tíu dagar á íslandi, part 2

addendum to friday

I forgot to mention in my previous post that on Friday evening, I went with Ásta Sól to a reception for the current Snorri Plus group.  Relatives of each participant were invited, plus supporters of the Snorri programs, and it was a very full house (well, office).  I got to see Kent, tour guide and bus driver extraordinaire, who informed me that I get to be an honourary Canuck for Canadian Thanksgiving this year; Halldór, who I first met while on the Snorri Program; and Rúnar, a professor, author and translator I met at Þorrablót in Seattle earlier this year.  The crowd was rather overwhelming, but watching people connect with their long-lost relatives, hugging and taking photos and poring over genealogy together, was an impressive and moving sight to behold.

laugardagur / saturday

Saturday was Menningarnótt, or Reykjavík Culture Night. Officially, Menningarnótt is intended to celebrate the start of a new year of cultural events, or something like that.  Unofficially, it’s a good excuse for a city-wide party, including free events and food!

Before I partook in any Menningarnótt festivities, however, I went to Café Babalú to meet Kelsey, a fellow Icelandic as a Second Language student and Árni Magnússon grant recipient.  Kelsey had found me on Facebook somehow and we thought it would be fun to meet each other and postulate about what to expect on the looming stöðupróf, the placement test we had to take to determine if we could begin the BA program.  Kelsey is from California via British Columbia and if she wasn’t so great, she would be incredibly intimidating, on account of being fluent or near-fluent in at least 3 (?) non-native languages.  We sat chatting over cups of coffee long enough that we were kindly asked to leave due to the encroaching Menningarnótt hordes.

So back to that whole Menningarnótt thing. There were events going on all around the city throughout the day. I studied the schedule and saw a few events I would have liked to go to (including “Free Hugs” on Laugavegur from 2:00-3:00), but ultimately decided to meet up with a couple new friends and just wander around and see what we found.  I met up with Daniela and Harry in the afternoon (see: fimmtudagur here) at KEX and we set out to see what Menningarnótt might hold for us.  Before long, we found our first stop: vöfflukaffi!  There were several places around the city that were offering free waffles and coffee to visitors. We happened to stop at a little house that is a resource/community center for people living with HIV.  We sat and enjoyed some fresh vöfflur með sultu og rjóma, then continued on our merry way.

For lunch, we went to a little pizza place tucked away on Hverfisgata, and I was introduced to the phenomenon of pizza that comes with a salad on top.  Apparently this is considered normal by many people who are not Americans.

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I went home to escape the crowd for a few hours, then set out again to meet up with Kimberly.  She was with her frændi Helgi and his girlfriend Sóley, and they were bouncing back and forth to different venues to watch friends playing in bands (because, Iceland).  I followed them around like a little duckling for an hour or so, and then decided I had to escape the crowds again.

There were fireworks by Harpa starting at eleven, but after I fought my way home through the crowd and settled in on the couch, I wasn’t terribly excited about venturing back out into the insanity.  So I joined Ásta Sól’s family in watching the festivities on TV, which was kind of strange during the fireworks as we could see flashes out the window and hear the explosions.

To summarize: Menningarnótt is quite a spectacle to behold.  There are endless options for how to spend the day, and the city is buzzing with energy wherever you go.  But the crowds definitely got to me after a while.  If I am here for Menningarnótt next year, I might try to plan out my day a bit more and compare that sort of experience to the wandering experience.  I’m sure both are enjoyable in their own way.

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sunnudagur / sunday

After a lazy Sunday morning, I went with Ásta Sól in the afternoon to Þjóðræknisþing – the annual convention of Þjóðræknisfélag Íslendinga, the sister organization to the Icelandic National League of North America.  We arrived a bit late (Iceland may be a rather large island, but I think “island time” still applies) but still got to see most of the program, which was, no surprise, almost entirely in Icelandic.  I understood a very teeny tiny fraction of what was going on, but it was still interesting.

