Aug 11 2010

Deep, deep breaths.

This is untouched.

Well, it’s cropped, but you know what I mean.

That kind of sky is fairly common here.  It feels good to breathe here.

Yesterday at lunch I was reading a little blurb in a paper about geothermal energy.  The blurb told me that there is as much geothermal energy available as there is energy available from coal, oil, gas and uranium combined.  As we were walking home from our post-lunch trip to the Vöffluvagninn (think perfect waffles with cream and jam), I looked down towards the harbor and the mountain across from us and took a deep breath.

Iceland is incredibly proud, and rightfully so, of its geothermal power.  Photos of Reykjavik in past decades show a city besmoked with coal.  Now, while only 25% of its current electricity comes from geothermal (the rest comes from hydropower) geothermal energy provides all the heating and hot water.  The place is so awesome that they heat their streets to prevent snow and ice from sticking.  The source?  Geothermal energy.  The result?  Clear skies.

How do I know Iceland is proud?  On our trip to the Golden Circle this Sunday our first stop was none of the golden things in the circle (Þingvellir where the first parliament Alþingi was established in the year 930 AD, the geyser Geysir from which all others get their names, and Gullfoss, which literally tranlates to Golden Falls).  In fact, it was to a powerplant.

Before we drove in we saw the piping that brings insanely hot water (over 200º Celsius) to the city.  That water isn’t hot water used directly by Reykjavik’s 200,000 residents, it’s used to heat the water they drink and use.

Where does that awesomely hot water come from?

You know, the hot earth and stuff.

The Nesjavellir Geothermal Plant is the second largest in Iceland.  I learned all this in a powerpoint presentation given in the station.  Then, we pretty much got free run of the place.  The 10-15,000 people on the bus with us viewed all the machinery and other cool stuff (sorry, I don’t know much about geothermal power plants).  The place was eerily empty, minus the small city of people with us.  In fact, the guy giving the presentation (which included shades lowering over everything, including a small conical skylight which Brett described as “awesome”) appeared to be the only person working there.  The shades clued me in that this is a country that is excited to share what it knows.

And it seems like the world should listen.  Here’s a map similar to the one we were shown in the presentation.  It, um, has the hottest geothermal regions marked.

geothermal.marin.org

When we saw that map I was all huffy and “So we’ll drill up there in the ANWR and ignore all that hot earth?  What about the porcupine caribou!? Grumble, grumble.”  I had a vision that this post was going to be a gentle screed at why the US lags behind.  Why we ignore the obvious.  Why we want to debate drilling off shore when maybe we should just copy these smart Icelanders.

And then I read some more.  Turns out the US is the largest producer of geothermal energy in the world.  Shame, shame Julie.  In fact, the 2009 power plant of the year (I know, right?) is a Utah geothermal plant built in just six months.  Since 2005 geothermal energy has been given all the tax breaks of the wind energy industry.  Now, most of these plants are in California and we’re probably not going to generate enough power to keep all the TiVos running on just geothermal energy.  But, we generate 15 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of geothermal power per year!  That sound impressive!  Oh. Wait. We use 29 PWh per year.  (What’s a PWh?  It’s big, that’s what it is.  If Kilo is 10³, Peta is 10 to the 15th power.) Crap, that’s a whole lot. And although the US population has doubled since 1950 our energy use has tripled. And, in fact, renewable energy only comprises about 7% of our energy capacity. Huh. Maybe a screed is needed indeed.


Aug 10 2010

Public Spaces, Public Art

I have things I like to take pictures of, especially when my passport’s got a new stamp.  Neon, repeating patterns, mopeds often catch my eye.  Graffiti, too, is a favorite.  As our train whizzed by towns in Morocco I was fascinated by seemingly infinite number of tags for “Fatal Tigers”.  Super scary street gang?  Nah, turns out Fatal Tigers is a soccer team from Fez.

The use of public space for art, whether wanted or not, is something we’ve talked about as we walk the streets.  They abound with visual treats.

