i reduced our contact with her to a minimum, because as we soon discovered, she wasn’t happy about anything. she wanted us to cut down a hand-planted dogwood tree in our yard because the squirrels could climb it and get into our attic that way (or about a dozen other trees that overhang our roof). she saw a rat out under the bird feeder one day and went ballistic. it was always our fault; it was always because we are filthy, low-class, irresponsible scum. i felt terrible every time i opened an email from her. i was internalizing it, and felt at fault, responsible, dirty.

then, when after a month i checked on her, concerned that i hadn’t had any fresh complaints and feeling bad because it made me feel so good not to hear from her, she replied that the roaches were back, and that there was certainly something i could do for her, and that would be to let her go.

omg here’s someone i have entrusted with my house and my animals, and she wanted to walk away halfway thru. oh her mom was sick and needed an operation, and she had to leave in a week. and then two weeks. and then maybe not. and then right away asap. and at this point i’m afraid i didn’t really believe her anymore. she had proven herself to be hysterical. allen, and our friends david and jane, and jim’s son mike had all checked on her and reported that she was (variously) batshit crazy, standoffish, and a bitch. i couldn’t wait to be rid of her, but allen and mike couldn’t handle the dogs by themselves every day, and we didn’t have another housesitter lined up – why would we?

and so i tried to change the dates with the trusted housesitter site i belong to. and they had software problems. i spent several days going back and forth with help desk people, all of whom were very helpful, and finally got the dates changed and a request for a replacement housesitter put out, but then there was another hookup – pseudonym had made a complaint about me, and i had to go thru the whole complaints process and give my side of it before anything could happen with the listing. and that took several days. in the meantime i contacted most of the 50 members in our area, none of whom wanted to sit, or were willing to sit for free. and once the complaint issue was resolved, there was another software issue, and the listing went out without photos. so i got no responses for about 2 weeks. during which time accursed wanted to know about my progress, and was telling me i wasn’t trying hard enough.

and then beth contacted me. she’d just joined the service; she wasn’t really ready to sit but was just lurking. and she saw my emergency listing and jumped right in. what a godsend. nobody else had answered. just this one guy with no fixed address who said he was an author but couldn’t spell very well and said up front that he’d had brain damage, and used too many religious keywords. (the elves don’t like religious nuts.) beth couldn’t stay until we got home, but she could help. so i jumped at it, and she took over from name deleted so i don’t get sued.

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sudie guarding her food

and we didn’t spend any more time worrying about our house, the way it’s supposed to be. beth cared for our animals, she loved our house, she left us fresh flowers and some mints to come home to. (we love beth.) our rental apartment was suddenly fully booked after a whole month of no inquiries, no bookings, during which pseudo squatted in it, depriving us of a bunch of rent.

but now we’re back, and we find the alcoholic husband so severely pruned our 50-year-old gardenia. and they raked up all the mulch in our front yard (so no nesting critters over the winter – no snakes, no chipmunks). they set they heat way high, night and day, and then ran off downstairs leaving the door wide open all night, with all the lights on so the dogs could get some fresh air. my car’s tires got slashed as it say out front. pseudo is such a headcase that she overcleans – scrubbing the ceramic right off our cast-iron bathtub. they moved connor’s bed from his room to ours so they could both sleep in big beds (complaining that they were used to kingsize), and never moved them back again. they let our table clock run down. they didn’t fill the bird feeder. they left a disorganized, shabby apartment downstairs that i have to superclean before we have more guests. and our dryer is burned out. allen reports that she had the washer and dryer going all day and night, every day and night. i wonder why but we’ll never know. she never mentioned any of these things to us. pseudo never said goodbye, never sent an email, and quit the housesitting service just so i couldn’t blacken her name with a scathing review.

but i will get my revenge. she was so pathological about roaches that she sent me an email saying they were going to have to get all their luggage ozone treated at the cost of $150 (at that point i never bothered to offer reimbursement) so they wouldn’t take anything with them. but it’s a ridiculous idea to think she’d take roach eggs in her luggage. the real possibility is that she had taken a bunch of angry elves with her to wherever she is going next. they’ll plague her. they’ll make her bump into things. they’ll whisper bad things in her ears. they’ll disturb her sleep (she takes sleeping pills). they’ll haunt her husband. and she’ll probably blame me.

we brought back gifts for both of our housesitters; beth will get hers with smiles all around; accursed will have hers ritually smashed and discarded (she collects santas, of all things). we’ve bought a clothesline and are about to go string it on the dog pen, and until the neighbors complain we’re going to do our laundry the european way.

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when i said we have a self-cleaning house, i’m referring to the spirit of the house itself, as well as all the spirits that live here. we have a full complement of elves and fairies (and just brought back some more from italy and iceland – they’re already having weddings and cooking up feasts), a nicely sleeping troll, and a few totems (an owl and a pussycat buried in the back yard). all of these spirits guard our house and watch over us. when we had housesitter relatives from hell last time we did this, they ran screaming after a month talking about demons (they were horribly derelict in their duties, and unpleasant as well, picking fights with allen and our daughter and declaring that they had no responsibilities at all here, when they were specifically invited in order to watch the dogs). this time, when we had the housesitter from hell, they rewarded her with broken things, nonfunctioning things, vandalism, missed sleep and dark thoughts. our self-cleaning house eats unpleasant people.

in the end, finding someone to watch the house while we’re away comes down to instinct. you can vet them all you want, but psychopaths are charming and agreeable and seem like the sweetest people in the world, like you could trust them with your life (look at our political situation). i realized that the people i could rely upon the most back home were the people i had personal difficulties with and had to work things out, establish ground rules, get to know, make them prove themselves. allen is the most trustworthy of them all (we brought him back a present), and jane and david would do anything for us, tho they have plenty of their own problems (present). jim’s son mike and my brother mike (presents) bend over backwards for us on a regular basis (i guess being named for an archangel isn’t a bad thing).

we’re glad to be home. i slept much of the day and need more. connor is with nana. we see our allison, along with avery this weekend. i have to do taxes. and then at the end of may, we leave again, for three months in iceland where i’ll be running an art residency. i’ll check in again as plans develop (we’re not sure if jim and avery want to come for up to a month).

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Posted by: jeanne | March 19, 2017

our last day in iceland

sigh. we have to leave. but here’s a small (well, huge) miracle. my headache is gone. for the first time in a week. i’ve never had a headache for that long, and i was going crazy with the low-level pain. but it went away overnight, once i was back in a place where my soul felt safe, i could relax. perhaps the energy of the place i was in was too much, or maybe i was being too delicate. or, to be less woowoo, maybe the infection i picked up in venice wasn’t completely gone, and when i got to the winds and cold of iceland, it came roaring back full force. to be sure, i’ve still got a chest infection and snot, and at this point i can taste the yellow gunk in my lungs, so i’m not by any means well. but i don’t have a headache. unfortunately, connor has it now. and siggi and runa are getting it. on the other hand, jim is well. how’s that for irony; jim is the one i always worry about, but he’s just fine.

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runa had a doctor’s appointment at 10, and siggi had something about the same time. and runa had coordinated with ragnhildur about going out to their new house in hvalfjordur to see them. and they had to be leaving to go back to town by 12. so we were very tight. and of course running behind, as happens here.

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instead of going thru the tunnel, we took a left right before, and went up the side of the fjord. runa didn’t know exactly where to go, and siggi was a little irritated that the way was indistinct, but runa was going on ragnhildur’s instructions (basically go straight, plus two houses a little up the hill). but there are so few houses in the country, and they’ve been there forever, that siggi turned into the right drive without having to be told, and we were there.

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this is their new old house. it was built in stages, starting with forever ago, and the second house was formerly a barn. according to ragnhildur the house was the local phone and post office, back when there was only one phone for the whole area. there are hatches in various rooms where customers came to buy stamps and to make calls. it’s a charming house.

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it has plants growing up on the inside, but then this is the sun room, so it would have a greenhouse aspect to it. and the view is stupendous.

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the kitchen is my favorite room, but why wouldn’t it be? it’s the center of the house. they still have things to fix up, but mostly the work was done in order to sell the house. and best of all, they now have geothermal heating in the house (and the whole area) because the guy who owned the house had been working to get the council to install a pipe for years. so now ragnhildur has a little hot stream running past her house (when they need to release pressure they discharge a little water).

