27 October 2005

Pool ladies

Part of the experience of going to the pool is seeing the regular crop of pool ladies that work there. There are the desk ladies and the locker room ladies, and it seems that there is rarely a cross-pollination of the two groups. You know you are part of the society here when the desk ladies at your favorite pool know you have the Árskort and queue up your token before you’ve even opened your wallet. Inside the locker room, the pool ladies sit behind glass or somewhere up on high where they can see when the tourists don’t follow the “wash yourself!” signs and chase them back into the showers. In Laugardalslaug they sit in their little room full of bins of forgotten goggles, towels, and jewelry. They’ve got stacks of magazines in there and a radio, and the instant the weather turned crisp and autumnal, they pulled out their knitting projects. Now, almost every time I go to the pool, someone is working on a mitten, a baby sweater, or a hat. Sometimes they even sharing the project, passing it back and forth between rows as they talk about whatever pool ladies talk about in their long day full of puddles and steamy water.

Every now and then they pull on the rubber boots and go slosh around some water, hosing down the floors, mopping up the wet footprints from the visitors that don’t follow the “towel yourself off before going into locker room” sign (they will chase you down for disobeying that one too). They also spend a lot of time showing people how to use their lockers, or shining flashlights into the lockers when people have lost their keys and don’t know where they left everything. I’ve even seen them turn on the shower for a confused 8-year old, and for this they even have a special extendo-grip pole so they can turn it on without getting wet themselves. These women are a diligent lot. They are hosting buckets of industrial-strength soap to fill the reservoirs, collecting forgotten shampoo bottles, and dealing with backpackers that try to hide their backpacks in the bathroom stalls, and they still manage to knit in three colors during their moments off.

I wonder if there is a hierarchy of pool ladies, if the ones that work at Laugardalslaug get major respect from the ones that work at Vesturbær for their ability to deal with the high traffic and higher percentage of tourists. The Vesturbær pool lady (only one in that locker room) doesn’t have to deal with scenes like last time at Laugardalslaug when there were about 50 English schoolgirls saying things like “Fiona, these aren’t my tights, they have bobbly bits all over them” and leaving eye makeup pencils everywhere. These women are the reason the locker rooms here are so tidy, and maintains the Icelandic pool status as “best í heimi”.

Ship report: Þerney RE-101 is in the slippur for a scrapedown and paint job. This boat is in the right place with an ID number like that, since the shipyard is also in the 101. We also witnessed the transfer of a fully loaded cargo ship on the way to the port in Hvalfjörður. It had to come almost out to Akranes, do a full 180 degree turn, and head back in to get around Kjalarnes.

25 October 2005

Áfram Stelpur!

Yesterday I did participate in the Kvennafrídagur festivities as I had planned. The day was crisp and clear (good Snæfellsjökull viewing from the living room!) and on my way downtown I enjoyed scufffing in teh last remaining leaves on the sidewalk. I stopped to say hello to one of the tabbies that lives around the corner, and looked for signs that a Big Gathering was happening in town. The most excitement I saw on the way down was an old fellow out painstakingly painting his front windowsill with the company of a black tuxedo cat curled at his toes.

When I came to Hlölli, the stage was set up there, and a few women stood around, but for the most part it seemed only slightly more crowded than normal, just minus the skateboarders. I continued up Austurstræti, past a few road blocks and once again, just normal-looking foot traffic for a Monday afternoon. By now I was starting to wonder if I'd come on the wrong day, but as I climbed the hill on Bankastræti, the wave started to surge down the hill. Suddenly the street was choked with women, pouring from both Laugarvegur and Skólavörðustígur and compressing together around me. Some carried signs, some pushed prams, some banged pot lids together, and a lot of them looked old enough to have been flag-waving members of the first movement 30 years ago. I turned and followed the crowd, listening to the hum of conversation, watching the befuddled tourists taking pictures, their duty-free woolshop bags in hand.

