so, more blue paint. the lift wouldn’t go from one end of the mural to the other, so i had it parked right in the middle, and finished everything i could reach before getting bjarney lea to help me move it. i kept moving the lift, hearing it whine and feeling it shudder and bounce as i went up five feet, or over a little, or down. for hours. the lift made noise every time, whining out over the town as i worked into the night, the only body up out of bed as far as i could tell.
the campground was quite crowded because there was a tremendous music festival in dalvik, and 40,000 people or more had come from all over the country, with their campers, and the smart people didn’t stay in dalvik but came around the mountain and thru the tunnel and stayed with us. so the campground was full and there were campers parking in the field out in front of the pool. i imagined family after family turning over, cursing the whine of the lift motor, settling down for a moment only to have the whine start up again.
at some point i finished putting on a second coat of blue, and came back with the black and my widest brush, to outline the body. but now it was getting very dark, and i couldn’t tell how well the black was going on – would it be solid enough to avoid a second coat? i could only tell in the morning. and around midnight, i just couldn’t stand the noise i was making, certain that everyone was lying awake listening to it.
the next day i was out early, before any of the campers got up. i could tell from the street that i was having the same trouble with the face as i had all along. this time it was worse because the face was exactly on a pillar, so the lines had to travel 18″ deep on both sides before continuing along the face of the wall. seen from straight on, it would look okay, but from either side there would be distortion, and the way the figure was drawn, one eye was going to be on the pillar, and the other on the wall beside it, with an 18″ eyebrow connecting them.
i called bjarney lea over to help me move the lift. we had to hook it up to her suv to move it properly; we were too lightweight to wrangle it by hand, and the ground was uneven. but we could raise and lower the legs, and level it like competent amateurs, and we were happy enough once it was all leveled and stable.
and then back up on the wall. this time i worked on the feet and legs, and when it got moved again, it was to his forward hand. and then it wasn’t really done because i wasn’t happy. it was too plain. the body needed some shading. and i had all these colors. the dark gray that lara had bought, a new thing of black from haukur, a pot of the same white the workers had used on the gym-addition they’d just built. i even considered using some burnt sienna for a red. in general, tho, i was very happy when i came away for the day.
that night connor and i went down to a family gathering. it was a gathering of haukur’s family, and bjarney is his niece, and i knew by sight half a dozen others, and connor knew all the kids. they had a bonfire. haukur and a cousin had guitars. there were flasks of wicked whatever probably homemade schnapps and beers in the coolers in the backs of the suvs.
some ageing ex-teenager kept dipping into the gasoline can and throwing it on the fire, making the kind of evil black cloud that would have had the cops down there if it hadn’t been a family gathering. the sun actually set around 10pm, tho it didn’t get dark – the sunset goes on for hours, and then it gets brighter and the new day begins again around 3.
there are a dozen or more families in olafsfjordur. they’ve been here for around a hundred years, and even tho most of the kids and grandkids and great grandkids live in reykjavik these days, the old folk who were born and raised here tended to stay here, and they end their days at hornbrekka, a rest home (attended by their cousins and nieces) and the downwind generations all return to their family homes in the summer, and everybody has a reunion. family business, meetings, kids playing, people who haven’t seen each other for ages.
after we went back home, i put connor to bed and went back up onto the wall until midnight when it got too gloomy.
some of connor’s many friends, out like any kid around here, until they get tired or bored
i spent some time putting smudges of gray on various shadowy places, like the curve of his leg and the muscles of his shoulders and neck. creative frenzy. i thought they would look okay from a distance, but it looked like crap. i unwisely chose to use the dark gray to scumble shadows onto the swimmer’s belly and legs, and under his neck. this isn’t something that should be done in the half dark. nothing calling for artistic energy and judgement should be done in the middle of the night after a full day.
so the next day, the bank holiday monday, found me back up on the lift bright and early, going over what turned out to be awful smudges all over – larger than life and twice as ugly. so i pulled the blue paint back out of the back of my alice’s car, and went over all the nasty creative smudges, and brought it back to a flat cartoon of blue skin and black contour lines. all except for on the face. i couldn’t quite get the lift to reach that part, and had to leave it for a final movement of the lift.
