Friday, August 21, 2015

Iceland: Best Hotel Ever!



We stayed at the Icelandair Natura, which was apparently the best possible choice. Like any normal people do, we flew into Keflavik airport and got a bus to the hotel. Unbeknownst to me, the Natura is right next to Reykjavik airport. Like right beside it. Every time Ed went out for a smoke he got to look at whatever had flown in.

Reykjavik airport is a smaller airport that nevertheless had smaller corporate jets and the like coming in all the time. Over the course of the week we saw a MU2, a Beechcraft Starship (he told me he thought they were all recalled), and a turboprop DC3. This plane was parked there the whole time, harassing me:


(you can't actually see the scantily-clad woman painted on near the front there, can you?) 

There was a shrine to Bobby Fisher, and the boy was really into playing chess at the time (that seems to have died off this week, but will probably ramp up again next week, my theory is), so that was a hit, though he wasn’t really impressed with the WiFi, which would randomly kick him off every half hour or so, making online chess frustrating.

 

John Scalzi has been showing pictures out his hotel room during his tour. My view was this:



That’s Ed down there.

There was an elfstone (a boulder where supposedly an elf or elves live) at the other end of the parking lot with a plaque that said this was a well-known elf stone location (which I took to imply that they didn’t want people to think the hotel had just made this up for the tourists). I didn’t take a picture of it.

Everything seemed like it was in walking distance. We could have walked from the bus depot to the hotel (and did on several occasions). There was a Subway (restaurant) nearby. More about that in another post. We walked downtown, and the hotel also gave us a bus pass which was fabulous. We walked to the beach, and the graveyard. And we walked to the Pearl.

The pearl was clearly visible up the hill from our hotel, and there were all walking trails up there, so it was one of my first obvious things to want to find out about.











When, a couple of days later, we went on our big Golden Circle bus tour, we went to a geothermal plant.
 










It has giant water pipes that run to the pearl, filling six giant hot water tanks, losing one or two degrees on the way. Apparently they heat houses that way, and houses in Reykjavik don't have hot water heaters. Signing up for the tour, the boy said “Coming in, I didn’t think I was interested, but that was cool.” Win!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Iceland the second

One of my (former) colleagues was being forced to come to Toronto, and she said whenever she goes to a place, she likes to do a couple of things:
  • Go to a yoga class
  • Visit an art museum
There was an article in 99U about a woman who goes to the public pool everywhere she goes.  (Actually that was a link to this, I just discovered.)

Oh, we did that, too, I just realized:

This was an outdoor geothermal heated pool (like a bathtub that didn't get cold) at the beach, a short walk from our hotel.
Here's another angle of it. 
 
You could sit in the pool and get all cozy warm (the day we went in it was 12 degrees celcius and drizzling) and then run down to the actual ocean, which was crazy cold.

It was Iceland. How could we miss that?

But I think my thing I do on every trip might be a visit to the graveyard.



Is that too goth?


It was so crazy green.

There were a bunch of commonwealth graves from WWII. 


This was just past the beach, actually, still a short walk from our hotel. Best hotel ever!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Iceland the first



They say the best camera is the one you have with you, and I generally have my phone, though anyone who knows me generally knows I’m not that great about taking it out. Usually it’s packed two layers deep in my messenger bag. Which explains maybe why I don’t have pictures from the start of any activity. Though once I’ve started taking photos, I’m pretty good.

We went to Iceland.

On my calendar, which I use for planning and budgeting and tracking bill payments and pretty much everything else, I had written a short list of the things I wanted to do:

Volcano elevator
Ponies
Hot springs
Glacier
Elves
Mid-Atlantic rift

And then I was talking up my pending vacation, and one of my colleagues turned out to have gone to Iceland numerous times, partly for work but also because his grandmother was from there. He told me he was chatting about this to an Icelandic colleague, who said “who?” My coworker listed off a name or two, and the local said “wait a minute,” and went away and came back and said “she worked here until she retired about three months ago.”

Very cool.

Anyway, so my colleague added to my list:

Geysir (range rover)
Mud baths
Don’t go to McDonald’s
Rotten shark
Black death

There was also another thing I thought of when we were riding in the bus from the airport to our hotel as we arrived (after midnight by now, and still light enough to see) was I wanted to see an arctic fox.

This is Sparky. Or whatever the Icelandic word for Sparky is. 

 
Sparky was playing with some moss. 