Now, I am not implying that Reykjavik is some kind of artist paradise where creative folk roam the street with paintbrushes and palettes creating masterpieces.  There is plenty of the typical, slightly grubby looking tagged graffiti.

Still, it seems like public space is fairly fluid. A park was covered in colored tape, it seems ok to paint the sidewalk outside your business (like MANIA! has done).

There’s a fair share of politicized commentary.  We’ve seen a “Where’s Your Hate For The State” as well as “Nike La Police”.  I don’t know what it means to Nike the Police but it sounds anti-corporate/institution, no?

We even saw one piece that appeared to have a bit of a Bansky vibe.  If you haven’t seen Bansky’s stuff, it’s pretty sweet.  He’s done a piece in Chicago.  I’m not saying I know it’s Bansky, but the stenciling technique reminds me of him (and he’s worked here before according to this site).  And Sigur Rós had a whole stage design inspired by him.

The thing that’s been the most interesting is how hard it’s been to distinguish traditional graffiti (done on the sly, done illegally) from what appears to either be supported/commissioned wall art or folks just feeling inspired and starting to paint and nobody really minding.  It’s hard to do things under the dark of night when it’s light 23 hours a day.

For example, on a walk we saw a bunch of guys working on the side of the building.  Beers were open, scaffolding was up, spray paint was out.  It was 7:00 in the evening.

When we went back to see the finished project, which was on the side of the phenomenal public library, it had literary motifs (you may be able to see a certain delusory young man there in the corner).  Were they inspired or asked?

Some appears to be part of an advertisement for a business in that particular building, like the tie pictures from a few weeks back, or this piece on the side of a gallery.

Which became quite hypnotic the closer you got.

The Listaháskóli Íslands (Icelandic Academy of Art) is next door to our apartment and seems to whole-heartedly (and not surprisingly) embrace the use of public space.

And some does just seems like inspiration struck.  On our way home from the Pride parade we spotted a woman outlining on what appeared to be a boarded up building.

The final product?

While free-to-be-you messages and the like seem harmless, in 2008 the Reykjavik city council began actively fighting against graffiti.  Money (over 7 million dollars) and manpower was put towards stopping it.  Yet, at the same time, artists are provided supplies from the city at special events like Menningarnótt, culture night.  It’s unclear if the street art/graffiti now visible is the cleaned up stuff or if the city admitted defeat.

Some has a traditional tagging feel.

Some is playful.

Some is just plain beautiful.

And some has a little bit of everything.

So I haven’t quite figured out how the city and the graffiti artists play together.  If there’s a war still going on, it seems to be pretty mellow.  I’m glad the street art is holding its own.

After a month of wandering around while looking up, here are our two favorite pieces we’ve seen.


Aug 9 2010

Redemption

This is a story about sweet things.

After our trip to Seltjarnarnes a few weeks back we decided to walk to an ice cream shop rated by the Reykjavik Grapevine as An Institution.  This year in their “Best Of” issue they decided some places are so awesome they just didn’t need to compete anymore.  Ban Thai, our delicious neighbor, is an institution.  So is this ice cream joint.

The challenge is, Brett didn’t write down the name or address.  He did put a dot on a map.  So we walked and walked and walked. We magically caught the one bus that runs each hour in the far off lands we were in.  We were feeling confident.  But, when we got to the dot spot there was no ice cream.  No delicious treats.  Crestfallen, we walked and walked and walked home.  I gave Brett a bit of a hard time…a name or address would’ve helped a little.  He promised Ice Cream Redemption.

Tonight, it was time to make it happen.  We took the bus up to the same area but this time, this time we had an address.  And a name.  Ísbúðin Vesturbæ, which means something about being famous on the west side.

Now, it might not look intimidating.

But our entrance was anxiety inducing.  Lots of signs in Icelandic, lots of whirring of machinery.  A bunch of toe heads jumping up and down excitedly.  Apparently, young people were successfully acquiring ice cream.  We just didn’t know how or what.  There is something deeply troubling about a five year old being far more competent at something than I am.