I made it back down to Hlölli to snag a prime spot in front of the stage, where I saw my co-worker G and her choir singing. Every one of the 100 something women in the choir was decked out in lopapeysa with pink accessories. On either side of them swarmed film crews, cameramen, and guys hooking up speakers for the later events. In front of us on the Tryggingamiðstöðin roof, more cameramen staked out the view from above. Inside the building I could also see the faces of the men still at work inside pressed up against the windows.

After the music there were speeches, more music, curious theatrics, and more speeches. I had heard the crowd was supposed to be big, so I did a tour around the immediate downtown area, and it was like I was back at (my single-sex) university. Every café was crammed with women, every shop was full of browsing women. There were women everywhere, and the few guys that turned out looked self-conscious, like they knew they were being observed. I completed the circle with coffee that was being passed out in front of the insurance office, but by then the growing shade was starting to have an effect on me.

Due to my prime location, I was probably in background shots for all kinds of tv news, but scanning the headlines didn't turn up anything. It was hard to really get an idea of the scale of the crowd, packed in as we were, so I had to turn to the morgunblaðið website to find out the real statistics. Turns out it was as big as the independence day crowd of around 50 thousand, and what I didn't know was that it happened in towns all over the country, like Ísafjörður, Akureyri, and a previously unknown-to-me town called Siglufjörður.

Overall, although I only understood the parts of the speeches that were newly-learned grammatical constructions like "Núna, ætla ég...." (now, I intend...) it was still really cool to be part of the huge crowd, and I was able to understand the main message of the event, áfram stelpur!

Ship sighting: When I went to take my daily photo of Akrafjall yesterday afternoon, there was a huge cargo ship perfectly centered in a sunsplash at the base of the mountain. It's not often I see one of those actually in motion, so it was an impressive addition to the photo with the two cranes folded in like insect legs against the low-riding body.

24 October 2005


Today is the 30th celebration of Kvennafrídagur (women's free day), and there is going to be a re-enactment downtown this afternoon.

In 1975, all the women in the city got up from their desks and left their jobs in the early afternoon, to indicate the difference in salaries for men and women. Their reasoning was they were being paid only a percentage of what the men were earning, so they should only work for that percentage of the day. I found a website that lists the activities of the original day, complete with speech transcripts. I am told that today there will be 30-50 thousand women downtown, and just like the original day, there will be song singing, a parade, and speeches. Kind of like sautján júni (independence day) in scale, but only women.

This website has an English explanation of the event, as well as more photos of the size of the crowd at the first one (for those of you that have not seen the scale of this place, this kind of crowd is a Big Deal). They've covered the bases linguistically- there's even an Arabic version, the first time I've seen that for an Icelandic website.

Ship sighting: Yesterday as we were eating breakfast, we saw the Pride of Iceland, Engey RE-1 (still not in skipaskra) sailing out to sea for her 40 days. I also spent the entire length of the choral movement of Beethoven's 9th watching boats, birds, and cloud patterns on Saturday morning. It's a great combination.

20 October 2005

Wish you were here

Tomorrow is an exciting day for my loom. After being packed away months ago, it is being loaded onto a ship in Massachusetts, and making a leisurely trip to Iceland. I think it will stop in Virginia and Nova Scotia before it comes this way. It's the first sea voyage for this most-loved of objects, and I am excited to think of having this way to express my inspiration again. Never did I think I'd be weaving with a view of icy Reykjavík waters outside the window. I am sure it will be quite inspiring.

In other wishing-you-were-here news, I discovered a brand of skin cream (or should I say "skyn" cream?) that thinks living here means never being stressed. Glad they think so. It seems to have been developed by someone with sage stress-busting advice such as, "don't skimp on sleep"(fall 2005 newsletter) that has no visible connection to the Land whatsoever. At the very least, the pictures are nice, and they have a handy-dandy screensaver for those days when your eye cream isn't working well enough and you have to look at soothing images of waterfalls "in their natural habitat." Yes, the site talks about the natural habitat of waterfalls... I suppose un-natural waterfall habitats would be corporate lobbies or something.

