Posted by: jeanne | August 2, 2017

first days of the august residency

so it’s been a whole week since i last posted.  and it’s not because i have nothing to do.  it’s because there’s too much to do and too little time.  four weeks.  gak.

last thursday morning i got my times confused.  usually i set my phone alarm for 12, 12:30 and 3:30 at a minimum – these are the times i have to have connor fed, ready for soccer, and picked up from soccer.  but i was thrown off partly by having to go down to the sculpture site at 10, where bjarney’s eldest boy and connor played in the tall grass and threw stones into the lake while we sorted rocks and decided we needed some help, arranging to meet again later that afternoon.  so connor and i went to the school and while he played on the soccer field, i got up on the wall and worked on the mythical beast.  it wasn’t exactly overly windy, but it was coming from the north, and there was a whistling around me as the wind cut thru the scaffolding.


then we went back to meet bjarney lea out at the statue site.  she’d called in a reinforcement, runar – a man to do the heavy lifting – and we got the largest couple of rocks we could lift onto the huge base gulli had left in place a few days ago. we mixed up some cement and plastered down the two large rocks, then dashed in some pebbles to cover that cement look.  bjarney washed cement off the rocks to preserve the wonderful colors and textures in the local rock.  you can just see her boy in blue in the middle ground, where connor is hiding in the tall grass.


then we spent some more time working on the troll woman and the mythical beast while i kept cursing my phone for not going off as scheduled.  until i realized i was an hour early for the clock.  but by that time we’d packed up and were ready to go back to eat lunch.

so we went up to tommi’s to talk about getting him to come down to the statue and drill some anchor holes and stick rebar in there.  because the kids are going to climb the statue when it’s done.  and the teenagers are going to try to topple it.  while we were there, connor played with some of tommi’s workers, and i took pictures of tommi with his elf ears for a mural on his roof that i may or may not have time to get to.


once i’d dropped him at soccer, i went up to asgeir’s house and talked to him as he ate his lunch.  the scaffolding wasn’t quite ready, so i went back to the school and did some more, half an hour’s work, before going back up the hill and starting work on his mural.  it was even windier, and right before i left, the ladder i’d just gotten down off of blew over.

the factory having its roof painted.  still haven’t started repairing and buffing the wall, tho

it was a lovely day, and this is the view from his house.  shaky damned scaffolding, tho, and i had to be extra careful.  and, interesting to me, i managed to toss down my ruler, stirring stick and small paintbrush into the grass, rather than trying to carry them down, and then completely forgot about them until today, when i fetched the ruler only – the dog having scavenged by stick and paintbrush (else that or the elves took them).

the wall’s surface is very rough, and very hard to paint.  it’s some sort of cement board, and wore my chalk right out.


but in the end, i got the outline of asgeir on the wall, and then had to go rush off to get connor and go swimming.


late that night, around midnight, i took this photo out of the bedroom window.  it’s beginning to get dark at night.  not all the way dark, but dark enough that i’m having to use the room light to write this (at 1:19am).  when i made hot chocolate for myself a few minutes ago, i had to turn on the kitchen light for the first time – i didn’t know where the light switch was until just now.   hahahah.


the next day was friday, and i came down with some sort of flash illness that anna kristin had a few days ago, and lizzy – one of our artists who came to the statue site and helped us lift a few stones that we couldn’t have otherwise gotten up there – came down with the day before.  so i had a migraine all day.  i attributed it to the elves, who have heard me promise not to work on the weekends, and then heard me say oh maybe i can start the wall in dalvik on saturday.  but maybe it was viral.  anyway, i was in bed most of the day on friday.

but on saturday i felt much better, and made bread, cookies, and spaghetti, paint two scarves, and start a little mini painting.

and on sunday, i dropped sonja off at the bus stop, using the time we waited to have the kind of chat we never had time for in the two months she was with us.  the bus came, it didn’t look anything like the regular sterna busses (it was green), and when she wrote an email to us later in the day, turns out it was over booked, and people were sitting on each other’s laps before they got to reykjavik.