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of course the boys were outside talking while the girls (and connor) took the tour. jim actually was on the tour (five minutes only) and went outside first while we chatted as much as we could before they had to get in the car and leave. we delayed them ten minutes. i will go back when i’m next here.

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this is the view of the mountain in back of their house. there is a troll woman up there, and lots of elves. i hope to meet them. i asked ragnhildur the question that we’d been talking about – are trolls truly bad or are they just misunderstood? her answer is that they’re misunderstood, but if you make them mad you’re in trouble, and all you can do is to sing to them. i’d forgotten that part.

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this is a nice scene from the ride back.

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then siggi took us up a snowy road to show me where the city gets its water. it’s pumped down from the mountains, where it’s only melted ice and snow all year round, and pure as it can be. and that was nice of him. but then we got stuck in the snow, and it took siggi several minutes of maneuvering before we got unstuck. exciting times in iceland. he said we might have to walk home, but he was only kidding.

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we went back home and i packed. siggi and runa defrosted some ground mutton (old lamb) and made lasagna. connor played on his pad. jim sat on the couch and watched everything going on around him.

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finally we loaded the car and got ready to go. after a short stop at the grocery for sandwiches, we were off. and of course the roads were clear, and of course the snow hadn’t stopped anybody. it made a beatiful adornment to the lava as we got out of town and onto the keflavik road. siggi had been watching the earthquake reports and reported that today there were earthquakes in two new areas – askja (a very dangerous volcano in the north), and under the ice cap at vatnajokull, at the highest mountain – where there hasn’t been any activity for a very long time. the whole chain is lighting up. and doesn’t it always happen that the volcanos occur only after i go home? maybe someday…

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one of the volcanos that threaten reykjavik
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on the way to the airport connor fell asleep. he never does that, so he’s sick. i tied my scarf around his forehead and anchored him to the car seat so his head wouldn’t keep bobbing forward, and he slept until we got to the airport.  runna came in to help us walk thru the process; we got jim into the wheelchair, connor lolled on his lap, and we waited for the security people to come and take us thru to the gate. then we said goodbye to siggi and runa (see you soon), and were off. security was as arduous as ever, but somehow nothing like as bad as it was in paris. people are nicer in iceland. but it didn’t stop these two harridans from complaining about the line for the water fountain (wtf???) as we waited to board. grrr rude americans.

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i always know where to find jim – talking to the pretty girls

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connor was now running a fever. so i whipped out the baby aspirin; the security person went and got him some blankets to wrap in, and he lay down on two seats and slept while the waiting room filled up. they’ve expanded this part of the airport recently, and tho there’s huge amounts of room now, it still gets very crowded waiting to board. they told us to wait to board, and a security guy would be there to help us, and put us on a special shuttle bus to take us out to the plane, so while everybody else loaded onto the regular shuttle bus, we got to go onto one with a lift. it rose us up about 10 feet, and we took seats, and we drove out to the plane. and then the whole thing lifted up another 20 feet until it was level with the door, and we got in just as the first of the passengers were boarding.

right now we’re in the air; jim and connor have had their half sandwiches and are asleep, and i’m hanging out writing more than i should for a blog post, just because i have nothing else to do. we’re over water, not yet over greenland. i hope we have clear skies when we do cross greenland, because i love seeing what’s happening to the ice sheet, melting faster and faster (because global warming is a hoax, of course).

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oh, there it is. white mountains looking like fluffy clouds. with sharp edges. time to take photos. and so i did. the mountains aren’t covered with snow, but only lightly dusted. there’s loads of ice coming down the glacial streams, lots of crevasse fields.

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the ice looks like melted ice cream, all smooth and glistening. it has to have been melting and refreezing to look like that. once we reached the ice cap, i could see melting areas, where the ice was translucent instead of harsh white. and then the clouds blocked the western side. so now we’re back over water, and i will wait to have a look at canada.

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sea ice, breaking away from the coast and floating away as icebergs

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this way cool circular lake off in the distance in way north canada.  i wonder if it was a meteor?

so canada has very little snow left, tho the rivers are still frozen. but maybe we’re in southern canada now because think i’m seeing fields. ah yes, and roads. cool. we’re close to maine and new england, then. well, not. we were actually way north of the saint lawrence seaway. now that we’re south of that, the farms are plentiful and regular. and still the snow only covers the fields, and the st lawrence has ice floes all down its length. i watched a ship go right thru one line of ice and head for another without slowing down.

sorry, i have to intrude with another observation about my fellow passengers, the lady next to me is reading a book called ‘effortless mastery’. of all the lies they use to sell books with. you too can be a success without doing anything, without putting in years of hard work and practice, without loads of daunting failures. just buy this book. i ask you.

okay, enough. i’ve got my u.s. sim card back in the phone. the customs form is filled out. we’re bringing in $107 worth of scarves, and about $20 of glass objects, (i forgot to include the masks) and that’s it. we ate most of what we spent.

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connor has started sweating, and his fever completely disappeared, but then came back again, so i have him sleeping under a blanket, hoping his fever breaks for good. i was quite worried for a few moments, when he coughed up more liquid than i thought a small pair of lungs could hold. but he’s out of danger now. a few hours ago jim and i traded places, so that he could sleep in my lap, and jim could watch greenland go by. and now we have about 2 hours of flying left, and we’ll be heading to my brother mikie’s. i hope we don’t get the whole family sick, but i’m still thinking it’s only a horrible head/chest cold and not a virus. and jim’s still fine.

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by the end of the trip, connor was feeling much better and his fever had abated.  yay

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our delightful wheelchair person who got us thru the nasty long lines for passport control, baggage claim, and customs.  thanks, dear, and best of luck in your career

in baggage claim they put half the luggage on the wrong carousel, and then blamed the passengers for not noticing.  connor went up to the customs guy and told him to throw his gun away so he wouldn’t have to shoot anybody.  so when we went thru customs and got the same guy, he asked if we had food (we had sandwiches) or alcohol (menta fernet), and then noticed connor, and waved us thru with high fives.

and then the ordeal of getting the amtrak to union station (i left connor’s backpack on the train), and the metro to reston (with a stop to consult the station manager in case the backpack was on the subway).  and then mikie picked us up and connor played with the kids’ toys while we had something nice to eat (sandwich) and then went to bed.

 

Posted by: jeanne | March 15, 2017

last day in snaefellsnes

the day dawned bright and calm, but wait five minutes… connor ran out to catch the snowfall, even tho it was ice that was blowing sideways. we got ready to go about noon, which is when we start moving here. breakfast, sandwiches for the road, keeping connor from running too loose. my nose is running like the tide now, so it’s a good thing i brought two of my specially dyed silk snotrags with me.

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we went up the coastal walk to arnarstapi, jim, runa and i, while connor hung out with siggi near arnarstapi so they could pick us up. because runa thinks of everything, i had on snow pants which protected my legs from the wind, as well as all my scarves, my icelandic wool hat, and my down jacket hood. i brought my winter down gloves, because i got minor frostbite trying to take pictures in the wind yesterday. and once we were in the lava, the wind wasn’t so bad. if we’d gone a few hours earlier, there wouldn’t have been any wind, but then we would have encountered the ice shower.

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this lava is very old, because the volcano on snaefellsnes is ‘dormant’. they thought it was extinct, but lately there have been rumblings, so they’ve begun putting sensors around it. i had assumed that this lava came from stapafell, but siggi says not so. other sources disagree…

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trolls

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jim is not dressed for the weather, but he didn’t complain. runa is dressed for the weather, which makes us all look like the staypuft marshmallow man. you can’t go wrong with too many clothes. tourists we passed going the other way beat us to the end because they were so underdressed that they froze and decided to end their trip.

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along the way there were many opportunities to overlook the ocean, which was every bit as exciting as walking thru the lava.

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you can see the columnar lava in the cliffs. it’s because the lava as it hit the sea cooled down rapidly and crystallized. i believe it’s harder than the usual lava, which tends to crumble into gravel.

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troll

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here are two shots of the same mess of rocks. one with water, the other with water.

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this is the famous sea stack near arnarstapi. unfortunately i can’t find much on it at the moment.

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more columnar lava. the sea is so strong

the sea is so strong that siggi said fifteen years ago there were two blowholes, tunnels where the waves would rush in and blow thru the surface, creating spray on the land surface. those holes are gone now, and the viewing platform is at the edge, waiting to fall in. siggi told me to kneel down to get this picture because the wind can be so strong that it can push you right off the edge. but i was too impatient, and the wind wasn’t that strong. famous last words…

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this is the new tunnel being formed. siggi says the land changes so fast that he doesn’t recognize it any more

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this is bardur, half man and half troll. after many adventures, he retreated into stapafell and still lives there.

