Posts Tagged ‘Iceland’

Welcome to NYC

John got up to see us off this morning at the ungodly hour of 5:30. He sent us with some of the corn from last night–I’d realized at dinner last night that it might well be two years since I had fresh corn on the cob. The stuff in Iceland, in addition to being shipped in from Lord knows where, was not a familiar food for the Icelandic cooks and turned up in strange places. Gummi Chef tended to make this casserole which had wedges of corn on the cob in it. It was very strange.

Speaking of strange and corncobs, we discovered today that Marlowe likes corncobs–not corn, mind you, but corncobs. When I’d finished my lunch, I held the corncob out to Marlowe. He’s often strange and has a tendency to like vegetables. He spent the next, oh, fifteen minutes licking the corncob. It was cute and a little disturbing.

Anyway, we were on the road by six o’clock and made reasonably good time. I must say, West Virginia’s interstate was the smoothest we’ve been on; it’s too bad that we were only in the state for twenty-five miles. When we hit Pennsylvania, traffic stopped. We’re on the turnpike now, but I’m unclear on what the toll fees are being spent on.

We passed a number of towns or landmarks with names that just wouldn’t fly in a book. Paxtonia? Linglestown? Mad River? Triadelphia? Boro of Alpha? Please… Oh, and two Bethlehems. What’s up with that?

I spent quite a while on the phone today, changing our arrival plans around. Instead of going into Katonah tonight, we went to Brooklyn to drop Jodi’s stuff off. We arrived around 8:30. My brother, Steve, just arrived after the ball game he attended. Indian food is on the way. Whew.

Tomorrow is load-in day. Wish us luck.

And now, more computer angst

So…now my printer and my scanner won’t talk to my computer. I am annoyed. I have it narrowed down to something (probably) wrong with the BIOS but, lordy, I have no idea how to fix it except a system restore.

That would be fine, except that the program that I use to layout Shimmer is in one of the boxes coming from Iceland to NYC. You know, the ones we left behind because we thought we were going back? So, if I do a system restore, I can’t reload that program. Oh, I could download a trial version, but it’s only good for fifteen days. I could switch programs, but that means rebuilding all my templates. The timing on this is, shall we say, crappy.

The answer to the Iceland question

We got word today that they have decided to hire someone else as Asset Manager. So, Iceland is off the table, officially. We’re both relieved to have a definite answer to something and also disappointed. Rob has sent an email to Daddi telling him to sell the KTM.

My first motorcycle ride

To refresh your memory, while we were in Iceland, Rob bought a motorcycle. Through the vagaries of customs, the thing didn’t actually clear said customs until about four months after we left the country. Lovely. So Rob has a motorcycle in Iceland which we’ve never seen. He’s also been shopping for motorcycle gear, so we’re both outfitted with jackets, helmets, gloves and so forth. All for a bike that is on the other side of the world.

He’s begun covertly shopping for one here too, because of course, the urge is not out of his system. I mean, how could it be, since he’s never touched the one that he owns. It’s as if it doesn’t really exist.

After looking around, he found a place that rents them here in Portland. We’ve been invited down to the beach with some friends for the weekend, so it seemed like a perfect time to try it out.

I have never been on a motorcycle. The thought has terrified me, while I’ve been encouraging him to pursue the thing. So, when he brought the rental bike home today, I put on my leather jacket and my boots, pulled the helmet on and got on the motorcycle behind him.

You know what? It wasn’t so bad. Dare I say, it was actually sort of fun? I think I’ve spent enough time on bicycles, so I understand what the balance of two-wheeled vehicles is like. I had been expecting to freak out when we had to lean into a turn. Nope. I’m also crediting riding horses in Iceland with helping me get past the fear of being on large moving things over which I have little control. My friend was telling me that the first time he went for his first bike ride he had to make use of some bike transport UK because he lived in the middle of nowhere and had a similar experience on his bike, so that was comforting.

We’re going back out and heading for Sauvie’s Island now. I gotta say, there are worse ways to spend a sunny day than sitting on a motorcycle, hugging one’s husband. I’ve even checked out a Harley-Davidson Sportster Buying Guide! I’m pretty tempted to buy a motorbike for myself!!

Perhaps the cats could go to Iceland

So… I’m looking at the page about importing pets to Iceland, and it also contains “instructions for importation of deep-frozen dog semen to Iceland.”

But besides that bit of oddness, it turns out the rules have changed since I last looked. It is now four weeks of isolation, instead of six, and they have a facility in Reykjavik. When we looked into it before, the only facility was on an island in a fjörd in northern Iceland. This seems doable.

I’m sure you are wondering if this means we are moving to Iceland instead of NYC. Nothing has changed, we’re just looking at all our options.

Folding Webcam!

