Posted by: jeanne | July 15, 2019

on our way back home

two of us = a beatles reference, it accompanies me in my head every time i go on the road.

tuesday. we’re in the air, about to start our descent to new york. i’m expecting extreme heat, but the pilot says 70s (of course, that was at 7am, so we’ll see).

connor insisted on carrying dany’s backpack, which was almost as big as he is

but back to saturday. our friend dany came to stay, taking over the house until unnar gets back (which she should be back because i’m finishing this part up on the 9th).  we got dany from kaffi klara and brought her to the house.  connor helped with her backpack because we’re leaving the next day.  what a sweetie.

then we went to ida’s for dinner with all the other temporary residents of our little town.  i took all the leftovers i’d been nurturing, and some the sausages svanfridur gave me (she stopped me on the road when i was going to the pool that last day, and gave me a pillow case with a plover on it – harbingers of spring.  how wonderful.  thanks svanfridur for everything)

part of the hillside that has been spared from cutting

we all sat around, people from 4 different countries, and made dinner – barbecue, which is not like american southern pulled pork with sauce, but skewered and grilled meat and vegetables.  onions, peppers, zucchini, chicken, with some hotdogs.  it was delicious, with exotic ice cream bars afterward (mine was a chocolate covered vanilla ship with a dollop of jelly in the middle).  it was after 10 when ida drove dany, connor and me back to unnar’s house, and we went to sleep very soon after that

i’d packed all that day, and cleaned, and let connor spend the day saying goodbye to his friends and playing on the hoppabelgur, or the bouncy as he called it.

a hoppy thingie

i went on my final walk about town, dropping various things off with various people.  i passed the house i want to buy, tho that’s a ludicrous position for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it needs a bunch of work.  for some reason it has disappeared from the listings, but that could have several causes, and i live in fantasy, i mean hope.  and a reliance on miracles.

on sunday, i got up early and went to kaffi klara for breakfast with dany, who is taking over at unnar’s house. she arrived late on saturday and we all had dinner at ida’s house, a barbeque. i brought the remaining everything from the house, leaving only svanfridur’s lovely lamb cutlets in the freezer.

after breakfast i went and got connor up, and brought him down to the cafe, and waited until gummi completed his rounds of the campgrounds (which he runs), and soon after that we got a lift with bjarni and gummi (thanks, guys) to akureyri.

my last look before leaving the fjord

it’s an hour to akureyri, and just before you get to dalvik there’s this cute little house. i’ve painted it before.  i had to take the phone away from connor at this point in order to get the shot.  he was texting his friend lilja using repeated emojies.

bjarni went straight to the airport for us, so i could drop off our bags, and then we took the kaffi klara taxi back to downtown akureyri where they dropped us off around noon. it was quite cold and windy, maybe 38f with spits of rain, where it had been in the upper 70s the previous couple of days. (the next morning, my facebook feed showed snow on the mountains of olo that night

the mountains on the eastern, dalvik side of our fjord

connor and i wandered around the walking/shopping street looking for souvenirs to give as presents – keychains and stuffed animals.

there was nobody around on the shopping street, and the trolls were tucked under an awning to avoid the mist

he’d been saving up his change, and decided to spend it on gifts instead of candy, partly because he hadn’t managed to eat all the candy i bought at duty free when we first arrived. i was trying to arrange a meeting with karolina, an artist with kaktus gallery and also teaches at menntaskolinn. she wasn’t busy, but my schedule kept changing moment to moment.

he just casually appeared around a corner with a hat and battle ax

(we were supposed to meet vivian, who had been at listhus for the month of june, and she was taking the bus from olo at 2. she’d confessed that she had not been to the pool the whole month, and we thought that was a crime, and suggested she join us there.) so we got a hotdog at the stand – i got an akureyri hotdog (with red cabbage) and connor got a hotdog with baked beans and bacon, and we stood and ate it in the drizzle.

