January 20 – First week

Orilee here.

So our first week of the second semester is over.  I think we are pretty well settled in to the new school routine.  Luckily this time I have no classes at 8:20am!  And I have Tuesday and Friday free of classes.  Tom has classes every day and is starting some work towards next semester and his actual thesis.

I retook the final for the one course I failed the final on (it did not surprise me – it was my weakest point).  I don’t yet know if I passed the second time but I have permission from the teacher to attend the second class anyway.  I have new teachers this semester and while I really liked the speech teacher from last semester, I am really liking the ones this semester better.

And Tom is really enjoying his classes, especially the saga deep dive and the manuscript classes.  And it looks more and more like we will be in Aarhus Denmark in the fall.

And it is weird to think we have only been back a week – it almost seems like we didn’t leave as we settle back into the apartment.

Weather-wise it has been chilly and we have bounced between rain, sun, and snow.  Our grocery shopping has gotten odd – it appears that the free shuttle to the Kringlan Mall is not currently running.  We don’t know how long that is going to be the case; we knew when we left that they were shutting it down through the Christmas holiday but thought it would start up again afterwards.  Right now we are relying on the very limited selection at the 1011 but we need to look at other options since that is not a varied or inexpensive choice.  Our other choices right now are the Bonus stores, both of which are a good 10 minute walk.  If the weather cooperates next weekend, we might see how that goes.

The other mild disappointment is that they closed the Post Office in midtown.  It was very convenient but it was not easily accessible for me.  However, the new one they opened is just a few minutes off campus so we just have to plan time to go there when needed.

And to finish off, here are some pictures of the harbor and mountains from this week.

January 13 -And a New Year

Orilee here. Welcome back!

We had a lovely, albeit busy, holiday at home in the States.  Spent a lot of time with the granddaughter, saw most of the family at various holiday get-togethers, and had a nice low-key day with friends as well.

We arrived back in the Reykjavik apartment about 10am Friday morning, January 11th.  After getting a few things settled, we promptly went to bed! It had been a long day and any sleep you get on a plane overnight is not enough.  Spent the rest of the day unpacking and had tomato soup for dinner since that is what we had in the cupboard.

Saturday himself was having back issues (likely all that moving of heavy suitcases) so our original plans to go to Kringlan mall and do our grocery shopping were put on hold.  Instead I did a quick trip to the 1011 to stock up on basics for the beginning of the week.  We did laundry, took more naps, and generally got settled in.  It was a grey day with rain and snow off and on, so not really going anywhere was fine!

Once again, trying to get used to the idea that it does not get light until after 10am. Today, however, is a beautiful sunny morning so far.  Clear view of the mountains, and pink cotton candy clouds.


Tomorrow (Monday) classes begin again.  Tom has his schedule all worked out; due to retests required for those who failed, I have not yet gotten my schedule although they have promised a preliminary one by the end of the day today.


Homeward Bound


Tom, here — Yes, me, finally writing again.

So, the semester is over. Our finals are all taken. Now, we wait for our grades. In the meantime, we are heading back to “The States” tomorrow morning. We’re up at 3:45 AM (10:45 PM your time on the East Coast) to catch the bus to Keflavik. Our flight departs at 9:00 or so. We’ll be back in Rochester at about 6:00 PM. Then we’ll be home until January 10th.

Next semester will be a challenging one, so I have reading and translating to do over vacation. Between that, running around, playing with The World’s Cutest Granddaughter, relaxing with several of many good books that are waiting for us, we’re going to have a very busy vacation.

I hope your holidays are joy-filled and exciting. Here’s a little bit of Reykjavik’s Christmas:


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December 2 – Wow, December already?

Orilee here – where did the fall go?!  When we started this journey, the end of the semester seemed so far away and now here we are!

Last classes last week.  We each had a class that we had to do a short presentation on the paper we are writing for the class.  Himself did his off the top of his head :), I used a few powerpoint slides.  Mine is for the Viking Age Archaeology class and is on viking sails – materials, technology, reconstruction.  The instructor made a couple of comments in class on the topic of sails that I quite thoroughly disagreed with so I decided to research and write a paper about it.  Some of the other topics in the class sound really interesting: viking boats, boathouses (! never thought about those), the imperfect gods and their related “disabilities”, cremation graves in Iceland.

