Posted by: jeanne | June 26, 2017

swimming – and drying – in the rain

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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






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


here he is hiding under buddy.


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


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


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


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






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



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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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