While we waited in line, I went to scout toppings.  Some stuff looked like candies I knew, some other stuff looked eerily like this gross candy that a tour guide gave us yesterday.  Dear friends, you CANNOT call something a “sweet” when it tastes like menthol and medicine.  It’s illogical.  And, yet, meet Risa Opal.

(from nammi.is)

Don’t let that graphic retro label fool you.  The chewy cough drop candy makes Icelanders happy.  Me?  Not so much.

Why this concern?  Well, the candy here can be tricky, tricky.  Case in point?

This

does NOT equal

I don’t know what they do to their Skittle Fruits here but I do not taste the rainbow.  Maybe removing the word “original” makes the difference?  Brett and I feverishly trade flavors from the package we have in our apartment.  He fears the purple (I won’t dare call it grape).  I fear the orange (which I kind of have to call orange).

Tonight my candy radar was on high alert.  I went back and said “I think they have Snickers.”  We like Snickers and have done a taste test on Icelandic Snickers to make sure they don’t Skittles us.  They do not taste like menthol.  The jolliest man ever, parent of the two jolliest little tykes ever, laughed and informed us that we could have finely chopped Snicker OR coarsely chopped Snickers.  Things were looking way up.

Saint Ice Cream then went on to explain how the whole system worked.  We needed to pick regular soft serve or “old fashioned”.  His poetic description of old fashioned, that it was lighter and quicker melting and wildly popular, sold us.  He told us how to pick toppings.  He explained how to pronounce things.  Helpful for sure.

He even offered his favorite:  Turkish pepper or Tyrkisk Peber (which is a candy flavored with ammonium chloride and pepper.  Seriously, what is wrong with these people?) and strawberries.  They were all out of the Tyrkisk Peber so he went blueberry.  Apparently the next best flavor to ammonium chloride and pepper is blueberry.

Brett went first.  Oreo, stawberry, banana.  He was very pleased with his choice.


I was not.  Why?  Because I thought I was playing it so smart.  But what I thought was Andes Candies (or maybe After Eights?) was in fact Icelandic candy.  Noooooooooooo.  I got Skittled!

Devastated.  I tried to be cool and at one point said that I could just eat around the foul bastard candy.  And you know what happened?  My dear, dear husband walked right back in and ordered me a Snickers Þeytingur.  I don’t know how finely or coarsely chopped it was.  But it was grand.  So while the candy here might not be as sweet, the ending was.

Cheers.

Here’s a foul-mouthed link to a full Icelandic candy review done by souls with taste buds braver than mine.


Aug 8 2010

Portraits of Pride.

Yesterday was Reykjavik’s Gay Pride Parade. It was pouring at one. By two when the parade started, the sun was shining brightly and the crowds were thick with blond children and rainbows. Gay marriage was legalized on June 27 of this year so there is much to celebrate. Who was one of the first to get married? Iceland’s out Prime Minster Johanna Sigurdardottir.

Iceland, in general, has a delightfully open society. Reykjavik, in particular, embraces all kinds of love and all kinds of families. So much so that the mayor, Jon Gnarr (a former actor/comedian and leader of the Best Party) led the parade. In drag.

Rather than document everything and everyone we saw, here are some portraits of the day (Mayor Gnarr is first).


Aug 7 2010

Saturday Evening Post

A few select photos from our week.
Taken by me, curated & edited by Brett.

parking lot of Listaháskóli Íslands (Iceland Academy of the Arts) Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral, Reykjavik

Draggkeppni Íslands contest, Reykjavik

Draggkeppni Íslands contest, Reykjavik

Harnarúsið museum, Reykjavik

In the Collection of Imperfection – Unnar Örn J. Auðarson exhibtion

Harnarúsið museum, Reykjavik

Vanitas, Still-life in Contemporary Icelandic Art exhibition

Harnarúsið museum, Reykjavik


Aug 6 2010

What We B(r)ought.

Welcome to week four in Iceland and some insight into the trip.