I got through my first test – speech.  I know we did well on the prepared conversation, no clue how I did on the question and answer session.  I went to bed the night before confident in my preparation but when confronted with people asking the questions, my mind went blank.  I think my speech instructor who was running the test this time went a little easy on me.  My goal is to just pass, not too worried about the actual grade.

Weather-wise it has been WINDY for the past 4 days.  And I mean windy – like gusts over 50 mph or so.  Because of the shape and location of the apartment, the wind can really whistle around the windows and make them rattle sometimes.  It has also gotten colder.  But no snow really; we had one day when it pelted us with hail or hard snow like things, and the mountains across the harbor are now more snow covered.  But today the sun is shining and it is quite pretty out.

Oddly enough, the whale watching boats are still going out.  Frankly I would find it too cold, windy, and choppy for me!

It is also a lot more obvious that the days are getting really short.  The sun doesn’t start coming up until 10am or later, and it is dark by 4:30pm.  The dark mornings make it hard to get out of bed in the morning – especially on mornings when we don’t Have to get up for anything.

And the university sent a note to all students to not leave lit candles unattended.  Unlike American universities where even the concept of a candle in your room can get you in trouble.

More Christmas lights and trees are going up.  Maybe next weekend we will get more pictures of some – the one in the pond in front of City Hall is really neat.

Saturday we did our usual shopping trip to Kringlan mall.  The ice skating rink in Ingolfúr square is now open and was in full swing when we came home, despite the wind, but I guess if you are an Icelander this is just par for the course.  We did also miss the Centennial celebration of Iceland signing its independence papers.  There apparently was a parade of folks in their traditional costumes* and speeches by various dignitaries including the Queen of Denmark.

This next week is more finals and papers to be completed.  Two weeks from today we will be back in the States.

* think early 20th century folk costumes.

November 25

Orilee here.  So classes are (mostly) behind us.  We each have 1 class this next week where we have to do a quick presentation on the papers we are writing for the class.  And of course finals.

Tom already has one final grade in one of his classes – a very respectable 9 out of 10.

Other than some bright sunny days, light rain showers, and a full moon on clear nights it has been a pretty decent week.46663223_2099179516769943_1580823469900169216_o

Saturday was our usual grocery shopping trip but we left early so we could stop at City Hall and check out the craft sale.  This is a “high end” level of craft 🙂 – some really exquisite items on display.  Jewelry, wood crafts, pottery, textiles.  I was especially taken by the two booths doing embroidery on wool.

Tonight (Sunday) we took advantage of the clear (but cold!) weather to go for a walk around Center City and admire the lights.  And find the Yule Cat.

The Yule Cat is the household pet of the giants Grýla and Leppalúði.  The tradition of the Yule Cat is that he will eat little kids who are not good and do their chores so they get clothes for Christmas.  Essentially if you do not get clothes for Christmas, the Yule Cat will eat you.  You won’t be a free elf either!

So interesting note – the local Té and Kaffi shop has 2 holiday coffee drinks called…Grýla and Leppalúði!

Ingolfúr square is getting ready for the holidays.  The large open stoned paved square, which usually hosts skateboarders, is turned into an ice skating rink starting December 1st.  They have been quite busy getting it ready.

plus lights all over downtown.

and yes I really want to straighten out that Christmas tree in front of the restaurant every time I walk by it which is just about every day!

And the pig has finally gotten into the holiday spirit:

And finally the pond behind City Hall.

Oh and the Student Cellar, being in the Christmas spirit, is serving several kinds of Christmas beer and reindeer burgers!  Tom says they are pretty good and mostly taste like beef.


November 20 – Catch up part 2

Orilee here.  So this is actually a bit of procrastination when I really should be working on school stuff.  Tomorrow is the last presentation in my Icelandic speech class (an interview I did with an Icelandic speaker….) then studying and prepping for the finals.  Tom helped me through my speech questions last night and I am feeling a lot more confident going in to this one than I did the midterm.  I just need to practice my pronunciations.  Oh and write the paper on Viking Sails for the Viking Age Archaeology class.

