föstudagur, nóvember 30, 2007


Do laminating machines still exist? There was one in the supply closet, next to the mimeograph. (Mimeography! I'll resist the temptation to write about that now.) The fresh laminate had a weird, plastic smell, just as you'd expect it to. The laminated sheets came out warm and quasi-sticky. It was like running things through a steamroller that was also a toaster.

You were not restricted to paper. You could send through autumn leaves, new-fallen and red orange purple yellow with fingers of green still running down their veins. I liked the tri-colors. And the deep bluish-red ones. You could catch them under clear plastic like the first thin layer of ice on the pond. A sheet might contain eight of nine of them, and you'd take a scissors and cut carefully around the edges, leaving a half an inch of plastic all the way around.

It was an amazing thing: the corrupting air was kept out, and the leaves retained their brilliance for weeks, months, years. Is there still a box of them tucked away somewhere? I hope so. I'd like to see them again.

mánudagur, nóvember 19, 2007


Strategies for getting through the day may include rising late, lighting a candle, putting cream in the oatmeal, and/or donning whimsical socks. Mine are striped black and purple.

I just padded downstairs in them to the kitchen to throw together a salad full of garlic (this, also, might be helpful), and when I turned on the last step I saw that the candle had burned down and out. It bothered me, so I lit two more before coming back upstairs, black and purple, black and purple.

föstudagur, nóvember 16, 2007

þar, þá

Extraordinary place that was. Every house and wall was rust red native stone. The cold had burned the grass on the slope to the same color. The moss was green, though.

The fellward wind smelled of salt and the seaward wind of sheep on the heath. The calm smelled of coal smoke rising from every sandstone chimney. I had never been among fells before. Kills, yes, but not a landscape stamped with names like these:
  • Skafell
  • Wastwater
  • Seascale
  • Ravenglass
  • Eskdale
  • Wasdale
  • Spring Keld
  • Selly Hall
I've shown my tracks now, and you can go there too. I will try not to be jealous.

fimmtudagur, nóvember 15, 2007

í kránni

Oh, aye! Oh, aye!

Never before or since has anyone been so pleased to learn that I, too, knew the old Brythonic name of Kintyre: Pentir. The pen means "head" (oh, aye!), the same pen as in pendragon (just as you say!). Kintyre is a headland. Somewhere else it might have been a nes or, still elsewhere, a höfði.

He was a Scot from just that promontory of ancient Strathclyde. He spoke with rolling, hospitable burr even though he was not our host. That's a trick, that. He had come south for one week of winter to the northwest shoulder of England, old Norse land and not Danish.

He plied us with cider and whisky, and he did not spur the conversation forward but nudged it along with the gentlest pressure against its flank:

Oh aye! Just as you say!

mánudagur, nóvember 12, 2007


There's no lining, so the olive green wool is itchy on the inside, and it will catch on your clothing if you wear the wrong shirt. It's best to wear a scarf with it to keep the collar from rubbing a red line around your neck. If you believe the lettering on the inside, it was made in 1941 for issue to a serviceman in the Canadian Army. I can't imagine the soldier for whom it would have been meant. He would have to have been a very small man. It fits me perfectly.

I've worn pins on the left lapel and pocket for years, the same three for years. One is a flag. One is, by pure coincidence, a military insignia. One is a traditional quilting pattern done in enamel. It's time for me either to put a new one on or to take all the old ones off.

föstudagur, nóvember 09, 2007


I did not know there were any canids I did not know. (I understand that is how ignorance works.)

The Falkland Islands once boasted its own dog-like species, the warrah. More fox than wolf but still neither, it was observed by Europeans in the 17th century and variously named since. It has been the Antarctic Wolf and the Falkland Fox, and one Colonel Hamilton-Smith called it an Aquara in 1839. It became Dusicyon australis, the foolish southern dog, which sounds more like a Shakespearean insult than a scientific name. I think of the soft southern dogs of Steeleye Span's song about Robert the Bruce. I think of Henry V and "Pish for thee, Iceland Dog! thou prick-eared cur of Iceland!"

Now the warrah is no more.

This is too bad. I wonder if the warrah would not have liked to make the acquaintance of Iceland's only native prick-eared cur, the arctic fox. I imagine them having a lot to talk about: nibbling puffin and penguin and discussing ice and island life, how much things changed since outsiders starting settling there, and all those sheep.

Due credit to www.messybeast.com.

þriðjudagur, nóvember 06, 2007


This year as well:

Hereabouts little mumming if any, though I did set a few fires. Not for Guy, of course, but the usual squat candles in squat gourds. The clustering of mumming holidays interests me. Why should so many fall right around this time? I wonder if the vetrarnætur also called for costume and procession.

It's all academic here. As I say: no festivities of note. Come midwinter I'll get on to missing the Three Wise Men and the Wren Boys. I doubt even carolers will put in an appearance.

föstudagur, nóvember 02, 2007

S/2004 S 19

I have only now learned that Hyrrokkin is also a moon in the Skaði subgroup of Saturn's irregular retrograde satellites. She is new: her discovery announced in June 2006, named this April, the name corrected only this July. She is 18 kilometers across. I cannot find any images of her -- perhaps there are none, only measurements -- so I cannot say whether she is shriveled and black as her name would suggest. She courses about at an inclination of 153.3° to the ecliptic with a host of giantish kinsmen: Þrymr, Suttungr, Ymir, Mundilfari, Narvi.

She is nafni to the giantess who launches Baldr's funerary ship. The gods are set to put the ship to sea; she comes riding on a wolf. Odin's berserks knock it to the ground when she dismounts. She is the only one who can shift the keel and push the boat out on to the water. No one knows why.

I cannot help but think of her younger sister doing something similar. What else is out there orbiting Saturn in retrograde? What grim vessel is Hyrrokkin pushing before her out there in the dark?

fimmtudagur, nóvember 01, 2007


I miss that place.

So do I. Here it's a little like living in S--, near C--. Flat. Vaguely urban. Grotty.

Grotty. Is that an adjective or a verb?

It's an adjective.

Grotto-like? Grottoid?

I always think of it like gritty, but with bigger, greasier grit that's worked its way into everything. You know: grot.


Like in other people's showers.

Grit grat grot groat.

I had never thought of it, but yes.

I understand these things.

Yes, you do.
Hvaðan þið eruð