Ship Sighting: more fish unloading, as usual. Steinunn was there again, listing horribly away from the docks. I think someone forgot to take the cod out of her starboard hold. I think this blog may start to become a saga of codfish unloading, proof of the continued truth of the proverb, "lífið er saltfiskur" (life is salt-fish). Bloggið er saltfiskur.

18 October 2005

Jólin Koma

Iceland doesn't have any major holidays between now and Christmas, so Christmas gets fired up early here. We are starting to see the Jólahlaðborð (restaurant christmas buffet) ads on the backs of all the busses and even special Jólaöl (christmas ale) is now available at the grocery store. People are also planning and taking their shopping trips to other countries to stock up on cheaper goods. It's Christmas mania!

It's going to be strange to have this much build-up, but I guess with Christmas lasting for the whole 12 days until Advent, you can spend a few more months getting excited about it. In preparation I have been working on singing in Icelandic at Hallgrímskirkja and J and I are doing our own Trip to Cheaper Lands in the beginning of December.

From what I hear, you really need the cheer and bright lights of the holiday more than in a lot of places. I can imagine that as the darkness pinches away the light, the idea of Jólasveinarnir peeking in at the window starts to seem more logical.

Ship sighting: Lots of activity at the harbor this morning unloading fish, but I couldn't see any of the names. Apparently I missed an opportunity to get a tour of the Flagship ship of Iceland, Engey RE1, this weekend. It's due to sail this evening so I won't see it for another 40 days (how Biblical of them to be on a 40-day sailing schedule). Still, I take comfort in the strange yellow looks-like-a-cargo-ship that is always hanging out on the edge of the view. I haven't been able to figure out what it's doing but I see it lounging in various corners of the harbor, and at all times of day. Definitely a bit of a shady character.

17 October 2005

New features

The boat thing seems to be taking over the blog and I have developed a daily obsession with finding out what's new at the harbor, so I've decided to give in and change the name of my blog.

J and I spent the day in the house reorganizing and moving furniture (diagonal couch! Crazy times) which meant that we could see the ponderous progress of all the boats in and out of the city today. There's a lot to be seen on a Sunday, with the whale-watching boats, tugboats, and of course, the fishing ships.

We saw Vigri on the way in and then later in the day we were driving around the docks and saw the ship tied up and unloading. Families had driven down to pick up their seafaring members, and the boat was disgorging strapping fellows lugging bags and suitcases. This boat was beautiful, definitely reflecting its relatively young age, showing almost no rust and a fresh, creamy paint job. Clustered around it was the lineup of other ships, groaning with nets, and the unloading cranes and forklifts hummed around to pull down the freshly-caught load of fish.

Later in the day I discovered that the Associated Icelandic Ports website lists all the ships due to arrive or depart the harbor today. It showed Vigri had arrived much earlier than the anticipated 18:20, and listed the Flutingaskip Reykjafoss (cargo ship Reykjafoss) due in at 22:00.

About 10 minutes ago I went to the window, and against the meager lights of the farms at the base of Akrafjall, I could make out a stretch of moving lights. There she was, Reykjafoss in all her illuminated glory, bound for the docks at Kleppsbaka. I am going to have to check this site daily now, just to make sure I don't miss anything exciting. Who needs TV with all these goings-on outside the window?

Ship report: I think you've had enough boat talk for today :-)

16 October 2005

Food mysteries

One of the things that has always mystified me is the unusual selection of food products in the grocery stores here. There's plenty of national pride in the dairy section, and the Sláuturfélag Suðurlands can always be relied on for a good meat product, but what about the canned goods, the shampoo, and the laundry soap? When I started to look at things, the variety was astounding. I've seen drinking straws from Greece, our favorite spicy bottled sauce, Nando's, is from South Africa (this one always makes us hum "Fernando" as we cook). The green peas are from Kenya, the canned tomatoes all have English prices printed on the labels, we buy Italian cornflakes, and panty liners have Arabic instructions. When I started to see Eastern European packaging for the shampoo, I had to find out what the deal was.

