Friday, May 30, 2008


At home. There are trees. There are freaking many trees. All around. They are green. And tall. And the sun is shining. And it's warm. And I can hear the sound of the wind in the trees just outside the kitchen window. I didn't know one could miss the sound of the wind in the trees so incredibly much.

It actually feels like arriving in a tropical holiday destination. You have to take off almost all of your clothes and the air is bright and there are happy alive sounds all around and a soft warm caress of the wind against your face and your arms as you walk to the store in your shirt and your sandals. We have been properly calibrated it seems.

Ja käytiin kaupassa ja kasattiin kärry täyteen suomalaista ruokaa: karjalanpiiirakoita, ruisleipää, viiliä, Fazerin raparperipiirakoita ja pätkiksiä ja siideriä ja varrasleipää. Ja radiossa soi Anssi Kelan Milla. Melkein rupes itkettään.

And to be fair I think I have to report also on the earthquake. Namely there was an earthquake not far from Reykjavík yesterday. The center of the quake was in Selfoss, about 50 km south-east from Reykjavík, which is a typical earthquake area.

We were at home packing. And suddenly it felt like the neighbours washing machine must have broken down and then the floor was trembling and there was a big rumble and we looked at each other and said: "It's an earthquake!" and then we looked out of the window and had just time to wonder if we should go down to the street or stay up and then it stopped. And after two seconds the whole house (we're at third floor) swayed a couple of times from side to side.

But as we went outside afterwards the life seemed completely normal. It was a sunny day and people were milling around and sitting in cafes. Somebody said that the phones had died for a while or was it electricity but that's about it.

My friend told me though that there was some damage all the way in Akranes as well, which is about 100 km from the center of the quake and that in the liquor store some bottles had fallen down from the shelves. So there must have been damage in Reykjavík too. And in Selfoss there really was a lot of damage and even some injuries and the people are now sleeping outside in tents in the fear of after quakes.

Our departure was timely as we could carry all our extra blankets and pillows and sheets and such to the nearby red cross this morning at 4am before heading for the bus to Keflavík.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The swans from the lake Tjörnin have left for the North for Summer. There was only one swan at the lake tonight. And we know, we saw all it's friends already up there in the North.

Also my favourite cafe Barinn has closed down. There was a yellow wrapper on the windows that informed us that on Friday May 30th a new bar will open there. And we will be flying back to Finland the same day.

So my life here ends and I have to reborn again for Helsinki. How to be a mathematician again after being a dancer for five months, I have no idea. The truth is that the biggest change has happened already. I don't wish to reborn.

But the weirdest thing we saw on tonight's walk was this house in Tjörnin. Yes, in Tjörnin. What happened here??

It is a piece of art of course. By easy googling I found out that it is an installation called Atlantis by Tea Mäkipää and Halldórs Úlfarsson and that it has been already sailing in Finland. Here's a link to Mäkipää's cite. (Mäkipää is Finnish of course and Úlfarsson Icelandic.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Saara is updating her blog.


Saara has returned home (to Reykjavík) happy and tired.

May 20

Saara will start driving north and towards Akureyri in less than an hour.

Saara will spend the next four days with Tommi driving aroud the island.

May 19

Saara is on a very well deserved holiday! ;) ;) ;).

May 18

Saara wants to thank everybody for a wonderful night!

May 17

Saara warmly welcomes everybody to Mango studio's Spring performance (bellydance!) at Tonbergi, Tonlistaskola, Dalbraut 2, Akranes tomorrow on Sunday at 18:00.

Saara is finally finished with grading and feels quite finished because she has been dancing all day.

May 16

Saara has blisters in her feet and a big bruise in her left knee and feels incompetent.

May 15

Saara is tired.

Saara is deliriously happy.

May 14

Saara has chosen her music for Sunday. She will dance Avril Lavignes Innocence. Now three days to make the choreography...

May 13

Saara tries to finish two choreographies before 7pm.

May 12

Saara is trying to do four things at the same time with poor success.

Saara had a super fun day with Maria and Siggi and Michelle and Bill and Tommi of course. Thanks for the great company guys!

May 8

Saara has fallen hopelessly in love with a couple of mountains and does not ever want to leave this beautiful country.

Saara is still equally busy but with different work.

May 7

Saara reads project reports that are copy pasted from Wikipedia...

May 6

Saara is alive again.

May 5

Saara finished grading almost two hours before dead-line this week.

Saara is grading again but sneezing a bit less.

May 4

Saara is grading, sneezing and drinking tea.

May 3

Saara has had an utterly crazy day.

May 2

Saara is tired.

Saara is gggrrrrading again.

May 1

Saara had her last math class yesterday and got a "Lost in Iceland" T-shirt from her studets.

