Posted by: jeanne | August 10, 2017

finishing murals and more

we’re now at the end of the three week mark, so i’ve abandoned my vow to not work weekends.  as it happened, i got the lift precisely because it was a weekend, and a long holiday weekend at that.  so my hands were tied.


it’s a large lift, a nifty 170, with a 17m working height.  i didn’t get it that high.  it also stretches out almost 9m, and i used that a lot.  the image is longer than 9m, so we had to move it twice, which, while supposedly it can be moved by hand, we had to attach bjarney’s car to it every time.  it also bounces, and until i learned to release the power button before releasing the lift controls, it bounced horribly and hard.  once i learned how to actually use it, not just the basics, it became a joy to use, but i still came home and felt the bounce long after i’d gone to bed at night.  that first day, i got the grid up and the blue line drawing of about half of the troll.


in the evening, anna kristin came over to do a watercolor, and i worked on this piece from the medieval days a few weeks ago.  it’s not finished yet, duh.

later that evening, connor and i decided to go back up the valley because it had been over a month since we’d taken the walk, and my view of the valley was enhanced from the top of the lift, so i kind of couldn’t resist.


this time he had no trouble at all getting on top of the troll rock at the head of the path.  the ground was dry, the streams were mostly dried up, there was sheep dung everywhere but no mushrooms because no rain in a long time.


but there were sheep.  and we got pretty close to several of them.  i know enough now to realize that this is a male sheep looking at us, and had to caution connor not to move too fast because those horns are sharp and that sheep is strong.  but he watched us pass and then went back to doing what he was doing.


it was about 9pm, and still only working toward sunset when we came back down.  that far run of mountains is on the other side of eyjafjordur, and would take hours to get to by car, if there were any roads going the length of it.  which there are not.  but there are stories of people who had to walk the length.  in winter.  with broken legs.  ah, iceland.


the river down the valley is much reduced, and the elf island is almost accessible.  not that anybody around here would be foolish enough to try it.  across the lake, you can see the farms hlid and trollakot.  hlid has a troll mural i have yet to finish…


i woke at dawn that morning, which is about 4am now.  the light was hitting the mountains to the left of the valley we’d walked up the night before.  there’s almost no snow left at all, and none in the foot of the valley, where the town is.


back up onto the wall.  i started in with the body color.  haukur took me over to the paint store (which his son runs), and i picked out a nice light gray blue, because i knew the limited supply i’d been using all summer would run out immediately, and i had no idea what actual color that was.  the color i picked is called malmbratt.  i got a gallon.  i had the crazy idea that i could put on two coats with a gallon.  hahaahhah.


in the afternoon i went over to fix the wings on the mythical beast at the school.  lara had noticed that the wings were both on the other side of the beast’s body, so i had to go extend them down and paint the local colors and then the accent lines and the black outlines.  it took two coats, which mean it took two sessions.  it was coldish and the paint didn’t want to dry.IMG_9850

then back up on the wall at the sports center.  it was saturday of a bank holiday weekend, and i was almost out of blue paint, so i had to call haukur and ask him to get me some more.  the paint store was closed, but he came to the pool, where connor and i were swimming, and asked me what color.  i told him the empty container was on the lift, and he went and got it, then went and got paint, and left it in the lift for me to get once i’d gone home and changed.


that evening i had to take a break from my work to host the artist’s greeting meeting.  everybody brought food again, so we all stuffed ourselves, and then sat down to introduce ourselves and talk about our work.  i keep my introduction to a minimum, hoping they’ll follow suit, but they never do, so it was a three hour meeting.  but this month’s residents are a very interesting bunch, with several academics and a lot of non-americans.


then it was back up onto the wall.  i was there until midnight, when it got too dark to see.  it was kind of strange.  gradually everything got quiet.  no birdsong.  no kids playing.  no cars going by.  just me and the whine of the lift as i kept moving it.  and the bounce.  and the wind aloft.  even a couple of meters is enough to make it cold and windy, even when it’s warm and still on the ground.