Most of the people I had asked had never thought about it. Much like I didn't spend much time thinking about what was available at the local Stah Mahket, these are the products they grew up seeing so they hadn't thought of it as much of a burning question. I finally found the answer last week, and it's not too unexpected. Turns out the deal is that most countries require that products sold in the stores there be labled in the local language. Iceland's market is so tiny that they don't have similar requirements, just stating that there be labels in either English or another Scandinavian language. This has meant that occasionally we've had to cross-reference certain products in an attempt to figure out if it is exactly what we want. Laundry products are one of those challenges, since there are so many similarly-packaged liquids that perform different functions. After learning the Danish words for "fabric softener" and "hand washing soap" I am starting to understand why so many Icelanders can read so many other languages. It's the only way they can keep their clothes in order.

Actually, it takes me back to my first trip here a year ago, when I bought some tempting looking spinach balls at the store. When I turned the package over when I brought it home, J and I were lost in the sea of crossed o's and a's with circles on the top. I found a phrase with numbers in it, so I figured it must be the time they had to cook and followed the "instructions" for dinner. When I asked an Icelandic friend about it a few days later, turns out I was reading how many months they could be kept in the freezer, and the cooking instructions didn't have any numbers in it. The meal turned out great anyway, so I guess it wasn't much of a liability after all.

Ship report: Guðmundur is getting scraped down, and there's been a lot of fishing boat activity in and out of the harbor today. I've also got to get down to inspect the boats at the shipyard next to where Guðmundur is- these are all much smaller boats that make much slower progress. They're also not so conveniently close to the road, so a quick drive-by isn't enough to be able to see the names.

15 October 2005

Linguistic lessons

I am still quite new to Iceland, so the language is still mostly a mystery to me, but I cannot help absorbing words and wanting to know as much as I can as fast as possible. I have been absorbing vocabulary rapidly, but it is frustrating to know words but not know how to put them together.

Still, I am surprised how much I can read, in spite of my currently missing grammar knowledge. For example, I am watching a movie right now that is all in Spanish. It's subtitled in Icelandic (there's a combination I never thought I'd be trying to process...) but I am actually understanding what's happening and able to read the subtitles. Context makes such a difference, or maybe it's just the wine. Now, if only I could transfer this comprehension to on-the-spot processing when people talk to me, I'd be doing marvellously. Currently it's a bit deer-in-the-headlights with that.

I have also learned one of my most favorite ever word connections. The word Víking is everywhere in Iceland (inevitable, right?) so I started to wonder where it was from this summer after seeing the Víking beer ad on TV so many times. When it occurred to me that the word for "bay" is the same, such as Reykjavík (smoky bay) or Vík (you're on your own with that one) I figured there had to be a connection. I wasn't able to confirm this until Monday, when I talked to G, a local authority on the language, and J's first teacher. She's written the books that most people learning Icelandic will have to go through, and Icelandic language roots and construction is one of her favorite topics. When I asked her, she said that the two words were absolutely related.

How cool is that?


The past week here has been quite cold for October (yes, even by Icelandic standards, I'm told) which has meant snow in the morning, slippery streets, and hats and coats making an early appearance.

It also means that the weather is generally clearer, so we have been able to appreciate one of the joys of living near the Arctic Circle- the Northern Lights. I thought I'd seen good ones before but nothing has quite compared to the recent shows. I know the people who live here are somewhat accustomed to it but I am still not used to the sky glowing luminous ghost-green. The sheets of color leap upwards, disappear, then reappear to loop back on themselves, and with our expansive north-westerly view, we are able to see the whole show perfectly. It stretches the full expanse of our windows, and we have set up our bedroom so we don't even have to get out of bed to see it.

This is the ultimate in laziness, to have the explosion of eerie beauty there above the dark sea, and be able to experience it in the dark, secure comfort of our own bed. Ensconced in a feather duvet, it's a great place to be.

