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Showing posts from August, 2008

Road trips

A few months ago, we took a road trip to Yosemite in California. Today we are beginning a road trip to Lake Myvatn. Only this time I won't be grading papers, so that will probably be better.

Whale hunt

A recent newspaper article and some conversations with my visitors have made me realize just how much my former objection to hunting whales has dissipated. I'm not sure if this represents a compromise of my morals, or a sign of becoming more Icelandic. Unless they are the same thing.

Swimming in the rain

The public pools in Iceland are really excellent, clean facilities, warm and non-chlorinated water. But the one in Reykjanesbær has particular notoriety for its indoor kids´ area. My son had fun today playing on the turtle and the snake and climbing up the slide. Good to know there is something pleasant to do in the midst of a stormy day. The towns in California, on the other hand, do not have to go through such efforts to entertain the children.

Counting the months

It took a bit of getting used to, when I first moved here, that the date is written day.month.year, instead of month.day.year, but I managed well enough, I thought. Then today I discovered that when the car registration sticker says 08 and then 2008, that does not mean that the car inspection is due in August of 2008, as it would in California. Rather, 08 is just a repetition of 2008, and the month of the inspection is determined by the last two digits of the license plate number (in my case, 02). This plus realizing I need new windshield wipers, front headlight, and possibly breaks makes me wish I did not have a car.

Húsdýragarðurinn

Foreigners tend to have heard of Icelandic horses and maybe the bird life here. But at the small petting zoo next to the sculpture garden in Reykjavík one can see other Icelandic animals. My son and I were amazed at how huge the sow was, and how quick the piglets were. I also like the brown and black striped Icelandic cows, a breed not seen in the U.S.. But the billy goat was the most impressive, with hair hanging down to the floor and huge horns. Unfortunately, it all closed at 5. And it was raining.

Best things

Watching the sunset out by the Garðar lighthouse is every bit as wonderful as watching a sunset from the pier in Santa Monica.

Fiskidagur

My Danish friend and I just went to the fiskibúð here in Keflavík, the same one I used to go to with my grandmother when I was a child. Next door to the fiskibúð is the MiniMart, which sells only Polish products. It was not there when my grandmother was alive. I find comfort in this paradoxical mix of continuity and change over time.

Boston

There is a bar in Iceland called Boston, but it is decorated inside like Las Vegas, with velvet wallpaper and suggestive photos. The real Boston is quite a bit more tame, and the most common transfer I use on my way back and forth from Iceland. My husband and son are flying through there on their way home to California, next week.

Langholtskirkja

Tonight, my house guests went to hear a Björk concert, inside a church. This strikes me as particularly Icelandic, where religious reverence is not the norm.

"Los Angeles is a store"

So declared my son, semi-delirious at 11pm at night, as we drove through Reykjavík. I guess he saw some sort of similarity between these two cities, maybe because it is now getting dark enough at night here to see the city lights. Otherwise, a city of 20 million and a town of 300,000 is not very comparable. Except one can feel strangely alone in both places.

Best Part

Having never been to Yellowstone, I can make no comparison between the Icelandic Geysir and the American geyser (except to note that the latter is named after the former). But I can say that it is indeed very easy to step over the little rope "fence" around the bubbling, leaking steam vents out at Haukdalur. I'm thankful for this, since in my opinion, they have sectioned off the best part, the dense area full of small steam vents of every size, shape, and color, piled with slick deposits and full of bubbling water. Today me and a German visitor selected several as our favorites.

Sand Dunes

When I was a kid, my father would drag the whole family out to the desert for just about every holiday, though I think my mother drew the line at Christmas. We would ride sandrails and fourwheelers up and down the sand dunes. Today, out at Reykjanes peninsula, despite the hailstorm, and the black sand, and being in my Mazda, I realized those childhood skills were finding new life.

Blue Lagoon/Bláa lónið

Everytime I go swimming in the Blue Lagoon, my hair emerges from the experience not only a different texture, but also a different color. Unfortunately, not quite like Brooke Shield´s locks.

"It's a beautiful school with a mountain view, quite a sight to see, Montevideo you're for me!"

A thoughtful poem read this evening at the national theater's intimate stage as part of Menningarnótt was entitled "Montevideo." The artist sat on stage, saying nothing, while a video, with the sound slightly out of sinc, showed him read the poem. It was quite affective, and considerably more sophisticated than my prior poetic experience with this same word, in my elementary school pep song.

