Posted by: jeanne | August 23, 2017

an excursion with francis and connor

i thought i wouldn’t have time to do another post before francis left, but i managed to fit it in.  this last week is all about the art of fitting things in.  and there’s just enough time and energy to do it all.

on friday there was a big rain, meaning significant rain, pouring rain, windy rain.  44mm, or a couple of inches.  so i did stuff inside.  i cleaned, packed, washed out and ironed my scarves and took them over to galeri ugla, where they will live until someone buys them, and then i’ll make some more.  nobody’s doing silk scarves here, so i have given all of the silk painting supplies to karolina, who is interested.

while i was at the gallery, they showed me one of two knitted trolls they have made to go outside the gallery as eye catchers.  they’ll also feature in the school’s troll parade later in the year.


on saturday the town had berjadagar, or berry days, a classical music festival that drew some hundred people, which is a lot in this town.  as contrast, tho, two weeks ago they had fiskidagar, or fish days at dalvik, which has been going on for years, and now draws over 40,000 visitors and huge traffic jams.

i had volunteered to help ida with the festival, because she had decided to combine the musical evening with a tapas dinner, and two of her staff had recently decamped for scandinavia, and she was expecting 110 to dinner.  so starting at 10am i showed up in the kitchen and did what i could until i had to go get francis at 2:15.  this was one of the few days when connor and i didn’t go swimming because there was so much to do.


there was a kid’s rap workshop at 2, and i left connor there while i went to get francis, and then took him and haldor up to the old folks’ home at hornbrekka for a singing concert that featured a bunch of people i know.  it was interesting to hear the old songs.  connor played with the kids, on the stairs and the elevator, and i fussed at them quite a bit.


then i dropped the boys up at hlid and went back to town to deal with the listhus exhibition that needed my attention.


i had dropped francis off at the house for a nap when he arrived, but went back to gather the goodies i’d bought, the cookies i made, and fresh popcorn, adn went over to listhus to stick things on the wall prepatory to the exhibition opening at 5.


the show had quite a few more visitors than usual, partly because we’d been advertising to the festival crowd.  it’s always gratifying to have the locals come see what we’ve been doing.

graycloud’s work

but i slipped away around 6 to go back and help set up at tjarnarborg.  we spooned goopy vegetable and meat stuff onto bread, and like tasks, until the show started at 7.  then we stood around prepping while a wine distributor extolled the virtues of his wines to the crowd.  then we went thru the crowd giving tastes of wine, and finally were able to start putting food out.  we filled a central table, and were surprised at how orderly people got up to mob it.  i’d expected a free for all, but it seemed they were going table by table and only getting as much as they could fit on a plate.  totally unexpected.  the food was soon gone, and we stopped pulling trays out of the fridge for awhile, because the music was on.  tjarnarborg can seat 100 easily, and has a good stage and fine accoustics, and the singers and musicians were all first rate.  arias and lieder mainly.  screechy sopranos and tony tenors.  spanish guitar.  piano.

and then we served more food.  and more music.  and more food.  and more music.  and dessert.  and more music.  and finally it was over, so we got to work clearing tables and washing plates and glasses.  i sent connor home with francis when the musicians stopped playing, and then we worked around the performers while they ate the rest of the food and congratulated themselves on a fine evening.  it was past 12 when ida and i poured a glass of wine and didn’t finish it (not the best whine btw)

on my way home i discovered that i’d lost my keys, and was going to go look for them in various places, except it was mostly dark and i could look for them where the light was better tomorrow.  but as i was crossing the road, i saw a bird hit the wall opposite me and fall to the ground.  omg.  it was a fledgling, with a long beak – francis says curlew – and its wing was broken.  i took it back to tjarnarborg and asked what i could do.  one suggestion was to wring its neck.  but i couldn’t.  gummi found a wine case and i put it in that and took it home to see if it would last the night.  but it didn’t, so oh well.


being a late night, i didn’t get up early on sunday, and only went out to start omar’s wall around 10:30.  i was just changing to black paint to start drawing in the figure when my phone rang.


it was francis, and he was in a panic because he’d set off the fire alarm when he didn’t understand the meaning of the stove glyphs and turned all the burners on instead of only one.  burners with pots and pans on them.  the smoke is still there in the house, days later.  graycloud and someone else came to the rescue, and no lasting damage was done, but i’ve washed all the curtains and will be scrubbing the walls when it comes time to clean up before i leave.  only a couple of extra hours work.  and because i’d tried to help the bird, the elves made sure the whole house didn’t burn down.  thanks, elves.

after cleaning the kitchen and asking francis to get all his meals at kaffi klara from that point on, i went over to skuli and guffa’s wall and put in the second coat of local color on everything.