and then we thought we’d go to the pool, but when i checked my small backpack i discovered that i’d packed the suits in a different bag. so we had to find a taxi and go back to the airport. it was well after 1 at this point.  i left connor with the driver and easily found our suits, and when i came back, they had made friends and were talking, even tho the driver’s english and connor’s icelandic was rudimentary. on the way back, he slowed way down (as did everyone else) while we passed an entire clutch of geese and ducks who were walking along the side of the road, and the driver excitedly pointed out the chicks to connor, who got a big kick out of seeing them. we talked about the inadvisability of getting out to pet them.

i kept trying to arrange a meeting with karolina. we were going to meet at 12, then 2, then the swimsuits, then 4, no, 4:30 while we went to the pool. she suggested the bar at the backpackers hostel, so we had that part settled right away.  but the time kept changing.  so we went to the pool after getting the swimsuits, and it was sprinkling a cold gentle rain.  but we didn’t care as we trudged up the very steep hill to the pool.  (and that’s why there’ll never be rental motorized scooters in iceland – too many steepnesses for little puttputts)  it was a big place, with chinese tourists in front of us handing american dollars to the ticket seller, who explained he couldn’t give any icelandic change back, but they didn’t care.  since we bought a pass in olo, we weren’t used to paying, but it was easy enough with plastic, and i rented a towel, too.  connor and i went into the girl’s locker room, even tho he’s now past that age, and got ready, took our showers in a big shower room with everybody else, ignored everybody else and their unique body shapes, put on our suits and trekked over the wet tiles down a corridor to the great outdoors, still raining gentle cold rain on us.  but did we care?  i went straight to the hot pot, and connor fairly raced over to the two giant slides.

for the next two and a half hours he was in heaven.  he must have raced up the 60-some-odd steps to the top of the slides over fifty times.  he always ran up, waited in the back of the line (the tower was enclosed in glass and wet people are perfectly comfortable as long as the wind can’t get to them), and then invariably chose the ‘toilet’, the slide that whangs you down into a centrifugal force bubble, and then spins you around until you’re slow enough to drop into a black hole that then dumps you into the tank.  it takes about a minute.  he would come howling down out of the tube, splash over to the side, climb out and then run back to the stairs, outmaneuvering everybody to get to the top as fast as possible.  he absolutely loved it.  i, on the other hand, enjoyed the hell out of five of six hotpots (i didn’t go in the baby pool, tho it’s undoubtedly a real joy to float in – seriously, there’s some hidden spa experience in each pot in every pool), never thought of swimming a length, and spent extra time under the shoulder massage jets, rather bruising my back as i found out later.)

he’s working on dreadlocks at this point. you should see my hair. we didn’t bring a brush with us, and went swimming every day

at 4:30 we were to meet both karolina and vivian at the backpackers.  i ordered a guinness because they serve them, connor had a hot chocolate, karolina had a latte, and vivan had tea, and then connor and vivian went off to another table to look at videos and make snapchat selfies.

and karolina and i talked about making a huge art show in olo, and finding a really good muralist to make a really good troll to go somwhere in the town.  and then she was off to another meeting, and we needed to eat before going to the plane.

so it was off to the akureyri curry house, where they remember me, to eat lamb curry and naan bread.  connor ate a chicken sandwich and fries from the chipper next door.  and then we took a taxi to the airport, and all three of us collected our bags from storage and checked them for the 8:50pm flight to reykjavik.  it was cloudy most of the way.  it was short.  did i doze?  did i whip out the laptop and write some of this???

toward saudarkrokur?

runa was waiting at the airport, and we dragged everything to the bus stop. then connor said he had to pee, so we had him duck behind the shelter in some bushes and try to not pee on the elves.  then a bus ride to the other side of town, and a change to another bus serving a subdivision of apartments covering a hill.  where runa’s sister lives but is away for awhile and runa is housesitting.  so we stayed there.  connor and runa went back out to the store (open until midnight) and i collapsed on a memory foam mattress, stopping only to set my alarm and dig out my travel pillow, and fell asleep.

monday.  up betimes.  6:45am, just ahead of the alarm clock.  out the door and to the bus stop in good time for the rehash of the trip the night before, back to the airport to pick up the rental car.