Sparky was an orphan (or a half orphan -- I guess fox dads aren't engaged parents). Apparently foxes have no natural enemies,  being the dominant native mammal, so hunters shoot them so their population doesn't get out of control. Sparky had been taken in by the staff at the base camp of the Inside the Volcano tour, and seemed to be doing okay.  

He blends in quite nicely with the ubiquitous lava. 



More to come…

Friday, August 07, 2015

In Process: July 2015



Editing
“Wind/Water/Salt”. Typed up all that extra stuff I wrote. Did some tidying of word choices (I have a list of words to look for, like “started” and “Just” and “very” that I need to rethink every time I use them) and went through notes to find things that I could clean up before printing another draft. For example, I did the changes to the first page from the workshop back in April. And then I started the spreadsheet.
The Spreadsheet doesn’t seem like writing or editing, and writing and editing are what progress my novel, right? So maybe that’s why I avoided doing it properly for so long. But at some point, you have to stop using the back of an envelope to list all 44 chapters, their POV, and a brief description, right? So I made an excel doc. The headings so far:
·         Chapter #
·         Description
·         POV (there are three to choose from)
·         Scenes (this column is currently empty)
·         Setting
·         Characters (two of my POV characters are locals, and therefore should know pretty much everyone in town’s name, as it’s a small town, and this column has highlighted a huge problem there)
·         Notes (like that I’ve set up tension between a couple of characters and then never used it later, things I need to add or remove)
·         When (because I have some time problems right now)

This is probably something that people who use Scrivener already have, but I’m not a scrivener user (yet) so, um.

I made another tab called Characters, so maybe I can do away with another scrap envelope. I just haven’t figured out how to organize that yet. I feel like it needs to be 3D somehow.

Connecting
--

Circulating
2

Knitting
“Ceremonial Armour” (Kaffe Fassett, knit from a photo). Bought beads. Tied in some ends. Did not crochet edging yet, alas. Did not block.
Vinterlys (Norsk Strikkedesign). Steeked, cut, and seamed back and fronts. Worked on the first sleeve cuff and chose some fabric from my stack for the lining. Blocked the fair isle.
Rust Damask Jacket (Takle & Kolstadt). While in Iceland, I did 1½ pattern repeats on the body, so now I’d guess it’s about a sixth done.
Prow pullover (IK Summer 2014). Think I might have had a gauge issue when I started. Now I have the front done, and the back to the armholes, so that’s probably… half? I would love to finish this in August.

Used last month’s bias tape to make a tunic.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

What I read: July 2015



“The Private Patient” by PD James. There’s a shelf of paperbacks at my office, which I assume are for the taking because they come and go.  When PD James died last year I put her on my list of things to read, and this was on the shelf, so I took it (I put three books in its place, just in case, and it had been there a long time, so…) I’m familiar with Adam Dalgliesh, having watched lots of Mystery! On PBS. Nevertheless, the first chapter was a bit confusing, and then I was good to go. I loved how she described the same things from different characters’ perspectives. Description really is POV and character in her hands, so different from the omniscient in those Katherine Kurtz books. She was like 88 when this was published! 

“The Whispering Muse” by Sjon. We were in the Kevlavik airport getting ready to go back to Toronto and trying to get rid of the last of our Icelandic currency, and this book used up every last krona. So obviously I was meant to have it. I read it on the plane home. It was fabulous! It totally charmed me!

“Razorhurst” by Justine Larbalestier. I would have read this back when I met her at a Chapters in Etobicoke, if it had been out yet. I was misunderstanding that at the time. The action took place over a single day, but there were these short chapters that explained background and stuff like that. I wouldn’t have thought it worked, but it did. The glossary at the back was totally unnecessary.

“Three parts Dead” by Max Gladstone. This one has been on my list for a while. I could tell it was going to be fabulous when I finished the first page. All that blah-blah-blah about the priest and the sacred flame, and then he takes out a cigarette. Fantastic. I can see what the hype was about -- a cool blend of different genres and subgenres.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cooking with the boy: Greek Burger

Ingredients:

1 lb        ground beef
1 pkg     dried onion soup mix
4            pita pockets
              feta
              tzatziki
              tomato
              cucumber
              lettuce

Mix the ground beef and onion soup mix. Divide in four and make into burger-shape. Dig a hole in each one and press a chunk of feta in the middle, closing the meat over it.

Fry them up.

Open the pita pockets and stick a couple of slices of tomato, maybe 4 slices of cucumber and a piece of lettuce in each one.

When the burgers are cooked, put one in each pita.

Put a dollop of tzatziki in on top.

Best burger ever! Bonus: cooks through pretty easily since the core is cheese not beef.