I think my favorite presentation was from a University of Iceland researcher who has been studying so-called “Western Icelandic,” the distinct dialect of Icelandic that developed among Icelandic settlers in North America and in some cases has been passed down several generations now.  From what I understood, part of her project was that when she met with speakers of Western Icelandic, she brought an illustrated, wordless book.  The pictures clearly tell a story, but the experiment was in hearing how these people chose to tell the story.  Because there were pictures, and because it was a children’s story, it was much easier for me to follow.

There was another Icelandic-language presentation of which I understood very little, but Ásta Sól explained it to me a bit later on.  It was about the concepts of “blóðtaka” and “blóðgjöf.”  The words don’t translate directly into English very well, but “blóðtaka” would be something like bloodletting and “blóðgjöf” is like a gift of blood of gift by blood.  Since I couldn’t understand the presentation, I don’t remember the details of the story very well, but it was something about an Icelandic woman who emigrated to Canada, had one child and then died, and her family in Iceland completely lost track of her.  As it turns out, her child has many descendants, including a very prominent family in the Winnipeg area.  I think the overall idea is that the emigration of so many Icelanders to North America was a painful loss, a hugely significant event that tore families apart, but had that blood not been taken from the body of Icelanders, fewer would have survived overall (due to a stark lack of resources), and people would never have known the joy of reconnecting with long-lost relatives from across the ocean.

That is a very inarticulate summary, but I have to say that the presentation struck a chord even with as little of it as I could understand.

Other presentations included:

  • A recap of the 2014 Snorri West experience (which made me homesick for my own Snorri experience, especially since none other than fellow 2012 Snorri and overall fabulous human being Sacha made an appearance in the video)
  • A brief speech about Icelandic settlers in Utah by Dr. Fred Woods, a BYU professor and researcher who gave a wonderful presentation at the INL Convention in Seattle last year
  • A beautiful presentation by the always-sunny Sunna Furstenau about her Icelandic Roots organization
  • A presentation by Egill Helgason, whose TV show Veturfarar finds him traveling to North America to explore the areas of settlement, stories of immigrants, and the Icelandic heritage in North America today (it’s a 10-part series that will run on RÚV on Sunday evenings; you can watch the first episode here but note that it’s all in Icelandic).

After the program, I got to chat with a few people I know and meet some of this year’s Snorri Plus participants, including one with the fabulous name of Julie.

I also got to give a quick hug and hello to Sunna mín.  Sunna has been a tremendous example and encouragement to me and was kind enough to write me a recommendation for my Fulbright grant, so I literally would not be where I am today without her.

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Áfram Jóð Té!

You may have heard that Justin Timberlake was in Iceland last weekend.  It was a Big Deal.  He had never performed in Iceland before, and although Iceland has an incredible amount of talented musicians, many of whom are internationally known, they do not often attract útlendingar with names as big as Justin Timberlake.  Earlier in the week, there was a two-page guide in Fréttatíminn with information about the JT concert, including the ridiculously complicated parking/carpooling/public transportation rules.  Apparently people who live in the neighborhood of the venue had to have special passes to even get to their own homes.  So not everyone was thrilled about JT’s presence here.

Anyway, the powers that be decided that the Official Hashtag for this magnificent event should be #JTKorinn (Kórinn being the name of the venue).  Before the concert started, one of the Icelandic TV channels was showing a feed of Twitter posts and photos with the #JTKorinn hashtag.  Iceland being Iceland, Ásta Sól and Addi kept pointing out people they knew in the photos.  Something went wrong with the licensing or the technology, though, because the channel just kept cycling through the same 12 or so Tweets, which was awkward.

At the appointed hour, The Event began, and because it was live streamed on Yahoo, we got to experience it almost as if we were actually there with the rest of the country.  JT got himself in a bit of trouble, arguably, by addressing the crowd as “Reykjavík,” when in fact Kórinn is in neighboring Kópavogur.  Úbs.  But Kópavogur not exactly being a booming metropolis, and Reykjavík being home to two-thirds of Iceland’s population, it is entirely likely that the majority of the crowd was from Reykjavík.