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bardur fits right in

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siggi came to get us as we reached bardur, thank god, and we went to the little hamburger and fish and chips stand nearby, where connor had made friends, and they were stuffing him full of fizzy drinks and candy bars. i want to do a painting of them. they loved him.

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then we went to the harbor at arnarstapi, which is a mass of sea stacks they turned into a protected shelter some time ago. it’s very beautiful.

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home to many millions of birds. siggi says these birds have come to iceland four months early, and are already nesting. crazy weather. used to be nobody could do any kind of heavy work before may, but the bulldozer crew was already out making new foundations for more summer cabins.

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out on the sea side of the harbour. much more dramatic, but still beautiful.

and then we came back home, around 4pm, and went to bed. it’s almost 7 now, and everybody’s getting up. it’s really tiring being under this mountain, in the wind, going here and there. even they’re not sick, and we’re still all taking naps. except for connor, of course. he watched two videos while we slept.

Posted by: jeanne | March 15, 2017

more wind

yesterday was way windy.  and much colder.  my throat didn’t appreciate it.  my lungs got sore.  but how can you not go out into all this beauty?  beauty is supposed to hurt, isn’t it?

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stapafell was clear, and there was a little snow on it from the night before.

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this church makes the perfect backdrop.  nobody goes here; iceland is a secular country.

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see how we all fit?  there’s five of us here.

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connor woke up in an ugly mood, and so wouldn’t come with us down to the harbor; only shadowing us and hiding when we looked back.

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the harbor.  i would hate to have to land a boat in these seas. and they weren’t particularly rough for north atlantic waves.

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connor’s bed moods never last very long.

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runa, jim and i plan to walk to arnarstapi this morning, but we can’t take connor, so he’s going to have to stay with siggi.

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that’s as close as he’s going to get.

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runa talks to everybody.  she found out how long it will take to get to arnarstapi from this woman who walks it every day.  we plan on doing it tomorrow.

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we can see what looks like an irish castle from the harbor, but when we got to it, it was a pair of volcanic plugs being worn down by the sea.  it was sleeting when we arrived at the parking lot, and we had to put on all our layers and hats.  raincoats.  walking sticks.  the wind was cruel.  we had to keep a close eye on connor and not let him get anywhere near the edge, because the wind sometimes picks people up and throws them back.

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it’s called londrangar.  the meadow is svalthufa and the green hill full of birds is thufabjarg.  it’s all greek to me.

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runa took a picture of connor.  we’ve got all our clothes on and it still wasn’t enough.

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then we went down to djupalon, where there is lava, a beach, and the remains of a trawler that the waves broke all to pieces.

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and trolls.

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jim fell coming down the slope, and siggi picked him up with no broken anything.

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see what the wind is doing to jim’s beard.

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trawler parts spread all over the beach.  this is the back beach, and it slopes way down.  the peak of the beach is still far far from the water.  so to get all this stuff washing down means huge seas, far larger than what we saw.

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this is why beaches are so dangerous in iceland.  these folks were very far from where most of the waves break, and these tourists thought they were save, planting their tripods and walking away.

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this lava was a quarter of a mile away from where we stood, so these forms are 50-60 feet high.

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these waves are 10-15 feet high.  they started breaking way out, and broke again on the shore.  the sheer power.  but you can’t do the scale justice.

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there’s an elf house on the beach, and trolls.  they were obvious.

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elf house

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then we moved on, and the mountains receded into the distance.  we’d been in snaefellsjokull national park most of the day, where you’re not allowed to pee outside, or leave any trash.  so of course there were plenty of bathrooms at djupalon, but they were all locked.

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snow flying up the mountain

so we went to hellisandur, where there’s an n1 gas station that is world famous for its soup.  so we had some soup.  it was delicious.  and i needed something hot in my stomach.  it helped.  siggi wanted to go on, because there was a swimming pool in the next village, but i was getting worse, and didn’t think getting wet would be a good idea.

i snoozed most of the way back, but since jim is useless in taking photos, i had to take the camera back and shoot as we drove.

i went to bed when we got back, and i got up when dinner was ready.  siggi and runa fixed a wonderful lamb stirfry, which i had some of, and then went back to bed.  i feel sort of better this morning, so we’ll see…

 

Posted by: jeanne | March 14, 2017

wind

so we went out yesterday for an epic trip around the peninsula.  but first we stopped in to see maria mey, a statue that was put in place after someone who was looking for water suddenly had it appear in the rock.  according to siggi, there is no water in this part of the peninsula, and so it was a miracle.  and the water is holy.  so we filled up our bottles.

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and then we found a few candles that weren’t too wet from the rain the night before, and we lit them.  why not?  we lit candles to mary all over venice, i wasn’t about to skip such a nice grotto.  and of course it’s always the same wish…

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then we went over the mountain to the northern side of snaefellsnes peninsula.  which road is it?  siggi had to stop and ask someone whether the road was open, and it was, so we went.  snaefellsnesvegur, also known as frotharheithi.  it was very beautiful, and there was lots of snow, but then you’d expect that so close to the glacier.

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this emergency hut has been closed.  so many tourists have desecrated it, eating all the food, shitting in the hut, wrecking things, that they closed it.  used to be that the wives of the men who worked in the mountains would decorate and stock it.  but now that’s all ruined.  too bad if someone were to need shelter in a sudden storm…

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jim is always in a good mood.  i was working on getting sick, but you just can’t keep him down.

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look, frozen ice, dripping and freezing.

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when we came to the other side, as siggi had said, the sea was completely different from how it was on our side.  he says when it’s bad on one side, it’s always good on the other side.  nice to know.

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we stopped to take pictures, and connor got out before we could put his coat on, so he got really cold.  but some chinese tourists thought he was so cute, and stopped to take pictures of him.  it never ends.

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when we got to grundarfjordur, we stopped to shop for things we need to eat.  we got a lot of food, and probably won’t eat it all while we’re here.  they had ground lamb!  and connor got a hotdog.  we all got hotdogs, actually.  connor and i had with everything, and jim had only the hotdog and bun.  siggi declined to eat any hotdog, but had a few fistfuls of french fries.

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we stopped again, after we bought him waterproof mittens, and he went nuts in the snow while i took pictures by the side of the road.

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we stopped at the shark museum.  this is their back yard.  such forms, such intricacy.

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connor spent most of his time eating snow.  such a delicacy…

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we ate shark in the museum.  not bad, really.  it smells of ammonia, but tastes rather like very chewy cheese.  they serve it with little bits of bread, and jim spat his out immediately, so i tried to feed it to the dog, who wasn’t having it.

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i want one of those dogs.  maybe when i come in the summer…

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the owner of the place, hildibrandur, whom siggi knows, came up and played with connor, tossing snow back and forth at each other.  of course.

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he was a little intimidated, but mostly intrigued, by the shark mouth, which has rows of teeth.

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we drove out to the barn out back to see the hanging shark.  did you know the skin of shark is like studded sandpaper?  not very nice to feel, you could cut yourself.

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then we went back to grundarfjordur and had dinner in a nice little place that’s only been open for 3 years, and is family run, but already has an international reputation.  bjargarsteinn.  it filled right up with mostly american tourists who came prepared to spend big bucks.  but it was really good.  and they treated connor like a kid.  there were crayons and a coloring book.

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it’s a tiny kitchen, and the owner is the chef, and his family works there.

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we toured the house, which has been moved several times.  jim doesn’t fit thru the doors without bending.  icelandic people used to be smaller.

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connor didn’t much like the food, and picked, but he loved the bread.  and of course went outside immediately he was finished to play in the snow.

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on the way back over the mountain, it snowed, and the road got slippery.  but siggi is a professional driver, so we just had to hush connor.

and that was yesterday.  now is today, and the wind is much more.  i’ll get to that later.  i’m afraid i lost a bunch of photos because my memory stick is full.  with a thousand photos a day, i’m wondering why that has happened.