so we moved the lift, and i finished the painting, and marked it with jim’s and my name, and the hashtag. bjarney lea came over, we hitched the lift to her truck and took it back to the guy who lives in back of alice’s house. thanks very much.
tues. august 8 – the long weekend over, it was tuesday, and horseback lessons started. two weeks of lessons for an insanely small amount of tuition. i dragged connor out of what turned out to be his last week of soccer practice, and walked him to the stables. i don’t know why i did that. i had been driving everywhere but the pool and grocery for weeks, because the back of the car was full of paint. and the stables were most of the way to the beach – thru town, over the bridge, and way over underneath the feet of the mountain. a good half hour walk. i was missing the walking, i guess. my vow of keeping weekends sacred had just fallen with the swimming troll, and with less than a month left, every day mattered.
connor’s horses – kjoi (pronounced sort of like joey – keeoey)
connor had a great time. he’s a real animal person (in gaelic his name means a person who loves dogs). as always, he was the shortest kid there, but that has never stopped him. the director was careful with him and took the second set of reins when the class went on excursions up the hanging valley, and that was out of her own anxiety, because connor has never had any fear at all, physically. he’s been climbing since he was able to walk, moving objects heavier than himself so he could stand on top of them to reach something. adults are always afraid he’ll get hurt, and usually upbraid me for not hovering more.
together we curried the horse. mainly i did it, but he did get to run the comb over kjoi’s back a couple of times. icelandic horses have such broad backs. they’re so muscular and steady – hard to shoulder around when they want to stand there and you want to get by. the parents were only supposed to be there with the kids for the first day, and i was too busy to hang out and watch, so i took the opportunity to curry the horse before and after every lesson. i’d attended a horseback summer camp once, my one and only summer camp experience, and i’ve never been more lonely in my life. the horse was my only friend. a bunch of spoiled rich girls and i so didn’t fit in. but i learned how to ride a horse, how to muck out stalls, how to care for tack. i love it all. but the horse i had did step on my foot and break a toe…
i got to watch connor ride around the ring with the other kids for an hour, learning how to hold the reins, how to sit, how to turn and stop and start. when they were done everybody rode back the stables and unsaddled their horses, and then got a handfull of horse candy and learned how to feed it to their horse without getting their fingers nipped. connor had to work on that skill more than any of the others.
and then we walked back toward town, and crossed the road to where our troll statue was. bjarney lea was there with omg i forget who now (sorry), and they’d got hold of the search and rescue team’s generator, and tommi’s rock drill, and had bored two good holes thru the stacked and cemented rocks.
bjarney lea was going to have to go to dalvik to get more cement, and some rebar cut to the length of the drill bit, so we left the assembly for another day.
the kids gathered them, so we stuck feathers into the drying cement between rock layers
then connor and i went to the pool, and went home, and had dinner, and went to bed. connor went to bed, and i went out to the bank with the darkest chalk i could find, and finally drew in the figure.
i’d been struggling with the bank mural for over a week at this point, and was anxious to get it over with. the ground sloped down to the left side of the wall, that was the problem. so i couldn’t draw a level line. i mentioned it to a few people, but nobody brought me a spirit level, and i went day after day either thinking about the problem, or drawing freehand lines that i then had to erase. and i had scale problems, also. not just the scale of the wall, but the intended scale of the painting itself.
the actual artist who created gryla is rán flygenring, who has a commission from arionbanki to make paintings in all the branches of the bank. so when i came to town asking to make murals, the bank manager heard about it, and asked me to execute the drawing rán had already made. i was happy to do so, because none of the drawings i’m painting are my own work anyway, and because i want more artists to contribute to the trollification of the troll peninsula.
the trouble was that, while i make jim’s drawings fit the wall, rán was trying to make her drawing fit a typical tourist. the idea of her troll was as a tourist attraction, as something people could go up to and mug being eaten while someone else took a picture of them. it’s a great idea. so we went back and forth about exactly how high gryla’s pinching fingers should be, and that added to my anxiety about the slope in the wall and the levelness of the lines (because skewed lines mean a leaning, mishapen drawing).
but that night it all came together. i found that the compass app on my phone was also a level, and used that to draw my marks, and gridded the wall, and drew in my figure.
