þriðjudagur, janúar 31, 2006

annar dagur

Of course it is the pink roses that are hanging on. The white and cream ones have pretty much given up, and the less said about the baby's breath and ferny bits the better. I take no responsibility for any of this.

Otherwise, the day has been full of more rain but fewer dogs.

mánudagur, janúar 30, 2006


Waking from near-ursine winter sleep, deep as cold arctic seas, I vaguely recall dreams from the bottom of that sea, where I am some abberant version of Nuliajuk, living with her dog husband in exile from the traditional plotline.

I should not be overly surprised to find my hair woefully tangled, but at least it is not so snarled that I cannot comb it out myself.

It is early afternoon before I realize that it is a new year. The streets of Chinatown are covered with scraps of red paper, the remnants of firecrackers. It is the year of the dog. That seems auspicious.

sunnudagur, janúar 29, 2006


Much rain today, a colorless day of thick gray clouds near the ground, cool damp air of the kind that makes me wish I could spend the morning soaking in the heitir pottar of Vesturbæjarlaug.

I recall soaking in one of them and half-listening to the chatter of the folk around me. Something struck my ear and I began to listen in earnest. They were much older than I. They recalled an earlier Iceland. Instantly I wished I had been listening all the while. One man recounted having been a boy in the countryside. Another enumerated the many different kinds and colors of butter that he remembered from his youth, some very sour, others very dark, all according to their age and the time of year.

The other day I remembered the fact of white winter butter, but just as quickly I forgot about it. Not five minutes ago I remembered it again. Before we colored winter butter to make it yellow like summer butter, it was white. Our yellow butter has an unnatural hue, like the young people at Vesturbæjarlaug who frequent the tanning beds year-round and emerge from the changing rooms weirdly golden in January, making the rest of us seem blue-white in our paleness.

Yellow butter makes sense in the summertime, when buttercups and sóleyjar bloom. But I think I would prefer winter butter white and cool, in keeping with that season. Or I would if I did not keep forgetting that it had ever existed.

laugardagur, janúar 28, 2006


Dreadful student band pounding something out next door, three floors away but all too close. It takes me several minutes before I recognize the song: "I Will Survive."

I have my doubts.

But some little while later I am still conscious, and now they are murdering a new tune. I believe this one is "(I'm a) Creep." That sounds more like it.

föstudagur, janúar 27, 2006


After some champagne with our sourdough and brie and reading a few chapters full of enjoyable correspondences like brast allt í sundr (broke all asunder) and gyrðr sverði (girt with a sword) and in which we are ever confusing Þórir hundr (the hound) with Þórir selr (the seal), I cadge a ride home with a good friend, the one with the boyfriend who is also, somehow, the reincarnation of a dearly beloved dog. We step outside and---even with eyes accustomed to the bright indoor lights---we are dazzled by the stars.

We ooh and aah. The winter constellations stars sparkle coldly at us. It is as if the night drips champagne into our eyes through a slender glass. My friend points upward and asks if that is Orion's belt. I say it is. "And you know what that bright, blue one is, right?" I ask in return, pointing a little lower and to the left. "That's him," she says, and says the name of the dog. "Yup," I say, and we get into the car.

þriðjudagur, janúar 24, 2006


Rising earlier than usual, in the cooler air of the dimmer part of the morning, I breakfast in two courses. First, coffee in a thin, straight-sided, white cup, a narrow wedge of sweet cake smelling slightly of olive oil, and some hybrid citrus sliced into sixths from a crate sent from a distant, southerly port. A few days ago my doughty, smiling postman had climbed to my apartment door bearing the crate before him, and after bringing it inside I had slashed it open and seized two orange fruit, dashed down the stairs and chased him back to his truck to give them to him. He promised to plant any seeds he found in his back yard.

The light comes up through red curtains and hits the roses on the work table while I eat the curved sections, juice dribbling down my chin, fighting the temptation to shift over to the computer and get the keyboard sticky with my tangerine-grapefruit fingers.

An hour and a half later, I have the second course, with tea. The tea is green and flavored with toasted rice, made in the smaller pot, the black iron one. On a little plate a dun scone flecked with jelly-looking ginger sits next to yellow eggs dotted with black pepper.

The light moves on from the roses, throws a shadow over the work table and its heaps of papers. I watch its progress from the breakfast table, fork in hand, leaving tea-colored rings on the Times Literary Supplement


It was a still, dark evening until some ten minutes ago. Then it rather suddenly became a blowy evening, though still a dark one. Some great invisible motion of hill air came rushing against the windows, forcing tendrils between jam and window and pushing the dark green curtains into the room in waves. It will be interesting to see if they extend all the way into tonight's dreams.

sunnudagur, janúar 22, 2006


I find myself feeling badly about the whale in the Thames. What a pity the animal did not make it back out to the North Sea and the company of others like itself. Wouldn't it have had wonderful stories to tell all of them? Just imagine---the perfect inverse of the old chestnut about the one that got away.

The London Times is trying to make some kind of implicit point about the whaling nations. It reports that though global attention was focused on the bottlenose for the duration of its adventure, the Japanese news service and Norway's Aftenposten both ignored it entirely. They themselves neglect Iceland, however, where Morgunblaðið has been covering the saga from the beginning.

laugardagur, janúar 21, 2006


There is something very comforting about going for dinner at the Chinese Restaurant that Time Forgot. Or so we call the place. Its actual name is both classic and forgettable, something House or Garden or Palace. Eating there is like a miraculous journey to the 1960s on the East Coast of the United States, before Szechuan cuisine got big in its Americanized form, when you might, in some places, be offered dinner rolls with your meal.