Ship report: Stefnir is out of the shipyard at work again on the seas, and Guðmundur has arrived. This ship looks to be the biggest one yet, although this is an informal assessment since I have not yet figured out which numbers are the length on Skipaskrá. Otherwise the docks seem quiet, although I have seen plenty of ships on the horizon at all times of day. I think I actually saw the Danish coast guard ship as it was leaving, and then fishing boats in the early morning or evening, when it is dark. I am getting quite good at identifying the configuration of lights on a fishing boat now.

10 October 2005

Insufficient processing time

This weekend was so full of activity that I don’t think it has caught up with my mind yet. It was full of colors, massive amounts of Icelandic input, and the gritty Icelandic landscape.

Yesterday we spent the day on Snæfellsnes with a friend (S) whose family has been in the area for generations. His grandfather (the oldest man alive in Iceland, over a hundred years old) bought the land in the 1920s and it has been part of the family since then. The land lies on the edge of Breiðafjörður, a hammer-shaped fjord that separates Snæfellsnes from the lower portion of the West Fjords. It is dotted with islands of various sizes and was apparently a pretty great place to live hundreds of years ago, since it was one of the few places you could always find something to eat and didn’t starve.

The intention of our mission was to catch fish, but this late in the year we weren’t sure there were going to be any. This plot of land is well-suited for it, with two rivers of different temperatures joining together before flowing into the fjord. We suited up in all the warm clothes we had, plus some borrowed shin-high rubber boots, and set out across the hummocky grass to the sheep fence. S said, “here is your first obstacle” as we toed our way over the barbed wire.

The second obstacle came soon after as we started wading across various bends in the river, the mud sucking at our boots. At one point the water was too deep for our boots, so S, fully suited in waders, had to piggy-back both of us across. Our destination was a bend in the river where apparently the fish like to sleep behind the rocks. We baited with mackerel and gave it a try, but no success was to be had. The point of the trip seemed mostly about the location though, as we stood below the snow-covered spine of Snæfellsnes with the sun filtering through the clouds. I realized that it was the first time in months, if not years, that I had been somewhere that it was impossible to hear a single car. We were far enough from the road that the once-hourly (if that) car was inaudible, and there are no distant highways in Iceland that can be heard from miles away. The most amazing thing about this is that it is only 2 hours away from where J and I live.

We then adjourned for lunch in the family summerhouse that had been built a few decades ago from the wood used to build car shipping crates. After lunch we tried a different location for the fish, and I decided to go for a hike out to the waterfall S had said was nearby. I had to first climb the hill up to the sheep pasture, through the wild blueberries, the red berries S said were called “mouseberries” and the waist-high grass the color of wheat. I climbed a few more fences and happened upon a pair of suprised sheep as I wallowed through the hummocks. The land oozed with water, so between some of the mounds of land I could hear the gurgling of narrow brooks (sprækur eins og lækur) that came straight from the ground.

I followed the sound of the waterfall across more pasture, before I came to the edge of the gorge. There was a separate fish-ladder on one side, and the cliffs were covered with more red blueberry bushes and tiny birches whose leaves were turning orange. Birds swooped across the gap and in the distance I could see the snow-covered mountains and the sprinkled islands in the fjord. When I returned from my walk, S and J had still caught no fish, so we walked down along the river to where the rocks were covered in seaweed and mussel shells and the high-tide mark was visible on the rocks.

The tide was fully out, so the three of us set out across the muddy tidal flats, strewn with kelp and snail trails. S told us stories of the islands in the fjord, but his words were snatched from his mouth by the fierce wind that had been blowing straight from the north all day. We skirted one island and caught a glimpse of our goal, a haphazardly tilted shipwreck the next island over. It had been abandoned there some decades ago by the owner, since the boat was worthless even as scrap metal by then. The ravages of the saltwater were evident on the hull, which must have once been as tidy as some of the ships I’ve been seeing in the shipyard in Reykjavík. Now it was deep rust-red, and flaking apart in sheets off the surface of the boat.

