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Showing posts from June, 2009

On rules

One of the things they say about parenting, especially parenting a young child, is to set firm rules and to follow routines. 
Dear god, someone might as well have asked me to sprout wings. 
I mean, I am trying with the bedtime routine, really trying. But it has already morphed a bit from what it was at home in California, with the addition of the wonderful book, "Klappa saman lofanum." I threw that in after the teeth brushing, with the lights off. Tonight Palmer wanted it before the teeth brushing, with the lights on. Of course, no problem. The point is the book gets read. 
Ha! An hour later, he is still awake. 
Yep, children truly do need their routines.  I hope he grows out of it sooner rather than later, because I can't regress. 
I slipped through the rabbit hole long ago. 

On Icelandic water, again

Several years ago, I made the decision to not use any kind of cleaning product when washing my face. I realized that the material of a wash cloth does a better job of exfoliating than any 'microbeads' could do. And this has worked great for me for years and years. 
Now that I am living full time in Iceland though, I find myself again contemplating the composition of Icelandic water. Because it does not work as well here. My skin is not as clear as it was in California. Even though Icelandic water is incredibly pure.
Just one of lives many little mysteries. I am banking on the idea that the washcloths are rougher. Or that my skin is getting more sensitive as I AGE!!

Pesticide

Earlier today, I was cutting up a tomato for lunch, and thought, oh, I don't need to wash this, it is an Icelandic hothouse tomato, and there is no need for pesticides here in Iceland. 
A couple of hours later, Palmer was outside playing with his toys in the dirt, when a workman came up and explained to us that he would be spraying pesticide all over all the trees. Hmm. 

Beach day

I was thinking about taking Palmer to the beach in Reykjavik, where they pump hot water into the bay and have imported some white sand. 
But it is hard for me to get motivated to do this, since of course I am pretty spoiled. I am used tot the natural splendor of California beaches. Once one has spent an afternoon in Laguna Beach, hiking the cliffs, exploring the tide pools, playing on the playground, climbing up the light house, walking along the boardwalk, and diving into the Pacific, well, one's standards get pretty high. 
And the day is not as clear and sunny as they thought it might be two days ago. 

Julia og Katrín

With a swift kick to the head from Palmer this morning, I was suddenly awoken. And of course it is only under such circumstances that I remember my dreams. The dream I was in the midst of involved me at an outdoor fair type thing, sitting at a picnic table talking to Julia Roberts and Þorgerður Katrín about public speaking. 
I can think of several different ways to interpret this. But I think I will content myself with using it as a mental reminder about my favorite baby girl names. 


The Faeroes are killing me

Right, a case on environmental change caused by the Viking settlement of the islands of the North Atlantic. Sounds simple enough. 
This theme was rather a nightmare during the original exhibition production, because, honestly, it is a hard thing to explain in the typical 2 minutes people devote to an exhibition case. So we spread it around here or there. The case on the Faeroes introduced the idea, with two lengths of juniper rope. Juniper no longer exists on the Faeroes, because the Vikings cut it all down. Problem was, the rope was not interesting enough to draw anyone to even look at the case, let alone take time to read the label copy. People just walked passed it, perhaps noted it had the word Faeroes in it. 
Then for Iceland we tried to expand on it. No artifacts, just three pictures (set originally in a rotating system) of the three phases of the settlement of Iceland. Phase 1: lots of animals, lots of trees, several large farms, thick green grass high up the mountains. Second ph…

Leiftur McQueen

I found a use for my PC: letting Palmer watch the Icelandic version of Cars. 
Poor little guy is super tired this evening, has been every since he played outside with his construction toys for over an hour. Going down to the museum to "work" pushed the little guy over the edge (the guests that were there were polite about the little boy who kept running around and asking them lots of questions). So now I decided to just let him watch a movie. Works out well, since he can learn some Icelandic and relax at the same time. 