Posted by: jeanne | March 13, 2017

i love iceland

yesterday morning, after sleeping soundly all night in siggi and runa’s room (which they gave to us, siggi sleeping on the couch, runa in the spare room which is not ready for anybody to sleep in – i would have been angry at their self denial if they’d given me a chance to be), we got up early.

siggi and runa are icelandic, which siggi explained to us means that they don’t go to sleep until at least midnight, and have trouble getting up in the morning.  on the other hand, we get up with the dawn and go to sleep not long after dark.

but i woke up with the beginnings of a migraine, so i got dressed and took a walk while connor was sneaking around the house looking at things silently, so as not to wake siggi.  he would have followed me out by himself, convinced that i would be easy to find, but jim and a newly wakened siggi persuaded him to have breakfast and wait.

i walked up the block and toward the hillside.  but the distances are always deceptive in iceland, so there was no way, and i turned around when i got to the big road.  the roads were wet, but clear, and the snow was piled up by the side of the road.  the temperature was in the 40s.  as i walked, it rained and snowed a little on me, but it was light rain, and i didn’t care.  i was trying to walk off my headache.  but on the way back, i slipped on some black ice, and ended up on my left knee in the road.  but it wasn’t too terribly bad, so after a few moments i continued on, and by the time i got back, it felt better.

but my head didn’t.  i had a sip or two of coffee, and then went back to bed for a few hours, while runa organized to pack.  then i got up, and siggi rubbed my shoulders a bit – he’s a masseur who uses somewhat the same technique i do.  and it felt better then.

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connor got in the way many times while runa was getting packed.  here he is wearing the rope siggi was trying to wind up.

so we went for a walk, connor and i, to get out of runa’s way, because he was bombarding her with questions.  he had to step in the tracks made by others, because he only had his regular shoes on.  we saw this troll face in the snow:

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finally, around 4pm, we were all packed and ready to go, so we all got into siggi’s 4×4 and took off.  i’m not very sure of the locations of the pictures we took, but we’re in hellnar (pronounced hettlenar) now, and started off at mossfellsbaer.   so these photos are all from the snaefellsness peninsula.

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this is right after exiting the 6km long tunnel under the water.  nobody can hold their breath that long (otherwise that’s a game we play at home.  but we don’t have these kinds of tunnels at home)

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a lava dike

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the cone in the distance is part of the light mountains.   siggi says the snow is on these mountains all year, even summer.

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the sun was going down, and it was getting harder and harder to take decent photos.  this didn’t stop me, however.

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then siggi turned off the road, and we went up to a farm where there is sparkling water that comes up out of the ground.  this pipe is only one meter into the ground, and there are bubbles coming up from the surrounding dirt.

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here’s the mineral count.  look at all that bicarbonate.

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connor has never met a dog he didn’t like.  this was a very friendly farm dog.

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it was getting dark, the sun was behind clouds and going down fast, with rain coming soon.  it had been a very contrary day, with rain forecast all day, but really nothing but dry and variably cloudy instead.  you can never trust the weather forecast here.

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finally we pulled off to look at our destination.  and for siggi to take a pee.  i couldn’t resist…

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connor immediately ran down the hill until runa called him back.  that rock of gibraltar thing in the background is our destination.  we are currently looking at the side of it, here at the house.

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as we got closer to the mountain, called stapafell, i noticed a meniscus form in the lines – a female symbol.  but when i went to take the photo, i noticed a troll face inside the meniscus.  (he’s facing to the right)  siggi has a connection to this place.  when he was a fisherman here, he used to talk to baldur all the time, the half man, half troll who lives in stapafell.  baldur would make him bring home three times the fish the old fisherman who lived there did.

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we got to the house after dark.  i recommend it.  it’s a large farmhouse kind of place, really a compound of holiday houses facing the sea, under the mountain, with fields all around.  there are three bedrooms upstairs, and a nice dining room, living room, and kitchen downstairs.  when we got here there was only one other person staying in another house.  tonight there are more people, but the compound is large and there’s lots of space.  it was being heated to 30 degrees C when we got here, and we didn’t figure that out until the next morning, when we turned everything down to a reasonable 22C.  we unpacked everything and chose bedrooms.  connor was unhappy with the kid’s room because it didn’t have a window, so we moved him into the hall, where there was a pull out bed.  and a window.  and he was happy as a clam.

the only thing that caused me any worry were the stairs, which are the same type of stairs i had at the art residency at cill rialaig, in kerry. jefferson stairs, they’re called, invented by that most inventive of presidents.  they’re notched, so you have to go up the right way, or you’ll fall.  they’re very steep.  you can easily fall or slip, and then you’ll break your neck.  you can imagine my anxiety, especially with jim trying to negotiate them half asleep first thing in the morning…

we ended up eating leftover lamb dinner that we brought with us from reykjavik, and going to bed way earlier than icelanders go to bed. donnor didn’t want food, and balked at all suggestions, so he got peanut butter and honey on bread, and some milk, and went to bed without a bedtime story because he was just that tired.  we had to open the windows upstairs, and still it was way hotter than we’re used to.  but we just threw the covers off until we cooled down, and basically played the cover up, cover off game all night.

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jim and i were up before dawn, and sat in the living room with the lights off and watched the colors come up.  it had rained lightly in the night, and there were clouds (we didn’t see any northern lights for a second night in a row).  but it was fair enough outside, so we got dressed at dawn (connor woke up so he came with us) and went for a walk.

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the half of the house to the right side of the big house is ours.  the red car is siggi’s.  connor is already halfway down the road.

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stapafell in the morning light.  elves and trolls live there.

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connor wasn’t sure what these hay rolls were, and had to run down and inspect them.  of course.

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at the old harbor, not used now because nobody is a fisherman anymore in these parts.  the tide was coming in, or going out, but was near full, and the ocean didn’t look rough, but the waves came rolling in.  it was beautiful, and you could hear the screaming sea birds from far away.

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so we went down to the harbor.  connor spent his time throwing rocks into the edge of the sea, while jim and i walked out the seawall, avoiding the waves that crashed up and over the wall.

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then we took the path part of the way up toward arnastapi, which was 2.5 km.  and it started raining, so we decided to go home and get breakfast.  siggi later told me that we don’t want to take that walk because it goes right along the cliffs, and connor would undoubtedly get into trouble going too close simply because we would warn him away from it.

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we found the remains of an old house there.  connor wanted to play, but beneath all that grass are sharp rocks, and he was getting cold.  so, no.

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see?  cold.

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but we went thru the graveyard and past the church first.

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there’s a ring, perhaps a knocker, on the door that says it dates from 1755.

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we passed a trash bin firmly tied to rocks against the wind.

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when we got back, siggi and runa still hadn’t gotten up.  but they did, and we went and had a wonderful adventure all day, 700 photos worth.  but i’ll have to write about that tomorrow.

Posted by: jeanne | March 11, 2017

blastoff

so we got up at 3am. actually, i got up at 11:30 and 1:30 to check on the process of my backups. i had backed everything up on the hard drive, but wanted double security, so i used all my memory sticks to make a second copy. this meant putting one folder on one, another two on a second, etc. and by 4am i still had about a week of carnival photos that I hadn’t finished copying. oh well.

we sat in bed with coffee left over from yesterday morning, using up as much of the rest of our cream and milk as we could. i set an alarm for 3:40, then we got up and dressed, and i closed the shutters in our room – our last view of the palazzi across the canal, and jim got connor up and dressed and fed while i stripped the beds and finished loading the backpacks – our regular shoes, our vests. my backpack and the new bag proved impossible to close (cheap bag, beware of zipper and seams), so i pulled a grocery bag out of the bag of bags, and put one of jim’s shoes (the other went into connor’s backpack), one of our vests, and jim’s masks into it, and declared another personal item.

we were ten minutes late getting out of the house. we dragged the garbage out and hung it on a nail in the sotoportego, and left the rest of the trash on the landing. we left the keys on the table beside the door.

there was nobody out at first. just us clomping thru the streets in our boots with overly heavy packs on our backs. i had both the personal items, as well as a final piece of toast. jim lagged behind somewhat more than usual, or perhaps i was outpacing him. because i’d timed the walk, and knew when the bus was supposed to arrive, and knew if we lagged, we’d miss it, and then we’d be late checking in, etc etc.

behind the frari we passed our first people, a guy and a girl; looked like they’d been up all night and were arguing about something. after we passed, they got louder and louder, so i turned aroudnd and told them to hush up – piano, i said. and of course they didn’t listen to me, but then i was in master sargeant mode and quite ready to tell the world what to do.