A rope was hung over the side so we hoisted ourselves up onto the deck, which was pitched at more than a 45 degree angle. By this time the sun was below the horizon so the wind felt even more chill as we leaned on this abandoned boat, unprotected in the middle of an enormous fjord. As we walked back across the tide-drained landscape, I had a newfound respect for the people that had lived here for so many centuries before. I had spent a whole day out fighting the wind, and I had had the benefit of modern clothing technology with my Goretex, my polypropylene, my (borrowed) well-sealed rubber boots. I also could look forward to a well-sealed, well-heated, bright house, plentiful food, and a hot shower. How must it have been to be out in this weather wearing clothing that probably never dried fully in the unpredictable weather of this land? What was it like to spend the whole day outside fighting to find food, only to look forward to a dark sod house at night? It’s no wonder people here are so unfazed by the weather and strangely proud of the peculiar national delicacies like hákarl. I have to also say that in a field test (yesterday) I also have concluded that the Icelandic wool was one of the other secrets of their success. The hat I made last year in Boston from wool I had bought here served me proudly.

Ship report: The wreck of the Orn was my boat for yesterday. I also see this morning that Helga Maria is out of the shipyard and back on the job. One other interesting boat fact I learned yesterday is that the school ship J and I were on in June was once the ferry that went to Akranes from Reykjavík. When the tunnel under Hvalfjörður was built the services of the ship were no longer needed and it became a school ship. That explains why it was so well-equipped to serve waffles though... Every good ferry seems to need a snack counter!

06 October 2005

Don't bother with the weather report

I like to know the weather. When I lived in Boston I was always looking at weather forecasts and satellite images, and religiously checked the temperature on my indoor/outdoor thermometer before I went out. I have tried to carry that habit over to living here, but have discovered it is pointless. The weather forecast for Iceland is almost exactly the same every day, and never really encompasses the variety of weather we get on a daily basis. Weather reports in June looked very much like weather reports in October as well. For example, the last five days have been "partly cloudy" but we have had near-downpours, high winds, perfectly clear, still weather, and rainbow-making half-and-half weather. The morning radio doesn’t even offer predictions beyond some general temperature suggestions for that day. With weather like this, it's no wonder I can never answer visitors when they ask what kind of weather they'll get when they come here. Just pack one of everything, and you'll be fine.

The kitchen at work offers an excellent view of where the action most often is going down- right over Esja and at the edge of the sea coast. Earlier this morning Kópavogur was bathed in gentle warm light, and the mountains of Snæfellsnes were erased from view by clouds. Now it is completely opposite, with the clouds lining up along the edge of Esja and the coast, and the snow-covered Snæfellsnes range to the north in crisp light along the horizon. The most remarkable thing about the clouds here is that there can often be no visible transition in or out of the clouds, so it sometimes seems like geographical features have been completely erased from the landscape.

Most people in the office make little notice of the changes though, except for one day when it went from sunny and still to window-shaking downpour in a half hour. That got a "finnt veður" from one person, but no clustering at the window to see the sights. The only weather that got people out of their seats was the first brief snowstorm a few weeks ago. I guess it is not worth noticing since it doesn’t really change anyone’s plans for the day or weekend. The pool is still open, kids still go to school, and people still go to work, regardless of the weather. The only time people take weather reports very seriously is if you are going to go driving somewhere remote and it’s late enough in the year for snow. Then people urge you to check the road conditions, make sure you have their phone number in case of emergency, and call to check up on you along the way. You’ve got to look out for each other in the highlands, I guess.

Boat report: Stefnir has joined Helga Maria in the shipyard, and is in the beginning stages of hull scraping. Other than that it seems to be fish unloading business as usual there, but not quite as busy yesterday.

05 October 2005

First filters

Every morning, J and I awake to the sounds of Rás 2, one of the national radio stations. It’s a curious blend of NPR-style reporting by a grave-voiced reader, mixed with music, some of which seems to be chosen solely for the low royalty costs. We have unknown songs by better-known singers, as well as music that sounds like it might be American but has never been played on any radio station I’ve heard in the States. They also, of course, play Icelandic selections as well, but those are more main stream and not worthy of as much comment as the eclectic American choices.

