Skallagrim’s Horse


In the middle of a small park in a small town not far from Reykjavik, there is a grass-covered mound. No fence protects it from climbing feet or digging hands, but a placard nearby reports that it contains the bones of the horse that belonged to Skallagrim, the father of the legendary saga character Egil. (It perhaps also contains the remains of Skallagrim himself, and/or Egil’s son Bodvar. I can’t tell because the sign is in Icelandic.)

Only The Music is Dark

petzlFifteen years ago, I spent three months in India. Before I left, my husband gave me two gifts – a really nice pocket knife, and a Petzl headlamp. Both proved invaluable. Although the knife was later stolen, I still have the headlamp, and I still use it. It has accompanied me to multiple continents. I’ve used it on night hikes, to find the bathroom at state campgrounds, and harvesting vegetables from my back yard late in the season. It’s one of the best gifts my husband ever bought me. He ended up buying one for himself, too.

But when we were packing for our recent trip to Eistnaflug, the heavy metal festival in a remote fjord in Eastern Iceland, I pulled both headlamps from the pile on our bed of things to be packed.

“You don’t think we’ll need them?” he asked in the voice of careful doubt men reserve for moments when they suspect a woman has lost her mind.

“We’re not going to need them,” I answered.

When I left the room, he put them back in.

“They don’t take much space,” he said, tucking his headlamp into his backpack as I pulled mine back out and put it in a drawer.

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Bridge to the Unknown



In 2014, I attended the first annual Iceland Writers Retreat. At the time, I was contemplating leaving my day job for a freelance writing career. Walking in the natural area around Perlan, I saw this bridge jutting out from the path, not appearing to connect to anything on the other side. It was so rickety-looking, I wasn’t even sure if it was meant to be walked on. It seemed like a powerful, and somewhat frightening metaphor for my present circumstances.

I did not walk on the rickety, open-ended bridge. I didn’t want to be the dumb tourist who destroyed an art piece, or the dumb tourist who fell and needed rescue from a natural area inside the city. So I stayed on the path, which soon switched back below the bridge. From the lower path, the bridge looked like this:

I did not go back to cross the bridge. But I did go home and quit my day job.

Ticket Season Part Four: What I Bought

Spring is ticket season. Season ticket season, that is. I’ve already talked about the temptations of season tickets to Seattle OperaPacific Northwest Ballet, and Seattle Children’s Theatre. The truth is, I will try to attend as many performances by each of these worthy organizations as I can, but I did not buy season tickets to any of them. What did I ultimately spend my own money on? Continue reading

Reykjavik Style

My first trip to Reykjavik was for Airwaves in 2012. That fall it seemed like Icelanders wore a uniform, epitomized in Asgeir Trausti’s outfit of ox-blood red skinny jeans, chambray shirt, and beanie hat. He wore that outfit on stage for three of the five shows I watched that weekend. But for the last two shows he had a new sweater.



Later that day I walked down Laugavegur and saw this shop.


It shed a little light on the Reykjavik uniform. Icelanders, like most Europeans, have a sharp sense of style by American West Coast standards. But they don’t  have many places to shop. I am not such a fangirl that I went into the shop, so I don’t know how much the sweater cost. (Having gone into a couple of other shops on Laugavegur, I can bet it was more than I would spend on a sweater.) But I might have gone home and bought skinny jeans.