The media coverage of #JTKorinn was quite a sight to behold.  I say “media” rather than “news,” because it very quickly devolved from things that are actually news (the occurrence of the concert itself, the traffic jam it caused) to things that could only loosely be considered news (an interview with the first two people in line for the concert, two women who traveled from Denmark just to see JT) to things that might as well be BuzzFeed articles, so little do they resemble actual news (e.g., an article about the long bathroom lines at the concert; although I will say that this one was educational as it taught me the Icelandic phrase “að kasta af sér vatni,” which means “to make water” or more colloquially, “to take a leak”).

I think the volcano could have erupted and the media might not have noticed, so focused were they on JT.  And the obsession did not end with the concert.  The next day there were articles dissecting the show, making fun of JT’s Reykjavík mistake, predicting that other big international stars will come to Iceland soon, telling the story of a girl who fainted at the concert and a bartender who gave JT’s drummer a cigarette and got drumsticks from the show in return, etc.  It was nonstop, it was ridiculous, and it was entertaining.

 —

Well, I have finally recapped one full week, which only leaves one more week to go until I am caught up.  Writing about JT was exhausting, though, so I shall stop here for now.  Until my next post is up, you can entertain yourself by reading Vísir articles about JT or perhaps listening to N*Sync’s new hit album (yes, you read that correctly, and no, it is not 2001).

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tíu dagar á íslandi, part 1

Jæja, ég flutti til Íslands.  It really happened.  I moved to Iceland!

I have been here for 10 days (well, I had been when I started writing this; now it’s been more like 12 days) and I apologize for not writing sooner, but the weather was fantastic last week so I felt obligated to be out and about and not sitting in front of a computer.  Plus, life has been busy even though classes have yet to start.  I’ll try to recap the highlights of the last 10 days, but a lot has happened, so I may need to split the account into multiple entries.  But of course we should start with…

the trip

There isn’t much to say about this, really.  I stuffed two huge suitcases and a third smaller one to the 50-lb limit and you’d never even know from looking at my room at home that I’d taken anything.  Packing was not a terribly fun task for several reasons, including 1) I suck at it; 2) it is very difficult to pack bulky winter clothes well; and 3) I have been dealing with a thyroid infection, had to have a biopsy a few days before I left, and was feeling generally icky.  I made several last-minute shopping trips, but somehow I got everything together.

On Sunday morning (the 17th), I had to say goodbye to my kitty:

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I was laughing here but it was really quite terribly sad to say goodbye to kitty since she is 17 and the best kitty in the world 😦

Anyway, I went to Old Town Battle Grounds for breakfast and coffee with my parents and sister.  Mmm Stumptown.  I miss it already.  My parents drove me up to Sea-Tac and we parted ways.  I got though security quickly and spent a couple hours wandering around the airport, buying a few gifts, eating overpriced food, and wondering about the adventures of the people all around me.

The flight was very smooth and went fairly quickly.  I am not at all good at sleeping on planes, but I rested a bit and watched some good ol’ American sitcoms.  Before I knew it, we were flying over Greenland, and that soon gave way to the barren lava field wasteland of the Keflavík peninsula.

I went through passport control and they didn’t even ask why I was here, just stamped my passport and sent me on my way.  It was almost a bit of a letdown.  After collecting my 150 plus pounds of stuff, I met Ásta Sól outside in the brisk Icelandic morning air, which felt wonderful after the stuffy plane air.

I bought an inaugural cup of bananasplitti skyr, then we were off to Reykjavík and my new home on Grettisgata.  It was more difficult to adjust to the time change than when I was here two years ago, I am sure because it is later in the summer and there is no energizing perpetual daylight.  Also, with the Snorri Program, we had a very busy schedule from day one, so there was really no choice but to adapt immediately.

mánudagur / monday

After a long nap, I walked around the city a bit and caffeinated at Kaffitár.  I honestly don’t remember what else I did that day, except enjoy a lovely dinner with Ásta Sól’s family and sleep.