i got slower and slower as we got closer to piazzale roma. not on purpose, but because i was wearing out fast. in boots and carrying two bags, i was running out of breath. poor jim had to keep going, even when i got a chance to catch my breath on top of a bridge. connor ran between us both, bravely soldiering on with his backpack, not complaining at all.

as i came over the final bridge, the number 5 bus pulled in to piazzale roma, and by the time i got to the bus, the passengers had gotten off and the people bound for the airport (or getting off after their night shifts) were getting on board. jim and connor were a ways behind, but they got on in plenty of time, and we found facing seats together in the back, our bags piled in the space between us. i ate my toast. connor moved the coats away from the window seat and scooted over. jim was stoic. and three minutes later, the bus pulled out.

it was still pitch dark outside. we could see a bunch of stars, and the full moon was beginning to set. jim bemoaned how the mountains weren’t visible, which was his little joke. the trip took the usual 20 minutes, but i couldn’t have cared less. we arrived at the airport 3 minutes before the left luggage office opened, and the man inside, tho we were standing at the window, didn’t notice us until exactly 5am. it cost us 12 euro, and was it ever worth it. otherwise, we would have had to take a vaporetto with the bags, and had to leave half an hour earlier to account for the slow progress up the canal. like going the long way around a horseshoe instead of straight across from end to end (jim’s analogy).

when we got off the bus, a bus inspector stopped us; she recognized us from when we first came to venice. she was one of the group of inspectors who helped us get tickets, and talked to us all the way to enice; including the girl who recommended we go to chioggia. we were hoping to run into them again, and i hoped she would tell the rest of them she saw us. wonder how she recognized us, with connor and jim so distinctive.

i left the boys standing outside the line for check in while i got boarding passes and luggage tags from a machine. there was a moment of fluster as the machine asked for my ticket reference number, which i had to fish out. at this point the nice lady from the airlines came over and helped me, because i was starting to stress out. connor came over, and i thrust the passports into his hand while i searched for the reference number in my backpack. i asked him to hold the passports and not fiddle, but of course he decided to look at the photos, so i snatched them back, which produced a gasp from the nice lady. i felt bad. i turn into kali at times like this.

once the passes were printed, and the lady found out that we had requested a wheelchair for jim, everything went more smoothly. we were escorted to the priority area and past the conga line, where we noticed a family with five kids and two cats in front of us. military, they were being reassigned back in the states, and so the whole crew was leaving on a jet plane. one of them was a boy about connor’s age, and you can guess what happened next. first he noticed the cats, but since they were in travel bags, there wasn’t much he could do to pet them. then he noticed the kid, and they were instant friends from then on.

we got checked in (they always want to see my custody papers to make sure connor is allowed to travel with me, since we’re working with three different last names). the big bag was 2 kilos overweight, but the nice check in lady asked for the second bag to go on the scales with it, and it was 6 kilos under, so we averaged 20 kilos – yay. they never looked at our carryons.

and then we sat in flip down seats until the wheelchair guy came. that is, grandpa sat. connor flipped the seat up and down, and i stood around fussing the documents and things back into the packs. no matter how often i fly, and how well i organize the documents, i always end up fumbling with the passports and the papers. connor was complaining that we couldn’t stay with the family. he looked like one of them, and i was reminded of how we travelled as kids, when mom (saint that she is) worked us all thru check in (there was no security back then), shepherded us thru waiting areas and then let us run wild on the plane (there was no keep seated with your belts on rule back then). i think i fumble with passports and documents – i remember when we were on our way to europe, the six kids, mom and dad, and she lost track of the immunization records (we had to have health documents back then) and wasn’t sure if she had packed them in the luggage or put them in her bottomless handbag. (i need to call her when i get a chance and get all teary about the memories, and grateful for what she put up with and how much she handled with six wild indians.)

after only a couple of minutes, a nice young man came up with a wheelchair. we loaded grandpa into the wheelchair, piled most of the backpacks on top of him, and i carried the rest as we made our way to security. he said he was born and raised in venice, but that he now lived in mestre. i commiserated because nobody who i grew up with could afford to live in the town where we grew up, but he said it wasn’t that so much as it was the sheer number of tourists that make the place unlivable.

then we were at security. i got to shepherd connor while jim went to a different section. he didn’t have to take his boots off, but he got felt up, i mean patted down separately, while connor and i had to take everything off and go thru the metal detectors. there was a tiny bit of confusion as i had to take this laptop and connor’s kindle out of their bags, and then put everything back in again. connor got to watch the tv that shows the inside of everybody’s bags while i stuffed everything back in to ours. and then grandpa was thru, and we loaded him up again, and went to the gate.

again it was only ten minutes that we got to sit around. connor found the family and played with the boy, and they got predictably rowdy, but there wasn’t time to get too loud before we were off to the ramp, and then on board and to our seats, first ones on the empty plane. and the family ended up right behind us. i noticed that we were directly over the wing, and wondered how that could happen, because i selected the seats (i think), and i would never put us over the wing, because how in the world are you going to see the ground if you’re on a wing? but the plane, while full in the back, was mainly empty forward, so i asked the nice purser if i could move up once the doors closed, and he said yes. i got my bag and my boots and moved just forward of the engine, leaving an empty seat in our row, which the boy eagerly moved into as soon as the fasten seat belt light was off.

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my seat is right behind first class, but there doesn’t seem to be much difference in the seats, except the level of service. maybe there’s a little more legroom. (they got cutlery and an actual breakfast, while we got a chocolate croissant, but who can complain about that? especially for the difference in price. i’m never that hungry on a plane anyway…)

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we took off as it broke sunrise, 6:30, and flew over the alps as the sun was just kissing the peaks of the mountains. (we’re passing a windfarm in the plains of france at the moment, how odd to see them turning gently in the middle of fields freshly plowed. actually, they’re all over the place, one to a field. perhaps they’re being used by the farmers?) i got a few photos of the alps; i love to see the bones of the earth amid the snow. it’s so far into spring that there isn’t any snow in the valleys, only on the top bits of mountain.

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we’re descending into paris now. i’ll be shutting down and repacking the laptop soon. we’re going to wait to be the last ones off the plane, and then we’ll take a wheelchair to our next gate for our next leg, to reykjavik. i’m not sure if we go thru passport control; we didn’t when we came thru cdg airiport on the way to venice. we might just go thru the gate and not get that stamp in our passports. i can forego that if necesssary.

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the boys are playing games several rows behind me, but i can hear the sound effects from the games as well as the commentary by the boys. connor has the boy’s mom’s phone with games on it, and the boy has connor’s kindle with minecraft on it. they’re as happy as clams. but i can hear them from here, so i keep running back there to tell them to be quiet. it works for about three minutes. jim snoozes thru it all.

is that the seine i’m seeing in the distance? the nice steward just came to tell me that we will be the last ones off the airplane, and that we don’t need to know where we’re going, they’ll just take us there. apparently there’s passport control, but again we get to skip the line. if everyone did it, he says, there’d be trouble. but once you’re past 60 or 70 it becomes necessary, because airports are so big. we talked about our moms, who are both 83, and he said that even tho his mom goes to spain for the winter every year, every year it gets a little more intimidating and daunting, so we’re all grateful for wheelchair services.

oh how nice, whatever river it is has mist rising from it as the sun comes up, delimiting the curves and windings of the water. and there goes connor and his friend in the back again, shouting at each other over the noise of the engine. the hell with it; i’m going to look out the window as we get closer to the ground. i always try to get a window seat…

(we’re back in the air now, flying to iceland. it’s close to noon.)

it was a bit of an ordeal being in the paris airport. we were the last ones off the plane, as usual, and got to talk to the nice purser again. atlanta is one of his favorite cities. the wheelchair guy met us right away, a nice little guy who has a 5 year old son at home. he let connor steer the chair. we had to get our luggage from baggage claim, but there was no passport control. there used to be, and perhaps we’ll have a visa system soon. once we had our luggage, with connor throwing fits every few minutes, we went to arrange for a shuttle to terminal 1 from terminal 2. this took some time, but it was enough time for connor and i to find a bathroom. he squealed and cried when he got wet washing his hands, for which he blamed me. we bought water then, because we couldn’t find a water fountain. grandpa waved it away, irritated, but i pointed out that one of the signs of dehydration is crankiness, and he drank some. the wheelchair guy let connor have his phone so he could play games on it.