when guffa discovered me outside, freezing my butt off from the wind, she called me in for coffee, and i found some of their relatives in attendance.  they live in siglufjordur now, but grew up here, and offered to let me paint their walls next time i come.  also there was a guy i met the last time i was in olafsfjordur, a man whose son lives in wisconsin.  i’d had the same conversation with him last time, so i remembered him.  he speaks excellent english, so we spoke about important matters in the town and he spread it around the table better than i could have done.  but then i had to go, because listhus was having a popup exhibition on the walls at ida’s cafe at 4.  they turned up there a few minutes later, so that was great.



katrine faber told a story about how music came to the world


after that i went back out, over to bjarney lea’s wall, where we plotted out how to do the work, and drew her foot to use as the model.

then we came back, ate i forget what – oh yeah, leftovers from the festival that ida forced upon me – thanks ida.

that night connor and i slept upstairs in the attic, on a bed a bit smaller than the one i’ve been in for three months.  it’s quite comfortable up there, and the view from the window is spectacular.  in fact, i saw northern lights for the first time ever.  they were faint, rolled and twisted, grew in intensity and faded as quickly, acted like contrails or low fog, and generally had me questioning whether i was seeing something real or just reflections from the windows.  but no, definitely auroras.  coolness.


on monday, we had been planning to take the ferry to grimsey and back as our excursion, but people had been warning me for some time not to do it.  not only would we be seasick the whole way, but the birds are leaving the island, and there’s nothing to do but hike, which francis isn’t able for.  so we decided to reprise our trip to myvatn instead.

but before we left town, i’d been having a slow leak in the other front tire, so we stopped at the garage to have them find the leak and glue the rim back on.  they never found a leak, but willie let connor help him glue the rim, and steinni wouldn’t hear of my paying for it because of their mural.  thanks, steinni


so we were an hour delayed starting on our trip, which meant that when we reached akureyri, the indian curry hut as well as the hot dog stand was open.  we stopped because francis needed to buy some waterproof bandages, and the apothecary is on the same street.  and while we were eating our hotdogs, we noticed the sale price on the lopapeysa sweaters, so francis got one for himself.


and then we stopped into the curry hut to say hi (he still remembers me, and our conversation picked up where it had stopped two months ago).  so i got lamb curry and lamb something else for later, since they’re only open until 7 and i had a feeling we’d be gone later than that (and we were, so the dinner sat in the back of the car odoriferizing all day long).

showing connor how they make naan bread – the best in iceland

and then we were off.  first stop, godafoss, where we pulled into the parking lot at the other side of the river and walked in.  francis refused to do this, so he got this view of the lower falls while connor and i went to the actual named waterfall.




but then i relented, adn we went back to the official side with the tour busses, adn he got to go up to see it closeup.  connor, having been there before, ran around until i noticed the horrified looks the tourists from the tour buses were giving me.  they were sure i was going to let him run right off the edge.  very hostile, they were.  good thing they didn’t speak english or i would have said something sarcastic…


then we drove to myvatn.  its name translates to ‘midge lake’, and it’s so true.  those little white specks in the photo below are midges.  millions of them.  they got all over our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  protein, yummm.


connor picked up a couple of motorcycle tourists he’d seen before, and actually used that famous line – didn’t i see you at the place before?


we continued to dimmuborgir, and sent francis on the short route (750m), while we took the slightly longer route (850m).  one of the interesting things was a cavelet done up in early outlaw.  the cave wouldn’t be good shelter as it was too open (thus the brightness), but connor grabbed the only dangerous object inside it and wanted to break, i mean hit, something with it, so we left…


dimmuborgir is one of my favorite places.  everywhere you look there’s a troll face, and these lava structures are a dozen meters high or more, just scattered around the field.


after that we went to the krafla area, up in the mountains behind the big power plant, where the volcanos actually go off now and then.  we got as far as viti, with krafla in the distance.  but we didn’t feel like the hike, so this is as far as we got.


then we went back to the ring road and across it to the geothermal fields at hverir, where fumaroles and boiling mud pots and loads of tourists dotted the landscape.

typically eschewing photographs, francis insisted on one at this spot

then we started back.  actually, being close to 6pm, we decided it was time to stop in reykjahlid gas station for a hotdog and a bathroom break.  while we were there i stopped into a fine gift shop, with some wonderful watercolors of local landscapes, and chatted to the women, who were knitting.  one woman was knitting a sock using 4 needles – something i’ve never seen before, but then i know nothing about knitting.

it was time for the eclipse, which while total at home, wasn’t even visible here.  all we got was sun dogs.  but hey, that’s pretty cool, too.