aug 9, 10 – that morning we had a sock tie-dye workshop for the kids at tjarnarborg. it was raining, but who cares. a couple of dozen kids came, and i was super busy trying to mix up dye and counsel the kids and mix up more dye. the kids didn’t need coaching, and they had a blast, and when we were done i had two dozen pairs of wet, dyed socks in plastic bags with kids’ names and addresses scrawled on them.
horseback riding was probably fun for connor, but i dropped him off and returned after an hour to get him, and then we went to the pool, and had dinner, and i went out again, while connor also went out, but not to the wall – he went to play with who knows how many of his friends, loose about the town.
back at the bank, the paint went on, blue for the clothes, gray for the skin, and white for the details. i used my smallest brushes, because this was just about the smallest scale mural of any of them, and was going to be seen by a lot of people, close up. so the brushwork had to be careful and the painting smooth and even. two coats of everything, as with all the murals, but in this case it mattered.
the next day saw the outline go on. this is backwards from how i’d been doing it, where i outlined first and then put in the color. but after the swimming troll, i wasn’t thinking about what i was doing nearly as much, so i wasn’t having to cover my mistakes nearly as often.
that evening i washed the socks. this was difficult, because of the certainty that i wouldn’t know whose was what after they came out of the washer. so i had to unbag each pair and take a photo of each sock and each bag together, the socks facing the same way, the writing on the bag clear and legible (hah!). i made sure there was one bag for each kid on the list i’d made during the workshop, and tried to anticipate all the things that could go wrong with the idea of giving each kid the socks they had made, and not making wild guesses and having disappointed kids, some of whom put a whole lot of thought into their sock designs.
the feet are still messed up
aug 11 – the drawing was faithfully executed on the wall, each pimple and hair where the artist had drawn it. the only problem i had was with the feet, and had to paint it out and back in again. but then it was done. i used the wall paint the bank manager had bought for me (the same color as the background, but apparently the wall had aged a bit since the last time they’d painted it. i guess they’ll have to paint the building now…
it was so warm that connor didn’t have to wear a jacket, or even a sweater. he was red-faced as it was, and i had to struggle to get him to wear his jacket for horseback riding.
after that, we went to the troll statue. you can hardly see in this photo, but i’ve finished cementing the rebar into the drilled holes. i never thought to take a picture until that point. and then the weather turned ugly or something, and we went off to the pool.
there are two filled holes in there somewhere
sat. aug 12 – after doing tiny final touches that only i would notice on the bank mural, i went back to hlid to work on the two murals there. i took connor, and he played with the dog in the bright sunshine. i wanted him to wear his jacket because of the wind, which was constant up on the side of the mountain, but of course he couldn’t be bothered. i worked on gunni’s troll, completely isolated from the wind, and took off all my outer clothes. i even put on sunglasses so i could open my eyes while painting right up next to the wall.
to balance all that sunshine, we took a walk up the valley after dinner, coming back around 10 as it was beginning to get gloomy over olafsfjordur, but was still bright and sunsetty on the mula and over across eyjafjordur.
aug 13 – a sunday. the weather was brisk and breezy. the wind was mostly coming from the north those days, and we had had a succession of strong sunny days with blue blue skies. it was a real heat wave, but ida kept remarking how autumnal the skies were, and going on about those perfect days before winter. i felt the slight chill in the shadows and heard a threat in her voice about the weather to come.
i would miss that weather. at this point, i’ve been following it in weather reports and my local facebook feed (which is half in icelandic). but i don’t understand the weather. the nights were already shortening back to normal for the temperate regions; the equinox would be only a few weeks after i returned home, and after that the amount of sun would shrink down to zero. not endless night, like at the poles, but no sunshine as the disk sank down behind the valley’s mountains and didn’t reappear for months. it still gets daylight, for hours every day, and the sunsets and sunrises are hours long. but they get snow. and everything changes. i want to see that.
i sat in the hotpot wondering about this one day, about the time i discovered that omar speaks english way better than i had assumed. so we talked about the winter, and he said it was hard. others have also said that. but i have lots to do when there’s nothing to do, and as a painter i’m used to working under artificial light, and i love to sleep late into the morning, and all these things. i actually have no idea how i would respond to constant cold and darkness early in the afternoon and late into the morning, and isolation. but, my sister is the one who suffers from sad, while i quite like the middle of the night.
