þriðjudagur, desember 12, 2006

here comes the sun

It's just a shade before noon and out my office window I see the first direct evidence that there is, indeed, still a sun. It's lighting up the clouds over the mountain range to the southwest and casting a wan light over the smattering of snow and brown grass below and the Lego-block rooftops of Garðabær beyond. Iceland in December is surely not for everyone, but the beauty is all still there if one only knows where to look.

föstudagur, desember 08, 2006

"next friday"

I got an invitation last Wednesday, the 29th, to a big-time Christmas feast put on by my future employer. I was very excited, as it would be a good chance to meet all the peeps at the new job. Plus it would be plates and plates of smoked puffin, and who doesn't like that? Not to mention the likely probability of free wine, which is a bit like a handout of gold bars here in the Land.

So, the invitation email said "næsta föstudag" which translates directly as "next Friday". I put the event in my calendar for tonight and mentioned to a future coworker today that I'd see him tonight.

"I won't be around tonight, I have to pick up my son," he replied.

"That's funny," I thought, and asked him about the Christmas throwdown.

"Oh, that was last week!" he said. "It was a really great time!"

Oooooops. I had learned and then promptly forgotten this subtle difference of timekeeping between Icelandic and English. The languages are so close in so many ways that it's easy to forget the glaring contextual differences: "Next Friday" in Icelandic means, "The Friday that's about to come." Not, "The Friday after this weekend." I won't forget it again. But meantime I'll be at home tonight, crying into my smoked puffin.

fish platter 2K6

María wins the fish platter this year! Til hamingju, María!

föstudagur, desember 01, 2006

keflavík carwash

Today I'm taking my car to the KEF Carwash. It is, I believe, unique in the world: a multi-day car wash and wind treatment. You choose the time span: the longer the wash, the more you pay. While you wait for your car to get cleaned, you have the option of several places to travel.

So while trusty old RZ is getting blasted by the wind and rain of southwest Iceland, I'll be living out my childhood dream of driving the Autobahn in a fast new car. Later I'll be living out the less dreamy situation of trying to cross into the Czech Republic late at night in a car with German plates, holding an American passport and an Icelandic drivers license. Wish me luck.

the groaning lady

Longtime readers know a little something about the colorful characters who frequent Laugardalslaug. Well, today I saw for the second time a fine new addition to the forthcoming Regulars of Laugardalslaug Trading Card pack: the groaning lady.

The groaning lady looks rather normal, or maybe even slightly attractive in a timeless somewhere-between-39-and-65 kind of way. Her modus operandi is to sit in the nuddpottur (massaging hot tub) and instead of sitting directly in front of one of the jets, as is customary, loll herself between two or three of them. As she does this lolling, she makes groans and moans which are at first barely audible. ("Did she just say something?" I thought at first.) But the more one hears, the more reverberant the sounds become, even above the bubbling of all that rushing water: "Mmmmmmmm..." "Oooooh..." "Mwoooahhmmmm..." "Oh!" "Mmmmmmmbboooooh..."

"Takk fyrir síðast", the groaning lady!