On his side, at least 1 paper done and in, I think 2 actually.  The final one is in process.  Biggest upcoming task is the final in Old Norse (paradigms and translations) and essays to prep for one other.

This week is ‘Black Friday’ week in Iceland, which apparently is an import from the US.  It was pretty evident at the mall on Sunday that something was up with the much larger shopping crowd than usual.

And the city is slowly showing signs of prepping for Christmas.  I have not had the Christmas Carol invasion but I am expecting it any day – several of the restaurants in downtown broadcast music outside and I am waiting for the switch.  Most of the time (which is kind of annoying) it is American pop or rock music.

Our milk (mjólk) cartons have gotten into the Christmas spirit (I am not sure about the one eating the sausage but there you are….):

We brought a small package of laufabrauð, ‘leaf´ bread, which is apparently a Christmas thing.  It is a very thin crispy buttery cracker or flatbread.  The one we got has caraway seeds (kúmeni) in it.  If I can convince himself, the next shopping trip we might try another flavor.

And slowly Christmas decorations and lights are going up.  Note the picture below was taken about 8am 🙂

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Well, I guess I had better get back to work…..

November 16 – catch up Part 1

Orilee here.

So we have been quite lax in keeping up with our blog post.  We do apologize but between school (and what more can we say right now than we go to classes, we come home, we do homework…) and our trip last weekend to England, it has been a bit crazy.

So, catching up!

First – the weather.  We had one day of snow.  We have had a few days of wind and a quite a few more days of rain.  Sometimes it rains overnight but not during the day, sometimes there is no rain when we leave for campus in the morning but by late afternoon/evening it is raining again.  And we have had a few brilliantly sunny days.  The temps are definitely colder.  And the days are definitely getting shorter.  Still dark until about 9 or 9:30 in the morning, and it starts getting dark around 4:30 or 5 in the afternoon.

Second – school.  We are down to the last weeks – next week is the last week for most of our classes; we both have one class the week of the 26th where we have to give presentations.  Then finals and final papers due.

Third – the trip to England!  So most of you know that Tom and I participate in the Society for Creative Anachronism.  This is an international organization with groups in many places around the world but I am going to specifically mention the Kingdom of Drachenwald which is in Europe (England, the Scandinavian countries, etc).  There is a small group here in Iceland but we have not yet connected with them in person.

So the Kingdom of Drachenwald had their Kingdom university event last Saturday in Staffordshire, England.  It was held at Ingestre Hall, a 17thC Jacobian manor that has been renovated into an art and culture center with rooms to stay in as well as rooms for meetings, classes, and a kitchen.  Friends we know in England had encouraged us to attend so we decided being this close why not!  The trip over on Friday was reasonably uneventful although it made for a very long day – up at 3:30am to catch the bus to the airport at 4:30 to be there in time for an 8am flight to Manchester.  Oof!

But, while we were in Manchester we met up with Mark McLeod, my former manager from Xerox, and his wife for lunch.  Then we took the train to Stafford and one of the event folk picked us up at the station.

We both taught classes on Saturday and had a great deal of fun meeting new people, re-acquainting with old friends (Duke Sir Elfin!), meeting the Queen of Drachenwald who is Icelandic, and discovering a Geneseo classmate of Tom’s*!  Unfortunately, timing meant we could not stay for the feast or spend the night, and had to catch a train back to Manchester and a hotel for Saturday night but the trip back was uneventful and the hotel was lovely.  Pictures below.

Tom taught a class on the Revenants in the sagas, and I taught my class on the Greenland gown.  We also went to a couple of other classes and had many lovely conversations. And attended a Pelican vigil and court.

*So the conversation went something like this: sitting in the hall Friday evening, in garb, eating munchies and such outside the vigil (REAL Turkish Delight!!).  Where are you from?  Rochester New York.  Really I grew up in Buffalo.  Went to Geneseo for college.  Really?  Me too!  Graduated class of ’72.  Really?! Class of ’73. What program?  Drama.  OMG me too!!  and it went from there.  Once names were exchanged, they realized they had been in classes and productions together although had not connected since they graduated.  She has been living in Ireland for the last 30 or so years.

Part 2 will be later and will cover the initial interesting bits of Iceland prepping for Christmas.