101 Reykjavík

After walking from Tjornið to Snorrabraut, Miklatún to Hvervisgata, and up and down Laugavegur, my guests from Germany, Denmark, and the U.S. declared that the zoning laws in Reykjavík must be rather lax since the buildings are an "eclectic assortment." Those of us from the U.S. were not in agreement, however, that this made the city look American.  Nor is it European. We decided Canadian.

Langbest

The only restaurant up here at the base is a pizza place whose name declares, unapologetically, that the quality of the food is the best there is, by far. I believe this applies to most things here in Iceland.

1984

I recall very well when the Olympics were in Los Angeles in 1984, collecting the pins of the eagle mascot, watching the bike race that wound through my home town. And I remember how everytime the US did not win a gold in an event we were favored in, everyone was disappointed, looking for someone to blame. Just now the Icelandic handball team won in the semi-finals, meaning they get to play in the gold metal game. Everyone was crying. Even the ladies in the bank.

Twins

Being here in Iceland, I completely missed that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had twins. Last I knew, she was showing a slight bump. This makes me feel really out of it, although I suppose it should not.

Rain

The Icelandic weather does not want to cooperate with my efforts to convince visitors that Iceland can be warm and sunny. California is a bit more welcoming in this respect, since it basically never rains there.

Early flight

In the United States, one is always prepared for flights to arrive late. Here at Keflavík International, they are far more likely to arrive early, I guess because of the tail wind. Thankfully last night, when my road-weary husband arrived early, his wife was uncharacteristically early herself.

Military brat

Although my father, brother, and husband have all served in the military, I never really gave that subculture much thought. Even when I moved into my apartment, which is former military housing on the old Nato base and has a great number of strictly American features, I noticed the small things that were Icelandic, like the cabinetry. But today I officially moved into my new office, in another building also on the base, and I am starting to feel the affect of all this military architecture. The hallways are narrower, and the doorways too, which is strange since American desks are larger.

I stand corrected

A reader has informed me about some of the less obvious rules of handball.

It will all work out somehow

Just now I called a colleague I had not spoken to in a week to check on something. She had started on it yesterday and wanted me to come by today to finish up. Somehow she knew and I knew that today would be the day we'd deal with it, even though neither of us had ever said so last week. The longer I am in Iceland, the more I come to believe the absolute rightness of not over planning. There is just something in the air that makes things happen when they should.

Between 4 and 5

Yesterday I was with my son at the playground, when two kids, about the same height as my son, came walking by. I figured they were 4 years old. The average age in the United States when children are allowed to walk around alone outside is it at least twice that.

Handball

On the assumption that very few Icelanders are actually reading my blog, I'm going to go ahead and say that this sport has got to be one of the easiest I can imagine. It is like basketball without the challenge of dribbling the ball or trying to throw an oversize ball in a tiny basket. And it is like soccer, only on a smaller court and without the regulation of never touching the ball. But it is the one Olympic team sport Icelanders have been competitive in.

Sunny day

A dry, warm, sunny day in Iceland is a revelation, an instant cause for celebration, especially after long periods of clouds and rain. In California, on the other hand, the rare rain storm catches everyone's attention.

Coffee quiz

I found myself explaining again to someone today about the way I've got my life organized at the moment, split between California and Iceland. She felt a bit bad interrogating me; Icelanders are actually pretty forward with questions like that. I didn't mind so much, except I always feel there is actually no good way to make it explicable, neither to Icelanders nor Americans. I'm always grateful for the few that seem to see it as natural for me.

Madonna Rose

This weekend, two people that I like very well celebrated their 50th birthdays, Rosa Thorsteinssdottir and Madonna. Probably because I am in Iceland, I did not receive my invitation to Madonna's party, but I was invited to Rosa's. 50th birthday parties here are done more like weddings, where a hall is rented and catering and a band are brought in. I note that Madonna's birthday bash was held at her home, which is indeed normal American practice. Funny to think even someone as audacious as Madonna can still be culturally bound. Rosa's band, by the way, played the wonderful Icelandic ska type music that Haukur Morthens perfected.

Blue Jays

Iceland is famous for its birdlife, but there are two birds I rather miss when I'm here, cardinals and blue jays. Both stand out amongst the trees in the midwest and the south of the U.S., and blue jays are also in California. Just now I saw a bird that had the same coloring as a blue jay, but was smaller. I think I liked it better. Still nothing like a cardinal, though.

