Tuesday, 31 May 2005


I found this mystical shot of the interior of Iceland that I'd forgotten I'd taken on my bizzare trip across the island last summer. In my opinion, it really captures the more esoteric aspect of this country.
Also, I've been writing in Iceland Eyes for almost a year now, so I thought I'd make a quick link list of some of the more informative posts, so all of you potential visitors will know more of what to expect when you come to our happy little island. Here goes:
Where to Get Good Coffee, Drinking Water, Driving in Iceland, What to Wear (see end of post), Quality Fleece, Taking Care of Your Silver Jewelry, Excursion Resouce, Swimming Pools, Bakeries are Expensive!, The High Cost of Alcohol, Pizza, Reykjavik with Kids, Buying Groceries, Places of Historical Interest, Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in October
That's it for now. You can of course use the blogger search field in the upper left corner of this page to grouse for more info. Or you can just read every single post I've written, can't you?
Wait, one more thing: Snoop Dogg is playing here on July 17th. You can book yourself a $2000 flight here from the States this summer via Icelandair (or a much more reasonably priced one from London Stansted or Copenhagen via Iceland Express) buy a ticket to the show starting June 7th at event.is and enjoy the novelty of seeing the Snoop on the Lava Rock. something too think about, anyway. If we weren't planning Frank Murder's West Coast Tour during that time, I'd definitely go!

Sunday, 29 May 2005


This tjaldur, or oystercatcher, was hanging out at the Fossvog cemetery yesterday, yapping away and hopping between headstones seemingly unafraid of Valentina and I. I walked up fairly close to her (both sexes look the same, but I think it was a her), mimicked its 'kleep-kleep' call and took a bunch of photos, none very good. Then I turned on the charm...

See, I've always been positive that animals understand me, and that most of them actually talk back when I converse with them, even if its only via gestures and eye contact. Valentina has more than once had to drag me away from from the mallards at the town lake, who always seem more than willing to chat ("mamma, come on...they're just ducks!"), and is a little confused as to how they seem to understand me when I sound the same as any other human. Because even she (Miss Reality) has to admit that some communication is talking place. I personally think its all about believing: I never lost my sense for the magical, and so I live in a magical world. Animals can see that, and most little kids too.

So back to the oystercatcher. I began to chat her up and complement her (all animals love that!), then I asked her to give us a good clean photo op. She kleeped a few times, then hopped up onto a headstone and posed. I turned on my digital zoom, framed it, and got this shot. It's a little pixel-y, but that's beside the point. What really matters is the collaborative effort between this charming oystercatcher, my camera and me.

By the way, here is a very cool article about oystercatchers. I'll give you a tidbit:

Scientists from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands had been studying oystercatchers for almost a decade before a team member, Dik Heg, made the first sighting of female-female consortship. When he saw it, his jaw practically dropped to his mud-splattered field boots.

"I thought I was crazy, I thought I was imagining things," he said in an interview. "They were two females who had spent the whole winter fighting, very aggressively, and then one day, there they were, copulating."

Dr. Heg and his colleague Rob van Treuren described their findings in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

"This is one thing you wouldn't have expected in oystercatchers, but there it is," said Dr. Bruno J. Ens of the Institute of Forestry and Nature Research in the Netherlands, who wrote a commentary that accompanied the report. "Of course, you're talking about a bird that can live to be quite old, 40 years or longer, which gives it a bit of time to build up complicated relationships."

Saturday, 28 May 2005


Where's the Kitty?

I think this little guy thought I couldn't see him crouching in the neighbor's foliage like he was stalking me. When he realized I'd seen him he tensed up and we had a good old fashioned stare-down. That is until I waved at him and laughed, at which point he straightened up, casually licked his paw and looked the other way, cool as a cucumber.

Silly kitty.

It's been warm and beautiful here. And dry. So dry that we're starting to fret and complain about how dusty it is, and more seriously, about how the grain crops aren't doing so well. We're not used to a whole week going by without at least a friendly nighttime drizzle. Allergies are acting up and in my opinion, tempers seem a bit stretched, too. But then again that might due to something a bit more esoteric, like this:

Intense, intense, intense! From May 27 to June 2 we’ll all be under the influence of a T-square between Venus, Mars and Pluto, meaning everyone will be on their biggest, loopiest emotional roller coaster.

The T-square is a concentrated, dynamic three-planet combination. It's created when two planets -- in this case, Venus and Pluto -- form an opposition (think standoff), which is difficult enough. But this aspect is further complicated by a third planet, combative Mars, who will make a stressful square to the other two.