Caterpillar

Yesterday, Palmer and I were driving to the store, when all of a sudden I hear this shriek from the backseat, and I look in my review mirror to see Palmer crying hysterically and shaking. I was in the middle of Reykjanesbraut, couldn't just stop the car. So I looked again, and noticed that there was a small, light green caterpillar crawling on the collar of his jacket, had come right up to his face. 
I think the little caterpillar surprised him more than anything, because he of course was not expecting that. Even though he had been playing outside just before we got in the car, in amongst the bushes. 
Long story short, I pulled over and put the caterpillar safely outside the car, on some leaves. Then Palmer and I had a long conversation about what had just happened, just to make sure he processed the shock. 

Weird coincidence

I was showing Palmer a Michael Jackson video earlier, and then found out a few hours later he had died. Almost hate to break the news to the little guy. I tilefni dagsins, I offer up my favorite Michael Jackson video, though probably not song. 

Under new management?

I just got back from Bonus, the only store that stocks frozen waffles, and thus a periodic must when Palmer is in town. 
Every time I go in that store, they have rearranged the entry, but finally this time, the new arrangement seemed very normal and sensible. And the produce section had lots of Icelandic vegetables, plus some foreign exotics (I bought the fresh blueberries). The meat section too, way more fresh stuff and way more Icelandic. 
Oh, and they had organic nuts!
When I walked out of there, genuinely pleased with the experience for the first time ever, I thought to myself, 'Must be under new management.' 

Everyone loves surprises!

Palmer has repeated on several occasions that his cars are going to a surprise birthday party. 
And all but one of the 8 guest I invited to his birthday party had other plans already. Yeah, that will be a surprise. 

Heat Wave!

It is supposed to be really warm in Iceland this weekend, and silly me, I agreed to work Saturday afternoon (the BIG WEDDING and all). But I suppose Sunday we will try to hit the 'beach' in Reykjavík, eða jafnvel á morgun.

Potty training

When Palmer got here to Iceland, he was just about potty trained, meaning he would go through the night without using his diaper. We were worried that the change of coming here would get that off track, but it didn't, he has not wet his diaper once since he has been here (though he did have an 'accident' when he was asleep in the car seat - boy those covers are a pain to reinstall after they have been washed). 
But this does mean that most mornings he wakes up at 4am or so, comes into my bed all fidgety, digging his feet into me, because he needs to pee but is too tired to just go in there himself. The excitement of me getting up (a bit annoyed, usually, that he did not just stop at the bathroom on the way to my room) usually means he lays there fidgeting next to me for an hour or so, before really getting back to sleep. 

So, potty training has one small little disadvantage. But it sure does save a lot of money on diapers. 

Travel agent

I really hate making travel arrangements on my own, especially to countries I have not visited much. But the internet makes the idea of calling a travel agent do the booking seem just ridiculous. 
So I am figuring out the train system between Germany and the Czech republic and hotels in Uppsala and flights in and out of Seattle, with the enthusiasm of a slug. 

Triangle of quality

When I was at the Smithsonian, the project manager for the exhibition, Joe Madeira, he told me this little gem of wisdom. He told me that time, money, and quality are a triangle, that if one wants high quality but has very little money, than one needs to take lots of time. If one wants high quality but has very little time, than one needs to spend lots of money. 
I think this concept evades most Icelanders, I am sorry to say. Seems instead they want to spend very little money and very little time, but they still expect really high quality. Icesave is a symptom of just how impossible it is to deny the laws of geometry. The triangle collapses. 

Of course the best way to get the highest, highest quality is to spend a lot of time and a lot of money on a project. 
This came to me today because I went to Kringlan earlier, and since I wanted to spend very little time there, I ended up buying Palmer a rather expensive jacket. But at least it was a high quality. 
The triangle proves true in all so…

Wanton destruction

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The excavators have been working outside of my apartment for weeks now, first digging trenches along the road, then along the parking lot, and now, the last few days, removing the light fixtures right outside my front door, digging a gigantic ditch around my house and the house next door. 
All of this in preparation of the switch over to 220 volt, instead of 110. To say the anticipation is mounting would be an understatement. When will this magical moment happen? I'll have to go to the school office and find out. 
In the mean time, I find myself more and more inclined towards the idea of moving to Reykjavik, especially after I picked up Kendra in Vesturbae this afternoon. The neighborhood near the Catholic church is amazing, and not an excavator in sight. 