anyway, tho it was colder up at hlid, i still had to take off my sweater to work on gunni’s mural. i made connor keep his on, but i’m not sure he listened, because he was playing with the grandson, haldor, connor’s new best friend.
svanfridur and i hung out and talked about the progress; i always like to check if i’ve missed a nuance when there’s still time. the chickens were awkward, and she offered to paint the window white and get rid of the feature altogether, but i was already making use of it as a perch. svanfridur always had a carafe of coffee when i came to paint, and kleinur or some other sweet she’d baked herself, always yummy. i always got the impression that they felt bad that i wasn’t asking for money. but then, if i had, i wouldn’t have been able to put up any murals. who’s going to pay to have a troll put on their wall? but they did pay – they gave me things, they fed me, they loved me. what higher reward is there?
because i was having a little trouble with the face of the singing troll woman, i asked svanfridur to pose for me, and the sun was so strong that she couldn’t open her eyes while she was doing it. but that was okay, because i had other photos to reference.
i left connor playing with haldor, inside with the videos and games, and went up to asgeir’s house, and had just climbed the scaffolding with the paint when my phone went off. i was waiting for the call because rán was making a trip around the country to visit all her artwork in the various branches of the bank, and was heading my way. so i went back down and met the artist, and her partner, and her tiny baby.
the wind wasn’t so strong down in the town. we looked at her work, agreed that it was the right size, but that the wall itself was so much larger that it screamed for a huge background painting. maybe a larger troll behind gryla. maybe a cave entrance or trollhouse behind her. maybe some lettering. but something. we’ll see what comes of it.
so back up the hill to asgeir’s. they’d moved the scaffolding so i could get to the other side of the drawing and finish the cod. they’d also been busy trimming the hedges and sprucing up the yard, because people were stopping down on the main street and scrutinizing their house. oh, the unintended consequences of what i was doing. it could be fraught if things got out of hand.
the wind out of the north was so brisk that i had to wear all my gear, including gloves and a scarf. it was cold wind. my fingers stiffened up and the paint didn’t dry. so i could only put on one coat of paint, and was finished very quickly.
aug 14 – monday, and i had exactly two weeks left. i wasn’t panicking, but i was focused. i dropped connor off at inga and ingimar’s house in the morning, which was a great help to me, and a nice comfort for them (they love kids and theirs are grown).
after putting a second coat of paint onto the cod’s scales, i fled back up to hlid, where i could go back and forth, in and out of the wind as i worked on both murals. svanfridur and i agreed that there wasn’t enough foliage on the tree, and that it needed to be a little more troll-like, so i built out the branches and leaves, using bright green paint, and put some pinching branches near her head. perhaps a little too subtle, however. and of course i was only procrastinating, because her face was the only real problem.
i picked connor up after horseback riding lessons – they went out every day for excursions now, mostly up the valley, sometimes way past the farthest point connor and i had walked to. that day connor had fallen off the horse, the director told me. kjoi had hit a bad patch of trail and stumbled, jerking his head forward, and connor went to the ground. but he didn’t cry, and he climbed right back on, and he was totally copasetic about his experience. that kid has no fear.
we went swimming, and in the hotpot i met omar. so i took the opportunity of asking him if i could put a mural on his house. he seemed delighted by the idea, and said it was his sister’s house and he would ask.
so i ran over to his house and took a picture of it. it had been recently repaired and they hadn’t yet repainted it, so it was rather messy looking. but i don’t care about that. repaired is good. and i had three different white paints now, and was sure i could match it for the bottom patch.
after dinner, i sorted and labeled the socks so i could give them out. i had several socks that didn’t match, either the photos or the other socks (there were 3 sizes). connor left me alone and went out. school was getting ready to start, and so in the evenings every kid stayed out late. connor was going out right after dinner to play with his friends until it was way after 10. they went as far as the football pitch, or as close as the playground across the street. there were kid noises everywhere.
tue. aug 15 – leaving connor happily ensconced with inga and ingimar again, playing violent videogames and eating junk food, happy as a clam, i returned to asgeir’s and finished the painting. it was cold and windy, clear and sunny.