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when our shuttle came, we loaded grandpa and the bags and the driver took us to the next terminal, where we had to wait about half an hour for a wheelchair guy to take us thru security and to our gate. connor and i took the time to go to a concession stand and buy croissants and coffee. french croissants, so flaky, so buttery, such wonderful bread. not too expensive; it cost 10 euro for three pastries and two caffe lattes. and we struck up a conversation with another person waiting for a wheelchair, named rachel. she lives in new york. we spoke of many things; politics, french food, those little raspberry hard candies, venice, livable cities. as our wheelchair came, we traded email addresses so i can send her the details of the place where we stayed in venice.

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this wheelchair guy wasn’t so nice, and rammed jim into a barrier when he first had us. bluff and insensitive, or maybe just distracted. but he warmed up to connor, and by the time he left us he was giving connor high fives. they have moving sidewalks in the paris airport; they go up hill and down. connor decided he had to be in front, but the guy wasn’t having it, and once the sidewalk went downhill, he took the brake off and ran with grandpa down to the bottom of the hill. connor, who had been bitching about something just prior, whooped and followed, and from then on they played together.

going thru security was a bit of a nightmare. everyone was rushing to get thru, for one thing. they took grandpa to a different section, and made him take off his belt, and his boots, then ran him thru a screen numerous times until they figured out he was carrying his glasses in his pocket. meanwhile our stuff was piling up in front of the line, and more stuff was coming in behind us. i had to pull out my computer as well as connor’s kindle, and my phone, and my boots, the wheelchair guy had to scan our boarding passes, people kept getting backed up out of the metal detector becausee they set something off, connor tried to go thru beffore they were ready and they had to stop him, and he didn’t understand their french (or anybody’s), and was stroppy and baulky. then i had to get everything back in the bags and get my boots on while people were trying to step around us and the wheelchair guy was ready to go so he started off while i was still barefoot.

but we did get thru all that, and proceeded to the gate, about an hour before boarding. it was very crowded, and there was nowhere to sit. the wheelchair guy unloaded us in a corner and fled, connor begging him to share his cellphone and let him play games on it. but then he pulled his kindle out of his pack and sat happily on the floor, while i sent grandpa off to find a seat. there were several emtpy seats along a row of women, but he passed them by, and i spotted him off by the window. he shrugged and said the empty seats were all being saved. one of the women looked up and offered the seat next to her for poor old grandpa, but one of the other women immediately said, no that’s christies. they were americans. and they were rude, and uncaring of grandpa’s age and fragility. frankly, it was the first actual rudeness we’d encountered in our two months out of the country, and they were yanks. grandpa shrugged and walked past. the lady who had looked up was aware of the rudeness of the other woman, and offered her seat, but the other women protested at this, and they all kept their seats. i thanked the one woman sincerely, and tried to ignore the others, who sat there complaining about things with empty seats around them.

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bitch

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grandpa set up near the window and i sat with the luggage in the corner, and connor lay on the floor resting on the luggage. it got more crowded. but finally the ladies all got up and left. i aske someone where they were going, and heard that they were starting to queue at the gate. we’d thought we were at the gate, but it was in teh next gallery over, so i went to investigate, and the gate crew assured me we were ok for priority boarding, so after a few more minutes we moved grandpa and connor and all the luggage to the roped off area in front of the gate. the ladies were far behind, so i don’t know if they glared at us.

another twenty minutes passed; passengers disembarked from the plane, the crew cleaned up, and eventually they announced that they would soon start boarding. it got more crowded. connor was thankfully quiet. when we got thru the gate first, grandpa tried to carry the lighter bags, but i could see them cutting off the circulation in his hands, so i grabbed them all and struggled along behind them. getting into the plane was easy, because we were first in line, but getting down the aisle was another matter, because i had two heavy backpacks, connor’s backpack, the new bag, and the plastic bag. it was a bit excessive. one of the stewards insisted on helping, and took one of the heavy bags off my, which actually made things easier for the last dozen rows.

we settled in, with the great mass of people behind us, throwing bags into the overhead and getting into our row. connor wanted the window seat, but as he had his kindle in his hand, and can’t see out without standing on the seat, i said no, and he threw a fit. but then he went back to his game. we ate a bunch of cookies, and watched as the plane filled completely up, all the overheads bursting full. those nasty rude ladies filled in the seats around us, and i got to listen to them complain about a bunch of things, ranging from the weather report back home to the price of tickets to the presence of foreigners all around them, some of them from gasp the middle east. what jerks.

eventually they made announcements in icelandic, which suddenly reminded me of connor’s gibberish foreign language skills – fakka lakka takka gliska. it doesn’t sound the least bit like italian, but it certainly sounded a lot like icelandic. wonder if he decided on the syntax the last time we were in iceland, back in late may.

connor was still throwing fits about all and sundry as we took off, choosing that time to insist that he was hungry and thirsty. of course there was nothing i could do, so we had more cookies. grandpa promptly fell asleep.

i sat and wrote this part of the blog post while he ran the battery right out on his kindle, then insisted on crayons and a coloring book, only to get pissy about not wanting it, and insisting on his magnetic beard-drawing picture board instead. he then complained that he was hot, and he must have been, because his cheeks were red. so he took off his sweater, and complained some more, then took off his shoes, and his socks. he would have removed his shirt and pants if i’d let him. the stewards came by with the food and drink trolly, but all i have is euros and they don’t take that, for some reason, and all the cards are stowed away in the overhead, and i’m not going thru that ordeal, so i had to say no. it’s our fault for not getting something to eat in the airport. and i couldn’t figure out where i’d put the banana we’d brought. so he had another fit. the stewards got on the com to tell us they were coming around with duty free, and pointed out one of their number with truly outrageous hair, telling us to look at his glowing skin, and if we wanted we could buy some of his skin lotion, or barage him with questions about his hair. and then she giggled and signed off. only on wow airlines, where they have a sense of humor despite the crowds and the extreme budget conditions.

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at this point i got tired. there was cloud cover, thin but persistent, as we crossed into the channel from france, and again as we crossed out of the channel into england, and i put the computer down and took a short nap while he continued to fuss and fidget. when i came back out of it, he was trying to rest his head against the arm rest and was complaining about that, so i put his feet on my legs and got him to curl up in his seat, where he promptly went to sleep. the clouds were partial below us, and i could see snow on the hills – the scottish highlands? the land went on and on between the clouds, surrounded by sea on various sides, or maybe lochs, but continuing to be a mix of water and brown land, with snow here and there. finally the land edge was definitely against the ocean, because i could see breakers and bluffs, and the end of the land disappearing behind us. the sea had bits of ice floating in it, and still does. the clouds are far off now, and the clock reads 7:30 est, or 1:30 italy time. we’ve been up for 10.5 hours, and no wonder connor got all difficult. the purser came by with a blanket for him, and i put my sweater under his head, and now both boys are sleeping peacefully. thank god.

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my ears have started popping.. i’ve played all the games on my computer. i’m hungry. the boys sleep on. my eyes feel red and swollen. siggi and runa are picking us up at the airport. too bad the blue lagoon costs $50 a person (regular pools cost $2.50). with partly clouy skies, there’s a chance we’ll see northern lights tonight; the forecast for the rest of our time here is for rain and/or snow, depending on the temperature. i’m now excited to be going to iceland and have abandoned whatever vestigial mourning i feel for italy.

on the other hand, maybe my popping ears are only wishful thinking, and we’ll be in a crowded, cramped airplane without food or drink forever, our hell for daring to go off out of the country instead of doing what we should be doing. wait, i thought the unfortunate housesitter was our punishment for that. surely the icelandic fairies are more welcoming than that.

on the other hand, the captain is muttering something, and i’m hearing 25 minutes. temperature 5 degrees celsius with showers in the vicinity of the airport. hope you enjoyed your flight, good bye.

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so. more later. it’s time to stow everything i can without waking connor up. he’s slumped against my left elbow, half under the blanket, his little toes sticking out and wiggling evvery now and then. ah, he’s stirring while the cabin crew announce that we’re landing soon. he’s shifted to jim’s right elbow and gone straight back to sleep. jim’s over there thinking something amusing, smiling and blinking, and closing his eyes again. diska sliska hakka bakka flakka. enough now, i’m turning the computer off. more later.

okay, it’s sunset in iceland, which lasts forever, seemingly no matter what time of year. we landed, again didn’t go thru passport control (we don’t have any stamps other than our flying into iceland in january), sailed thru customs (maybe it was lunch time), and then sat in the arrivals hall until siggi and runa got there. connor figured out how to work a wheelchair, and was happy as a clam after his nap. i went and got some sandwiches and we sat and ate them and before you know it they were there.

so we drove thru hapnafjordur and around the outside of reykjaik, both of them pointing out scenes of crowded houses that when they were kids were nothing but fields. siggi kept pointing out olcanoes and telling us they were ready to blow any time now. evidently the ground is always shaking around somewhere nearbyin that part of reykjaness, and the government is thinking of moving everybody into reykjavik becausee with a strong enough earthquake, the ground will liquify, because it’s only floating on underground rivers that connect one side of the sea around the peninsula with the other side of the sea.