interesting progression of images near hlemmur

i got there right before 8, when the desk opened, and had a nice $5 cappuchino, then waited until ten after and picked up the desk phone to call somebody at the agency.  the guy arrived at 8:30 (but that’s iceland), and took care of me, and got me on my way just as two more customers began to hover behind me.  a little car with a stick shift, just the kind of thing i want to drive pretty much anywhere.  i got back to the house and everyone was still asleep, so i made myself coffee, had a slice of cheese, and maybe even wrote some of this blog, or called jim, waiting for a sound from either bedroom.  but it was 10:30 when i broke the silence, because we were supposed to meet unnar at 11:30 for an early lunch.  i’d already messaged unnar about it, and we’d pushed it back an hour.  so connor could have his time on his tablet, and runa could have her cup of tea and fit herself into her human body (we sleep as trolls).

eventually we got downtown, found free parking a bit of a walk into town, and walked to the restaurant.  unnar was aready there, so we wasted no time grabbing plates of sushi off the train an slurping it down.  connor had chicken teriaki and a bowl of rice.  we were so busy talking that i forgot to get a picture, but we spent a bunch of money and ate a whole lot of fish and rice.  we hadn’t seen unnar since she went off away from olafsfjordur, and she’d been very busy doing festivals and teaching and walking tours and hanging out with her parents.  she’ll be one more week doing stuff, and then it’s back to olo for her.  summers can be so frantic.

icelandic old and new architecture

an interesting tar-like texture on the metal statue, and because it’s practical, a block below so people can scramble up on his back

we all piled into the car and left for ragga’s house in the country.  it takes about an hour, and it was a beautiful cloudless blue day, so first runa put her seat down, then connor fussed and complained until he fell asleep, and i was left to drive thru the wondrous landscape.

when i got there, i left them sleeping, and went to say hello.  that’s when i met the new dog, bangsi, that ragga got under exactly the same circumstances i’d been hoping for myself – someone gave him to her – a wonderfully friendly and unbelievably unyappy icelandic sheepdog.  i so want one, universe, just saying…

we had a great time talking and drinking coffee.  connor had a few cookies, and runa and i talked to ragga while connor talked to the dog and chased chickens.   and then it was after 6, and we had to go.

we got back to hlemmar, where vivian was waiting with a bag of chili fries.  the smell of the potatos filled the little car, and we were all instantly hungry.  but then she explained with a giggle that she had dumped a whole lot of chili powder on the fries and maybe we shouldn’t have one.  connor had one, of course.  and we didn’t have any water for him, poor thing.  the smell of the chili was so intense that my eyes watered, and we had to have the windows down while we navigated over to the pool.  it was pretty damned good.  connor and vivian went down the slide/river contraption many times, while runa and i sat in various hot tubs and jacuzzi pools.  there was a steam bath, and a fountain jetting hot water, the opposite of one we have in atlanta, and a cold pot with some real hard asses who lounged in the stuff, brrrrrrr.

then it was 10pm, and the pool closed, so we got dressed and dropped vivian off at her hotel, and then needed dinner that was more then chili fries.  but it’s reykjavik, and even tho it’s broad daylight, people have to sleep. we headed to the bar district down by the waterfront, but the kitchens were closed. there was one place, and we were cautioned that the kitchen was closed but the guy would make us a pizza.  so we did that.  and it wasn’t bad, but it was kind of skimpy on the toppings.  but hey, they fed us, so it was great, and i tried not to mind the heartburn later.  ida’s pizzas are better.

then it was home to runa’s sister’s, quick call to jim while drinking a guinness (thanks, runa), and set the clock for evilly early.  it was 2:30 in the morning.

tuesday. i got up at 6:30.  connor, however, did not.  he’d been up until whenever playing on his tablet, and i had to drag him out of bed and insist he go pee – n really, wake up and pee.  i had to take him downstairs to the car by the hand, because his eyes weren’t really open.  runa was up to say goodbye, but went back to bed.  connor was asleep before i had his belt fastened.

so i drove to the airport.  it’s an hour drive, and once you’ve driven it, it’s pretty much the same road every time.  there are no surprises, except how much shorter it is than it was the last time.  by now i have my favorite spots, the ones i would make a painting of if only i could stop and get proper photos.