In the hectic days leading up to our departure (two weeks after moving with a wedding in between), we tried to figure out what we might need for a month away. We’ve also had to purchase things.

Here’s a list.

Things We Brought

*Homey type items. A photo of our niece and nephew. Stella & Henry live on our fridge at home. We like seeing them everyday. A small picture of us and an Ira Glass finger puppet. A tiny buddha also randomly wound up in our camping gear. So he’s hanging out with Ira now. Our apartment is small, so putting these few objects out greatly enhances the hominess.

*Both laptops. I thought a great deal about not bringing my now-retired little MacBook. It shuts off whenever it wants. It’s wee. But with Brett working on the Big Guy, the Wee One allows me to peruse the New York Times, write, feel connected. I am very, very glad it’s here with us.

*Four boxes of Mac&Cheese. This is probably the most absurd thing we (read: me) brought. But, knowing that food was expensive here and not sure what awaited us (singed sheep’s head perhaps, or rotted shark?) it seemed wise to have one meal a week that signaled a calm and full belly. Likewise, a box of granola bars, came too. For snacks, for the week we’ll spend camping.
Sidebar: I’m eating Mac&Cheese as I write this.

*I snuck one can of Great Northern White Beans in. On Wednesdays at home, we make beans and bread and eat it on the couch before Brett heads to soccer. Though nearly killing our 50 lbs weigh in (they let us squeak past with 50.5 lbs) I was pleased as punch to tell Brett why we were over our weight limit.

*Cashews & Almonds. Makes many a meal a little bit better. This was very smart. Nuts (and dried fruit) are insanely expensive.

*Ukulele w/ tuner. Because I just can’t tune things.

*Toothpaste. In Morocco when our luggage was lost we were forced to purchase their version of Crest. It was herbal flavored. Brushing your teeth with thyme might sound awesome, but it isn’t. I wasn’t going to risk that for a month. Of course, the toothpaste here is totally plain and reasonable. But who knew?

*DVDs. I was all excited to remember to bring The Wire, which we’ve just gotten into and the other option we had from Netflix, Anvil (a bizarre documentary about an aging metal band). Turns out one DVD holds three episodes of The Wire. We’d already watched two. Bonkers. Also, we’ve learned that you can’t stream Netflix, or watch Hulu, or view anything on US networks’ websites internationally. That was a tough lesson to learn. iTunes rentals it is.

Things We Bought

* A drawing pad and charcoal for Brett. One goal of the trip was a chance to slow down and reconnect with our hobbies and interests that can get swallowed up in the everyday. He’s currently working on a puffin.

*A vegetable steamer. The veggies are kind of sad here…edible but small and slightly grey. So we bought a big old bag of frozen broccoli. What I thought was a steamer in our kitchen is actually a cheese grater. Cue purchase of actual veggie steamer.

*A spatula. No idea what a kitchen would hold. Our kitchen is fairly well stocked here and it had lots of good stuff, but nothing to flip grilled cheeses, a necessity.

*And, a noodle scooper. Brett fully believes noodles should be scooped with a special device.


Aug 5 2010

Our Night At The Opera.

Carmen and La Boheme were part of my childhood.  I know a bit about their arias, I adored Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of La Boheme (no idea if the critics did but the blue wash over everything made me giddy) when it came to LA.

www.fandomania.com

So last night, Brett and I traveled to Íslenska óperan.  In 2011 the opera will move to a fairly impressive glass behemoth near the Shore & Sculpture walk so I was glad to get to visit the original home.  By European standards opening in the 1970s doesn’t classify an opera house as old, but Iceland plays by its own rules.

So, opera.  In general, it involves outlandish costumes and lots of things happening in a foreign language.  My visits often include some confusion but on the whole a sense of entertainment and joie.  And this visit was nothing short of that…foreign languages, outre.

But dear friends, we weren’t there to see Rigoletto or Pagliacci.