Folding WebcamYes, I’m a sucker for folding things. I ordered a folding webcam last week and it arrived today. So much fun. And its resolution is better than my old one. Where’s my old one, you might ask? It’s in the boxes of things that we had shipped from Iceland to NYC and is waiting for us there. But it’s doing me no darn good there, and if we’re going to be here for another two months, I wanted a new webcam. And it folds! Did I mention that part?

Camellia in bloom

CamelliaI realized the other day that it quite possibly has been four years since I’ve been in Portland in the spring. I’m basing this on the fact that I have never seen the lilac in our front yard bloom, and we put it in when we put in the new stone wall. The small buds on it say that it will be purple; I had asked Rob but he tends to not notice details like flower color. (In case you are wondering why I wouldn’t know what color lilac I planted, it’s because we have a white and a purple in the backyard. This was a volunteer that I transplanted. I didn’t know which color I dug up.) I am astonished by how many things are blooming. There are cherry trees that drip pink blossoms like chenille bedspreads; the other day it looked like it was snowing from the apple blossoms drifting down the street. Red bud limbs are etched in bright purple flowers. I had forgotten what redbuds looked like until I was in Chattanooga last month.

Camellia and Apple TreeIn fact, based on my sense of wonder in Chattanooga, I also am starting to wonder how long it has been since I have seen spring anywhere. The curious thing about traveling a lot is that it is quite possible to miss something as ephemeral as spring. For instance, flowers bloom earlier in Portland than New York. So if one leaves Portland for a gig in NYC before things start blooming in Portland and returns home before things start blooming in NYC then it’s easy to miss most of the blooming. I see parts of it, to be sure. I remember the azaleas starting to come in there. And I remember the daffodils blooming here, but not the lilacs. I keep looking at the one in the front yard every day, waiting for the moment when it is in bloom, not just hinting at color.

Camellia in backyardThe other thing that tips me off that it’s been a while since I’ve seen a spring is the onset of my allergies, which I had sort of forgotten about. Funny, there aren’t so many allergens in Iceland. Actually, Iceland does get an amazing spring, it’s just when most of the rest of the northern hemisphere is experiencing summer. The hillsides turn purple and golden with bloom and tulips last for months.

This week's giant pile of blossoms.All of which is to say that though I thought I had remembered that the camellia in the backyard of our house got heavy with pink blossoms in the summer, and that I thought I remembered that it dropped a lot of them on the ground, I had completely forgotten the sheer volume of blossoms. I mean, seriously, look at all of them. And that’s just from the past couple of days. It does this every week. For weeks. I filled two recycling bins with blossoms. Sure, they look pretty now, but they quickly turn to brown slime. One year, I piled them all under the tree, which looked gorgeous, but there’s this little disease called blossom rot which camellias get if their blossoms sit under the tree. What kind of crazy design flaw is that? Which wild animal, exactly, is supposed to cart these away, because I’d like to have one in my backyard in the spring.

Complications and Norwescon

So, Iceland is back on the table again. Potentially, Rob would be going there on May 1, I would be moving to NYC on the 7th, arriving about the 17th, partially unpacking and then joining him in Iceland for six months.

Or not. It’s also possible that we won’t go to Iceland at all.

Or that he’ll go and I will stay in NYC the whole time.

Or that we’ll both go on the May 1 and someone else will move us into the apartment.

Then there’s the question of where to put our cats if Iceland happens.

At NorwesconThe short form of this is that although I’ve got plenty of material to write about, it almost all makes me feel stressed and reminds me that I should be packing instead of writing about packing. Sigh.

I did have a lovely, lovely time at Norwescon. I loved hanging out with Stephen Segal, Lisa Mantchev, Cat Rambo, Jennifer, Gordon Gross, Spencer and Chrissy Ellsworth, Patrick Swenson, Cherie Priest, M.K. Hobson, John Pitts, Ken and Jen Scholes (though not enough), Jay Lake…. the list goes on and on. I’d link to you all, but I should be packing.

Highlights of the convention: the Sesame Street monsters, meeting Kathy Watts, the Liars’ Panel, breakfast with Cherie Priest, Talebones Live, seeing the Earthling mockup, everyday at the Ellsworths’ and Easter dinner at the Pitts’ residence.

Apex Online and Me

Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest has relaunched their online extension.

In this issue, we place the spotlight on Mary Robinette Kowal with an interview and her story “Horizontal Rain.” Apex Publications executive editor Jason B. Sizemore steps up to provide relaunch content with his pagan-based dark fantasy piece “Blue Lights.”

Southern IcelandI’m delighted to be featured and especially to have “Horizontal Rain” up there. It’s one of the two stories that I took out of Iceland with me on my first trip. It’s also my only story where the title came first. A couple of the folks at the company I was working for started a band and had a contest for the band name. I suggested Horizontal Rain, because that’s what the weather was doing outside. We get Horizontal Snow too. Sadly they went with another name, which was so lame I can’t remember it. I loved the word combination and kept thinking that I should write a story to go with it.