When Venus, the planet of love and emotions, and Mars, the planet of action and aggression, both meet up with powerful Pluto, the entire world can feel topsy-turvy. But your focus will be on interpersonal relationships. Who exactly is in control here anyway? Even the smallest issues (like what movie to see or what to have for dinner) can trigger major power struggles. Jealousy can raise its ugly green head, and sexual energy (shall we call it tension?) will run high.

The best way to deal with any challenges that come your way right now is to take lots of deep breaths, realize that everyone's affected by this astrological weather and know that it will soon pass. Keep in mind that minor events can trigger major upheavals; now is a time to tread carefully in your relationship.

It's something to think about, anyway. Makes me think I should remember to always be thankful for my good friends and loved ones and even for the rain.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005


Well, the school year is coming to a close and we're all heading our separate ways for the summer. As some of you know, I've been teaching English to 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th graders at Víkurskóli. The three upper grades have been working on English language blogs for the past three months, a project I think they've all really enjoyed. I'm extremely proud of them for having the guts to write about their lives in a foreign language, albeit one that they've been hearing via the global media all of their lives. Almost all of them have made dramatic improvements on a very practical level, and I'm confident that they will be able to go out into the world more sure of their ability to communicate in English.

I will unfortunately not be teaching them again next year, as I'm going to the University of Iceland to get my teaching credentials. A bunch of the kids have asked if they can continue their blogs over the summer (!!!) and I of course said Absolutely! They've spent hours uploading photos, figuring out how to add counters and other gadgets and are for the most part Very Proud of their sites. I'd love them to have as much encouragement as possible for their efforts, so my Big Request is this:

Please Check Out My Students' Blogs (listed in my sidebar as "7th- 8th- and 9th Grade Eyes").

Leave a few comments here and there if you can. This is your chance to take an active part in preparing the next generation for life in the English-speaking world! If you have kids, maybe you can help them start an electronic penpal friendship with a happy kid in Iceland!

(To my niece Mekkin: you should definitely read these blogs!)

(To Lynda and digdugand Brian at Copperas Cove: I know you have all taken part in this project by reading and commenting, and I thank you! The kids were very encouraged!)


Kolaportið is Reykjavík's answer to flea market culture. Located down by the harbor (actually just across the street from where the tall ship was berthed and just a few steps from Bæjarinns Bezta), this indoor marketplace is a good place to stroll through on weekends when you've got nothing else to do. Just like flea markets all across the globe, Kolaportið offers everything from treasures to trash. Fifteen years ago when flea market culture was new here, my sister Addy sold really cool goods from Africa at Kolaportið (in its old location). Her and her business partner did so well that they eventually opened up a store on Laugavegur, the main shopping street. During that time you could find absolutely fantastic antiques at Kolaportið, things that had been hauled out of attics where they'd been gathering dust for decades. Now the pickings are much slimmer, and classic Icelandic treasures have unfortunately been for the most part replaced by total junk imported from places far far away.

Sea Pearl

I have to mention that at booths like this one, the Sea Pearl in Kolaportið, you will find the absolute best prices for traditional Icelandic foods like dried cod, shark, flat bread and kleinur, Iceland's answer to the donut. Other booths flog local candy in quantity at reasonable cost. Do check it out!


Sometimes at Kolaportid you find true treasures like this four foot tall hand-crafted hook rug with a truly Icelandic seafaring scene. It's priced at 25,000 kronur, or $400. You can invest in a piece of folk-art like this or...(see next photo)


...or you can spend your hard earned kronur on this.

Monday, 23 May 2005


This beauty has been anchored in the Reykjavík harbor for the past few days. She's flying a Ukranian flag, which is kind of funny since the annual Eurovision Song Contest was held in Kiev this weekend; we had a representative there and they have one here! (By the way, our representative, Selma Björnsdóttir, didn't make it into the top 24 - - she was cut on Thursday night in the semi-finals along with fifteen other countries. We've simply decided not to talk about it, collectively, as a nation.)

But about this lovely vessel: it's definitely one of the advantages of living by the sea at a safe port that you get the chance to see marvels like these every so often. A real joy...

Friday, 20 May 2005


Iceland has a burgeoning hothouse culture that usually comes as a surprise to newcomers who imagine that the country is comprised of only desolate lava fields and lonely tundra. There is, of course, plenty of that to be had here, but perched on top of all that non-arable land are thousands of hothouses, large and small, that cater to Icelanders' taste for fresh tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers, as well as our ever-present need to brighten up our urban landscapes as much as possible.

Each June, hundreds of thousands of marigold, zinnia and other annuals are planted in eye-candy color combinations, turning Reykjavik into the floral wonder of the north. Hothouses, like this one in Mossfellsdalur where I went to get the rose petals for Toggi's opening last week, are getting ready for the start of the flower season by nuturing row after row of geothermally-encouraged Icelandic summer blossoms.