Goes without saying

I've started to appreciate that Icelanders are not as verbal as Americans, or at least they don't feel the need to discuss little things that should be obvious. Like the lack of signage in front of Geysir: everyone should know not to stand too close to boiling hot water that can suddenly shoot 50 feet up into the air. But there are other things that I still think might be nice to mention, like that one of my wine glasses got broken last night as the twins watched my son.

Allir er að hlusta

The slogan for Bylgjan, the most popular radio station here, translates as, "Everyone is listening". This strikes me as a bit creepy, for some reason, I think mostly because it resonates with another cliche here in Iceland, "Allir vita allt um öllum" (everybody knows everything about everyone). But I suppose it is better than the slogan for the radio station of the same name ("The Wave") in Southern California, "Easy listening to get you through your work day".

Saturday morning cartoons

The good old American tradition of having children mesmerized by television first thing Saturday morning (usually accompanied by a sugar rush from overly sweet cereal) is alive and well here in Iceland. I am allowing my son to watch a bit of this, in the hopes that cartoons are a good way to learn a language. Most of them are foreign cartoons that have been voiced-over into Icelandic. But I just noticed that one I thought was a U.S. cartoon (it features urban-dwelling, rapping pigeons) is actually an Icelandic production. Even though there are no pigeons here, nor a truly urban landscape, nor a lively rap scene.

On Cemeteries

One of the most poignant memories from my first trip to Iceland was going with my mother and grandparents to a windblown cemetery; I don't recall what relative was buried there, but I remember how tall the grass was and how there didn't seem to be anything else in sight for miles. Although I've visited other cemeteries in other countries with more interesting and historical grave markers, somehow I've always thought of the ones here in Iceland as special. But then both of my grandparents got buried in a new cemetery in Reykjanes, located on the outskirts of town, with nice enough landscaping but nothing cozy about it at all. Today I drove past it and was really disappointed. This same part of town is also where they are building the new aluminum plant (Helguvík), and the dirt from the excavation is piled up directly across from the cemetery. To say Icelandic cemeteries have begun to loose their charm would perhaps be an understatement.

Slightly more important news

I suppose I should mention that the city of Reykjavík switched mayors AGAIN yesterday, the 4th time this year. I have never heard of anything even slightly comparable in the United States, but then local politics (which are always messier) don´t get much press in the U.S.

Waffle update

After much arduous searching, and mediocre attempts at French toast instead, I finally found frozen waffles yesterday .... at Bonus, the biggest grocery store chain in Iceland.  Although a bit chagrined by this discovery, it was not sufficient to make me change my opinion about Bonus generally speaking.  The waffles are Richfood brand, meaning they come from Walmart.

Fanur

My son has decided that, in order to speak Icelandic, one just adds "ur" to the end of English words, remembering of course to properly accentuate the first syllable.  It took a lot of convincing that the proper word was vifta. I guess he thinks all Icelandic nouns should be masculine.

German Wisdom

This morning driving into Reykjavík, I picked up some German hitchhikers (not to worry, they were literally boy scouts). It was nice to have company, and a German perspective on Iceland. I had not noticed, for instance, that the large front yards and large driveways here in Iceland are modeled on the American system, where every family member has at least one car, rather than on the European model. It is in fact the small things that make a difference.

Trustworthy

People complain about customer service in Iceland a lot, both Icelanders and foreigners, and certainly the normal adage that the customer is always right does not hold true even at privately-held businesses here. But on the other hand, I've never had an Icelandic salesman try to sell me something I did not need or want. They are much more likely to try to talk you out of purchasing something from their store than the other way around. For instance, I recently ruined the rim and tire of my left-front wheel, and I expected to pay whatever to the first place I went to have it fixed. But no. Neither the dealership, nor N1, nor the tire store every pushed me to buy new tires or new rims, and kept referring me elsewhere. At first I was offended at the brush-off, but, having just spent 5000 kroner when I might have had to spend 120,000, I have newfound appreciation for this understated "customer service". Could it be they actually care that I reach a good solution to my problem…

Exactly the same

The look people give the mother of an ill-behaved child in the grocery store is exactly the same in Iceland as it is in the United States.

Running Hot and Cold

To get the water to run hot in my apartment here, I turn the nozzle on full and wait several (normally about 10) minutes for the natural hot water pumped from below ground to reach my house. Were I to do this in California, all the hot water from the water heater would probably be gone before I even started my shower. And I'd be violating any number of water conservation rules.

Universal language

Last night Palmer and Anna played cars happily together for hours. Turns out that cuts across gender, age, linguistic, and national boundaries, no problem. Quite a bit more efficient than what is normally touted as the universal language, love.