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connor wanted to see snow. there was not much left of their record february snowfall, but once we got up to the north of reykjavik there was snow everywhere from a storm last week. then we took the back way into mossfelsbaer, past a mountain, down to a lake that the army guys sank a bunch of army trucks and tanks in the middle of this very deep lake – a lake that is host to a famous half man, half horse of legend. we stopped and got out, and connor got to play in the snow, while i looked at a large boulder that is melting the ice around it, and gawped at the distant mountain asja that dominates reykjavik.

and then we proceeded to the grocery store to stock up for tonight. i’m thinking of trying to bring some icelandic lamb back when we return to the states. i’d go into what we bought, but i’m severely jet lagged. unfortunately, i can’t go to sleep. we’re having lamb for dinner; i can smell it in the oven now.

connor came back to siggi and runa’s house and immediately both fell in love with and was exasperated by, all the birds they raise in the house. and as soon as i found his snow pants and dug out his water boots, he went into the back yard and played in the snow until he got really cold and had to pee.

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so we’re about to get dinner now. and then there might be northern lights. so i’m not going to be getting much sleep any time soon.

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ps, please excuse the typos.  i couldn’t care less right now…

Posted by: jeanne | March 10, 2017

…one…

our last day.  up unreasonably early, considering how much time i spent getting up and going back down last night, remembering this and that.  but oh well, no time to waste today.  so we went to the market for fish.

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this is the sotoportego that leads to our house, in this case leading out of our campiello toward campo san polo.  it’s the last time we’ll see it.  i could say this about everything, so i’m just going to quit now.

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and on the way to the market i managed to find quite a few things to photograph that i had somehow missed before.

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and connor was his usual self.  we stopped into the coop store to say goodbye to the clerk that connor particularly likes, the one whose mom is from america.  he told us to come back and live here.

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i’ve wanted to get this doorway since i stumbled upon it.  it leans way out of true, like much of venice.

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connor stopped to play ball with a friendly dog.  this blog, in fact, is going to be mostly about connor, because i cleaned and packed most of the day.

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this is the stall where we mostly shopped for fish.  there are four or five others here, but this is the one i like.  it seems more accessible, even tho they’re no friendlier at the other ones.

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even tho we didn’t get any vegetables or fruit, i figured i might want to paint it one day, so i went around being a tourist and taking pictures of everything.

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and connor demanded that i take his photo more than once.

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on the way back we found this lovely window with plants.  it’s now spring here, and everybody’s buying plants for their windows.

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on the way back, we ran into the boss of the frittelle place (now the ice cream and pizza place).  he gave us big hugs, and threw connor into the air, and shook jim’s hand.  we told him we had a gift for him, and that we would be by his shop later.  i’m not sure how much he understood.  i really like him; and he loves connor.  boss said we should be there in october or november, because from now until then there were way too many tourists, altho he makes money hand over fist (he’s got the cheapest ice cream and frittelle and pizza in town).

then i got to work, cleaning the house.  i washed down the kitchen, cleaned the refrigerator and behind the stove, washed all the shelves and put everything back the way it was when we first arrived (i took extensive photos of everything first thing, so i would know.  i would never have remembered, and both jim and i think the rearranging i did in the beginning was better than the way they had it.  but so what.)

the boys went to sant’elena to play.  i’m going to have to consult jim on exactly which sequence to put the photos and what to say about it.  he’s having a nap right now, and we’ll be eating dinner as soon as i’ve filled in what i know.  and then we’ll tidy up the blog and publish it before going to bed.

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on the pontoon, waiting for the vaporetto down to sant’elena, connor just sat there waiting, being quiet.  this in itself is notable.

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this grandma was watching a 2 year old, and connor played with the girl, being very solicitous of her, helping her up and down, and to cross the dangerous web walkway.

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at the old playground we used to go to when we stayed on sant’elena, he met this older kid, who was kind of sullen at first, but warmed up to connor, and ended up helping him get up on the zip line.

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jim helped too, getting up onto the thing (because you have to be able to get up on the platform yourself before you can use the zipline, making it harder for little kids to hurt themselves).  it wore jim out lifting connor as many times as he wanted to ride it (he’s only just begun to be able to hold on long enough), so it was good that the older kid could help too.

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he wouldn’t ride the line all the way to the platform, he would turn loose and fall down.  but he didn’t hurt himself; he actually thought it was all part of the game.

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usually the big disk is occupied by older kids, and if you get close enough you’ll get wacked in the head by the thing, so he’s never been on it.  but today there was nobody, so he had a ball.

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and here he is on the climbing wall.  last time we were here, he went up there all the time, but this time he was leery of it until just last time we were there.  this time he climbed right up the vertical wall, which he’s never done before, and right after this photo was taken, he slid down and hurt his leg on the shallow side.  they had to take a break at this point.

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this playground is in giardini, and usually has much smaller kids at it.  this girl was a bit older than connor, and they interacted a little before connor got bored and went to the playground just opposite.

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across the way, there was a guy and his girlfriend clowning around, and he slipped and got all entangled in the thing.  jim and connor and the girlfriend rushed to help him, and it took him a few minutes to get himself out, while both the girl and jim took photos.  how embarrassing.  connor then showed him how to do it right.

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the guy on the left helped connor up onto the top of the luggage railing at some point.  jim was standing on the other side of the boat, and it was too crowded to get a decent picture.  but here he is, perched in the middle, where i won’t let him go when it’s up to me.  grandpa has different rules.

in the meantime, i finished cleaning so the cleaning lady wouldn’t have too much to do (but i didn’t wash the floors or clean the bathrooms).  then i finished packing, involving some creative shifting of contents in the small checked bag.  and managed to get all the things we’re taking into the bags, including the jars of honey and peanut butter we decided we needed to have in iceland.  everything was in, the bags were just shy of their weights.  and then i noticed all the clean clothes i just washed, still sitting on the couch waiting to be packed.  but there was no room at all.  but i checked, and i can take a personal item – a bag stuffed full of clothes…

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the boys got back way late – 2:30.  i’d told jim to listen for the slamming of shutters as the shops closed for lunch, and come home then, which would have been 1 or 1:30.  but he didn’t hear them, and came home when they were thru playing.  so i made them some lunch and got ready to take the bags to the airport.

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we schlepped the two bags down to the closest vaporetto stop, and on the way passed a store that sells stuff for incredibly cheap – luggage for 24 euro, shoes for 10 euro, etc.  and i found the largest bag they had, for 10 euro, and bought it.  problem solved.

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while i was in the store, jim stopped to make a photo of this mask because it’s one he might want to replicate at home.  he’s got a project in mind…

we got to the san silvestro vaporetto stop and waited for awhile.  a woman with a dog got on, and connor did the usual, even taking a picture of the dog.

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on the vaporetto, connor found a six month old baby, and spent lots of time with her.

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he brought his kindle so he would have something to do while we were on the bus to the airport, so he took this picture of her, and then colored it in; you can sort of see the colors.

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then he struck up a conversation with this redhead, and took a picture of her, too.  he sure does work the crowd.

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then he sat underneath the luggage rack, the way he likes to do, and briefly engaged this delightful couple, who spent some time picking lint of each other’s jackets – true love.

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we got to piazzale roma and got on the number 5 bus to the airport.  it started out way crowded, but since it was close to 4, most of the people were going home to mestre, and by the time we got to the airport there were only half a dozen people on board.

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it was a beautiful, crisply warm day, and we could see the mountains, with what looked like a fresh topping of snow.

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by the time we had checked out luggage in the luggage storage house, showed a passport and got a ticket to retrieve it tomorrow morning at 5, our bus was pulling out, so we went into the airport to use the bathrooms and get a drink of water.  a bus was just pulling in when we came out, and soon we were off.

it was low tide, and the southern side of the bridge was showing lots of mud flats as we went back to venice.