then i ran over to skuli and guffa’s house and gridded their wall. the wall was in pretty bad shape, with cracks and hollow noises behind the stucco. but this was a wall i had long coveted. i originally wanted the wall above that, the full height of the house. but there had always been a problem with access. i wasn’t about to get ladders for this job. i couldn’t ask them to put up scaffolding because it would block their access. i wanted to use the lift, thinking i could just move it there in the night and move it back to the pool in the morning. but of course that was impossible. i was talking to guffa one day about it, bemoaning the likelihood that i wasn’t going to be able to do their house, and she suddenly told me she had a solution, and dragged me out onto the landing to look down instead of up.
i had to check it out. the main reason i was insisting on a mural of skuli and guffa (i had to talk them into it) was that their house is visible from the webcam. skuli runs the webcam – he’s the town computer genius – and he often programs it to linger on his door. so i wanted to make sure the world could see the trolls. it was the only one of the many trolls that would be visible from the webcam and so it was vital. because i’m convinced the effect is actually backwards – the world would then be visible to the trolls.
and then it was lunchtime with connor, horseback riding, and then back up to hlid. svanfridur and gunni’s grandson was staying with them until school started, so he and connor played every afternoon. svanfridur and her daughter took the kids down to the lake – they were busy doing the landscaping on a summer house below hlid while i worked on the paintings, and the boys and i ran off to the pool together most afternoons.
finishing the two paintings was easy, because i was right at the edge of doing too much. the smudged shadows worked much better in a just-larger than lifesize scale, i was happy to see.
in addition to grasping finger twigs, i thought to make a sinister face or two in the branches. it’s something i tend to see anyway, faces in trees.
and then we went to the pool, the kids and i. the absolute necessity of our day, like dinner. a couple of laps, wearing my lungs out each time, and then into the hotpot, and after awhile, into the hotterpot, depending on any number of factors – how cold and humid the day, how strong the sun was or how cloudy, who else was in the hotpot, how tired and in need of a mini-nap i was, whether i needed the jacuzzi jet on my spine or wanted to boil awhile.
aug 16 -the weather had changed. the wind was coming from the east coast of north america and suddenly the knees of the mountains were covered by creeping cloudbanks that chugged up the valley and poured in slow motion over the ridges and cols.
so it was rather unpleasant to be out painting. nevertheless. as long as the surface wasn’t wet, the paint would hold, so i went. and was glad i did, because svanfridur and her daughter asked us to dinner that night. wee hah.
so we ran off then to the pool, connor and haldor and i, and then i did some more at skuli and guffa’s. it was fixing to rain, so i had to hurry once i chalked in the lines. this was one of those walls where if i didn’t put in the acrylic, than it would all wash off in the rain. so it was a rush. and my fingers were cold because of the wind. but i got to the edge of what i had to do, and then we went up to dinner at hlid. a farmhouse dinner. with homemade lamb sausage, and lots of fixings, and desert and coffee. the kids couldn’t finish all their food; i could barely (and had to eat the rest of connor’s), and the two farmers ate everything that was left except for one small end of a sausage, which i’m pretty sure went to the dog after we’d left.
it started raining as i finished inking in the waving trolls, and it spit and blew the following day, and hovered around 3 C. but, valiant me, i went over to ala’s with connor, and insisted on putting in the skin tones with one of the warm grays i’d acquired. but there was water running down the wall that the parents and grandbaby are on, so i had to paint around the water. the paint on the more sheltered walls looked like it was going to take all day to dry, as well.
so never mind. i went home and washed and ironed some scarves i’d been making in my off hours (hah) to take to the gift shop. they are northern lights scarves, using a photo gisli took which featured in alice’s book of northern lights stories. when i dropped them by galleri ugla, the gift shop, they surprised me with a giant troll woman they’d knitted. they were still working on the troll man, both to be slipped over a traffic cone and displayed in front of the store. nicely impressive. i was so happy to see them coming up with something of their own, like ida’s troll festival.
fri. aug 18 – with a break in the morning long enough to let connor have his last ride, the big rain came, with the enormous winds, and i did house work, preparing for my one and only houseguest, francis, who was at that moment wending his way around iceland on a bus.