Images of America

I'm making the index for a soon-to-be published book called Images of the North. But instead I find myself thinking about images of America. Like John Wayne. I grew up in Orange County; the airport there was renamed in "The Duke"´s honor when I was in highschool, but I never understood why he was so iconic for people, especially perhaps non-Americans, in how they think about America. Last week here in Reykjavík they had a candlelight vigil to honor the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I was telling my dinner companions tonight that I was sorry I did not get to attend. Never in the United States have I ever had the opportunity to express any grief over that event; it is hardly discussed save in junior high history class. Which is probably just as the Duke would have wanted it.

Rednecks can happen anywhere

There was a two page spread in today's 24 Stundir, the paper distributed for free to everyone in Iceland, that caught my son's attention because it featured his favorite things, big machines. The right facing page was a story from the U.S. about a 4 day competition in Houston, Texas of speed and precision driving for semi-truck drivers. Obviously fuel conservation is not a major issue there. On the left facing page was a story from Iceland about a tractor race along Lesser Laxa River, which included crossing the river. One of the tractors had top-sided and had to be rescued, which they had a picture of, and also pictures of the tractors that came in second and first place. In a 5 tractor race as far as I could tell.

The Middle Road

It is a small thing, I know, but today I decided to make my bed the American way, with a straight sheet and a blanket on top, instead of the Icelandic way of a duvet with cover, even though I have always found duvets very cozy. A wise person knows they should not relinquish too much of oneself. Or maybe I just need new duvet covers.

Scholarly go-round

When I worked at the Smithsonian, we always had a string of visiting scholars, both in my office (the Arctic Studies Center) and in the Anthropology Department as a whole, and Berkeley's Scandinavian Department does the same. But it was always one at a time, two at most. Here I have a temporary desk at the Arni Magnusson Institute, where I am one of 10 visiting scholars, and I find I like the anonymity.

Ég er svangur

My son announced the moment he walked into Gunnar Marel's house today--the first time we'd ever been there--that he was hungry. I was both embarrassed and proud at the same time. They acted like it was normal behavior, probably because he said it in perfect Icelandic.

Sehr primitiv

My German is not great; I studied it just enough to become proficient at reading it. But today I understood most of what the German translator was saying, partially I'm sure based on the fact she was relaying what I had just said in English, and we were talking about Viking ships, a well known subject for me in several languages. But then I caught her telling the group they could come see the reconstructed traditional Icelandic cottage next to the ship, a cottage which she described, without prompting from me, as "sehr primitiv." I was offended. I'd like to think it makes me Icelandic, that my grandfather grew up in a cottage much like that one. I'd also like to think it makes me Icelandic that I said so right in front of everyone, but perhaps that was the American in me.

Marketing

After eking by on the diapers I brought with me from California, I finally had to buy some here, a terribly expensive enterprise and rather unnecessary, since my son is mostly potty-trained.  I found myself instinctively reaching for the pampers brand, rather than trying something I'd never heard of. My son also somehow recognized this brand, pointing to the monkey design on the diaper and saying "These are the Elmo diapers." Pampers in the U.S. usually have Sesame Street characters on them. That the ones in Europe do not is somehow reassuring, as if even in the age of mechanical reproduction there can still be somethings specific to place and time.

Noisy American

My apartment here still has all the American appliances, and 110 voltage. Most of them are bigger than the Icelandic styles, but a few of them are virtually unheard of here, like the garbage disposal. They asked me if I wanted it removed when I moved in, to which I replied it was one of my favorite appliances. I'm a little less of a fan of automatic ice-makers in refrigerators, a fact I was reminded of just now as my son and I were eating lunch, and its sudden release of ice startled him.

Extenuating circumstances

Last night my cousin realized at the very last minute that she had not put any potatoes on the grill, and since no Icelandic meal is complete without potatoes, this required action. We decided to cut the potatoes to make them cook faster.  About 2/3 of the way through this process, I nicked my finger with the knife. My cousin's husband laughed, said he'd been cutting veggies all day and hadn't cut himself once, and then my uncle chimed in that I'm always hurting myself. The term "extended family" hardly does them justice; it felt just like home.

Sitt af hvoru tagi

The plot of rhubarb plants is right next to the barn where my uncle keeps his tractors, one green, one red. Rhubarb plants are also green and red, at least when they are ripe. So, my son and I were both happy this afternoon, as I picked rhubarb and he looked at tractors, his absolute favorite. The only green and red we get in California is a stop at the Starbucks in Target.