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we stopped at the playground close to piazzale roma, as usual, and connor had a blast with a german family; the mom spoke english, and he had her over by the flower phones, speaking to him thru the tube and neglecting her three kids.  dad took up the slack.

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then it was off home, and a last ice cream.  we delivered connor’s drawing and jim’s business card to the boss, except he wasn’t there, so we delivered it to the boys.  connor spent some time behind the counters, charging at them with a wooden rolling pin that was the same size as he was.  i got a forgettable flavor of ice cream, connor got strawberry sherbert, and jim got cherry ice cream in a cup.  we’ll surely miss that place.  we must have spent (quick calculation) almost 200 euro at that shop.  and i think i miscalculated when i said i was 65 kilos when i first came here.  it must have been 56 kilos, and i must have gained 8 kilos, that’s 15 pounds.  that’s the only way to explain why i can’t button my top button.

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we found another icon, one we’d never seen before.  i didn’t notice the coins until just this minute.  the thing is behind glass on a wall, so i’m not sure how that was accomplished.

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and i wanted one good shot of this building, which is gorgeously decrepit.  it’s a barbershop on the left side, and a pharmacy on the right, with a news and trinket kiosk in front of it.  i love the building; maybe i’ll paint it.  loosely.

right now i’m waiting for jim to do the dishes; we ate shrimp, pasta with tortellini and cheese cream sauce, salad, and leftover potatos and rice.  we might have eaten most of it, but the rest goes in the garbage, and we’re disposing of that on the way out.  we’ll leave the paper and plastic trash in the front hall downstairs (after having conferred with our agent).

after i finish the blog post with jim’s help, i’ll let him read it while i do connor’s bedtime story, and then i’ll pack the toothbrushes and other sundries, stuff jim’s shoes in connor’s backpack (the one with room).  i’ve already put our clean clothes into the bag i bought.  i still have to back up the photos onto as many drives as i can.  we’ll probably have coffee at 3am, just so we can wake up and not just haul ass out of here.  we might even have the last piece of bread as we leave.  i’ll go around and close all the shutters in a moment, and now that the living room is cleared of packing stuff, i’ll sweep the floor.  when i get up, all the beds need to be stripped and the laundry put into the hamper.

maybe i can get some sleep hahahahaha.  it’s a full moon, why would i expect to get any sleep?

Posted by: jeanne | March 9, 2017

…two…

today dawned bright and early, and i’m exhausted, with one more day of packing hell to go thru.  but connor was up and at’em adam ant.  we decided we were going to go visit the icon museum, and needed to go see the pigment guy to get some jars, and we wanted to get a good photo of the palazzo we’re thinking of renting for a large group, and i was determined that the boys have the experience of crossing the canal in a traghetto.

but first connor got to take the garbage down.  just this last week, venice has changed its garbage collection methods.  instead of leaving your trash on a string, or hanging it on a nail on a wall during the hours of 6-8am, you now have to wait for the garbage folks to ring your bell from 8-12, and then you can bring it or lower it.  but what if you have to leave early?  you’re supposed to leave it at the pickup point for the birds to play with…sounds efficient to me.  but we’re leaving at 4 in the morning, so i’m not really sure how to handle the last bit there.

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connor went out to play with the garbage guy.  he speaks a bit of english, so connor has attached himself to the guy, and they play chase and other games whenever we get ready to leave the house in the morning.  right now, this evening, he’s busy drawing them a picture of the boat, and them, and him, and we’ll be giving it to them in the morning.

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he’ll do another one for the boss of the frittelle place, and we’ll give that to them tomorrow evening when we go for another ice cream.

we took a vaporetto down to san zaccaria, where they were taking up the ramps over the bridges.  they install them every year at carnival, and then take them down before the summer tourist season starts.

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then we made our way to the bragora t-shirt shop, where we left a bottle of turpentine that we can’t take back with us.  the guy was somewhat surprised that we were giving them something.  they were surprised when we gave them the design, too.  we like surprising people.

the greek orthodox church and convent and museum was right around the corner from the shop, so we made our way there, intending to visit the icon museum.  but it was closed and the lady wasn’t thru sweeping it out, so we got a finger wag instead of getting to give them money…

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and we went into the church instead.  omg it was magnificent, unlike anything else in venice.  the greeks had been in venice for centuries, but until 1498 they weren’t allowed to have a church.  this changed in the early 1500s, and a church was built in the mid 1500s, designed by longhena.  and it’s full of icons.  many churches in venice have icons at the altars, but this was overwhelming.  anybody who is interested in icons needs to visit this church.

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there was a guy in there talking to somebody; he caught me aiming for the ceiling with my cellphone and said no foto.  so i had to hide behind jim in order to take these pictures.

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and this one is smaller than usual because i had to use the reverse camera and aim it upward.  that’s the ceiling, a dome covered with mosaic tiles.

after we visited the church for awhile, we walked back toward san marco, aiming for the area near sant’ angelo where that palazzo is.  but first we passed this lovely graffiti.

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as we got to san marco, connor had his inevitable accident playing on the stacked passerelle, whanging his back on one of the support bars.   we comforted him instead of telling him we’d told him so, and as we continued down the piazza, a waiter came along offering chocolates to all the kids.  so he got his comfort and his treat.  he felt better before we got to the end of the piazza.

but because of this, he wanted to get on the vaporetto to go up to accademia, instead of walking.  so we did.

we found the pigment store, and asked to buy some empty jars.  at first the lady balked, but soon took pity on us, and sold us three jars, which i came home and filled with pigment, and with my turmeric paste, which i don’t feel like throwing out.

then we crossed over the accademia bridge, gave some money to charlie chaplin  and wandered off to find various courtyards only glimpsed on the vaporetto.  we passed a nice palazzo under restoration, where somebody had blocked the gate open with a brick – thanks whoever you are.  connor objected, but we walked right in and took some photos. YOLO.

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this is one of the courtyards we found.  it’s got an enormous tree growing in the middle of it.  the other courtyard seemed to be a hotel, because tho i’ve always seen people inside it, we couldn’t find the entrance.  aw.

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we passed this cool art store – open by appointment only, and peered thru the window.  connor likes rhinoceri.

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and a little further on we passed a silver ball, and connor made faces at himself for awhile.

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and this nice window that will soon have a pot of flowering plants in it.

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and there was this wonderfully decrepit house close to the palazzo we want to rent, and even closer to the traghetto stop.

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we particularly liked the way these shutters are falling apart, showing how they were constructed.  the floor above had beautifully painted shutters in great shape, but this was what i wanted to get a photo of.

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and here’s the canal side of the yellow palazzo we want to rent for a group of artists to stay in.  fits 18 people, with enough room for an art studio on the third floor.  the canal is super quiet, because it’s too small for most traffic, which is a plus after staying in garbage-collection campiello for two months.

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then we came home, had lunch, and took a nap.  when we got up, it was time for ice cream, and to get something for dinner, so we went back out.  the boss wasn’t at the frittelle store, but the guys all said hi to connor, and sold us ice cream cones.  grandpa took his in a cup, after the mess he made with the chocolate ice cream yesterday.  i sure am glad i got a photo when i had the chance.

this is from a lovely little shop on the way back from the conad store.  the glass is unlike most murano glass we see, with loads of gold.  they also had icons, but they were glass ones.

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this morning on riva degli schiavoni, we found a splat thingie on the sidewalk.  it was filthy, so we put it into the backpack and brought it home to wash.  later we found one of the very cardboard things the sellers display them on.  i’d been telling connor he could have one if they sold for a euro or less, but once i saw one, i realized a euro is far too much.  they’re basically little water balloons.  you splat them down onto a shiny cardboard surface (so they don’t get filthy), and the flatten right out, but then pop back up.  we’ve seen people on the streets selling them since we’ve been here, and connor has always wanted one.  so after i cleaned it up, he spent half an hour smashing it onto the cardboard, and finally, as i told him it would, it broke and splattered water everywhere.  he cried for a few moments, but soon got over it, and after that he drew his pictures, and now he’s ‘playing’ minecraft with grandpa (doing everything and only requiring that grandpa watch).

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it’s getting dark out, we’re going to fix dinner, and then i’m going to pack the backpacks to make sure everything fits.  i’m right at the weight limit for the large bag, and have loads of weight but no room in the small bag.  there’s a strike on in france, the air traffic controllers, and tho it’s supposed to be over friday, we will have to wait and see if we will be able to leave on saturday morning.

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