my view


on sunday i had to check out the last of july’s residents and take him to the bus, but he didn’t want me to wait with him, so i ran back up to the wall and put in another long day’s work.


and at 9pm connor and i went out to haukur and bjarney’s family bonfire by the summer houses on the lake.  it was already going when we got there, a big bonfire (where did they get the wood?), and haukur and someone else on guitar, with the whole family singing along out of a songbook.  it was actually a lot of fun.


connor certainly thought so, of course.


i stood around and smiled a lot, and hummed along to the various tunes i recognized, tho i had no hope of actually singing along, because it was all in icelandic. of course.

the little girl found a dead and dried fish, and came to show the family.  everybody took pictures, and then she ran off to throw it into the fire, but couldn’t get close enough, so various older kids helped until they lost interest.


svanfridur, from hlid, showed up, and i thought she might be related to them, but no, she’d heard the singing from the farm, and came down to join in.


sunset was just after 10, and it actually set.  connor and i left after the fire died down, and we were not the last to leave.  at some point they set off fireworks, which is totally illegal since it’s not xmas time, and someone else threw a bunch of gas on the fire, which is totally unenvironmental, but boys.


of course i went back up on the wall after the party, and worked until it was too dark to see anymore.  i made the mistake of trying to put shadows on the figure, and had to spend an extra hour or so covering it up with blue paint.


and on monday i was back up on the wall again, trying to finish so the lift could go back and haukur and the mayor could stop paying for its rental.  bjarney and her boyfriend had to come and help me move it twice, so i could get the hands and feet.  it was starting to cloud up, and the forecast was for rain, so i was in a big hurry to finish.


after dusk, when i went back again to actually finish (except i’m not), some of the local kids came out to watch and play around.  they all like it.  when i was done, it was dark, and the next morning i realized that i still had a few touches to do, but the lift got taken back, and so i’m going to have to get a big ladder and deal with it later.  but every time i see it, i can see the glaring mistakes, so it will get dealt with before i leave.


on tuesday we went across the river to the stables, where connor is now enrolled in riding lessons on icelandic horses.  the cost was very cheap compared to home, where we have no opportunity to go horseback riding at all, so i couldn’t pass it up.


we got connor into the smallest of helmets, and they wanted to put him on a kid’s saddle, but the stirrups wouldn’t go short enough, so he ended up on a regular saddle with severely shortened stirrups.  it’s been 30 or more years since i’ve been on a horse, but it all comes back – how to check the belly band, how to adjust the stirrups, how to brush the horse, how to get the mane out from under the pommel, how to hold the reins.  and connor got really tired of me telling him to sit up straight, and insisted he knew how to do it.  so i asked, and the lady running the school told me i didn’t have to be there after the first lesson.  which was a relief, because the walls.


on the way back from the ring, i got a call from bjarney, who was down at the troll statue with the boyfriend, drilling holes into the rocks so we could sink some rebar to keep the thing together once the kids discovered it.  i’m going toh ave to set the rods myself, because bjarney has gone to reykjavik for a week or so, and we won’t be doing much with the statue until she gets back.  except tommy is supposed to come and put a huge rock on with a crane on the back of his truck at some point.


so i went to the bank, and started on the troll that someone else has designed.  it’s meant to be a tourist attraction, and the designer and i have been going back and forth about how high that pinching hand is supposed to be, and the color scheme, and all sorts of things.   i’ve been messing with the grid for some days, but the ground slopes, so i had to get her guidance about how to deal with that.  so i found a level on my phone, and started.