later, anna kristin came over to finish her oil painting (we’d mixed up some oil paint several days ago and she started a painting of clouds, but then got tired of working with it and abandoned it), and it turned into a watercolor painting instead.  connor did a few paintings to add to his collection, and i colored in the drawing i’d made the day before.


then on monday, lizzie left with her friend at 9, and we sat and talked at the bus stop about life in general (they’re so young), and then i went back to the downstairs apartment and saw anno and his wife out at 11, and then it was back out onto the sculpture site at 1, where bjarney and anna kristin and i loaded up another layer of rocks, including the big mother that had been intended as support on the ground because we’d thought it was too big to lift.  but get three women together, and you can do anything.


there was a bit of an issue when one of her kids fell into the lake, but after ten minutes she was back, long enough for anna kristin and i to sit on a nearby bench and soak up some sun, and then mix up another tub of cement.  there was this cloud over the mountain that was there all day long, and we all thought it was very interesting, and paused to take photos of it.  it remained there even while connor and i were at the pool, later on.


i spent the rest of the afternoon and much of the evening cleaning the main residency house.  tho the artists had each left their rooms cleaned, nobody had dusted or swept under the beds, the kitchen needed super cleaning because one of the artists due in has a severe nut allergy and the artists in july had a huge tub of peanut butter they’d gotten part way thru.  also, the gallery was a mess, and the art supply room was in tatters.  i cleaned up the supply room, and anita, who is staying another month, went around with white paint for the walls, and cleaned up and rearranged the furniture to make everything nice and homey – thanks, anita.

i came home, intending to apply to a last minute award program for artists with kids, but completely missed the deadline because of all the cleaning that needed doing.  oh well.  who needs funding, anyway?

on tuesday, i went around to the other house and cleaned.  it was kind of strange doing so, because fiona and bastiaan were still there, sleeping late, and there i was cleaning the kitchen and making sure the bathrooms were clean.

then back out on to the wall.  it was only slightly less windy, but still it was painful to be at the school, because i was in shadow all day, and it was damned cold.  45F, perhaps.  but i had to finish.  and i had to meet several new residents.  orlaith (pronounded orla), from northern ireland, came on the reykjavik bus, the same green one, at 2:15, so i was on the school wall for an hour at a time, going back unwillingly after showing her around and giving her the keys.  and i can call teh wall finished now, except lara texted me from poland, where she’s attending a meeting, and pointed out that the wings are both on the far side of the beast’s body, so i’m going to have to go back up there – after i’d told gisli to get the guys to take the scaffolding down.  oops.  i’ll do it maybe tomorrow…


in the evening, laura (from italy) got herself here from akureyri, tho the friend who drove her had car trouble.  and alfredo (from spain) drove himself in and arrived without notice, and found his house, and showed up at the door for the keys, escorted by bastiaan, who is staying a few more days.  so i went to bed.

this morning, i think it was this morning, bjarney and i showed up at the house behind us, where the guys had been using a lift to help with their roofing project.  they’d taken three weeks to do the roof, taking long breaks, quitting around 3, and when tommi told me they were related to skuli and guffa, i asked ida to call skuli and guffa to ask them to call their relatives and ask to borrow the lift, which was two doors down from their house.  i wanted the guys to drive it over to their house when they quit for the day, for several days, and let me put a mural of skuli and giffa on their wall, which faces the webcam, which skuli runs, and which pauses dramatically in its panning right there at their house.  it’s my trolls’ window to the world, and i think it might be the most important wall, because it’s the only one that can be seen from the webcam.  so i had had jim design a troll couple waving at the webcam, and got skuli and guffa to pose waving for the camera, and was all ready to put it up, except i couldn’t possibly put it on their stairs without killing myself.  so it was all very problematic.

but when i talked to bjarney about it, and how i would never be able to do the sports center mural if i didn’t have a lift, it turns out she’s related to the mayor’s assistant, haukur, so she called him up and lit a fire under him, and he and the mayor decided to pay for the lift themselves, and rented it from the guy who owns it, who happens to be the guy who owns the house in back of us, whose lift i have coveted to paint skuli and guffa’s house.