There are wooden screens decorated with axis deer and Chinese maidens. The light fixtures are vaguely Charlie Chan, faintly nautical lanterns. The wallpaper gives the impression of scales, some repeating, keyed pattern in golds and greens and browns. The menu is printed in black on yellowish-cream paper, several tabbed pages in a folder. Many of the dishes, most of them even, are the standards: wonton soup, things with oyster sauce, Mongolian beef, steamed dumplings, chicken associated with that general who seems always to be changing his name for some reason. The teapots are plain silver metal and the tea a slightly fruity black. The chopsticks are the slick, square, plastic ones with the letters wearing off the grips, the kind that make you as clumsy as you were as a five-year-old when your meals at the Chinese restaurant consisted only of an eggroll and a thimble-sized cup of eggdrop soup.

It is an ideal experience for a rainy night, for any night when the soul cries out for comfort food in the form of gummy starch, panfried to crispiness, and hopes, at the close of the meal, to be presented with some slip of optimistic prediction wrapped in an almond cookie.

miðvikudagur, janúar 18, 2006


The rain comes down again all at once and out of gray clouds hanging above the extravagantly sunlit green hillside like an unconvincing special effect (bad bluescreen or misused filters) or like perfectly everyday weather in Iceland. Three modest brown birds hop in and out of the puddles forming on the concrete below. Two rainbows arc up from behind the nearest house (but in front of the tree beyond) into the gray air.

I reckon as these are good omens.

þriðjudagur, janúar 17, 2006

seint úti


Unglingar í bakgarðinum. Með flugelda.


Í janúar.

PAFF!! PAFF! PAFF(!)ffffffffffÖBBssssssss

Klukkan tólf. Miðnætti.


Það eru ekki áramót. Við erum ekki í Vesturbæ. Við erum þreytt og okkur langar að sofa. Okkur er lítið skemmt.

Ljúka upp glugga og hrópa út: Þegiðið! Okkur er boðið að sjúga ákveðna líkamshluti unglinganna. Ítreka: Fariðið heim! Þeir fara. Loka glugganum. Fara aftur til sengs.

Okkur líður gömlum.

laugardagur, janúar 14, 2006

o du lieber

Augustine is erupting.

It makes me want volcanos named Jerome, Clement, Gregory, Hilary, Origen, Malchion. Just imagine.

At least we have Erebus.

miðvikudagur, janúar 11, 2006


Last night I saw people I hadn't seen in years, in an apartment last seen in Norwegian summer sunlight shining in from the balcony, but it seemed larger this time.

I did what I so often do when approached by people at parties, which is not recall that I have met them before, even when they are handsome, pleasantly tall, open-faced fellows like this one. After initial embarrassment I found did remember him from many summers ago, but it took him introducing himself again by name (Mie, two syllables) and me repeating it after him, feeling the tonality of the language fall into familiar grooves in my throat.

I charged him with helping me stay in those grooves instead of sliding into deeper-worn furrows to the west. Inevitably, my tongue would jump the track, keyra útaf, and then each time I said mjög or lítið he jerked his eyebrows up and queried hva da? until I corrected them to veldig and lite.

föstudagur, janúar 06, 2006


On my way back from a morning foray to purchase coffee and dwarfish, travel-sized grooming supplies, I encounter a woman walking a pair of placostomus (placostoma?). Unhurried at the end of their leashes, they glide over the sidewalk as if over an aquarium bottom, sucking up errant leaves and twigs and any moss that has accreted during the rainy season, performing search and salvage.

They are basset hounds, of course, not armored catfish. My morning brain grasps this at the same time that it is unwilling to let go of its first impression. The bassets' ears sweep the pavement, their jowls sway, one scoops something green up with his broad, pink tongue and munches it with sad-eyed contentment despite his owner's protestations.

I am still thinking about them as giant, sullen catfish by the time I get to my own stoop. With my plastic sack of toiletries in my right hand, I punch the entry code with my left. The door will not open. I punch it in again, several times, before I realize that I am using the code for a house I have not lived in for many years, one long since sold. With a sigh, I switch the sack into my other hand, punch in the correct code, and head up the stairs.

miðvikudagur, janúar 04, 2006


Tonight's leftovers were assembled this way:
Saffron fettuccine and black eyed peas
with crabmeat
green onion
and dill
(some salt and pepper)
To drink:
The rest of that bottle of champagne
It rather makes one want to do this kind of thing more often.

þriðjudagur, janúar 03, 2006


In 2004 I was charmed by the thylacine. Could 2006 be the year of the quagga, another extinct antipodal animal no less smartly striped? While the Australians try to clone the thylacine back from the world of shades, the South Africans are attempting to reverse-engineer the quagga.

I'm seized with the desire to get these two groups in touch with each other. Perhaps with combined forces, both projects would enjoy more success. Or is that too much to hope for? Maybe it would be a disaster: a latter-day quagga striped on the hindquarters and a latter-day thylacine striped about the head and shoulders. That would never do.

sunnudagur, janúar 01, 2006

það innkomna

Starting off 2006 with sparkly things:
Fairy lights
Granulated sugar
Glass shards
This was a good list, and it more than made up for the lack of old standbys like the aftermath of fireworks falling over snow.
Hvaðan þið eruð