on wednesday we had the sock tie-dye workshop at tjarnarborg, with the kids and several moms and grandmas (thank god).  asta, alice and i had been advertising this workshop for a couple of weeks, and connor and his friends passed out printed invitations, but it was asta staying up all night calling people around town that really did it.  we had a packed house full of kids, and almost ran out of socks.  i had ordered 9 pairs each of large, medium and small kids socks (thru graycloud – thanks a bunch), and brought my dyes.  last time i was here we had a tie-dye workshop for adults, so this time i thought it would be twice the fun to just let the kids loose on them.  and so it was.

graycloud came in for a few minutes to take pictures of the kids for his album of olafsfjordur faces, and i gave the kids minimal instructions, and let them go.  unfortunately i had forgotten to warn the parents that the kids would come home with their hands stained by dye, because it’s not something i think about personally.  i hope none of them were upset; the dye wears off after a couple of days, especially if you go to the pool.

the first thing i realized was that i didn’t have enough dyepots.  so i had to gather up a bunch of drinking glasses from the tjarnarborg kitchen, split up the dye i had premixed, and mix some more.  i couldn’t give each kid a brush and an eye dropper and a squeeze bottle, so i put a bunch of these on the table, stuck the brushes and eye droppers into the dye pots (and still they got mixed up and the yellow turned green).  i showed them a couple of pairs of my own socks for inspiration, and then just tried to make sure they had enough of each color (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).  then when they were all done, in about an hour, i gave them a plastic bag and a rubber band, and passed around the only pen i’d brought with me, and asked them to put their names and addresses on the bags so i’d know which socks were whose.

of course, bringing them back home to batch on top of the radiators, i realized that i would have no idea whose socks were which once i took them out of the bag to rinse and wash.  so i had to photograph the socks and the bags, and when they are dry, i’ll have to go and match them with the pictures.  and then i’ll have to find the kids’ houses according to the (sketchy and blurred) addresses.  this will give me the opportunity to also go around with the troll houses from the first kids’ workshop back in june.  the pictures have been sitting on my steps for almost three months, waiting for me to go around and glue them to various outdoor structures.  (and in the meantime i’ve gotten horrified looks from parents when i ask them about pasting up their kids’ drawings onto the cement walls at street level.


immediately we were finished with the workshop, i had to get connor to his riding lesson.  it was rainy, so he wore boots, and i didn’t, and was sorry.  the farmyard was sodden, with horseshit everywhere, and it was hard to walk.


but i went back to the wall and put on the first coat of the local color.  in the rain.

that night was a dinner at ida’s, because anna kristin is off to denmark or sweden, or maybe norway, for 4 months of college, and i won’t see her again.  ida made 3 pizzas and we ate until we were stuffed.  connor ate 3 pieces!  he loves her food more than he loves mine, and that’s kind of a family tradition at this point.


this is the boring view from their house.  i could sit there forever.


when i put connor to bed i went back to the wall to put on the second coat, and left around 11pm.  talked to jim for the usual hour last thing before bed – up in the attic since it turns out that graycloud, downstairs from me, can hear every word and it keeps him up at night.


this morning we caught anna kristin doing her final transaction at kaffi klara, taking care of some guests who wanted coffee.


connor had fun stealing bjarni’s glasses.  he told everyone that i am difficult to live with, and as a grandma, i’m kind of proud of that. somebody has to be.


after breakfast at kaffi klara (a waffle with cream and chocolate sauce – thanks anna kristin), we went home and i rinsed out the socks, and then washed them twice before i was satisfied.  they’re on the radiators drying right now.


but i went to the wall while connor had his lesson, and went back afterwards while he played at kaffi klara, and now it’s mostly done, except for the texture on the rock and restating the black lines.  the designer visits this weekend, and i hope she likes it.


i’ve got three walls to finish, and as many more as i can manage before we leave, in almost 2 weeks.  i’m so going to miss this place.  even if it only hits 8 degrees and the wind blows the rain into your face even sitting in the hot pot.  people know us now, and it feels like home.  but then, we have a home to go to, even if it’s hotter than hell and toxic politically.  it’s still ahem home.

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