Since this day is pretty boring to read about, here are some pretty pictures of Reykjavík dressed up in sunshine:

þriðjudagur / tuesday

On Tuesday, I made my way over to the Fulbright office (a couple blocks away, on Laugavegur above Bónus) and met the director and advisor.  The director had a 4-week-old puppy and a not-entirely-hairless sphinx cat in her office, and apparently has written a children’s book about her former sphinx.

Then I walked down to Lækjartorg to meet up with Carina and Sigrún.  Sigrún is a frænka of my Seattle friend David, and Carina is her German friend who has lived in Iceland for many years.  We met in Seattle last year.  Carina and Sigrún were on an epic road trip across the States and were spending a couple days in Seattle and visiting David.

I arrived at Lækjartorg early, so I sat on a bench and read for a few minutes.  Sigrún came up to me with her mother and said, “Julie?” I confirmed that it was me and she said she had pointed me out to her mom from across the square and her mom said, “Are you sure that’s her? She looks so Icelandic!”  I am not sure I believe that, but I guess I will take it!

Carina arrived and we decided to go to Café Babalú, a colorful (literally) little spot on Skólavörðustígur.  Everything seems quite overpriced (but everything here is expensive) and the coffee is just okay, but the súkkulaðikaka (chocolate cake)… mmm.  It is like a beautiful, overpriced, unhealthy little slice of heaven.  The three of us chatted for quite a while and I eavesdropped a bit on the conversations around us.  The café attracts so many tourists that there are probably at least 7 languages being spoken in there at any given time.  It is also not a great place to practice your Icelandic with the staff, as I discovered the next day; they seem to employ quite a few expats who do not speak Icelandic.

 —

miðvikudagur / wednesday

My number one to-do item on Wednesday was to go to Útlendingastofnun (the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration) to have my photo taken so I can receive my dvalarleyfi (residence permit).  I looked up the directions and set out for what should have been a 15-minute walk.  I may have gotten a bit turned around and taken twice that long to arrive; I will never tell.  Speaking of things I will not admit, I will never admit that when I got there and pulled on the door and it didn’t open, I turned around and walked outside and had to give myself a pep talk and ask myself if I had tried pushing on the door, and then felt very sheepish and had to give myself another pep talk to convince myself to go back and try pushing the door open.

I pushed the door and it opened.  The place was suspiciously empty and I soon discovered why; the immigrant-photographing machine was broken, so that was that.  The employee told me to call the next day and find out if it had been fixed before actually going there.  After all that drama, my plans were thwarted.  Oh well.  Þetta reddast.

I went back to Café Babalú to have lunch and (theoretically) get some writing done.  I got up the courage to speak to the staff in Icelandic (“Hvað er súpa dagsins?”) and was answered with, “It’s tomato soup.”  Apparently I chose one of the non-Icelandic-speaking employees to ask.  But there was an Icelandic guy working as well and he overheard, so he humored me and finished the transaction with me in Icelandic.  Thanks, dude at Café Babalú.  I appreciate that.

fimmtudagur / thursday

On Thursday morning, I walked a block up the street to Reykjavík Roasters to meet Elliott for kaffi.  Elliott received the joint Fulbright-Árni Magnússon grant last year, so he kindly agreed to meet up with me and give me some information on the BA program and the placement test.  Elliott is from Texas and has been interested in Iceland for years.  He helped me feel a bit more confident about the placement test, I think, and simultaneously more nervous and more excited about the program itself as he explained that we would be reading novels and writing reports all in Icelandic the first semester.

By the way, I am about 95% certain that I spotted Borko in a corner of the coffee shop.

I held Elliott hostage for a solid two hours, then meandered back down the street and spent a bit of time sitting in the garden, moving my chair to follow the little sliver of sunlight and trying to study.  While I was out, Kimberly, my fellow Snorri and the Canadian recipient of the Árni Magnússon grant, stopped by with her cousin Bjarni.  Bjarni asked me why Americans make fun of Canadians.  Why not, Bjarni?  They make it so easy with their ketchup chips and their “eh’s” and their politeness.  (I actually made up a more diplomatic answer than that, I promise.)