and when i went over to show guffa the design jim made, she was sitting in the living room crocheting with the mom of inga and ingimar of the crutch and raven mural, the one who’s been bringing me lopapeysa sweaters ever since i finished the mural.  so it’s a really small town.  and for the first time in my life, that doesn’t give me hives.  it’s why i left my college town, after all, when i realized it was like a big game of musical chairs, where everybody would be dating and everybody else in town, one at a time, going around in a big circle and getting incestuously intense.  but now, at this time, and since i’m an outsider, i don’t mind.  it’s kind of comforting.

so there we were, getting the guy who owns the house and the lift to show me how the thing works (very complicated – i filmed the process on my phone), and then bjarney and i went over to tell guffa i was going to do the wall after all, except we weren’t going to be able to move the lift right past the owner’s house without him noticing… but guffa pointed out the area beneath the stairs, which while smaller and less impressive, can still be seen from the webcam, plus i can do it with a step ladder.  so that’s yet another wall added at the last minute.  that makes 7.  to do in 4 weeks.  and the week is now half over.

today i saw fiona (from the states) off at 9, with connor playing on his tablet in the back seat while we waited for the bus.  orlaith came by on her bike, and told us she’d left her expensive camera on the bus yesterday, along with two bottles of wine she’d bought at the duty free.  in the states, or even in ireland, that would be gone forever, but in iceland, the bus driver brought it back to her in a plastic bag, with a big grin on his face, and didn’t want to take the nice bar of chocolate orlaith had brought for him.

then connor and i went to asgeir’s on the hill, and he played with his tablet and watched tv while kristin, asgeir’s wife, did home stuff on her day off, and brought me coffee, and talked to me about her eldest daughter, and having red hair, and getting older, while i painted in the parts of the figure i’d drawn in last week.  it was cold, and windy, but the wall is sideways to the wind and i had my jacket on.  the jacket is getting quite the speckled effect from all the paint i’ve been spilling on it.  as well as my sweater, and never mind the jeans.


then after connor went to soccer, i collected sherry (from canada) and we went back to the farm to do some more work.  bjarney met us there, because she needs to learn how to do walls if she’s going to continue the work after i leave.


i grayed in the remaining figures, checking several times to make sure the mama sheep was right, and neglected to put any black on because the girls had the black and the think brushes, and i was working with the 3″ brush.


there’s some more left to do on both walls, but it’s great progress, and i should be able to finish it in only two more sessions, sherry being back to canada and bjarney going on vacation next week.


after swimming, i went and collected two more artists, a pair from canada who are here to finish a book they’ve been working on for a year.  they’ve got a contract, and a deadline.  it’s very full circle for me, because i originally came here to work on a book, my unfinished novel about what happens when the ice melts from antarctica.  it’s  dystopian novel, and all the bad crap i was writing about has started coming true, so i stopped.

connor went out with two friends to deliver invitations to houses with kids, because we’re having a tie-dye party with socks next week.  and while he was gone i went up to asgeir’s house, because i suddenly remembered what happened to my ruler and brush.  while i was there i noticed they’d been trimming the bushes.  because people have begun looking at their house from the main road.  he was still out when i got back, so i went to the bank and started chalking the figure in, except i ran into some questions, so came back here and emailed the designer about it.  and i’ll start it mañana.

and late in the evening, our last artist arrived, all on his own, my having left his key under the mat downstairs.  we have two more coming, but not until next week, and the orientation is on saturday.  so that’s all the running around i have to do for awhile, and i can go back to concentrating on the various projects.  i would be out on the school all fixing the little mistake if it weren’t nearly dark, which is why i’m writing this post now, at 2am, because the artist downstairs went out for a few photos and left his keys inside, and the door closed behind him.  it happened to me, but not before i’d hidden a spare key in the yard.  so i gave him his spare key and told him to do the same.  but he’d woken me up, and then i couldn’t get back to sleep.   now the hot chocolate is gone, and i’ve finished my post, and i’m going to try to get that sleep before going to the sport center in the morning.

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