Kær

I have just discovered that the word kær can mean both "dear beloved one" and "complaint, charge".  A few days ago I found out that varasamur is an adjective meaning both "dangerous" and "careful".  Just in case anyone is wondering why I don't have Icelandic completely perfected yet...

Honey Nut Cheerios

A while back, I met the Icelandic representative for General Mills products, a fidgety sort of guy. He informed me (as he undoubtedly had told others) that Icelanders are the top consumers of Honey Nut Cheerios world wide. I assume he meant per capita. This is why it is one of the few non-Icelandic products whose packaging is tailored to this market; the little bee speaks Icelandic here. We had this conversation on a beautiful sunny day, not unlike today, standing in front of Islendingur, the replica Viking ship. I haven't decided yet whether there was a connection.

Like totally, I'm sure

My cousin's daughter calls, tells me she's at  "Kosta, rétt hjá sjoppinni", with my son.  I pull up to see four tweens, all with carriages, eating sweets.  This reminds me of when I was a teenager, only we weren't babysitting our cousin's kids, and we weren't outside in the rain.  We were like, at the mall, totally.  I had the best valley girl accent at that age.

Morning Light

Two weekends ago we went camping at Húsafell. As per my usual habit, I woke up in the early morning hours. The air was wonderfully warm, the wind was calm, and the sun was still lighting the underside of the clouds. It is always the same, no matter where I camp, that the morning hours are the best. Of course, in Yosemite, or in the desert, one has to look out for wild animals like bears or rattlesnakes early in the morning. In Iceland, one must instead look out for those few die-hard partiers, still awake at 5am.  They are in fact quite dangerous.

Bad Neighbor

People get lost up here in Vallaheiði all the time; the street marquees still say the old names from when this was a military base, but the residents know the streets by different names (the new names that will, one day, get marked).  And the building numbers and apartment numbers are also in a strange order, following some military logic that escapes most of us. So, occasionally Icelanders knock on my door, like this evening, and when I answer, they say an individual´s name, nothing else.  From this I infer that I am naturally supposed to know the names of all my neighbors, and which apartment they are in. Unfortunately, I grew up in Southern California, where one rarely knows the names of even immediate neighbors, let alone whole blocks full. I have no idea how one acquires this sort of information, even though people I have never spoken to seem to know I´m the American at the end.

Millinafnið mitt

I'm coming up on the one year anniversary of my Icelandic citizenship. The application asked what name one wants to use in Iceland; the law used to be that one had to adopt an Icelandic name here, and since I thought that law was still in affect, I applied under the name Elísabet Iða Vilhjálmsdóttir (my father´s first name being William). Turns out the law had changed, the government now allows people to keep their birth name (part of a move to make it easier to immigrate here, though the tide is currently turning in another direction). Well, I was really relieved. My first name and my last name have undergone enough changes through my life, from Elizabeth Lange to Elisa Ward to Liz Hightower. But the thought of changing Ida to Iða was rather disturbing.  It is nice to have one constant in life.

Road Kill

Today I saw another dead seagull on the road, the third one in about as many days. This struck my attention because it has always seemed to me there is much less carnage by the side of the road in Iceland than in the U.S., or maybe just California. I've had long trips out to the countryside here in Iceland and not seen a single dead animal, which seems sort or reassuring, like the animals here have enough space to themselves that they don't always have to be crossing the road. Or maybe there are just fewer animals here to begin with, everything but seagulls.

News Worthy

Two different Icelandic radio stations, within the span of a few minutes, mentioned the same news item, taken from U.S. AP wires I guess. The item concerns a man on death row in Texas whose lawyer sent in a letter to the judge stating that his client could not be executed, with quotes from the convicted man's doctor discussing the medical reasons why this was impossible, all stemming from him being excessively overweight. I know from an American perspective that this item is newsworthy primarily because of the rhetorical brilliance, or despicable fenagling, of the lawyer. This will be a new defense throughout the legal system, as other inmates try to do the same. But in a country like Iceland that has no death penalty, and no advocacy legal system (where an accused is defended by a lawyer), I am unsure what the interest is here.  One of the radio stations had the DJ's chatting about this story, and in their conversation it seemed the main point of interest was in how fat this …

Winter is coming

I consider it a real sign of Icelandicness that when I notice that it has gotten dark at 11:30 at night, I think to myself, "summer is almost over."