For dinner, Ásta Sól took me to a little place just down the street for a “hamborgaratilboð” (“hamburger special”).  Yes, people at home who have never seen me eat beef, you read that correctly: I ate a hamburger.  When in Rome.  Or rather, when in Reykjavík.

Sofar, so very very good

After dinner, I walked over to the university campus.  David, a dear friend from Seattle, had “introduced” me over Facebook to his friend Leana, who has lived in Reykjavík with her Icelandic other half for over a year now and is studying Icelandic as a Second Language at the university.  She is involved with something called Sofar Sounds, which puts on small, intimate concerts with locations announced the day of the show.  Who is performing?  Well, it could be anyone; the lineup is not announced, so it’s a surprise when you arrive.  Leana sent me a message soon after I arrived in Iceland and told me there was room on the guest list for an upcoming show and she could add my name if I was interested.  I am not a terribly outgoing person, and the thought of being in a room full of strangers listening to mystery musicians who could have turned out to be awful did not sound 100% appealing… but I said yes, because I need to push myself to get out and try new things.  I did not regret that decision.

I received an email that day with directions for finding the location: one of the new dorms at the University of Iceland.  It was so exclusive and clandestine.  I finally found what I thought was the correct hall, but I wasn’t sure – until I turned around and saw Svavar Knútur walking toward me, guitar and ukulele in tow.  Svavar is a friend of Ásta Sól’s and an incredibly talented singer-songwriter who performed for our Snorri group two years ago.  I was so happy to know that I had found the right place and that he was performing that I think I freaked him out a bit.  I think I actually said something like, “You don’t know who I am, but I know who you are and now I know I’m in the right place!”  Awkward.

Anyway, I followed him into the dorm and up to the second floor communal kitchen and was swept up into a magical evening.  I finally got to meet Leana in person.  There was free ice cream, courtesy of Ísgerðin, a soft-serve ice cream place in 107 Reykjavík run by an American-Icelandic couple.  The American half used to be an investment banker in New York and met his Icelandic other half on a ski trip.  The American gave up his fast-paced NYC lifestyle and moved here to be with his love and now they make ice cream together. Sounds like a heartwarming film, doesn’t it?  Anyway, I enjoyed a little dish of pistasíu ís and eavesdropped on an English-language conversation while I waited for the show to begin.  I ended up inviting myself to join the aforementioned conversation, which was a good decision since I then met Daniela, a German exchange student, and Harry, an English sound engineer currently working in Sigur Rós’ studio in Mosfellsbær.

(Overheard outside my window, while writing this at 1:20 AM:

Person the first: “…that’s because Denmark used to rule Iceland.”

Person the second, in a shocked tone, “What?!?”)

Part of the fun of the evening was that aside from Svavar, I had no idea what to expect from the performers.  Their names were all written on posters in the kitchen, but I had never hear of the other three bands: Þausk, Del Water Gap, and Una Stef. And because there was no “backstage” area, the performers were all just sitting in the audience with the rest of us, so you never quite knew who was going to stand up and walk to the front to play next.

The first band was Þausk, a trio of Icelanders whose songs featured catchy bass lines and husky vocals (see: “Suave Shaker“).  Second was Holden, one-third of the American band Del Water Gap.  He played several earnest, Ryan Adams-esque tunes on his guitar and endearingly mispronounced several Icelandic words.

Third was Una Stef, a young Icelandic powerhouse usually backed by a brassy band.  She said she felt rather uncomfortable playing an acoustic set, but the stripped-down accompaniment (just an acoustic guitar and bass, a djembe, and a couple backup singers) allowed her marvelous voice to shine.  The highlight of the set was a cover of the Destiny’s Child classic “Survivor.”  No, really; trust me, it was fantastic.  She made all of us feel pretty unaccomplished when she said that she wrote most of the songs on her album when she was thirteen.