there wasn’t much traffic, we filled up right before the airport and it was too early to go thru the grocery store even if we’d had checked luggage and could’br braught home, say, a leg of fjallalamb.  with everything fitting nicely into 3 bags, it felt easy to give the car back, we got a lift to the terminal, we got swept by checkin, and were there hours early.

running off the energy before going thru security

we saw the same security guy twice, once when he asked all sorts of questions – and what does a mural artist actually do when they paint a mural on the wall – and once at the gate when he asked the usual questions about having been given something to take on board.

we found a brand new wool and silk scarf on the floor right on the other side of passport control, so connor went around and asked likely women if they’d lost their scarf.  he was a big hit with the ladies, and his ears turned red, but nobody claimed the scarf, so it’s a present for mommy, i guess.  thanks nameless passenger, i hope you weren’t too flustered.

we cruised thru the bookstore, and got coffee, and went to the bathroom, and wandered to the gate, where they were ready to board, and it all took very little time to get on the plane and get settled.  we were in the very last seat.  and while we were waiting to get onboard, connor decided he really needed to go to the bathroom, so i dropped him off at the front door of the plane and headed back to steerage assuring the attendants that he could find our seat, which he then reeled off like a pro traveller.  they were impressed.

so they brought him chips and got him a drink, offered him earphones.  they’ve started giving out hot steaming towels again, a perk i always love.  they had wifi, too, but i couldn’t actually send any messages, so maybe not.  connor toodled thru the movies and games, and settled on the boy who would be king.  i turned on a few serious drama things that i couldn’t hear because of the engne noise, and then found the lego movie second part.  food for him was fried chicken pieces with idk something vegetable and starch.  mine was halal food, and they gave me kofte, my favorite, with beans and a salad.  i do enjoy eating special meals with the airlines, tho you have to be careful what you choose if you want something edible (don’t get bland if you can help it), given the current standard in airline food.

it was cloudy even at 30,000+ feet, so we kept the shades down and watched movies, and connor played his tablet and watched a movie at the same time.  when the clouds opened up we were over brunswick maine, looking a lot like the shore of iceland, except we were way higher than when iceland looked like that from the window.

it was about noon when we landed at jfk.  i’d switched out my sim card, so we called mommy, and then checked in with jim, but there was all this bustle of people getting thru immigration, and we got put into a special line because the machine couldn’t read my passport, and welcome to new york.  then it was 2.

we dropped everything off at left luggage after changing into our summer wear, then took the subway to brooklyn heights.  our first object was food, so we went to the same place we’ve been going to for over 30 years, and i got the lox and bagel as i always do, and connor remembered getting french toast, so that’s what he had, and actually ate an entire doublt-thick piece with butter and syrup.  we promised we’d be back for coffee and hot chocolate after we found a playground, and went on down the shady side of the street, stopping to look at the apartment building where i’d lived all those 30+ years ago.

the playground is likewise where it has been all this time, and we walked down the promenade to get there.  the place had kids in it, and their nannies, and the women were all talking like they do every day, and the kids were all playing with each other or with a bunch of molding toys that are always there (left outside in brooklyn, notable for the fact that they’re actually left outside long enough to get moldy. without being stolen.  says something about a place.)


connor found someone his age-ish to play with, a rather mean girl who kept cheating as they raced each other around the parklet. when she freaked out and went to her nanny for comfort, we took our leave, connor hoping she felt better.

we went back to the restaurant and had our drinks (and were able to use the bathroom, more to the point).  then we walked over to the other side of city hall into the commercial district and went hunting for fabrics.  because 30 years ago, when i lived there, i found a shop that sold afrian wax fabrics (made in china but), and bought a bunch of lengths as curtain material.  and it was still there.  so i dragged connor along thru a very busy and lively section of brooklyn, not staid and green like brooklyn heights, but way more real.  in brooklyn heights, the real consisted of old people limping around on their walkers, denizens of the neighborhood for 60 years.  in the jay street district, there were hundreds of different nationalities making their way down the shopping street, having their version of a good afternoon in not too horribly hot weather.  we had to ask where the subway stop was, and people were glad to tell us just how to go.  i got my fabric – 3 yards of orange and blue patterns for $16.  cash only

back on to the subway.  he was getting tired, so he sat and rocked in my arms all the way back to the airport.  probably sleeping.  while i was waiting in line to get our luggage, he wandered off to pet a dog that was kind of like lily, and told his sad story to the lady.  on our way to our terminal, we met two more dogs on our train, so connor was spread pretty thin.