So international

So, the lady that babysat Palmer a lot back in Berkeley, she is from the Czech Republic. This summer, she is there with her daughter, who is a really good friend of Palmer´s.  When I was in Cal over Christmas, she said we should come visit, and repeated that every once and a while to Palmer over the last few months. So Palmer got it in his head that he would like to go to the Czech Republic. 
I am totally game for this, having never been to Prague but always keen on the idea. 
But it was a total crack up working on the scheduling of this trip. When would Palmer be in Iceland, and I would not be on my way to Sweden? When would she not have visitors from South Africa or Italy? Should we meet instead in England, where we both have friends we would also like to visit? 
Finally we found a window wherein she would not have visitors and we would not be going anywhere else. So June 30th, look out Prague! An adorable little boy is on his way. 

Two degrees of separation

Someday, I will get sick of telling the story of my 10 year high school reunion. But I found occasion to repeat it today. Our front desk guy is going to a wedding this weekend, claims it will be the biggest, most expensive wedding ever in Iceland. A soccer player is marrying his girlfriend's best friend. I did not know how to respond to this other than to say I thought this sounded absolutely horrible, but I thought he might not appreciate that. 
So instead I repeated the story of my 10 year highschool reunion. When Tracy, the super geek, was unable to attend, because she was at Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's wedding. 

Carrot cake

Palmer and I were discussing why it is Dora's monkey friend likes banana cake. I asked him what sort of cake he liked: chocolate. Then I thought I'd ask him one other thing. "What is your mommy's favorite cake?" He knew the answer. 

Water world

The swimming pool in Keflavik is called Vatn Verold, which properly translates as Water World (whereas Vikingaheimar does not properly translate at Viking World - it properly translates as home of the Vikings or Viking Place). 
Anyhow, people in town have laughed about Vatn Verold, but I think it is a really nice pool, almost worthy of the name. They changed the name when they put in a large indoor area just for kids, with water slides and other fun apparati. Funny thing is, most kids prefer to stay outside in the old pool. Except Palmer. He likes having a whole big pool just for us. Reminds him of the house in Mission Viejo.  

Eccentric fashionista

There was much debate this morning, as to whether or not mommy should wear her thick white robe or her thin cotton robe. I was in favor of the thin cotton robe -- look at the pretty lace, and the ribbons -- but he had his own opinion about it. He wanted to snuggle. 

Monkeys on the bed

Last year, there was a sudden debate in Iceland about a children's counting book, where 10 black children are killed off one by one. That this book did not seem problematic long ago is still surprising to me, but anyhow, I just thought I would report that in the U.S., this same story has found a new expression--a new narrative frame--in the story about 10 little monkeys jumping on the bed. 
Ten little monkeys jumping on the bedOne falls off and bumps his headMomma calls the doctor and the doctor saysNo more monkeys jumping on the bed.
Next page:
Nine little monkeys hoping on the bedOne falls off and bumps his headMomma calls the doctor and the doctor saysNo more monkeys hoping on the bed
Next page:
Eight little monkeys skipping on the bedOne falls off and bumps his headMomma calls the doctor and the doctor saysNo more monkeys skipping on the bed
Next page:
Seven little monkeys dancing on the bedOne falls off and bumps his headMomma calls the doctor and the doctor saysNo more monkeys danc…

Not a big deal

Yesterday my colleague after walking through the exhibit said to me, "You had help didn't you?" and I said to him, no, no I did not have help, except with like lifting the plexiglas and boring holes. Otherwise, all me. 
I know this all was a lot of work, a big deal, a lot to decide, a lot to work out, a lot of pressure, a big public thing that now exists for all to see, nerve wracking, open to criticism, etc.. But to me it was just my job, no big deal. And there is still lots to do. Afram Island!