The nice thing about Iceland is that really, that title could apply to any story there. The wind is so strong it can push you down. I remember a day when I turned so the wind was at my back. The coat I was wearing had a hood that funneled the air around my head, creating a perfect vortex of stillness in front of my face. I had trouble breathing, as it ripped all the air away from me. This is Iceland. This is where my story is set.

Here’s a teaser of “Horizontal Rain.”

Maxwell Sanders pressed the phone closer to his ear as if that would somehow bring comprehension. “Did you say trolls?”

“Yes, Max.” With her words, he could picture Amalia’s rigid posture.

He ran a hand over his scalp. “I can’t redo the aluminum plant blueprints because your foreman believes in fairytales.”

In the silence, static hissed faintly on the line, reminding him that she was in Iceland. “I know what it sounds like, but eighty percent of the population here believes in fairies, elves, and trolls. So when the foreman tells me they won’t continue construction of the plant because we’re intruding into troll territory I can’t just ignore him.”

“So negotiate.”

She was silent long enough that Max thought he had lost the connection, then her voice crept across the ocean to his office in New York. “I think we’re beyond that.”


Read the rest of the story.

Iceland called?

I checked the voice mail and we got a call today from our boss in Iceland. All it says is to call him back. We have no idea why. So now we’re obsessing on all the possible things that this call could represent. I checked with one of the other puppeteers and he hadn’t heard anything, so I suspect that it’s a call aimed at Rob although the salutation was, “Hello, you two…”

Ah. Life’s uncertainties. So much fun.

Our Typewriters

Today Rob and I went to pick our typewriters up from Ace Typewriter* where they had been lovingly cleaned. Oh my goodness, I cannot begin to describe how much better they type than before we took them in. The sound of each machine is different, and the action of the keyboards is great. Our Royal is so shiny that you can see a reflection of the keys in the chassis of the machine. Here. I’ll show you.

Now I’ve got an urge to write a short story entirely on the typewriter. One on each, in fact. Plus we have three others that aren’t here. We just dropped off a Woodstock to be repaired, our Groma Kolibra is still in a box coming from Iceland, and then we’ve got a Corona in Chattanooga. Pretty, pretty things.

*Ace Typewriter – 7433 N. Lombard, Portland, OR 97203. (503)286-2521. “This father-and-son operated shop specializes in manual typewriters, has a number of beautiful classic machines for sale, and would love to have your business. Definitely worth the short drive to St. Johns.”

Midsummer Night’s Dream

Yesterday was a stunningly beautiful day; I did yardwork for the first time in ages and it felt great. There was this odd moment when I was working and realized that I was too warm. It took me a minute to make the next logical conclusion, that I could take my jacket off and be comfortable. It was just a lightweight thing, like you’d wear in Iceland on a warm day, except it was warmer here yesterday than I’d been in over a year.

-e- called and invited us down for porch food, though by the time we got down to her house the sun had set and the night had drifted toward cool. We elected to eat inside.

After dinner, we watched the 1935 Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Max Reinhardt, which serves as a backdrop for the audio book I’m working on now. Astonishingly, Puck is played by a 12 year old Mickey Rooney, who does an amazing job. I mean really. This is one of the best Pucks I’ve seen. I’m not going to try to match the truly freaky laugh he does, but you’ll have to trust me that this is a Puck that you would not want to meet in the woods at night.

Shimmer, Winter 2007

Yeeeaaah, I know it’s March but the Winter issue will be out before the first day of spring. We just finished final proofing and I’m sending it to the printer tomorrow. Why are we behind this time? First there was the moving back from Iceland thing and now there’s the moving to New York thing. I’ve been a wee bit distracted, and unfortunately, I’m the last hurdle the magazine has to pass to get to the printer.

My brother would be so happy; when we were growing up he was always saying, “It’s all Mary’s fault,” and this time he’s right. Thank heavens he doesn’t read my blog.

Besides that I ran the audio I recorded last night past the author and the publisher and they both like it, so I’ll go back into the studio tomorrow to record some more.

10 Swimming Lessons

Jodi EichelbergerMy friend, Jodi Eichelberger, is doing a series of podcasts on his website. Listen to the first one,10 Swimming Lessons, to get a taste of what our time in Iceland was like.

Nearly all the hot water in Iceland is geothermal and comes right up out of the ground. For this reason, there are several outdoor swimming pools open year round. I made it a priority to visit one very soon. I had swimming lessons at the YMCA in kindergarten, but the only technique I learned to prevent drowning was grabbing onto my cousin’s frilly swim suit. Despite having taught myself how to swim later in college, I found I had a lot more to learn from these Icelandic pools.

The Oscars

We headed down to -e-‘s house for the Oscars. We still haven’t plugged our television in after coming back from Iceland and she was offering homemade chicken soup for Rob’s cold (which is much better) so it seemed a pretty clear choice. There was much hashing of costumes, I mean wardrobe, and a general consensus that Pilobolus dance rocks. We also liked the living tableaus of the costume designers work. That’s so much better than previous options.