we ended up at the same gate as our flight last time we did this, and settled in.  connor was on his tablet, and charging it too.  i called jim, and wandered around and waited.  the plane was over 20 minutes late getting in.  i kept texting mikie about this, as we were late loading, and then we had to sit in our seats on the tarmac for over an hour.  and nothing was announced, because this was new york and they’re always an hour late taking off.

at this point even connor has had enough.  he curled up in my lap and went to sleep.  it was only an hour’s flight, and we sat in a queue on the ground for longer than it took to get to dc.

he was dead asleep when we landed, so i let everybody else off and then guided his sleepwalking form down the gangway and out to the nearest free wheelchair we could find.  they were turning the lights off in the terminal as we finally found the right direction to get to the car rental booths.  and i ended up in the wrong line and only found out 20 minutes after coming to the back of the line.  the real rental agency was up in the garage, where there was nobody in sight, and a bunch of bewildered renters who wanted to be served at once.

we finally got our car.  we had reserved a convertible – don’t ask me why it was the cheapest car available – but by this point i just wanted to have something i could safely drive my kid home in, so i got a camry.  it was fine, with lumbar support.  connor was asleep.  mikie was asleep.  i stopped at storage and retrieved our travel things (shorts, thin blankets, my pillow), then snuck in at mikie’s.  connor went striaght up to the room upstairs and plopped down on the kid mattress on the floor.  he was mostly asleep.  i had to make him get up and pee.  but he was out.  i followed shortly

wednesday.  then it was 5:45, and i could see dawn thru the curtains, so i woke connor up, make him pee, and hustled him downstairs to where mikie had left some things that susie had left for him to give me, collected that, and snuck out of the house.

connor went to sleep; i stopped and got coffee, and we were on the road.  connor slept until about 10, so i got a good piece down the road before i had to begin stopping frequently.  it was good driving weather, in the upper 70s for a good few hours.  we had the windows down, and buffs on our head to keep our hair out of our eyes.  tho he was continuously charging his tablet, it maintained 1% for most of our trip.  around lunchtime, i started to get really tired, so used some of our frequent stops to take a nap in the shade, while connor played on his tablet.  when i got up, we got out so i could stretch my legs, so we could pee, and he could run around.  he seemed unsure on the concept of running around, preferring to stand around complaining about the heat.  but we walked to the top of a steep hill, and that was good enough for him.

after 3 such naps, and then a good lunch at a truck stop, we were past knoxville and heading straight home – 6 hours with only bathrroom breaks and no running around.  it was okay.

we finally got home at 9pm, and the temperature outside was 90f, something i hadn’t seen since last summer.  it was dripping, and the air was thick and hard to breathe.  and it didn’t smell fresh – it still smelled like new york city subway in moments.  but we were home, ready for a dog walk, a guinness, and bed.

thursday was my (first) recovery day, when i practiced sleeping early and often.  it’s actually monday of the following week – no wait, two weeks later, and i’m still sitting on the porch recovering.  it’s something i consider restorative rather than lazy.  and i’m working on several small watercolors of scenes i’ve been wanting to paint in iceland.

everything has been unpacked, and instead of diving into my usual load of things to do (the etsy page, the art database, organizing to renovate the studio), i’m enjoying sitting on the porch, and taking naps, and drinking a guinness.  it might be 90f on the porch, but it’s my porch, and there’s a ceiling fan on it, and i’ve got a blanket around my legs to ward off mosquitos, and even tho i miss everything about iceland, it’s in a different universe, and i’m back in my local universe now, where priorities are different.

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