Limited

Yesterday my television suddenly stopped working, or no, not the TV itself, just the connection to the cable company. Network Error. No idea why, but I suspect it may have something to do with getting new channels and not having to pay for them. That my internet still works is a minor miracle. I am so far out of the loop of what is going on in this apartment complex, I do not even know when the electricity is going to get switched over. I am just hoping I do not walk in one day to find all the outlets burned out, and the toaster smoldering on the counter. I guess next week I should set aside some time to try to figure it out. 

Toilette paper and diapers

A colleague of mine just stopped by, with his wife and kids. They just got back from Berkeley, where he was teaching, and where Palmer had been over to visit them there. So that is good for Palmer to see I guess, that the connections continue across the Atlantic.
Only problem was I was only expecting him, to come see the exhibit. With the kids of course we came over here for lunch afterwards, and my house was in no way prepared for this. A clean diaper was lying on the bathroom counter, but I was out of toilette paper. Clothes were piled up on the washer, and more clothes strewn all over the guest bedroom. 
But still I think everyone was OK with the thrown together lunch of smoked lax on crackers appetizer followed by pepperoni pizza main course.
I pride myself on being a good hostess. 

First sentence of the morning

When Palmer is in California, I usually talk to him around 4pm his time, when he has just gotten home from school. That works out well, he tells me about his day and what kids were nice and which kids were mean. Sometimes though he is too wound up to just sit there and talk to me. 
Now he's here and he has started adjusting to the time, going to bed at a decent time and waking up and a decent time. But still he likes to sleep in longer than I do in the morning. This puts me in a conundrum, because I would like to lay in bed, waiting for him to get up. Not only because he is super snuggly first thing in the morning, but also because the first sentence out of his mouth is always a crack up. 
Yesterday it was, "All the boys were naked except for their underwear." This morning it was, "The fire engine turned into a rocket ship." 

Felt that one!

I officially just felt my first Icelandic earthquake. Becoming more and more of a native everyday. 

Roasted pig

We have a big painting of the raid at Lindisfarne Monastery in the museum, and we had put a lot of thought into it, to have the chieftains dividing up the loot on the beach, to have the men tearing the books apart, taking only the decorated hinges with them, to have a few captives being carried off to the ships. The kids always get wide eyed, wondering why there is a dead man floating in the water - what happened to him? Nearby, the Viking raiders are roasting a pig. Just now, Palmer asked me why the Vikings killed the pig, and then informed me that when it is dead, it should be called pork. 
A pig on a spit. Good stuff. 

Going back to Cali

In 2011. Assuming of course my dissertation is done. Really looking forward to being back on campus, and working with my dissertation committee to get it filed. 

Spennufall

So I have been working unbelievably long hours with rather little help for the last two or three months, and the last two weeks have been especially wearing. But still today I went to work, tried to get a few more things done. One lady flat out refused to meet with me today, said I must be having a spennufall and it could wait. 
I like this Icelandic word spennufall, and I think it is doing its linguistic job very well, because it is making something that is only sort of a vague idea in English -- a combination of overworked and let down and need a break-- into a single noun, a concrete thing. Such that everyone in Iceland wholly expects that at some point in time, I will stop being so energetic, and just collapse. 
Damn Faeroese fish bones. They are simply too insulted to not be on display for me to let them wait any longer than necessary. And thus I will go in again at 9am tomorrow, spennufall or not.

Two of everything

When I first got my apartment here in Iceland two years ago, I started joking about how I now had two of everything, two apartments, two cars, two cell phones, two bank accounts, two computers, two passports, two sets of clothes. Never quite got around to having two husbands, but it would not have surprised me, at the rate I was going. 
Today I heard that my car in California has blown a gasket, and it will be impractically expensive to fix for such an old car (1991 Saab 9000cs). I am sad about it, since actually, I really liked that car. I bought it as one of my first actions after getting divorced. 
So now I have one car, instead of two.
And Dave will be moving out of our apartment this month, which means I will no longer have an apartment in California.  So I will have one apartment, instead of two. 
My American cell phone fell in a sink in New York, and has stopped working. So now I only have one cell phone.
I believe the world is conspiring against me. Forcing me to get two husbands, …

The sails did it

Today, Vikingaheimar looked like it had an exhibition. Instead of just some boxes placed here or there. And that was good. I guess that counts as an opening. 