This musical medley is enriched by a few daily traditions, such as the 7 o’clock bell-ringing that makes it sound like you have your very own churchbells in the bedroom. Nothing shakes you awake better! After the bells, it’s time for Pálmi Jónasson to read the news. I often have the greatest Icelandic-language clarity during my pre-conscious fuzzy moments in the morning, so individual words will often glow clearly in the rattle of news-delivery speech. Sometimes they even read headlines from other newspapers around the world, so I will hear a “Boston Globe” or “New York Times”, and whenever they report on what the American president is up to, they will use clips of his speech with a convenient Icelandic voice-over masking some of his twang.

Some days though, when being here seems like a constant struggle of confusion, those first filters of Icelandic before I am awake are a slap of a reminder that I am somewhere that I don’t fully belong. On days like that I remember the WGBH guys, the “nine minutes past the hour” and the ease of processing what they are saying. I think of making cappuccinos in my Boston apartment as I caught the first rays of sun in my kitchen window and how early morning rugby practices in the Fenway fields sounded, and I miss it terribly.

For the most part though, hearing Icelandic first thing (or little-known American music) reminds me that I am here and why I wanted to move. My brain is actively absorbing information every day, and I delight in being able to understand just one more word than yesterday. Everything I see is that much more vibrant because it is still so new to me. I love that feeling and if I pay for it with a few moments of nostalgia or frustration, I am willing to do it.

Boat report: Helga Maria looks like she’s ready to go now- her paint job is done, and her name has been repainted. During one of the intermediate stages, it was actually possible to see that she had another name, a male name that had been applied in relief. I thought it was bad luck to change boat names but I guess it is ok with Icelandic fishing vessels, since her skipaskra photo shows she’s handling rough seas pretty well. The docks were also quite busy this morning with the unloading- there were fish boxes stacked 6 high in one place and trawler doors opening and closing as we passed. Another boat, Steinunn, has been around for a few days, but was riding higher in the water so I guess her load has been taken off too.

03 October 2005

What Sundays are for

It's all about the shopping. J and I spent a good portion of today stocking up on home appliances and other essentials, like milk whisking gagets. We started at Elko and picked up a marvel of German dryer engineering, the condensing dryer. This thing is full of bells and whistles, and instead of sending the steam out a hose to the outer world, it condenses into a bottle. These appliances are apparently quite commonplace here, and we had our pick of about 10 different styles. We went with the one that had settings for "cupboard dry" and "iron dry" since they were cryptic enough to go with our washing machine that is labeled entirely in Icelandic (and takes over 2 hours to complete a standard wash cycle)

Next stop was IKEA, where the locals were gobbling up shelves, dishes, rugs, and of course, the Swedish meatballs. That place is really effective at turning you around so many times, you forget where you are, and what you came intending to buy. Things like daybeds that have no place in your house start to look really cool and appealing, and you are struck with the desire to redo the kitchen and install those cool sliding appliance-hiding wall units. We managed to come out with only a few extra items, thanks to J's diligent list-maintenance, though we will have to take a few more trips to really finish off the house refitting.

Now we are in a frenzy of clothes-washiing after Mount Washmore in the laundry room started to topple this morning. It's still such a new luxury to have a fully equipped room dedicated solely to washing that laundry and mopping still seems kind of fun. We'll see how I feel about that in a few months...

Ship sighting: It's been a productive few days in the maritime department- I saw a dredger on the horizon this morning, Helga Maria is still in the shipyard but looks spiffy in a new Iceland blue paint job, and there's a big Danish Coast Guard ship in the prime slot. Today was probably a pretty rough day to be on the sea though. Our apartment is set back from the sea about 50 meters (60 yards) and the windows were covered in seaspray for most of the day. Even now as I write with the window open, I can hear the surf roaring against the seawall outside.