Hothouse Roses

Roses as far as the eye can see..

Sunday, 15 May 2005

Guest of Honor

The following series of photos are from Toggi's gallery opening which took place yesterday. As I mentioned in this post, the show was dedicated to Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of Iceland from 1980 to 1996. Toggi, or Thorgeir Frímann Óðinsson, had the great honor of welcoming Vigdís when she arrived to show her support. They, the artist and president, stand center, flanked by Harry and Stef (of gusgus) who run the small outdoor Bananananas gallery. Look at the smiles on the boys' faces: they look like nervous gradeschoolers shining with pride, don't they?

Full House


If you look closely at Toggi's stomach region, you'll see an orb centered at his solar plexus. I know how excited, and maybe a little nervous, he was during this opening, so I'm wondering if someone was with him, guarding his energy spot, while he shook hands with his guests... or maybe I just caught on camera his own strong force flowing from core...

or maybe it's just a trick of the light, right?... (wink wink!)

Best Kiss

I get a kiss from the artist!

Freyja and Friend

Saturday, 14 May 2005

Friday, 13 May 2005


Seems my blog has been whited out for a few days! I've republished and all seems to be ok...now I just need to find the time to write and post photos in between all the translation jobs I've been getting. When it rains it pours, right?

Monday, 9 May 2005

More on Art

This weekend the students of LHÍ, Listaháskóla Íslands or the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, presented their final works at Kjarvalsstaðir Museum. Unnur, shown here, had a four-video installation, one of which co-starred Mio, our cat. He played his role well, definitely out-performing the rabbit, who did nothing at all in his box, and the mouse in Unnur's plexiglass hat, who basically skittered around and pooped the entire time. Mio was generally content in his box, and was enough of an actor to meow and blink his lovely mismatched eyes for the camera when I called to him softly. The video was brilliant and I know Unnur has a fantastic career ahead of her.

Sunday, 8 May 2005


And this is Mio, up close. He's big and beautiful and bold. Yet he's also a lover. When he's outside he's King of the Neighborhood, but when he comes in he's so affectionate it's almost spooky. He walks with me to the store and waits outside, then walks me home. Tourists love to take pix of him and he loves to pose. He's even been in the paper at least four times In this photo you can clearly see that he has one blue eye and one yellow, making him even more special.

Reykjavik is a cat town. They're everywhere. Leash laws here are super strict for dogs, and licensing fees expensive, so dogs are not as common, though the smaller-size purebreed market is definitely picking up here. The Icelandic dog is a very good and popular breed but it needs lots of room and lots of work to do, so it's not too common in the city. When my father was a boy dogs were illegal in Reykjavik. His dog was picked up by the police after running loose downtown was shot in a burlap bag. My dad had to watch. We pretty much only had cats when I was growing up.

Quarrantine for imported animals is strict and long. They are kept on an island, Hrí­sey for, I think three or six months to ensure that no diseases are brought into Iceland. To protect the purity of our Icelandic horse breed, no other breeds are allowed into the country.

Pet culture is becoming more and more popular here, including birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, tropical fish, and reptiles. My friend Tommi told me last night that he had a couple of salamanders that he thought were dead, so he flushed them. He found out later they were just hibernating, so maybe we even have a giant lizard or two lurking in our sewage system...nahhhhh.

Thursday, 5 May 2005

The Future

After so many outdoorsy shots of Reykjavík, I wanted to share this more eclectic image of Iceland, where the shades of the past meet a vision of the future.

Here my daughter Valentína stands in front of an projected image of past president of Iceland, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir. For Icelanders Vigdís and her twelve years in office represent the true entrance of our little island into the global parade. Her natural beauty, intelligence and diplomacy presented to the world a new face of Iceland, and sparked the growth of a new national pride. Women gained especially from her honest leadership, recognizing more fully the essential place they had in the development of this country. This photo of her was taken in 1981, and she is still as beautiful today as she was then.

Valentína and all the young women of Iceland are inheritors of the legacy Vigdís created. In this shot she is like a whisper in the ear of youth to take an active role in the world in which they live, Iceland in the 21st century.

Wednesday, 4 May 2005

The Neighborhood

Here's a photo of my charming neighborhood. Valentína and Karítas talked me into going up to the top of Hallgrímskirkja this afternoon, and thanks to cold but lovely weather I was able to take this birdseye pic of my little slice of the world. You can just see the roof of my building, dead center and just a little above the middle of the shot, behind the long pinkish building that runs right to left. I like this photo, especially for the fact that the town lake shows so well.

From the Tower

...and here's the money shot of downtown Reykjavík as seen from the Hallgrimskirkja bell tower.