Translation needed

I´ll try my mom again, but if anyone else feels like lending me a hand, here is the text I need translated, before 3pm. 
It is no exaggeration to say, ´There would be no Viking Age without the Viking ship.´All that has made the Viking Age a subject of fascination for scholars, lay people, and children depends on the simple innovation of setting a sail onto a rowing ship. The raids that shook Europe in the late 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries, the conquests of Normandy and England, the military campaigns into the Ukraine and around the mediterannean, all came about because the Viking ship was faster, sleaker, and more mobile than any other craft of its day. And the settlement of the North Atlantic, the islands of the Faeroes, Iceland, and Greenland, surely would not have been undertaken were it not for Viking Age settlers feeling that mainland Europe was not so far away. A four day trip on a stead of the waves, gliding over the water, was not so bad. The Viking ship made the world a smalle…

Falcons etc.

So, well, we decided not to invite Reykjanes godi to the event this afternoon, but "we" did decide to put a marble statue of a helmeted man with a raven on his shoulder next to the building. 
I think in my little mini speech (which oh my god I am supposed to give in Icelandic), I should just pray to Þór, and thank him for guiding this ship to safe harbor. 

bu-skap futtu slands

I am, as those who know me well will attest, not particularly good at following rules, even those I set up for myself. Like the rule to never, ever read over the text that has just arrived from the printer at the very last second, when one has no time or chance to change anything. 
Because one would really rather not know that the Icelandic text accompanying the photo of Hvalsey church has two typos and one spelling mistake. If that average holds through for the whole, I am going to have to spend a lot of energy tomorrow ignoring the text. That I ust haard printned. 

Cell phone mishaps

Twice this past week, I happily went into my cell phone saved numbers, confidently selected a number to call, and then when the person answered on the other end, it turned out to not be the person I was meaning to call. Thereafter ensued one of those awkward conversations wherein one pretends they meant to do that, because of course anyone in one's cell phone is someone one would like to talk to, but still tries to get off the phone quickly.

I think it will be fine

In the exhibition cases from the Smithsonian, one can spot differences in the background color for the various pieces of exhibition text. I remember Joe, our project manager, commenting on how remarkable this was, how the same printer with the same color code could manage to produce so many different shades of gray and maroon, simply by using a different machine to print different material. So, it is basically unavoidable, I mean, really.

I am therefore resolved not to beat myself up in the least if the same thing happens this week, as we print up and install the new text and images I have prepared. I really do think it will be fine.

Breaking the law

The carpenters came by my house this morning, to get the keys to Vikingaheimar. I was asking them how long they would be working; clearly I could not be there with Palmer while they were working. Anyhow, long story short, we decided the most sensible thing was for me to bring the computer down there, which is owned by the township, up here to my house, to use here for the next day or two. 
Always nice to have right thinking gentlemen to discuss matters with. Even if their advice is to break the law. The township computer looks lovely on my coffee table. 

Sundays

Although I do not have a regular job, and although I was at work last night until 11pm, instead of out having a good time like most other Icelanders, still there is something about Sunday mornings that always makes me happy. As if I can feel the prayers of all the people at church today. Or just that the quiet that pervades these mornings fills me with ease.  
It is my favorite thing about myself, that I am a morning person. Which is good, since I have to wake up with me everyday. 

17 june

We are having an open house on June 17th, starting at around 3pm. Everyone is welcome, kids included, which should be nice. 
The opening at the Smithsonian was an evening affair, high security and much protocal, since we had the heads of state of Iceland, Finland, and Norway, and the Crown Princess of Sweden and Prince of Denmark there. I spent several days shopping for my evening gown, a simple straight shell dress, pale purple with silver threading in a diamond pattern. I liked it. Unfortunately, in all the pictures, I look 10 pounds heavier than I was. And actually, the whole evening did not go as planned, was far too stressful and exhausting after a super exhausting 2 years of working 12 hour days, and the weekends. 

photos photos photos

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In honor of Guy, who asked twice, I hereby post some photos from Greenland. Thanks goes to Palmer, who decided to sleep in this morning. It was an exhausting evening with the twins. 