aug 19 – a different kind of day altogether. it was the long-awaited berry festival, with a classical music concert heading the events. our gallery had an exhibition, there was a concert up at hornbrekka, and several other things, more than i could encompass.
weeks ago i had volunteered to help ida for the event. she was, of course, in charge of catering the concert, as well as running her own kaffi klara-based tapas and music evening, and with two of her staff off at college, she was glad to have me. so i spent the morning helping to do all the bits and pieces for a dozen or so appetizers, plates and plates of them.
connor was asked, along with all the other little soccer players, to walk the men onto the field for the big game. i didn’t get to go because by that time i was over at tjarnarborg setting up for the show.
somewhere in the middle there, i managed to pick francis up from the bus stop, took connor and haldor to the pool, attended the listhus exhibition from 5-7, and then worked until after midnight providing food to all the ticket holders, washing dishes, refreshing water carafes.
aug 20 – bright and early next morning i was over at omar’s. it was only on the next street over, i could walk there with my paintbrush in hand. but i didn’t. the first thing was to match the white of the wall with one of my three whites (the school’s white, the bank’s white, and the white found in the storeroom at listhus). it took a minute, so i spoke with one of the neighbors while it dried in the brilliant sunshine. then i painted the wall, two coats.
from there it was only a walk to skuli and guffa’s house, on the other side of where we were living. color went on and never mind the details. and never mind the proportions. i could see the legs were wrong, but figured i’d fix it in the second coat, and just hurried thru the layout.
then i went over to bjarney lea’s wall and we drew the grid and then drew the foot. at this point i was just slapping things up with little regard for preliminaries. just get it up, and worry about making it pretty later.
after that ida had asked us to throw up an exhibition in kaffi klara, so all the artists dragged their stuff over and pinned it up, and we had a rather large reception because of the numbers of people in town for the berry days festival.
aug 21 – a day without any work at all, as we took off first thing with francis in the direction of myvatn, and didn’t return until it was as dark as it got then. we saw loads of wonders, and it was good to get away from the valley into the rest of the beauty that is olafsfjordur.
tue. aug 22 – francis liked the look of akureyri so much that he took a bus there in the morning, and i got right to work after i saw him off. i’d taken jim’s drawing and replaced it with omar’s face. i had to do a lot of figuring out and looking up to find a picture of him on the internet, but i did, and it was by then an easy thing to photoshop his face onto the drawing. he seemed pleased when he saw it; i was delighted. the bird annoyed me, tho. so far i’ve pulled all the raven paintings down from the internet instead of relying on jim’s portrayal.
when i did as much as i could there, i took the car over in front of skuli and guffa’s and walked the appropriate tub of paint to the stairs. this was the day that i put the logo on the bottom of everything i could find, running back up to asgeir’s to find the scaffolding still up, adding it to the gryla painting on the bank wall. i missed several murals, tho – inga and ingimar’s for one, and mulatindur. at least one person saw the progress picture that day, and thought i was going to leave the face blank as a symbolic ‘you are there’ projection. but no.
extra big logo for that webcam image
next, the day being so fine, we went over to the lake and worked on the troll woman with bjarne lea and her kids. she’d arranged for tommi and his truck to come over and hoist that huge stone up to the top of our assemblage, marking the waist of our troll woman. her skirts blow in the wind. tommi got up and drilled holes for rebar, making it look easy. thanks, tommi.
after that, we had dinner with the artists at listhus, and i brought bread. it was fun, and connor had a blast being himself with the artists.
aug 23 – it was a very busy day. i had art supplies to turn over to the college’s art teacher, i met with one of the artists who is on the board, francis hung out at the cafe much of the day and took a nap in the afternoon. and in the meantime i ran around between omar’s, skuli and guffa’s, bjarney lea’s and ala’s – all within shouting distance of my alice’s house, but all requiring different buckets of paint and sizes of paintbrush, being at different stages of completion, and different levels of complexity.
starting to repair the raven
looks just like him
the closest to freeform drawing yet, we both created the troll foot
i went back to do more on omar’s troll now that his paint was dry. and a series of interesting mini-events led me to think it must have been something i was thinking, because the tub of black paint i was carrying exploded all over my legs as i was carrying it from the car. i’m afraid paint went all over omar’s grassy front lawn, too – sorry, omar.