We were there for the 13th annual Draggkeppni Íslands.  The Icelandic Drag Queen & Drag King contest.  Gay Pride 2010 officially starts today and last night was the unofficial kick off.

It was a fully Icelandic experience.  I don’t know what either of us were expecting but we had, truly, little idea what the hell was going on.  We tried to laugh and clap when others did.  The way Icelanders float in between Icelandic and English is pretty sweet.  They’d start a sentence in English, veer into Icelandic, then the punch line (which was over our heads) would be in English.  The fluidity was confounding and envy-provoking.

Here’s a run-down of the what went down.  It got incredibly crass at points and I’ve left that out….but we’ve got other photos if you’re curious.

It started with a comedian.  He was hilarious.  How do I know?

Get it?  There was a joke about bird hunting, Joan Rivers, and the English football team Arsenal.  That’s all I got (not the jokes, just those few words).

Then, the MC, here a Mistress of Ceremonies, made her appearance.  Tæra Bænks.  We were given a photo retrospective of, from what I could gather, things she likes.

These include jet skiis.

Snacks.

And herself.

Agreed.  Time for some Gaga!

With a little jab at the French, bien sûr.

There were three Queens and three (well, four) Kings.

The first Queen, Louise DiPaoli Mikael, was fairly standard.  Her moto is “Glitter makes life worth living.”  Amen, Louise.

She sang Marilyn, mixed it up with a lil’ Madonna at the end.

There was some kind of awesome judges box which was then viewable on the stage.

Tæra Bænks and Louise set the tone I thought would carry through the evening. Some glamour, some Gaga, some glitter. Oh BOY was I wrong.  Try two on-stage murders, some aggressive mustache shaving, and a wee bit of chaos.

The first King(s) was a tandem act, Freðinn og Tvistgeir (Sorry if that translates to something sassy.  I checked and it seems clean, but no idea if it is slang that Google translate would miss).  It was an Icelandic rap that involved something about YouTube.

They were a hit.

Their act centered around them, I think, realizing they were in love with one another. And also killing a person who popped up behind the table behind them. I’m not sure why the person needed to be shot (perhaps for discovering these two manly men were in love?), but the result was quite lovely.

Then Mary Fairy came on stage for a rather filthy interpretation of “Do Re Mi” from the Sound of Music.

It was clean for about ten seconds.

Rather than show her version, which was quite, erm, intense, here’s my substantially tamer version (I’m second from the left).

Next, a king, Donnie Marron (who is listed as being from El Paso. I don’t know if that’s a joke). He was an insane, I-just-broke-out-of-the-asylum king.

His dance was to “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!”  I never knew the “Ha-Haaa!” had a specific spelling and was part of the official title.  I also had no idea it is from 1966.

Oddly enough, it reminded me of a Loie Fuller performance, a muse of Toulouse Lautrec.

And then we were given a head’s up that the next act, Tila Star, had a flare for the dramatic.

There were some less-than-graceful leaps and this round-off from the table.  Brett called it a near-wipe out.

About halfway through she began being stabbed by two ninja-type women and released a fake blood packet which she then rolled around in.

I don’t know what the message was but OH MY GOD.

The judges used the word “fierce” a lot.  Hard act to follow? Yes, which is why I feel bad for Stanislav Smirnoff, the next act.

And then, suddenly, it was intermission.

Besides the language barrier I was trying to process the contest as a whole.  The Queens were only competing against the Queens and likewise for the Kings.  Which only seems fair.  The Queens were all sexified and glamorous, appealing and desirable (or at least hinting at that).  The Kings were, well, crazy or homicidal, abusive, lazy, dumpy and rather unappealing.  One of the judges was a Queen herself (the rest were women who were, well, women).  She seemed really aggressively displeased at the Drag Kings for not being more appealing.  I have no idea what she was saying but the tone and dismissive hand flicks implied: “You are not doing it right.  You don’t even know what it is.”  A few times she was met by boos from the audience.  Then she’d shoot a “What, you know I’m right” look at the crowd and roll her eyes.