Twins to the rescue!

Osk and Thelma, my cousin Fanney's gorgeous twin daughters, baby sat Palmer for 2 hours last night, and are going to again this afternoon. Which means . . . . maybe, just maybe, I might actually PULL THIS OFF!! Woo Hooo!  (Only partially related to Sutton Hoo). 

Frettablaðið

There was an article about Vikingaheimar in the news today. I myself do not get any newspapers, relying on others to tell me if there is something important. And it usually works out that way. I was at Gunnar's house today getting a few more photos, and Palmer played upstairs, when Gunnar's wife mentioned the article to me. I was extremely happy that the word Smithsonian did not appear in it. The lawyers at the Smithsonian have made it rather clear, and I myself have tried for years to get this point across, that their name cannot be used in any way without prior authorization. This concept has zero traction here in Iceland. The idea that one should do something enough in advance, and with enough pre-planning and group consultation, that there would be time enough to wait the day or two it takes to hear back from the Smithsonian Special Exhibits office, well, that is pretty much out of the question around here. Nope, now it seems it will be never, ever used again. And that sui…

Beeaauutiful Day

On what must count as one of the most beautiful days I have seen here in Iceland, my son and I are stuck inside, as I get PDF files ready for the printer. But I am resolved not to let the entire day go past without taking a wee walk.

Tango

In a vain attempt to get the Thomas the Tank Engine DVD working for Palmer, I instead had to find a TV channel that would do. I was pretty pleased to discover that the Danish channel (which mysterious appeared on my TV recently) was showing a reality show about a Danish couple learning to Tango. The show had flown them to Buenos Aires, and the man, Carsten, he was really so serious about the whole thing, wanting very much to get the dance right, but being basically too uptight to just lead his woman around the room exuding passion. Oddly enough, it helped that at one point, they went to a priest who actually prayed over the woman's dance shoes, and gave a mini-sermon about how passion is a gift from God, a motivating force in life. Finally, Carsten seemed to have embraced the idea that in the Tango, the man needs to lead, and let his partner feel secure in following. And that made Vicki happy too, so all ended well. (on a side note, it is amazing how well these reality TV show pro…

Loosing it

My aunt called me a bit ago, and seemed mildly offended I had not already come to visit with Dave and Palmer. Yeah, yeah. Bad niece points piling up. Bad mommy points will probably be accumulated this week, since I have no one to babysit Palmer and therefore he will have to entertain himself at the museum while I get the last little layouts done for the printer. At least now he will know what mommy's work is, which is good. 
Anyhow, I started crying talking to my aunt, because the truth is opening weeks are always horrible, but since I have had 6 weeks of opening weeks, I am pretty well past exhausted. And when I got off the phone, my friend Kendra, who is staying the night, says to me, "Wow, really seems like you are loosing it." 
Nah, two more days at most of killing myself, and then I am going to spend days and days at home, doing nothing but playing cars. 

Humarsupa

I took Dave out to dinner tonight, to a decent fish meal here in Keflavik, after all the help he gave me with my exhibit yesterday and today. Still a ton to do, but nice to have a few things off my plate! 
Well, speaking of plate, I just wanted to tell any readers that if they have the chance to order humarsupa (lobster soup) here in Iceland, they definitely should. Mine was a bit heavy on the cream, but the chunks of humar were just deliciouso!  Way better than American lobster (goes without saying, I know, but I actually can taste the difference...). 