one less heavy item to fill up my checked suitcase
better, but i wasn’t satisfied
and then to ala’s with connor. i got to hang out and finish bits and pieces of this collection of portraits while connor played with her kids, and ala hung out and had all sorts of conversations with all sorts of neighbors, touching all the bases and knowing all the players. i felt like i was in the center of the world.
aug 24 – the next day, first thing before anybody else was up, i hauled the dark gray over to omar’s, walking with the paint past the playground and over the new pavement of kirkuvegar. as i passed the church, a huge raven was perched on the cross on top of the steeple, and he cawed as i came closer, turning this way and that. i said hello and he flew off. and that was what made my decision to make omar’s painting more lifelike and less like a cartoon. i’d been thinking about it in the night, thus the dark gray paint, but i wasn’t sure until the raven.
then to bjarney lea’s house. she’d finished putting the second coat of blue on. she bought her own paint so she’d have extra, plus we were running right out of the sports center’s blue. everything about this mural was site specific. jim never understood what i wanted, so we drew the foot from life – it’s bjarney lea’s, and because of the extreme viewing angles, every bump and curve had to be drawn and redrawn.
at the moment, the part we were having trouble with was the ankle. it was fine from the side, but from the swimming troll, it was spindy, not trollike at all.
then to ala’s to finish everything. again, there was an amazing hum of activity as neighbors dropped by, the phone rang, the noise of connor and whichever kid he was playing with (even the neighbor girl and her friend had him over to jump on their trampoline). i never looked at what was going on, only listened, and only stopped for a single coffee break.
in addition to all this work, i ran around with a ladder and long brush and touched up the remaining nasty gray bits on the swimming troll, went swimming with francis, got asta to read my cards, and dropped off several departing residents at the bus stop. but since i’d finalized three murals that day, i was okay with the distractions.
fri. aug 25 – first thing that morning, connor and i drove francis to the airport in akureyri. bye francis. the second thing that morning, connor and i went to the akureyri pool, with its gigantic new slides. i had to accompany him on them, and i’ve got to admit i don’t like it at all. connor, of course loved being buffetted and battered in the stream, and never once got water jammed up his nose from hitting the water at 35 mph.
once back in olafsfjordur, i went to bjarney lea’s, who was putting the final touches on the troll foot. i signed my name, that’s about all i had to do.
we went down to the lake and did one more addition of rocks to the pile. we were going to have to stop there, probably for the winter. another mess of drilling and rebar, and the next thing to add would be the shoulders. but it was now too high to lift heavy stones, so the next stage will have to be with help.
aug 26 – i spent all day cleaning alice’s house and packing up our stuff into the bags. and repacking. and taking stuff to people around town for their own stashes (paints to anna kristin, art supplies to the school, old clothes to angelo or the red cross). connor went to akureyri with angelo, his mom, and gummi. they saw ‘cars’ at the movie house.
in the evening, bjarney lea and i went around to visit all the murals, so she’d know where they were. i left my drawings and notes with her, as well as the trollhouse drawings the kids did (that i’d never gotten around to wheatpasting up). and then connor and i had dinner at ida’s house – pizza – and we hung out for the evening of our almost last day.
the view from ida’s house
aug 27 – i finished up the cleaning and packing, and went to akureyri airport to pick up alice. connor was off at his very last soccer tournament with the woman who taught him to swim – jonina. and that was it. three months being part of the town, and we were planning to sneak away in the morning light.
mon. aug 28 – but we didn’t get off without an early swim, breakfast at kaffi klara, and a bunch of hugs. and when the bus to reykjavik pulled up, it was our turn to get on, and the driver greeted us with a wry smile.
i don’t have firm plans to go back. i trust the trollification will continue with other artists, and that the people will figure out how to handle the future they are bringing about. i want to be a part of it, and when i’m not fantasizing about buying a house in olo, i’m thinking about how to rearrange my life to include more time there.
i’d apologize for the length of this (these) posts, but it’s three months of work digested into a small a space as possible. if you want the further details, you can read all about our summer in olo at irishitinerary.wordpress.com