April 30

Saara will celebrate her n:th vappu away from Finland by working, working and working... :/.

April 29

Saara went to Finland, got ill again, had a tearful day, enjoyed the spring, graded all the papers on the flight back and is now trying to get better while working...

Saara is back online...

April 23

Saara finished her lecture notes, got sick, was working too much and is now getting better. Tomorrow she will celebrate the first day of summer by sleeping.

April 21

Saara is pissed off because somebody has stolen her absolutely favorite new pair of furry violet socks from the laundry room. Grrrr!

Saara got all correct in her Icelandic test.

April 20

Saara has finished this weeks grading and will now start working on next weeks lesson plans...

April 19

Saara has polished all the shoes, washed three loads of laundry, cleand the bedroom, done the dishes and has now also vacuumed the whole apartment to avoid working.

Saara has polished all the shoes, washed three loads of laundry, cleand the bedroom and done the dishes just because she's soo fed up with writing notes.

Saara has polished all the shoes.

Saara is hungry.

April 18

Saara has finished over a half of this weeks grading and will now go home.

Saara is grrrading.

Saara had ice-cream for breakfast.

April 17

Saara should be sleeping.

April 16

Saara wants somebody to translate Hakim & Don Omar's "Tigi Tigi".

April 15

Saara has apparently given too many and too hard problems to her studets this week.

April 14

Saara went to see 21 with her probability class. (After class. Because they were going and asked her to come with.).

Saara is teaching.

April 13

Saara was just pranked to think that she had lost her friend's car! Ggrrrr!

April 12

Saara danced Brazilian samba for the Icelandic tv tonigt.

April 11

Saara is just tired.

Saara 's thoughtful neighbours just cut out the water - again.

* * *

Yes, these are all my status updates from the last few weeks, unedited. It's all that Facebook still shows. This is just to prove that although I've been letting my blog down lately my debt to the holy web has been paid diligently all the time nevertheless.

A few remarks: Our trip was amazing. Also the show was amazing. (Obviously.) I'm also finished with the probability course. And finally: I did find my furry violet socks, they had slipped underneath the drawer.

To get more of this kind, just friend me on Facebook. ;)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Dream Clouds

On Tuesday night I dreamt about these clouds. I was in an old city with church towers and narrow grey stone streets and there were mountains around. It had just been raining. The sun was setting behind the mountains and there were clouds all around just above the mountains and further down descending along the slopes of the mountains. The setting sun made the couds shimmer in yellows and oranges and pinks and purples and also in blues as there was clear blue sky just behind them peaking through.

Quite predictably I had my camera with me and I was taking a video of all this and as I turned around I found even more amazing softly changing formations of clouds and light. The mountain on that side was covered with a full dark green forest and as I let my camera slowly move upwards along the side of the mountain the clouds were once thin veils, once thick layers on top of each other and once smooth surfaces of white and once all of that at the same time amongst each other and on top of each other and behind it all the setting sun was turning the clouds into pink and orange and blue and the colours were constantly changing and making more and more patterns on the sky. And I got it all on tape.

And so on Tuesday after my dream as I was driving back home from Akranes where I teach my belly dance classes, I saw my dream clouds in real life. I have no pictures to prove it as I was tired and didn't see a good spot to stop and also it was really quite windy and I didn't feel like opening the doors anyway. You'll understand: windy here means windy in a way that you don't want to open the car doors as you're afraid that they might fly away.

I noticed it already in Akranes as I stood outside the studio door. There were dark grey almost black clouds above Akrafjall but in the hollow of the mountain there was a hole with blue sky and a shimmer of white. And as I drove out of the town there was a shimmer of cold in the horizon just north of Akrafjall and underneath the black thick layers of rain clouds that streched over the sky. But looking over the water towards south east as I was driving towards the tunnel there were my dream clouds framing my Esja.

The mountain was different of course. No green trees but just shapes of browns and greys and greens that make up the forms of the slopes here. And no gold either. But the clouds had ascended down on top of the mountain and in the middle where there's a lower part the clouds were such soft mist that it looked grey and silver and blue at the same time. And around and on top of the mountain the clouds were in thick pillows and in transparent sheets and above against the blue sky they took every possible formation and there was a setting sun of course that coloured some of the clouds orange and pink and some of them were still blue against the sky.

About 15 minutes later I drove into the cloud. It looses all the dreamy qualities then of course and becomes just a dark raining wet mist and in the end you can't really see anything anymore. And then it becomes another dream altogether driving in the mist and seeing the turns of the road only just as they come and the mountains only as dark walls rising up and up just beside you when you drive close by.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What You Can Achieve in 5 Hours with 18 Phone Calls and 13 Text Messages

On Monday I was on phone with Josy who mentioned that there would be some gigs on Saturday that she would need my help with. Ok I say. She'll call me later. She needs to give me the key.