Serendipity

Last night I was modifying the brackets that used to hold Viking Age jewelry from Denmark, Gotland, and Finland to fit the objects I got last week in Greenland. Five years ago, when we first started talking about this project, I decided not to take the gigantic case about the Greenland settlements, instead took a smaller case about Viking jewelry, pretty sure I would modify the insides. At the time, I did not know what I would modify it for, but as the plans have evolved, it has worked out to use this case for the Greenland settlement in terms of its size and shape. 
Well, so now I am tackling the tricky problem of changing the brackets. 
Call me a silly optimist, call me a very lucky person, call me someone who expects serendipity and therefore receives it, but anyhow, several of the brackets required only minimal modification (one little bend, one little clip) to fit the Greenland objects, and no painting at all! 

Did I know for sure 5 years ago it would work out like this? No, but som…

Cars

I have discovered that I can indeed play cars with Palmer, since the way he plays cars (and maybe this is how all little boys do it) is to have the cars talk to each other. This morning Lexus got new tires and went to tell his friends the Shelby and the Monster Truck and the Car Carrier all about it. Oh, and the Ferrari. Yellow Ferrari. Yep, that's a cool car. 
In other Palmer news, while I was at work last night, Palmer played on the playground with some Icelandic kids. Dave kept watching out the window, was sure the Icelandic kids were giving Palmer a hard time. Which maybe they were. Afterall, his Icelandic is almost non-existent, and he is too sweet and trusting, always going up to kids and saying hi, even if they aren't very friendly. 

The news

Dave was talking to me last night about the changes to the Supreme Court in the U.S. I had no idea Sutter was stepping down, no idea Ginsberg had cancer. I gave a special tour of my exhibition in D.C. to Justice Ginsberg, so I took that news pretty hard, and of course Sutter has not been on the bench all that long, so that news seems sort of surprising to me. I have got to figure out a better way to keep up with international news! 

Seriously

I really do not think anyone in Iceland possibly thought the financial situation was this dire. Although the Prime Minister is a pretty blunt politician, still, for her to say things were worse than she thought, and she has been on the inside for years, well, that is really bad. It honestly seemed like people thought it would only take a few months for this to turn around, but I think it is sinking in now, that this is the new reality for Iceland. 

Technically speaking

It is probably not so polite to make a person who has traveled half way around the world, and is still very jetlagged, come help me with my museum. But on the other hand, the more I get done now, the less Palmer will be neglected next week, after Dave leaves. 

Job duties

I am starting to suspect that the assignment of tasks and responsibility are starting to shake out a little at work. Yesterday Gunnar came by to help me open a case, and the timing worked out such that he also talked to a group of graduates from MR (1973 class I think, or maybe 1963). Which was great; Gunnar was well suited to talk to this group. When something like this starts, lacking as it does crystal clear leadership, there is the fear from everyone involved that they will have nothing to contribute, no role to fill. Not that people necessarily want to have to stagnate in anyone position, but we are learning that each of us has aptitudes, and that these aptitudes are very complementary. From that base all the little gaps can eventually be filled.  

A bit too international

It turns out, it is almost impossible to find affordable, normal Icelandic food in Reykjavik, at least not for dinner. After driving down Laugurvegur looking for such to no avail, I finally just declared 'we are eating here'. It was Hungarian. 

The many sides of Iceland

Although some tourists who come during a cold spell may not believe it, there can indeed be very clear, warm days here in Iceland. 
These seem to be the days when arial photography is at its most, for obvious reasons. Bright sun and the clear air make every feature of the landscape really stand out. When these photos make it to the web, like the picture of the airport I was looking at yesterday, Iceland is suddenly transformed into the American Southwest. 
Car commercials tend to prefer the cloudy days and raking sunlight of the autumn, when the landscape becomes saturated with a diffuse light that changes the hue of everything. 

Snacka packa

Since Dave is only going to be here a few days, he is planning more or less to stay on West Coast time. Which means we'll be having dinner very late. 

Teenagers

There are about 50 teenagers at Vikingaheimar right now. The thrill of being here is palpable. Most of them are sitting on the steps.

Arrivals

My special little packet of love arrived this morning, bleary eyed and incoherent but still trying to strike up a conversation with his mommy. Too cute.