The idea that women have a harder time appearing as sexy men…shirts can’t come off to reveal muscles in the same way a bra can be padded…was something I hadn’t really considered before.

Post-intermission, two bizarre acts from what we decided were last year’s winners. One was a Britney act, one an Icelandic song that appeared to be about white trash husbands (who get their mustaches ripped off, and who sadly I have no footage of). The Britney act had the most obviously ridiculous use of the harness. Several of the performers used the harness (which required rigging and belts and lots of maneuvering) and were often just kind of lifted and hung in the air for a few seconds.
Like this:

Her performance centered around Britney’s song “Gimme More”.  In this instance, it appeared the “more” was a large plastic water bottle she wanted (the bottle is visible on the stage). In later stages of the dance there’s lots of jostling for that water bottle.

Then, without much of a transition, came the crowning.  
King(s) first.

Time for the Queen. Tila Star’s face was one of utter devastation at the news Mary Fairy won. I wish we could have better captured it. But the delayed slow clap tells you something.

The Kings and their Queen.

The event ended with an incredible whimper.  Once folks were crowned there was some kind of audience frustration that Tila McStabby had not won.  Some yelling, large crowds got up and left.  Regardless, Tæra Bænks seemed to want some kind of encore and was having none of the talk back. So the Kings came out and did, well, the exact same thing they had already done (oddly enough, once it started folks quieted down so we had to freeze as we were attempting to get up too).  It reminded me deliciously of the Peter Pan act of the This American Life “Fiasco” episode.  Once Mary came out and the cued up the “Do Re Mi” again we were outta there.

If you just can’t get enough, videos of all the performers can be found at our vimeo page.


Aug 4 2010

Un “American”

There are some things in abundance in this fair city.  Hair salons, for one.  There are probably two hair salons for every citizen of Reykjavik.  Lots of coffee shops *yay*.  There are things I expected to see here that I haven’t.  A pedicure place.  Not a one.  Do women just not get pedicures?  A florist has yet to be seen.  We’ve spotted some things, like a home depot type store, after considerable discussion about where people buy lawnmowers.  There aren’t a ton of cell phone stores.  Or sporting good stores.

Perhaps the Icelanders aren’t so doggedly wedded to the idea of convenience.  Sometimes you just have to walk and I respect that.  Convenience feels decidedly American (and at times I am blissed out that stuff is convenient at home, particularly access to Diet Coke).  There are, however, lots of things attributed as “American” here that make us smile.  We’ve been attempting to document some things that according to Icelanders, are very America.

And so, we examine things that are

Now, since we Americans do enjoy eating, it’s not surprising that most of these items are food related.I’m not sure if they mean John Wayne cool or Tina Fey cool but we suspect the flavor is more cool ranch.

Pizza alone has been fascinating.

It starts with a vague “Americana” pizza.

And then gets regional.  When I think New Orleans, I think gumbo and shrimp and Creole inspired dishes.  I also, apparently, should be thinking about cheddar.  LOTS of cheddar.This brand brings us another winner, the Meaty Miami.  Because nothing says bathing suit ready like more meat.

They got these very, very right which made Brett very, very happy.

As someone who lived in LA for five years, I can say they were a little more off on this next one.  LA conjures memories of avocado and sprouts.  Not camembert (and I love me some camembert).

Our two favorites thus far embody American icons.  Both have also been in the news recently.

First, the Bruce Willis Shake.  A cure-all for hangovers and a fierce treat.

And, dear Bill Cosby.  Who is not dead, but is peeved.

webtvwire.com

ICELANDIC UPGRADE.


Aug 3 2010

Belief.

Meet our two newest friends.

We got them at the local Christmas store.  And yes, we had to buy two because I wanted the gray one to have a friend.  They seem kind of gnomish.  Certainly not trolly or elfin.