we got back home at 9, and i found i couldn’t eat the curry because it was too damned spicy, so connor and i ate rice, and francis finished off the meal.  thanks, francis.

again, there were northern lights, so i slept only fitfully, always checking for a show, and actually catching some pretty brilliant little 5 second rolls of green in the sky.  i was just as impressed to be seeing stars.  and there was no question of catching it on film – i tried.

on tuesday i got up really early and went over to omar’s house to start painting, and slapped on all the local colors.  i was out early enough to hear several people go outside for their first smoke of the day – hacking for a few minutes and then slamming their doors as they went back inside.

later on omar came out and caught me painting on his wall.  he was astonished to see himself on the wall, because when i’d showed him the sketch, it had jim’s self-portrait on it.  but i’d found his picture on facebook and put it in.


then as it warmed up, i went to skuli and guffas and did everything but the faces, which i always find the hardest to execute.  jim draws a great face, and i can transfer the rest of his drawings to large scale, but i can’t seem to get the faces, and can’t use my usual tricks to do so (turning the drawing upside down, for instance).



at 10 i went down to the lake, where bjarney lea had already gotten tommi to come by with his forklift and put a huge stone up on top of the drilled rocks.  she was busy cementing smaller stones to fill the gap, and i mixed more cement and continued filling in, while the boys played by the lake, as usual.  i’m not sure i’m going to be around to see the statue finished, but bjarney lea will send pictures.  we’ve got the troll woman’s bottom half, tho, and the rest is a pile of smaller stones (that we can barely lift by ourselves) suggesting her torso and head.


i had to make bread for dinner, so had to go back to the house several times in order to progress the breadmaking, and while i was there got an email from the bank, saying they wanted to pay me much more than what i’d asked for, which was a nice surprise.

somewhere in there, connor and i went swimming, and at 4 went over to kaffi klara to celebrate angelo’s second birthday.  connor gave him a bunch of toys we’d gotten from lenka (whose house i’m afraid i’m not going to be able to put a troll on at this point).


and at 6 we went over to listhus 12 for an artist dinner to celebrate our month’s residency.  connor got hold of michael’s drum machine app and entertained everybody.


today, wednesday, i put francis on the early bus for akureyri, where he wanted to spend the day wandering (the botanic garden), and then it was straight on to omar’s wall.  i had to adjust the size of the raven, and the length of the arms, and i have to repaint the background and do a bit more to the face, but i got an afternoon session in when connor spent time and lunch at kaffi klara.  so it’s almost done.


it was close to freezing when i went out at 7am, and i was very cold, but the moment the sun came over the mountain (while i was on skuli and guffa’s wall), it warmed up ten degrees.

at 9 i checked one of the artists out and took her to the rekjavik bus, and then i went to barney lea’s to help her continue on her wall.  she’d done the gridding, so we chalked in the foot and started right in on the body color.  it’s the same blue as the swimming troll, which is nice, because they are both in direct sight of each other, and perhaps her foot is bigger than his, i’m not really sure yet.


i could only stay a little while, because i had to meet with karolina, who is teaching art at the junior college, and will be taking care of both the troll parade later this year, and the map to the troll sites, which perhaps tommi will print, and the students make an app for.  so much activity going on here.

while i was back at omar’s wall after lunch, i had a little accident, dropping the black paint on the ground, which splattered all over me.  guess i’m f’real leaving these jeans when i go home.  as well as my army-surplus swedish army sweater, which i adore.  i’ll get another one when i get home, maybe.  but i have so many lopapeysa sweaters now, so maybe i won’t need one.


after the paint dried, connor and i went to ala’s where we have a lot of work to do to finish her four panels.


but i love her, she’s just like me, and nina came to visit, whom i see also at guffa’s every now and then.  she was passing out crocheted kitchen cloths, so i snapped one up (thanks, nina).  and when i was leaving, ala presented me with a pair of hand warmers for myself, a pair for jim, a set of mittens for connor, and a pair of socks for him.  omg people are so wonderful here.  takk fyrir, ala.


then we went swimming, connor and i.  his coach was at the pool, so connor spent his entire hour following the coach around and trying to drown him, while i sat in the hotpot talking to orlaith, one of the residents.  neither of us want to leave, and she wants to come back, so i was passing on hints.

and then it was time to pick up francis from the bus, but i’d left my house key at home so i couldn’t get the car to go get him, and the bus was 10 minutes early anyway, so we walked, and he had his set of keys (the one from under the mat), so everything was fine.  and now there’s a chicken and potatos in the oven, and connor is out playing with his friends, and francis is just up from his nap, and i’m done writing this.

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