I was getting pretty anxious waiting for them to come out of customs, since a half hour after the plane landed, they still had not emerged. Turns out Icelandair now has some new policy where they hold all passengers at the gate, or something. Trying to teach this impatient country some patience, I guess.

Professionalism

My luncheon companion remarked today that just in the short time she had spent talking to me, she could already tell one way in which I was not at all Icelandic. I work hard because I believe in what I am doing, and not for what it will do for my reputation. Though I know she meant it as a compliment, in a society where status has tangible value, it is a clear handicap to not barter in the same currency as one's countrymen. And yet I can only assume somehow, someone will notice the project is worthy, in and of itself. 

Amokka

I had a lovely coincidence filled day today in Reykjavík. Went to the sound studio for recording our computer displays, and the woman doing the voice over, turns out she lived in Berkeley for years and years. So we ended up going to lunch, and that was really nice, to make a new friend, plus she is a radio personality, good to chat with. At the restaurant, I ran into someone I knew from my days at the Smithsonian, used to be the defense attache and is now working at the foreign ministry. Turns out I have been reading his blog from time to time without putting two and two together, but as soon as I clicked through the link on his facebook page, I recognized it. It has a cute picture of two dogs looking at a duck.

So I'm feeling all interconnected and part of the scene. See how long that lasts....

Thank you gift

I am trying to come up with an appropriate thank you gift to send my host in Greenland. There are a few criteria, simple in some sense but actually a bit hard in combination. 
First of all, the gift has to be Icelandic. I mean, that goes without saying. 
Second of all, the gift has to be intelligent. This was a classy couple, well educated, with lots of nice stuff all over their house, really nice antique hand made stuff. 
Then the gift has to be personal, has to be something that is suitably coming from me. It has to be reminiscent of me or of our time together, if it is to be meaningful.
Whether or not the gift is expensive is not the point at all. 
I think I know what I'll send them. 

Dog parking

It took me several looks to convince myself of this, but indeed, in Greenland, there are marked areas for dog parking, with signs and everything. Nice to see a place that shows these animals the respect they deserve. Afterall, even the earliest hominid sites show signs of interaction with canines. Its evolutionary, my dear. 

Smá mont

I forgot to say, in all the hubbub of last week, that on Thursday, we had a reception for the college students that had been digging at the Hafnir landnámsbær. They had a nice 2 week dig, uncovered about a third of the house and made some interesting finds. 
After they had chips and beer, and Gunnar talked to them about his ship, I then took the group around the exhibition. It was my first tour group since we´ve got things more or less set up, and well, it was OK but will surely improve.
Anyhow, the nice thing about the evening was that towards the end, I had a minute to talk to the head of the cultural division for the township, and she mentioned how very much she liked the draft of a teacher´s guide (or family guide) I had sent her a week earlier. I was so excited! She had not replied to my email, so I did not know what to think of that, but as it turns out, she is very supportive.  We are going to get a group of teachers together and try to figure out how to present the exhibition to…

On eating whale

Tonight I´m having spaghetti for dinner.  Last night I was in Greenland, at my colleagues house, and his wife, who is native Greenlandic, had made us a nice appetizer (the husband cooked the main course - lamb!). One side of the appetizer plate was salmon wrapped around a sourcream and onion filling, with green onions on top. Very tasty salmon. In the middle was a small bowl of soy sauce, and to the right were chunks of beluga whale skin, with nice pink blubber attached. As we sat down to eat, she said to me, 'Have you ever eaten whale before?'.  Well, I had the distinct impression she was testing me with this question, and thus I cooly answered, 'Yes, the native Alaskans that visited us at the Smithsonian used to bring matasuk pretty often, and of course up in Dalvík last summer I had some great whale steak tartare. Served with soy sauce, actually.' 
The little person inside of me always does a happy dance when I pass tests like this. 

Packaging

Today we are packaging up the artifacts from Greenland, and then I think I will keep them on my lap most of the flight, since there is a lot of vibration on the plane. I feel like I am confirming the adage, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.