The current debate raging, and I mean raging, at Burwellhusið is whether to travel to Hafnarfjöður, a town a quick bus ride away.  Why Hafnarfjöður?  Well, because it hosts the Hidden Worlds tour.  This is a walk led by someone from the town which reveals the locations of all the hidden people, or huldufólk, in the area.  We’re talking elves, gnomes, fairies, angels, and more.  AND you get a map at the end marking it all out.  Now, there is massive potential for cheese galore at this thing.  And I fully get that.  But I’m also totally transfixed by the idea of huldufólk.  More specifically, I am transfixed by the idea of belief in the huldufólk.

It’s a topic I want to treat with sensitivity because I mean no disrespect and no “Aw, Icelanders are SO adorable I am going to put one in my pocket and bring ‘em home!”.  The belief is something I find compelling.  And, at the same time, something I just don’t believe in.  Exploring and reconciling that has proven challenging partially because it’s considered very discourteous to saddle up to a local and ask about their belief in huldufólk.  Much like religion and politics in the US, here you don’t touch anything elfin in polite conversation.

The majority of Icelandic people here don’t believe in them.  They just refuse to deny that they might just exist.  I like that.  They’re like agnostics…only about elves.  It’s the ambiguity of it that I enjoy, the ability to balance a disbelief and a gentle respect of tradition at the same time.  It can well be summed up by this quote, given to Reuters, which popped up a lot when I was searching for information: “Our basic approach is not to deny this phenomenon,” said Birgir Gudmundsson, an engineer with the Iceland Road Authority.

Now, why an Iceland Road Authority engineer?  Well, because negotiations with the hidden world are often necessary to let construction, like roads, commence or continue.  Peevish hidden folk are known to wreck havoc on projects disrespectful to their space.  The town which hosts the tour, Hafnarfjöður, has several people who serve as mediators to the huldufólk.  Now, these are not government employees.  They are freelancers who possess a second sight.  Yes, freelancers.

And the belief/non-belief thing happens on a more personal level too.  Homeowners often put little álfhól,or elf homes, in their gardens.  Perhaps that’s what this is?

So the tour.  It feels like it could be absolutely ridiculous.  But it also feels like it may be the one place it’s respectful to ask any questions.  (And a map!)  To help me ponder, I watched this.  Color me suprised that it includes a lengthy interview with the president of Iceland, who unfortunately can’t see hidden folk but is certainly hedging his comments on their existence.  Even the Gray Lady covered the topic.  The president and the New York Times?  I could be in worse company.  I think I’m in.


Aug 2 2010

A Quiet Day.

It’s been a quiet Monday at Burwellhusið.  Brett’s got two deadlines today and I had a work session with Rob.  This morning I did have time to get down to city hall, Ráðhús Reykjavíkur.

I went to check out a 3D scale model of Iceland.  The book described it as fabulous.  I am a cartophile and got all jazzed.  It was, you know, alright.  It wasn’t as big as I wanted.

I bet you thought that was the whole map and were nodding in agreement at my disappointment.  No, that’s Heimaey, the small island we visited a couple weeks ago.  But.  I wanted the cities to have some definition.  They were colored orange.  There were lots of signs that said “Please Do Not Touch” and lots of people touching, which really bugs me.  This country has like two rules…why not be cool?

I also continued what is quickly becoming a maddening search.  A week or so ago we saw a house.  It was darkish grey with white trim, dark brown shutters, and a blue roof (which Brett described as Robin’s Egg Blue but I think was less ta-daish).  We’re new homeowners and are thinking alot, as we walk around and talk around, about what our home will look like.  Right before we came here we painted our living room a color I know refer to as creamy peanut butter.  This house was the exact color pallet we want for a bathroom.  Muted, desaturated colors.  A stunner.

The maddening bit is that we stood looking at the house for quite a while.  I said, as we looked, that it would be lovely to have a picture of that house in the bathroom.  I always have a camera with me.  And yet, I didn’t take a picture.  We can’t remember why.  And so for the last few days we’ve retraced much of the area we’ve covered looking for the house.  We both have a general area we think it’s in, and we agree on that area. And yet, no house.  I’m becoming a bit unhinged really.