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The weekend, so far

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

The robo-vaccum is sweeping; Ivar's chatting in Icelandic in the laundry room, folding clothes. Lucy's laying on the ground next to my feet, refusing to move as I pull my phone cord from underneath her. Brenna is out in the cloudy garden with Katla, who brought me a sprig of small fuchsia flowers. Vera is pacing. I'm sipping mint ginger tea and feeling tired, sort of out of it despite a good sleep. A sleep where I walked up an almost-invisible flight of stairs and had to jump a chasm and not fall. High school people were there. I don't really feel like dissecting dreams or metaphors, but I do dream often, even without melatonin, which I've somehow managed to avoid mostly this entire trip. Maybe because living with a two-year-old has some sort of effect on sleepiness, despite the midnight winter sun. These days Katla runs around, jumps off chairs and sits at the counter swiping her finger in the butter and then licking, over and over. Sometimes, when she's cranky, she crinkles her face and balls her fists when she doesn't get something she wants. But the other day when we were watching Nashville, she marched to the table to put another slice of homemade pizza on her plate and then suddenly showed up right in front of me, smiling and offering it as mine.


On Friday, Bren's new friend came over with her two kids, a boy just about Katla's age and a baby girl with huge eyes and so much dark hair with a little curl on top. She bounced on her mom's lap with her mouth open and smiled as Katla and the boy shared toys and licked the caramel glazed top from cookies. When the friend left, Bren and Ivar made pizza with red onion and tomato and pepperoni and ham and pineapple and cream cheese and I ate slice after delicious slice while watching several episodes of Nashville. When Ivar asked me later, what's the way to your heart because Brenna's is food, I said you know, I think mine is too. Maybe because Mom was always offering food to my friends growing up, making sure everyone was well-fed, making us snacks and packing our lunches? It doesn't have to be fancy food, or even homemade, but sharing food is really such a simple way to both show and feel love.


Saturday morning Bren worked in the garden as I did some Illustrator. Around 2 or so we left to hike Þríhyrningur close to Ivar's parents house. The drive led us past Bren's dream house and through cattle fences and small rivers. The weather shifted from sun to partly cloudy to a few drops of drizzle to sun again as we hiked into the hills; even a small ascent gave us sweeping views of the valleys, which looked like a grassier West.

Vera bounded up the path and then waited for us to climb further, then bolted again, sometimes pausing in rocky channels, lapping up water that's supposedly clean enough to drink without a filter. After a fairly strenuous hour we made it half-way, which seemed perfectly high enough, especially with the sudden cold wind. Bren shared a bar of Tony's milk chocolate as we sat there mostly quietly and took it all in, the shifting shadows on swaths of mud and field; the Land Cruiser just a small silver dot. The descent felt more difficult, with all the loose gravel underneath our shoes. I squatted in several places and mountain-goated the rest of the way, walking sideways and criss-cross as much as possible to cut the slope.

After the hike, we went to Ivar's parents house, where Ivar's sister Emilia was baking waffles. She stacked one on top of another as she told Bren and me about her recent vacation in Spain. Slowly, others started to arrive: Ivar's mom and other sister Eyrun from the garden, who stuffed her waffle with syrupy chocolate and whipped cream and folded it in half. Outside in the driveway, customers kept arriving to buy more summer flowers, the family business. When Ivar's dad finally came in for a waffle break, we chatted about how in Iceland it's normal for people to just drop by (and even walk in) unannounced--especially on holidays--and how it was a culture shock for both Ivar's mom (from Sweden) and Brenna, but now they love it. I watched him break apart his waffle into five pieces and then dollop each one with red marmalade, fresh whipped cream and drizzly chocolate. He ate them slowly and had another round. As we all sat there, a neighbor came in from down the road. She chatted with us in the kitchen as someone played the piano in the other room; Ivar carried Sophia the white rag doll cat over his shoulder as the neighbor's dog peered through the patio glass.

Afterward, we walked through the humid greenhouses, which smelled like summer soil. Bren picked out a collection of flowers and plants as Katla played with her older boy cousin, Emilia's son, who was acting like both a dog and a ram, scrambling on the grass and squealing and falling down, which Katla soon copied. She kept trying to steal raspberries from one of the greenhouses and cried when she couldn't. Ivar distracted her with a small red plastic wheelbarrow that she pushed around and then was pushed around in. The sisters chatted in the sun on a rock. Ivar's mom rested inside. Sometimes there was frenzied collective clucking from the chicken coop, and in the thicket you could see a panting Vera, stalking her prey.

Katla slept on the way home and then we built a tower taller than she was with magnet blocks--she looked at it approvingly, paused, and then crashed into it with her hands and smiled as it tumbled down. We watched Nashville and nibbled on some fruit; the sun was so bright at 9 pm I was squinting inside. Katla went to bed a little after 9 and Bren followed a couple hours later. I stayed up until midnight, doing some Illustrator and chatting with Ivar, and then fell asleep fairly quickly and only occasionally waking.

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Such beautiful picture!

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