Last up was everyone’s favorite (well, mine, anyway) Icelandic troubadour, Svavar Knútur.  Svavar finished up the night with his trademark blend of dark but sweetly sung lyrics and hilariously inappropriate humor.  I appreciated that Svavar sang a couple of his Icelandic-language songs because, as he said, he loves his language and he loves singing in it.

After the show, I hung out for quite a while, chatted with Daniela and the Sofar team a bit, got a tour of Daniela’s room and her hilariously tiny balcony (for smoking, presumably, although as she is not a smoker I suggested she might consider decorating it seasonally), and then had a lovely little chat with Leana as we walked home in the late evening (early morning, actually) darkness.

Part of the Sofar philosophy is to enjoy the show in the moment, so they do not allow photography or filming at their shows.  As such, I have no photos of the evening to share with you, but I hope you can tell from my words alone that it was a magical experience.

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föstudagur / friday

On Friday, I met up with my new friend Daniela and we went to the Laundromat Café for lunch (expensive and touristy, but a huge amount of tasty food, plus they have a color-organized bookshelf and an actual laundromat), then ventured to the penis museum, more properly known as the Icelandic Phallological Museum.  (I am sure everyone reading this is now more determined than ever to come visit me. You may even have stopped reading this blog because you are busy looking up flights.)  Anyway, as you can imagine, the museum is overpriced, gimmicky, and hilarious.  What is especially hilarious is how people sort of act like it is just another respectable museum and walk around speaking in hushed, almost reverent tones – punctuated, of course, by frequent giggles.

I was hoping the gift shop would sell the documentary The Final Member, which I have been wanting to see for quite some time.  It follows two men, one Icelandic and one American, who are both determined to donate the first human specimen to the museum.  Alas, the documentary was nowhere to be found, although there was information about both men on display.

There was also a penis phone:

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Jæja… that seems like a pretty good place to pause for now.  I will be back soon to recap the rest of my first 10 days in Iceland.

vinir, mörgæsir, og kökur

You will probably not be surprised to learn that one of the things you do a whole lot when you’re preparing to move overseas is say goodbye.  You also might get to eat a lot of cake, as is evidenced by the photos in this post.  I guess it is easier to photographically commemorate a sugary confection than a heartfelt goodbye.

Anyway, my first farewell saying / cake eating event took place on my last day of work.  I started working at Clark about six months after returning from my Snorri adventure.  I knew when I took the job that my goal was to get back to Iceland sooner rather than later, so I kind of figured it would be a pretty short-term arrangement.  I didn’t count on getting quite so attached to my coworkers, though.  I respect and appreciate each and every person with whom I’ve been privileged to work the last year and a half.  If I had not been awarded the Fulbright this year, I would have been disappointed, of course, but I think I could have been content to spend another year or two with my Clark family.

My last day of work was a Friday, and when I arrived, my desk was covered in glorious Grumpy Cat paraphernalia.  Also atop my desk was a cup full of punctuation marks on sticks.  I won’t even try to explain that, but trust me, it was special.

Only a few of us were scheduled to work that day, but a few hours into the day, my other coworkers began appearing one by one, toting food and drink and adorable babies.  They threw me a surprise going-away party, complete with a Grumpy Cat cake.  Yes, a Grumpy Cat cake.  They may not have known me long, but they definitely know me well.

Farewell, my beloved Clark Penguins. Thank you for teaching me and making me laugh and letting me be my cat-loving, grammar-nerding self.

"I went to Iceland once... it was awful."  Grumpy Cake by Donna.
“I went to Iceland once… it was awful.” Grumpy Cake by Donna.

Then last Sunday, we had a casual little farewell gathering here at the house.  A couple months ago, I had big plans for my going-away open house, but with everything else that’s been going on, I had to let go of that and just let it be simple.  We had food, coffee, and cake.  People stopped by throughout the afternoon – friends from high school, family friends from the neighborhood and from church, even a couple of my high school teachers and a former college professor from Corban.  There were a lot of people I would have loved to see who couldn’t make it, and I wasn’t feeling great all day, but I am thankful for everyone who stopped by to show their support and say farewell for now.  I am also thankful for cake.  Mmm.