Window Weather

Just now, I decided my son and I only needed light jackets to go outside and play. You'd think, since I've been coming to Iceland since I was 7 years old, that I would know better than to judge the weather by looking out the window. But it has been sunny for hours and the house is stuffy. And this strategy has always worked amazingly well in California; I can still predict the exact high temperature there first thing in the morning. But here I forgot to reckon in the wind. On the plus side, there is nothing cuter than watching a child run through wind-blown grass with rosy cheeks.

Rule of Thumb

A goodly number of substantive nouns in Icelandic are cognate with English nouns, like house-hús, horse-hestur, mouse-mús. This has confused my son a bit, at first he was sure I was just mispronouncing things. Now he's caught on, though his mother is still a tad slow. After weeks of singing him a song about the fingers on the hands, I realized last night I was mispronouncing the name of the thumb, misreading a p for the þ, a totally amateur mistake. Thus the cognate þumalfingur (pronounced thumalfinger) came out instead pumalfingur. Poor kid.

Mundane mystery

I live at the old Nato Base near the international airport, now converted to student family housing.  A bus leaves here every two hours or so for the University of Iceland.  According to the bus company website, they have a set route they are supposed to take through Reykjavík, up Kringlubraut and then down Hverfisgata.  But I have noticed, if I take the same bus, with the same driver, at the same time, but on different days, we will take various routes to the University.  I have no idea why or how the driver decides, but I have always considered one of the perks of a bus ride the security of predictability.  In Iceland one must learn to embrace the unpredictable.

Shoeless in Iceland

Californians usually wear shoes in the house, though they might slip them off before watching TV on the couch. But Palmer had the habit of wearing his shoes all day, every day, until the moment he went to sleep. On the plane over to Iceland, I told him people in Iceland take off their shoes when they get in the house. This worked amazingly well; when we arrived at 6 am in the morning three weeks ago, got to the house here, he said, "People take off their shoes in Iceland," and proceeded to do so.  Just now he asked me when we came home "Is this the California apartment?"  He was hoping to keep his shoes on.

að blogga

According to a recent news item, one-third of Icelanders write a blog, and two-thirds of Icelanders read blogs.  I am absolutely sure the statistic is not 1/10 (or 1/100?) of that in the United States. I've tried to come up with an anthropological explanation for this that is slightly more sophisticated than some sort of pop-psychology (all Icelanders are starved for attention), but I guess further fieldwork is required.  Of course the Nordic countries are very tech savvy, and this may just be an outgrowth of that.  It's a bit of a shame though; the U.S., which is not a very cohesive society, needs technology to connect much more so than Iceland.

Food and Identity

Judging from all the cultural festivals that emphasize food, and the anthropological importance of food consumption on issues of identity, I guess it isn't surprising that I'm very aware what I'm feeding my son. Every Icelandic hotdog he eats, every bowl of skyr, every soft ice-cream somehow makes me proud, as if he could ingest "Icelandicness." But I do miss being able to give him Eggo waffles. Those things are great; they even have a whole wheat variety that a mom can really feel good about.  And now back to our regular programming...

Vegetating

Though the coast of California is mostly an overpopulated quagmire, the interior valleys are amazing agricultural centers; funny what happens when you add water to soil that hasn't had much in 5000 years.  So, I'm used to really fresh fruit and vegetables, crunchy nuts.  Some of it may be a bit tasteless, since they harvest it before it is truly ripe, but at least you have a good 4 or 5 days of shelf-life for even the most fragile strawberries once you get them home, and weeks on other things. Today I was at Kasko, and they were selling broccoli that had turned brown for half off.  And at Samkaup the other week, several bags of grapes were moldy.  Considering the unbelievable use of fuel just to get that sort of produce here, this strikes me as really awful.  So, I started buying only Icelandic produce, and was amazed to discover my potatoes and carrots going moldy in the refrigerator in 4 days.

Iceland dogs, and cats

There is a special breed of dogs here in Iceland, a fact used as an insult in Shakespeare's Henry the 5th for some reason I've never quite understood.  I've wondered whether there is also a special breed of cats here.  Today, we had an orange tabby, tail up in the air, follow us home until I gave it food.  This is the exact same behavior as Ember, the best orange tabby that ever lived, and he was a Californian born and bred.

Reykjanesvegur inn mindri

The road between Grindavík and Reykjanesviti is not a popular route either for commuters or tourists, unless the latter are lost.  A few golfers I guess head out that way. There aren´t even very many birds on the road, the way there is between Sandgerði and Hvalsneskirkja. So, the random occurrence of two cars passing at the exact point in the road where one loan seagull roosts must have pretty low odds. And yet I managed exactly that yesterday, while trying to get my son to finally acquiesce to napping in the car.