Then later in the week I try to reach her but she has already flewn to Stockholm to a belly dance festival (she got the third place in the competition, congatulations!!!) and isn't answering any messages. I worry all week. I call Marie and harass her as well even though she has nothing to do with it. Then on Friday night I finally get a hold on Josy and around 00:00 she sends me a text message, there's only one teaching gig on Saturday, at 1pm. I set my alarm and go back to sleep.

This morning I wake up and such and aroud 10am I call Josy. So the gig's at the studio? What should I do with them? What music should I use? Where are the belts? Ok, easy, I can do this, I'm even almost recovered from my persistent flu. Where do I get the key? - The key? You don't have a key??? Oh! Oh! Call my friend she has a key, here's the number.

So I call her friend. But she's at work and won't finish until later and the key's at her place. Obviously she can't help me. I sms Josy. I call Marie again. Does she have the phone number of X? Or what about Y? Josy doesn't answer her phone. We think that she must be attending a class there. Luckily there's a registry online with absolutely everybody's phone numbers. Bless Iceland! But we don't know anybody's last names. We try with their addresses. Right around this point I suggest to Marie that maybe we should be detectives. But Marie knows Jóhanna's last name! She, however, is in Stockholm with Josy. I call her, though, maybe she can find Josy for me?

Jóhanna is an angel and answers. No she can't find Josy, but who would have a key? Probably A and B, but she doesn't have their phone numbers. Now it's an hour and 20 minutes before the gig starts. But Jóhanna has the number of one of the teachers!

I call her. I'm Saara, I'm supposed to be teaching a gig for Josy, would you happen to have a key to Magadanshusið? Yes, she has a key!!! She's at home. And it's not far away! I run out immediately. I walk to her place (20 minutes), I get the key, I walk to Magadanshusið (another 20 minutes or so). When I get there I even have an extra 20 minutes to find everything and select the music and finalize the lesson plan. And so exactly at 1pm I sit down to wait for the group of students. Yes!

Quarter past 1 I call the number Josy gave me. Maybe the group got lost and are trying to call Josy who isn't answering? There's an answering machine. After another 10 minutes I call them again. I send an sms. I send and sms to Josy. Did they try to reach her? I send an sms to the owner of the key, the gig is running late, I'll be late too getting the key back.

After an hour Josy answers. No she hasn't heard from them. Yes, it was absolutely 1 o'clock. Absolutely today. There's nothing you can do. Go home. So I return the key and walk home. I get home around 3pm.

Now what's the moral of the story? It is this: It is a good thing to have a blog, even though you have had the crappiest day ever and absolutely every little thing has gone wrong, at least you have gained a story.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Happy First of May!

This is not from Iceland of course (as you can see trees!) even though last week was Sumardagurinn Fyrsti, the First Day of Summer, which is an old old Icelandic holiday for the celebration of the end of the winter and the arrival of the summer. The appropriate greeting is Gleðilegt sumar, happy summer, to which you respond with Takk fyrir veturinn, thank you for the winter. Even though it is usually still quite wintery here during that time, last Thursday it was grey and rainy.

But I flew to Finland on Friday and there the Spring had already arrived. The picture above is from the Haltiala Arboretum, where we went for a Sunday walk. More pictures will be promised later with flowers, more green leaves, water, dogs, cows and even a one week old lamb.

Here we have some authentic Icelandic grass though. I saw it yesterday when I was coming home from work. This is actually our building. Notice the bright sunlight even though it was past 8pm.

And today it's another first, namely the First of May, yet another holiday. You have it at least in all the Scandinavian countries. You call it the First of May or May Day or Labour Day or Workers Day. The ancient history of the holiday is the same as for the First Day of Summer, namely it is a celebration of the Equinox, the day when days start to be longer than nights. However, I'm now quite confuced since the celebration seems to be quite off: equinox happens around March 20th.

In Finland though, the biggest celebration is on Walpurgis Night, the eve of First of May, the current atmosphere of which is aptly described by Wikipedia: "The celebration is typically centered on plentiful use of sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages." This year I'm celebrating my third Vappu away from Finland.

Today we were quite impressed by the workers parade in Reykjavík. The parade started from Hlemmur, the main bus station close to where we live and marched down Laugavegur all the way to Aðalstræti, where the speeches started. They had two marching bands and a lot of flags and banners and at least a third of the city was present. Which of course isn't such a huge amount of people yet and today was a very beautiful day. The sun was shining from the clear sky, it was warm and we almost sat outside for lunch.
To get you in the mood, here's the first marching band.

And some more pictures here.