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There are more farewells to come in the next few days, but hopefully no more cake.  I really shouldn’t eat any more cake.

Þrjár vikur, part 2

In my last post, I shared some of the more stressful happenings I’ve experienced in the last five weeks. Thankfully, life hasn’t been all stress and worry, though.  We’ve been enjoying a perfect warm, dry, sunny Northwest summer, which I am trying to relish, knowing that I will dearly miss such weather over the next nine months.

At the end of June, my brother Scott and his wife Gloria came to visit from Texas and brought their friend Laura with them to explore the Northwest.  It was the first time I’d seen them in almost two years, I think, so of course it was great to have them here.  We all drove up to the Seattle area for a family wedding and then continued on to Lopez Island for the week of July 4.

It was the first time I’d been there since November, and the first time my family had been up in probably two or three years.  It was wonderful to reconnect with my dear island friends and my beloved island locales.  Lattés were enjoyed at Robert’s café and almond butterhorns from Holly B’s satisfied my tummy and left my fingers wonderfully sticky.  We went to Odlin one evening and watched the sun set while we toasted marshmallows over the fire.  Scott and I hiked at Iceberg and Chadwick Hill.  I enjoyed a couple evening walks along the spit just like I used to.  We meandered around the Farmer’s Market two days in a row.

On July 4th, we sought treasures at the library book sale; watched the parade with amusement and delight (the parade is so much more fun now that I know at least half the people in it); and watched from the Whiskey Hill Dock as fireworks burst over the bay late that evening.

And of course everywhere I went that week, I had to stop and talk to at least one person, more often three or four or five.  In fact, it started even before we got to Lopez. I spent the entire ferry ride from Anacortes talking to Jeanna, who I used to work with at the school up there.  She was so excited to hear my news, and having grown up on the East Coast, had plenty of advice about dressing for cold winters.  On island, I caught up with Celia, Patsy, Steph and Tessa at the LIFRC; dropped in on Georgeana at the LIPC; picked up some gossip from Robert at the café; ran into church friends at the library and the parade; stood outside talking to the neighbors while Zorro the cat roamed around seeking birds and attention; hung out with Hannah and saw Gretchen and Björn.  Even if I never again live on Lopez full time (but I certainly hope I will!), it will always feel like home.


 

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This is what home looks like

 



July sunset over Fisherman Bay and Turtleback Mountain
July sunset over Fisherman Bay and Turtleback Mountain

 


 

Last weekend, I enjoyed a lovely Icelandic-Portlandian barbecue with my friends Andrea, Viðar, Þorsteinn, Edda, Vanessa, Ken, Brynya, and Lilia.  We had authentic Icelandic lamb, pylsur, hjónabandssæla, and more, and enjoyed a relaxing evening outdoors eating and chatting and watching the kiddos play.

When I haven’t been vacationing, socializing, or working, I’ve been shopping.  I wear pretty much the same clothes year-round here in the Northwest, give or take a pair of leggings and a jacket, and after I finally tossed all my worn-out pairs (including some black sandals I wore at my high school graduation 9 years ago), my shoe collection has dwindled to a couple pairs of sandals and ballet flats that simply will not suffice for an Icelandic autumn and winter.  And spring.  And summer, for that matter.

The good news is that despite the back-to-school displays that went up around July 4, most people are still buying warm-weather clothes, so just about everything I’ve been buying for Iceland has been on sale.

One thing I was thrilled to not have to buy was luggage.  I’ve never had my own set, and I wasn’t looking forward to spending a couple hundred dollars on two big suitcases.  I posted a plea on Facebook to see if anyone had a suitcase or two that they wanted to sell, and I was blessed to be given two big, like-new suitcases for free!  

I still have quite a few things on my to-do and to-buy lists, but I am slowly getting there…